Assistive TECH TOOLS _ COMMENTS by changcheng2

VIEWS: 9 PAGES: 64

									I LOVE my Livescribe pen and we've bought one for our school already. (around $200) Zoe is
changing the face of education. Check out http://livewithlivescribe.edublogs.org/ and consider
following @grade1 (Aviva Dunsinger-gr 1/2 teacher whol is an amzaing guru of livescribe,
blogging and more)

Thanks for the mention, Jason. Good to meet you f2f!

I love my Livescribe Pen as well. My husband and many of his colleagues use them as they are
great for business and sharing meeting notes. I have seen the pen gaining traction in the
independent/private school system, although I have yet to see one in the public system. I hope it
does. Such a valuable tool.

A few weeks ago my son introduced me to Jing (http://www.techsmith.com/jing-uses.html)
which has similar capabilities to a Livescribe Pen, only on your computer meaning it captures
everything you are doing on your computer while it records audio from the room and you can
play it back or share it as a video. I've included the link. Check it out.

I forgot to give my two cents worth on "...is the text always necessary?". I agree that sometimes it is,
but many times it is not. If we are evaluating the ideas, thinking, application, oral communication then
why does it need to be written down? Given the technology that we have available to us now, we can
record audio and save it as a file to refer to for the purposes of marking and if we need it for evidence to
support grades, etc. The concept of an online portfolio is something I hear a lot about these days and
many schools are turning towards. A portfolio that is always in the Cloud and can be retrieved by
students, parents or teachers anywhere. I can see value in that.

TEXT TO SPEECH
Kurzweil 3000

http://www.at-bc.ca/k3000.html

                                              Kurzweil 3000

I have had a lot of experience working with Kurzweil 3000. This is the primary text to speech tool used
in our school board. It is including in all of our SEA claims, and our board has purchased an additional
200 licenses to be used board-wide and is accessible on our network computers.

My initial introduction to Kurzweil came about 3 years ago when I was placed into a self-contained
classroom with about 6 desktop computers and several students with SEA equipment. I did not use
Kurzweil much in my classroom, but I did do some support for my students when they were reintegrated
back into class. I also sat in on some training sessions my students received with their equipment.

Last year was the first year I worked extensively with Kurzweil. One resource I found extremely helpful
was LearnOntario http://learnontario.ca/software. AMAZING!!!! It has step by step videos for a huge
range of software, including Kurzweil, as well as most of the OSAPAC licensed software. I still make use
of it when I have difficulties remembering how to do things that are outside of the norm. I regularly
work with students using Kurzweil in the classroom for a variety of tasks.

Kurzweil has a huge range of tools to assist students in both reading and writing. Below are, in my
opinion, the positives and negatives of Kurzweil:



Positives                                                     Negatives
Can add text via a scanner, through virtual printing, or      Expensive
can convert pdf documents
Can scan in colour or black and white                         Difficulty converting graphic text – the more graphics,
                                                              the more difficulty Kurzweil has identifying the text
Wide range of voice styles to choose from                     Glitchy – we have had issues with Kurzweil not
                                                              recognizing scanners, freezing, losing written work
Very easy to adjust reading speed                             Intimidating – there are a LOT of buttons/controls to
                                                              manage
Integrated dictionary to allow students to look up            Setup – not all controls are intuitive (see below)
unfamiliar words
Highlight text and extract highlights
Add notes to text in a variety of ways (sticky notes, end
notes, column notes, voice notes)
Edit the text to correct mispronunciations
Customize toolbars for student needs
Can change whether Kurzweil reads a word at a time,
sentence at a time, paragraph at a time, or the entire text
continuously
Can tile windows to see more than one text at a time –
for example, the student can view the text and
comprehension questions at the same time


One big issue I have with Kurzweil is that several of the controls seem almost, “backward” compared to
most mainstream products students are familiar with. For instance, to turn pages you use the down
arrow as opposed to the up arrow. I thought it only bothered me, but ran into a teacher who is LD who
told me it drives her crazy as well. Some frustration for LD students, although most seem to adapt to it
OK with time. For an otherwise fairly well designed program, it seems like a simple fix that was
overlooked.

I have taken my original document and cut and paste to make it a bit easier to read without having to
download the document. Everything is the same except the chart, which I had to adjust to fit in the post.
Kurzweil 3000 I have had a lot of experience working with Kurzweil 3000. This is the primary text to
speech tool used in our school board. It is including in all of our SEA claims, and our board has purchased
an additional 200 licenses to be used board-wide and is accessible on our network computers. My initial
introduction to Kurzweil came about 3 years ago when I was placed into a self-contained classroom with
about 6 desktop computers and several students with SEA equipment. I did not use Kurzweil much in my
classroom, but I did do some support for my students when they were reintegrated back into class. I also
sat in on some training sessions my students received with their equipment. Last year was the first year I
worked extensively with Kurzweil. One resource I found extremely helpful was LearnOntario
http://learnontario.ca/software. AMAZING!!!! It has step by step videos for a huge range of software,
including Kurzweil, as well as most of the OSAPAC licensed software. I still make use of it when I have
difficulties remembering how to do things that are outside of the norm. I regularly work with students
using Kurzweil in the classroom for a variety of tasks. Kurzweil has a huge range of tools to assist
students in both reading and writing. Below are, in my opinion, the positives and negatives of Kurzweil:
Positives Can add text via a scanner, through virtual printing, or can convert pdf documents Expensive
Can scan in colour or black and white Wide range of voice styles to choose from Very easy to adjust
reading speed Integrated dictionary to allow students to look up unfamiliar words Highlight text and
extract highlights Add notes to text in a variety of ways (sticky notes, end notes, column notes, voice
notes) Edit the text to correct mispronunciations Customize toolbars for student needs Can change
whether Kurzweil reads a word at a time, sentence at a time, paragraph at a time, or the entire text
continuously Can tile windows to see more than one text at a time – for example, the student can view
the text and comprehension questions at the same time Negatives Difficulty converting graphic text –
the more graphics, the more difficulty Kurzweil has identifying the text Glitchy – we have had issues with
Kurzweil not recognizing scanners, freezing, losing written work Intimidating – there are a LOT of
buttons/controls to manage Setup – not all controls are intuitive (see below) One big issue I have with
Kurzweil is that several of the controls seem almost, "backward" compared to most mainstream
products students are familiar with. For instance, to turn pages you use the down arrow as opposed to
the up arrow. I thought it only bothered me, but ran into a teacher who is LD who told me it drives her
crazy as well. Some frustration for LD students, although most seem to adapt to it OK with time. For an
otherwise fairly well designed program, it seems like a simple fix that was overlooked.

Hi Jason, Have you tried cutting and pasting using the Word clipboard in D2L? When you
compose, be in the Advanced tab, and you'll see a clipboard icon with a blue W. I cut and pasted
yours from your original .doc post -keeps the formatting and table.

Jeryl

Jason, thanks for the LearnOntario site, just checked it out and added it to my 'tutorial' page on the AT
wikispaces I am creating. It's great!

I agree that Kurzweil is a very powerful program that is also tempermental. I experienced some of that
glitchiness during EQAO last year with documents that would not print and work simply disappearing. It
was a challenge. I can also relate to the intimidation factor. There are so many controls and nuances to
learn it is overwhelming. Thank you for the link to LearnOntario. This is a great resource and I can
forsee its future usefulness to learn about each of the wide variety of technologies we need to be
'fluent' in.

Kurzweil printing problems during EQAO. Yikes! Tell me about it. The Kurzweil developers were not that
enthused about trying to solve the problem either, in spite of it involving the entire province on a high
stakes test.

Just checked out the Blio Reader, looks great! Very interesting info about Ray Kurzweil!
Premier Literacy

http://www.readingmadeeasy.ca/training/videos.html

LE#2 E-tivity 2 (Lesley Andrews)


Technology: Premier Literacy


My Experience: I am familiar with Kurzweil 3000 as I have worked with students who

have Kurzweil loaded on their SEA computers. In the last few years the Board I am in

has begun using Premier in place of Kurzweil so I felt that I should become familiar with

this suite of programs and understand their application in the classroom.


       What I found interesting is that Premier is now marketed as a suite of programs to

facilitate literacy, no longer as assistive technology, and as a tool or resource to be

used with all students, not just those students who are identified as having a special

need or challenge with language.


       Premier has text-to-speech and text-to-audio (MP3 files) capabilities. As Premier

is mainly a word processing platform, there is also an expansive dictionary available,

word prediction, the ability to read almost any document (internet, email, digital books,

word processing, etc.) and highlighting or bookmarking text. There are so many tools I

found it difficult to try them all. This is the first time I have looked into Premier and I am

not proficient. I expect that continued consistent use would help develop proficiency.

I also expect that a need to use the technology in order to effectively access

information would stimulate proficiency whereas for someone who does not need the

technology, proficiency would come at a slower rate since I can access and

comprehend information simply by reading.
        Positive Points of Premier                 Negative Points of Premier

Reads many types of text therefore          Most effective with digital content

allows access to internet research          therefore textbooks and reference

which previously would require strong       books should be in digital form which

reading skills                              can be a challenge to access

Varying levels of functional                In order to integrate Premier effectively

enhancement which means students            into curriculum and lesson planning the

can access the parts of the suite that      teacher should have dedicated

will be useful to them                      access to the technology

“Key to Access”: software loaded onto

MP3 that you plug into USB port which

allows access to Premier suite of

programs on any computer. This allows

flexible access without a prescribed

computer.




       This is the first time that I have accessed Premier although familiarity with similar

technology certainly made it easier. I understand that the suite of programs is available

at a more affordable price than Kurzweil which would make it attractive for school

boards and individual purchase. There is also an At Home feature that allows students

with access at school to access the same suite of products on their home computer. I

recognize that other programs may offer more powerful tools, but I do believe that

Premier offers tools that would level the playing field for many students, including English

Language Learners and those who have language challenges, at an accessible price.
Sources:


http://www.readingmadeeasy.ca/training/videos.html


http://www.specialneedscomputers.ca/index.php?l=product_detail&p=1052


A great summary, you're right, there is a LOT of tools within premier and it takes a long time to get

comfortable with them. One of the tools I love the most on premier is the summary tool, it summarizes

websites down to a few lines allowing the students to see whether the website has what they need

without having to read lots of information.


That is a pretty powerful tool! Thank you. I concluded that Premier is a viable alternative to the

'Cadillac' Kurzweil and this is another reason why.


Does anyone know how the Summary functionality works? How do we know it's picking out the most

important parts of the text we ask it to summarize? Is it really all that trustworthy? I'm not all that

experienced with it, so would welcome insights.


I'm not really sure how it works, but on the couple of occasions I have used it with kids, I have had no

issues with it. We mainly used it to bring research on ancient egypt down to a more manageable level.


"Inclusive Technology". I completely agree. An "I have a dream..." moment.

Should a student need to be identified to have access to all of these powerful tools which can
support their success? In my opinion, no. Of course money plays a huge role in universal access
to technology for everyone but we are getting closer. When you hear about 'e-schools' where
every student uses a computer for everything, no notebooks or pencil cases, etc., you would be
hard pressed to figure out which students are identified. Students who have had access to, and
effectively used, SEA computers in the past are way ahead of everyone else in using technology
as their way of going to school and staying organized. Those who were on the margins would
then be leading the pack.
Write Outloud

http://www.donjohnston.com/support/wol6tutorials/getting_started.html

SPEECH RECOGNITION

http://www.at-bc.ca/dnsp.html


Dragon Naturally Speaking
http://www.goqsoftware.com/en/




                                  Dragon Naturally Speaking 10
Dragon Naturally Speaking 10 is one of the speech to text pieces of software placed on SEA computers in
our school board. In the past year, we have also started adding Speak Q to our SEA laptops. There are
advantages and disadvantages to each piece of software. I have chosen to focus on Dragon. In my
opinion, it is overall a more powerful piece of speech to text tool for students. There are some
drawbacks to Dragon as well. I started working extensively with Dragon last year. I have created my
own speech profile which I try to use on a regular basis. For me, it is fairly accurate (much to the
surprise of some of my students). I have a fairly good understanding of the training process connected
to Dragon, as well as the speech to text functions. I have not yet made use of Dragon’s ability to use
voice commands to access menu functions and other aspects of computer operation.

Positives                                                  Negatives
Ability to create voice profiles in both French and        Voice training can be a long process – is very frustrating
English                                                    for some students
Available as a free app on iPad/iPhone                     Students need to be aware of when the mic is on –
                                                           Dragon blindly types whatever is said (students who self
                                                           talk, or pause to talk to a friend while the mic is on will
                                                           find whatever they say on their page)
Ability to configure microphone to filter out background   Temporary conditions such as colds that affect a
noise (VERY useful in the classroom)                       student‟s voice can reduce Dragon‟s effectiveness
Setup hot keys to access several Dragon functions          In some cases, students need to try different
                                                           microphones to find one that picks up their voice in a
                                                           satisfactory manner
Voice activation of the microphone – can put to sleep,     Works best if used on a regular basis
turn off using voice commands (and wake from sleep
mode)
Voice profiles can be transferred between computers
(useful for students wanting to use Dragon from home)
Ability to use with several programs and also comes
with a built in word processor (Dragonpad)
OSAPAC licensed


Having used both Speak Q and Dragon, my personal preference is for Dragon. Overall it has the
potential to do more than Speak Q. Dragon has the ability to not only serve as a way to get speech to
text, but is also able to allow students to use voice commands to access most of the tools on their
computer. Students with physical disabilities would find this function of Dragon very useful. I also like
the ability to setup the microphone to filter out background noise. In a classroom situation, this can be
invaluable in getting speech to text to work properly. Dragon does not work well with students who
need a lot of, “self talk” to complete their work – some of the students I have worked with are unable to
remember to turn off the microphone between when they finish dictating and when they start talking to
themselves. Speak Q overall is easier to train, and gives the students the ability to combine speak and
select text to help reduce errors from the program not correctly identifying what is spoken. Students can
experience a lot of success very quickly with minimal training with Speak Q. However, Speak Q does
have difficulty working well in situations with a great deal of background noise.

Dragon can be seen as a, "miracle cure" for some students - they are able to talk, and the computer
types. However, as you pointed out, this is not for everyone. I use Dragon periodically, mainly to keep
my voice profile up to date and to remind myself how everything works for when I work with students.
However, I MUCH prefer to type - I hate talking to my computer. I find it slower, and I have far more
grammatical errors. I also find around about Grade 6, students become more self-conscious about their
computers. One of the first things they move away from is Dragon - it is kind of, "weird" to talk to your
computer. Really unfortunate. I was just working with a Grade 4 student yesterday who was using
Dragon in class. His classmates were amazed that all he had to do was talk, and the computer would
type for him. This wonderment seems to disappear as students get older. As to background noise, not
many students are taught/remember to do the microphone check before using Dragon. It helps
immensely in the noisy classroom. Dragon is surprisingly good at working in noisy environments once
the mic check is completed. That being said, I always start training with Word Q. That way, if Dragon
doesn't work, there is a backup plan, as Word Q almost always works without issues.

