“UDL research demonstrates that the challenge of diversity can and must be met by making curriculum flexible and responsive to learner differences.”
I’m asking participants at an upcoming course on using Clicker 6 to watch the video below to enable us to give some thought to how well the software might meet the principles of Multiple Means of Representation, Multiple Means of Action and Expression, and Multiple Means of Engagement that underpin Universal Design for Learning (UDL)
There are now three Apps in the Crick stable and all have a good pedigree. All allow for the generation of personalised materials and all offer access to an ever-growing bank of resources stored at LearningGrids. – there are discrete sections for each of the apps and none appear to be interchangeable. Certain layouts and word banks can be constructed within Clicker 6 and shared with the iPad via Dropbox or email.
Clicker Sentences (£18.99) has been around now for a few months and after a few teething problems has settled down into a useful reading tool and sentence construction tool for even very young users. The main function is to provide sentence models, on the grid, as a pop-up, and as an audio support to support the pupil’s re-building of the sentence from the automatically generated wordbank. The wordbank also provides options for support at differing levels: guided support, alphabetical, and random order to allow teachers to assess how their pupils are managing sentence construction. Activities are very easy to generate, either with saved pictures or those taken live and are easily adapted across the levels of difficulty.
I particularly like making talking books with this app – photos or clipart from a book (remember Clicker clipart is available if you’ve bought any of the Powered by Clicker series) along with text at the relevant level. We’ve even had some parents use it as a home-school diary so that the pupil can relay their news at sentence or word level when they get to class.
See it being used here.
Clicker Docs (£21.99) is a fantastic, versatile tool – it’s an age-appropriate word processor with, if you want or need it, speech support, prediction support, and word bank support for writing.
See Clicker Docs in use here.
Write Online (£21.99) is the newest app from Crick, and, as far as I can see, it’s almost identical to Clicker Docs apart from a different default appearance for slightly older users. Despite the two apps being almost identical and performing the same tasks for different age groups, you can’t access the resources from LearningGrids across the two apps – a bit of a cynical move, I feel, to force you into two apps when one might have been sufficient. Oddly, you can show up to 8 predictions in Clicker Docs but only 6 in Write Online despite it being aimed at older users! It’s nice, though, and I can envisage lots of students making use of it.
ChooseIT Maker 3 from Inclusive Technology is now available online as a subscription service via the already well-established HelpKidzLearn website. Not sure that schools really like this type of arrangement but the fact there are no installation costs to be considered might make up for the annual commitment.
The software boasts the ability to quickly and easily prepare activities for pupils online that can then be shared and used across any PC, Mac, iPad, or Android tablet. The activities themselves can be accessed via mouse, touchscreen, switches, and even eye-gaze. This makes CM3 an attractive assessment tool: those of us who work in assistive technology often have difficulty finding age-appropriate, relevant, personalised, motivating activities for pupils so the ability to quickly put something together could be a real boon.
The Assistive Technology Support Service team hopes you’ll sign up for one of our interactive, informative courses on Clicker 6 but if you just want a flavour of what the software can do – watch this video.
This June has seen the launch of Other Ways of Speaking, a new information booklet for parents and professionals that provides information on the different ways children and young people with little or no speech communicate, how to support them and where to go for further information and help.
Free copies can be ordered or downloaded here or at www.hello.org.uk/resources – we would ask you take this opportunity to raise awareness about AAC to health and education professionals and your/their clients.
This booklet explores Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC), a term that describes a wide range of techniques children and young people use to support or replace spoken communication. Techniques such as using gestures, signing, symbols, boards and books, adapted computers and dedicated Voice Output Communication Aids (VOCAs).
Other Ways of Speaking has been produced by The Communication Trust and Communication Matters, with The Communication Consortium member organisations 1Voice, ACE Centre, ACE Centre North, The Makaton Charity, Scope and Signalong. Find out more about Communication Matters and how it is supporting the Hello campaign, visit www.communicationmatters.org.uk/page/diary
If you work with pupils who use switches it’s likely you know of the titles mentioned below. They’re all great packages in their own ways to help the introduction and development of switch skills and for laying the foundations for more advanced uses.
Inclusive Technology has been releasing Set-by-step guides for all of these packages as well as a very useful booklet on possible routes for progression through switch skills. They’ve made these all available as free downloads from the publications page on their website – here.
I’ve placed links to each of the publications on the screenshots below.
The BBC have created an easy-to-use configuration tool that allows you to view all of its web content in a format that suits you.
The tool is called MyDisplay and you can read about it and switch it on from here.
