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Clicker Tales


Fairytales and literacy: A review of Crick Software’s Clicker Tales
Written by bee-it Xtra

For the past few weeks I have been making my own versions of classic fairy tales such as Jack and the Beanstalk, Cinderella and Little Red Riding Hood. No, I haven’t got into panto-season early, I have instead been pulling apart literacy software, Clicker Tales, from developers Crick Software.

Clicker Tales is a series of Early Years CDs designed to teach literacy though traditional stories. Each CD is made up of an onscreen talking book accompanied by an extensive range of Clicker activities. .

Anna Geaves, Teacher and ICT Subject Leader at Hillshot Infant School,
tells us of her experiences:.

‘As part of the whole school theme of ‘Traditional Tales’, I asked my class if they had heard the story of ‘Jack and the Beanstalk’. Some could retell the narrative whilst others hadn’t heard of it before.

As a whole class activity, we watched and listened to the story using the Clicker Tales CD with our interactive whiteboard. The children were drawn to the bright colours of the pictures which are very child-friendly – it was clear that they were all engaged! Being able to control the pages of the ‘virtual book’ allowed time to ask the children questions and for the children to comment on each part of the tale.

Clicker Tales allows the main teaching to be done in the classroom with an interactive whiteboard, but then encourages pupils to work independently on their own computers, at their own pace.

After the story, I demonstrated one of the many additional activities included with Clicker Tales and was able to allow the children to play with the interactive whiteboard during their child initiated learning.’

Activities available include ‘Tell the Story’, where pupils are encouraged to retell the story by inputting text or recording their own voices in small sections, using audio and visual prompts such as pictures to help along the way.

‘Character Talk’ encourages pupils to think about the motives and behaviour of the characters within the story by posing set questions included in Clicker Tales or that have been recorded by the teacher or even other pupils.

The constant theme with Crick Software titles is ‘ease of use’, and here, Clicker Tales hits the spot once again. The onscreen books and associated activities are powered by Clicker*, and, as anyone who uses Clicker will already know, navigation around Clicker Tales is a doddle. Everything can be accessed using a mouse, touch screen or other pointing device, and is fully switch accessible. For additional support, each CD is accompanied by a comprehensive set of teacher's notes, which explain how to carry out key tasks, set out the aims and objectives of each activity and suggest ideas for extension activities.

‘Pupils love Clicker Tales, it is so simple to use’, says Emma Curry, ICT Subject Leader and Deputy Headteacher at King’s Heath Primary School. ‘All of the icons are large and include a recorded voiceover explaining what each icon does.’

Clicker Tales is described as ‘developing literacy skills, confidence in listening, speaking, reading and writing skills...through whole-class, group and independent work.’ Pretty bold claims you may think but our teacher reviewers deem this a fair assessment.

Ms Curry says:

Clicker Tales allows the main teaching to be done in the classroom with an interactive whiteboard, but then encourages pupils to work independently on their own computers, at their own pace.

‘Clicker Tales allows the main teaching to be done in the classroom with an interactive whiteboard, but then encourages pupils to work independently on their own computers, at their own pace. Due to the level of complexity that a teacher can go into, each pupil may be undertaking the same task, but in a way that suits their learning style and ability – be that through reading and writing, or listening and speaking.

The important thing that this software does is it allows individual learning without being too advanced for lesser able pupils, or not challenging enough for the more advanced student.’

Victoria Crivelli, Training Coordinator and Specialist Teacher in Worcestershire, likes how Clicker Tales ‘complements the approaches of Talk to Write as promoted by Pie Corbett in the National Strategy’ as it encourages ‘speaking and listening activities together with reading, sequencing and writing activities in a traditional tale environment.’

After speaking to several Clicker Tales users, it is clear that while the software can be used as an ‘off-the-shelf’ learning tool, using the system as a springboard for other ideas is where the real beauty lies.

During the ‘Jack and the Beanstalk’ story, Ms Geaves asked two children to stand
at the front of the class, pretending to be Jack and the Giant. She explains:

‘I then asked the children to look at the picture and role-play what the Giant said to Jack. This was great fun and thrilled the children immensely, especially as Jack ended up apologising to the Giant for taking his belongings! The Giant then agreed to share his things and not to be so greedy! The activity was well suited to the group’s ability – simple enough for lower ability to follow but also extended the more able, especially if they had to think as the character.’

As well as using the series to teach younger pupils, Ms Curry has also been
using Clicker Tales with the Year 6 groups. She says:

‘In addition to creating our own versions of the original tales, we have been comparing the traditional stories across Clicker Tales to those in books and films. Using other systems, such as Clicker Paint, pupils are able to develop their ICT and art skills by creating the invitation to Cinderella’s ball, for example.’

So after creating bee-it’s very own version of Cinderella (with some pretty colourful ugly sisters to boot), does Clicker Tales really live up to its hype from a teacher’s perspective? In a word, yes.

‘Clicker Tales is a lovely tool to have; it matches the criteria well and can be used in many instances. I will definitely use the software again and promote the use throughout the school’, concluded Ms Geaves.

Combined Teacher Ratings (1=poor, 5=excellent):
Ease of Setup: 4
Ease of Use: 5
Fit for Purpose: 5
Value for Money: 5
*Clicker Tales is powered by Clicker, therefore, computers must have Clicker installed in order for the software to run.