Monday, 17 September 2012

App-ropriate Social Stories

There are numerous social skill intervention programs around to help foster the development of social behaviour, encourage friendships and build confidence. But how many of them are effective for our children with SEN?

Most are designed to be all light and fluffy, fun and stimulating. But are children able to transfer the skills learnt in a discussion, play or story about a teddy bear and his friends, into real life situations? Do these sessions actually fulfill the requirement? In my article Literally Relevant Literacy I highlighted the importance of creating engaging literacy activities, featuring the children themselves. Utilising their experiences, memories and schema to encourage greater engagement with the task, in turn providing more labels if you like, under which to store their new information.

The same can be said for developing social skills. Surely 'Sammy' is more likely to engage with a story about him and his friends, in his school or his house, playing with toys they recognise and use regularly. I would suggest that this method would make it more likely that 'Sammy' will associate the story with his own life and transfer the knowledge into real life.

I've discovered another wonderful ipad app that makes it unbelievably easy to do just that! Book Creator is available for download at just £2.99 from the itunes store. It's easy to use interface allows you to use your own photos and words to create the story you want. You can even add music or a voice over. Use photos of everyday situations or encourage the children to think about the story beforehand by asking them to act out the scenes. Click here to visit the itunes store.

Today's technology is putting relevant material literally, at your finger tips.

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Clicker 6 - The ipad route

How many of you have used and fallen in love with a Clicker product somewhere along the line? I first started using the software back in the days of Clicker 3 and it has gone from strength to strength since then with each new release.

Image from 
Although this week after a Clicker 6 update I found myself lost in despair at the lack of a Clicker app for the ipad/tablet generation. I searched and searched but could not find so much as a whisper of an app release. Then I found it, cold hard confirmation from Crick software themselves. An ipad app would require a complete rewrite of the software due to the differing logistics of the operating system. So after quick sulk, I busied myself with some exciting laminating!

Image from 
Also this week I discovered a trial app and software package that promised to transform teaching methods, by unleashing the teacher from the chains restricting him to the front of the classroom, where he regularly  blocks the view of the whiteboard and performs the Latin head-bob dance to avoid the projector. Doceri is currently available as a free download for both your ipad and your computer (laptop or desktop) and provides the power to control the whiteboard and access your computer from the ipad! But why would you want to do that? It has long been known that an effective teacher interacts with his class not his whiteboard, but how can you effectively do that stood at the front of the room? How can you see what all of your pupils are doing? Bring in the ipad and you are free to wander around, view pupils work, keep them on task, motivate them and keep them on their toes. You can hand over control to your pupils with ease, simply hand them the ipad.

Image from
Doceri allows you to create animation, slideshows, interact with webpages and access all other tools installed on your computer. You can even take a photo with your ipad which will instantly appear on the whiteboard screen, or record lesson explanations to replay 1:1.

Image from
It has been an exciting week and just when I thought it had finished, I put 2 and 2 together in an epiphany of technological mathematics. Would Doceri let me access Clicker through the ipad!? My theory was correct, and much more than that, I believe the use of Doceri and the ipad with Clicker actually enhances the whole experience. Those that are familar with Clicker will know that you can create drawing opportunities within the grids, where children are asked to draw a picture of themselves for example. A window similar to that in Microsoft Paint pops up, now many will know, creating a life like image in these drawing programs is no easy task when faced with a mouse or tracker pad for control. Cue ipad!! Used with a stylus the ipad offers more accurate and controlled mark-making, leading to a more enjoyable and less frustrating experience for the child.

The ipad again comes out on top when interacting with word grids, allowing much faster selection of words, eliminating the robot like sound that can be produced when using a mouse. This smoother, more life like speech pattern can only lead to a stronger comprehension of,  and association to the language used. Of course learning computer skills are mandatory in todays world so continue to encourage typing and mouse control but mix it up with some ipad interface for a really interactive experience.

Download the Doceri app and desktop client here... But I warn you, don't do it on your weekend off or you'll never get the washing done!

Monday, 10 September 2012

Teaching Letter Formation

I've further embraced the ipad generative landslide and searched high and low for, what I consider to be the best apps designed to encourage correct letter formation.

Fun and games has got to be the way to encourage children to become writers, develop a passion for writing and foster literal skills. Add a stylus to your ipad for further possibilities

Coming out on top has to be Letter Formation Phonics... It's fun, easy and highly visual. It displays the correct formation whilst allowing extra features such as snap shots and word creators. The computer generated voice may tire adults eventually but children seem to engage well with the futuristic qualities, and it's great for encouraging blending.

Touch and Write is now available for free! It has a handy word bank which makes it ideal for learning to form names, or even weekly spellings. You can change your writing tool and paper type, creating a visual feast for visually stimulated children. The only downside is the lack of British voice... It's no biggy though, turn off the sound and provide your own praise!

Alphabet Tracer not only provides the option of British voice but also provides the British Sign Language finger spelling. It's a little bland in comparison to the above apps but useful all the same.