MyDisplay offers a number of preset page themes suited to a wide range of potential users via an easy to use menu page. The ability to create your own custom theme is also available.
Although this is only a trial at the moment, I believe that this tool will become a fixture that will help many people gain better access to the web.
This level of accessibility raises the bar for other web developers – particularly those that espouse inclusion. I would like to see Glow Futures incorporate this level of support for the learners in our schools.
I’m a bit of a stuck record when I’m regularly asked the question, “What’s the best software for……?” So often, I find that Textease is my, now predictable, answer to the question due to its versatility and relative simplicity of use.
Recently, I’ve had a number of concerns raised about children finding it difficult to adequately lay out their sums. I know there are specific software titles for this but none seems to offer the teachers I speak to, the versatility to set out the sums the way they want.
I’ve made a variety of different template pages in different settings to suit the particular pupil or teacher with whom I’ve been working. You can download the examples below by clicking on the screenshots.
If you don’t have a copy of Textease you can download a free viewer here to enable you to use some of the features. (You won’t be able to hear the speech or print if using the free viewer.)
The templates allow the children to drag and drop numbers and operators, often onto a background grid, in any shape or format they wish. The drag and drop facility works well on teachers’ whiteboards as well!!
On some pages there are smaller copies of numbers for use as carrying figures. There are basic signs such as £ and % on some of the templates but there’s no end to the tools you could include for your own specific purposes. I’ve even managed to devise a way of constructing fractions – contact me if you have any trouble with this. I’ve left out a few more complicated constructions so as not to over-complicate what’s a very simple and accessible tool.
If you have any suggestions for specific or improved layouts please let me know – I’m always happy to build such layouts or help teachers build their own.
I dabbled with Geocaching when it started to become popular a few years ago but time, the arrival of the children, and a variety of other intervening factors meant I never really ‘got into it’. However, when I bought a GPS enabled phone (iPhone 3G) last year I decided to revisit the sport/activity/game. I’m always out jogging or cycling with the kids, walking in the woods and hills that surround where we live so it seemed an obvious additional facet to our trips out.
So – what is it and what do you need to get started? Watch the 2 minute video to get an overview.
I can envisage geocaching being an excellent opportunity for teachers and pupils to take part in a healthy, outdoor pursuit while engaging in cross-curricular activities that would give rise, quite naturally, to team work, problem solving, and creativity. Pupils could, for example, learn more about their local environment through geocaching and go on to develop a deeper knowledge to enable them to plan, prepare, describe, and lay their own caches. Success is not all tied up in an ability to read and write so it offers wonderful opportunities for those who have differing learning styles.
GPS devices start around £60 Have a look here and here (thanks Iain Hallihan) although for a bit more (if you hunt around) you can get something a bit better in terms of facilities and robustness. Remember, though, there’s a good chance your phone has GPS facilities that are more than enough to get started.
My son, Finlay, finding a geocache in Clashwood, Muir of Ord.
In April 2007 the CALL Centre completed a project to investigate the need for, and availability of, learning resources in accessible alternative formats for pupils with additional support needs. The project was funded by the Scottish Executive Education Department and the report was published on the Scottish Executive web site* (and the CALL web site) in June 2007.
Local authorities are obliged to consider how they can provide material in suitable alternative formats for pupils with disabilities ‘if the pupil may have difficulty reading information provided in standard written form’. Many local authorities provide learning materials in Braille, enlarged text or audio format to visually impaired students and Disability Discrimination legislation requires consideration of how this provision can be extended to any pupil who has difficulty reading or accessing information. (Read more.)
Using Technology in SQA Exams
Every year thousands of students in Scottish schools require ‘reasonable adjustments’ to sit SQA exams. Many of these students are using technology to assist with reading and writing tasks on a daily basis in school, but have to use a reader or scribe in exams. (Read more.)
Assistive Technology on YouTube
The YouTube web site is not just a collection of video clips of teenage girls lip-synching into hair brushes and boys pulling faces – there is also a lot of material that is interesting and useful for people using technology to support people with disabilities.
AbilityNet, for example, have set up their own page on YouTube with a small collection of their own videos (mostly tutorial material for using the screenreader) and links to their ‘Favourites’. The favourites are particularly interesting with links to over 100 video clips of people using or talking about assistive technology. (Read more.)
Introduction to Clicker Phonics
Clicker Phonics is a new set of add-ons for Clicker 5 that provide a comprehensive set of resources for use with any phonics scheme (though it is based on the Jolly Learning scheme). A total of six CDs are available, under the headings Get Ready! & Get Set!