I’m Marianne Baird, the Assistant Principal and Special Education Coordinator at Sunny Bank Primary School in the UK. I have used Clicker previously when I was teaching in the north of England, so I was aware of the positive impact it had on students with dyslexia. We had also heard some good reviews from other schools about the latest version of Clicker, so we decided to invest in it about two semesters ago to enhance our provision for learners with special educational needs.
Because of the pandemic, there has been a dip in our students’ literacy skills, particularly our SEN learners. We’re using Clicker as part of our recovery curriculum to enhance their oral composition of sentences and building their confidence to become independent writers. Although they may be supported by an adult, Clicker is removing their barriers to writing. In that regard, we’ve had a lot of success with Clicker, and we’re also seeing that our students are writing at greater length.
As well as children with cognition and learning needs, Clicker has been really helpful for our students with social and emotional difficulties. These children might have a mental block or barrier to writing, but Clicker doesn’t cause them the same stress as writing on paper. Some of our students have become very reluctant writers during the pandemic. At home, they’ve spent a lot of time engrossed in PlayStation games, and much less time reading and writing. But because Clicker is technology-driven, it’s more familiar to them and has helped them to re-engage with literacy tasks in a way they are far more comfortable with.
Our students mainly use Clicker in their language arts lessons and tasks where there’s a written element. However, it varies across the school. In some classes, children use Clicker every day, all the time, because it reduces the stress for them. It’s not one size fits all; it’s very much based on each student’s needs.
As well as children with cognition and learning needs, Clicker has been really helpful for our students with social and emotional difficulties. These children might have a mental block or barrier to writing, but Clicker doesn’t cause them the same stress as writing on paper.
The word banks are definitely one of our favorite features of Clicker. We like that we can provide students with access to higher level vocabulary that’s perhaps out of their normal skillset. We’re also trying to broaden the kind of activities learners are exposed to with Clicker, so it’s not always the oral comprehension activities. For example, we use the different Clicker Sets for sentence openers and closing activities, and for students needing to develop early literacy skills, we look at phonemes and graphemes to help them with the middle and end sounds in words.
We’re also using Clicker for grammar, punctuation, and spelling lessons, in which students identify and correct various spelling errors and missing punctuation or capital letters. Clicker is a great visual check for them if they’re experiencing those issues in their own writing.
To anyone else who might be interested in Clicker, I’d say definitely look into getting it for your school. It’s a really helpful tool for supporting vulnerable learners and developing your students’ confidence.
One of our 5th grade students has really benefitted from Clicker. They have some social and emotional difficulties, particularly linked to remote learning, and we found that when this student returned to school, they were quite often leaving the classroom – and writing was a trigger for it. We discovered they had lost a lot of confidence because they hadn’t practiced their handwriting and even their writing stamina had decreased, but once they started using Clicker, they began to see themselves as a writer again. This student went from refusing to write to re-engaging with the curriculum, producing five or six sentences during their lessons and showing a great deal of pride in their work because they had that alternative method to record their ideas with Clicker.
For me, the best thing about Clicker is that it boosts students’ confidence and allows them to see themselves as writers. It removes barriers to writing, and it takes away some of that cognitive demand and overload, so children can record their ideas and gain confidence. To anyone else who might be interested in Clicker, I’d say definitely look into getting it for your school. It’s a really helpful tool for supporting vulnerable learners and developing your students’ confidence.