Thank you for your insights Jason. As a parent of children who require accommodation in order to be
successful (and a teacher of many who do as well) it does become tough around grade 6 because the
students really just want to be like everyone else. Some teachers are great at making the
accommodations seamless and the students are not singled out in any way, but others...not so much. It
takes constant encouragement to get students to accept the accommodations and use them to their
advantage and not worry about what the other students think. Thank you for all of the tips.

http://www.goqsoftware.com/en/

Dragon is an amazing writing tool, in spite of its difficulty sometimes. (Perhaps it was named "Dragon"
appropriately?) The newest version 11 Pro which is Ministry licenced is a vast improvement. I had a
struggling student last week (grade 5) and had him dictate a paragraph into Dragon with no prior voice
training. It typed out with 100% accuracy! (the look on his face was heartwarming.) Is there some way
you can get some hands-on playtime with this and other AT, Al? That may help you make the needed
leap from theory to practice. Remember, "Learn to Play/Play to Learn"> (ECOO.org 2011 conference
theme)

Lately I've been playing around with the Dragon Dictation app on my iPhone, so I thought I'd take a
closer look at Dragon Naturally Speaking. With the iPhone app, you can dictate text and email messages
as well as Facebook and Twitter updates. Neat!

I've seen a high level demo of Dragon Naturally Speaking, so I was not completely new to the product. It
was, however, exciting to delve into the more advanced features and functionality. It's amazing that one
can essentially control their entire desktop using Dragon to do things like working with Microsoft Office
products (for example, Word and Excel), checking email in a variety of email clients, and surfing the web.

I couldn't agree more! I had three students last year with IEP's in French that removed the reading and
writing assessment and instead assessed their oral skills. I started using a program called xpresslab for
them which allowed them to hear a question and reply orally and then realized ALL my kids were dying
to get their hands on it! Every child had a go at retelling the class play on it, and I then recored oral
feedback back to them. By providing a different way to present their work, everyone responded at a
whole new level.

Positive
1. There is a lot of support available for Dragon, both in written and video formats. For students who
don't read well, the tutorials are a great way to give them access to training on the product.
2. Because Dragon is such a feature heavy tool, becoming a superuser would likely be quite an
accomplishment for a student. I'm envisioning leadership opportunities here for the student who
becomes proficient. They could end up being the go-to person for other students and teachers in their
school.

Negative
1. I've heard horror stories about individual voice files becoming corrupted when students accidentally
use someone else's. This could lead to frustration, and time consuming recreation of the original file. I
wonder if there's a process in place for backing up or password protecting voice files so they can be
preserved.
2. Because this is speech recognition software, the student using it needs to be able to talk into a
microphone. This could potentially be disruptive in a classroom situation, such as during a test.

Dragon voice files can be backed up. We encourage students to back up (and when possible save to an
external drive) regularly - at least once per month if possible. This also means you can export voice files
if a student wants to set up Dragon elsewhere (another computer, at home). I had a student last year
who had Dragon at home and was provided a new SEA laptop. We imported her Dragon file from home
to avoid having to go through the setup. Dragon also keeps a "top-secret" backup file you can
sometimes access if the original becomes corrupt. Our SEA IT guy had me retrieve a voice file once this
way, but I honestly cannot remember how to do it. Somehow Dragon has a separate backup file that you
cannot normally see. That being said, as Jeryl mentioned Dragon will work for some students with no
training, and is well worth a try.

So, I attended the ECOO conference last week in Richmond Hill (highly recommend it if you have interest
in technology in the classroom) and had an, "aha!" moment during a session on Livescribe pens. Have
already read (and experienced) some of the frustrations of Speech to text software. Zoe Branigan-Pipe,
the presenter, was wondering why there was all the concern about converting speech to text. Are we
not just trying to find out their ideas, and would not just the audio suffice? A very interesting point I
thought when considering why you are having a student use speech recognition software. Something I
am going to think about with my teaching - why am I having a student use Dragon (or Speak Q)? Would a
simple audio recording get at what I am trying to find out? There will be times when I do want the text -
perhaps as a tool to teach revising and editing, for example - but is the text always necessary? Anyways,
thought I would share, and perhaps it would fit in best here. By the way, also attended a session on
EQAO - the presenter was fantastic! Someone by the name of Jeryl, as I recall . . . Anyways, if you are on
Twitter, Zoe is @zbpipe, and has some good tidbits of information from time to time.



AL…..I do not have any working experience with this software but after hearing about it and seeing the
tutorials - I think I would like to try it in practise. The tutorial I explored included Dragon in action and
did investigate a few links. I noticed there was quite a range of products ranging from a cost of $99 for a
basic home edition to a $599.99 for the professional edition. Prior to investigating this program I
thought it was solely used to help special students but now realize it has a uses through features that
will assist anyone looking to use it for a variety of needs. I chose to investigate the nuance tutorial
videos under Education Solutions. As far as understanding what the program can do, I will have to trust
information contained on the tutorials and links to list the following as : Positives + improves core
reading and rewriting skills for students of all abilities + helps students with language-based learning
disabilities more easily express themselves in writing + provides accessibility for teachers and students
with physical disabilities that hamper typing + bridges English Language Learners' oral and written
communication skills + enables teachers to prepare more detailed assessments of student work through
dictation + claims to be 3x faster than typing and produces over 99% accuracy + forces concept of read-
a-loud and its benefits via dictation + oral prewriting exercise helping organize thought and sentence
structures +focuses on content rather than mechanics of writing Concerns Ironically enough, I was at a
meeting recently of area special education resource staff and the subject of Dragon naturally Speaking
(DNS) came up. - the version 11 was identified as being better than others - frustration with the
sensitivity to voice training - mention of a need to work with student on virtually a 1:1 basis to set it up -
time consuming to train voice and have student become more proficient in using the software - perhaps
more suited to older students In summary, I had looked at this technology in the LE1 exercise. Although
it may have its drawbacks as listed in the concern areas, I would like to give it a try and perhaps here
from people who are using it or have tried to use it with students at the elementary level. I see the
potential benefit to help students who have organizational difficulty with their sentence structure as
well as practical limitations in getting their thoughts into a printed medium via computer either because
of their limitations with keyboarding skills/mechanics or because of their particular learning challenges.

SPEAK Q

Believe it or not, this was he first time I had ever tried speech recognition software and I loved it!
I decided to look at SpeakQ and downloaded SpeakQ/WordQ onto my computer. Unfortunately,
it kept crashing my system (it‟s not the most reliable computer), but once I put it on my
husband‟s computer, I was good to go. My biggest concern about using SpeakQ was whether it
would be able to recognize my British / Canadian accent, but on the advice of one of my fellow
course colleagues, I went for the UK option on the voices. Although I had to ensure I used my
best British accent (it got confused on occasion), overall it did a pretty good job detecting what I
was saying. I tested out some of the training programs but I was unable to use it in word
processing software because it is incompatible with notepad, the only writing software on my
husband‟s computer.



I can‟t wait to try this out more on my school computer, I can see it being a huge help at report
writing time if it‟s compatible with the software we use for this. The software is easy to use and
navigate and I didn‟t need to look up any instructions or videos to get started.



Positives                                       Negatives
Will make students much more independent It takes some time to train the computer if
and confident in writing.                       you have an accent from another country!
For most people, the amount of time required Students need to be speaking when the rest of
to train your voice is quite small              the class is quiet, this could make some
                                                students feel uncomfortable.
Very simple interface, very user friendly       The voice is very monotone and there is only
                                                one voice option (at least I couldn‟t find
                                                another!). The voice is also not as clear as I
                                                have seen on other text to speech programs.
Students can read back what they have read.
It‟s a small tool bar that doesn‟t dominate the
screen or distract.
Great support videos
You can select how regularly it backs up
your profile.
It‟s available free through OSAPAC.

 I didn't find it too frustrating and I have quite a strong Canadian accent for a Brit and British accent for a
Canadian :)
I haven't tried it with ESL students. I imagine it would be a bit of a struggle. One thing that helps (and I
just discovered and LOVE) is that if Speak Q guesses WAY off, typing the first letter of the word you want
will get Speak Q to predict using that letter as a base. I envision my proficient users would be able to
type much of what they want, then supplement with Speak Q when Word Q doesn't give enough
options.

I chose to investigate the SpeakQ software. It does seem fairly easy to use and the free 30 day option is
great for a quick trial run before purchase. I have seen students using this in our board and it would
appear easy to use. I must say the online video tutorials are wonderful and are a great resource before
and after purchase. The short detailed video clips on every feature are priceless. As we discussed
earlier we only want to look into what we need and this makes this very easy to search. The FAQ section
was good as well for quick answers to common problems.



                       Pros                                                    Cons
Available in 4 languages, English, French, Spanish    Not available as a „hands free‟ device so this would
and German.                                           not be a good fit for low-vision or poor dexterity
                                                      users.
The „speak and select‟ option is great for beginner
users until you become more proficient then switch    Must have ideas and thoughts fairly well organized
to „speak continuously.‟ This will lessen the re-     before dictation, may be difficult for some students.
occurrences of the ums, ands, ahs.
                                                      While this may be easy to get started there are still
School licenses will allow for home use as well.      bugs to work out for the new user. The way we
                                                      speak is unique to us and it does take some patience
Having the synonym feature makes for more             to get to a proficient level.
interesting and variance in word choice for any
writers.                                              Some LD students may find it weird to be speaking
                                                      to the computer while the rest of the class is silent.
Features are in the background and don‟t appear too
distracting to the writer.

Independence in writing on their own without the
teachers assistance.

Having the read back feature will help with
punctuation and grammar as most students can hear
when the sentence sounds right and can make
adjustments where necessary.




LE#2 E-tivity 3 (Lesley Andrews)


Technology: Speak Q


My Experience: Immediately I could see the value of the Word Q + Speak Q combination for

everyone, not just students with learning disabilities. I type quickly, but there are times when
dictating what I am thinking could be valuable. I can especially see this software as being a

great support to young learners who are learning to write or English Language Learners

especially because of the word prediction features and the spoken feedback.


       A definite positive aspect of Speak Q is that the training required is minimal and the time

required to learn to use the system effectively would be quite short. Of course Speak Q (+ Word

Q) does not have the extensive capabilities of a program like Dragon NS (+Kurzweil), but not all

students require such an expansive set of tools; they only require some support in their writing.


             Positive Points of Speak Q                 Negative Points of Speak Q

By speaking you can type one word or an        This is technology that is used specifically
entire paragraph which lends itself to         for writing (word prediction, speech
varying ability levels within a class          recognition, spoken feedback) therefore it
                                               lacks the capabilities that students with
                                               more extensive challenges with language
                                               may require.
Simple to train and learn controls making
the program accessible to a variety of
students and not infringing on instructional
time to support students in its use.
Affordable (less than $300) relative to many
other programs making the program
accessible to more students who can
benefit from the support technology can
offer.



I am familiar with Dragon Naturally Speaking so I chose to do some research on Speak Q. Until

today I had only heard of Speak Q in passing, but I have to admit I am hooked. I want to install

Word Q + Speak Q on my system today. This is the first time that I have accessed Speak Q and I

was amazed by how simple a program it is to learn and use.


Sources:


http://www.goqsoftware.com/en/try/speakq-video-demos/speakq-video-demos-page/


Speech Recognition -     Speak Q
                   Positives                                             Negatives
Registered trademark of Bloorview Kids
Reb…Canadian!
Moving horizontal green bar is displayed when you       Not OSAPAC licensed (like Dragon Naturally
speak a phrase                                          Speaking), although Word Q is
Multiple speech recognition profiles can be created     Word Q software must be pre-installed
A microphone wizard directs you how to adjust the       Speak Q must be installed directly on an individual
volume of the microphone                                computer. If there is a connection to a network, you
                                                        can store and retrieve Speak Q files from the
                                                        network directory.
It is easy to train your speech. You can choose a       Noise-cancelling microphone is recommended, or
beginner, intermediate or advanced level. A short       background noise can be distracting
piece of text appears at the top of the screen. It is
read and highlighted word by word making it easy
to follow. The computer will say remaining words
again if you forget what you are supposed to say.
Spoken words are presented as a list of choices in      Mistakes will occur
the „Speak and Select‟ mode (default). You select
from a list of words or phrases (both keyboard or
mouse can be used) or letters can be typed
Speech Q allows you to dictate either continuously      Students have to be careful to access their
into a document or into a word prediction box, you      personalized voice file, they may lose information if
can dictate in phrases or individual word,              they forget to save it.
Corrections can be made using speech-enabled            Speak Q costs $99.00…but 30 day free trial
word prediction. Back-up and restore your speech
profile can be created, Speech Q can be used
without having to learn speech commands


Although I did attend one workshop on Speak Q at Strategic Transitions in Aurora I have yet to
use it with students, although I have planned to use it with a student that I tutor since he has a
learning disability (variable psychomotor expression). Speak Q offers great potential for
differentiated instruction and universal design in learning experiences. It allows students to
record their ideas where they previously would have struggled. Not only will they learn to write
more fluently, but their spelling, grammar, vocabulary and reading comprehension will improve
due to their ability to write more complex stories. It is particularly useful for students who are
slow in typing or writing by hand. Since students have to pay close attention to words that
appear on the screen as they speak, their ability to focus increases. For all these reasons, Speak
Q offers greater access to the curriculum, thus providing greater equity to students who require
this tool.
WORD PREDICTION/WRITING SUPPORT
Read & Write Gold
I chose to focus on Read and Write Gold as this is what I am encouraging students to use on a regular
basis. The program has many features which I find a number of are user friendly. The hope is that as
students will learn to use the full extent of the program over time as they get older. We were able to get
a full day training session with selected teachers and classes to get the program under way. We
introduced it toward the end of last year and now the students who are using it with any degree of
consistency are finding it to be useful and fun giving them a feeling that they can be successful. Positives
+ adjustable tool bar with user friendly icons + play feature reads all types of text including that on
pictures that can customize voices including "Julie" which speaks with a French accent excellent for
reading French text + built in spell checker, dictionary, word wizard (thesaurus) + crystal ball icon for
word prediction software + other features include study skills highlighters, pronunciation tutor, fact
finder search engines Negatives - students really need to be able to spell first three letters of a word to
make some accurate use of the word prediction feature - can be time consuming as the list of available
predicted words can be lengthy - voices used are not necessarily of great quality reading with no
emotion Liked the chance to review my use of this technology with the list of tutorials made available
with the assignment. Overall we are pleased with the support it gives our students, we need more of our
teachers to promote and familiarize themselves with its potential and features. The more students
increase their familiarity with it I think the more useful it becomes for students.

