I am a member of the senior leadership team and a 3rd grade teacher at Micklehurst All Saints. I’m also the Key Stage 2 phase leader and the SEND Coordinator. I've used various versions of Clicker over the years and was instrumental in its use at Micklehurst. The school previously had a license for Clicker 7, which we were using very successfully, however, we decided to upgrade to a Clicker 8 Site License earlier this year to further enhance the children’s learning.
One of the main reasons we upgraded to Clicker 8 was because we didn’t have enough computers at school to make the most effective use of Clicker 7, so the fact that we could also have Clicker Writer for our iPads when we moved to Clicker 8 was ideal. We were also really interested in providing our students with access to the app on their iPads at home (the Site License includes home access for everyone).
We have found that many of our children are experiencing barriers to writing, such as dyspraxia or dyslexia, and some children simply struggle to record their ideas with pen and paper. These barriers to writing also seem to have increased since the COVID-19 lockdown. Fortunately, Clicker just seems to switch on a light inside of them and they’re keener to write. A lot of the children are now, as a result of Clicker, more successful writers and enjoy writing much more.
When we first began to use Clicker, we only used it with children who had barriers to writing, but we discovered that even children who didn’t have barriers to their learning were eager to use it, as well, creating a real sense of inclusion across the school. With Clicker, the children can word process and at the same time add pictures, and it’s really inspiring them to do their best work.
Clicker just seems to switch on a light inside of them and they’re keener to write. A lot of the children are now, as a result of Clicker, more successful writers and enjoy writing much more.
One new element of Clicker 8 that the children really like, is the Alfie and Amy voice feature – the voices are so much better than the previous voices. The children love using them; sometimes we have to tell them to wait until they’ve finished their sentence or paragraph before using them! Hearing their work back really helps them to identify their mistakes. I think when they’re reading their own work, they don’t notice their mistakes because they read it how they think it’s written. However, Clicker eliminates that problem because they hear a different voice and mistakes are more easily heard and identified.
The Predictor is also really useful for children who struggle with their spelling and have dyslexic tendencies. Their reading is usually at a much higher level than their spelling, and with Clicker they can see the word they want to use and select it, rather than misspelling it. It means they can focus on what they want to write instead of having to spend time thinking about each word individually.
Because we’ve been using Clicker for a while, teachers will come up to me and comment how brilliant the children are at using it, how independent they have become and how much output has increased. We now introduce the children to Clicker when they start in kindergarten, which really helps them to become more independent writers. It's also beneficial for our students who have dyspraxia and struggle with their handwriting. The way their work is presented can sometimes hurt their self-esteem, but with Clicker they don't have to worry about that.
For example, one of my 3rd grade students used to hide his work with his hand and barely produced more than a paragraph. But now that he uses Clicker, he is so excited to write and is producing long, extended pieces of work and is challenging himself to include greater punctuation depth, vocabulary, and sentence structure.
Teachers will come up to me and comment how brilliant the children are at using Clicker, how independent they have become and how much output has increased.
As the SENDCo, I’ve taken charge of training the other staff members to use Clicker, and I’ve found the videos on the Crick Software website very useful. If you’re not using Clicker all the time, you can forget some of the features, but the videos have been a really useful training tool.
We now use the writing grids in virtually all our lessons; either searching for the pre-made resources on LearningGrids to support a science lesson, for example, or we will create our own. For every literacy topic I teach, I’ll insert the text from the book into a Word Bank or Connect Set (depending on the ability of the children) so that we have it ready to use. For one of our bigger projects on Fairtrade, the children recorded the vocabulary they wanted to use to help them make some colorful booklets. They were then able to share these booklets at a ‘Fairtrade Fortnight’ event we attended.
To any other schools considering buying Clicker, I’d say definitely go for it. It’s so popular here that when our deputy head got a headship at another school, he asked me to come in to work with his TAs and show them Clicker 8. He wanted to replicate the writing success that we’d had at Micklehurst.
Clicker has truly transformed the writing experience for our students. The children love that they can use it to create narratives, reports, explanations – anything they want to write, they can do it with Clicker. Clicker has raised their self-esteem beyond words and revolutionized how they feel about their writing.