BETT 2020 Show – Part 2

First stop of the day was Crick Software. Clicker 8 has just been released and is a game changer. It has number of new additions to the software to mention. Cloze procedures is now included. Remember Cloze Pro? I used to recommend it for my supported pupils. Now it’s included as part of Clicker 8. Sorry about the shaky photos – too much coffee!

Cloze activity on Clicker 8

There are more analytical tools included to help teachers see what pupils have written. The interface adds as it goes along which is great as an ongoing assessment tool. Also all those add on packages like Find Out and Write About and Planet Wobble, etc are now free on learning grids to use. Licensing has also been given an overall and their Clicker Writer app can be purchased for the whole school site to be installed on all devices. I suggest you contact Crick for more precise details of how this works.

All accessibility tools are now visible on the toolbar – not hidden in anyway. One further thing that is going to be very helpful is to picturise grids and documents. The whole process of writing with symbols can be much more useful.

Example of Picturise

I spoke with Phil Hackett at Crick and he showed me Clicker 7 in Arabic – soon to be in Clicker 8

Arabic on Clicker 7 – even writes right to left!

Even the keyboard as the right accents on them,

Accents to use on Arabic

Lexplore is a diagnostic tool and an interesting use of eye-gaze as a tool to find out directly from the pupil what they are displaying.

Our good friends at texthelp have a new product called WriQ which is a writing achievement tool that could be used to assess and motivate student writing giving clear progress over time. Students can visualise their writing progress in real-time, achieve positive and immediate feedback on their own writing and track their own writing progress over time .

I popped across to the google stand and was attracted to their accessibility stand within the google stand. I was impressed to find a whole list of support commands available online. if you haven’t tried text to speech then you must use it! It will change your perception and get pupils writing. Go to support.google.com and type in “Voice Commands” in the search window to find them. Their are so many useful built options that even my 6 year old chromebook can use. It’s brilliant!

Reading for Pleasure is something of a rarity for pupils to do. Reading, especially for boys, is chore rather than a joy. So how about getting kids to review books? That’s what Browzly does. You can sign up for a free teacher account at http://browzly.com . It was walking into the TARDIS when I began to think how this could be used. We considered the possibility of children with special needs writing their own books and publishing them through browzly to be peer reviewed. We discussed file formats from PDF to MP4 and they are willing to consider open up different file formats in the future.

Having visited Google I visited Microsoft and spoke with Made by Dyslexia who have two training courses available to access for teachers and support staff to learn how to help dyslexia learners and the best approaches to use with assistive technology. Download videos and reports and posters to publicize the dyslexia advantage .

I know Google Translate is used but how about Microsoft Translator which I think is brilliant for the deaf community and as an instant translator to the wider community. It is instant and seemless and so much better to use in class as well as 1:1 with pupils with disabilities like deafness and those whose first language is not English. Another app recommended by Carol Allen is Speechify. This can read out any text in an understandable voice.

Lastly, I visited Immersive Classroom a company that setes up 360 immersive rooms. They also supply content on request. And is truly immersive in a way that VR sets cannot be. It’s a modular system that can suit any setting. I recommend for any school or educational environment who want a mixed reality experience. Truly immersive.

Shoutouts to other companies like Eton.News which is not a local paper but an electronic newspaper generator which can develop writing for a purpose and an audience in producing a high quality product . All online. Look at the printed examples and see the possiblities for your setting. A-dapt looks interesting as well , although I didn’t get to talk or even see a demonstration the of using ai technologies to analyse student emotions and student engagement may help autistic learners.

Using Assistive Technology to enable and empower pupils

My good friend and Colleague Dave Presky has sent me this article. Hope to have coffee with him today at BETT. Anyway, here is the article he sent:-

Breaking Down the Barriers

Something amazing is happening here at York House School. Dave Presky, Head of Computing, and I are working together to implement technology to help our SEND children break down the barriers they face in their day to day learning. Over the years I have learnt that enabling children to access their learning independently rather than using adult support is far more empowering and effective. We have begun to embed a variety technology tools to do this with astonishing results!

The C-Pen reading pen

The scanning reading pen has always been one of my favourites. I like the fact that children who struggle to read and understand, can scan the text and hear what is being said or asked of them. It has totally changed the way some of our SEND children access exams and reading texts. When one of the children who uses this tool said to me ‘using the reading pen has really made me feel confident with reading now Mrs Warren. I want to read more and feel so good about myself.’ I knew something must be working! Another child who used the exam reading pen felt so relieved that they didn’t have to keep asking for adult help that they confidently worked through a paper that I thought they would struggle with!

