Now I know there are lots of great products that assist with inclusion and are designed to make recording easy and, today, I’m going to highlight some you may, or may not, have heard of. Clicker 5 is an excellent piece of kit to have at your disposal as is Writing with Symbols. Helpkidzlearn (from the bods at Inclusive Technology) has recently been launched, and includes a number of switch accessible activities. There are many other great pieces of software and hardware I could mention. But there are some occasions when a pupil with SEN just wants to use the same program as everyone else, particularly as they get older. Why should they miss out when there are a few choice ideas that can be enjoyed and used by everyone? Let’s have a look at the options available.
Vokis are pretty cool! How you actually use Vokis in the classroom would be your choice – greetings on a class blog, trying out phrases in different languages, asking questions for a class activity, I’m sure you can think of more. Vokis are great because they are free (don;t you just love that word) are simple to set up, easy to embed into wikis and blogs and I haven’t yet come across a child, whatever their level of ability, who hasn’t instantly been drawn to the idea. Create a character, choose a background, record a little message (great for those who have difficulty with written recording). If you can’t record a little message , for whatever reason, you can use the text to speech option and give your character a voice of your choosing. A fabulous tool for getting everyone involved.
Audacity is another fantastic free item that can be accessed by a number of pupils, particularly when using it as part of a small group or on collaborative projects. It’s layout is simple enough for most pupils to be able to negotiate easily and some of the toolbar icons have a reassuringly familiar look about them. It’s also something that can be accessed and used at the child’s own level. Able children can use multiple tracks, include sound effects, music and recorded sound together and use the effects to make unusual sounds. Less able children can, with minimal guidance, use it to record speech/sounds and edit their work so their speech is more fluid. How about letting a child with written recording difficulties use Audacity to record investigation findings as a Q&A tool for assessment? You might find the results are better than you anticipated.
A while we’re discussing presenting findings or information as spoken words, let’s not forget that you can record directly onto a PowerPoint or into PhotoStory. This is not only fabulous for children who find it easier to present work this way but also a great way to make resources for the classroom. Talking story books are fantastic but can be expensive to buy – use PowerPoint to create your own. Yes, it can be time consuming but then so is creating the perfect worksheet and talking books are far more fun
In fact, I have to say, that I’ve had great fun using the latest 2Simple product, 2 Create a SuperStory. Plenty of options for creativity are there and there’s a fabulous ‘Auto’ setting that could be useful with less able pupils. The inclusion of clip art and templates for objects on 2CASS means that children can actually create work of good quality without having to be able to draw with the mouse.
We all know inclusion is important but there are solutions available for every budget. There might even be something on this list that you already use at school. But, however much you struggle to find things that work (especially from the child’s point of view), remember you will eventually find the one thing that changes everything. And that can be truly life changing.