ICT and Literacy Seminar: 10th December

CALL Scotland are running an ICT and Literacy Seminar on Wednesday 10th December, 9.30am-1pm.

This FREE event will explore how technology can be used to support learners with additional support needs in assessment of literacy skills. They will look at tools and techniques such as text-to-speech software for accessing reading texts, and for writing, such as spellcheckers, word prediction and speech recognition.

This will be a really worthwhile session to attend either in person or via webinar (details to sign up on the link above).  I can feedback to all afterwards as I will be going.

‘Reading by Six: How the Best Schools Do It’

The February edition of Research Roundup links to a document, Reading by Six: How the Best Schools Do It, Manchester: Ofsted.

This is a report which presents the findings of research into good practice in teaching children to read in England.

The study examined practice in 12 schools in England that were assessed as outstanding in their last inspection. The sample included four infant and nursery schools and eight full-range primary schools. Inspectors observed over 100 phonics and reading and writing sessions in order to assess how they were teaching children to read.

The research found that the best primary schools can teach virtually every child to read, regardless of socio-economic circumstances, ethnicity, the language spoken at home and most special educational needs.

The study indicated that primary schools, including infant schools, can achieve very high standards in reading if they focus on this objective. Success was found to be based on the determination that every child will learn to read, together with a sustained and sequential approach to developing speaking and listening skills.

Concentrated and systematic teaching of phonics was crucial. The best phonics teaching was characterised by planned structure, fast pace, praise and reinforcement, perceptive responses, active participation by all children and evidence of progress. Effective assessment of children’s progress and identification of difficulty in reading was also a key success factor.

Review of Teacher Education with reference to learners with difficulties

Graham Donaldson launched the report of his Review of Teacher Education last week, which he was asked to undertake by the Scottish Government. Here is a link to the Press release.

The following extracts are of particular interest:

1. Teachers should be confident in understanding and addressing the consequences of various barriers to children’s learning and their needs for additional support.

To address the serious weaknesses in literacy and numeracy, for example, all teachers need an understanding of how children, including those with additional support needs such as dyslexia, acquire and continue to develop vital skills in these fundamentals of learning throughout their schooling.”(page 19)

2. All new teachers in Scotland should be aware of the key challenges we collectively face, such as improving standards of literacy and numeracy and doing more to overcome the effects of disadvantage and deprivation on educational outcomes, and contribute personally to addressing these.

In addition to developing their subject and pedagogical knowledge and skills, therefore, all new teachers should be confident in their ability to: teach the essential skills of literacy and numeracy; address additional support needs (particularly dyslexia and autistic spectrum disorders). (page 36)

3. it is important to be explicit about the core knowledge, skills and competences that all teachers will continually refresh and improve as they move through their career and consistent in addressing them… currently they could include the following: supporting learners, including the latest legislative and research-based advice on meeting the needs of all learners including those with additional support needs such as dyslexia or autism (page 67)

The Scottish Government intends to discuss the recommendations with key partners including Dyslexia Scotland, local authorities, Schools and universities, before the Government responds.

Free book for all P1 children

Free book for all P1 children – latest Bookbug initiative supported in East Lothian

East Lothian Council reports that during the next few weeks all P1 children will receive a free book with a message from Bookbug, the Scottish Book Trust’s Early Years Gifting Programme. 

This year’s chosen book, “Manfred the Baddie” by John Fardell, won the 0-7 age category of the 2009 Royal Mail Awards for Scottish Children’s Books.

 John Fardell will be taking part in a live Glow Meet in the Early Year’s Glow Group on Thursday 25th November from 1.45 – 2.45pm.

Dyslexia: What’s it all about?

Dyslexia: What\’s it all about?

Watch the clip and think about Gavin Reid’s Checklist:

  •  Have small steps been used?
  • Are the sentences short?
  • Is the vocabulary easy to understand?
  • Have visuals been used?
  • Has large print been used?
  • Is the font style appropriate?
  • Has enough attention been given to presentation?
  • Are there opportunities for self-monitoring and self-correction?
  • Are the tasks within the child’s comfort zone?

Are we doing enough to ensure that our learners with dyslexia are thinking, doing, learning and being all they can?

Dyslexia Awareness Week: The end to all myths!

Myth: Dyslexia affects four times more boys than girls.

Fact: Although more boys are assessed than girls, research shows that dyslexia affects just as many girls as boys.