Thank you for your review based on first hand experience. I reviewed R & W Gold as well but do not
have hands on experience. I came to the same conclusions that you did. I can see definite value for
students especially if they start with the program in their elementary years and grow with it as I think
there are some extremely valuable tools included that will be a benefit in high school and post
secondary school. I also agree that we as teachers need to be "fluent" in the technology ourselves so
that we can effectively encourage and support the students who are using it. I really do believe this
should be a priority. Thanks.
I totally agree with you that teachers have to increase their familiarity with AT programs, and I have
come up with a simple solution I will be suggesting to my principal. I would love to see 15 minutes each
staff meeting used to show what a program can do with teachers volunteering to show a program they
really like. From there, teachers can at least decide if it could support particular students in their classes
and have more of an indepth play in their own time on programs they see as relevant. We did
something similar to this last year with Math games and it was a huge support to us all.

I agree. I heard that within the Halton board they're pushing to have a teacher in each school who
specializes in AT and can be the go-to person -- or the person who demos interesting tools at staff
meetings. What a great gig that would be!

http://www.tdsb.on.ca/wwwdocuments/parents/special_education

Read and Write Gold



The way that this software was presenting itself made it feel a lot more like a, “this is for everyone tool.”
At least the video and literature that I found had a universal design approach to the sell and they
definitely have the available options to back it up. I did not see anything that spoke directly to learning
disabilities. After viewing every video I thought of a different group of users that could benefit from this
software. I did notice that the Toronto Board has bought into this product so someone important has
stood up and said, “I think this is what the kids need.” I have never seen it in action so the video clips
were a great help.



            Pros                                                     Cons

The „FactMapper‟ option is a great way for           Must already be pretty proficient in typing skills
teachers to present the flow of information in a     and dexterity.
graphic organizer. For students the ability to
create a presentation with graphics and written      Not all boards are using this software so students
information was impressive.                          moving around may find it confusing to keep
                                                     switching software or have software that their new
 Good publishing tool as there is an option to       board is not familiar with.
export documents to a web page for sharing.

The „Study Skills‟ option is great for online
reading and highlighting to make study notes and
collating the information by way of what you have
highlighted. You can then have the system pull
the chosen information and put together in a nice
neat Word document for studying.

Web searcher tool would allow the individual user
to keep frequented websites at you fingertips. For
educators you could preload the list with only the
sites you want the students to view for safe
searches and information rich sites.

Allows for customizing in the placement and
usage of the toolbar. It can be left floating
onscreen or change the placement of it from
horizontal to vertical.




Judi, I reposted your message below using the Word/Clipboard feature in our Desire 2 Learn
platform. Right now it seems like there are 3 "camps" for text to speech software across the
province: Kurzweil, Premier and Read and Write Gold (Text Help) While many boards have
adopted Premier because of Kurzweil's costs, others such have Toronto and Dufferin-Peel have
Read and Write Gold. Sometimes one software fits a board's preference, including what works
best on their network.

--------------------------------------

Read and Write Gold

 The way that this software was presenting itself made it feel a lot more like a, “this is for
everyone tool.” At least the video and literature that I found had a universal design approach to
the sell and they definitely have the available options to back it up. I did not see anything that
spoke directly to learning disabilities. After viewing every video I thought of a different group
of users that could benefit from this software. I did notice that the Toronto Board has bought
into this product so someone important has stood up and said, “I think this is what the kids
need.” I have never seen it in action so the video clips were a great help.



             Pros                                              Cons
The „FactMapper‟ option is a great way for Must already be pretty proficient in typing
teachers to present the flow of information skills and dexterity.
in a graphic organizer. For students the
ability to create a presentation with graphics Not all boards are using this software so
and written information was impressive.        students moving around may find it
                                               confusing to keep switching software or
 Good publishing tool as there is an option have software that their new board is not
to export documents to a web page for          familiar with.
sharing.

The „Study Skills‟ option is great for online
reading and highlighting to make study
notes and collating the information by way
of what you have highlighted. You can
then have the system pull the chosen
information and put together in a nice neat
Word document for studying.

Web searcher tool would allow the
individual user to keep frequented websites
at you fingertips. For educators you could
preload the list with only the sites you want
the students to view for safe searches and
information rich sites.

Allows for customizing in the placement
and usage of the toolbar. It can be left
floating onscreen or change the placement
of it from horizontal to vertical.



LE#2 E-tivity 4 (Lesley Andrews)


Technology: Read and Write GOLD


My Experience: Read and Write GOLD has many features that are similar to Word Q,

Premier and Kurzweil from a word processing perspective but these features do not, in

my opinion, define the real power behind the program. The program has a toolbar that

floats and is compatible with many different programs commonly used in all levels of

school and business making it a very accessible tool. There are two aspects of this

program that set it apart for me: The Teacher‟s Toolkit and the Study Skills and Research.


       The Teacher‟s Toolkit includes features like a spelling log and an activity log that

allows the teachers to track a student‟s progress. Another feature in the Teacher‟s

Toolkit that really caught my interest is Testmaker which allows the teacher to build tests,

with a variety of question types, which the students then complete and submit to the

teacher online.
       The most powerful and useful tools, especially in high school and post secondary

school, are the Study Skills and Research tools. These tools facilitate student research by

highlighting and extracting text, saving the information in a fact file, categorizing the

information based on how it is highlighted, building vocabulary lists and all the while the

program collects the date, author and source of the facts for the student. Read and

Write GOLD will also build a bibliography for the paper being written. There is also a

Fact Mapper function that allows students to map their thinking and then convert the

map into text for students to expand and edit into their written piece.


  Positive Points of Read + Write GOLD        Negative Points of Read + Write GOLD

Encourages independence while the        The reading voice is extremely
teacher can track progress remotely      computerized and I found it difficult to
through the Teacher Toolkit thereby      understand. This may be a significant
reducing the stigma for students who     drawback for students who are
require extra support.                   learning the language or are hard of
                                         hearing.
Testmaker facilitates the building of    Lacks a speech recognition tool for
online tests that students complete and students who prefer, or have more
submit online. This improves access for success with, dictation than typing.
students who require the support and
reduces stigma since all students could
complete the test online and it would
be difficult to determine who is using
the supportive features of the program.
The Fact Mapper tool allows students
to develop ideas and concepts then
convert them to text. This feature
structures and organizes a student‟s
written work so they can expand and
edit easily without getting bogged
down in the organization of their essay.



       This is the first time I have heard of Read and Write GOLD and I am excited by

the tools available. At $750 for an individual license the program is a little pricier but I

do believe that many of the tools beyond the simple word processing capabilities are
extremely powerful. For a student who has difficulty organizing their research and

written work the Study Skills and Research tools are priceless. The student can focus on

their research and writing while the program tracks their sources and develops their

bibliography. As a teacher the Teacher Toolkit is extremely valuable to track my

students‟ progress and to allow students who require the support to take their tests

online.


Sources:


http://www.texthelp.com/page.asp?pg_id=10059


Read and Write Gold (TextHelp) has been exploding onto the scene in the past couple of years! It's the

UDL solution for Toronto (TDSB) as well as Dufferin-Peel, with board-wide and take-home licences.

There definitely seems to be the "Premier camp" and the "Text Help camp", amongst the Ontario school

boards, with Kurzweil the mainstay for SEA. Jeryl


You have answered a question that has been forming in my mind. What are the determining factors of

which technology a student will have access to? Is it purely related to the Board a student attends

school in? If a student moved to another Board would they have to learn a new technology or would

they still have access to what they know? Does their SEA computer move with them?




Word Q
http://www.goqsoftware.com/en/

                                                    Word Q
Word Q is a very simple, but very effective form of word prediction software. I have been making
extensive use of Word Q for the past 2 years. Word Q is one of the first pieces of software I introduce to
the LD students I work with. It is simple to use and very easy to implement into regular classroom
practice. Outside of predictive spelling, Word Q has the ability to speak words and/or sentences as a
student types. It can also read a wide range of text.

Positives                                                   Negatives
Easy to setup                                               Need to either turn off word box or hit spacebar to type
                                                            numbers
Ability to switch between French and English
Prediction box can be adjusted to either follow as
students type or to remain in one place
Adjust the number of words that are displayed as
predictions
Provides sentence prompts with homonyms and other
difficult to discern words
Can adjust the word order between most likely and
alphabetical
Can adjust how much text is read as a student types (will
read letters, words, sentences, or any combination of the
3)
Can change the voice type and speed
Adapts to student writing style – adjusts what
predictions are provided based on previous patterns
Can set up multiple profiles (more than one student can
use the same computer)
Can setup word lists for specific topics
OSAPAC licensed for take-home use
“Read” function allows students to both read text and to
use as a proofreading tool


Word Q is by far one of the most useful programs I use with the LD students I service. It is very easy to
put into their program and most students immediately see the benefits of using it. The only issues I
have with it are making sure students turn it on when they type and making sure they are using the
speech function with headphones. It has a tremendous amount of upside and very few negatives.

I will deal with 2 questions in one. Co-writer - I have only used in a limited manner, but found it was
not as easy to use as Word Q. There was a lag between what they typed and what went into the
document, and the reading was not as good. I like that Word Q is relatively seamless when you are
working with a document. That may just be my unfamiliarity with Co-writer. I had Word Q installed on
the computers in my classroom when I took over the Spec Ed class I was teaching, so I just jumped
into that. Word choice - by and large, the read back function does seem to take care of most of the
issues around similar sounding words. That being said, I am usually OK with a correctly spelled, similar
sounding word, rather than a poorly spelled word that I need to try to decipher the invented
spelling/letter formation of. Most of the time I can still get the meaning of what they are trying to
write, and best of all, I can actually read it - as opposed to the handwriting/spelling most LD students
have. Jason

Just reposting my Word Q write up for anyone who had trouble opening the original document Word Q
Word Q is a very simple, but very effective form of word prediction software. I have been making
extensive use of Word Q for the past 2 years. Word Q is one of the first pieces of software I introduce to
the LD students I work with. It is simple to use and very easy to implement into regular classroom
practice. Outside of predictive spelling, Word Q has the ability to speak words and/or sentences as a
student types. It can also read a wide range of text. Positives Easy to setup Ability to switch between
French and English Prediction box can be adjusted to either follow as students type or to remain in one
place Adjust the number of words that are displayed as predictions Provides sentence prompts with
homonyms and other difficult to discern words Can adjust the word order between most likely and
alphabetical Can adjust how much text is read as a student types (will read letters, words, sentences, or
any combination of the 3) Can change the voice type and speed Adapts to student writing style – adjusts
what predictions are provided based on previous patterns Can set up multiple profiles (more than one
student can use the same computer) Can setup word lists for specific topics OSAPAC licensed for take-
home use "Read" function allows students to both read text and to use as a proofreading tool Negatives
Need to either turn off word box or hit spacebar to type numbers Word Q is by far one of the most
useful programs I use with the LD students I service. It is very easy to put into their program and most
students immediately see the benefits of using it. The only issues I have with it are making sure students
turn it on when they type and making sure they are using the speech function with headphones. It has a
tremendous amount of upside and very few negatives.

LOL. Teaching without technology just about did me in in my final internship at teacher's
college. I had just finished two practicums with computer, internet access, multi-media
projectors and document cameras in every class. Relatively primitive technology given what is
available these days but still very powerful tools that made it very easy to develop really rich
lessons that connected students to the rest of the world. It was a real struggle to go completely
no-tech in my final internship, but I did it. I did make excellent use of any computer lab time my
students had though...

My son is sitting across from me typing away on his math homework. I asked him about
teaching without technology (he attends an e-school-lots of technology). His response? "Why
would you?". Such a contrast between Boards, schools and teachers.

Being back in a school after 10+ years of resource, I'm finding it interesting (i.e.sometimes
challenging?) to integrate AT into the day. One solution has been to model teach with a teacher
(today was Smart Ideas) so that her grade 5 class completed their government project using
technology. That was exciting.

I've also tried to give AT a different flavour. For a group of needy students I have the AT* Crew
(*AT=awesome technology)... Everyone now wants to join. Perhaps we could rename this
course, the Use and Knowledge of Awesome Technology! Jeryl…
One of the classes I supported last year was an LD self-contained classroom. The classroom
teacher (who had an LD herself) referred to them as, "Learning Differences". They had some
amazing discussions around how they learned differently. The lightbulb moment for a lot of LD
kids is when you tell them that having and LD means you have normal to above normal
intelligence. Many do not realize that they have to be smart to be LD.

It's too bad some students with LDs don't know that they have average to above average
intelligence. I think teachers should make this clear when they collaborate with students
regarding their IEP. This should be part of the "demystification" process. Here's a link to an
article on the need for students to know how they learn. http://www.ldonline.org/article/6157/

The Demystification process is probably one of the most important elements and one of the most
frequently ignored when a child is diagnosed with an LD. I completely agree that it can be a light
bulb moment for a student to realize they have an average / above average intelligence as they
often say they feel 'stupid'. All students need to recognize they have strengths and areas for
development and all students benefit from discovering how they learn and strategies to support
them based on their learning styles.

The AT crew is an excellent idea. I know a SERT who has done the same at her school. She has
a group of students who all use SEA computers and they are the "tech squad" holding workshops
over lunch to teach other students the ins and outs of technology they have access to in the
classroom. Every workshop is well attended. It is impressive to see those who were previously
on the margins leading the group.

Oh, and check out the unlocking Carly article posted in the Resources section - she
communicates primarily via Word Q.




Co: Writer 6
http://www.donjohnston.com/support/cow6tutorials/index.html

Co-Writer: A Word Prediction Tool

The Potential for Differentiated Instruction and Universal Design in Learning Experiences

                  Positives                                         Negatives
OSAPAC licensed – free
Can be used with Write Outloud
This word prediction software helps students by   Some students likely need to be encouraged not to
predicting the next word they are trying to type,              rely on the words they know, but extend their
providing options for what they are likely to be               vocabulary.
typing, and then reading options and typed words
back to the student
It floats on other word processors like Word                   Students whose oral skills are advanced may not
Perfect, Microsoft Word, and Appleworks.                       find this tool as useful as those students with less
                                                               advanced skills.

