Not before time the focus is on injecting ICT into subject teaching, and English should be a priority. To see what is on offer, go to the Association Village at BETT. Actis and the National Association for Teaching of English (Nate) are helping to drive the initiative. The first conference will be held at Beaumanor Hall, Loughborough on February 27 2004 (details from www.nate.org.uk and ww.becta.org.uk).
Start your tour of BETT by visiting Indigo Visions, a subsidiary of RM responsible for providing the materials for the English and Literacy Continuing Professional Development.
Digital video continues to advance and Microsoft has made a useful contribution with Windows MovieMaker2, which is free. All you need is Windows XP and the ability to download the new version from the Microsoft website. The Ulead and Pinnacle software should also be sought out. The stylish Apple iPod (from pound;249) that now works with Windows could well start to replace the traditional tape recorder. It is a compact player that can also record, and in addition to music can hold readings of books.
Not new, but none the worse for that, the IT Learning Exchange and 2Simple are launching a new version of Developing Tray (pound;29) - a revisted Devtray. Here you can insert a text with gaps that students can fill by making intelligent predictions or guesses. You can use any text in the program, so it is useful for early readers and for students of sonnets.
Another old favourite is ClozePro (from pound;90) from Crick Software. You can insert text and take out words to produce material that students of any age group have to restore.
RM has worked on the tablet idea and its new Tablet PC (pound;999), aimed at teachers, is both elegant and functional. It offers both keyboard and handwriting options as well as an improved screen area. You can even use a pen to edit digital video. Teachers who have already moved to tablets are beginning to report improvements in handwriting in younger users eager to make their writing readable by the machine.
Another interesting piece of kit that will certainly have a place is WizCom's Reading Pen (pound;198.99). The user holds the pen, guides it over text and the words under the "nib" are read to the user. It will have all kinds of use in making texts available to those with dyslexia, or sight or reading problems.
The difficulty of getting into the computer room is often cited as a reason for English teachers being reluctant to use ICT. If that is the case in your school, then go to see the progress of wireless technology and the way it works with laptops. Centerprise International will be showing a wireless network that includes laptops, PCs, whiteboards and tablets.
The inexpensive Logotron School Office (pound;24) could well save you money. It is based on the freely available OpenOffice and if you want a workaday word processor then this could be for you. It is distributed by Logotron and contains some of the features that you find in Microsoft Office. For inexpensive DTP and image manipulation, have a look at the Serif products.
Archives are popular. ProQuest Learning Library (from pound;600 for a year's subscription), ProQuest Learning Literature (from pound;195), and ProQuest Learning News (from pound;250) all have material that will be attractive to English teachers. The Teachit website is another archive and grows all the time. You only have to talk to teachers in secondary schools to hear how much it is valued. The Teachit plus section (from pound;29.95) is subscription-based. Easiteach Literacy (pound;69) should raise interest. RM now has a great deal of expertise in designing materials for whole-class teaching. Single-use programs can be found with Write Away, The Writing House and Just Write (pound;29.38 each), which are based on successful 4Learning TV programs. The CD-Roms offer extension activities so that KS1 and 2 pupils can build on what they have learnt.
Sherston and Softease have got together to produce Tizzy's First Tools (pound;85) an integrated set of ICT tools for children aged four to seven years. Using the flexibility of Textease, the program enables children to explore ICT tools, such as Write, Paint, Publish, Move, Chart, Decide and Present.
Finally, the Radiowaves website (www.radiowaves.co.uk) contains a network of online radio stations providing schools with their own stations and a broadcast platform that can be heard across the world through the Internet.
We don't need to spell out how useful this can be, with an impact on all aspects of English and literacy.
If you only look at three things ...
RM Tablets (from pound;749) The best innovation for the PC in the last five years.
RM Stand D50E50 Tel: 08709 086969 (Primary) 08709 086868 (Secondary) www.rm.com
Actis Try Word Lab in English Online (70ppupil). Full of ingenious ways of playing with words.
Actis Z75 Tel: 0115 944 8330 www.actis.co.uk
Microsoft OneNote and Windows XP Media Center Edition. More innovation from Microsoft.
Microsoft D30 and D34 www.microsoft.comukeducation
Other contacts... 4 Learning D42 Tel: 08701 246 444 www.channel4.comlearning
Apple E34 Tel: 0800 039 1010 www.apple.comukeducation
Centerprise International Tel: 01256 378000 F20 www.centerprise.co.uk
Crick Software SN14 Tel: 01604-671691 www.cricksoft.com
Indigo Visions X10 Tel: 0161 492 1400 www.3t.co.uk
IT Learning Exchange C54 Tel: 020 7749 3777 www.title.londonmet.ac.uk
Logotron X34 Tel: 01223 425558 www.logo.comcatviewschool-office.html
Nate Tel: 0114 255 5419 www.nate.org.uk
ProQuest H44 Tel: 01223 271420 www.proquestlearning.co.uk
RadioWaves Tel: 0113 246 9989 www.radiowaves.co.uk
Serif X90 Tel: 0800 376-6868 www.serif.com
Softease C56 Tel: 01335 343421 www.tizzysfirsttools.co.uk
TAG Learning F50 Tel: 01474 357 350 www.taglearning.com
Teachit Tel:01225 446289 www.teachit.co.uk
WizCom SN17 Tel: 0800 1 613 713 www.scanningpens.co.uk