©2020 by Changing the Tale. Proudly created with Wix.com

 

Writing Support for Young Learners: A Review of Clicker 8

Updated: Mar 17


What is Clicker?

New for 2020, Clicker 8 is Crick Software's inclusive literacy support tool for primary school pupils, with exciting new features. The basis of Clicker is a child-friendly word processor but it is so much more than this. It enables learners to tackle writing tasks with realistic speech feedback, talking spell checkers and word prediction. With a whole host of interactive features, Clicker is the perfect software for writing support, as well as creating challenge for primary school pupils.


Who are Crick Software?

Crick Software believe that too many children struggle with their learning due to their literacy difficulties. Their products are created to overcome those difficulties so that every child can achieve their potential.


Crick Software have won numerous education awards over the years, including 11 Bett Awards, the English Speaking Union President’s Award and a Millennium Product Award.



So, what can you do with Clicker 8?

One of the best features of Clicker 8 is the speech function. By right-clicking on a word, pupils are able to review writing as they go by hearing the word they have typed or chosen (in a child's voice). They can then make their own corrections and add to their writing. Entire sentences can even be highlighted so that learners can hear them in their entirety, making the 'proof-reading' process much more accessible to learners of all abilities.


The predictor function gives options for likely next words. Learners can again right-click to hear these words read aloud and choose the best option for their writing.


And for learners who need more support, there are writing sets available. Pupils are able to simply click words on the grid to make sentences. With an image to support, they can then build sentences word by word. In addition to this simple sentence building, pupils can work at a more developed level, with scaffolded writing to help them create meaningful sentences.


A great example of how software can be adapted across year groups, ability levels and subjects are the word banks too. These can be organised in a variety of ways such as alphabetical tabs or topics, for example. As with most of the options on the software, learners are able to click on the word for it to appear in the sentence and right-click to hear the word read aloud. There are hundreds of word banks available for a whole range of subjects but my favourite part of the software is the flexibility; it is incredibly easy to build up your own resources from scratch.


It is also really easy for pupils to move between the clicker sets, using the tabs at the bottom of the windows, depending on the level of support they need. It's a great tool for encouraging independent learning, particularly amongst less confident writers.



While Clicker 8 provides so many ready-made scaffolds and supports to be used alongside classroom learning, the ability to develop one's own resources are where it really comes into its own. After building your own sets, such as sentence sets, connect sets or word banks, you are able to save them to on your own desktop or shared folders. This is great for whole class use or sharing across year groups. It can be adapted to be made appropriate for individual learning, adding support or challenge, as required.


One of the best aspects of Clicker 8 is the ability to create and edit cloze documents in seconds. You simple type or paste text and select words to remove. You can choose options to remove words by frequency, type etc. There is also the function to have different ways for learners to complete the task. For example, you can give them custom words to choose from, leave blank spaces etc. This is a brilliant way to support the teaching of reading comprehension and language skills in the classroom, with a super simple way to support or challenge learners, as required. This would certainly save hours of preparation time as a busy primary school teacher and can be completed in Clicker or printed out for classroom use.


Assessment

As teachers, assessment is an important consideration when introducing new software to school life. The analytics section of Clicker offers huge insights into learners' writing and can feed into assessments via the handy pie charts. These show percentages of words input in different ways, such as using the keyboard, predictor, clicker sets and spell check. There are also tabs which show further information e.g. on the predictor section, it shows the words chosen, what was typed before the prediction and whether speech was used to listen to the word. Similarly, on the clicker sets, it shows the grids used, words selected and if they were listened to.


All of these tools mean that you can make informed decisions about each pupil’s current support levels and progress-boosting next steps.


Who is it recommended for?

Having thoroughly tested the software with different tasks, Clicker 8 appears to be ideal for all primary school aged pupils as it offers such a varied amount of support and challenge for learners, no matter their writing ability. It genuinely does help children to create meaningful pieces of writing, one sentence at a time.


There are also really quick and easy to follow tutorials to use when setting up the software, making it ideal for busy teachers. Learning Grids is an ever-growing bank of free, ready-made Clicker resources that will save you hours of lesson preparation time too. They've been created by Crick Software's team of experienced teachers, with thousands of engaging activities and grids covering a wide range of curriculum topics to choose from.


How do we get Clicker software at my school and how much is it?

3 year Clicker licences start from £350 but all pricing and set up information is available on the Crick Software website.


I used Clicker 8 that is compatible with Windows/Mac but the ClickerWriter app is also available for iPad/Chromebook. Do let me know if you'd like me to demo Clicker 8 during any school training sessions and I can show you how it all works in action. Or email info@cricksoft.com to arrange a free demo with one of their education consultants or a free 28-day trial of either product.