Using Signalong for communication with pupils?

Sign dogAlways forget what the sign is??

There is a new Signalong  service which is extremely helpful.  You text 07446462146 with SIGN and then a word to look up.  They then send you a description of the sign right back.

You can do this up to 8 times a month for no additional charge – each use will still cost your normal network rate for a text.  After that, if you want to, you can upgrade to get unlimited signs a month for £30 a year.

Many thanks to Susan Henderson, Edinburgh City Council for sharing this information.

 

A guide to the Assistive Software on school computers

Assistive software on ELC school computers

Please have a look at this guide which gives a short description of the assistive software available on East Lothian Council school computers. For many students with additonal support needs the use of technology is really important for them to become independent learners.

Please get in touch if you have any questions.

slawson@eastlothian.gov.uk

 

How accessible are our school computers? Please respond to the survey

On 31 October the Scottish Government published Guidance on “Planning improvements for disabled pupils’ access to education” which “describes the requirements the Act places on education authorities and schools to work to improve the education of disabled learners and to help ensure that they are properly included in, and able to benefit fully from, their school education.”

The Guidance contains two appendices that refer specifically to measures that local authorities should take to improve the accessibility of school ICT and computers. It covers things like installing the Scottish computer voices; having text-to-speech software available; providing access to control panels so that students with disabilities can make adjustments to enable access; etc. The document is available here: http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Publications/2014/10/8011.

Now that the guidance is published, it will be helpful to get a snapshot of how accessible school computers are across the country, and what might need to be done to improve the accessibility of ICT used in schools.

Please help by completing the survey at https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/accessICT.

Thank you very much.

Useful, quick tips for teaching dyslexic learners

1. Praise Gives Power; Criticism Kills

A dyslexic person needs to have confidence to learn and overcome their difficulties. Because they have experienced failure, deep down they don’t believe they are capable of learning.

Re-establish self-confidence.
Provide the opportunity to succeed.
Give praise for small achievements.

Dyslexics need constant praise and support. You worked hard! You did well! WOW! That's really good!

2.  Don’t ask a dyslexic to read aloud

Words are likely to be misread or skipped, causing embarrassment.

3. Don’t punish a dyslexic for forgetting things like books or sports kit

Offer positive strategies such as having one place to put things away.

4. Don’t call a dyslexic lazy

Dyslexics have to work harder to produce a smaller amount.

Dyslexics have difficulty staying focused when reading, writing or listening.

5. Expect less written work

A dyslexic may be verbally bright but struggle to put ideas into writing.

Allow a dyslexic more time for reading, listening and understanding.

6. Prepare a printout of homework and stick it in their book

Provide numbered steps, e.g. 1. Do this. 2. Do that etc.

7. Do not expect a dyslexic to copy text from a board or book

Give a printout. Suggest they highlight key areas and draw thumbnail pictures in the margin to represent the most important points.

Do not expect a dyslexic to copy text from a board or book

8. Accept homework created on a computer

Physical handwriting is torture for most dyslexics. Word processors make life much easier. Allow them to use the Spell checker and help with grammar and punctuation so that you can see the quality of the content.

9. Discuss an activity to make sure it is understood

Visualising the activity or linking it to a funny action may help dyslexics remember.

10. Give the opportunity to answer questions orally

Dyslexics can often demonstrate their understanding with a spoken answer but are unable with to put those ideas in writing.

All credit to  the Nessy website for these useful tips.  You can find further information and support for Teachers, Parents/Carers and students on this site.

Ross High pupil, Fiona Scott to present at ICT workshop

6th year pupil, Fiona Scott will be demonstrating her excellent use of speech recognition software at and ICT workshop tomorrow in Edinburgh.  Originally Shirley Lawson was going to present the case study but Fiona has agreed to come and do a live demo – no mean feat!

Is Speech Recognition software finally beginning to realise it’s potential for learners with additional support needs?

This free workshop run by CALL Scotland and SQA will consider this question. Speech recognition systems are now freely available on Windows and MacOS computers and in mobile devices such as the iPad. At the same time, speech recognition is becoming of greater interest to schools as an alternative to scribes, given that scribes cannot be used for assessing writing in National Literacy assessments.

In this workshop we will review the tools available, including Windows 7 Speech Recognition; Dragon Naturally Speaking; iPad Siri; Google Voice Typing, and share experiences (both positive and negative) and, we hope, good practice.

