The End

A big big thank you to everyone on the ITR12 course, especially moderators, Justine and Dominik. It has been an amazing experience, I’ve learnt so much. I’m looking forward to implementing everything I’ve learnt and hopefully we will all stay in contact and keep learning. It was hard work but I’m definitely going to miss it!

Best Wishes,

Katrina. x

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Software and Hardware for Supporting Active Reading

Unit 10

This has been one of my most productive Units as I have had the chance to use some really exciting software and hardware to use with dyslexic students, not only to support active reading but to increase independence and organisational skills.

Audio Notetaker

Audio Notetaker is commercial software which allows audio, text and images to be combined to make interactive, visual notes. You can organise your audio notes into sections and use colour coding to highlight importance or understanding and annotate notes with text and images. Although it is easy to use I would suggest that this software is aimed at least KS3 students, possibly KS4 and beyond.

The benefits of Notetaker:

  • easy to install
  • easy to use with the help of tutorials
  • easy to edit
  • great to ensure accuracy of information
  • easy to listen back to
  • easy to navigate
  • enables you to manage important information
  • keeps notes in one place
  • allows audio to be imported to add to notes and presentations
  • colour coding for organisation
  • makes interactive notes
  • reasonably priced licence

My Study Bar

MyStudyBar is a mini toolbar which brings together a range of apps to support literacy, including reading, writing and planning. It consists of a collection of open source and free applications. It is easy to install and simple to use, it can even be downloaded onto a USB stick to make it portable. It is a fantastic piece of free software to use with dyslexic students of any age, although some of the features will be more suited to older students. This has to be my favourite piece of free software!

The benefits of My Study Bar

  • 15 apps to choose from
  • colour backgrounds
  • Lingoes dictionary
  • LetMeType for help with text input
  • Balabolka for converting text to audio
  • speech-to-text app (allows you to talk to your computer)
  • screen magnifier
  • text reader
  • overlays/reading ruler
  • mindmapping
  • flexible free
  • portable – can be run from a USB stick
  • online tutorials

Evernote Clearly

This is a free readability plug-in from Chrome or Firefox which makes blog posts, articles and webpages clean and easy to read taking away all distractions. There are themes to choose from or you can customise the theme to your requirements. You can also save documents in Evernote to read later. In addition, you can purchase Evernote’s text-to-speech screen reader. This is great to use with any student researching online.

Benefits of Evernote Clearly

  • makes online text clean and easy to read
  • easy to install
  • use shortcuts to convert your online text using Evernote
  • print from screen
  • optional text-to-speech
  • flexible
  • free

Echo Livescribe Pen

The Livescribe Echo Pen package consists of a digital pendigital paper, and software applications. The Echopen itself is a ballpoint pen with an embedded computer and digital audio recorder. It is used with Anoto digital paper and records what it writes and also synchronizes notes with any audio it has recorded at that time, eg recording a lecture or business meeting whilst making notes. The notes can later be uploaded to a computer and stored as a document.  Parts of recorded audio can be replayed by tapping on the written notes made at the time and also by clicking on the relevant portion of a page on-screen, once it has been synced to the Livescribe Desktop software. I think that this is a really incredible piece of hardware, especially for dyslexic students. It is very easy to use and increases independence, possibly eliminating the need for a scribe in class. I would suggest for KS3 and above students. The Livescribe Pen is portable and is more for note taking during lectures and classes whereas Audio Notetaker would be more for preparing notes and presentations afterwards.

Benefits of the Livescribe Pen

  • combines audio with notetaking
  • portable and lightweight
  • long battery life
  • easy to use
  • converts written text to typed font
  • highlights spelling errors
  • translator in several languages
  • piano game feature
  • improves independence
  • new model has Bluetooth, wireless and is compatible with Android

C-Pen Scanner

I was lucky enough to try the C-Pen at the South West Dyslexia Network Meeting. It enables you to quickly and easily scan printed text from textbooks, magazines, newspapers, novels, dictionaries, notes, barcodes etc. into a Windows programme such as Word or Excel. The pen plugs directly into a computer, using a USB port, so no battery is required.  It is simply held in your hand like a pen or highlighter and moved steadily over text to be copied, instead of typing. This eliminates errors when copying text from documents, which can especially be a problem for dyslexic students. I was amazed at the speed and accuracy of copying text from scanning and how easy the C-Pen is to use. I can really see the benefit, especially for students in KS4 and above, for note taking and making revision aids although younger students would benefit with support. Very different from the Livescribe pen which is more reliant on audio with simplified notes but nevertheless still a fantastic piece of equipment for dyslexic students.

