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.

Easy game to help find the keys on the keyboard

Ideal game to encourage young pupils and those with additional support needs to find the keys on the keyboard.  Both the upper case and lower case letters are shown and there is a 30 second timer which gives the game speed and accuracy elements.

Try it out at Big Brown Bear.

 

National 3 Literacy unit – support without the use of a scribe

Scribes are not permitted as a reasonable adjustment when learners are required to show evidence of their writing skills in SQA National Literacy Units (see http://www.sqa.org.uk/sqa/64698.html) but the use of ICT is allowed:

“In order to minimise the disadvantage faced by some disabled learners in attaining the National Units in Literacy, the use of word processors and other assistive technologies such as screen readers, spell checkers or speech-recognition software would be acceptable as reasonable adjustments.”

(Specification 3 – Literacy Units http://www.sqa.org.uk/sqa/64702.html)

CALL Scotland have produced this excellent guide on what is required to meet the standard for National 3 Literacy Writing and what assistive technology can be used.  Click here to have a look.

Books for All

The Books for All project has been focusing on supporting local authorities and practitioners to address the barriers faced by children and young people with print disabilities. The project supports provision of adapted learning materials in accessible, alternative formats for pupils who have difficulties reading ordinary printed books. This can be because they are blind or vision impaired; have physical disabilities which limit their ability to hold or manipulate information in a printed form; have perceptual or other disabilities such as dyslexia or have insufficient literacy or language skills.

 Guides which have been published on the Education Scotland website contain advice and information for practitioners, pupils and parents who are interested in finding, using and making accessible resources. The information is presented as short video clips, taking the viewer step by step through each process.  Have a look here

Symbolising the environment: Using symbols to aid communication

LTScotland reports on an interesting region-wide project to incorporate symbols into mainstream schools in Fife.

Fife Assessment Centre for Communication through Technology (FACCT) is a Fife-wide service supporting clients for whom speech is not their main means of communication.

Symbols are images which are used to make meanings clearer and easier to understand by providing a visual representation of a single word or a concept. It is important to understand that symbols are different from pictures. A picture conveys a lot of information at once and its focus may be unclear, whereas a symbol focuses on a single concept and by grouping them together more precise information can be conveyed.

Initially, staff became aware that using symbols consistently in a mainstream class was not only supporting a child with an identified learning disability but was meeting the needs of many children who had no recognised learning or communication impairment. Symbols packs were developed and offered to classes throughout the school and were quickly taken up by other members of the teaching staff as they realised the benefits they brought to pupils’ overall development.

There is a consistent approach to the symbols used in all the establishments involved. This ensures that pupils transferring from one environment to another are familiar with any symbols in use, no matter which establishment they are in.

The chosen symbol software package used to create the resources was Mayer-Johnson’s ‘Boardmaker’.

Examples of the use of symbols include:

 • anti-bullying materials •

rights respecting schools information

• conflict resolution methods

• ‘goal -plan -do -review’

• The Mathematics and Home Economic Departments began using symbols to help pupils establish a routine once they entered the classroom. This supported a positive ethos within the classroom.

• Directional symbols are being developed to help S1 pupils and any visitors to the building

• Symbols are used in the main reception area of the school

• Pupils use personalised symbolised timetables.

Books for All Scotland event

Stirling Management Centre, 18 March 2011

Learning and Teaching Scotland, in partnership with CALL Scotland are hosting this learning day.

The purposes of the conference are:

·         to support teachers, early years practitioners and senior managers to improve access to the curriculum for pupils with print disabilities who need print to be in accessible alternative formats.

·         to give strategic managers and practitioners the chance to learn about these developments and discuss how to implement them in their own context to ensure best value

·         to encourage individuals in their authorities to share their learning with colleagues to sustain and expand work in this area.

Significant developments have taken place to make it easier for pupils and teachers to find existing accessible resources, to use them with pupils, to make them if they don’t already exist and to share them under new copyright arrangements. These developments will help authorities and schools to meet their equality and accessibility responsibilities.

LTS plans to involve colleagues from Scottish Government, HMIE, CALL Scotland, SQA, CLA, RNIB and publishers as well as managers and practitioners. This partnership event is aimed at both educational practitioners and strategic personnel.