The timetable is as follows:

  • 9.00: Coffee and registration
  • 9.30: Windows 7 Speech Recognition
    • Liz Fraser, Selkirk High School, will talk about a trial of the free built in Windows Speech Recognition that is currently running in Selkirk High School.
  • 10.00: Dragon Naturally Speaking
    • ​​Shirley Lawson, East Lothian, will present a case study about a pupil in S6 using Dragon Naturally Speaking.
    • Dianne Youngson, Dunblane High School will present a case study about a learner using Dragon in Higher assessments and exams.
  • 10.50: Comfort Break
  • 11.10: iOS Siri
    • ​​CALL staff will introduce this session and demonstrate Siri. There will be input from Emma Slavin from Balfron High School about using Siri with iReadWrite, and from other colleagues.
  • 11.40: Google Android
    • ​​​Craig Mill from CALL will give an overview of Google Now and Google Voice Typing.
  • ​12:10 Plenary Discussion

Information from this workshop will be reported back on this blog.

ICT and Literacy Seminar: 10th December

CALL Scotland are running an ICT and Literacy Seminar on Wednesday 10th December, 9.30am-1pm.

This FREE event will explore how technology can be used to support learners with additional support needs in assessment of literacy skills. They will look at tools and techniques such as text-to-speech software for accessing reading texts, and for writing, such as spellcheckers, word prediction and speech recognition.

This will be a really worthwhile session to attend either in person or via webinar (details to sign up on the link above).  I can feedback to all afterwards as I will be going.

Struggling to read a web page? Try Ivona mini reader

ivona

Many students have difficulty reading text. If they are using a computer they can have support to do this using Ivona MiniReader.

Ivona MiniReader is a free simple text reader which adds a floating toolbar on the screen and can read out text from almost any program – Adobe Reader, Microsoft Word, Google Docs, web pages etc.. MiniReader can use the free Scottish voice Heather and Stuart and most other voices on your computer.

This should be in the Applications Folder on all school computers: PCs, Thin Clients, laptops and netbooks.  If it is not, please log a call with ITServiceDesk@eastlothian.gov.uk to request it. It can be installed remotely.

Remind students to bring in headphones!

Support for young people with additional support needs

Futures fair-

The Futures Fair will be held on  Thursday 6th November at The Brunton Hall, Musselburgh.  It will be a drop in between 2pm and 5pm.

This information fair aims to help young people with additional support needs and their families plan for adult life.

There will be approximately 50 organisations who can tell you about what they offer and how they can help with:

  • Education
  • Work and training
  • Money advice
  • Social work and health
  • Social life and leisure    ….and much more!

For full details, have a look at the information poster here

 

Scottish Children’s Book Awards – accessible formats

The shortlisted titles for this year’s Scottish Children’s Book Awards were announced on August 28th by the Scottish Book Trust. The Book Awards scheme encourages children in schools throughout Scotland to read a selection of the best Scottish children’s books of the past year and to vote for their favourite in three age categories, Bookbug Readers (3 – 7), Younger Readers (8 – 11) and Older Readers (12 – 16). Here are this year’s shortlisted titles:

Bookbug Readers

  • Robot Rumpus by Sean Taylor, illustrated by Ross Collins
  • Princess Penelope and the Runaway Kitten by Alison Murray
  • Lost for Words by Natalie Russell

Younger Readers

  • Precious and the Mystery of the Missing Lion by Alexander McCall Smith
  • Pyrates Boy by E.B. Colin
  • Attack of the Giant Robot Chickens by Alex McCall

Older Readers

  • Mosi’s War by Cathy MacPhail
  • Dark Spell by Gill Arbuthnot
  • The Wall by William Sutcliffe

CALL Scotland has produced accessible versions of the shortlisted books to allow children with print disabilities (which make it hard for them to access a standard book) to take part in the scheme.  Read Allan Wilson’s excellent blog here for full details.

English as an Additional Language resources

Do you have a student in your class whose native language is not English and you are looking for resources, ideas, classroom support strategies?  I thought it was worth reminding people of Janet Storey’s excellent resources and weblinks on the EAL Google site.

https://sites.google.com/a/edubuzz.org/english-as-an-additional-language/