Posted in Assistive Technology Hardware, Assistive Technology Software, CPD/Training/Events

Highland & Moray teachers and therapists gather for ICT & Inclusion event

Over 100 teachers, occupational therapists, and speech & language therapists from Highland and Moray attended the ICT & Inclusion Roadshow at Victoria Park, Dingwall on Wednesday 28th March. This SEED funded and CALL Centre organised event has always proved popular and this year’s event was the best ever. Some twenty exhibitors displayed and demonstrated a wide range of hardware and software to support pupils with additional support needs. Well-attended seminars ran throughout the day focusing on literacy issues, communication, photojournalism, Books for All, visual impairment, and physical access. Laura Compton’s (West Lothian) seminars on the use of iPODs with reluctant readers was a particular hit with those who attended.
A superb lunch was provided by Highland Catering Services and teas and coffees were available all day thanks to Donnie & Edna MacBean.

Pictures and accounts from seminars to come……

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Posted in CPD/Training/Events

Routes for Learning 23 February, 2007

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A number of staff from Highland attended a SEED funded day organised by the CALL Centre, Edinburgh University to look at materials to help in the assessment of children with severe and complex additional support needs.

For me, the materials seem to supply a language of common understanding for those working with children whose needs have proven difficult to assess and articulate. I can immediately think of a number of pupils and supporting staff for whom this pack could provide a valuable focus on key issues for individuals’ development.

Sally Millar (Joint Co-ordinator of The CALL Centre) summarises:

There has always been a shortage of good materials to support assessment and meaningful target setting, for children with severe and complex additional support needs. Routes for Learning, an excellent new pack of assessment materials has recently been produced by a team of practitioners and researchers, with support from the Welsh Assembly Government. The pack was introduced to a Scottish audience on 23rd February at an Edinburgh Study Day organized by the CALL Centre. Jessie Wojciechowski from the Scottish Executive Education Department put the day into the context of the Scottish Curriculum for Excellence before handing over to Dr Verity Donnelly and Pauline Loftus to cover the assessment materials in detail.Highlighting the core importance of communicative interaction and basic cognitive milestones, Routes for Learning recognizes that children do not necessarily follow a set developmental path. The assessment materials provide a flexible ‘routemap’ helping the practitioner to plot the child’s level in relation to a set of key behaviours starting from the very basic “Notices stimuli” and “Reacts to close contact with a familiar adult” and moving through 43 stages to reach “Early problem solving” and “Initiates Actions to achieve desired result (exerting autonomy in variety of contexts)” at the higher developmental level. The various developmental stages are described in detail in the assessment materials and the pack also contains a DVD with video clips that clearly illustrate child behaviours exemplifying achievement of different stages on the Routemap. The Routes for Learning materials are being piloted in Wales with considerable success and there was a general feeling at the CALL Study Day in February that much could be gained by trying to introduce them into use in Scotland.

“You can’t overstate the importance of communication. Without it you can’t interact, without interaction you can’t have a relationship and without a relationship I don’t think you can have a life of any sort.” (Anon.)

Get a printer friendly copy of Sally’s summary – includes details about where you can source a copy of the materials.

Posted in Assistive Technology Hardware, Assistive Technology Software, CPD/Training/Events

ICT and Inclusion Roadshow in Highland

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As previously intimated, Highland is hosting one of this year’s ICT & Inclusion Roadshows on Wednesday 28th March, 2007 at Victoria Park, Dingwall. These roadshows are organised by the staff of the CALL Centre at Edinburgh University and supported by SEED.

Paper copies of the programme and booking form are being distributed to schools this week but if you can’t wait – download it from here.

Highland staff should book their places via the CPD Online facility rather than by completing and sending off a paper form. Click here to go to CPD Online.

This event looks really exciting with some 20 companies represented, providing an in-depth look at their hardware and software as well as a range of seminars to show how these might be used.  

Additionally, the ATS Service has arranged three seminars to augment the existing programme of events.

  • Sarah MacAlpine, SfL – Crown & Muirtown Primary Schools, will be looking at how to use core software to support pupils who have English as an Additional Language.
  • Liz Roberts, Development Officer – ATS Service, plans to explore the use of digital photographs and images to provide alternative learning and teaching opportunities for pupils with ASN.
  • Laura Compton, ICT Development Officer – West Lothian Council, will detail a project she instigated in her own area using iPods and audio books for reluctant readers.
Posted in Assistive Technology Software, CPD/Training/Events, ICT Support

Show and Tell using Digital Photographs

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The photographic slideshows backed with music that we run before our training events regularly prompt questions such as, how were they created? What software did you use? Is that difficult to do? Many teachers have said that they wish they could do something similar with their, or their pupils’, photographs.

We think these types of slideshows are a really great way to share photographs – no costly, and often poor quality, printing. While we use our photographs as a backdrop, they can have more specific use within the curriculum. Pupils can create multimedia presentations about their field trips, activities, experiments, and so on. It’s so quick and easy that it soon becomes a favoured way of feeding back and presenting. The results can be dramatic, and, as long as you keep within copyright law, can be shared and kept as evidence.

We use a free software package called Photostory3 for Windows to generate most our slideshows. Most digital cameras come with software that will allow something similar and it’s possible to use your video editing software for stills should you require extra special effects. However, Photostory3 is great for simple, quick slideshows containing pictures that pan and zoom, background audio at the click of your mouse, as well as the ability to title and narrate a commentary onto your presentation.

