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.

Assessing Dyslexia Toolkit launched

New guidelines for identifying children with dyslexia were launched by former racing driver Sir Jackie Stewart on Tuesday. The online “tool kit” , available since January but now open to all, has been created for every teacher: we are all responsible for literacy regardless of our subject or sector. The resource supports the Curriculum for Excellence’s emphasis on literacy and numeracy across learning.

 The Assessing Dyslexia Toolkit for Teachers aims to help teachers and early years workers identify literacy difficulties and dyslexia among pupils. A key target is to spot problems as early as possible so children can be given support and are not disadvantaged educationally.

A key aim of the new guide is highlighting to all class teachers that they are in the best position to identify early indicators of dyslexia and other learning difficulties. It identifies problems teachers should look out for at various stages in a child’s education from pre-school to late primary, right up to senior secondary and college.

Dr Margaret Crombie, who led the team of experts behind the creation of the project from Glasgow Caledonian, Strathclyde and Edinburgh universities, said: “We now have a resource that all teachers can use to help them work through the process of assessment of literacy difficulties.”

It’s superb: check it out.

Cochlear Implant for Jonathan

[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/ZDD7Ohs5tAk?rel=0" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

See this wonderful clip of 8 month old Jonthan having the cochlear implant in his right ear turned on. When you look at it the 2nd time watch how he mimics his mother’s mouth movements.

Reminds me of the fascinating work carried out by Colwyn Trevarthen on the communication betwen very small children and their carers.

He studied the rhythms and expressions of children’s play and fantasy, and how musical games and songs, stories and acts of discovery, with real or imaginary companions, support the development of skills during infancy and the pre-school years.

His influence on music therapy – especially in areas of conflict – is very significant in enabling youngsters undergoing the intense trauma of living in a war zone, as can be seen in the work of Nigel Osbourne.

Trevarthen also pioneered the incredibly powerful Video Interactive Guidance programme which helps professionals ‘give individuals a chance to reflect on their interactions, drawing attention to elements that are successful and supporting clients to make changes where desired’.

I did part one of this training a few years ago and found it invaluable.

But back to Jonathan – I know some members of the hearing impaired community dislike the emphasis on the spoken as opposed to the signed, word but no one could deny the joy that baby experiences as he communicates with his mum. I recently trod on one of my incredibly expensive hearing aids and am awaiting a replacement. It feels as if I’m underwater when trying to discern conversations. The temptation is to turn off from ordinary human contact. I pick up important news but miss all the general chat in staff rooms. No wonder I’m anti-social! I’m with those who ensure that children are given such implants as soon as is possible.

And here’s an opportunity to say farewell to a good friend and great colleague, Eleanor Carnell. She is an amazing fount of wisdom and knowledge about lots of stuff – but especially about teaching children with hearing impairments. She retires at the end of session after many years of sterling service to the Lothians and we in the Outreach Team will miss her sorely.

(PS If some clever person could change this URL to the real Youtube video I ‘d be pleased. Why does it work on my blog but not here?)

Dyslexia Friendly School in Action

What a fabulous time I had first thing on Monday morning when I went to Yester Primary School’s Dyslexia Awareness Assembly.

This was part of the whole school’s drive to fulfil the ‘Dyslexia Friendly Schools Pledge’ as well as of the Support for Learning teacher, Lesley Cusack’s participation in a leadership course. The staff have done a great deal of professional development this year, both in terms of formal sessions run by Lesley and myself and the everyday, almost incidental discussions about the learning needs of individuals that go on every week of the year.

Lesley had asked for volunteers from the p7?s and got offers of help from 10 children, only a couple of whom have dyslexia.

The children told the rest of the school what  difficulties and strengths learners with dyslexia may have in a most professional and entertaining way.

Then they talked about learning styles, stressing that we are all different and that diversity is to be celebrated.

Finally they walked (or rather sang) the talk. They sang a song with actions and before asking the gathered crowd to follow suit, asked them to show whether they had preferred to listen, see or do the actions.

