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Alexa - a Parent & Teacher's Best BudDY

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Amazing Tool for ELL & SpEd Kids

 I just discovered how amazing the Amazon Alexa can be for a SpEd & ELL student (at home).  He can't ask his parents, "How do you spell this?" or "What does <some English word or idiom> mean?"  He was at my house (I am tutoring him during the COVID) and while reading he started asking Alexa the meaning of words he didn't know, just like I used to ask my parents while I was reading as a child with a limited vocabulary.  "Alexa, What's a definition for <word> for kids?" (Make sure you say, "for kids" or you'll get an advanced, adult definition.)  Alexa delivered. He went on reading and didn't get bogged down looking up every word he didn't know, and trying to read a definition.  Later, when writing, he'd say, "Alexa, what's a synonym for <word>?" or "Alexa, how do you spell <word>?" Alexa comes through almost every time. His most recent writing assignment was awesome.  I was stunned and knew I had to share this story with others.


THEN, we discovered we could practice his math facts by having him race Alexa to the answer. He likes the game aspect of racing someone for the answer, but there's no kids here while we shelter in place, and fortunately, Alexa has no ego to be bruised if the boy beats her. I ask, "Alexa, what's 17 minus 8?" If the kid gets the answer first, he wins. There's definitely enough time to make it fair for a severely Math-challenged kid to answer if you give problems at the kid's level.


Teachers, recommend it to your SpEd and ELL parents. All one needs is WIFI internet connection and Alexa. No monthly Alexa charge.  An Alexa Dot goes for about $40. An Alexa Echo ($60) is worth the extra money for better sound quality if you like to listen to music (which I do).  Alexa is a godsend for any parent tired of answering questions like: "What does this this word mean?" "Where is Mongolia?" "How do you spell ...?" "What's the population of Hawaii?" "When was Benjamin Franklin born?"  "How much is 52 times 12?" ....etc.  And for one-on-one teachers, it gives them the independence to get other things done while the student is reading or writing.


I think I'm in love with Alexa. So's my husband (who loves music), so I guess I'm not being unfaithful.  Just a cozy little ménage à trois.


Vanessa Ott

18 Apr 2020