Jefferson Award Winner Created Read, Write & TypeBy Sharon Chin

FOSTER CITY (KPIX 5) Hundreds of thousands of children all over the world have learned to read and write thanks to this week’s Jefferson Award winner’s unique approach.

Sofia Masangkay typed confidently, saying she found her lesson at the computer empowering.

“I’m able to write letters more, learning how to spell stuff with paper,” she said.

Her second grade class at Audubon Elementary School in Foster City uses “Read, Write & Type” software developed by Dr. Jeannine Herron. It’s part of a literacy program Dr. Herron created 20 years ago in San Rafael called Talking Fingers.

The neuropsychologist studied how the brain learns, and using federal grants, created a multi-sensory approach using technology to help children read and write more easily.

“They see a picture, they say the word, they figure out what the sounds are,” Herron explained. “They link those sounds to a letter and a finger stroke. So they’re using their eyes, their ears, and motor system to link all those things together.”

In the last 20 years, Herron’s software has reached half a million students in all the states of the US, Canada, and 33 countries. The curriculum has instructions in nine languages. There’s even an app called “Talking Shapes” that teaches speech sounds to preschoolers and kindergartners.

The lessons are fun, so Savya Agarwal wants to keep learning.

“It’s exciting to see when you pass a level and get a certificate,” the 8-year-old said.

At Audubon, Technology Coordinator Debbie Trezzo says Herron’s software has taught more than 4000 students in 17 years.

“The kids love doing it,” she said. “We find that it does help with their reading and their writing.”

“It really makes me feel wonderful,” added Herron.

So for teaching children to “Read, Write & Type,” this week’s Jefferson Award in the Bay Area goes to Dr. Jeannine Herron.


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