A review by someone it is designed for, October 20, 2012
By Michelle Booth, Maryland
Product Setting: Home. Skill
Development: Helps prevent my physical disability from stopping my ideas getting out of my head!
My name is Michele Booth and I have a bit of a confession to make. I am not a teacher and I graduated college about ten years ago. I purchased Co:Writer for myself. You see I have cerebral palsyis a physical disability that affects muscle control. This makes getting my ideas out of my head by the normal methods of typing and speech recognition extremely frustrating without CoWriter. Let's start with typing. To begin with I can only type with one to two fingers depending on how close the key is to the right side of the keyboard. (I am extremely left handed.) Almost needless to say this makes typing painfully slow without Word prediction.
Secondly my eyes don't track well which means I comprehend far above my physical reading level. This means I don't always know what the words I use look like exactly. Co:Writer helps me get around this by the fact that it speaks to me. For example in this review it helped me know the difference between confections and confession. It also just helped me realize that the word it was missing from that last sentence by reading the sentence back to me.
Thirdly I can't spell very well at all. It is because I had people writing for me for most of life so I never needed to spell much. Co:Writer helps me with this because my spelling doesn't have to be perfect for the word to come up. For example I can type sentce and the word sentence came up earlier in this review. These assistants may not seem like a big deal but I assure you that it is. Simply put I would not be sitting here typing something this long and that others would see without CoWriter
The best way to explain this would be to ask to try something please. Have a friend read you an article online without letting you see the screen. The article can be about anything you want it just has to have a lot of technical terms you don't use on a regular basis. You are more than welcome to have the definition of a word read to you if you need it but they can't spell it for you right now. Then I want you to type 250 words about the article using only your two index fingers and a light weight tied to the hand that is not your dominant one. It doesn't have to be uncomfortable just enough to make it an extra effort to use that hand.. The attempt to do this should give you a pretty good idea of what is like to type with a physical disability without Co:Writer.
Now let's talk about speech recognition for a minute. My speech problem is very Mild no one has difficulty understanding me after spending a little time with me. But neither Windows speech recognition nor dragon naturally speaking doesn't work for me without an exhausting amount of effort. My exhaustion and frustration prevents me from getting anything but gibberish out on screen. This of course makes speech recognition useless to me. In conclusion to the best of my knowledge Co:Writer is the best typing aide for people with physical disabilities and I would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to the craters of Co:Writer for making such a useful program.
Hindie Becker Dershowitz and Durinda Gardner of Katy ISD Texas
Video Testimonial - Co:Writer
April 2011 - Hindie and Durinda share several (before and after writing) samples using Co:Writer word prediction. Check out the transformation their students have made with this assistive technology writing accommodation. (5:51)
Theresa Peduto, New York Educational Consultant
Video Testimonial - Co:Writer
April 2011 - Theresa shares her son’s personal story in live video. Her “now-adult” son used one of our first editions of Co:Writer to combat his writing struggles as an early learner and is now a successful author and writer. (2:57)
Pam Quattlebaum Assistive Technology Specialist
Heather Radlmann OT, Technology Specialist
Video Testimonial - Co:Writer Transforms Students’ Ability to Do Schoolwork
April 2011 - Pam and Heather talk about ‘goosebump’ moments for students who use Co:Writer at school and at home. (0:41)
AT Teacher, October 18, 2010
By reviewer from Texas
Product Setting: Resource. Skill
Development: Increase written output.
This product works great. You are able to change font size and colors of text and background. It is easy to use and helps the students find the correct word. I love the options of going word by word or sentences into the word processor. Very good program for those needing writing support.
Linda:Co:Writer Review, May 27, 2010
By Linda Davies, New Hampshire
Version: Co:Writer 6. Product Setting: Home, school, work setting. Skill
Development: My daughter has autism this will improve her reading, writing and organize her thoughts when writing.
My daughter has been so frustrated not being able to have the freedom to write her own thoughts. She has always used a scribe. Now she has that freedom. The first time she trialed the product her face lit up and she said I love it. I can now write my stories.
Matt's Co:Writer Review, April 27, 2010
By reviewer from Colorado
Version: Co:Writer. Product Setting: Special Education Reading & Writing. Skill
Development: Improve writing outcomes for students with identified needs.
