Years ago, an incredible teacher showed me how to use Clicker to support my emerging writers in first and second grade. A few months ago, I noticed that Crick Software had come out with their new software, Clicker 6, so I decided to pilot it with a few of the students who I work with 1:1. My students range in age from 7-11 years old.
I have used this program primarily with students who struggle with writing, particularly in the areas of spelling, vocabulary and expansion of ideas. What I have found is that Clicker can take on various forms of support depending on the focus of the educator. When working with students on developing their writing skills, the first thing I do is set a focus point. This helps me isolate the skill we’re working on to set clear and specific goals for the learner. If my focus point is for the student to be able to use new vocabulary then Clicker takes on a different use than if my focus is on expanding writing using sensory details.
Over the past few months I have experimented with Clicker 6 in a few ways and it has proven to support my students in four specific target areas. Below is a brief description of how I used Clicker to support my learners in each area.
Clicker can be used creatively to support students in developing and expanding their vocabulary. For some students, I used Clicker to expand vocabulary across content areas like science and social studies. A secondary goal when working on writing in content areas, is always to boost comprehension of complex concepts in these content areas.
In addition, I used Clicker to expand vocabulary for narrative and essay writing. A handful of students continuously use words like happy, sad, said so a major push for those students was to replace those heavily used words with more advanced or mature vocabulary such as delighted, gloomy and responded.
There are a few ways to use Clicker to develop vocabulary. You can:
- Use the Clicker word banks that are already created.
- Create your own Clicker word banks – and I often did this with my students as an excersize. They helped me generate words and we entered them together.
- Have students generate their own terms as they write and use the word-predictor to support with spelling. This is particularly useful for students who struggle with spelling and would prefer not to take risks in their writing.
The word prediction tool was particularly helpful for one of my students who demonstrated extreme anxiety over spelling. The word-prediction tool supported this student tremendously. One warning I would give is that it can become a clutch if allowed. At first I allowed the student to use it whenever “necessary” but it turned out that our depictions of the word “necessary” were not the same. We came to an agreement that we would only use the tool during the editing phase of writing, which was a much better use of the tool in this specific case.
Revision & Editing
One of the most challenging values to instill in young learners is that of reflection, yet in writing it is the ticket to success. Clicker supports the processes of revision & editing in a variety of ways:
- Audio playback allows students to hear their writing read aloud. This supports auditory learners who may not pick up on written errors, but can isolate them when experienced through listening. With Clicker 6, you can adjust settings for playback including voice options and when to playback.
- For visual learners, there are highlighting tools that encourage students to read in chunks. This can support students who can not take in large amounts of text, and need a more isolated approach.
- The word-predictor can be used to adjust spelling.
- The vocabulary-banks can be used to swap bland words for their spicy counterparts.
Planning & Organizing
Many of my students struggle with planning & organization, especially with essays. I work hard to scaffold the process of planning and building paragraphs around specific ideas. I was able to use Clicker to suppor this by typing in my own graphic organizers. They looked different for each student, depending on their level and specific goals.
Hopes & Dreams
Clicker has supported my learners and I plan to continue using it. My goal is to train families on using Clicker at home so that they can support their children with homework, creative writing activities and extended skill practice. One of my favorite things about Clicker is the ease of converting a Clicker document to a Microsoft Word document. That makes the transition smoother as students grow and mature. My hopes & dreams for the future of Clicker 6:
- I would love to see a built-in tool for the planning phase. I would love to have the option of a setting up Clicker so that as soon as a student opened up a new document, a planning tool popped up. This would encourage students to always plan before writing! There could be different planning tools based on the type of writing the student was working on.
- I would love to see Clicker build a bridge between the school and the home. Some of my students use computers in school and at home but they only have Clicker access in one place. It would be great if there was a way to store student work in a way that allowed students to continue working on their stories in both locations.
Thanks so much to the team at Crick Software for building a tool that supports such a wide range of learners in so many different aspects of writing!