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  • Clicker Books Comes Into Its Own!


    We recently attended the annual special education conference, Closing The Gap, in Minneapolis. It’s a major event on the calendar for Crick Software and for me personally, as I get to meet many, many practitioners, including teachers, speech therapists, and occupational therapists. I really enjoy hearing how our products are being used - and there are plenty of examples!

    One of the stand-outs this year was hearing how Clicker Books has made a real difference to so many children. As a creative book making tool, it does a great job -  children can create their books as you would expect, adding photos, painting pictures, recording their voice, and writing text.

    But what people are really excited about is that with all the supportive features of Clicker included in Clicker Books, children can achieve outstanding results with a high level of independence. Teachers love that all of their children can produce their own talking books.

    Many admitted that initially they hadn’t realized that Clicker Books offers so much. However, as they used it they could see that the way it supports children in their learning is what sets it apart from other book making apps.

    They especially loved that when children read and share their books, all of those supports are hidden away in the background!

    Clicker Books example

    A simple word bank enables the child to write sentences about his dog.

  • Clicker 6 Success Story Video


    We have a fantastic new success story video to share with you!

    West Oaks SEN Specialist School and College in Leeds, UK works with children with a really wide range of learning difficulties. They are using Clicker 6 throughout the school to support their students –

    "Without the arduous task of physically handwriting, our children are able to read and create sentences with real meaning. We can personalize activities with photographs, add symbol support; it’s absolutely perfect for developing this strand of literacy."

    Click here to watch the video and find out more about the impact Clicker is having on learning at West Oaks.


  • SuperKeys – SuperLaunch!


    As I mentioned in my last post, we attended Closing The Gap, a national AT conference which takes place in Minneapolis every October. On the Wednesday evening, we hosted a party for more than 80 guests, at which we announced a brand new addition to our growing family of apps. SuperKeys is a brand new accessible keyboard, designed for users who face challenges accessing the regular onscreen / iOS keyboard.

    We have launched many new products at Closing the Gap over the years, but the reaction to SuperKeys was even more exciting than we had anticipated. Word spread quickly around the conference that we had announced something pretty special (both by word of mouth and Twitter), and on Thursday morning our booth was swamped with delegates asking about our new app. It was really exciting to have 20+ people watching a SuperKeys demonstration while simultaneously accessing the App Store and downloading it on their iPhones and iPads!

    One of the best quotes (that we had time to write down!) came from Dr. Denise Coste, formerly of Montgomery Public Schools (MD) and now a national AT Consultant: “Superkeys is the most innovative alternate access app I've seen in years. Not just for kids with motor disabilities but for aging adults with low vision”.

    To find out more, search for “SuperKeys Assistive Keyboard” in the App Store.


  • Early Learners and Clicker Apps


    This fall we have been busy adding to our ever-expanding bank of LearningGrids resources for Clicker Apps.  Many of the recent sets have been designed to support early learners, by providing access to curriculum content as well as developing their reading and writing skills.

    Clicker Books activities, such as Food Likes and Dislikes – Read and Vegetables – Read, reinforce common sentence structures through repetition and help students learn to recognize everyday vocabulary. The recording feature integrated in the books allows students to easily practice their reading to improve fluency. Colors – Talk, a Clicker Books activity without any text, is designed for students to record information about different colored objects in order to demonstrate their understanding of colors and to develop their speaking skills.

    Emergent writers can transfer their color knowledge to a simple sentence building activity using Colors in Clicker Sentences. Other new Clicker Sentences sets cover a range of topics including the Months of the Year, Seasons, and Numbers to Ten.  

    Clicker Connect activities help early learners become more independent writers as well as practice literacy skills. With the new set Rhyming Sentences, students experiment with rhyming words within simple sentence structures.  At the Park and At the Farm introduce students to recounts and focus on the use of time transition words.

    Be sure to visit LearningGrids to find a lot more resources to support your early learners!

  • Using the New SuperKeys Keyboard in iOS 8


    In September, Apple released a major software upgrade for iPads and iPhones, named iOS 8.

    This introduced a new feature: the ability to use third-party keyboards. Previously, only Apple’s own keyboard could be used.