It was interesting to see that there were a fair few who preferred to look or listen rather than act; although of course the majority identified themselves as kinaesthetic leaners.

It was a thoroughly enjoyable session which very neatly illustrated something of what it means to have dyslexia.

All credit to the children – and of course to Lesley for her indefatigable work.

Rich, Cross-Curricular Tasks and Outreach Support

I am very impressed with the cross-curricular tasks being developed in many schools. The thinking behind this type of learning fits well with the process of acquiring English through immersion in mainstream. It offers the chance to revisit language and ideas in a variety of situations, which can only be of benefit to all pupils with additional support needs.

In light of this development the involvement of Outreach teachers may have to change. With increased emphasis on group and peer support it will become more difficult to work pupils individually. The Outreach Teacher should instead be involved in the initial planning stages to suggest appropriate strategies and identify possible areas of difficulty e.g. provide glossaries for key vocabulary, adapt / simplify worksheets, use teacher materials to produce additional support such as listening practice, explain cultural issues. It is more appropriate for Outreach Teachers to be deployed as group leaders than always being linked with one pupil.

Not only do pupils benefit from having more meaningful tasks but there will be increased joint working between schools and outreach staff.

EAL News

Please go to the website https://www.edubuzz.org/eal to see recent postings relevant to support for pupils acquiring English as an Additional Language.

Recent topics:

Using dictionaries in secondary school

Teachers support bilingualism in the classroom

Great resource for children in the early stages of learning English

How to assess EAL pupils in Science

 

Dyslexia Support Service Spring Up-date

This term I have been involved in the assessment of 20 pupils and have met with the vast majority of the parents of these youngsters 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.

In addition, I have attended 23 SAI meetings about pupils already ‘on the books’. Here we confer about the action plans and decide next steps. It is at these meetings that I often commit to a teaching programme for the following term. Otherwise I attend in an advisory capacity.

It is not always appropriate or necessary for me to have face-to-face contact with pupils. My colleagues do a wonderful job. Often they just need reassurance that they are on the right track and possibly some advice about resources or methodologies to supplement the excellent work they are already doing with their learners with dyslexia.

Work with individuals and small groups of pupils focused on auditory processing strategies (11), note making (20), syllabification (6), using digital technologies to access the curriculum (30) and strategies for organisation and planning as part of a transition programme for P7’s (9).

I have spent 3 or 4 sessions in each of 6 classes teaching them the basics of Mind Mapping using Kidspiration and Inspiration and I took a P7 class for 4 sessions helping them develop higher order thinking skills.

I have spoken to groups of parents at open meetings in 2 primary schools this term and delivered an in-service session for a school as part of their Dyslexia Friendly Schools Pledge. The focus was on learning styles. The Pledge itself has had a re-vamp and is now (almost) ready to be incorporated into the literacy strategy for the region.

 A group of support for learning colleagues and I have worked together to develop user-friendly guidance for using WordTalk. I 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. We hope to roll this guidance out next term.

I went to 2  secondary schools to train colleagues to interpret the computerised assessment tool, LASS, and have commented on the reports (about 20) they have prepared subsequently. Of course I have attended meetings of the Outreach Service and both Clusters too.

I was lucky enough to win a laptop and software to the value of £1000 in a competition organised by iansyst and dyslexic.com. I plan to trial some of the resources with pupils next term.

I need a holiday!

App to build personal exam timetable available

 

The Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) has announced that students can now download an app to build their own personal exam timetable on their mobile phone – and 1,500 of them have already registered their interest.

This is a fantastic way for students to view their personal exam schedule at a glance, e-mail it to themselves or to friends, and integrate it into their other calendars.  The 2010 exams begin on Wednesday 28 April.

The app is currently available to download free on iTunes and is being made available for Google and all other major mobile phones at the start of April.

The free app also provides information and resources to help students prepare for their exams, such as SQA’s Your Exams guide, packed with what to expect and what to do and information on how results and certificates will be delivered.  The app also provides links to other useful websites, such as MySQA.

What a wonderful resource for learners with organisational difficulties.