Several colleagues have asked about touch-typing programmes. This is such an essential skill – never too early to acquire I believe.

These are some resources people in East Lothian are using: 

If anyone has used these or any others, do let the community know what you think.


Tapestry Conference 25.9.07

Support for young people 
Education Secretary Fiona Hyslop said on Tuesday 25 September, at the Tapestry Partnership conference, that early intervention to help children get a positive start in life, would be one of the hallmarks of the Scottish Government.

I’m sure all of us in SfL would agree this is good news from the new Governemt Minister.Among the speakers at the conference, at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, was Professor Lord Robert Winston, presenter of the TV series ‘Child of Our Time’. His book, ‘What Makes me Me?’, looks like a useful resource for those of us helping young people to understand more about themselves. Winston writes: ‘Your body, brain and the way you think, act, and behave are all related – and they all contribute to making you different from everybosy else’.The book includes lots of quizzes ‘designed to make it fun to find out just what makes you YOU’.

Winston stressed the centrality of the affective domain in supporting effective learning – no news there then, although presented in an entertaining way. He also mentioned the importance of fish oils – see the earlier post on the Dyslexia Scotland conference. (I still don’t know how to make links. Sorry). And here’s something from an esteemed journal on the same theme:

 Pupils’ daily dose of fish oil boosts exam performance

There was a distinctly fishy theme. Prof. Winston also showed a short clip of a goldfish swimming aimlessly around  its bowl studiously ignoring red worms dropped in to entice it to feed. It then watched a video (I kid you not!) of a mummy fish catching and eating red worms whereupon the penny dropped and it began to feast upon the delicacies. A message for us all about scaffolding,apprenticeship and modelling.


Dyslexia + ICT ‘Pack’ for primary schools up-date

I think every SfL teacher now has the ‘pack’. It contains an Alphasmart Neo, an electronic spell checker, keyboard stickers and advice on Clicker 5, ClozePro, CoWriter, Find Out and Write About, Kidspiration and Inspiration and Microsoft Word Shortcuts.

The ‘home made’ documentation is available on Education Exchange: \\hq-server1\Education\Support .

Elizabeth Cowan and I would be keen to find out if you find it useful. And it would be good to know if anyone’s reading this. Please make contact just to reassure me!


Learn to Learn

I’ve been working with a group of Ross High S1 pupils on a ‘study skills’ programme. I bribed them to attend lunchtime sessions with sandwiches and biscuits. I had 80% attendance which pleased me immoderately!I’m taking the Harvard University/ Tapestry module, Teaching for Understanding, at present and used their framework to plan. This is what we covered in the 6-week block:

Unit: Time Management

Understanding Goals: How can I better manage my time at secondary school? 

Students will understand that:

  • Taking short breaks helps concentration.         

  • Prioritising the most important areas to focus on is important.         

  • Using the homework diary efficiently is essential.        

  • Keeping a visual timetable on the fridge helps organisation. 

Unit: Memory Skills

Understanding Goals: How do I improve my memory to help me study better?Students will understand that:

  • Using different senses aids memory.
  • Visualising is a powerful tool.        
  • Repeating information to yourself helps you to remember important details.         
  • Making connections between one piece of information and another makes information stick in long-term memory. 

We used some of the following ‘Learning to Learn’ resources:  (Actually this is too advanced for S1 but a good resource for upper secondary.)

 I shall follow this up later in the year with a series of ‘drop-in’ sessions. I feel it’s unlikely that this short burst will make any significant impact upon the group’s learning in the short term, but hope that other teachers will take cognisance of the input and build on it in classtime. After all, it’s not rocket science! 

I’d love to hear of other approaches.



Here are some references to Resources:

Readers for inexperienced upper primary pupils:Collins Big Cats Collins Big Cats materials, but there is the issue of decoding levels and interest levels. The one big plus about Big Cats is the variety of genres; not many schools use it yet – only up to P. 5 but P. 6/7 texts in the pipeline. Dandelion readers – a Synthetic Phonics reading Scheme. I have a sample (Unit 10 Book 1 The Stink) if anyone wants a look.

If I can identify someone to trial either of these resources I might be able to purchase them! Let me know.


Secondary Schools Secondary Resources. These are fantastic. 18 practical booklets on all aspects. Transition – not just for secondaries of course. I met with a French teacher yesterday and we found the Modern Languages booklet full of good strategies and advice.

Both these will be in schools very shortly. 

I’d be keen to hear how useful you find them.