Benefits of the C-Pen

  • very accurate
  • quick to scan
  • easy to use, simply held like a pen
  • eliminates the need for copying text
  • versatile
  • no battery required

Inspiration

Inspiration is commercial software for visual mapping, outlining, writing and making presentations. Inspiration 9 allows students to brainstorm ideas, structure thoughts and use visuals to assist understanding. Students can take notes, organise them efficiently, structure writing plans using diagrams, mind maps and outlines and prepare presentations. I use this with my children to prepare writing frames and create mind maps for revision, fantastic for visual learners. I would say that Inspiration is aimed at secondary school age and above, however, I also use 2Connect in my setting which is more suited to younger children and has similar features.

Benefits of Inspiration

  • develops creativity
  • improves memory retention
  • helps organise thoughts
  • stimulates ideas
  • great for visual learners
  • flexible
  • tutorials for help
  • export to PowerPoint or PDF
  • use symbols and images
  • range of graphic organisers to choose from
  • helps develop projects across the curriculum

I feel that I could confidently use all the above pieces of hardware or software with my dyslexic students and be able to identify the best ones to use with each child. I think that they all have a place in the secondary school setting and I’m excited to try them out with students in the near future.

The Livescribe Echo Pen

About the Livescribe Echo Pen

The Livescribe Echo Pen package consists of a digital pendigital paper, and software applications. The Echopen itself is a ballpoint pen with an embedded computer and digital audio recorder. It is used with Anoto digital paper and records what it writes and also synchronizes notes with any audio it has recorded at that time, eg recording a lecture or business meeting whilst making notes. The notes can later be uploaded to a computer and stored as a document.  Parts of recorded audio can be replayed by tapping on the written notes made at the time and also by clicking on the relevant portion of a page on-screen, once it has been synced to the Livescribe Desktop software.

My learner’s experience with the Echo Pen

I work with an ‘A’ level student who has been using the Livescribe Echo Pen for just over a year.  The main purpose of use, for her, is to record lessons whilst making notes, she can then refer back to the audio to revise or research parts that she doesn’t understand. By plugging her pen into her PC via the USB port, the software then transcribes her notes on to a document on her PC and converts her writing to typed font. Her spelling errors are highlighted for correction as a normal word document would.  This student finds the pen very reliable and with a long battery life only has to charge it once a fortnight. She also likes the translator which has several languages available, as she often holidays in France. She can learn phrases or words to use to learn the language, although there are a limited number of words available.  She will be going to university in September and the Echo Pen will be even more useful for her when recording lectures.

My thoughts

I would like to see the Echo Pen being used by GCSE students, however, I am not sure how teachers would feel about having lessons recorded and the student would need to be quite selective with its use. Would parents want their children recorded in interactive classes?

I think that this is a really incredible piece of hardware, especially for dyslexic students. It is very easy to use and increases independence, possibly eliminating the need for a scribe in class. Having practised with the Livescribe Pen myself, I would recommend it to any dyslexic student (or in fact any student!) embarking on a higher educational course.

Audio Notetaker by Sonocent

Audio Notetaker 

Audio Notetaker is commercial software which allows audio, text and images to be combined to make interactive, visual notes. You can organise your audio notes into sections and use colour coding to highlight importance or understanding and annotate notes with text and images.

The benefits of Notetaker:

  • easy to install
  • easy to use with the help of tutorials
  • easy to edit
  • great to ensure accuracy of information
  • easy to listen back to
  • easy to navigate
  • enables you to manage important information
  • keeps notes in one place
  • allows audio to be imported to add to notes and presentations
  • colour coding for organisation
  • makes interactive notes
  • reasonably priced licence

 So many benefits, I would love to use this with dyslexic students, not only for note taking and revision but for practising presentations and improving organisational skills, using the colour coding feature.