HEATHER MINTON, HEAD OF LEARNING SUPPORT FROM BEAU SOLEIL, SWITZERLAND

Beau Soleil is an International boarding school situated in the Swiss Alps. The school has a French section and the students are working towards the French Baccalaureate (lessons taught in French) and an International Section in which the students are working towards IGCSE and International Baccalaureate exams (lessons taught in English). The age range is from 12 to 18 years old and there are 240 students in the school, the majority of whom are boarders. The school attracts mainly attracts students whose mother tongue is not English.

I first saw Reader Pens at the ECIS conference in Nice where I was given a demonstration of the pen. My initial reaction was how the students would be able to use it discretely in class and also its use in exam situations.

We ordered a number of pens over the year after trialling a couple. Students were very positive about the pens and found them very easy to use. Initially I found them a bit fiddly, trying to move my way around the different options, but the students soon showed me what to do! One student was so delighted with the pen that he purchased his own.

One feature I found very useful was that I was able to go back and look at which words the students had ‘read’ using the pen. I was then able to use these words to practise their reading at another time.

We used one of the reader pens for an IGCSE maths exam in place of a human reader. It saved us time and money in that we did not have to use a member of staff to sit with the student to read the occasional word that came up. We are planning to use the pens more frequently in exam situations this year and are hoping that the IB board will recognise them so we can use them for the IB exams [The C-Pen Exam Reader is now approved for use in IB exams, please contact us for more information if required]. This would have a big impact on our staffing. As the exam pens are orange they are easily recognised in exam situations.

Students were allocated a pen and asked to sign a paper to say what condition it was in and that they would pay to replace it if they broke it. In fact, the pens were returned at the end of the year in excellent condition.

Staff have found the pens to be useful and do not disrupt the class. Students like to use them when doing independent study when there is no one around to help them.

An improvement for me would be to do similar pens in French and Spanish [The C-Pen Exam Reader now (Sept 2016) supports English, French, Italian, Spanish & German, The C-Pen Reader currently (Sept 2016) supports English & Spanish.].

I would definitely recommend reader pens to other colleagues.

Gillian Sams, Head of Learning Support (Senior School) from Tanglin Trust School, Singapore provided the following feedback about the C-Pen Exam Reader & C-Pen Reader:

Describe your school:

TTS has more than 90 years’ experience of providing British based education to the international community in Singapore, we provide a unique learning environment for children from Nursery right through to Sixth Form (3-18 years).

Did you have the opportunity to trial the pen before purchase?

Yes, we trialled the C610E Exam Reader and C610R Reader Pen scanner with students from Y7-13 before purchasing some exam pens.

If you did trial the pen what was the main reason for going ahead with an order?

The C610E Exam Reader pen was superior to another model of exam pen that we trialled.

Have the students expressed any comments or thoughts on the Exam Reader/Reader?

The reading pens have been a big hit with our dyslexic students. They love the discrete nature of them and the increased independence that they offer.

Within the classroom environment have teaching and support staff noticed any positive outcomes for the students?

Teachers and learning support assistants have been very enthusiastic about the introduction of the reading pens. They like the fact that the students can use headphones and work independently.

In what capacity is the pen mainly being used for?

The pens are being used to access text in class. They are also being used for internal tests in KS3. Next year, we intend to use the reading pens for mock examinations and if they are successful, where permissible, for external examinations.

How would you describe your students’ emotional well-being and independence in relation to the Exam Reader/Reader pen?

For students who have specific difficulties decoding text, the exam pens have been invaluable in raising their self-esteem, as the pens have allowed them to understand the subject content independently. They have not been useful for those students who do not understand the meaning of the written word.

Has the pen had any direct business/financial impacts on the school? I.E. staffing, time management etc?

The reading pens have made the logistics of staffing internal tests easier. Before the introduction of the reading pens, support staff were pulled out of class to act as readers.

Would you recommend the pen to other colleagues?

Yes, I already have! The junior school learning support team is conducting its own trial.

Any other comments you would like to add?

One of our sixth formers has persuaded her parents to buy her a pen. She feels that it will be an invaluable tool for university!

 

Stephanie Connolly, Learning Support Teacher at Kings' School Al Barsha

Your name

Stephanie Connolly

Your role

Learning Support Teacher (Primary)

Your school name

Kings School Al Barsha

Describe your school?

British school within the Middle East following the British curriculum, international student population, located in Dubai, school ranges from FS to secondary.

Did you trial the Reader initially, if so, what “review process” did you follow and what conclusions did you draw?

We trialled the Reader pen as we thought this would be very beneficial for the majority of our dyslexic students. We trialled it within classroom settings, 1:1 work and during standardised assessments. We reviewed the comments of the children about the Reader and also took into consideration the practicality of the pen during assessments and whether results differed from when the assessment was done without the pen.

The conclusions we drew upon were that the pen showed successful integration into the work environment in both classroom and assessment settings. The pen was easily managed by the children and provided a confidence boost for those children who struggle with de-coding, reading long texts and also for those children who are new to learning the English language. The Exam Pen is also being trialled within secondary on the lead up to GCSE’s, this has been successful so far and will be implemented during GCSE exams.

What do you most like about the Exam Reader/Reader?

Its compact style, the manoeuvrability and adaptability within various settings and the confidence boost it has provided those children we have used the pen with.  

Please describe how you are using the Exam Reader/Reader?

Within the classroom, 1:1, reading groups, specialist lessons such as dyslexia intervention sessions and with assessments.

Please describe how the use of the Exam Reader/Reader has affected your students?

The Reader automatically boosted our children’s confidence, it almost allowed them to relax when provided with the pen. Our students within our LS department have shown a high level of comprehension knowledge when provided with a reader but struggle individually with reading fluency, speed and de-coding and will most often avoid reading activities. The pen took away those stresses that they have built up with regards to reading, within one particular standardised assessment the child showed a significant increase in his results when re-assessed with the reader pen; the comprehension standardised score went from 82 to 124 when the pen was implemented.

What do the students say about the pen?

Students have said how helpful the pen has been, how it allows them to highlight one piece of text and then go back and listen back to the whole text, providing them the ability of ‘re-reading’, the children also said that they were happy to do a reading activity when the pen was provided.

Please describe any other areas in school you feel the Exam Reader/Reader has helped?

Standardised scores for in school assessments. GCSE exams within Kings.

How likely are you to recommend the Exam Reader / Reader to others?

I would highly recommend the reader pen to any school who is aiming to become a dyslexia friendly school. I would also recommend the pen to parents who have children with reading difficulties to increase their confidence and comprehension ability.