You can turn off the word prediction and students              Some students with less ability may be so focused
can receive help with words only when needed                   on the options each time they type that they forget
                                                               what they intended to write

Since Co-Writer displays highest-frequency words when
the student types the first letter, the student is improving
their reading skills at the same time.
Since Co-writer provides the student with an instant
vocabulary list, it speeds up the writing process for
them. Since Co-writer does not give the student “the
answer” students learn to make choices based on their
current literacy skills.




Education for All (2005), notes that UDL regards “all learning as a continuum.” This means that because
each student is unique, they all deserve a “flexible curriculum that provides him or her with the
appropriate pathways for reaching learning goals…” For some students to obtain “access to the
curriculum” they require a word prediction program like Co-Writer. Co-Writer “increases full access to the
curriculum” for students who struggle with writing. The frustration they previously encountered is
diminished (p. 10). Thus word prediction programs like Co-Writer become an “appropriate pathway” for
them. When I searched for the free 30 day free trial download, I came across an advertisement that
indicated that “Co-writer can now work together with Dragon”….for $429.00! Hopefully it will appear on
the OSAPAC list soon.

I would recommend Co-Writer because the word prediction feature helps students with special
education needs to organize and write their thoughts. It also improves their reading skills. If I used it I
would add content-specific vocabulary. If a few students in my class needed a scribe for test situations
they might be reluctant to accept this accommodation. However, if they had access to Co-Writer they
might be much more willing to use this program. Students with good oral expressive ability often get
very frustrated when they cannot put their thoughts on paper. This can lead to poor self-esteem, lack of
confidence and even ridicule and bullying from others. This could lead to behaviour problems. Thus, a
tool like Co-Writer serves as an accommodation that would be very useful.
I chose to take a look at Co:Writer for my exploration of word prediction software because this is a tool I
hadn't seen before. I was, however, familiar with how word prediction tools help students who have
issues with physical disabilities and or writing struggles related to finding the right words.

Positive
1. I like that Co:Writer offers a set of features that can be used to individualize a student's experience
based on their needs. For example, if a student only needs the word prediction to appear on the screen
as they are writing, then the speech feedback can be turned off. In terms of differentiated instruction,
this tool makes it easy for a teacher to offer a variety of solutions for students with unique needs.
2. For test taking purposes, it's excellent that the prediction feature can be turned off. Normally, as a
student types, Co:Writer will be working hard to suggest what the next word might be in the sentence.
Turning this off enables students to type sentences without help, but the help with spelling doesn't
appear to go away.
3. Joy! Co:Writer integrates with Dragon Naturally Speaking as an excellent option for correcting errors
that happen during dictation. A student using DNS who also has issues with spelling isn't going to
recognize that DNS hasn't spelled words correctly. Hearing the speech feedback reread the words gives
the student the opportunity to hear the mistakes, and then go back and fix them using the suggestions
Co:Writer provides.

Negative
1. There is functionality for customizing the user experience by activating a user and saving one's
settings (colours, fonts, word banks, dictionaries, etc.). In a shared computer setting, I question how
easily these settings can be tampered with by other students—inadvertently or otherwise.

I always question the technology involved when a tool such as this one claims to predict, accurately,
what the writer is going to want to say next. I took a closer look at the resources on the Don Johnston
web site to get a better idea of how the prediction feature works. Apparently Co:Writer uses grammar-
based prediction, which essentially means that the software knows if a word is a noun or verb, etc., and
uses this information to predict what someone might want to say next based on the patterns people
tend to use to string sentences together in English. It also has the capability of identifying phonetic
spellings of words, for those students who spell phonetically, and then suggesting the correct spellings. I
have a hard time believing that this sort of things could ever be a perfect science, but the thought and
development that has been put into this tool over the years seems to have produced something quite
useful, and I can't wait to see it in action.

Hi Kelly - Thanks for the review and I liked the thought around integrating Dragon and Co-Writer. That
could be a very powerful enabler for lots of students who struggle with communicating in print. As well,
the feature that allows the word prediction based on phonetic spelling is a plus. Will have to see if the
same thing is available on read and write gold. Al

"I always question the technology involved when a tool such as this one claims to predict, accurately,
what the writer is going to want to say next. I took a closer look at the resources on the Don Johnston
web site to get a better idea of how the prediction feature works. Apparently Co:Writer uses grammar-
based prediction, which essentially means that the software knows if a word is a noun or verb, etc., and
uses this information to predict what someone might want to say next based on the patterns people
tend to use to string sentences together in English. It also has the capability of identifying phonetic
spellings of words, for those students who spell phonetically, and then suggesting the correct spellings. I
have a hard time believing that this sort of things could ever be a perfect science, but the thought and
development that has been put into this tool over the years seems to have produced something quite
useful, and I can't wait to see it in action. " Found this part particularly fascinating. I have never looked
into how the software predicts. I now need to go and see how Word Q predicts - if it is similar or not.
Would be useful to know with some of my students in the higher grades who can identify nouns, verbs,
etc. Jason




The Word Prediction / Writing Support tool I chose to look at was Co:Writer 6. I have seen word
prediction tools in action before but I have never tried one myself or seen Co:Writer 6 in action. I
was impressed by the ability of this program to predict phonetic spellings in the video, and I can
see that it could help students to become more independent writers. There is lots of ability to
personalize the program, but I think it would work best for students who have their own
allocated computer to reduce the chances of accidentally or intentionally changing someone‟s
account. I would definitely give this program a try, especially as it is available through OSAPAC
free of charge. It has some great benefits and I think the ability to connect it to Dragon Naturally
Speaking provides an interesting connection to help students further improve their writing skills.



Positives                                       Negatives
Able to recognize phonetic spellings, e.g. jraf There can be a huge range of words using
for giraffe. Students can hear each word        common blends which can mean that a
suggestion before selecting it using a number student spends a large amount of time
key.                                            searching for a word on their prediction list
                                                instead of trying to type more letters in their
                                                word to refine the list.
You can change the level of the dictionary so Although there is the option to create
that younger or less able students are not      individual users, I can imagine that it would
overwhelmed by too many options on the          be very easy for students to accidentally use
word prediction and to increase the             someone else‟s personal dictionary and add
likelihood of the word they need appearing their own words to someone else‟s account.
on the first page of the word prediction list.
You can active a word bank or topic
dictionary to increase the chances of the
student being offered the word they need,
e.g. activating a word bank on Ancient Egypt
Students can create their own dictionary to
help familiar words such as their name, pets
name etc appear higher on the word
prediction list. They can also create shortcuts
to speed up their typing, e.g. when they type
their initials, it will write their full name.
Can be linked to speech recognition software
such as Dragon Naturally Speaking
You can personalize the user settings, e.g.
speed of reading, voice selection, background
and text colour.
Very simple to use and navigate, and it can
be customized to meet the needs of the
individual student, e.g. you can turn off text
prediction or speech if the student just needs
to see the words.




Positives                                     Negatives
Very simple looking interface and easy to use Can be quite expensive when you consider it
                                              doesn‟t have all the features of some of the
                                              other programs available (starts at $84 per
                                              computer, compared with Premier that is $99
                                              for the talking word processor but comes
                                              with a lot more features) An older version of
                                              it is available for free through OSAPAC
Documents you create, e.g. tests, worksheets Can only be used with specific file
can be opened in Write Outloud                extensions (.txt files). PDF‟s and Internet
                                              pages can‟t be read with this software
Check spelling option doesn‟t cover the
student‟s work in the wiggly red lines other
programs do. Instead, it reads aloud the
phrase and rereads a misspelled word.
Options are then given to allow the user to
find the word they were looking for. All the
options can be listened to as well as read.
There is a useful homonym checker             The homonym checker would be hard for a
                                              younger student to use as some of the
                                              language used is quite abstract, and it
                                              requires students to recognize they have used
                                              a word that is a homonym
Talking dictionary included with over         No word prediction and no ability to add
100,000 terms                                 subject specific words to the dictionary
The mark for deletion button would be a
great way for students to edit their work
without accidentally deleting the whole
thing. It changes the colour of the text and
draws a line through it, allowing the user to
remove it, but not completely delete it until
they are positive this is what they want to do.
Add a picture option is a good addition to the Requires the pictures to be downloaded, I
program allowing students to do all their       don‟t think they can be taken from the
writing in one program instead of having to internet.
copy and paste their
Allows you to hear the whole text read aloud,
a phrase or just a word. At the end of a typed
word or sentence, the text is reread to the
student automatically.
You can change the background and text
colours to make it easier for all students
(some students have a particularly hard time
reading from a white page)



E-tivity #2 – Text-to-Speech – Write: Outloud 6
For this activity, I chose to look at Write: Outloud 6 because I was completely unfamiliar with it. I have
seen Kurzweil and Premier, so thought it would be fun to look at something new. Because I have seen
similar tools, my expectation was that I would have little difficulty following along with Write: Outloud.



                        Positive                                                  Negative
Product Features…                                          Cost – Making this product available to all students in a
                                                           classroom could prove a little pricey. To furnish a
Listen to Typed Text – Makes written work more             computer lab with 30 computers appears to cost
accessible for students who do not read well, or who       something like $70+/license.
have difficulty with spelling.

Check Spelling – listen to pronunciations of misspelled
words and possible replacements.

Homonym Checker – definitions of homonyms exist
for all suggestions.

Testing and Assessment – activate test mode to restrict
the use of spell checker, dictionary, and homonym
checker.

Talking Dictionary – Reads word definitions aloud.

Mark for Deletion – Highlights text and crosses it out
to mark text that might be deleted. Safe way to consider
removing text without deleting it permanently.

Add Pictures – Use visuals to support writing.

Universal Design and Differentiated Instruction…

This technology provides a different avenue for
practicing and demonstrating writing skills by providing
auditory support for students who are reluctant to write,
experience moderate grammar and spelling challenges,
or who write better with the auditory feedback.


Reflection



I like that Write: Outloud provides just a little extra support without an excess of features. It’s easy to
get all muddled up in functionality and distracted by the bells and whistles of certain products. I’ve
heard many people say that Kurzweil is the Cadillac for text-to-speech, and that Premier is a little less so
but still quite great. It was kind of refreshing to take a look at Write: Outloud and see that the feature
set is minimalistic—meant to provide a little support for students who need just that. The simplicity
appeals to me, as I think it would appeal to many others.




It has a more limited range of tools than many of the other programs in this area, such as Premier
and Kurzweil which makes it much less daunting for a younger or less experienced student, but
there are certain drawbacks that make it less useful for students in the older grades. This program
is most noticeably missing word prediction tools, and the ability to read other types of files,
including PDF files and Web pages which are available in some of the other programs available.
These would be much more important in the older grades (essential in the intermediate grades,
but beneficial in earlier grades too). The free version of Write Outloud, available from OSAPAC
is not much different from the newer Write Outloud 6.

 Pros + ease of use with most features + spell check , talking dictionary and homonym check features +
allows to easily activate speech button to read text out loud + add photo/picture feature + test mode
feature Cons - found the test feature tutorial left me wanting to see how it worked in practise as I wasn't
sure what to do at the end of it - absence of word prediction features makes use of this particular
version more challenging with students who have limited spelling skills So in summary my experience
with this particular edition would leave me familiar with the basic features to help students. I think my
preference would be to use a program that does have word prediction features to help students who
are challenged when it comes to their expertise in spelling. Many times I would help students as much
as possible type in exactly what they had written as it was faster than to let them try to type text in.
Then all they had to do was hear their words and edit their work accordingly.

Write Outloud 6 is one of those "why would you pay money to buy it for school when you can
get Write Outloud for free in OSAPAC?" I always liked Write Outloud as a simple text to
speech tool. One advantage over others is the ability to change pronunciations of the spoken text
(using phonetic spelling in the formatting) Once, when setting up a laptop with Write
Outloudfor a behaviour student, I added every swear word I could think of so that when he typed
in a juicy word to entertain the class, it would read them with other 'pronunciations' such as "no
swearing", "I warned you", "detention at recess" etc. :-)

Were there any negatives you found? Your chart only indicated the positives.

One of the negatives of Write Outloud 6 is the price, which is as follows: 4 computers $84.00
each, 9 computers $78.12 each, 10-19 computers at $74.00 each, 20-49 computers 70.56, 50+
computers $42.00 each. The Co-writer & Write Outloud Bundle sells for $336.00. This is more
expensive than the Word Q and Speak Q Bundle combined which is $ 279.00. It's great that
schools always have the option to access the OSAPAC software first. Being able to use the
phonetic spelling in the formatting for Write Outloud is unique - the students with behavioural
challenges must have been shocked!




Read & Write Gold 10

http://www.texthelp.com/media/12745/Read%20Write%2010%20Gold%20for%20Schools%20Beginner
s%20Guide.pdf

ORGANIZATION
Inspiration and Kidspiration

http://www.inspiration.com/Curriculum-Integration/Inspiration

Well I have to confess to no experience whatsoever in using any organizational software that's been
mentioned. I chose to review Smart Ideas 5 because it is available to me and now that I have seen how it
works in practise, can see how it could be used to help students. I have been a believer in the use of
graphic organizers generally and welcome such a tool. Whether it is the best option for me and then the
students only time will tell as one has to get familiar with its possibilities and challenges. Advantages +
simplifies information with less text providing clear overview/perspective/context for students who
have challenges processing written language + ease of use to create a variety of interesting mind maps
to suit individual needs + allows one to use available templates or customize graphic organizers to more
specific needs + use of colour helps distinguish information to help organizational thinking and
understanding + allows addition of images to further support visual learners + can be used to customize
assignment/projects guide sheets to organize criteria in a user friendly visual format Negatives - may be
difficult to navigate for junior students - can be time consuming for people not comfortable with the
program to the point where it may be limiting in teachers willing to try it To summarize my experience
with this is minimal but would like to get more involved with this organizational tool. One of the hurdles
I personally need to overcome is working with classroom teachers to bring differentiated curriculum to
the forefront with identified learners. My plan is to try and collaborate with teachers to identify
expectations/units to modify curriculum and see if using this organizational software can help their
understanding.

Smart Ideas is a wonderful tool for all students. Al, I want to see you "get your hands dirty" and
prepare something for your teachers and students. It's a bit like plunging into a pool, instead of
poking your toe in to test the water. That's the area in which I would like to see you grow
professionally.This group is here to support you!

Open Smart Ideas, and choose Language Arts, > Essay Planning. It's much easier to customize a
template, then create one from scratch. Click one of the boxes and simply type. e.g. main topic
>"Dogs". Click to select each of the 3 big ideas. (once you see the layout, you'll understand)

I presented Smart Ideas to a grade 5 teacher and class to help them with the Canadian
Government unit. It's amazing what the students are figuring out on their own! Try it. Jason has
mentioned that you can always "Undo" a mistake. Jeryl

I have a pretty good background in Inspiration and Smart Ideas, so I decided to look at the
resources for Inspiration. I spent some time in a high school Special Education Resource class
during the last school year, and I worked with several students who were using Smart Ideas to do
their assignments. I've made my own mind map using Inspiration, describing my philosophy of
teaching, which is one of my favourite pages in my teaching portfolio. I hadn't seen much of
Kidspiration, so it was great to take a closer look.

