Last term I was privileged to visit a special school in Glasgow, Croftcroighn. The work which was being done on literacy and communication was innovative and inspiring and I left with my head absolutely buzzing and so much to think about. A couple of weeks later Croftcroighn’s HMIe report was published – wow!
Since then I’ve worked with Elizabeth Cowan our ICT curriculum Officer and a speech therapist to develop and implement some of the innovative practice I observed.
We’ve created a Communication Book (using BoardMaker V6) for one wee lass who has no spoken language but has lots to say, we’ve invested in some new software to trial, bought some funky stationery and Talking Photo albums (A5 and A3 size), a new digital camera and I still have a wish list! Creating the Communication Book has certainly stretched (and greatly enhanced) my Boardmaker skills! Now I keep thinking of more and more applications for the software.
The software is Communicate:In Print 2 by Widget. Every word which is typed has a symbol which appears above the word – even ‘the’ and ‘a’ have symbols. This supports the child who finds it difficult to recognise abstract symbols (writing) and the added visual symbols can open up a whole new world. The symbols an be switched off or only used for specific words and images can be uploaded. You may choose to upload images of ORT characters for example or photos so if you type a name you get an actual picture of that place or person. At Croftcroighn some of the children were now reading and these youngsters had severe and complex difficulties – it was wonderful! Additional specific symbols can be purchased – Shakespeare for example. So far I’ve written a social story and had a go at a couple of other things so I’m looking forward to experimenting a bit more.
We’ve been using Talking Photo albums for quite a while in schools but the A3 ‘Big Book’ size was new to me. It’s now in a P5 classroom and the class will use it to record their ES topic – the Seashore – artwork, photos, text – whatever the children choose to record. This will give a voice to a pupil who has no spoken language enabling her to share in the work of her class and to express her views.
I’d be interested to know how teachers in East Lothian are using technology to give kids a voice.