I'm currently using Co:Writer in my 5th grade literacy and writing groups. The students love the program and their written expression has improved significantly when SOLO is being used. My biggest success story, however, and the reason I love using this program as an accommodation is because of one 5th grader in particular. I have a student with Autism who has wonderful oral expression, but struggles tremendously with putting his words down on paper. Often, this student will become frustrated with spelling and trying to think of words to use in his writing. His frustrations often become violent and physical towards himself, students, and his teachers. After training him on Co:Writer, we have seen a significant decrease in these behaviors and his frustration during this block of time. His teacher has reported that he is able to write a whole paragraph and participate in the general curriculum with this accommodation. Before, this student hated writing, constantly would try to escape or avoid writing, say over and over that he can't do it, and more than often meltdown because it could take him anywhere from a few minutes to an hour to write one complete sentence about a given topic. I wouldn't say that he loves writing today, but he is now able to participate, is more confident in his abilities, and is making huge gains; I attribute all of these things to your wonderful assistive technology! It's just fantastic to see a student who has struggled so long in the general curriculum being able to not only participate with his peers, but also gain confidence in his work! Finally something that works!
The Data Says it All, April 26, 2010
By Daniel Cochrane, Illinois
Version: Co:Writer 6.0.1. Product Setting: General ed classroom. Skill
Development: Improve writing for student with dysgraphia.
The data speaks louder than words! I got this from an occupational therapist today: "The 3rd grader at [school] did his Local assessment on Co:Writer yesterday......had a full 8 sentence paragraph with sentence lengths varying from 7-15 words! The teacher was totally amazed. The last local he barely completed 2 sentences. And he LOVED using the program!
Jan's Co:Writer Review, April 26, 2010
By Jan Tuber, California
Version: Co:Writer 6.0.1. Product Setting: Demo and Preview Center. Skill
Development: Improve writing ease, speed,vocabulary retrieval, and output for students with learning challenges.
I love the look of the new version. Much less clutter on the desktop and more mature interface. Love the word lists and the new options menu. Kudos for great improvements on the newest version!
What a Difference an Upgrade Makes!, April 19, 2010
By Carla Tobergte, Ohio
Version: Co:Writer 6.0.1. Product Setting: Separate facility for school-age students with developmental disabilities. Skill
Development: Assist student with spelling and with slowing down their typing so they don't make so many errors; assist student with writing and reading.
We have used the original version of Co:Writer since it first came out on the floppy disks. It didn't always work for adding vocabulary frequently used and it had some trouble with working consistently but for the most part it was a much-needed program for a couple students who would not have been able to even think about writing on their own without it. We just upgraded to Co:Writer 6 and it makes a world of difference in ease of use. We easily added new vocabulary specific to our situation (handchimes is not a common vocabulary word but we have a handchime choir and need that word in our vocabulary list). It installed easily and was ready to use right away. The benefits were 1st rate with the writing being done in the word processor and the list of predicted words being readily available and easy to reference. One very nice feature is the ability to change the background color that the predicted words are on. It was easy to make the list stand out with the background color. We've just begun using it today so we have a lot more to find out about it but, in one session with one student the benefits of having the upgraded product are tremendous!
WOW!!!, March 30, 2010
By Laura Martins, Iowa
Version: Co:Writer 6. Product Setting: general education classroom. Skill
Development: Increased written output, improve writing outcomes for a student with written language disability.
The student I am using Co:Writer Version 6 with used to be so frustrated during classroom writing activities. He would shut down and cry and sometimes even have to be removed from the classroom. It was obvious that writing was very difficult and very stressful for him. He then began to use Co:Writer and Write:OutLoud Version 5. While it provided much support and his writing improved, there often seemed to be technical difficulties that made using the computer frustrating for the student. For example, there were times when the document would simply disappear or words he was selecting in the word window would not insert into his document. We were able to get our hands on a Version 6 and this has changed everything. The student is now writing daily with no difficulties. He is even able to interface Co:Writer with several on-line applications such as kidblog.org! Now he is able to add a classroom entry just like everyone else in his class. He is thrilled that what shows up on the Web looks like what everyone else is writing...minimal spelling errors, etc. No one even knows he is using Co:Writer while he is blogging...it's just that slick! Thank you Don Johnston for all of the hard work you put in to this greatly improved version of an already fantastic program!
