On this Episode of EduBlether we discuss the very large and complex issue of Nurture and Inclusion with James Kidd. James is passionate about Inclusion and Nurture, and his rich and varied experiences across different schools and local authorities make him a perfect person to have a discussion with about the vast themes explored in this episode.
In this episode of EduBlether, we have an EduBlether with Blair Minchin, a passionate and enthusiastic Primary Teacher in Edinburgh who, amongst a range of other things, creates superb videos sharing his practice on Twitter. Please follow him on for some excellent content @Mr_Minchin We also have our usual features where we recommend the work of Jennifer Gonzalez @cultofpedagogy. Check out edublether.wordpress.com for more great content and if you like the show please rate us on iTunes.
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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’s many pupils have difficulty with and that are likely to be flowing your child’s way 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 emailing myself (Alan Stewart) and we can take things from there.
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.
On the back of thinking about all the small things that lead to successes in a school, I thought it would be apt to consider the other side of this. One of the seemingly small things that add to a considerable amount of disruption and wasted learning time, in all of the schools I have ever worked in, is the line. I’m going to discuss the various problems I see with this accepted norm, and then I will try to consider some alternatives.
One of the main issues I have with this is the wasted teaching and learning time that could be better spent doing anything else. The time it takes between a bell ringing and children getting into a classroom is huge. Let’s do some quick maths on this. A conservative estimate (based purely on my own experience, with admittedly no scientific rigour applied), would be that it takes at least 5 minutes once the bell has gone to have a class ready to come in at the start of the day, after break and after lunch (at least!). So this is potentially 15 minutes each day, which is about 70 minutes across the week, taking in to account the half-day! That is over 44 hours across the school year.
I don’t want you to think I am ever condoning counting minutes and seconds and making sure every possible part of time is accounted for. This would be dangerous for a large number of reasons. But when there are so many other issues, it begs the question, why are we wasting our time on a bizarre and old fashioned custom that gives nothing back?
Ordinarily, children have been playing in an unstructured and child-led way, then a bell goes (quite abruptly) and they have to stop immediately and form a line, one behind each other. We often scorn them for not being straight enough or for continuing conversations. Quite militaristic when you think about it? But this is quite difficult for a lot of children to do (I think I would struggle to be honest) especially if they have been engaging in high energy play. What are we achieving by standing in line? Efficient management of people cannot be an argument here due to the amount of wasted time. Compliance?
I don’t like the idea of continuing to do something one way just because it is the way we have always done it. I want to know what the alternatives are.
Comment below with any suggestions on alternatives to lining up.
TAP is a strap that you wear on your hand, and you type by tapping out different finger combinations. As an access device it could be of interest to people with VI, single handed typists, and anyone who wants a touch typing alternative.
All of us at ATSS are fans and long time advocates of Book Creator – it’s so easy to use and yet so powerful for myriad projects across the curriculum.
Here, the guys at Book Creator asked Kurt Klynen to make a book full of ideas for Literacy across the curriculum. It’s well worth a look.
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.
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.
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.
There’s also a full Help Guide to making use of the extension here.