Company and Product Philosophy
Dr. Jeannine Herron did not set out to be a software developer. However, it became clear as she and her colleagues investigated the uses of technology in education, that existing software did not fulfill the company's vision of how computers could help children learn to read and write.
Writing is probably the most difficult task elementary students face. But Talking Fingers believes that computers are tools that can make both reading and writing easier. Dr. Jeannine Herron and her team became intrigued by the notion that if children could learn to keyboard and use a word-processor in first grade, they could use the computer as a tool for writing all the way through their elementary years and beyond.
All children have to do is learn a finger stroke for every speech sound. Since there was no software available that would teach typing-by-sound in this fashion, the plan to develop Read, Write & Type was born.
An important guiding principal was to integrate phonics, encoding, decoding, word-processing and keyboarding into one program--learning to read and write. Another guiding principal was to make the program engaging and fun for children. A third was to integrate phonics and keyboarding with whole language activities.
Drawing on the experience of 20 years of neuropsychology research, RWT was built on a solid base of information about how the young brain learns. Safety nets were built in for those children who have difficulty with language tasks or who are learning English as a second language.
In RWT, children practice phonics continuously, as they type meaningful words, phrases, sentences and stories within an overall story context. Every time they sound out a word, they associate each sound with a finger, press the key, see the letter appear, and hear the computer say the sound. They make those associations thousands of times as they progress through the adventure. They will hear, say, see, and type hundreds of words.
This unique approach -- using a particular finger or fingers to make the letter(s) for a particular speech sound -- is what makes RWT so powerful. Children use their eyes, ears, mouths, and fingers simultaneously. This multi-sensory approach engages motor memory as well, and greatly strengthens learning.
The unique premise of our software is that spelling out words develops fluent phonics skills and is a powerful route to reading. Using the keyboard makes spelling out words and writing much easier for young children, since most first-graders find keyboarding easier than using a pencil. Read, Write & Type and Wordy Qwerty create a natural "IN/OUT" feedback loop, which is the most effective type of learning for a youngster's developing brain. Children listen to spoken words or sentences (IN), then sound-out and spell them (OUT). As they spell out the words, they read (IN) and get visual and auditory feedback from the computer (IN) to correct their own errors (OUT). Because they are highly motivated to complete the stories, children enjoy this continuous practice, which develops an easy fluency with the phonics code.
RWT and Wordy Qwerty help children build vocabulary skills and learn grammar, punctuation, spelling and keyboarding in an integrated fashion, while holding their interest and enthusiasm by means of rich graphics, fast response time, life-like animations, lip-synched speech, and original dialogue and music.
In order to help schools integrate the Talking Fingers family of products into their curriculum, we have correlated both our software programs with the Language Arts standards of each of the 50 states.