    We saw this as a great opportunity to release our own, uniquely designed keyboard.

    SuperKeys is useful for people who have trouble tapping smaller-sized keys with precision. The standard keyboard layout is divided into groups of keys, named clusters. When a user taps a cluster, the keys within it expand to fill the keyboard area. This offers larger targets for users to tap. After tapping a key, the expanded cluster shrinks back, so the user can type their next character.

    Before using SuperKeys, update your device to the latest version of iOS 8. Originally, iOS 8 had a bug that stopped third-party keyboards from appearing, but Apple fixed it in subsequent updates.

    To update your device:

    1. Open your device's Settings app
    2. On the left, tap General
    3. On the right, tap Software Update

    To start using SuperKeys, you must first add it to your Keyboards list. To learn how, read this support article: http://www.cricksoft.com/support/superkeys/kb/sakwh1.aspx

    Previously, a bug in Microsoft Word for iPhone stopped third-party keyboards from appearing in landscape orientation, but Microsoft fixed it in a subsequent app update. Therefore, if you experience this issue, ensure your app is updated.

    If you experience an issue using SuperKeys, please contact Support with a description. If you call us, please have your device with you so we can discuss the issue. If possible, please email us screenshots of it in action: http://www.wikihow.com/Take-a-Screenshot-With-an-iPad

    Email: support@cricksoft.com

    US Phone: 203 221 2697 - (Monday to Friday, 9:00 am – 12:00 pm EST)

  • SuperKeys Accessible Keyboard


    Some children find it difficult to type into the iPad - even the simplified keyboards in the Clicker Apps may not be accessible for those with physical challenges.  Previously, the only alternative was to use switch access, but now SuperKeys offers an alternative that is faster, more child-friendly, and easier to use.

    SuperKeys example

    SuperKeys provides big keys, while maintaining a standard qwerty layout that does not require scanning or switches.  By grouping the keys into clusters of six or seven keys, SuperKeys provides fast keyboard access with no more than seven large keys to choose from.

    SuperKeys is now included as an option within Clicker Connect and Clicker Docs. Children with access difficulties can now access both the keyboard and Clicker Grids by first selecting a cluster, and then selecting the key or cell they want.

    You’ll find the SuperKeys option in the Clicker Connect and Clicker Docs Accessibility menu – if it’s not there, download the latest update from the App Store.

    SuperKeys for All Apps

    SuperKeys is now available as a standalone keyboard that works with any iPad app.  It also works on the iPhone, offering access for the many people who find the keys on a phone keyboard too small.  It also provides one-touch access to commonly used words and phrases – great for sending text messages!

    SuperKeys example

  • Bett Awards 2015 – Finalists!


    We are excited to announce that we are once again Bett Awards finalists!

    Considered by many as the most esteemed accolade in the industry, the awards highlight the most creative and innovative educational technology solutions available to today’s teachers and learners.

    The latest additions to our range of Clicker Apps for iPad have both been recognized; Clicker Books has been shortlisted in the ICT Special Educational Needs Solutions category, and Clicker Connect is in contention for the Educational Apps award.

    The winners will be announced during the Bett Show, which is being held at ExCeL London from January 21 to 24, 2015. We’ll be showcasing the apps along with our other literacy support products at Stand D210, but if you can’t wait until then, visit our website for Clicker Apps videos, reviews, success stories, and much more!


  • One of the Quick Grid Wizards available to use in Clicker 6 enables you to create picture banks in seconds. But did you know that with one click of the mouse you can instantly add the picture names to the cells as well, creating a word bank with pictures in a flash?

    Once your pictures have been entered into the wizard, simply check the Show picture names box on the right hand side to add the text to the cells. If any of your pictures are named incorrectly you can alter the text by double clicking on it in the wizard, and entering the correct text in its place.

    Picture Bank Wizard

    Before the picture bank is created you can also choose the font that the text is displayed in, and alter the background colors, simply by clicking the More Options button at the bottom of the wizard.

    Picture Bank example

  • Closing The Gap


    Closing The Gap is one of the most popular and widely attended AT (Assistive Technology) conferences on the calendar, and is attended by delegates from all over the US, Canada, and many other countries from around the world. 

