Scottish Children’s Book Awards – accessible formats

The shortlisted titles for this year’s Scottish Children’s Book Awards were announced on August 28th by the Scottish Book Trust. The Book Awards scheme encourages children in schools throughout Scotland to read a selection of the best Scottish children’s books of the past year and to vote for their favourite in three age categories, Bookbug Readers (3 – 7), Younger Readers (8 – 11) and Older Readers (12 – 16). Here are this year’s shortlisted titles:

Bookbug Readers

  • Robot Rumpus by Sean Taylor, illustrated by Ross Collins
  • Princess Penelope and the Runaway Kitten by Alison Murray
  • Lost for Words by Natalie Russell

Younger Readers

  • Precious and the Mystery of the Missing Lion by Alexander McCall Smith
  • Pyrates Boy by E.B. Colin
  • Attack of the Giant Robot Chickens by Alex McCall

Older Readers

  • Mosi’s War by Cathy MacPhail
  • Dark Spell by Gill Arbuthnot
  • The Wall by William Sutcliffe

CALL Scotland has produced accessible versions of the shortlisted books to allow children with print disabilities (which make it hard for them to access a standard book) to take part in the scheme.  Read Allan Wilson’s excellent blog here for full details.

‘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.

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.

Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief

Rick Riordan, author of Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief, Live webcast through GLOW.

Tuesday 2nd November 2.00-2.45pm

Join author Rick Riordan – creator of Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief – as he brings the gods of Ancient Greece and Egypt explosively to life.

 Sign up now.

The Lightning Thief is a 2005 fantasy adventure novel based on Greek mythology.  I have not read it nor seen the film but have gathered that the main character is a learner with dyslexia. The author Rick Riordan is an English teacher whose son has dyslexic difficulties.

Dyslexia Awareness Week: Dispelling Myths 3 + 4

Myth 3: Intelligence and ability to read are related. So if someone doesn’t read well, they can’t be very bright. Equally, very able children cannot be dyslexic.

Fact: Dyslexia is not related to intelligence. Many people with dyslexia are very able and accomplish amazing things as adults. Follow the link http://www.bdadyslexia.org.uk/about-dyslexia/famous-dyslexics.html to read more about famous people who are learners with dyslexia.

Myth 4: People with dyslexia cannot read.

Fact: Most people with dyslexia can read — up to a point. But they will “hit the wall” in reading development at some point. It is not necessarily the decoding or recognition of unfamiliar words that causes the most difficulties once early skills are acquired, but reading rate.

It is spelling that separates learners with dyslexia from those who struggle with reading for some other reason.

If the child works hard at studying the spelling list using multisensory techniques, s/he may be able to learn the list long enough to do “okay” on Friday’s test. But, they have more problems retaining those spelling words from one week to the next and transferring them to free writing. The overload on memory and processing ability is often just too much for them to do everything at once.

Dyslexia Awareness Week: Dispelling Myths 1 + 2

Myth: Dyslexia does not exist.

Fact: Dyslexia is one of the most researched and documented conditions that affect children. Over 30 years of independent, scientific, replicated, published research exists on dyslexia.

Myth: Dyslexia is a “catch all” term.

Fact: That was true back in the 1960’s and 1970’s before the research existed. Here is Scotland we have a research-based definition of dyslexia, as follows:

Dyslexia can be described as a continuum of difficulties in learning to read, write and/or spell, which does not respond well to conventional teaching techniques. These difficulties often do not reflect an individual’s cognitive ability and are often not typical of performance in other areas.

The affect of dyslexia as a barrier to learning varies in degree according to the learning environment and the demands of the curriculum as there are associated difficulties such as:

  • auditory and /or visual processing of language-based information
  • phonological awareness
  • oral language skills and reading fluency
  • short-term and working memory
  • sequencing and directionality
  • number skills
  • organisational ability

Motor skills and co-ordination are often affected.

Dyslexia exists in all cultures and across the range of abilities and socio-economic backgrounds.  It is neurological in origin; a hereditary, life-long condition.  Unidentified, dyslexia is likely to result in low self esteem, high stress, atypical behaviour, and low achievement. 

Dyslexia Awareness Week: Myths about Dyslexia

See you on the other side by Annalisa Shepherd

Next week is Dyslexia Awareness Week and I shall be posting something here every day.

First, here is a list of myths about dyslexia. I’ll make sure each one is debunked before the end of the week!

Myth 1: Dyslexia does not exist.

Myth 2: Dyslexia is a “catch all” term.

