Use multiple tools for construction and composition

There is a tendency in schooling to focus on traditional tools rather than contemporary ones.  This tendency has several liabilities: 1) it does not prepare learners for their future; 2) it limits the range of content and teaching methods that can be implemented; 3) it restricts learners ability to express knowledge about content (assessment); and, most importantly, 4) it constricts the kinds of learners who can be successful. Current media tools provide a more flexible and accessible toolkit with which learners can more successfully take part in their learning and articulate what they know. Unless a lesson is focused on learning to use a specific tool (e.g., learning to draw with a compass), curricula should allow many alternatives.  Like any craftsman, learners should learn to use tools that are an optimal match between their abilities and the demands of the task.

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  • Provide spellcheckers, grammar checkers, word prediction software
  • Provide Text-To-Speech software (voice recognition), human dictation, recording
  • Provide calculators, graphing calculators, geometric sketchpads, or pre-formatted graph paper
  • Provide sentence starters or sentence strips
  • Use story webs, outlining tools, or concept mapping tools
  • Provide Computer-Aided-Design (CAD), music notation (writing) software, or mathematical notation software
  • Provide virtual or concrete mathematics manipulatives (e.g., base-10 blocks, algebra blocks)
  • Use web applications (e.g., wikis, animation, presentation)