    As well as our exhibit hall booth, we had a very lively and well attended conference presentation, focusing on the Clicker Apps. We also launched a brand new app called SuperKeys, which I will be writing about in my next blog post! We had some great conversations with customers (both new and established) at our booth, and I thought it would be useful to share answers to the top 5 questions we were asked:

    1. Can I still get upgrade pricing for Clicker 6? Upgrade pricing for Clicker 6 (representing a 25% discount over regular pricing) is still available, but only until 12/31/14. After that date you will still be able to order Clicker 6, but at regular price only.
    2. I can’t decide between Clicker Sentences and Clicker Connect – how do they compare? Clicker Connect is designed as a cognitive progression from Clicker Sentences. There is a great comparison document on our website to help you understand the differences between all four Clicker Apps: http://www.cricksoft.com/Files/Apps/Clicker-Apps-Comparison-US.pdf.
    3. We just enrolled in the Apple Volume Purchase Program (VPP) – can we buy Clicker Apps with VPP? Absolutely! All four Clicker Apps are available on VPP – to find out more, check out our VPP guide: http://www.cricksoft.com/Files/Apps/The-Apple-Volume-Purchase-Program.pdf.
    4. Are your products compatible with the Common Core State Standards (CCSS)? Because we publish literacy tools (for Windows, Mac, and iPad), you can download and/or create resources and writing supports to align with almost any of the ELA CCSS strands. What’s more, we have just published a fantastic reference document cross-referencing CCSS strands with our free downloadable Clicker 6 content on LearningGrids: http://www.cricksoft.com/us/products/clicker/common-core.aspx.
    5. We love Clicker 6, but do you have anything I can use with high school students? Yes – WriteOnline is a software tool designed to support older students from middle school to college. You can find out more and download a free trial from here: http://www.cricksoft.com/us/products/writeonline/default.aspx.

    We are already planning for Closing The Gap 2015, and we look forward to seeing you there!


  • I recently wrote about how Clicker and resources on LearningGrids support the development of Foundational Skills. This month I will continue to explore the Common Core standards, and I want to start by making sure that everyone is aware of our new Clicker and the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts resource that is now available to download from the Crick Software website. The document outlines Clicker’s unique features and curriculum resources that support literacy development for all elementary students. It covers all of the strands of the Common Core, including Reading: Literature and Informational Texts, which is my focus for this blog post.

    LearningGrids provides access to a large number of on-screen books ranging in content and complexity, from books with simple captions or single sentences for emergent readers to longer texts for more fluent readers. All Clicker books are supported by writing activities such as writing grids or write a book sets that allow students to summarize key ideas of the texts. The recently published book The Branches of Government – Read provides speech-supported reading pages, and with the complementary writing activity, The Branches of Government – Questions, students use sentence starters and word banks to write answers to spoken questions about the informational text.

       

    Teachers and students can create their own question and answer activities for any text using the Ask and Answer template.  After reading a piece of text, the class records a series of questions on the Ask page. These questions are transferred to the Answer page for students to record their answers, referring to the text to support their answers.

    Clicker’s Tell the Story activities, such as The Tortoise and the Hare – Tell the Story, are ideal for getting students to share key details and demonstrate an understanding of the central message of a text. Students select a picture and record their version of the episode. The speech button on the first page replays all of the recordings, telling the whole story. Students can also use the activity to respond to the character’s actions during different events in the story.

     

    Story Map also uses Clicker’s sound recorder to allow students to respond to text. Students describe the characters, setting, and events in a story. Prompts on the recording pages help to focus the reader on details in the text for their descriptions.

    Clicker Books, such as Coastal Landforms – Read, contain technical, topic-related vocabulary to enhance students’ knowledge of the particular subject area. The integrated speech support means that students have access to the full text or they can listen to specific words or phrases.  Using Coastal Landforms – Definitions, students demonstrate their understanding of the key words and phrases from the text.

       

    Be sure to explore LearningGrids and the Clicker and the Common Core document for many more resources to support the Reading standards.

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