It's pretty simple: the Forte is a portable word processor featuring a text screen and keyboard. It comes with some key features which provide wonderful writing support to students. It's extremely light weight and compact which makes it easy to transport. (The device is comparable in size to an iPad.) It runs on a factory installed rechargeable battery, so just plug it into an outlet to charge.
Transferring documents off of the Forte for printing is a fairly simple and fluid process- transfer to a USB flash drive or transfer directly to a computer through a provided USB cord. Consumers can choose among different packages when purchasing a Forte, depending on the features/tool supports they need included on the device. The most expensive package will run just a touch under $250 per unit (price goes down when buying in bulk.) But for $250 you get a whole lot of features and supports to play around with- so let's take a look at some of those features that make me drool...
User Writing Supports
The basics- Includes spell check, adjustable font and text display, thesaurus, translation and dictionary tool. Create files and folders and never worry about losing your work...it's automatically saved on the device each time you close a file.
Word Prediction- customize the size of your word prediction list and simply select and enter a word from the list that you would like added to the document.
Text to Speech capabilities- depending on your package, use head phones to access audio or use the external speaker built into the device.
Calendar- forget that assignment notebook and use this built-in calendar tool. Includes automatic reminders and alerts for upcoming events.
Spell It- Teachers can import spelling lists and students can use this tool to quiz themselves through ten interactive exercises, including a final spelling test.
Math Facts- ten math activities that focus on timed exercises regarding math facts. Includes automatic tracking and monitoring.
Writing Prompts- Comes with several built-in writing prompts to get ideas flowing for writing. It also provides different editing checklists, tips and reminders on how to improve a piece of writing. One of my favorite features is the Score button. This provides students with a grade-level estimated score on their writing and writing stats. Students can quickly assess their writing score and continue to edit and add to their document to improve the score.
Keyboard Instruction- includes Perfect Form, a tutorial for appropriate keyboarding form and drills.
Split Screen with vocabulary lists- I really love this feature! Targeted vocabulary can be added to the Forte. Students then can go into Split Screen mode, which will display their vocabulary list and check off the words used within their document.
The Bottom Line
This tool is easy for students to physically manage, quickly allows staff and students to be trained on how to operate, provides several tools and supports for writing, and has an age-appropriate appearance that won't make students feel like they stick out like a sore thumb in the classroom. It has all the supports needed for students who struggle with organization, fine motor issues, and expressive writing difficulty. Forget the mouse...no need for one when all editing options are accessible through the keyboarding buttons. It's a more affordable option than purchasing a tablet if you are just looking for a writing support system.
Last but certainly not least, you can't beat the customer service that Advanced Keyboard Technologies, Inc. provides. Whenever I have a question or need some quick trouble-shooting support related to their products, I typically get a response within a few hours. That's pretty hard to come by in this day of age.
For more information regarding Forte Writers, check out http://www.writerlearning.com/
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