Positive
1. I love that the information you input in Diagram View and Map View carries over
automatically to the Outline View and even becomes available in the Presentation View. (I didn't
even know there was a Presentation View. Apparently this is new.) This integration of content is
extremely powerful. I've put this on my list of positives, but it's also a huge negative if people are
unaware that this is all possible. If a student goes to all the trouble to organize their thoughts
visually, and then doesn't realize they can export their outline to Word, they are missing out on
the power of the tool.
2. Because I'm an English teacher, I'm always looking for new ways to teach the writing process.
The fact that I can teach it using technology excites me to no end! The writing process needs to
be iterative, with lots of milestones for feedback and revision. I think it would be cool to teach
Inspiration at the same time as I teach the writing process. Instead of creating a graphic organizer
worksheet, why not use the Diagram or Map view to brainstorm and then organize ideas?
Students could then export their outlines to Word and start writing their rough drafts. For oral
presentations, the Presentation View could help them consolidate their ideas into something
presentable. I learned quite late that I am visual, and I always struggled to find ways to organize
my notes in a way that made sense. Had I learned the writing process using something like
Inspiration, I might have had fewer struggles.

Negative
1. With Kidspiration, I think it's great that it offers activities using math manipulatives. I wonder,
though, if the students who really need to have something tangible in their hands would benefit.

work in the primary division and the math manipulatives are great. While this is a virtual tool the
'hands-on kids' are up and interacting by moving the objects around to make and solve math
questions.

I think the value is in the interaction. The smartboard can provide those kinds of opportunities. I know a
high energy kid who likes to pace his steps to rehearse something he needs to remember. Just the
movement of his step helps him store information in a different way. I do believe that whether they are
real blocks or virtual that necessary 'interaction' is still there. Keeping in mind, we can never speak for
all.

Kidspiration is geared to children in grades K to 5. This is advertised as a ‘visual’ learning tool for all
children. This product is licensed by my board and a lot of primary teachers are making use of this
software.



Positives



The use of icon symbols is very helpful for younger users or users experiencing a language barrier.
Students who need that little bit of support in getting their ideas across find this software very helpful
and extremely easy to use. This tool allows them to focus on content rather than the formulation of
information on paper. The students need only to type the information and Kidspiration will organize it
for them in the framework or their choice.



This software follows the UDL guidelines in that it would benefit many students in the organization of
their work not just students struggling with organization. Visual and Kinesthetic learners will especially
enjoy working in Kidspiration.

Having the smartboard available so that not only teachers make presentations but students as well can
be the experts and provide opportunities for other students to engage with their creations in a physical
way through virtual manipulative.
Graphic Organizer: Kidspiration will allow for students to take the information they have and organize it
in their own unique way. Students are able to create very clear and meaningful presentations that show
their work in a visual way. They provide the information and Kidspiration provides the templates of
organization for the information.



Math Concepts: The many manipulative that are available will help in understanding conceptually many
of the computations that children are to learning. The teachers may use this as a demonstration tool on
the smartboard to do whole class instruction. Then students may use these manipulatives on their own
to design and solve math problems on independently.



Auditory Learners would benefit from pre-recorded instructions for a step-by-step account of
expectations rather than text. There is also a text-to-speech interface that aids students who struggle
with printed text.




Negatives

Students with small motor skills issues may find it difficult to use.




http://www.inspiration.com/videos/Kidspiration



LE#2 E-tivity 5 (Lesley Andrews)


Technology: Smart Ideas


My Experience: I chose to review Smart Ideas because I have worked with the

program in the past and I was not a fan in relation to other similar programs. Since I

have the opportunity now I thought I should take another look at Smart Ideas.
       On this inspection I found Smart Ideas easy enough to navigate and it had the

same basic capabilities of other organizational software, like Inspiration, for converting

the idea chart to text for the student to expand and edit their writing. The creative

„Deluxe Connectors‟ would appeal to younger students as they could create their

chart using sailboats, cars or fish. The quick fire feature allows students to get their ideas

down quickly and then the ideas are easy to move around the page and categorize.

The stickies are a neat feature that will allow you to draw attention to a specific area or

perhaps remind yourself of an area that requires more attention. I also found the

feature that allowed you to go inside a category to a new layer to be a real plus.

Sometimes a concept map can become very crowded and difficult to decipher so the

extra layers allow for broader idea generation. There is a feature that allows you to

view a combined image with all the extra layers at once.


       On the negative side I found the provided pathways for connectors to be

limiting and when the page became crowded it became more difficult to have

uninterrupted lines extending to each idea. I could not access more „Deluxe

Connectors‟ although the program indicated they existed. I also found the clip art

gallery to be very limited in selection and I needed to use outside sources to gain an

extensive library of graphic material. This is a challenge given that graphics play an

important role in the mind mapping process.




     Positive Points of Smart Ideas              Negative Points of Smart Ideas

Quick fire feature allows students to get   Limitations in connectors/pathways
their ideas down quickly and easily         made it more difficult to create maps
categorize them by moving them              with clear connections between ideas
around the page
Multi-layers allows for extensive             Limited clip art gallery (at least on trial
concepts with multiple categories and version) which made adding graphics
sub-categories without crowding the           difficult and time-consuming
main page
Program gives students a visual and
graphic version of their concept/ideas
which is especially useful for the visual
students in the group
Converts their concept to text,
providing a framework where the
student merely needs to expand on
their ideas and edit their work. This is
key for students who have a difficult
time organizing their ideas and then
keeping them organized while they are
writing.
        This is not my first exposure to Smart Ideas. I still prefer other programs but I did

not find the tools as limiting as I have in the past. If I worked in a school where students

could access Smart Ideas I would feel comfortable teaching students to use the

program effectively and to their advantage. I know many students who have access

to organizational programs like Smart Ideas, although they do not know how to use

them. I really see these types of programs as useful to any student, not just those

students who need support to organize their writing, because it makes organizing

writing-and keeping it organized while they write- so much easier.


        Sources:


http://smarttech.com/smartideas


Lesley, Smart Ideas is Ministry licenced. Do your students not have access to it on school computers?

The Cliplet gallery is very useful -especially the count-down timer for our ADHD students.


Yes, Smart Ideas is on the computers but I find that students generally are not encouraged to use
it and it is not integrated into the teaching of the writing process in this Board. Maybe it is a step
that is seen as time consuming? Possibly the lack of access to computers on a regular basis or
teachers who are not familiar with the technology are also obstacles. The only student that I
have seen use it was fortunate to spend time at the Centre and used a computer full time. This is
unfortunate since I believe that concept mapping is a powerful tool for all students to organize
their thinking and the other features offer a great deal of support for students who struggle with
organizing their ideas for writing. If I ever get my own classroom I can assure you that students
will be exposed to concept mapping as a necessary step in the research and writing process.

I just asked my oldest son (just started Gr. 9) why he did not use Smart Ideas. He said he knew it
was on the school computers and his SEA computer but he was not encouraged to use it
and teachers never spoke of Smart Ideas. Outside of students who have prescribed computers, in
my experience technology is just not a large focus here unless it is the personal interest of the
administration or teacher.

I agree with you Lesley. I think if the teachers are not comfortable with the technology they are not

going to encourage the students to take a stab at it. I suppose if the students were to run into difficulty

the teacher would feel inadequate in assisting. I am hoping this will change soon. More and more

teachers are realizing that these options are great and helpful and once exposed to them the more likely

they are to use. Not only that, the kids are really adept to new tech and just would love to be able to

teach the teacher a thing or two!


A huge gap in our system is the lack of knowledge passed along to teachers about how things work.

Many have no idea what is OSAPAC licensed, or get the training to know how things work. I am glad to

see more and more OSAPAC licenses coming with take home rights for teachers - that is where most of

them will actually try stuff. Our Board does have a teacher assigned as a tech coach - she is itinerant,

and work with teachers on technology stuff. Unfortunately, she is only 1 person for the entire Board -

both elementary and secondary - so you can guess how many teachers she is able to work with over the

course of the year. She also needs to be invited in, which means a teacher needs to have some idea of

what they want to learn.


I have to agree with you that Smart Ideas isn't as slick as other products. I found Inspiration to be a

world of wonderfulness by comparison.
Inspiration 9

I bought a copy of Inspiration, Version 9 several months ago and finally started using it a few weeks ago
when I started tutoring a student with a learning disability. The recommendations on his psycho-
educational report indicated that the student should dictate his thoughts and have them scribed in the
appropriate place in the Inspiration template. It was recommended that creating his own charts should
be a gradual process. Thus, I have only used Inspiration a few times, but already can see that this is a
terrific program. The student was highly motivated to provide ideas as requested when I was helping
him record ideas as he prepared his book report. The most positive thing about Inspiration is that it
supports Universal Design for Learning and Differentiated Instruction in many ways:

Positives                                                     Negatives
Mind minding capabilities allows students to create a         Inspiration is not ministry-licensed, hopefully it will be
mind map to visually construct a concept or idea that         on OSAPAC soon. It is expensive. Inspiration 9 costs
branches out with additional thoughts or ideas they may       $69.00. For a home & school installation on two
have-this greatly benefits students who are visual            computers it is $111.00. It can be installed on 3 home
learners or have a visual-spatial MI preference.              computers for $119.00.
Visual learners retain information better when they can       It will take TIME to learn all the features.
associate a picture with a key word. Inspiration has a
bank of 1,000 symbols. It also provided access to over
one million symbols through Inspiration Web
Resources. However, to accommodate students who are
easily distracted, teachers can limit which symbol
libraries are available for certain projects. Tailor-made
custom libraries can be created in a template, libraries do
not need to be loaded on computers
Auditory learners benefit from the spoken word,
Inspiration provides video and sound integration.
Multimedia such as Quick Time movies & MP3s can be
inserted. This motivates students to be more creative as
well.
Visual Learners have a choice of over 60 templates that
create 3 views or environments - diagrams, mind maps
or outlines - to help the student gather information, plan
and organize ideas, auditory learners can listen to the
“how to” videos by accessing the “Learn to Use” feature
if they desire help with using any of these templates. By
grouping ideas, students learn to clarify their thinking.
The fact that the templates are theme based is very
helpful for the teacher when designing tasks for English,
Science, Humanities, Thinking & Planning topics. In
terms of UDL, teachers can use several of these options
when planning for subjects not listed above.
Inspiration is a powerful research tool for all junior,
intermediate, senior and even university students (I wish
I had this outlining environment tool to write my essays
in university!) Drag and drop actions allow the student
to move text, images, video and sound files from other
sources into the project they create in Inspiration. URLs
can also be dragged and dropped to create hyperlinks to
reference material. Files from the desktop can be added
All leaners will benefit from the word guide (an
integrated dictionary & thesauraus) links synonyms to
definitions, a red line indicates a spelling error and can
be corrected with a single click
There are several transfer layout options available once
the diagram, mind map or outline is completed to create
organized written documents. Students now have a
structure because their ideas have been organized in a
hierarchical fashion. The Presentation Manager also
offers options.
The RapidFire Option is a great brainstorming tool that
can be used to generate ideas prior to creating
relationships.


To accommodate students who require
scaffolding/chunking assignments, teachers can ask
students to use the “Smart Checklist” to assign and track
progress
Inspiration helps all students, regardless of
exceptionality to improve their visual and linear
thinking. The visual and auditory reinforcement aspect
of Inspiration aids in memory retention and
organizational skills


The Inspiration manual gives a great overview of how to use the 3 Inspirations Views: Diagram View,
Map View, Outline View, as well as Concepts Maps, Idea Maps, Mind Maps, Webs, Storyboards &
Outlines. I experimented with all the views and found them very easy to navigate. However, learning
everything that Inspiration offers will take some time. My intention is to read the 80 page manual
thoroughly and keep experimenting in order to become competent with all the features the program
has to offer. I also plan to purchase “The Thinking Classroom” which supports teachers in creating
lessons/units based on specific critical thinking skills. It is $42.00.

http://onlinestore.strategictransitions.com/product_p/is-us-tc.htm


                                                Inspirations 9
Inspirations 9 is a piece of software that most students use for organization. I have been working with
Inspirations in both the form of Inspirations 8 and 9 (currently we have both versions in our school
board with the 8 version installed on a few of our older SEA laptops) for the past 2 years.

Positives                                                    Negatives
Wide variety of preloaded templates                          Transfer function only compatible with Word or Open
                                                             Office and not Wordperfect (which is OSAPAC
                                                             licensed)
Variety of different symbols and connectors – can also       Can be difficult to print – planners will sometimes
import pictures to help with visual cues                     extend over more than one page and can be difficult to
                                                             orient correctly
Compatible with Word Q
Ability to convert finished planner directly into a PDF
format
Ability to transfer planner and notes into word processor
(either Word or Open Office) – eliminates the need to
retype information already on the planner
Switch between graphic view and outline views
depending on student preference
Rapidfire – can quickly brainstorm ideas on a topic and
place into individual bubbles
Ability to insert voice and video
Ability to convert planner into a presentation similar to
powerpoint


This is a great organization tool. One of the chief drawbacks, which relates more to teaching style, is the
difficulty printing organizers. Personally, working with a student using Inspirations, I would view the
planner while on the computer if I want to check their work before they move into a different format.
This would allow them to use the tools such as voice and video notes which would not show up on a
paper copy. It would also allow a student to create their plan in whatever format they like, without
having to worry about it needing to fit on a page to print. Teacher should realize that with the addition
of sound or video notes, students may be able to complete assigned work entirely in Inspirations. The
presentation manager also allows students to present their ideas in an alternate format.

No. I encourage teachers to look at the planners on the computer - most of the time, they are used as

more part of the writing process, and not so much as the assessment piece. Teachers can look, give

feedback, then have the student move on. If I desperately wanted the planner, one thing I would look at

would be converting it to a PDF and then saving it on a memory stick so I could view it later. Inspiration 9

does this in the file menu. I have never tried it, as I have Inspirations on my computer, but if I didn't, that

might be an option. Anyone else know how to get Inspirations to print nicely? I haven't really looked

into it as I would prefer students to feel free to use it without being concerned how it will print properly.


The only solution I have found successful so far is building the concept map to fit 8.5x11 paper, then

printing it on 8.5x14 and cutting it back down to 8.5x11. Very low tech and a waste of paper, but

effective.


