Pho-Mix is a design for a educational technology tool that helps dyslexic early readers master phonemic awareness skills. Phonemic awareness is one of the main building blocks of reading, even though it is not a visual skill. The student needs to identify, isolate, and manipulate phonemes (the individual sounds in spoken words, like /k/ /a/ /t/ for “cat”).
My design for an audio device incorporates the idea of the “listening center” common to early elementary classrooms, with the technological advances of cognitive tutors. The student can work independently with the device (modeled after a sound effects toy), while the teacher can see detailed feedback on the students progress and areas of difficulty. That’s right: no screen necessary for the kids!
HOW IT WORKS: The student wears a pair of headphones and gets verbal instructions from the friendly voice of the Pho-Mix. The lessons include activities that ask students to listen for certain sounds and sound patterns. The child learns how to do the exercise with musical tones and sound effects, not phonemes. Once the student masters the concept of the activity with the musical tones or sound effects (identifying, isolating, or manipulating), he or she is ready to try the same activity with phonemes.
Some activities focus on identifying sounds, while more advanced activities ask the student to blend sounds together to produce words or sound patterns (using a multiple-choice selection system or a microphone).