Grange Primary School is situated in a catchment area of both private and council houses approximately four miles to the West of Swansea. It provides places for approximately 200 primary aged children including 8 planned places in a Specialist Teaching Facility for children who have hearing impairment and caters for a number of pupils in mainstream classes with a range of additional needs including Speech and Language difficulties, learning difficulties and pupils with ASD. The school also has developed additional teaching areas which are equipped with ICT equipment to support teaching and a room dedicated for speech therapy.
Mr. Geoff Davies who is ICT Co-ordinator was teaching combined age rangeYear 4/3 class within the school and wanted to use ICT to help children who were experiencing difficulties in developing their spelling skills within a mainstream class.
Using teacher assessments and NFER results from the previous Summer Mr. Davies identified some of the children within the class who could be achieving more in terms of their spelling and basic literacy skills.
He wanted to find a piece of ICT software which could be used flexibly to give the children a boost with their spelling in a mainstream class situation.
Mr. Davies visited the BETT ICT Education Show in London as part of his role as ICT Co-ordinator and took the opportunity to look at available software which would meet the needs of the children in his class and school.
He identified WordShark 3 (http://www.wordshark.co.uk) as being the software package which best fitted his and the children’s needs.
Mr. Davies used Wordshark as a class warm up activity to engage the children and chose word patterns from the National Literacy Strategy to focus on with particular groups in the class.
The software was supportive in this as it already had spelling patterns grouped together in a variety of ways such as groupings from the National Literacy Strategy, the ‘Alpha to Omega’ dyslexia book word groupings all of which are identified and set out clearly in the teacher resources and hand book.
The sounds contained within the software package were conveyed via a male recorded voice – this was perceived as a plus for the children as they were not said in a computer generated voice which can be off putting for the children.
The software takes the word groups selected by the teacher and puts them into a range of interactive spelling games which are interesting, engaging and prove to be motivating for the children. It contains visual and sound clues to help the learners identify the correct spelling of the words from the group selected.
The learners have enjoyed working both at the computer and using it as an introduction part of a lesson. They have found the interactivity of the activities to be interesting and have enjoyed the ‘fun’ aspect of learning their spelling words.
Their experiences have been made more coherent by having the handwriting sessions which the children undertake linked to the spelling patterns which the children are also working on.
The teacher has been able to track the progress of the children through their ability to spell the words focussed on in their independent work that week. This programme will continue to be used and the impact will be evaluated when NFER is used again in the Summer Term.
There is the facility within the software package to track the progress of individual children using a unique pupil logon which enables the teacher to set personal targets and individual spelling programmes.
The package has worked well within the class situation and following the analysis of its impact on the spelling of the group may be used in a wider context within the school.