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Word is out! Dictate your thoughts on the go...

Wow pretty much sums up my thinking when I first explored this new application on the iPhone. 

I've seen and attempted (!) to use dictation software on a variety of systems in the past, all mostly, time consuming and wildly inaccurate. At first, I doubted likelihood of this software being any better, but I installed it and gave it a go!

It's really this simple...

Step 1. Load Dragon Dictation Step 2. Get ready to dictate! Step 3. Dictate!
Step 4. Edit any mistakes. Step 5. Choose an alternative? Step 6. Complete and post.



Inspired by the accuracy of this tool, I'll be introducing it to some teachers tomorrow to discuss how it can support learners who struggle with writing. This of course isn't a substitute for pupils writing, but initially, it will be highly effective at allowing unconfident writers to communicate their ideas, their story without having to worry about how words are spelt or letters are formed. This can be the cause of a huge frustration for young learners, especially those who find writing difficult further into KS2 where their peers are writing confidently and freely.

On further reflection, the dragon dictate software could be a useful tool to support speech and language work, providing that reassurance and reward when pupils are speak clearly and confidently. Lots of potential here I feel.

The software also works brilliantly on the iPod Touch and iPads. Could this be yet another use for these portable devices in the classroom?

How else could this software be used to support learning in home and school? Please add your thoughts here.


Up-levelling for Raising Standards in Writing

One of our Year 4 pupils, Ryan brought me some of his creative writing to show me and it suddenly struck me that he wasn't showing me the first draft of his fantastic writing but something quite different.

Ryan was, in fact, proud of his skills in editing and improving his own work through a process called, Up-levelling which involves reviewing the work and subsequently making amendments and additions to the writing. Needless to say I was very impressed. It's not an easy skill to find errors with your own work and then annotate it, especially for a pupil like Ryan who is conscientious and has high expectations for everything he does. 

One of my roles at Kings Road Primary School is to continually review 'what we do' and measure / analyse the the impact of 'what we do.' At the beginning of the academic year I introduced to staff Next Step targets which was founded on our earlier work to improve the Marking and Feedback policy. This earlier work was about providing pupils with greater quality feedback for improving their work. Next Step targets is a snug fit, as it lays out a pathway for children to know how to reach higher National Curriculum levels and the criteria is broken down in sub-levels. So far this is working extremely well and pupils are becoming very savvy at knowing what there Next Step target is and what this means for their own improvement and development.

What is significant about Ryan's work is that he is already beginning the next process which is to review work-in-progress and look for how he can improve this work to reach another sub-level or two. The information for improvement comes from the Next Step targets which are in every child's Writing and Numeracy books. This higher order skill is very much in the arena of pupils having a deeper understanding of learning and how to improve. Powerful stuff.

Useful hints:

  • Enlarge pupil's work from A4 to A3 using the photocopier.
  • Encourage pupils to write on alternate lines.
  • Provide pupils with level descriptors so that they know what the features are of each sub-level.
  • Pupils work in pairs, introduce the concept of 'critical friend' or 'reviewer.'
  • Edit in another colour so that the edits stand out.

The Next Step targets alone are having a significant impact on raising standards and achievements with a greater proportion of pupils achieving a sub-level or more than in previous years when comparing term-on-term.

There is much more innovation to come and this will lead to further impact on learning. Exciting times ahead.

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