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  • Recently I visited Massachusetts for a few school visits and an Assistive Technology Expo for Boston Public Schools.

    The Assistive Technology Expo for Boston Public Schools was organized for district staff interested in learning more about assistive technology within the classroom. Many of the people who attended wanted to see how Clicker 6, WriteOnline, and the Crick Apps could support their students.

    The Clicker Apps were a huge hit! Attendees were very impressed at how intuitive they were to use and appreciated the built-in features that allow them to easily differentiate the activities for their learners of all ability levels.

    We were also part of the scavenger hunt at the AT Expo; everyone had to name two literacy supports within the Clicker Apps. Lots of options, so no one had a hard time naming two. Most people put down more than two – speech support, word prediction, word banks, picture banks, picture support, built-in recorder, etc.

    While I was in the area I was able to spend some time with a Speech-Language Pathologist from a nearby school who has been using Clicker Books extensively within her classrooms. It was great to see how effective Clicker Books has been for her students, who cover all ability levels. She stated it was very easy for her students to pick up using Clicker Books. A few of her students who previously had trouble putting simple sentences together, are now creating Clicker Books with 15 pages or more!

    I also had the opportunity to present the Crick Apps to a Special Education Department at a local school district. I showed them all five of our Crick Apps; Clicker Sentences, Clicker Connect, Clicker Docs, Clicker Books, and the WriteOnline App.

    One staff member had a little experience with Clicker Books, but was shocked by how much more potential the app has for her students when she saw my demonstration. She was very excited to show her fellow staff members and students how much more they can do within the Clicker Books app.

    None of the staff members had seen Clicker Connect; all of them were very pleased to see the in-cell picture support with a built-in media library!

    It was a great visit to Massachusetts - I got a lot accomplished in the few days I was in the area, and everyone was thrilled with the products that Crick Software has to help support their students!

  • Writing Genres

    As students are developing as writers, they need to learn to think about the purpose of their writing. Are they writing a story to entertain the reader? Are they writing an essay to inform the audience about a topic? Are they trying to persuade someone about an issue? On LearningGrids we have a large number of reading and writing resources to help students become more knowledgeable about different writing genres and how they are structured.

    Recently we have published a range of writing frames for Clicker. There are frames for procedural and persuasive writing, and sets to support students writing recounts, discussion texts, and explanatory text. The sets contain sentence starters to scaffold the writing, along with transition words and phrases. You can also add your own specific topic-related vocabulary to the sets.

    For WriteOnline, there are a number of discussion frames for topics that will be familiar to students, including lowering the voting age, wearing school uniforms, and having animals in zoos. There are also WriteOnline Wordbars to help students write a cover letter for a job or a letter of complaint.

    We have created many Clicker App resources to support different writing genres as well, such as the Clicker Connect sets Describe the Monster for descriptive writing and Write a Traditional Story for exploring narratives. Clicker Docs sets are ideal for supporting students’ expository writing, including reports about the Egyptians, natural disasters, and parts of a plant, or personal essays with the sets Myself and My Spare Time.

    And don’t forget to use the on-screen books available on LearningGrids as examples of different writing genres or as a stimulus for the students’ writing. The Clicker set Junk Food – Viewpoints, for example, allows students to read different arguments about the issue of whether junk food should be allowed in schools. Students can then use the set Junk Food – Writing to develop their own persuasive text on the topic.

  • A few weeks ago we were invited to Swansea by Pen-Y-Bryn Special School for a special occasion. Their Sixth-Form Enterprise Group has published a wonderful version of 'Alice in Wonderland'.  They designed the book for younger children, tried it out in school as part of the authoring and preparation, and created it with Clicker 6. We were proud to sponsor its publication.

    The launch event took place at Swansea Central Library, where copies of the book are now available so that the whole community can benefit. What’s more, the book is available to buy, and all proceeds are going to Bobath Centre Wales, a charity that supports children with Cerebral Palsy.

    This was a tremendous project - not only had the students put in a huge amount of work to put it together (we were able to see video of the painstaking picture production, and actual copies of student’s storyboards) - they had also managed to get Dr. Who actor Sophie Aldred to narrate the story, and local musicians to compose and record the music!

