SOLO_project_2012_3upSET-BC is excited to be collaborating with Bridges Canada and Don Johnston to support a classroom based project around the use of SOLO 6. SOLO 6 is a suite of popular assistive technology supports including a text reader, graphic organizer, talking word processor and word prediction (Don Johnson, 2012). Twelve teaching teams (consisting of 1 classroom teacher, and 1 resource teacher) from across British Columbia have been accepted into the project. Each accepted school has received an unlimited site license to SOLO 6, meaning that any student, at any time can have access to the software to support them in their reading, writing and researching in the classroom. Moreover, an unlimited site license allows for students to install the program on their home computers to support them in completing work at home.

SOLO 6 is a valuable tool to support teachers in implementing the principles of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) in their classrooms. On our initial training day on May 3, 2012, Lisa Salloum (Principal of Bramblewood Elementary in Coquitlam, British Columbia) spoke to the success her previous school (Birchland Elementary in Coquitlam) had with implementing SOLO 6 in alignment with the principles of UDL. Her inspiring message sparked excitement with the participating project teachers and set a positive tone for the day. Next up were Ruth Ziolkowski (President of Don Johnston) and Claire Zeijdel (General Manager of Bridges Canada). Ruth and Claire provided a full day of training on the four software tools (Read: Outloud, Write: Outloud, Draft:Builder and Co:Writer) intertwining their software instruction closely with best practices in reading and writing instruction.

To enable all project teams to join in, the training day was held in video-conference format from Byrne Creek Secondary School in Burnaby British Columbia. Byrne Creek connected to three outside sites (Sechelt, Ladysmith and Prince George). Though a few technical hiccups happened throughout the day it was fantastic to enable access to such a valuable training opportunity for teams across British Columbia.

A special thanks to Bridges Canada and Don Johnston for helping us to make this possible for British Columbia schools!