WriteType – kids’ word processor with spelling assist

WriteType_logoWriteType is a simple word processor for younger children which scaffolds students in spelling.

It is available for Linux and Windows. The Windows program can be installed on flash drive or a LAN location. It comes in Spanish and other languages.

The best part of the program is what it does not have — feature bloat. It has just fifteen icon options but they are the ones young writers need — bold, italic, center, print, save, etc. Younger students should find it visually appealing.

WriteType_screenshotSpelling assist
Rather than distracting auto-complete it guesses a list of possible words on the right side of the screen. Students can insert the word with a function key. Although spelling assist is now common in word processors, there is debate on whether this hurts or helps spelling ability.  This feature can not be turned-off.

You may want to turn-off the text-to-speech buttons (which can easily be done) since it would be distracting in a classroom and I’m not sure how it assists typing. The voice is artificial-sounding (on my computer, anyway), so it probably isn’t very helpful for English learners. However it might be very useful for sight-impaired students.

Unusual file format
Rather than use the standard ODF file format, WriteType creates an HTTP document but with a .wtd extension. I’m normally critical of non-standard file formats but using a unique file extension allows young children to click on a file icon and automatically load WriteType rather than a web browser . The files can be easily exported (or renamed) as an HTML file which then makes this a rare child-friendly web authoring program.

Bottom line: this is the best (younger) kids word processor I’ve seen so far.

Tool: WriteType 1.3
Description: a children’s word processor with spelling assist.
License: GNU (free and open source)
Alternative: ooo4kids
Rating: very useful