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Archive for the ‘writing’ Category

Following from our session on learning tools that encourage differentiation and inclusivity for all learners, our teacher aides have provided me with some feedback which makes for interesting reading. Top of the list of tools/apps the group were showed that they intend to use was Read Aloud. This makes perfect sense as our teacher aides work with students who struggle with literacy and are challenged with a range of learning disabilities.

This was backed up by reasons they supplied for the apps/tools they believed would have the most use for them. (I have deleted some of their comments to protect student privacy):

 

From my own viewpoint, the biggest take home for me was the need to share the basics first. I created a Class Notebook for the workshop participants to access material, share ideas and have a play without thinking that most had not even ventured into a Class Notebook. In a way, I should have started with that before delving into specific apps.

The other takeaway was the needs for consistency across devices in a school. Some of their learners have their own device and others use what is available within the specific department/learning space on a given day. Other things I take for granted such as using Office Mix also piqued their interest. Most know how to set up basic power point but were unaware of the record option. Others were not sure how to add music so a follow up session on Office Mix is top of the list.

Hopefully we’ll get some more time together next term to delve deeper into their first foray into the many ways Microsoft can enhance the teaching and learning experience for these vital support staff.

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If ever there was a digital tool designed to boost basic literacy that can be used across curriculum areas, is easy to use with multiple applications MS Learning Tools, featuring Immersive Reader and Read Aloud functions, is it!

To truly embed digital technology in our classrooms, we need to find generic tools that can used across curriculum areas that benefit core skills such as literacy and numeracy. Learning Tools offers assistive technology that meets both these goals. It is also a great option for time poor teachers keen to use more digital technology but lacking the time to investigate and trial options.

Learning Tools isn’t new but has recently been updated to make it more user friendly and available across a wider range of MS platforms. Learning Tools (which includes Immersive Reader and Read Aloud) can now be accessed via OneNote (desktop and online), Word (desktop and online), Outlook Office Lens and Windows 10 Creator.

The Immersive Reader function is potentially a game changer with the ability to vastly improve reading comprehension. Selecting Immersive Reader in the ribbon opens the text on a page in a new window and gives the student options to make visual changes for ease of readability as well as breaking down the text via three icons in the top right corner of the page.

Students can change the column width, page colour and text space.  This is great for dyslexic students who find it easier to read with sepia background and comic sans font and great for the teacher who doesn’t have to spend time preparing separate handouts.  The library icon gives students an option to break the text into parts of speech as well as showing the text broken down into syllables – so great for ESOL students.

Writing fluency and accuracy is also catered for via the Read Aloud function. Students could literally have text read aloud – their own writing or text scanned and saved electronically.  Updates mean that students now have a voice selection option through the setting gear icon so thaey can change the speed of the voice narrating the text as well as the gender. This could enable students to “hear” mistakes in their own writing and then correct syntactical and grammatical errors.

Here’s a link that includes a great introductory video of how to use Learning Tools in OneNote (note it makes reference to the dictate function which I have been unable to locate since updating to Office 2016).

And here’s a link to an explanation of updates that occurred late last year which might supersede some of the above but gives another good overview of what’s available.

And some FAQS. Scroll 2/3 down the page to find links showing how to access the different components of Learning Tools in various platforms. It’s a shame that the interface isn’t consistent across platforms but if you delve into View or Review in your task bar, you’ll find these tools!

 

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