I guess another possibility may be to print it at a reduced size so it all fits on the page and then blow it u

This is a copy of my original post on Inspirations in case you were having difficulty opening the

document Inspirations 9 Inspirations 9 is a piece of software that most students use for organization. I
have been working with Inspirations in both the form of Inspirations 8 and 9 (currently we have both

versions in our school board with the 8 version installed on a few of our older SEA laptops) for the past 2

years. Positives Wide variety of preloaded templates Variety of different symbols and connectors – can

also import pictures to help with visual cues Compatible with Word Q Ability to convert finished planner

directly into a PDF format Ability to transfer planner and notes into word processor (either Word or

Open Office) – eliminates the need to retype information already on the planner Switch between

graphic view and outline views depending on student preference Rapidfire – can quickly brainstorm

ideas on a topic and place into individual bubbles Ability to insert voice and video Ability to convert

planner into a presentation similar to powerpoint Negatives Transfer function only compatible with

Word or Open Office and not Wordperfect (which is OSAPAC licensed) Can be difficult to print –

planners will sometimes extend over more than one page and can be difficult to orient correctly This is a

great organization tool. One of the chief drawbacks, which relates more to teaching style, is the

difficulty printing organizers. Personally, working with a student using Inspirations, I would view the

planner while on the computer if I want to check their work before they move into a different format.

This would allow them to use the tools such as voice and video notes which would not show up on a

paper copy. It would also allow a student to create their plan in whatever format they like, without

having to worry about it needing to fit on a page to print. Teacher should realize that with the addition

of sound or video notes, students may be able to complete assigned work entirely in Inspirations. The

presentation manager also allows students to present their ideas in an alternate format.p on the copier

perhaps? Again, it's pretty low tech.


The program I chose to evaluate is Smart Ideas 5. Before this, my only exposure to organization
software was XMind which I always found quite complex and fiddly. I didn‟t expect Smart Ideas
to be much different but I was quite pleasantly surprised. The program is easy to navigate and
allows students to simply produce a variety of graphic orgnanizers. Within a few minutes, I was
able to create mind maps and use templates to create a range of different organizers. You can
very easily change the shape and colour of the boxes and connecting lines, allowing students to
organize their thoughts into groups once they have put down all of their ideas.
There are some excellent templates, split into different categories including language arts,
science, planning and social science. The templates are aimed more at high school level, e.g.
literary narrative analysis and argument planning, but many of them can be used at a primary and
junior level including family tree, timeline, chain of events, circle of events, fishbone diagram,
venn diagram and science research project.

There is also a quick create option and a variety of layouts that allow flexibility in creating
different organizers, and a presentation option which removes all the buttons for a clean looking
presentation. I can see students enjoying using this program as it is much more fun than using
pen and paper and it could easily be used to organize their work quickly and effectively by
grouping and sequencing their ideas. It would be ideal for students with learning disabilities and
ADD/ADHD but would be useful for all students to help them draw connections between ideas.

                  Positives                                       Negatives
Helps students organize their thoughts by       The templates are suited to high school level
using colour / shapes to sort their ideas       students primarily, but simpler templates can
                                                be quickly created for younger students.
Has a range of templates to provide a starting Students may become overly focused on
point for students, including essay planning, changing colours and shapes and less on
family trees, tree diagrams, spider diagrams organizing their thoughts and ideas into a
and sentence building                           coherent order
Simple layout makes it very user friendly and A certain level of mouse control is required
easy to use                                     to make connecting lines between ideas
Boxes can be moved around to link and order
ideas
Graphic organizers support visual learners
Different levels of complexity can be easily
created
Has potential to be used from primary aged
to high school level students
Helps students plan out their writing and
thought processes, allowing them to put their
ideas down in any order and later draw
connections and order them.
Extremely beneficial for students with
ADD/ADHD and learning disabilities but
could benefit all students by helping them see
links between their ideas.
You can add clipart, hyperlinks and „cliplets‟
that include clocks that show the actual time,
timers, spinners, protractors, hundred squares
and other tools that could be useful across the
curriculum.
For my first time using this program, I am really impressed. It has some great features and I will
be checking our school computers to see whether we already have access to Smart Ideas. The 30
day free trial has all of the features of the full version and this has helped me to get a good look
at the options that are available. This program can be used across the grades and could be a huge
support for students throughout the entire curriculum. It‟s very easy to use and makes graphic
organizers much more interesting for all students. It could be a very useful tool for our students
with ADHD/ADD and learning disabilities by helping them to organize and link their ideas more
effectively and help them be more independent in their planning and expressing their thoughts.

Great piece of software. It is OSAPAC licensed, so it should be on your school network and available to

all students. You have to respect the learning curve somewhat when introducing to students. I go into a

first session with students not expecting to get much work done, but allowing time to, "play" with the

software. In smart ideas, it is fun for them to change the shapes/colours of boxes. This can take up a lot

of time, especially if you are expecting to have a finished planner within the time you have on the

computer. Giving them time to try out the features, then jumping into a more time-sensitive activity

often works better.


aura, you mentioned that Smart Ideas has a "presentation option which removes all the buttons for a

clean looking presentation"...I am still trying to figure out how to do this in Inspiration.


In Inspirations, go to View -->Presentation Manager. It may only be available on Inspirations 9. I will try

to remember to check version 8 tomorrow if I get a chance.




WRITING SUPPORT/MULTIMEDIA
Clicker 5
http://www.cricksoft.com/us/products/tools/clicker/home/writer.aspx

The writing support tool I have chosen to look at is Clicker 5 which is available in both English
and French. I‟d heard about this program before, but I hadn‟t ever seen it or tried it out. Having
watched the videos about it, I am really excited by this product as I can see it being an enormous
help to me as a Core French teacher. Clicker is one of those programs that would have limited
use in the English curriculum in my opinion. It would be great for students who are English
Language Learners and for younger students, but beyond this, I think there are better programs
available. For Core French though, I think it would be just as useful as it would be for younger
students. Students are seeing the words and able to hear the words read aloud which would be a
huge help for many of my students with LD‟s. In addition, to be able to quickly create sentences
by clicking on words would remove a lot of the frustrations they face.



I am really excited to incorporate this program into my teaching and I will be definitely
exploring this program further.



Positives                                       Negatives
Clicker writer reads back what the student      Some mouse skills are needed, although you
has written and all features in Clicker allow   could use a switch or simpler mouse if
the student to have the word/sentences read     needed.
to them.
Clicker grids help students to structure        No word prediction means students have to
sentences without the need for typing skills.   attempt words when writing and then fix the
They simply click on the words to make          errors
sentences.
The talking books allows you to provide         More beneficial for younger students and
information which can be read back to the       second languages. Older students may find
student and can be combined with the clicker    the grids a bit limiting, although the talking
grids to help support their writing based on    books could be a useful tool in the higher
the topic.                                      grades.
You can build in links from the internet to
allow for further detail and differentiation
Pictures automatically appear when you type
one of the words from Clicker‟s inbuilt
picture library or you can use your own
pictures
Has access to an online library of clicker 5
activities (LearningGrids world) with no
charge for access. These can searched for by
theme, subject or age
Can be used for ELL as well as supporting
students with special needs.
Students can use Clicker to create
multimedia presentations.
Can be used to assist students with speech
difficulties and fine motor issues (can be
used with swtitches)
Grids are quick an easy to make

 I chose Clicker because I had heard of it and thought it might be available to our school/board. Upon
investigation I noticed not only was it available, but it was actually usable and on my classroom
computer. I found the multimedia approach intriguing. Advantages + allows for quick integration of both
text and pictures + voice quality and a variety of voices to select from + will read for you without use of a
highlighter + has a number of existing grids that can be customized to suit needs + allows for reading of
internet text + combines pictures/words for students new to English + allows for the creation of
multimedia projects + can create a talking book with graphics +contains library of learning resource grids
+ contains word bank grids to assist writing Disadvantages - has similar elements to other programs
concern for having too many programs available - obvious time and expertise involved in learning
programs/features As mentioned, had no experience with the program yet today after investigating it -
shared some of its features with two colleagues. One immediately used it with the Promethean board to
get some expertise and the second, ensured the program was made available on all our special
education computers and was quite excited about its potential for use in the French division of our
school.

Hi Al, I'm thinking this is something I have seen in use in my board. I should have a quick look. I really
liked the way you can set up an exercise in sequencing for emergent readers. This way you can vary by
using pictures and no text then up the line to the combination of both for those that can.

<<< Replied to message below >>>
Authored by: al Copetti

LOVE the idea of using it with a Promethian or Smart board, that's a great idea!

At first glance Pixie 2 looks like a simpler version of a smartactive application. I initially thought why
would we need this when notebook files can be created with embedded video or mp3 files. I kept
investigating and realized this is a much more “user friendly” for students to access than the notebook
options. Notebook seems to have been geared to aid the instructors or presenters.

 I found an interesting video that shows how you can use this software in conjunction with the
interactive whiteboard for collaborative books etc. This would marry two great tools into one. Once a
piece of work is complete the various publishing options are there. This software does advertise as an
art application for all learners due to its vast assortment of art in a database.

Pixie 2 is not licensed by my board. Not having had the opportunity to use it myself I can only speak of
what I have found online. Pixie 2 does come across as a worthwhile tool for many subjects.. The
prospect of using a digital camera and loading students own images on screen is very exciting. There is
nothing more enticing to a younger audience than themselves. Who better to talk or write about than
the person they know best.

I find getting emergent writers excited about writing can be difficult. If we give them a task with too
many choices they may get caught up in the decision making. However with some students keeping a
writing task as open ended as possible allows their creative side to go wild.

 Pixie 2 gives students a range of available assistance. Should the writer be challenged in providing the
text portion then they can choose to use the audio recording to match the pictures they create. Should
they be fairly proficient in getting ‘thought to text,’ they can choose from a vast assortment of text
options to write the story or give speech bubbles. This is not to say the options are not interchangeable
for each students based on their desire to use them. Overall I was impressed by this product and I hope
to use it in the future.

Pros                                         Cons



Supports multimedia in many forms.                         Could not really find a negative.

                                                           Pixie 3 is already out.?

Extremely user friendly with the picture

Icons for emergent or ESL students.



Can be tailored to many different learning

styles.



Builds literacy skills for the emergent writer.



Provides many templates for the various writing

forms.



Provides templates for a collaborative booklet.



Lots of publishing options ranging from simple
prints, cartoons, magazine, article, newspaper, biography,

or even a video.

Thanks for this review, Judi. The visual support for learning is so essential as we teachers do tend to talk
and talk and talk... between LD, ESL, auditory processing and attentional needs evident in our
classrooms, do you feel that we rely too much on the auditory when teaching?

I think that some teachers have difficulty letting go and trusting the process of learning in the spectrum
of ways that we all learn. We are in an age of discovery. If we let the students lead the way in regards to
the technology side, it's amazing what they will show you! I think the video posted on E9, the hole-in-
the-wall experiment with Dr. Mitra says it all...build and they will come.

I'm brand new to Clicker, but so far I like what I see! My first impression of the product is that it's a great
way to teach struggling and emerging writers how to write by providing structure and modeling at first,
and then gradually moving toward more free writing exercises. This is something a teacher could
incorporate into a computer lab scenario and tailor to the individual needs of the students.

Positive
1. The ability to model and scaffold provides structure for learners who need it.
2. Writing with the use of pictures caters nicely to the visual learners among us.
3. For those students who are ready to work independently, creating talking books or multimedia
projects enables them to get creative and use the technology to complete assignments.
4. I think it's a huge plus that Clicker has switch access, so students who can't use standard computer
peripherals can still access the Clicker functionality.

Negative
1. I don't begin to have any concept of how much is too much for a class set of licenses for a software
product, but it seems to me that $1100 for thirty seats might be a bit lofty. Maybe someone with
experience in this area can shed a light.

(Engaging title, Kelly)

Lucky for us, Clicker 5 is Ministry licenced (thus, free) for all schools in the province, and is an
extremely powerful tool for all special learners, from pre-K (+high incidence special needs) to
secondary. Did you have a chance to check out the Clicker grids network/library online? It's an
excellent example of educators going beyond the manufacturer's "box" to truly enable it as an
authentic tool for support learning. (great fun, too!)

I think that some teachers have difficulty letting go and trusting the process of learning in the spectrum
of ways that we all learn. We are in an age of discovery. If we let the students lead the way in regards to
the technology side, it's amazing what they will show you! I think the video posted on E9, the hole-in-
the-wall experiment with Dr. Mitra says it all...build and they will come.
I'm brand new to Clicker, but so far I like what I see! My first impression of the product is that it's a great
way to teach struggling and emerging writers how to write by providing structure and modeling at first,
and then gradually moving toward more free writing exercises. This is something a teacher could
incorporate into a computer lab scenario and tailor to the individual needs of the students.

Positive
1. The ability to model and scaffold provides structure for learners who need it.
2. Writing with the use of pictures caters nicely to the visual learners among us.
3. For those students who are ready to work independently, creating talking books or multimedia
projects enables them to get creative and use the technology to complete assignments.
4. I think it's a huge plus that Clicker has switch access, so students who can't use standard computer
peripherals can still access the Clicker functionality.

Negative
1. I don't begin to have any concept of how much is too much for a class set of licenses for a software
product, but it seems to me that $1100 for thirty seats might be a bit lofty. Maybe someone with
experience in this area can shed a light.

I'm pretty clueless about what's available for free via the Ministry, but I think that's about to change this
week. :)

Where is the grid network/library? Am I just not seeing it on the Cricksoft web site? I'd love to take a
look.

Hi Kelly,

It's a separate site: https://www.learninggrids.com/us It's a free registration, or you can browse
for free.

