This is the layout for CAST Science Writer. Notice the gecko and his speech bubble giving hints, and the drop down menu that shows the sentence starter options.
This tool provided by the CAST website aids in writing science reports. Once an account has been created (it's free), the student can log on and create a science report easily. The tool breaks the process of writing up a report for science down into small, manageable steps. There are clearly marked sections for the title, introduction, method, result and conclusion. Each step has a drafting, revising, and editing process. For the revising and editing steps, there are a list of check boxes with questions that will help guide the student in revising and editing their report. Included on every page in the CAST science writer are characters that provide examples and hints about each step. The character pops up when selected and speaks aloud their examples and hints. Also during the drafting process, there is a 'help me get started' button that when selected shows a drop down list of sentence starters to use. At any time during the writing process, the student may hear what they've written so far by clicking the text to speech box at the top of the page. In this tool bar, students can adjust the speed at which their text is spoken, look up words in the dictionary, or switch from English to Spanish. Basic adjustments in font size, style, and color can be made at any time as well.
CAST science writer is such a good tool for students with learning disabilities because of all the features it has available. The process of writing anything can be tough enough, but the fact that science reports are a specific genre and style of writing could make producing a product even worse. With all of the support features this tool has, and the step-by-step break down of writing a science report, the process of writing can be drama free, and even enlightening. The text to speech feature also will aid in helping the student become a better writer overall.