This week I’ve been busy trialling an absolutely brilliant resource, the Reader Pen by Scanning Pens Ltd. And I’m very excited to announce that we have teamed up to do a Giveaway where one lucky person/school can win their very own Reader Pen! You can enter on either Facebook or Twitter. Head over to our Facebook page here or twitter here (full terms and conditions apply, please read them here)*
What is the Reader Pen?
The Reader Pen is a really clever device that children and teens can use independently to develop their literacy skills and enable them to access difficult text. They can use it to scan the text from a book, exam question or other written text and it reads the text back to them! It’s a fantastic resource for children and teens who have reading difficulties such as dyslexia.
What did we like about it?
- Easy to Use– First and foremost, the Reader Pen is really easy to use. This is incredibly important as there’s absolutely no point having a resource for children if they can’t access it properly! The whole philosophy behind the Reader Pen is helping to develop independence and by making a pen that children and teens can use themselves, they have achieved this. All children and teens need to do, is press it down gently onto the text they want it to read and then once it lights up, gently scan the text as if they were highlighting it with a highlighter pen. They then just need to press a button and it automatically reads the text out to them (as many times as they like). Once they have finished that sentence or section of text, they can then scan another section etc. Easy! Now you may be thinking, that’s fair enough..but what about if the chid/teen has a physical condition that means they don’t have a steady hand to just ‘gently scan the text’, which is a fair point. I’ve had a go at different techniques to help with this and have found if you pop a ruler on the page under the line you want to scan, you can then push the reader pen along the edge of this, which may help. As with all resources, it may be that they need to try it out for themselves and to make it work for them. And if the child/teen is left handed, don’t worry- it works just as well (I’ve seen it in action!) and if they find it easier, they can scan the text from right-to-left instead.
- Helps Children and Teens Access Text Independently– Many children will need support and help when reading. In lessons, children and teens may need a teacher or teaching assistant to read certain words out that they are finding difficult in order for them to access the information and answer questions themselves. At home children and teens may need to ask their family to help them read parts of their homework instructions. This may not sound like a ‘big deal’ to us, but to a child or teenager having to ask for help every time there is a tricky word can be really demoralising. I’ve seen first hand as a teacher and SENDCO the affect of this on children, as a result they can end up acting out, not wanting to ask for help or lacking in self confidence. What’s wonderful about this pen is its discreet and enables children and teens to access the information all by themselves, like their peers. And in doing so, helps them to feel included in lessons and equal to their peers who find reading easier. I can’t stress how important resources like this are for children and teens who find reading challenging, imagine the frustration at not being able to access information because of your reading ability- despite understanding the topic fully. I would go as far as saying, by not having tools like this we are preventing children and teens from being able to reach their potential and show us what they are capable of. This Reader Pen can help pull down any unfair barriers caused by their reading difficulties and put them on a level playing field with their peers. It can also have the potential to re-ignite that love of learning that can so often be lost when children and teens become disengaged due to literacy difficulties .
- Discreet – It’s wonderful if a parent, teacher or teaching assistant is able to help read words for the child at home or in lessons and this sort of support is incredibly valuable. But as children get older, I’ve witnessed them feeling more and more self conscious about having someone sat next to them or visibly helping them in lessons. I’ve had teenagers come to my office when I was a SENDCO, asking not to have support from a Teaching Assistant in their lesson, not because they didn’t need the support, but because they were embarrassed about needing it. Whilst the reader pen can’t replace the important support that teaching staff provide, what’s particularly fantastic about the Reader Pen from a child/teen’s point of view is its discreet! They can get help with their reading, relatively unnoticed by their peers. It even comes with earphones, so no-one else can hear it read the words either.
- Part of Usual way of Working Ready for Exams– When it comes to exams one thing SENDCO’s are usually asked to organise is the access arrangements for all the children/teens in the school that need it. These access arrangements enable pupils to have the support they need in exams in order to access them fairly. These are arrangements such as extra time, rest breaks, a scribe etc. One such arrangement is having a ‘reader’, quite simply, someone who sits with the pupil and reads any text to them that they need help with. They can be used in most (but not all) exams. Currently, if a pupil has been using a Reader Pen as part of their ‘normal way of working’ i.e. every day lessons and tasks, then instead of a person being their reader in exams the SENDCO may be able to apply for them to use their Exam Reader Pen in exams. The Exam Reader is a variant of the Reader Pen that has been approved by JCQ (Joint Council for Qualifications) to use in exams in the U.K. Not only can this be more cost and space effective for a school, but it can be preferred by many pupils who want to feel independent when they are completing exams.
- Build’s Confidence – What I particularly love about the Reader Pen is that it helps children and teens have more confidence in themselves and their abilities. In many cases, it helps them to realise it was just their reading difficulty that was standing in their way and with this resource they can fully access the lessons and books that their peers can. Also by using the pen they are practising their literacy skills, as it reads the text whilst showing the words on the screen, so importantly they are not just relying on the Reader Pen but by using it they are also developing their literacy skills!
- Extra features – I’ve really enjoyed trialling the Reader Pen and was delighted to discover all the little extra features that this clever device has. For example it can scan the text and send it to a computer. This could be particular useful if a pupil needed to copy down quotes for example, for a piece of work. It also has a dictionary (well…a few different dictionaries to choose from) enabling them to find out the meaning of a word. And it conveniently reads the definition out to them! And if that wasn’t enough, it also has French and Spanish dictionaries- helping to support children with English as an additional language.
- Additional Resources– As well as the reader pen, Scanning Pens have extra resources to support children. One of these is the ‘Helping Hands Detective Agency’ and ‘Literacy Passport’. The Helping Hands Detective Agency is a fantastic idea, it’s a booklet that primary and KS3 aged children can use to learn and practise using the Reader Pen’s function. It has fun, reading and comprehension activities that provide engaging opportunities for children to have a go at the scan and listen, dictionary, scan to file and scan and record functions of the pen. It’s a brilliant way of building children’s confidence with the Reader Pen as well as enabling you, the parent/teachers, to check they understanding how to use it. The Literacy Passport is such a useful resource too. If you’re a SENDCO and are passing information about a child to their next teacher/school this passport is a fantastic pack that you can complete to inform their future teachers on the child’s reading difficulties, learning needs and intervention strategies. It also provides information for their next teacher on how to use the Reader Pen effectively.
Where can you buy a Reader Pen?
Head to their website here to find out more and to buy. And if you’re feeling lucky, enter our giveaway either on Facebook or Twitter to try and win one for your child or your school (full terms and conditions apply, please read them here)!
*Please note we were given a sample for the purpose of this review and this post is sponsored. All words and opinions are our own.