My name is Sharon Grant and I’m the Additional Support Needs Co-ordinator at Bridge of Weir Primary School in Renfrewshire.
Various in-school assessments and reviews showed that it was persistently difficult to raise attainment in writing, so we were looking for tools that could help all of our pupils, including those with learning difficulties, to improve in this area. I heard about Clicker on a teacher forum, and thought it sounded like a great solution.
We started using Clicker on laptops in the ICT suite and saw some real improvements, but then Covid hit! Upon return from lockdown, the gains we had made in writing pre-pandemic had been somewhat lost - so writing is once again on the EIP as a priority action!
Now the ICT suite has been disbanded and Chromebooks are used by P4-P7 pupils in class, so we decided to upgrade to the latest Clicker package which covers iPads and Chromebooks as well as Windows and Mac computers.
"The big benefit of Clicker is the ease with which they can edit their work – no rubbing out, rewriting large screeds, or holes in paper, but an effective way to correct and improve their writing."
Each class has 10 Chromebooks, so pupils with support needs in literacy use Clicker for extended pieces of writing regularly, as the devices are always available to them. Classes also have access to a full class set of Chromebooks twice a week, so teachers will do whole class writing lessons using Clicker on those occasions. I also take small groups from each class out once a week to work on Clicker with me.
We primarily use Clicker as a child-friendly word processor. Pupils make very good use of the text prediction and spell check features and are becoming proficient at selecting the correct words – they often surprise themselves (and me!) with the words that they can write correctly, words that would be beyond their grasp if hand-written. The children also really enjoy the read-back facility, which helps them to independently improve their sentence structure and punctuation. The big benefit of Clicker is the ease with which they can edit their work – no rubbing out, rewriting large screeds, or holes in paper, but an effective way to correct and improve their writing.
"Using Clicker has improved engagement levels and helped our pupils develop a far more positive attitude to writing."
Using Clicker has improved engagement levels and helped our pupils develop a far more positive attitude to writing. We now have pupils who ask relentlessly when ‘Writing Group’ is on, as they cannot wait to produce their next piece on Clicker. These pupils struggle to handwrite in class and their difficulties with spelling and handwriting demotivates them. Clicker sets them free!
One P5 pupil has ADHD (diagnosed) and possibly Dyslexia (not yet officially identified) and struggles to concentrate on extended pieces of writing, often staring into space with a blank page or producing incoherent sentences with little or no punctuation. Since using Clicker she has developed a love for writing and can produce lengthy typed pieces which, although far from perfect, are much more coherent and readable. Her particular success came this week when a piece of her writing was selected to be entered into a writing competition!
This story can be replicated in many pupils to a greater or lesser degree, but for all these pupils ‘success breeds success’ and the freedom of Clicker gives them that support to achieve success.
Our long-term plans for Clicker are to make it an integral part of our school writing programme - we believe it can be used as an effective tool to close the gap in attainment for many of our struggling or disengaged writers.
I would definitely recommend buying Clicker - but it’s really important that someone is willing to take ownership of it, get training on it and drive forward its use in the school. I know there is far more we could do with it (even writing this has inspired me to try and get back to further training and explore more potential of the program) but, even in what we have done with it so far, it is one of our best investments.