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.

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!

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/

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.