Using Celebrations to Teach JAWS

It’s the most wonderful time of the year for celebrations. This month, I have used holiday poems and songs to teach students commands for Microsoft Word and JAWS. 

My high school student proficiently uses an iPad and refreshable braille display, as well as a braille notetaker to complete writing assignments. She independently revises, edits, and formats Google Docs on her iPad using Voiceover and Word documents on her Polaris braille notetaker. However, she is continuing to develop computer literacy skills. She has developed basic skills using JAWS to navigate her laptop, the Internet, and edit documents. For example, she can create a new document, use editing commands to copy, cut, and paste, and navigate by character, words, and line. Since expectations have increased freshman year, the student has a goal to learn additional commands for editing and formatting a word processing document. She also is learning to navigate tables and spread sheets, but that is for another post. 

At the beginning of each lesson, my student was given either verbal or braille instructions to edit and format each document. Initially, my student was introduced to the following commands to navigate short stories for Honors English and novels such as A Christmas Carol on her laptop.  For my student, JAWS ‘s keyboard layout is set to the laptop layout. Her arrow keys have multiple functions, thus the function key is used with each command. 

  • Move to the top of the next page – Ctrl+Function+Page Down 
  • Move to the previous page – Ctrl+Function+Page Up
  • Move to the beginning of a document - Ctrl+Function+Home
  • Move to the end of the document - Ctrl+Function+End

As the student moved to the next page, JAWS announced the page number. This allowed the student to quickly locate a page number in a longer word processing document than navigating line by line using the up and down arrow keys. After turning Quick Keys on using the command Insert+Z, she navigated by Heading using H. The student located different chapters in a novel by going to the next or previous heading. 

  • Next Heading - H
  • Previous Heading – Shift+H

Since spell check is not available using an iPad and word processing applications such as Pages or Google Docs, my student was taught how to move to the next misspelled word in Word documents and how to use Word’s spell check. I created Word documents that included spelling errors using the poem The Night Before Christmas and the songs: Frosty the Snowman, Walking in a Winter Wonderland, Jingle Bells, and Santa Clause is Coming to Town. After provided initial instruction, the student independently used the following commands to locate and correct all misspelled words in each document. 

Turn Quick Keys on to use the following commands. 

  • Move to the next misspelled word- M
  • Start Spell Check – F7
  • Repeat reading spelling error and type of error- Insert+F7
  • Accept suggested word – Alt+C
  • Ignore suggested word- Alt+I
  • Read spelling error in context of the sentence – Insert+C
  • Move to suggested words –Tab and then arrow through suggestions. Use Alt+C to accept or Alt+I to ignore.

To correct a spelling error when moving to the next misspelled word, you need to turn Quick Keys off. After making the correction, turn Quick Keys back on to move to the next misspelled word and have it spell out the mistake.

Learning to independently locate misspelled words in a Word document using JAWS, as well as using spell check provided by student increased independence in editing her work. Before learning these commands, she would independently revise and edit her writing using her iPad and refreshable braille display and then rely on a sighted adult to tell her where all remaining misspelled words were located. Using the Polaris notetaker, the student has also been independent locating and correcting misspelled words using the built in spell check. 

Lastly, my student learned formatting commands to change the font size, font style, font color, right justify, left justify, and center text. 

  • Text point size- Ctrl+Shift+P
  • Font style – Ctrl+Shift+F
  • Center text- Ctrl+E
  • Left justify text – Ctrl+L
  • Right justify text – Ctrl+R

When text point size or font style commands were used, a dialogue box with many formatting options appeared. My student focused on adjusting the font style (labeled as font), size (text point size), and font color. Tab or shift Tab were used to navigate to different formatting elements in the dialogue box. Additional options were listed, but not used.  The student centered the title of each song, changed the text point size to 12, and the font style to Times New Roman. 

Using celebrations such as Christmas was both motivating and fun for my students. Each student requested and was provided specific songs and books related to winter and Christmas. There is no limit to using celebrations to teach technology skills such as JAWS and Microsoft Word commands. I have used celebrations such as birthdays and other national holidays when teaching a variety of technology lessons. The only limit to using celebrations to teach technology skills is your imagination. For my students, using celebrations such as birthdays, holidays, and changes in season have been motivational ways to increase student engagement and progress. 

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