Programs like Microsoft's Word improve all the time. It can be used creatively in English and each update seems to increase the scope. Editing text becomes much easier because now there is a clipboard that can store up to 12 passages. It is like having a giant pasteboard where you can park extracts until you are ready to reassemble them.
The grammar checker has also improved remarkably. And Word will do HTML or Web pages without you even thinking about it. The power of hyperlinks can be explored; its simplicity itself to create a link from the page that you are working on to virtually any document that is on your hard disk or on the Internet. This kind of linking will be at the heart of writing in the future and is essential for secondaries.
Working in alliance with Word is the new Encarta World Dictionary. It is a great piece of work and if you load it on the network or your hard disk then you can integrate it into your word processor. The dictionary and thesaurus are then just a key press away.
A wise person once said that Word is a program for those who can write and some of the educational word processors are for those who are learning. Textease continues to stand above most of the other word processors for upper primary. Some enhancements have been made. Male and female speech has been added in as well as French and English instructions, menus and dialogues. There is now an Apple Macintosh version.
The people at SPA have the word processor WriteOn. It has features that many primary teachers find valuable: 20 voices, works with whole words, speaking spell checker and summary of misspelled words. SEMERC has produced a word processor called Ready for Writing which has talking word banks and audio support. The programme is flexible and can be customised. Black Ct's Stickers, looks and behaves like a magnetic board and is a program that will introduce simple desktop publishing.
Digital cameras might seem inappropriate in English but any teacher who is thinking ahead knows that words and images are increasingly inseparable. The cameras give you the freedom to take vast quantities of pictures and, because there is no film, the only expense is the cost of a battery. RM has the magnificent Fuji range of high quality cameras. TAG Developments are presenting a digital camera, Jam C@m, at pound;59.95.
The online software collections are growing into impressive resources for English. Argosphere in its public and subscription versions has some good tools for literacy. RM's Living Library is used in some schools as a resource to support the teaching of English and the delivery of the Literacy Hour. Primary teachers will find a variety of literacy resources including Web links to online stories. Secondary teachers and students will find Web links to online literature and writers and poets. The news section provides the opportunity to contrast the styles of tabloid and broadsheet newspapers.
AngliaCampus uses a different approach: material derived from teachers. It also puts on special events. Recently, the poet Ian McMillan hosted an online event where he answered questions about his work.
A disk on The English Romantic Poets was published a couple of years ago by Headstrong. The follow-up will be introduced at BETT, Silver Hooks and Golden Sands. It covers poetry and prose from 1360 to 1900.
Finally, if you have ever fancied a trip to Nashville, this is one of the prizes on offer from Advantage Learning Systems. Its Accelerated Reader is designed to motivate pupils to read more books and books of a higher quality. The system is apparently in use in 40,000 US schools (see p73).
Microsoft Stand: D30, D34 www.microsoft.comukGranada Learning Stand: SN14F40 www.granada-learning.co.ukSoftease Stand: M22 www.textease.comRM Stand: D50 E50 www.rm.comHeadstrong Stand: Q46 www.headstrong.demon.co.ukAngliaCampus Stand: F44TC13TC14 www.angliacampus.comAdvantage Stand:M40 www.advlearn.comSPA Stand: G58 www.spasoft.co.ukBlack Cat Stand: F70 www.blacksoftware.comArgosphere Stand: M70 www.argosphere.netTAG Stand: F50 www.tagdev.co.uk