WriteOnline App Success Story

Rossett School

Elaine Fazakerley – Literacy Coordinator

I am the Literacy Coordinator at Rossett School in Harrogate, England. During my time working in the Enhanced Mainstream for Specific Learning Difficulties part of the school, I came across the WriteOnline App, and thought it would be a really great tool for supporting our struggling writers.

As a trained specialist teacher, I’m always on the lookout for new ways to help children with specific learning difficulties such as dyslexia and dyspraxia. For example, one of my 6th graders is very bright but because of his dyspraxia, his handwriting is really poor, which makes writing a miserable experience for him.  However, what he can write now that he’s using WriteOnline is phenomenal; it takes the stress of handwriting and spelling away and enables him to focus on what he wants to write. I work with another 6th grader who is severely dyslexic; his handwriting is OK but his struggle with it still gets in the way of the actual writing – with WriteOnline, he’s able to work independently for the first time.

We have around 15 students across the grades using WriteOnline at the moment, including four of our 10th graders, who will be using the app in some of their upcoming examinations.

We have around 15 students across the grades using WriteOnline at the moment, including four of our 10th graders, who will be using the app in some of their upcoming examinations. This came about because we learned that students could make use of electronic scribes if they are slow writers and have a substandard spelling score. In fact, it seemed that an electronic scribe was much preferred by the exam board over a human scribe, as it enables students to take the exam more independently and altogether avoids the issues that can inevitably arise when another person becomes involved in the examination process. 

We confirmed that the WriteOnline App met the scribe criteria. We now have a bank of iPads with the app on them that are exclusively used for exams. Their recent practice exams were a real success; one particular student got a ‘C’ on one of his practice exams, which we’re really pleased with as it would simply not have been possible without the help of WriteOnline. If he had handwritten it, the examiner would have struggled to recognize anything, and he certainly wouldn’t have done as well with a human scribe – he’s really good at typing and likes to work independently so the app really plays to his strengths.

In addition, teenagers find it quite difficult to tell another person exactly what they want to write – in fact, it’s a very hard skill for anyone to master!

I feel that this is going to be the case more and more as the next generations of learners come through. They are so tech savvy and used to working with touch screen devices on a daily basis, so an electronic scribe is a much more comfortable and intuitive way of working for them. In addition, teenagers find it quite difficult to tell another person exactly what they want to write – in fact, it’s a very hard skill for anyone to master!

WriteOnline is also a very inclusive option in terms of supporting the students on a day-to-day basis in the classroom. Without it, a lot of these students would need a teacher or an aide to help them write, and this can make them feel singled out from their peers. The support the iPad offers is more subtle, and in general the other students are very accepting of it. 

The students also seem to enjoy it a lot more; most are actually excited to write with WriteOnline. In many ways it’s more of a challenge for them, as without a human scribe they have to think about punctuation, what sounds right, and actively edit their work once they’ve listened back to it. However, they seem to relish this ability to be more in control of their own writing. 

Moving forward, when each new cohort of 5th graders comes in and completes the writing assessment we give them, I will be providing WriteOnline whenever I find a student who needs that extra writing support. As Crick Software’s other writing apps for elementary students (the Clicker Apps), are used so widely, the children may already be used to writing with them, which is a great help.

WriteOnline is our access method of choice for struggling writers, without a doubt.