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!

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.

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.

 

A new font is available for dyslexic learners

OpenDyslexic is a new open sourced font created to increase readability for readers with dyslexia. The typeface includes regular, bold, italic, and bold-italic styles.

OpenDyslexic is created to help with some of the symptoms of dyslexia. Letters have heavy weighted bottoms to indicate direction. You are able to quickly figure out which part of the letter is down which aids in recognising the correct letter, and sometimes helps to keep your brain from rotating them around. Consistently weighted bottoms can also help reinforce the line of text. The unique shapes of each letter can help prevent confusion through flipping and swapping.

This font has been installed remotely on all school computers.  It should appear in the long list of fonts offered in Word.  Please contact the IT Service Desk (ITServiceDesk@eastlothian.gov.uk) if you do not have it installed and you would  like to try it out.  Any other questions, please contact Shirley Lawson (slawson@eastlothian.gov.uk)

 

 

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

Free audio books for pupils with additional support needs

Calibre audio library provides a free service of books (downloadable MP3 or cassette format) for any pupil who has a disability which affects their reading (e.g. dyslexia).    Schools can find out more and apply for membership on the website www.calibre.org.uk  This is a fantastic resource that should not be missed!

World Book Night: 5 March 2011

 The largest book give-away ever attempted!

World Book Night will take place on Saturday 5 March 2011.

This dynamic and unprecedented industry-wide initiative to celebrate adult books and reading will see one million free books given away on World Book Night by 20,000 passionate readers to other members of the public across the UK and Ireland. World Book Night will take place two days after World Book Day, the established nationwide reading campaign.

Wellington Square reading activities online

The Wellington Square website is designed for use alongside the book components of the Wellington Square Reading Scheme. This scheme provides interesting and lively stories for lower ability readers.

The website is easy to navigate and contains a range of activities to support the teaching of reading skills to pupils with Additional Support Needs.

After logging onto the website, pupils are able to enter the Character pages. The character pages follow the same format and are all updated over the course of a term. Each character area contains an introduction, game, quiz, character information, character facts and character questions.  A coloured logo on each web page specifies the reading level for that page. Vocabulary from that level’s word wall is included in the text and there are links to some of the books the pupils may have read.

Pupils must read each character’s area before attempting the quiz section, as all questions are related to the character information and character facts. The website also has ‘Ask a Question’ which pupils can address to a character and receive a reply on the website the following day.

These resources could be used in a variety of settings – whole class teaching, group work or independently.  Worth a look!