Learning grid for screen literacy;Software

Sally McKeown

Gary is a young man with a lot to say. He grasps ideas quickly and is very articulate, but his writing is often incomprehensible because most of the words he uses are misspelt. He is interested in science, but much of the specialist terminology is beyond his spelling skills. Wordbar, a new product from Crick Software, gives him easy access to vocabulary such as "intestine", "metabolism" and "enzyme". It lets him write what he knows about the digestive system, for instance.

Word Bar is essentially a very simple idea. It is a series of grids containing words or phrases, including personal dictionaries. Users click on cells to insert text and to hear words. John and Ann Crick are particularly proud of Wordbar. "What we wanted was to produce a package which would help those working in the secondary or adult sector," says John. With grids on Vietnam, Dickens and the Cold War, these materials look and feel quite different from Clicker.

Ann Crick is the author of the files. She teaches children with moderate learning difficulties and has been impressed by the work done both in Britain and Australia on writing frames. "There has been a shortage of software to support the work done by classroom teachers," she says. "Too often writing can be unrelated to other areas of the curriculum and is seen as something that English teachers do."

The frames cover a range of genres including narrative, persuasive writing and formulating arguments. The "useful phrases" encourage fluency and also act as a memory prompt. They help students to develop more sophisticated, structured writing, with a range of syntax.

Sally McKeown Wordbar CD-Rom for Windows PCs pound;50 (single-user); pound;75 (five-user); pound;125 (10-user); pound;175 (15-user); pound;225, (20-user); pound;475, (50-user).

Site licence (pound;875) Crick Software 01604 671691 www.cricksoft.com

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Sally McKeown

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