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Accessible curriculum through edtech

New Zealand School leading the way with accessible curriculum through Chromebooks and Read&Write for Google

Posted by Rebecca Paddick | June 09, 2015 | International

At a glance – About Waiau Pa School
●Number of students at Waiau Pa School: 350
●Google Apps for Education
●1:1 Chromebooks in the classroom
●Waiau Pa provides a strong emphasis on literacy and numeracy
●The school enhances student learning through ICT and a specialist music programme

The Challenge
●Waiau Pa required a resource compatible with Google Apps for Education to support their students with learning needs

The Solution
●Discovering a Word Prediction and Speech-to-Text tool that can integrate with Google Docs and Chromebooks to support students. Read&Write for Google has enabled students to work confidently and independently

Waiau Pa School is a rural school in New Zealand. There are approximately 350 students in years 1–8. The year 7 & 8 students attend Technology at Rosehill Intermediate and are then zoned for Rosehill College. At Waiau Pa there is a strong emphasis on literacy and numeracy and the school recognises the talents and abilities of all students through a range of varied programmes. The school enhances student learning through ICT and a specialist music programme. There is a high standard of teaching and learning with emphasis on creating an environment where students have fun and feel safe.

Waiau Pa enables 1:1 computing through the use of Chromebooks. Andrea Williams’ Year 5 & 6 class was the first to use the Chromebooks and she struggled to find the apps and programs that she could use daily.

Andrea had a high level of students in her class with learning needs, so she started by using speech-to-text apps to help with fluency when writing but was desperately trying to find a word predictive program.  

When Andrea was looking for a word predictive program for her Year 5 & 6 class, she found Read&Write for Google and began implementing it with her students and couldn’t be happier with the results.  

She first started using it with two high-needs students. In working with Ethan, one specific student with dyslexia, Andrea started using the text-to-speech and prediction as he struggles to read and make sense of a whole word. The new tool was a revelation for him as he was able to write more freely, focusing on the initial sounds of words and not getting stressed by trying to read and spell every word. Ethan would have previously been frustrated reading his work back to himself as he couldn't understand what he had written.

Next, Andrea introduced highlighting and text-to-speech options for the whole class to use. Students would use the text-to-speech function to make sure their work made sense. She gave colour instructions for highlighting which the students found extremely helpful – for example red highlights for adjectives, blue for similes, pink for speech, etc.
This would allow students to monitor their own writing and be able to instantly see
what they needed to add to their work,
giving students more ownership and a much clearer understanding of what they needed to include in their work. This was the first time Andrea’s students were able to use every feature on one toolbar on Read&Write for Google, rather than several different apps; saving so much time.

Waiau Pa students have found word prediction, speech-to-text, and the ability to play back what they have written to be hugely motivating, even for seniors.

The students look at writing differently and objectively and now have the confidence to write independently. It frees up teachers to be more available to support others rather than being 1:1 with struggling learners.

“To find a product that gives these students independence, confidence and the ability to complete tasks to the best of their ability has been wonderful,” says Andrea.

The fact that Read&Write for Google is an all-in-one toolbar in one place has saved Andrea and her students hours of time as they previously used different apps for different areas of support.


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