I'm a Graduate Intern at Stowupland High School in Suffolk, England. I work with the special education department, and we have numerous students who we support on a 1-to-1 basis within the classroom.
A lot of the students I work with were particularly struggling with English assignments. They just weren’t engaging with the subject or enjoying it. Our special education team did a lot of research into different tools to help these learners progress, and DocsPlus really caught their eye. So that’s when they brought it to me to trial.
Getting up to speed with the software was very straightforward – I watched the recorded training session on Crick’s website and after that I was good to go!
"It’s a great tool for boosting writing confidence and engagement."
The trial consisted of two different tasks that I completed with a group of four students. The first was completing a journal entry as if you were a soldier in the trenches during World War I. The ready-made topic word banks that come with DocsPlus were really valuable for this activity, providing key words and phrases to help them write about rations, different elements of the war, the countries involved, etc. Alongside these we were using the speaker tool a lot, which was a fantastic feature because it gave the students the confidence to share their work without having to read it out loud to one another. And I felt that all the students really listened to one another with the computer speaking, which was lovely.
For the second task, we wrote a horror story, and for that we used one of the story planner templates, which helps you to map out the beginning, the start of the problem, how you resolve the problem, and the ending. We then transferred that into their assessment. And again, that was really successful.
DocsPlus offers so many benefits, but sometimes it’s the simplest things that make the most impact, such as automatically reading their sentence back to them when they add the period at the end. Often the students are so eager to get all their thoughts down that they just quickly move on to the next sentence without checking their work. But this actually slowed their pace down to an appropriate speed where they could really think about what they were writing, how to structure it, and whether it needed editing. The students were able to recognize where they needed to add punctuation, if there was an incorrect spelling in there, or if something didn’t make sense, and independently make those changes.
"One of my trial students is already really excited by the possibility of using DocsPlus during her assessments – when students are so comfortable with technology like this, it can make that exam situation a much calmer and more familiar environment."
Given how successful the trial was, we’ve invested in the whole-school Flexi-License so that we can widen this out from just being used with small groups to being available to everyone. It’s going to be so engaging for our KS3s (ages 11 – 14), and then of course our older students have the benefit of the Exam Mode. One of my trial students is already really excited by the possibility of using DocsPlus during her assessments – when students are so comfortable with technology like this, it can make that exam situation a much calmer and more familiar environment. I think that's something that they would favor over having an individual they’ve potentially never met before coming in to read or scribe for them.
I would definitely recommend that other schools look into DocsPlus - it’s a great tool for boosting writing confidence and engagement.