Useful, quick tips for teaching dyslexic learners

1. Praise Gives Power; Criticism Kills

A dyslexic person needs to have confidence to learn and overcome their difficulties. Because they have experienced failure, deep down they don’t believe they are capable of learning.

Re-establish self-confidence.
Provide the opportunity to succeed.
Give praise for small achievements.

Dyslexics need constant praise and support. You worked hard! You did well! WOW! That's really good!

2.  Don’t ask a dyslexic to read aloud

Words are likely to be misread or skipped, causing embarrassment.

3. Don’t punish a dyslexic for forgetting things like books or sports kit

Offer positive strategies such as having one place to put things away.

4. Don’t call a dyslexic lazy

Dyslexics have to work harder to produce a smaller amount.

Dyslexics have difficulty staying focused when reading, writing or listening.

5. Expect less written work

A dyslexic may be verbally bright but struggle to put ideas into writing.

Allow a dyslexic more time for reading, listening and understanding.

6. Prepare a printout of homework and stick it in their book

Provide numbered steps, e.g. 1. Do this. 2. Do that etc.

7. Do not expect a dyslexic to copy text from a board or book

Give a printout. Suggest they highlight key areas and draw thumbnail pictures in the margin to represent the most important points.

Do not expect a dyslexic to copy text from a board or book

8. Accept homework created on a computer

Physical handwriting is torture for most dyslexics. Word processors make life much easier. Allow them to use the Spell checker and help with grammar and punctuation so that you can see the quality of the content.

9. Discuss an activity to make sure it is understood

Visualising the activity or linking it to a funny action may help dyslexics remember.

10. Give the opportunity to answer questions orally

Dyslexics can often demonstrate their understanding with a spoken answer but are unable with to put those ideas in writing.

All credit to  the Nessy website for these useful tips.  You can find further information and support for Teachers, Parents/Carers and students on this site.

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: 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 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: 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.

Wanted: ‘dyslexia friendly’ schools for £1,000 award

Wanted: ‘dyslexia friendly’ schools for £1,000 award

Calling all Sencos and teachers working with young dyslexic people. The Iansyst Dyslexia-Friendly Best Practice Awards 2009, created to recognise and celebrate “best practice for dyslexia provision in education”, have opened for nominations. The winner gets a laptop and appropriate software worth more than £1,000.

The theme this year is ‘Celebrating the Strengths of Dyslexic Students’ and the awards will mark the second year the assistive technology specialist has organised the event. To enter teachers have to explain in 350-400, how they work to raise the awareness of dyslexia and establish a dyslexia-friendly environment at their schools.

According to last year’s winner, Suzanne Edwards, the inclusion manager at Essex’s Notley Green Primary School, “The thinking behind my school’s strategy for SpLD provision is tiny steps can equal a profound change to the quality of a dyslexic pupil’s learning, so awareness among the entire school community is imperative.

“To date, we have not explored the benefits of assistive technology for our pupils, so it is due to this, combined with my commitment and passion to raising awareness of the condition that led me to enter the Dyslexia-Friendly Best Practice Awards 2008. I am delighted to have won this year’s award and am very excited about using the technology supplied by iansyst Ltd in class with my pupils.”

The winning prize worth more than £1,000 includes a Dell laptop and a bundle of assistive technology software such as Mind Genius mind mapping software, Audio Notetaker (see John Galloway’s review), text-to-speech software ClaroRead, VeritySpell for spell checking. Two runner-ups will receive the latest Toshiba G8 mobile phone and CapturaTalk scan and speak software (reviewed here).
Entries close on Friday, December 4 with prizewinners announced on December 18.

Dyslexia Friendly Schools Pledge

Dyslexia Friendly Schools Video from teachers tv

(This is still not as well embedded as a YouTube video but try it.)

This session I have been working with 5 schools piloting our own Dyslexia Friendly Schools Pledge. I have worked with staff to audit extant provision and set targets, acting as consultant and verifier throughout the process. The aim is to encourage schools to promote excellent practice as it carries out its role of supporting and challenging learners with dyslexia to be successful learners, confident individuals, responsible citizens and effective contributors. An effective school (with strong leadership which values staff development and pays close attention to the quality of learning and teaching) is inevitably going to be dyslexia friendly.

A Dyslexia Friendly Schools Pledge is recognition of how a focus on dyslexia can lead to improved learning and teaching for many pupils. To be a Dyslexia Friendly School, the issue of dyslexia needs to be seen to have status. All staff need to commit to supporting learners with dyslexia across the whole curriculum. A whole school, and ultimately region-wide, approach is necessary to translate policy into practice. The Dyslexia Friendly Schools Pledge aims to support schools to:

• audit current practice,

• identify areas for development,

• ensure excellent provision for learners with dyslexia

• share best practice.

At the beginning of the session, senior management and support for learning staff and I, as the Outreach Teacher in the Dyslexia Support Service, examined provision for learners with dyslexia in the following areas: • identification of dyslexia

• intervention

• school ethos

• transitions

• training and awareness raising for staff and pupils

• practice within the classroom

• homework

• role of senior management and promoted staff

• information for parents/carers.

We collated our audit into 4 areas:

• Focusing:

• Developing: meeting the needs of dyslexic learners satisfactorily.

• Established: supporting and promoting good practice in all areas of the school.

• Enhanced: extending outstanding practice and sharing across the region.

5 primary schools have taken part in this year’s pilot. A report on the progress of each school and plan for more development in the next session will be presented to the department of Inclusion and Equality who will then decide whether to take the Pledge forward in other schools in the session 2009/10.

I am grateful to the BDA for its guidance on Dyslexia Friendly Schools and to Liz McKelvie of Stravaig E Consultants Ltd for advice.