In this podcast, we spoke with James Emmet, Network Manager at Engineering UTC North Lincolnshire about how they use features in Office 365 to support students with Special Education Needs (SEN) and English as an Additional Language (EAL).
“We have a high number of students who are EAL, SEN, dyslexic and have low reading ages. I passionately believe that – when used in the right way – ICT is one of the most crucial tools to help these students with their learning,” James tells us.
“Our school’s main intake starts from Year 9, so it’s not long after they start before, we have to start prepping them for their GCSEs. Office 365 and key tools like Immersive Reader are essential for helping these students to learn.”
Immersive Reader is a free tool built into many of the Microsoft Products, including Microsoft Word.
“Using Immersive Reader, students can change the style and appearance of the text to help with reading comprehension,” James explains.
“For example, you can change the font, text size, text spacing and even create a virtual coloured overlay.”
Meanwhile, Picture Dictionary, the Translate tool and Read Aloud are particularly handy for supporting EAL students.
Picture Dictionary allows students to select a word they may not understand and view an explainer image, while Read Aloud turns the text on the page into speech for the student to listen to.
Both of these, combined with the Translate tool, are invaluable when it comes to improving reading comprehension in the classroom.
“We have found that Immersive Reader is being used by all of our students, not only those with EAL and SEN. In fact, one of our GCSE students who is predicted a level 7 in English regularly uses Immersive Reader to break down texts and closely analyse them,” James adds.
Immersive Reader also enables students to highlight word types, such as nouns and verbs, as well as break sentences down into syllables, which both students and their teachers have found useful for English and language-focused subjects.
“Because Immersive Reader is already built into many of the Microsoft products, we have not had to spend any extra time rolling it out into classrooms,” he tells us.
“It’s really taken off in our school. For example, we demonstrated the tool to one student and by the next lesson, the rest of their class were using it.”
The great thing about Office 365 and Immersive Reader is that it works on any connected device. Of course, this capability is more important than ever before as we see many children learning from home.
“We love the fact that Office 365 can be accessed via multiple devices and actively encourage our students to use their own devices or one from our bank of iPads. It gives their learning an extra boost.”
To find out more about Office 365 for Education, get in touch with a member of our team today.