Author: Alan Stewart

Helpful Free Reading Resources during C-19 School Closures

I’ll add to and update information on this page as soon as I know of any useful links. If you see something that I’ve missed – let me know.

World Books Online – Loads of books and projects for kids to read – many with audio support.
Online books – some with audio. Contact me if you need a sign-in code.
Oxford Owl books for Home Ages 3-11
AbdoDigital – free access until end of May. Lots of books and there’s a ‘Read-to-me Books’ section too.
Free access to Clicker@home for schools closed by the coronavirus
outbreak. PC or Mac required for reading material.
Free literacy resources fro TeachIT

ATSS Highland – Covid-19: Closure of Schools

The Assistive Technology Support Service (ATSS) will be available for online help and support during the school closure period.

ATSS can help with advice and practical support around Highland’s School technology (Google Classroom, etc.) but also more specialised access around reading and writing supports for all the digital material that many pupils have difficulty with – and we’re likely to be seeing a lot more of it than usual over the coming weeks, perhaps months.

We can help with, amongst other things, reading support apps for iPad, PC, and Chrome. We can also help with supportive writing tools for iPad, Chrome, and PC.

Get in touch by contacting me (Alan Stewart) and we can take things from there.

Text to Speech & Prediction with ClaroRead for Chrome

Delighted to be updating this post today after returning to Claro in the first time for a couple of months. On a visit to a local secondary school today we were discussing tools for predictive text and I checked this over before referencing it. I was quite critical of the prediction offering in my original post- it simply didn’t work!! – but it does now.

If you’re needing to offer your students simple, free text to speech to support their reading of web pages or PDFs – or any other digital text for that matter – ClaroRead is a really good tool. It’s unobtrusive, and, once it’s set up for your student, it doesn’t require much attention.

You can download the extension from the Chrome Web Store and once installed this icon will show at the top of your screen.  

Clicking it will open the discreet Control Panel which allow you to configure the tool to suit yourself or your student.

e.g. If you tick the settings like this your student can simply highlight text to hear it read aloud.

CR click & play

Experiment with the settings to suit your user – e.g. switching on Click and play will change the control panel accordingly. Watch a demo video here.

Using ClaroRead text to speech to support writing.

e.g. Students can also hear what they’re writing as they type.

As mentioned above the prediction window is now functioning well. It’s not a full-feature predictor but it’s good for core vocabulary in everyday, general writing.

You can switch on Prediction from here….

There’s also a full Help Guide to making use of the extension here.

Clicker 8/Clicker Writer is here!

Clicker 8 on the Cricksoft website.

What’s new in Clicker 8/Clicker Writer

This latest iteration of Clicker is a huge step forward in accessibility and interoperability across platforms. So, where teachers still use PCs in class while pupils use Chromebooks in school and possibly iPads at home there are now no barriers between these tools.

The individual apps for Chrome and iPad left many unsure about what specific app they needed at any given time. Clicker 8 overcomes this by including all the apps as well as a range of other features (old and new) all within the umbrella package.

In addition to the writing and associated support tools for pupils, Crick has added a fantastic automated picture attachment tool (Picturize) for most text; resurrected and included an application from a few years ago that allows for the creation of Cloze passages; and there is also a comprehensive analytics system built into the software to help teachers tracking, reporting, and planning. There are loads more pre-prepared materials available too – some packs that used to be out of reach for many school budgets.

The main advance for me of this more universal approach is in the functionality that the software now affords teachers who can select and/or prepare materials for lessons in Clicker 8 with all the multi-sensory and inclusive features at their disposal. These lessons can then be interacted with by pupils to expand or create new writing and learning.

ComicLife3 for Chrome

Today plasq announced the official release of Comic Life 3 for Chromebook! The app is now available in the form of a compatible Android app.

Comic Life 3 for Chromebook has all the favourite features you have come to love from the other versions. To find out more, please check out the dedicated Comic Life 3 for Chromebook site.

Comic Life 3 is available from the Google Play store and requires a relatively recent Chromebook to function. (If you’ve installed Android apps on your Chromebook you’re ready for Comic Life).

Comic Life 3 on Chromebooks is US$2.49 and can be purchased and downloaded from the Google Play Store here.

DocsPlus for Chrome gets an Exam Upgrade

Secondary Literacy Support

DocsPlus for Chromebookuse in exams Read more here.

It’s great to see that the excellent DocsPlus Chromebook app has been updated to incorporate the DocReader and customisable ‘Exam Mode’ settings introduced earlier in the Windows and Mac versions of the software. These exciting additions will facilitate the use of the app in exams for those students who qualify for additional access arrangements.

If you are already using the app, then it will automatically be updated. If you don’t yet have the app and would like a free copy, please email us at info@cricksoft.com.

DocsPlus for Chromebook trial success

The ASN team at Cathkin High School, a mainstream secondary school in South Lanarkshire, supports students with a wide range of needs. including learners with dyslexia, ADHD and autism. The team has been trialling the DocsPlus Chromebook app.

Lorna Jensen, Principal Teacher of ASN, describes the difference that DocsPlus has made to the students’ literacy output in a short space of time:

“There’s no doubt that DocsPlus had a massive impact on the pupils during our trial. It improved their self-esteem, confidence and motivation with writing tasks. Certainly in the English department we found that their level of writing improved significantly. The letters the pupils wrote were comfortably at level three – before this, these pupils would have been producing work at an early level two, so there was definitely a tangible improvement in the quality of their written work.”

There were some lovely comments from the students too:

“The spellchecker really helped. It helped me believe in myself, and gave me confidence with my writing.” You can learn more about the trial here.

Prediction Software for Chrome

WordQ for Chrome from Quillsoft is a great tool for helping struggling writers. This app (deliberately not an extension) is robust, works offline, and integrates well with Google Drive. It’s the best low-cost solution we’ve come across during our extensive sweep of available tools.

More details from Quillsoft about the app here.

Good prediction software allows the user to augment the core lexicon with personal and/or topic vocabulary.

The WordQ text editor is clean, and easy to use without over-complicating matters for users.

Features and facilities are all useful and easy to access.

Highland schools can contact the Assistive Technology Support Service (ATSS) for a demonstration or a trial of the software.