Cathy's Co:Writer Review, March 5, 2010
By reviewer from Colorado
Version: Co:Writer 6. Product Setting: Inclusion classroom/ evaluation.
I recently took this product out to evaluate a student with dyslexia. He struggles with writing at a first grade level, he is in 5th grade. He knows what he wants to write but can't spell. With Co:Writer in place he quickly used words he doesn't normally use in his writing. I really appreciate how clean and clear this new version is. It is much easier for our distractable students to tune in to one box and not have many options around the screen.
Co:Writer Helps Students Soar!, March 4, 2010
By Cherie Ayala, Texas
Version: Co:WriterSE. Product Setting: Lab English Class. Skill
Development: Writing for students with MR, AU, ED.
Students feel successful with being able to write without any help from the teacher. Student goes from struggling with and complaining about writing one sentence to writing stories.
Tricia's Co:Writer Review, February 1, 2010
By Reviewer from California
Version: Co:WriterSE. Product Setting: Self-contained classroom. Skill
Development: Improve written production for student experiencing emotional disturbance.
This year, I have a student who has a history of removing himself from the class rather than face the task of writing. As I understand it, he spent much of his time in elementary school out of his homeroom in the resource center avoiding written production. As he is highly anxious whenever he is required to reflect his thoughts in writing, he shut down whenever he was asked to put pencil to paper. However, with the installation of Co:Writer onto a computer in his homeroom, this student has remained in class and is producing written product on pace with his peers. When required to write, he simply goes to the computer, composes his thoughts (using Co:Writer) and generates work that not only matches his intellectual mastery of the concept but is also commensurate with that of his peers.
Barbara's Co:Writer Review, February 1, 2010
Barbara Stimson, Colorado
Version: Co:WriterSE. Product Setting: Inclusion classroom. Skill
Development: Improved independent writing for students with mild cognitive delays and/or autism.
The product is a great follow-up for Edmark 2. We use it to begin the writing process for those who are just beginning to recognize the phonetic process using initial sounds.
Co:Writer 6 Review, January 29, 2010
By reviewer from Colorado
Version: Co:Writer 6. Product Setting: Special Education Classroom. Skill
Development: Improve writing for students who struggle in writing.
We have been having trouble getting the voices working consistently when we highlight specific sentences or words in a word document. This has been frustrating students and causing them to not want to use Co:Writer.
Fixed: Problem resolve is posted here.
FME Co:Writer 6, December 18, 2009
Chrissy Fast, Colorado
Version: Co:Writer 6. Product Setting: Resource Classroom. Skill
Development: Improve writing outcomes for students with dyslexia and dysgraphia.
My students love the smaller text window. It doesn't take up as much space and they like the option of moving it around the screen. They also like the different voices and ability to have them read the whole document or just a sentence at a time.
Lisa's Co:Writer Review, November 9, 2009
Lisa Shallenburger, Colorado
Version: Co:Writer SE. Product Setting: Pull out/Classroom. Skill
Development: Improving writing outcomes, organization, spelling.
Our students are able to create more content because of the word prediction. Spelling is no longer a concern or a frustration!!
Chrissy's Co:Writer Review, October 26, 2009
By Reviewer from Colorado
Version: Co:Writer SE. Product Setting: Resource classroom. Skill
Development: Improve writing outcomes for students with reading, writing, and spelling issues.
I have my students use Co:Writer in my classroom on a weekly basis to type up their paragraphs. This program is very useful for my students who have a very difficult time producing a written product manually. For the most part, my students really enjoy Co:Writer and it has helped improve their quality of writing as well as amount of writing they produce. However, they become very frustrated when we run into glitches with Co:Writer. One glitch we have encounter numerous times is when they type their sentence, hit the period, and instead of the sentence showing up on their word document it disappears and they have to type it again. Sometimes we can't get the sentence to show up no matter how many times they retype the sentence. We have to log out and try again the next day.
Lana's Co:Writer Review, October 21, 2009
By Reviewer from Colorado
Version: Co:Writer SE. Product Setting: Inclusion classroom. Skill
Development: Used to improve reading and writing outcomes for student with dyslexia.
After using Co:Writer for one half of the school year, this student gained the skills and confidence necessary to write paragraphs independently. He became confident in his ability to put his own words on paper.