So why are more boys sent for testing than girls? It’s often because of their behaviour.

Boys traditionally are more likely to ‘act out’ their frustration when they can’t do classroom assignments or homework. They’d rather be seen to be ‘bad’ than ‘stupid’. ‘Acting out’ behaviour draws attention and teachers begin the assessment process.

Often, when girls can’t do the work, they tend to get quiet, try to become invisible and / or use their friends to support them. So traditionally, they don’t get noticed as early.

Myth: Every child who struggles with reading is a learner with dyslexia.

Fact: Dyslexia is not the only reason a child will struggle with reading. Children may lack experience in early language development for many reasons; they may have emotional issues that prevent them from availing themselves of appropriate learning opportunities; they may have or have had hearing or sight loss that impacts on the acquisition of literacy. They may have other significant difficulties which causes delay in literacy development.

Dyslexia will affect more than just literacy. Associated difficulties can be: auditory and / or visual processing of language based information, phonological awareness, oral language skills, reading fluency, working memory, sequencing, number skills, organisational ability and motor skills and co-ordination.

The more warning signs children and young people have, the more confident you can be that dyslexia may be the cause of their academic struggles. It is by considering children’s responses to the changes we make to meet their learning needs that we know whether they are learners with dyslexia or not, and to what extent dyslexia affects learning.  

Myth: Children with dyslexia are just lazy. If only they tried harder…

I’m not even going to bother with this one!

Dyslexia Awareness Week: Notes from a conference

Dyslexia Scotland has links to presentations from their September conference which are well worth examining. They range from the local to the international stage.

Local approaches:

Jennifer Drysdale – a friend and former colleague – discusses her Workshop for Literacy: a Contextual Approach for successful learning which deploys early identification of core skills development and contextual assessment to enable young learners to read. She uses contexts created around ‘real‘books to create successful learning experiences.

Pam Macdonald talks about a Paired Reading and Phonics programme whose aims are to give basic literacy skills so pupils can become independent in classes; to involve pupils in their own learning and encourage them to be active, analytical learners and to actively involve parents and guardians.

Shirley Illman describes a transition to High School programme.

A presentation from the CALL Centre gives advice on making text accessible. An accessible resource is defined as one that can be used effectively and with ease by a wide range of pupils. The resource can be adapted with the minimum of work for pupils who have a range of additional support needs. Accessible resources could refer to almost anything used in class or at home to support learning.

National approaches:

Dr Laura-Anne Currie links Education for Learners with Dyslexia to How Good is our School and Curriculum for Excellence.

Dr Margaret Crombie talks about the wonderful Assessing Dyslexia resource : ‘Assessment is integral to learning, teaching and the curriculum’. She makes strong links with the HMIE document and CfE too.

International perspective:

Dr Gavin Reid’s presentation focuses on ‘The Decade Ahead; Recent reports and current research’.  He starts with Scotland, and then discusses approaches in the U.S.A., Ireland, England and Wales, New Zealand, Canada and the Czech Republic. All of this is embedded in current theory.

The keynote speaker, Rob Long, talks about behavioural issues connected to learning difficulties.

A very useful set of presentations.

Dyslexia Awareness Week: more about East Lothian

Dyslexia Friendly Schools are

• able to identify and respond to the ‘unexpected difficulties’ that a dyslexic learner may encounter

• proactive: the delay between identification and response is kept to a minimum

• empowering schools because they recognise the importance of emotional intelligence.

Several schools in East Lothian have made the DFS Pledge. Why doesn’t your school join them? Contact Hilery Williams for more information.

Dyslexia Awareness Week: Dispelling Myths 5 + 6

Myth 5: People with dyslexia see things backwards.

Fact: Dyslexia is not caused by a vision problem, although reading difficulties very often are. Children need to have their eyes (and ears) checked regularly – and if there is a reading problem make sure the optometrist knows this. There are lots of exercises and strategies that can be used. If these sort the reading problem out, then the difficulty is not likely to be dyslexia.

Yes, they often reverse b/d, p/q, 6/9, 2/5, m/w and muddle ‘was’ and ‘saw’. But that’s caused by sequencing and directional confusion and working memory difficulties.

Myth 6: Dyslexia is rare.

Fact: Dyslexia affects about 20% of our population. That’s 1 out of every 5 people on a wide continuum of difficulty.