Here's one example: http://www.learninggrids.com/us/ResourcePage.aspx?resuid=057fae14-
8dec-4de5-ae4a-3d0036839951 (Ontario curriculum-poetry (Intermediate/Secondary)

They update the grids every two weeks and you can search by grade, subject and themes, it's a great
resource site.
Pixie 2
http://www.tech4learning.com/pixie/videos


Intellitools
http://www.intellitools.com/special/demo/control.html

Intelli Tools Classroom Suite
Positives                                               Negatives

Alternative keyboard option, students with              Word Prediction: If students click numbers for
physical, visual or cognitive disabilities can type,    words they want to use….this might not help them
manipulate screen information, menu commands            improve their spelling/writing skills, would it not
                                                        be better for them to type the whole
                                                        word?....However would be very good for students
                                                        who cannot physically type!
Integration of three products in one suite:             Did not find on OSAPAC
IntelliPics Studio 3 ( multimedia presentation tool)
IntelliMathics 3 (virtual math manipulatives tool)
IntelliTalk ( talking word processor / writing tool)

Numerous cross curricular activities to choose from     Expensive! (over $1,000)
pre-primary to grade 8 - reading, writing, math,
social studies, and science- with option for teachers
to create their own (with numerous
templates/graphic organizers in all subject areas)
Scaffolded examples are provided for students, as
much practice provided as needed, lots of
reinforcement of specific skills, immediate
feedback, lots of tutorials, examples
Assessment - Teachers can track progress and see
types of errors students are making, can eliminate
answer-checking option for testing, track students'
activity, records all responses , including test
responses, print marks for reporting, essentially
each student has a personal e-portfolio
Student can create compositions in a variety of
subjects with images, built in authoring tools,
variety of ways to present material, built in word
prediction tool improves fluency in writing
Networking option available
Highly motivational, lots of visual & auditory
support as students complete tasks, animation,
multimedia, varies levels of difficulty from very
easy to complex

Intelli Tools embodies the concept of Universal Design because all students can access this
program. For example, students with physical disabilities can use the IntelliKeys overlays, touch
screen instead of standard keyboard, single-switch scanning, etc. It is a great tool for
differentiated instruction because the teacher can assign activities based on students‟ learning
styles, readiness levels and interest. I have not been exposed to this program before, it has many
of the features of the other programs, such as Clicker 5, Word & Speak @, even Inspiration. It
almost seems that if you have this program, you don‟t need a lot of the others, would be
interested in what others feel who have experience with this program.



Your comment in your negatives column made me think:

Word Prediction: If students click numbers for words they want to use….this might not help
them improve their spelling/writing skills, would it not be better for them to type the whole
word?....However would be very good for students who cannot physically type!

Yes, it would seem that students who actually type the words would have greater gains in
vocabulary and spelling skills than students who simply type a number...I would be interested to
see some data on that. The only reason I say this is, for those who have watched the video for E-
tivity 9 of Sugata Mitra's work in India and children self-teaching using a computer, students
who merely are observing or interacting with material at a distance can pass a test on the material
with significant success. Of course there is a social factor related to this success (group learning)
but to me it means that students are absorbing far more information than we are aware of even if
they are not interacting with the material as we would expect.

Our Board has purchased Classroom Suite, but is having a hard time getting it to work on our school
network. Resource teachers love it, but find it also freezes and is slow to load. This is more due to our
school network than the program itself. I haven't checked the word prediction on Classroom Suite, but
find the word prediction in Word Q is surprisingly effective at helping student writing - even without
typing full words, they do pick up on the patterns of the words they use most often. This is something
we want to look at more closely in our program, but haven't quite figured out a way to collect data on it.

LE#2 E-tivity 6 (Lesley Andrews)


Technology: Clicker 5
My Experience: This is another software program that is new to me. Right away I could

see the benefits of this program for whole class modeled and shared reading and

writing. The flexibility to use graphics and animation, create your own talking books that

are tailored for the interests and abilities in your group and to create extensive word

(phrase, sentence) banks for use in writing is extremely powerful. This is a program that

can be adapted for multiple ability levels within a class. I also liked that the program

could be used for Mathematics, Science and Social Studies as well since you are

creating your own materials and the program would be useful in supporting English

Language Learners in their writing and reading across the curriculum.


       Positive Points of Clicker 5              Negative Points of Clicker 5

The program can be used for individual
learners or in whole group activities.
Text students have written can be read
back to them by the program allowing
them to hear their work
Talking books (existing or self created)
support reluctant readers and engage
students by tailoring material to ability
levels and interests
Word, phrase or sentence banks help
students expand their vocabulary and
word choices and offer spelling support
when students are using the keyboard
The extensive picture library allows the
use of pictures to support reading.
The record feature allows students to
practice their pronunciation of words,
phrases or sentences after hearing an
example.
Program allows scaffolded instruction
and gradual release of responsibility
encouraged in the language
curriculum
        I could not find a negative aspect of Clicker 5. This program is extremely

versatile and could easily be integrated into any language program and used across
the curriculum to support and encourage the development of reading and writing skills

for every student in the class, not only students who are learning a new language (it is

also available in Spanish and French) or students with special needs. With a single

license priced at $250 this is a powerful program at an affordable (relatively speaking)

price that would be useful for primary and junior ability level students.


Sources:


http://www.cricksoft.com/us/products/tools/clicker/home.aspx


I think Intelli Tools incorporates everything Clicker 5 can do, might be wrong though. I find it a bit

overwhelming when you become convinced that a certain program is the 'best' for a certain situation

and then another program does relatively the same thing. Teachers have to be great 'critical thinkers'

when assessing programs.


It is entirely possible. One thing I am definitely learning is that there are many programs available, many

are similar in a variety of respects and which programs you will use will depend on the Board you are

working in (maybe even the school you are working in). I think 'overwhelming' is an appropriate term.


Well said. I use the analogy of having a runny nose. You can use Kleenex, Scotties, Puffs etc, but they all

do the same job! Focus on the tool, not the brand name, and ask yourself "How does this help student

learning?".


When I first started this course, I wanted to know about individual programs, I recognize now though

that it's more the different types of programs I need to learn about, e.g. speech to text, word prediction

etc, especially as some programs integrate multiple tools. Also, they update regularly and new ones

come out. It doesn't really matter particularly which speech to text program you use, although they have

small differences, they all seem to be fairly similar in many ways.
Pixie 2

Pixie 2 is a multimedia creation program. I have not used Pixie 2 before, but was pleasantly surprised to
learn that it is a slightly simplified version of Frames 4, which I was introduced to late last year and have
demonstrated for several classes. I am sitting at the ECOO conference in Richmond Hill as I write this,
and decided to look at Pixie on the advice of one of my teaching partners who was introduced to Pixie at
one of her conference sessions. While I have just started using Pixie, it is fairly similar to Frames 4 (same
company) so I am finding it relatively easy to maneuver around.

Positives                                                  Negatives
Very engaging visually                                     Found the talk button confusing – default setting,
                                                           doesn‟t talk much – needed to consult the help menu to
                                                           figure out how to get it to read menus (felt it was more
                                                           useful this way)
Large amount of built in tools for students – clip art,
special effects, backgrounds, etc.
Undo button clearly marked – GREAT importance for
kids – one of the first things I teach with any piece of
software as it encourages exploration without the fear
you will ruin everything
Controls very graphic, easy to identify
Looks like it would work well on an interactive
whiteboard
Ability to insert images, videos, and text
Ability to export in a variety of formats
Talk button can be set to read all controls
‘

I found this to be a fairly good piece of software. Having had experience with Frames 4, I would be
tempted to use it in place of Pixie. Although it is not as graphical and simple, it is also fairly intuitive and
has a number of additional features that are useful, especially for older students (Junior age and above).
This serves as a great entry point for teaching students about a number of alternative ways to show
their learning, including slideshow, video, and audio. I have found Frames 4 to be very motivating for
students with the number of different ways they can present information and to demonstrate their
creativity. Pixie would work in a similar manner. Loved the idea from the introduction video of creating
historical items such as newspapers, as well as more current event material such as newsletters.

Frames 4 is by the same company. It is very similar to Pixie, but with more features around what you can

do in each of the, "boxes". I was introduced to Frame first, and came to Pixie later. Students may find it

easier to start with Pixie, then move to Frames. That being said, I have introduced Frames to quite a few

Junior students who had little or no problems figuring out the basics.
Freeware: Open Source and Online Options
The range of resources for education is growing at an exponential rate. Many of these new
developments are Open Source, meaning they are collaboratively developed by experts in the field and
freely shared. We need to be constantly curious (just ask your students!) about the latest technology
innovations and their potential for changing lives. Here we will have the opportunity to have a wee taste
of the range of resources available.

Gliffy     http://www.gliffy.com/

Gliffy is a web based diagram creation tool that allows you to create a vast array of diagrams
from templates or from scratch. This tool allows you to create diagrams as well as share them or
collaborate with colleagues. This is a drag and drop tool that is incredibly easy and
straightforward to use.

You can create professional-quality diagrams including:
* Flowcharts
* UML class diagrams
* Network diagrams
* Floor plans
* SWOT analysis
* UI wireframes
* Website mockups and maps
* Class diagrams
* Org charts
* Business process diagrams
* Venn diagrams

Source: http://www.gliffy.com/products/online/

Gliffy allows you to use the program to create 5 diagrams for free and they must be public. For
$4.95/month/user you can create up to 200 diagrams and store them privately. For
$9.95/month/user you can created an unlimited number of diagrams and store them privately.
The site indicates that educational institutions receive a discounted rate.

Two stars: Easy to use drag and drop platform, many many many templates to work from

Wish: You didn't have to pay for it!

To be honest I think that this program would be accessible to a wide ranges of grades/ages. The drag
and drop function makes it easy to use and the broad range of diagrams available means that there is
something there for everyone. I tried out the Venn diagram, but there a many many more. I could
easily see grade 1 students using this with no problem and I can see post graduate students using it for
their work as well. Put a group of students in front of Gliffy and I expect that they would have it figured
out faster than I did.

Oh wow! I wish I had known about Gliffy when I was doing tech writing and process analysis. I can see
this translating over nicely into the classroom. Too bad they limit the usage of the product. That's just
not nice.

I'm using Google Chrome browser and having trouble loading the Gliffy Interface. Anyone else
experiencing this?

I am also on Chrome, but not having any problems. It seems to be working fine. Love this tool. I am
playing with the floorplan portion and can imagine a number of area/perimeter problems for students.
Very cool! Jason

WEBSPIRATION www.webspirationclassroom.com

Webspiration Classroom is advertised as “the online writing, visual thinking and collaboration
tool for students and teachers.” It is essentially “INSPIRATION” for a class website, and sold by
the same company that sells Inspiration. The advantage is that you have access to
INSPIRATION without it having to be downloaded on individual computers. I purchased an
Individual Education account about a few months ago (39.00/1-year), intending to use it
with students that I tutor; however since I never had a chance to really explore it , I decided to
reseach this tool. After exploring the site for about 3 hours, I am convinced it is one of the best
tools a teacher can have (for all students in their class!) Individual Education accounts are
“automatically configured as faculty accounts and cannot be turned into student accounts.” My
Individual Education account includes the “Webspiration World School,” and gives me
access to the Webspiration Classroom user network. This is where teachers who create
templates have the option of contributing their template to a database of templates. For school
accounts the pricing is as follows: 10-30 accounts @ $10.00 each or 31-99 accounts @ $9.00
each.

                                http://www.webspirationclassroom.com/pricing (Pricing)

To access the program, Webspiration gives me an Org ID. Once I created my user name and
password I had on-line access to the program.
The “Educator Resources” section has many lesson plan ideas, examples and tips on visual
thinking.

GLOBAL TEMPLATES include the following categories: Language Arts, Science, Social
Studies, Thinking & Planning

For example the Language Arts category provides templates for the following:

Language Arts templates: Analyzing Author Techniques; Assignment Completion Plan;
Biography; Character Comparison; Compare-Contrast Essay Planner; Essay Planner, Guided;
Exploring Historical Fiction; Fiction Notes & Analysis; Generating Questions; Group Project
Plan; Inquiry-Based Paper; Issue Analysis; KWL Organizer; Narrative Writing Planner; Non-
Fiction Analysis; Opinion Support; Outline; Persuasive Speech or Essay; Place in History;
Problem-Solution Essay; Project Design for Teachers; Research Paper; Research Topic;
Summary; Syllabus; Theme & Character; Venn Diagram; Vocabulary Web; Website Evaluation;
Weekly Lesson Plan; Writing a News Article; Writing Fiction; Writing Process, Writing Topic

The following options appear on the “Student Resources” section:

The Writing Process
Overview

 Prewriting

 Drafting

 Revising

 Editing and Proofreading

 Publishing


                                           Writing Essays, Narratives and
                                           Reports
Overview
                                             Writing a Summary
 Prewriting
                                             Writing a Persuasive Essay
 Drafting
                                             Writing a Personal Narrative
 Revising
                                             Writing a Book Report
 Editing and Proofreading
                                             Writing a Lab Report
 Publishing
                                             Descriptive Writing

                                             Writing a 5-Paragraph Essay

                                             Writing a Cause/Effect Essay

                                             Writing a Compare/Contrast Essay
                                                Writing a Problem/Solution Essay


Since one of the students I tutor has to write a book report I decided to click BOOK REPORT
and follow the prompts: There were several great links that had all the information a student
would need to write a good book report.

Elements of a Good Book Report

http://www.webspirationclassroom.com/studytips/book-report-drafting

Revising Using Comments

http://www.webspirationclassroom.com/studytips/comment-feature

Create the Outline…….I was directed to use the FICTION NOTES AND ANALYSIS template to
help me „actively read the book.” Other directions included: “Record plot summaries using the
notes attached to each chapter symbol – you can even include page numbers of significant
events which will help you write the report later. As you read you can use the other areas of the
template to keep track of characters, settings, new vocabulary words, etc. When you finish
reading, the template will help you create an outline for your book report. Simply switch to
Outline View and fill in any missing details.

http://www.webspirationclassroom.com/studytips/book-report-outline

There is also an EXAMPLES TAB which has a collection of “built-in” examples (which can be
modified and used as desired).

Example of Planning an Essay
http://www.webspirationclassroom.com/launch.php



Webspiration Classroom's Diagram View

“helps to generate ideas and clarify thoughts, making brainstorming and planning fast and easy.
Using symbols, links and text, you‟ll create bubble diagrams, flow charts, concept maps, process
flows and other visual representations that stimulate and reflect your thinking.”

Switching from Diagram to Outline View
The Diagram View and Outline View are integrated, therefore they keep track of ideas
students complete their work.Diagram View can be switched to Outline View.

Working collaboratively
Students can collaborate and share documents. Everyone can work on the same document,
“contributing, posting comments, and viewing changes.”
Teachers can also post assignments, which students complete and submit electronically using
Webspiration Classroom. This makes Webspiration Classroom “ideal for team projects, study
groups, reviewing and commenting on documents and co-authoring materials.”


Multiple users editing the same document
Several students can “edit a document in a near-simultaneous fashion without their edits
conflicting with one another. Users are automatically switched between “Editing,” “Reviewing,”
and “Waiting” states.”

Chat
The Chat function also facilitates collaboration. Groups of students can work on a document and
use Chat to discuss their work while “actively editing or viewing the document.” “Chat can also
be used to record comments when working alone, or to keep a historical record of participants in
a group meeting setting. All chat activity for a document is permanently recorded and date- and
time-stamped, and all people shared on a document can view the complete record.”

Show changes
Revisions of the document are save. “The Show Changes feature uses colored text to indicate
differences between each of these revisions.” This allows the teacher to see “ what has changed,
when it was changed, and by whom.”

