I have been writing about various technologies in this series so I thought it was time to give some examples of assessments highlighting students’ needs with examples of the type of equipment I’d recommend (these are not real students).
Samuel clearly shows good understanding in class and contributes well to discussions. In addition, his spelling and reading are within the average range. This does not appear to reflect in his work however; Samuel is placed at Level 3 to 4 and he is in the lowest set for English.
Samuel’s handwriting maybe one reason for this lack of progress; his writing is difficult to read and he tires quickly. While I recommend he continue with his handwriting lessons, it should be noted that he has received instruction since year 1. Samuel is now in Year 7 and his handwriting has not significantly improved.
To prepare Samuel for word processing his exams, it would be worth encouraging him to use an iPad (with wireless keyboard) or laptop in lessons. This would take handwriting out of the equation. Samuel could type his exams when he reaches Year 11 but it needs to become his normal way of working. By introducing him to word processing now, this should allow him to become competent and fast at touch typing by the time he takes his GCSEs.
Sally has good verbal ability but her single word reading and spelling scores are in the ‘well below average’ range. This is affecting her accessing the curriculum and recording her work independently. Sally does not like to depend on a TA and, since moving to secondary school, this is becoming more evident. Sally also struggles with organisation and often forgets equipment and homework. This has resulted in a number detentions recently.
It would benefit Sally if she could use one of the school’s iPads with some assistive apps put on for her. I recommend:
‘Write Online’ so she can write using predictive text and have her writing read out.
VoiceDream which would allow her to have her text books read to her using text-to-speech. These should be downloaded from Load2Learn by her Teaching Assistant so Sally can access them easily in class.
Popplet would be useful for spider diagrams.
Dragon Dictate so Sally can talk into her iPad and it will type for her.
Merriam Webster dictionary so she can ask for any word to be spelled or to have the definition read to her.
There are also a number of organisational apps which may help Sally. Homework app to record her homework and set reminders. Timetable app so she can keep it on her iPad (Sally has lost her planner twice this term) or MyStudyLife, which is for scheduling, tasks and events.
John has Cerebal Palsy and cannot use his writing arm efficiently; he also struggles to sit comfortably requiring a specialised chair. In addition John has poor working memory and his skills in reading and spelling are in the low average range. His verbal skills are good and allowing for extra time to process, his understanding excellent. John is in Year 6 and it is important, at this stage, we enable him to work independently as much as possible. These recommendations are to include software he will use when he moves up to secondary school in Year 7.
A 15’4 screen laptop to enable clear vision when moving around.
Dragon Naturally speaking 12.5 (Nuance)
Headset with good proximity mic – wireless free due to movement in specialised chair – Bluetooth Voyager Pro UC – Planatronics
I hope this has given you a flavour of the type of technologies available for the various needs of students. It is about removing the barriers to enable learning.