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.
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.
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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
for Chromebook trial success
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
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.”
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.
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.
We at ATSS have always loved Book Creator and have suggested its use and trained numerous folks to use it and embed it into all sorts of curricular areas over a number of years. Book Creator has continuously developed over time onto different platforms and to offer additional tools and features.
This most recent development opens up an new world of possibilities for teachers to create interactive resources for their students while providing pupils with a fantastic work space in which they can showcase their work no matter (almost) what format it exists in.
I like this video because it includes and talks about important elements of Clicker that are often overlooked. Issues such as the variety of access methods and snippets of tailored choosing activities that can be seen in the background. One boy is using it for writing (which is great) but it’s by exploiting the power and adaptability within Clicker that’s paying off for these youngsters and their teachers.
The Assistive Technology Support Service has been sifting through various tools that might meet the many and varied needs of teachers and pupils as Chromebooks roll out across Highland schools.
PDF annotation seems to be a significant need.
Many pieces of teachers’ work for pupils already exist as PDF worksheets. The ability to annotate such material opens up many opportunities for pupils to interact directly with these worksheets as we move towards 1:1 device availability.
Kami is a good example of such a well-functioned tool to allow pupils to:
Digitally answer questions directly into the workspace
Comment directly on PDF texts
Draw shapes and diagrams to express knowledge and understanding
Utilise text-to-speech to support those with reading difficulties
Kami integrates with Google Classroom and Drive so files can be shared easily in both directions.