Posted in Dyslexia, Literacy and English

Read Write Inc. in Edinburgh – Film Premiere!

red carpetTo celebrate the success of the Read Write Inc programme, and further support schools to build on these positive results, Hilary Aitken (Literacy/Dyslexia Support Team) and Alastair McArthur (Multimedia officer) worked with schools and pupils to create a Read Write Inc training film. This was launched at the Filmhouse Cinema on Tuesday 26th April.

All teachers and children from the  schools involved in making this film were invited to the premiere alongside Councillor Paul Godzik and City of Edinburgh Council staff.  It was a great success and thoroughly enjoyed by all. The children were awed into silence on seeing themselves on the big screen and thoroughly enjoyed the tea party afterwards.

More information

Read Write Inc is Edinburgh’s  P3 to P5 literacy intervention programme  for pupils with literacy difficulties.   Read Write Inc uses phonics to help children to learn to read and write while developing a wide range of vocabulary. By participating in the programme, many pupils have been able to develop learning skills to access the full curriculum and have improved their reading confidence.  For more info, see our Read Write Inc page.


Posted in Dyslexia, ICT, Literacy and English, Training and events

CPD – Powered by Clicker

The Powered by Clicker Course has been re-arrangedfor the 27th Novemebr 2015. booking available through the CPD directory.

This session will give an overview of the many ‘Powered by Clicker’ add-on resources that are available for Clicker 6.

Resources appropriate for use at Early, First and Second Levels will be shown including:

• Clicker Phonics
• Oxford Reading Tree
• Trackers – encouraging reluctant readers
• New to English and Next Steps to English
• MFL French and Spanish – listening, talking and writing activities
• Find Out and Write About – comprehension and research on a range of popular subjects

Posted in Dyslexia, English as an Additional Language (EAL), ICT, iPad, Literacy and English, Visual impairment

iOS 8 and its new accessibility features

iOS 8 logoMany of you will know that Apple released an update to the operating system of its mobile and tablet devices last week: iOS 8.  For schools, this means that anything from iPad 2 and up can be updated to this new operating system.  Unlike the move to iOS 7 last year, this update doesn’t make your iPad look any different, but it does still introduce some powerful new features which can make it more accessible for learners who have additional support needs.  Below I have covered what I think are the most useful for you to know about.

Predictive text
Now, when you are using the apple keyboard, predictive text appears in a bar along the top.  Apple have branded this QuickType, and it makes current and next word suggestions based on what you’ve written previously and the context of the message.  You can hide QuickType by tapping and holding anywhere within the bar and pulling down.

Third-party keyboards
Up until now, you could only use the standard apple keyboard across all your apps, albeit in a range of different languages.  Now you can install any number of third-party keyboards, too.  From my early investigations, I like Keedogo ($1.49 or $1.99 currently as an introductory price, depending on the version you go for and Kiwi (free).  Keedogo (made by AssistiveWare, the people behind Proloquo2Go) features a high-contrast keyboard with vowels in red, and Kiwi allows you to choose the colour and font of your keys.  I’m sure there will be many many more of these coming out in the near future – do let me know if you find a good one.

Standard keyboard available in new input languages
Now you can input into your keyboard in Marathi, Bengali, Urdu and English (India) if you so desire.  Could be very useful for our bilingual learners.

The zoom function has been revamped – you can now zoom to a part of the screen of your choosing, and you can keep the keyboard at its normal size so that you can keep typing normally and easily see what you’re writing!

Speak Screen
This feature allows all the text on a screen, not just what has been selected with “speak selection” to be read out with one easy gesture.  It should be noted that this does not include menus, folders etc – that would still be done via the VoiceOver function.  This is a very useful feature for those with a visual impairment or a literacy difficulty.

Turns your screen from colour to black and white.  It also works in conjunction with “invert colours”.  Could be useful for learners who have problems with a colour display due to colour blindness, a visual impairment or visual stress.

Guided Access
A feature well-loved by many, guided access has been updated to include a countdown timer and fingerprint recognition – unfortunately, it’s not working on my iPad currently (I am not alone in this) so I can’t give you more details – hopefully this is a bug Apple will iron out soon.

Apple have already released an update to iOS 8, iOS 8.0.2 – please make sure that you have this version installed for optimum performance.  Hope you found this round-up useful – do let me know about any other useful iOS 8 features you discover!





Posted in Dyslexia, ICT, Literacy and English

Type and Test

I am often asked about resources to support typing skills, and indeed have previously published a whole blog post on this topic.  Being able to type well is an incredibly useful skill for any young person to have, but particularly for those who are likely to be relying heavily on a computer to assist their writing and/or sitting digital exams.


A couple of people have asked me about a resource called Type& Test, as they had seen it advertised in various places.  This is a web-based resource with two courses – one for younger pupils and one for teachers or older pupils. The skills practised are the same on both courses, but the first one has child-friendly animations etc.  There is a cost to this resource, that changes depending on how many pupils you wish to enrol.  There may be some scope for schools to get a discount if we can enrol all interested schools as a group, so I am looking for people to try out the resource and see if they would be interested.  Click here to try a “sample lesson”.

I have tried out the resource and in my opinion, it is not bad, but not so good that it is worth paying for when compared to BBC Dance Mat or Doorway Online.  Here are my pros and cons:


  • Extensive set of lessons, with extension activities for each skill
  • The younger pupils’ resource has been “gamified” to an extent and is quite fun
  • You can track and monitor pupils’ progress – something that the aforementioned free resources do not offer.  The company will also set up all the profiles for your pupils for you, so you do not need to worry about that.


  • Some of the “games” could be a little stressful for slow typers – animals chasing you etc.
  • No ability to change the colour of the background etc as in Doorway Online, so less accessible for some pupils.

Please do try the sample lesson, and get in touch if you think you’d be interested in this resource for your school, or would like to know more.


Posted in Dyslexia, English as an Additional Language (EAL), ICT, Literacy and English

iOS App Profile: Popplet

PoppletPopplet is my favourite mind-mapping app.  There are plenty of others out there, and I’d encourage you to also check out, for a start, Idea Sketch, Inspiration Maps and iMindMap – you may well prefer another option.  So, why is it my favourite?


  1. It’s inexpensive.  You can download a “lite” trial version for nothing, and the full-price app is £2.99 at the time of writing.
  2. It has an incredibly simple interface.  If you are working with a dyslexic pupil, wordy menus or complicated instructions can make what is supposed to be a supportive tool very frustrating to use!
  3. You can add text, photos/images or draw a picture.  If you have Siri, voice recognition can be used, and/or you can paste text in from another app.
  4. You can export as a PDF or as a JPEG – so the finished product can be sent to a teacher to be marked electronically.

My only small objection is that you cannot change the background colour of a cell, or the font style/colour – perhaps in a future update!  Also, as I mention above, Popplet is a simple interface, so if your pupils are ready for a more complex tool, perhaps try looking at some of the other apps I have suggested.

Do you have a favourite mind-mapping app?  Let me know!