 To reserve a place at this event please contact Anne Marie Lamont at a.lamont@LTScotland.org.uk.

Accessible Digital Exams

The CALL Centre recently published a report on the use of accessible digital exam papers in the 2010 diet of exams run by the Scottish Qualifications Authority. These papers allow pupils with disabilities to sit the same exams as their peers, but using a computer to type their answers, and where required read the text from the paper, rather than rely on readers and scribes. The report is available from the digital papers web site, www.adapteddigitalexams.org.uk/Downloads/Reports/.

The report highlights the spectacular increase in the number of school pupils sitting exams using digital papers since they were first introduced in a pilot supported by CALL in 2006. Last year 101 centres made 2000 requests for digital papers on behalf of 675 candidates. Compared with 2009, this represents a 71% increase in the number of requests, a 38% increase in the number of centres, and a 60% increase in the number of candidates.

The use of digital papers increases the independence of pupils, who no longer have to be supported by readers and scribes and can lead to financial savings for schools.

The CALL Centre believes that Scotland is the first country in the world to introduce accessible digital exam papers for national certificate exams in schools, but we would be keen to hear about experiences in other countries. Join the discussion on the adapted papers blog at http://www.adapteddigitalexams.org.uk/Blog/.

Digital Exams Training

CALL has two courses on digital exams coming up in March:

  • 24 Mar 2011 – SQA Adapted Digital Papers and ICT for Students with Additional Support Needs
  • 31 Mar 2011 – Creating Adapted Digital Prelims and Resources for Pupils with Additional Support Needs.

Training can also be provided in schools and local authorities. Further information is available in the Training section of the CALL Scotland web site.

Review of Teacher Education with reference to learners with difficulties

Graham Donaldson launched the report of his Review of Teacher Education last week, which he was asked to undertake by the Scottish Government. Here is a link to the Press release.

The following extracts are of particular interest:

1. Teachers should be confident in understanding and addressing the consequences of various barriers to children’s learning and their needs for additional support.

To address the serious weaknesses in literacy and numeracy, for example, all teachers need an understanding of how children, including those with additional support needs such as dyslexia, acquire and continue to develop vital skills in these fundamentals of learning throughout their schooling.”(page 19)

2. All new teachers in Scotland should be aware of the key challenges we collectively face, such as improving standards of literacy and numeracy and doing more to overcome the effects of disadvantage and deprivation on educational outcomes, and contribute personally to addressing these.

In addition to developing their subject and pedagogical knowledge and skills, therefore, all new teachers should be confident in their ability to: teach the essential skills of literacy and numeracy; address additional support needs (particularly dyslexia and autistic spectrum disorders). (page 36)

3. it is important to be explicit about the core knowledge, skills and competences that all teachers will continually refresh and improve as they move through their career and consistent in addressing them… currently they could include the following: supporting learners, including the latest legislative and research-based advice on meeting the needs of all learners including those with additional support needs such as dyslexia or autism (page 67)

The Scottish Government intends to discuss the recommendations with key partners including Dyslexia Scotland, local authorities, Schools and universities, before the Government responds.

‘Absences leave holes in learning’

“Most school systems are based on the assumption that learning is sequential and successful outcomes are the result of regular attendance.”  John Howson in TES (14/01/11)

The disruptions in attendance experienced by teachers and pupils due to the recent weather and now flu viral outbreaks have brought this home only too well. The coming months will demonstrate how well  teachers and pupils are able to bridge the holes.

Howson’s analysis of available data suggests that “the percentage of special educational needs (SEN) pupils who are classified as persistent absentees is always higher than the average for all pupils.”

“..for those who want to come to school but cannot do so, often for reasons of illness, we need to find a way of ensuring technology can help.”

Not every home is equipped with the technology to ensure all young people are included even when they are ill but many do. School edubuzz blogs had some lovely suggestions for activities during the snow closures. Teachers and pupils can keep others informed and included while they are absent with illness through the use of imaginative Apps/ photos /videos,etc. Try www.wallwisher.com ; www.glogster.com. Any other ideas?