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See some examples.

Check system requirements and download the software here.

Take a guided tour of Photostory3 here.

ICT Training Support related CPD

Posted in CPD/Training/Events, ICT Support

ATSS Activity in Early 2007

The ATS Service has been involved in supporting a number of schools – and others – throughout January and February.

Two after school sessions at Duncan Forbes School to look at interactive tools for teaching and how Softease can be used to support the primary curriculum.

The Support for Learning Department at Grantown Grammar took part in training on editing digital video footage using ULEAD VideoStudio 10Plus software.

Training in the use of Adobe Captivate 2 software was held in Edinburgh for CALL Centre staff.

Update and information sessions are scheduled for both Tarradale Primary School and Portree Primary School before mid term.

Next year’s CPD Calendar is now being prepared so ensure your school has completed CPD returns and requests. Contact us directly if you have any specific requests.

Posted in CPD/Training/Events, ICT Support

Alternatives to interactive whiteboards

The ICT Training Support Team took the drop-in days to Caithness, Lochaber, and Skye to enable Head Teachers and others to look at alternatives to the interactive whiteboard. We looked ways that would allow practitioners to become digital teachers, able to provide interactive opportunities for their pupils, without the expense or logistically difficult placement of an IWB.

These days proved very popular and mutually informative. We saw and spoke with approximately 90 staff over the three days, many of whom expressed the same concerns about the expense and practical problems of placing IWBs in significant numbers of classrooms.

We concentrated on the hardware/software balance that is often missing from the ‘hard sell’ tactics of IWB sellers. We demonstrated the tools that the ICT Training Support Team uses when ‘on the road’. Our hardware set-ups typically include the core requirements of a laptop and projector augmented with wireless keyboards and mice, and Airliner tablets. These provide us with all the interactive tools that we’ve ever needed. We usually project to large screens or onto blank walls – rather than the limited sizes of 5 or 6 foot boards. The cost savings of not buying boards leaves us funds to buy the very best visually attractive software to underpin our digitally based teaching methods.

There are no plans to repeat these drop-in sessions but anyone with any questions should contact Alan Stewart or Liz Roberts at The Dingwall Education Centre to discuss.

Interactive Resources Order Form

Posted in Assistive Technology Hardware, CPD/Training/Events, ICT Support

Interactive ICT in the Classroom Feedback & Summary

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Our two-day drop-in event proved to be very popular and mutually informative. Many of the questions and issues we raised were further borne out by the comments and experiences of practising teachers.

Around 40 Head Teachers and 20 others, attending on behalf of their Head Teachers, took the opportunity to have a closer look at the options available for providing interactive ICT in classrooms.

We promised to summarise what we had on display and try to provide other useful information relating to alternatives to interactive whiteboards. I have prepared an information/summary sheet which I will email to all Heads in the New Year but am also posting it here.

Get the summary here………

Posted in CPD/Training/Events, Glow, ICT Support

Highland gets GLOWing

The first meeting of Highland’s Glow mentors took place on Friday 15th December.

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Twenty-nine teachers from all over Highland met at Strathpeffer Community Centre to hear from Alan Yeoman, Learning & Teaching Scotland on progress so far and plans for next steps.

There was an opportunity for mentors to start discussing and considering their future role now that details have begun to emerge from the development team. There was also a chance to feedback on the first phase of the portal pilot that had been running throughout November and early December.

Mentors were offered, and most accepted, a loan of a new laptop for use throughout the Glow implementation period. The computers are modern wireless and bluetooth enabled and were supplemented with a bluetooth mouse, a network cable, a 512mb U3 pen drive, and a very practical backpack bag.

The next meeting has been arranged for 29th March 2007.

More about Glow….

Posted in CPD/Training/Events, ICT Support

Interactive ICT in the Classroom

From recent visits to schools, discussions with staff, and our own experiences there are a number common issues/concerns relating to financial pressures as well as practical barriers to providing Interactive Whiteboards in classrooms. The ATS Service is offering an opportunity to have a look and ‘play’ with a variety of possible alternatives to better inform the resourcing process.

Interactive ICT Tools for the Classroom

Tuesday 19th & Wednesday 20th December

2 days during which HTs or their representatives can drop in (for an hour or so?) to see and use some of the available tools that may offer better interactivity and allow money to go further.

We can consider:

  • Teaching styles/methods
  •   Set-up/sharing options
  •  Health & Safety issues
  •  Coverage across your school
  • Best value/costs

We hope these days will be of some help to those who have concerns or questions over these issues.

Posted in CPD/Training/Events, Glow, ICT Support

ATSS & Glow

The ATS Service is heavily involved with the LTS/RM Glow project that aims to put a national intranet at the disposal of all Scottish learners.

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Our interest is both general and specific. We hope for an overall successful suite of tools that will allow teachers and pupils to engage with teaching and learning in a forward looking manner, taking account of new technologies and learning styles.

We do, however, wonder just how accessible the Glow portal will be to those with significant learning difficulties, sensory, or physical impairment?

The ATS Service will keep careful watch over developments and ask questions of the developers at every opportunity to ensure delivery of a system that is as inclusive and accessible as possible.

Highland has assigned 29 mentors to support the development of Glow – leave your comments and questions for them here.