    It was great to talk to the students who had produced the book, plus their committed staff and other contributors to the project. And, having Bonnie Tyler there for the launch really helped to make this a very special occasion – she is from Swansea herself, and is patron of Bobath Centre Wales.

    You can download the talking book version from our website.

  • New WebDAV Support in the Clicker Apps

    The Clicker Apps feature several ways to share files. Users can print their work, email files, and connect to a Dropbox account. We have recently updated the Clicker Apps to include an additional sharing feature called WebDAV.

    WebDAV is a service that allows files to be shared over the Internet. When you connect to a WebDAV file server, you can open, edit, and delete files as if they were on your device.

    Files stored on a WebDAV file server can be accessed from a wide variety of devices, such as Windows PCs, Macs, iPads®, Android tablets, and phones. This flexibility makes WebDAV a good way to share files within a school and access them at home.

    If your school does not already use WebDAV, it is a standard feature of Windows and Mac OS X networks. Additionally, many cloud storage providers offer WebDAV support.

    To learn how to access a WebDAV file server from the Clicker Apps, please see the following support articles:

    Clicker Sentences

    Clicker Docs

    Clicker Books

    Clicker Connect

  • Clicker 6 in Italy - in Italian!

    In February, I attended the British Digital Classroom in Italy event run by UKTI at the British Embassy in Rome. We have been supplying Clicker in Italian for the last 10 years, and have recently launched Clicker 6 Italian, so this was a great opportunity to show the new version. The event was simultaneously translated into English (or Italian) and 10 UK companies were able to demonstrate their products in a 15 minute presentation and at a mini-exhibition. We also heard from Italian officials from the ministry about the local market, where they are and where they plan to be, with regards to the digital infrastructure and materials to support teaching and learning.

    I was interested to hear from Italian 2.0 schools – schools that are really pushing the boundaries of technology. One of them had started a 1:1 iPad® project. In Italian schools, parents purchase all the text books for the children. This school had figured out that if they purchased the digital versions of the books, and used iBooks to distribute teacher-created books and resources, they could keep the costs of the books the same, but offer an iPad as part of the package, too! They used a company who provided the parents with interest-free credit for 12 months so that all of the children could have their own device. Of the 1,000 students at the school, they only had a handful whose parents couldn’t afford this 40 euros a month, and the company they bought the iPads from donated these to them! They have been able to share resources created by teachers AND students and this has dramatically improved the students’ work.

    I spoke to individual teachers and parents who all echoed the opinion that technology in education in Italy is currently very patchy, and that they were only just starting to implement whole school strategies for using technology in the classroom. They loved Clicker 6 and could see right away how it could be used to support emergent and struggling writers.

    We have been asked by the ministry to get involved in a pilot project to show how Clicker can make a difference. They have been watching the videos of UK schools on our website as well as the success stories – these have given them ideas on how they might run the trial.

    It was a great event to showcase Clicker 6 Italian, in an impressive venue, in a beautiful city!

    The Digital Classroom in Italy Conference

  • I am often asked whether it is possible to share resources between Clicker 6 and the Clicker Apps. One of the districts I have been working with recently had a particular need to share resources across platforms as they roll out their iPad® / BYOD program, so thought I’d share their experiences!

    The good news is that it is really easy to export Clicker Sets from Clicker 6. In this example I am working with Clicker Sentences, but you can also export appropriate sets to Clicker Docs and Clicker Books.

    To export a Clicker Set for use with Clicker Sentences, first use the Sentence Building wizard in Clicker 6 (Clicker Set > New Clicker Set) to create a sentence building activity:

    Go back into the Clicker Set menu, choose ‘Export Clicker Set for App’, then ‘Clicker Sentences’, and make any final changes to the set before exporting:

    You will be prompted to choose a save location for the exported file – in this example I have saved the file on my Desktop.

    Next, you can either email the exported file to your iPad, or save it in a shared location that can be accessed from the iPad (e.g. DropBox).

    To complete this process in reverse, simply select the Sentence Set from the File Explorer in the Clicker Sentences app, then copy to DropBox or send via email:

    For more information on exporting Clicker Sets for the Clicker Apps, check out our expanding library of ‘How To’ videos.