Cathy's Co:Writer Review, October 7, 2009
By Della McCarville, Colorado
Version: Co:Writer SE. Product Setting: Self contained classroom. Skill
Development: Improve written output. Student has great stories but has difficulty writing them.
Co:Writer has helped a number of our students be successfull with written output.
Sharon's Co:Writer Review, September 18, 2009
By Reviewer from Illinois
Version: Co:Writer SE. Product Setting: Resource room and standard classroom. Skill
Development: Writing and reading.
I used this with my student who had Dxylexia and great difficulty writing. With this program she was able to fully function in the classroom independently. This software turned this child's life around and for the first time in her education be able to write with little anxiety.
Mt Pleasant's Review, May 18, 2009
By Reviewer from California
Version: Co:Writer SE and Write:OutLoud SE. Product Setting:
Currently, the READ 180 classes in special education and in the general
education classes are using the Co:Writer and Write:OutLoud programs.
The ELD teachers are starting to use it in their classes as well.
Science is piloting it with one teacher to determine how well it will
work to do lab write ups.
products are geared to improve writing across the curriculum. Many
students have difficulties with structure, vocabulary, and spelling. When the students hear and see what they have written, it allows them
to have a better understanding of their improvement areas. The
teachers are using the products as a way to give instant feedback on
I used Write:OutLoud with an upper elementary
student who struggled writing complete sentences with correct grammar.
The student often missed errors when self-editing. Being able to hear
what she wrote made a big difference in her writing. Finally, she was
able to realize what she was writing was not what she was thinking. She
was able to make big improvements in her written work using this
Co:Writer review, May 4, 2009
By Reviewer from Illinois
Version: Co:Writer SE.
Product Setting: Resource Classroom. Skill Development: Improve writing length and quality for a student with dyslexia that has a very difficult time with spelling.
The student trialed a variety of different word prediction programs during an AT Consultation I was conducting. I took work samples as well as timed her while she wrote. As soon as she started using Co:Writer, her eyes lit up and she could not believe that what she was trying to spell was in the list! This program made the WORLD of a difference for this 4th grade girl and her writing!
Hindie's Co:Writer review, May 2, 2009
By Hindie Dershowitz, Texas
Version: Co:Writer SE.
Product Setting: Regular education classes, resource classes, LIFE classes. Skill Development: Improve writing skills for students with written expression difficulties.
We have been using Co:Writer since its first version. We have seen students whose spelling and writing skills have improved while using Co:Writer. Some of them have improved to the point that they don't need this additional support. We have seen student's become more excited about writing. We still feel that the word prediction offered through Co:Writer is the best word prediction on the market.
Co:Writer's Help in the Classroom, April 30, 2009
By Reviewer from Oregon
Version: Co:Writer SE. Product Setting: Mainstream classroom and resource
Development: Improved grammar structure and spelling for students with
learning disabilities, fine motor difficulties and typically developing
students who just have difficulty using a variety of vocabulary and
getting their thoughts down in a more quick and organized manner.
of my students benefit from using Co:Writer both on classroom computers
and Alpha Smarts. It really helps to improve students' vocabulary
choice and understanding of sentence structure. I have students that
start using the program using very structured and patterned sentences
that are predictable and move to using elaborate sentences that contain
a lot more detail and imagination that have not previously been seen in
writing. The program is very easy for the students to pick up on and
the auditory feedback allows my mostly illiterate students to still
excel in their writing even though their reading skills are very low.
Not only do their writing skills increase, but their reading abilities
increase as well due to the continued exposure to new vocabulary.
Students are able to use the program on their own in the classroom
after only a few training sessions and teachers can provide the support
the students need and alter it as needed based on their development. I
have just seen a lot of growth from a wide-range of students with a
variety of needs by a means that is fairly unobtrusive to the student
in the classroom.
Cindy's Review of Co:Writer, April 14, 2009
By Reviewer from Illinois
Version: Co:Writer SE OS X. Product Setting: Self-contained classroom. Skill Development: Provide more efficient, quicker writing. Provide writing practice with less physical effort.
We have used Co:Writer primarily for students who have spelling problems and those who have physical problems and can't use pencil/paper writing. We have found that when the students do not have to use all of their energy to do the physical task of writing, they are able to produce more. They also enjoy writing more. Co:Writer has made writing, not only fun, but successful for those students.