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textThing (Topologika)

See textThing on theTopologika web site.

Read the TEEM review
Read review by Victoria Crivelli - British Dyslexia Association
Read the review from Primary English Magazine (NATE)

Simon Midgley's Review


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This was my first attempt at programming for 10 years - I decided that I needed to get some control back and try to speed up the development of my ideas. HA! It's only taken a year or so to get this thing up and running.

Here's the idea: We know that there are several literacy related activities that work pretty well on a computer - dull though they may be. Developing Tray lead the way here, helping students explore a piece of text and work on their reading skills. There's also been some pretty good implementations of Cloze procedure, spelling tests, sequencing etc. The good thing about these kinds of packages is that they're content-free - teachers can put in text that is immediately relevant to the student. The bad thing about them is that they usually require a significant amount of time to format the text to be used.

What I wanted to do with TextThing was to provide a tool which would allow teachers to spend the minimum amount of time entering the text and provide the maximum amount of activities for the student. TextThing will take text from a variety of sources - most significantly from the Windows clipboard, but also HTML files and plain text files. It then provides a series of 'instant formatting' buttons that will organise the text for you - stripping out HTML tags, removing all those extra linefeeds, tab characters, redundant spaces etc. Typically it should take less than a minute to prepare text for the package. Once the text is formatted students are offered nine activities based on the text:
  • Disclosure
  • Cloze
  • Punctuation
  • Spelling
  • Crosswords/wordsearches (printed)
  • Sequencing
  • Accurate reading
  • Prediction
  • Anagrams (sort of)
I've also given it two distinct 'looks'. The examples on this page are both of the same task, but one uses the primary look, the other the adult look.

The whole thing is complemented with a huge array of options and ways of organising texts so that you can link certain options to certain texts, give specific students a specific list of texts to choose from, link specific options to specific students and so on. Options available include setting Cloze gap frequency, number of sentences to be sequenced, focus on specific letter groups etc. - you really can tailor this any way you want it.

PLUS! When the the world is not enough...
The PLUS version is identical as far as students are concerned, but there's been a lot of tightening up to help teachers get the most out of it with the least pain. The PLUS version replaces the original.

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