Myth 3: Intelligence and ability to read are related. So if someone doesn’t read well, they can’t be very bright. Equally, very able children cannot be dyslexic.

Myth 4: People with dyslexia cannot read.

Myth 5: People with dyslexia see things backwards.

Myth 6: Dyslexia is rare.

Myth 7: Dyslexia is a medical diagnosis.

Myth 8: Children outgrow dyslexia.

Myth 9: Dyslexia affects four times more boys than girls.

Myth 10: Any child who reverses letters or numbers has dyslexia.

Myth 11: Every child who struggles with reading is a learner with dyslexia.

Myth 12: Children with dyslexia are just lazy. If only they tried harder…

 

Thanks to Annalisa Shepherd for the picture.

A new suite of tests for assessing reading comprehension

At the Scottish Learning Festival last week I attended an interesting seminar on a new (to me) assessment of reading with which I was very impressed. It replaces the Neale Anaylis to some extent.

Maggie Snowling  heads the team which developed this assessment. She is a well known proponent of the links between phonological processing ability and literacy acquisition and highly regarded.

The York Assessment of Reading for Comprehension (YARC) enables teachers to assess their pupils’ reading skills from an early age through to secondary school. It focuses not just on decoding and sight reading, but crucially on reading comprehension.

The assessments at passage level concentrate on reading for meaning, enabling pupils’ reading and reading comprehension to be regularly assessed and progress easily monitored. Questions linked to each passage demand the use of deduction and inference to arrive at the answers, giving teachers vital information about their pupils’ skills far beyond decoding and retrieval of information.

In addition to the passages for pupils, YARC also includes four short tests:

• letter-sound knowledge,

• sound deletion (supported by pictures)

• sound isolation

• early word recognition.

These are specifically designed for five and six year olds, although data will be available for the age range four to seven years. Assessing alphabetic knowledge, phonological skills and word reading, these tests are especially useful at identifying any underlying difficulties in phonological awareness and the acquisition of letter-sounds that could hamper progress in pupils’ reading.

The Passage Reading set comprises two equivalent passages for each year from Reception (P1) to Y6 (P7), each with eight comprehension questions of increasing complexity. A version of GL Assessment’s Single Word Reading Test is also included as a benchmark test.

The secondary reading tests include Passage Reading to assess reading comprehension skills, Reading Fluency and Single Word Reading.

Well worth checking out in my opinion.

Dyslexia Support Service Annual Summary

Assessment: I have been involved in the assessment of 117 pupils this year and have met with the vast majority of the parents of these youngsters (and about 20 others already ‘on the books’) at least once. This is either at Staged Assessment and Intervention (SAI) meetings or more informally to discuss progress and programmes. These assessments and parental meetings are preceded by extensive consultations with colleagues. Once an identification of dyslexia has been made, we usually meet again to discuss any interventions that may be appropriate.

Teaching individuals + small groups: I have worked with individuals and small groups of pupils on working memory skills, Mind Mapping and note making, MS Word Accessibility and strategies for organisation and planning as part of a transition programme for P7’s over the year.

5 children have helped me begin to evaluate the reading and spelling programme, ‘Nessy’. This is such a rich resource that 3 of the children will be continuing work on it next session. This is partly for their benefit of course, but also to allow me to decide whether I should encourage schools to buy ‘Nessy’ for their struggling readers and spellers. This is one of the software packages I was given with my new laptop: http://www.nessy.com/. So far we are loving it!

Teaching whole classes: I have taught several classes the basics of Mind Mapping using Kidspiration and Inspiration. I worked with a P7 class on higher order reading skills.

 

Parents’ Meetings: I have spoken to groups of parents at open meetings and presented an in-service session for a school as part of their Dyslexia Friendly Schools Pledge. The focus was on learning styles.

Dyslexia Friendly Schools Pledge: The Pledge itself has had a re-vamp and is now ready to be incorporated into the literacy strategy for the region.

 In-service training: I have led a group of support for learning colleagues to develop user-friendly guidance for using WordTalk and presented this to a group of practitioners at an event organised by LT Scotland. I spoke at my first TeachMeet (for 2 minutes) on this wonderful resource at the Sea Bird Centre

I have given training sessions to colleagues in 2 secondary schools on interpreting the computerised assessment tool and commented on the reports they have prepared subsequently.

Of course I have attended meetings of the Outreach Service and both Clusters too.

This is an up-dated version of the summaryI posted at the end of the Spring term.