I forgot to include the two stars and a wish! STAR # 1...This is a great example of "inclusive technology",
if this was your class website every student would have access to INSPIRATION. STAR # 2...A great tool to
promote collaboration & communication (chat function, groups working on same document etc)
WISH.....I had a class so I could try this GREAT tool!



WEBSPIRATION www.webspirationclassroom.com Webspiration Classroom is advertised as "the online
writing, visual thinking and collaboration tool for students and teachers." It is essentially "INSPIRATION"
for a class website, and sold by the same company that sells Inspiration. The advantage is that you have
access to INSPIRATION without it having to be downloaded on individual computers. I purchased an
Individual Education account about a few months ago (39.00/1-year), intending to use it with students
that I tutor; however since I never had a chance to really explore it , I decided to reseach this tool. After
exploring the site for about 3 hours, I am convinced it is one of the best tools a teacher can have (for all
students in their class!) Individual Education accounts are "automatically configured as faculty accounts
and cannot be turned into student accounts." My Individual Education account includes the
"Webspiration World School," and gives me access to the Webspiration Classroom user network. This is
where teachers who create templates have the option of contributing their template to a database of
templates. For school accounts the pricing is as follows: 10-30 accounts @ $10.00 each or 31-99
accounts @ $9.00 each. http://www.webspirationclassroom.com/pricing (Pricing) To access the
program, Webspiration gives me an Org ID. Once I created my user name and password I had on-line
access to the program. The "Educator Resources" section has many lesson plan ideas, examples and tips
on visual thinking. GLOBAL TEMPLATES include the following categories: Language Arts, Science, Social
Studies, Thinking & Planning For example the Language Arts category provides templates for the
following: Language Arts templates: Analyzing Author Techniques; Assignment Completion Plan;
Biography; Character Comparison; Compare-Contrast Essay Planner; Essay Planner, Guided; Exploring
Historical Fiction; Fiction Notes & Analysis; Generating Questions; Group Project Plan; Inquiry-Based
Paper; Issue Analysis; KWL Organizer; Narrative Writing Planner; Non-Fiction Analysis; Opinion Support;
Outline; Persuasive Speech or Essay; Place in History; Problem-Solution Essay; Project Design for
Teachers; Research Paper; Research Topic; Summary; Syllabus; Theme & Character; Venn Diagram;
Vocabulary Web; Website Evaluation; Weekly Lesson Plan; Writing a News Article; Writing Fiction;
Writing Process, Writing Topic The following options appear on the "Student Resources" section: The
Writing Process Overview Prewriting Drafting Revising Editing and Proofreading Publishing Overview
Prewriting Drafting Revising Editing and Proofreading Publishing Writing Essays, Narratives and Reports
Writing a Summary Writing a Persuasive Essay Writing a Personal Narrative Writing a Book Report
Writing a Lab Report Descriptive Writing Writing a 5-Paragraph Essay Writing a Cause/Effect Essay
Writing a Compare/Contrast Essay Writing a Problem/Solution Essay Since one of the students I tutor
has to write a book report I decided to click BOOK REPORT and follow the prompts: There were several
great links that had all the information a student would need to write a good book report. Elements of a
Good Book Report http://www.webspirationclassroom.com/studytips/book-report-drafting Revising
Using Comments http://www.webspirationclassroom.com/studytips/comment-feature Create the
Outline…….I was directed to use the FICTION NOTES AND ANALYSIS template to help me 'actively read
the book." Other directions included: "Record plot summaries using the notes attached to each chapter
symbol – you can even include page numbers of significant events which will help you write the report
later. As you read you can use the other areas of the template to keep track of characters, settings, new
vocabulary words, etc. When you finish reading, the template will help you create an outline for your
book report. Simply switch to Outline View and fill in any missing details.
http://www.webspirationclassroom.com/studytips/book-report-outline There is also an EXAMPLES TAB
which has a collection of "built-in" examples (which can be modified and used as desired). Example of
Planning an Essay http://www.webspirationclassroom.com/launch.php Webspiration Classroom's
Diagram View "helps to generate ideas and clarify thoughts, making brainstorming and planning fast and
easy. Using symbols, links and text, you'll create bubble diagrams, flow charts, concept maps, process
flows and other visual representations that stimulate and reflect your thinking." Switching from Diagram
to Outline View The Diagram View and Outline View are integrated, therefore they keep track of ideas
students complete their work.Diagram View can be switched to Outline View. Working collaboratively
Students can collaborate and share documents. Everyone can work on the same document,
"contributing, posting comments, and viewing changes." Teachers can also post assignments, which
students complete and submit electronically using Webspiration Classroom. This makes Webspiration
Classroom "ideal for team projects, study groups, reviewing and commenting on documents and co-
authoring materials." Multiple users editing the same document Several students can "edit a document
in a near-simultaneous fashion without their edits conflicting with one another. Users are automatically
switched between "Editing," "Reviewing," and "Waiting" states." Chat The Chat function also facilitates
collaboration. Groups of students can work on a document and use Chat to discuss their work while
"actively editing or viewing the document." "Chat can also be used to record comments when working
alone, or to keep a historical record of participants in a group meeting setting. All chat activity for a
document is permanently recorded and date- and time-stamped, and all people shared on a document
can view the complete record." Show changes Revisions of the document are save. "The Show Changes
feature uses colored text to indicate differences between each of these revisions." This allows the
teacher to see " what has changed, when it was changed, and by whom."




Scribe – Google Labs

http://bloggerindraft.blogspot.com/2011/08/introducing-google-scribe-in-blogger.html



Mywebspiration

http://www.mywebspiration.com/




ReadPlease
http://www.readplease.com/

Judi, you've outlined the pros and cons of ReadPlease. Ten years ago, it was innovative in that it
was the first free alternative to Kurzweil / text to speech. It was originally developed by a fellow
to help his blind father, and he never expected it to take off like it did. It's worth downloading the
free version- try clicking on the "face" of the speaker and listen. The developer has quite the
sense of humour.

With all text to speech software, you must be cautious about mixing and matching too many
programs on your computer. Each carries its own speech engine interface and you can sometimes
have a software glitch or computer crash. The more sophisticated software such as Kurzweil
tends not to "play nicely" with ones like ReadPlease. -always good to treat your IT support
people well, as they will be a vital part of the team. ReadPlease is an ideal choice to install on an
old hand-me-down computer to support a struggling student.

Would you recommend this to parents for home use?

ReadPlease is a free text-to-speech software that reads any text you copy/paste into the
ReadPlease interface. It offers four different voices, two male and two female. Some are better
than others, in my opinion, but I imagine that would be personal preference.
STAR

The interface is very simple, and provides easy access to the voice speed and font size controls
right on the main screen. I also like that the product offers a "canned" Low Vision setting that
optimizes the screen with a font size and colours that work best for people with low vision. I've
attached a screens shot of the interface with the low vision settings turned on.

STAR

ReadPlease also offers version that read in languages other than English, including French,
Spanish, German, Italian, Portuguese, Dutch, and even British English (for those of us who love
the accent!). So for French teachers, for example, this is also a viable option for helping students
who benefit from the speech output as they learn.

WISH

ReadPlease itself does not integrate with other programs. To use it, you have to copy/paste the
text you want read into the ReadPlease interface and click Play. This is perhaps not quite as
convenient as the tools that will read right out of a word processor or a browser, but I guess
beggars can't be choosers when it's a free tool. In a pinch, this would work well for most people
who just need simple text-to-speech.




Natural Readers
http://www.naturalreaders.com/index.htm

NaturalReader



I chose to investigate NaturalReader 10.0. This text-to-speech software does have a free basic
download that gave me a fancy floating toolbar on my desktop. It‟s very easy to get started by
highlighting any text and press play to listen. My initial reaction to the product was positive.
 The webpage has great advertising geared to people in general who would rather listen than read
text. Some of the „sell‟ features include; reading email, learning a language, choice of different
voice selections and easing eye strain.

 They have a trial section where you can hear what it sounds like while reading. They do boast
of a „natural sounding‟ voice. This is not the voice you hear in the free version. The free
version, even at the same speed as the trial voice, was very robotic and not natural sounding to
me. I would hope that upon purchase you would have an upgraded, clear sounding voice.
Two Stars



They do offer a conversion tool for mp3 or wave files for your ipod which would come in handy
while on the go. An easily accessible scanner icon for scanning books into files for students
would also be beneficial.



A Wish

Make the free download sound like the demo voice and I would use it.



 Judi, I agree with you, the free download voice isn't great and I found the trial version quite
buggy. I loved the voices on the online trial. The french versions were excellent and I will
definitely use the website for my students. I don't think I would download the trial for them
though.




http://www.naturalreaders.com/index.htm




Dragon Dictate for iPod or iPad
http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/dragon-dictation/id341446764?mt=8#




Speech Recognition tools in Microsoft Word (under tools,
speech) or built into Macs
http://office.microsoft.com/en-gb/word-help/about-speech-recognition-HP003084099.aspx

http://lifehacker.com/215764/hack-attack-make-your-macs-speech-recognition-work-for-you
WritingFun
http://www.writingfun.com/

Comparative curiosity got the better of me when I saw that this program was spearheded by the 3P for
Learning Group. They promoted World Math Day on March 1st and later World Spelling Day around the
9th of the same month. Interestingly enough they also provide programs for a fee that are tied into the
above activities. At the time we registered our school for free for the math activity and many, many of
our students liked the program. Specific to this exercise, when I clicked onto the link
www.writingfun.com it led me to a page where "Jenny Eather" fetured ;using text organizers to assist in
the writing process." What I found was a site powered by spellodrome promoting a program for a fee to
mainly engage students in spelling activities. Among the advantages listed: + highly motivating , students
earn reward points for success that can be redeemed in a number of ways +supports independent
learning + helps in the development of one's own spelling strategies + enhances vocabulary + good for 5-
18 year olds + weekly reporting of results As far as the two stars go, see it as very similar to the
mathletics program which was highly motivating to students due in part to a competitive aspect
allowing to compete against other students in similar grade ranges or the computer. Secondly, teacher
involvement can be hands on in the monitoring and set up via key word lists to be focused on for
spelling purposes as well as providing data to determine needs and level of success. The wish - well wish
it was what was originally mentioned a text organizer ... . Really see it as spelling focused activity which
although valuable, may be more time consuming than necessary with the advances in spell check
technology in virtually every assistive writing program out there. At an advertised cost of $1/wk wonder
if this narrow a focus in the writing field is worthwhile. Having said that I would encourage teachers to
register for a free one month trial as it is as mentioned fun and motivating.

Thanks, Al, for your insights. I was going to take a look at this one, but I was confused by the
Spellodrome stuff. I ended up choosing a different one that made more sense. Perhaps now I'll go back,
on your recommendation, and take a closer look.

hank you SO much for exploring and reflecting on this writing resource, Al. Unfortunately, from
the time we wrote the course, it was first offered in the summer and now, Writing Fun has gone
from an amazing open (i.e. free) writing organizer to being sold (out?) to a commercial
company. (aargh!)

I think you would have found the original site to be much more useful and you would have likely
found many connections to your practice. I'll look for a replacement site for future.

You've provided a good model for others when investigating new software or websites; be a
critical thinker and look at sources, links etc in order to best make a judgement call as to whether
it rates further investigation. I didn't realize that the site provider had done the World Math Day
work.
I echo your sentiment about the value of spelling activities for our special learners. Is that a
philosophy that is transparent in your own practice?

Thanks for this heads up, Al.




Google scribe
is a word prediction tool used with Blogger - Google's blog creating tool. Since it is used in Blogger, I
tried it in a blog post. To see my review, check out http://mrswansclassroomblog.blogspot.com/ It is the
Oct. 20 post, "Google Scribe ETFO AQ" Jeryl/anyone else, let me know if you also want me to paste my
post here as well! I can cut and paste it over, but thought I would save a step.

Jason, it's good to know what the limitations of Scribe are, not having a speech feedback feature
ceratinly is a negative. PS..You have a great blog...and wikispaces! I'm sure your colleagues and students
are very appreciative of all the great info! I have created several resource wikispaces (for my teachables)
and find them very helpful.

I think it's great that you're including the link as you've given us the preamble. Great site! Perhaps some
of your colleagues might consider starting a blog on the blogspot platform?

I'm a huge fan of Blogspot. I have several personal blogs on the platform, and I can't wait until I get my
own class so I can start another one. It's such an awesome way to share resources and communicate
with students, parents, and even other teachers.

I quite right Wikispaces as well. The 3 of us in the Technology
Resource Program in our Board are trying to manage a wiki.
Great collaborative tool. One of the BEST wiki's I have seen is
Brenda Sherry's - she is the technology coach in our Board and
has a fantastic wiki http://tech2learn.wikispaces.com/
The free tool I have chosen to try is natural readers (www.naturalreaders.com). I found this at the
end of last year when I was looking for a French text to speech program and bookmarked it but
never got a chance to experiment with it. As with many online free programs, the free version
contains fewer features than the versions you can purchase, but it is still a useful tool for use in
the classroom. The free version includes a text to speech reader which can be opened in a
floating tool bar and used to read information in PDF files and you can cut and paste onto the
demo web page. If you purchase the program it can also be used to read Microsoft Word files,
web pages and use the text to MP3 option. Also, the education versions come with 1300 e-books.

I loved the Demo webpage, where you can cut and paste text into it. It had a very natural French
voice (working as a core French teacher, this was a huge plus for me!) and read smoothly.
Despite trying to download the free version with the floating text box three times, it kept
crashing every time I tried to load it up, which was very frustrating. I can see the website being
useful but the program is definitely very buggy.

Stars

- Love the idea of the floating tool bar that you can then use for PDF files – I can convert
many of my word files to PDF and allow my students to have any worksheets read to them which
would be a great help for my students with learning disabilities.

-   Very natural smooth voice and speaks in English, French, Spanish and German for free.

Wish

- I wish the program was less buggy! I really wanted to get it going and tried fixing the errors
several times but it just wouldn‟t load for me.

Hi Laura,

I chose this one as well. I was not happy with the clarity of the free voice option. The demo
voice was quite good but this was not the same as the freebee. Is the French option free to use as
well and have you had a chance to try that one?

I used the French voice on the website and I think this is the way I would have my students use it,
cutting and pasting to hear back their work. Realistically, they only write a few sentences a lesson so it
isn't a big deal for French lessons to only have the small box to put their text in.

Oooohhh. This is intriguing. I will need to try the download as well to see if it will work. I have a few
students that could use this on a trial basis to see if they would be able to work with something more
expensive. Also have a few who don't qualify for SEA who do have computer access through the school.
Thanks for sharing!

								
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