We have also had some really positive feedback from some of our parents whose children have used our pens for exams. One parent told me ‘My child was much more confident going in to the exam knowing that they could independently work through the paper.’ Another said The use of a reader pen has given our daughter greater confidence when approaching her English work and improved her understanding of comprehension related tasks – with improved results. In recent months, it has also helped manage her anxiety ahead of exams, knowing she was able to use a reader pen to read questions and passages. This tool has been really valuable for our daughter and grateful her school has provided tools like the reader pen, overlays & computer apps to navigate the right strategies to help manage her dyslexia.’

Breaking down the barrier of the decoding of words and enabling the children to focus on the story itself and the comprehension of this has helped these children re-engage with reading!

Voice to text (Google Chrome)

If I am honest I was a little unsure of this tool before I used it. The idea of children speaking into a computer and then it transferring into a text that made sense was something I didn’t think could happen. How wrong I was! I have personally seen a child who, although has good creative ideas, always struggled with recording his work; this was due to processing the information and the speed he wrote. He went from writing 3-4 sentences in a 45 minute session to writing a 3 paragraph story in the same amount of time! When it comes to actually recording their ideas and purely by using this tool the children who have slower processing, have been enabled to speak their ideas and focus on the story development rather than spelling and speed of writing. A few members of staff have been using this tool across the curriculum and have had equally astounding results. One teacher said ‘I didn’t think the children understood much about the concept I was teaching and when I first attempted to get them to write something down, I didn’t get much out of them. After a staff training session on how tech can assist our SEND children’s learning I decided to try the voice to text tool on the chrome books. The results completing took away the barrier and I have never seen these children write so much and show how much they actually do take in.’

Using these 2 tools and embedding a few more, such as Clicker and widgit online , we are hoping to become a school where our SEND children are equally as independent and successful as their peers. I truly believe this can happen with the use of technology. We are only at the beginning of our journey, however, the results are already impacting on our most vulnerable children.

Mrs Helena Warren

Head of Learning Support

York House School. 

BETT Show 2020 – Part 1

Here we are again at the BETT Show. I have been coming to this show since the 90’s. That means 20 years of BETT. This one by far is the biggest. North & South Halls are filled with exhibitors. Also, the speakers have quadrupled to what I remember from previous BETT.

Paul Hutton in full flow on iPads

First stop was to see my old colleague and friend Paul Hutton speaking about accessibility options on the iPad. Always informative and entertaining as he demonstrates with examples how these features help pupils with special needs, especially his own daughter .I learnt about a feature I didn’t know called Reader View in Safari which is great for student revision but also the blind who use screenreaders. You can also change the font and the background colour of the page. That in itself was worth train fare!

Reader View on Safari
Changing fonts and coloured backgrounds

Next up as I walked around down North Hall I came past Scanning Pens. They are having a great year with being awarded “Company of the Year” at BETT this year. They are launching their Bluetooth enable Pen which acts like a scanner as text can be imported into your computer or mobile device. In turn that can be translated with Google Translate into any language and spoken out. Amazing for helping foreign students whose first language is not English. Not only can you edit text but you can manipulate it. Partially sighted users would find this a help. With the use of a ruler to guide the pen across the page it could provide them a way to enlarge any given printed material and have it read back. From menus to newspapers to books. Printed materials can be instantly accessible at the scan of a pen! It doesn’t stop there. You can also have a keyboard that makes it accessible to all your apps. Well done Scanning Pens for what looks like a great accessible tool!

Bluetooth scanning pen with transfer app

Time to sit down and relax. A rarity at BETT! But the Arena affords a pleasant area to sit and listen to talks that can inspire. I listened to a teacher from Boston speak about his class which is organised more like a youth club as pupils don’t have fixed lessons and work on projects in answer to questions. Intrigued? Well if you want to discuss more about this ( and how does he control the classes?) that you can contact him direct on the slide below. His name is Kader Adjout.

Whilst trying to work out why my phone had stopped working on Exchange. Which was a pain and took most of the next session, I listened to a Q&A session chaired by Helen Skelton the presenter about the future jobs not yet invented yet and how schools need to adapt to this changing model. Ideas were shared- some idealistic, some practical. The problem lies with our draconian and rigid system. How do we break free enough to do this? Everyone has an idea how we could work more creatively and effectively and it was good to hear the phrase “digital learning,” being used again. To me computing AND digital learning should be taught in schools thus squaring ICT up. Oh, and I got my Exchange working again ( why did my email need verifying and authenticated.? It was authenticated this morning? That’s technology for you, eh?