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dyslexia-friendly classrooms -9 things to try

I’m starting a new job next week as a peripatetic Specific Learning Difficulty and dyslexia teacher. Part of the role will be to give advice to mainstream teachers about things they can do in the classroom to help those with SpLD, dyslexia and literacy delay.

Here are just a couple of ideas that people perhaps could use to take down some of those barriers to learning for the pupil with literacy hurdles.

  • Use enlarged photocopies of any small texts to be used.
  • If texts are electronic, different background colours can sometimes help the words ‘stop jumping around’. Pale yellow, pale blue have worked for me. Or high-contrast like pale yellow text on black, see what works.
  • Also, photocopying onto pastel shade paper might help.

yellowblack

blueblack * more info here and here

  • Use a font with a single story ‘a’, rather than a double story ‘a’ as this can be inverted with ‘e’ by some dyslexics and cause confusion. This font is SassoonCRInfant but there are others.
  • Some scanners will turn text into editable text via OCR software, the text can then easily be changed, e.g. enlarging and/or changing the font.
  • There are free screen-readers, here that will read highlighted text although the text-to-speech reader in Clicker5 for example highlights each word as it is spoken, the English accent speech engine is very good too.
  • Those using Internet Explorer can use Bing Translator to act as a Text-To-Speech engine. Highlight some text (not too much, I don’t know the character capacity of it), insert into the left-hand side of Bing Translator, set it to translate into English, and a little speaker will appear and read the text. Helpful for short paragraphs.
  • Word banks with topic-specific words can be helpful posted onto walls, and can be added to.
  • Voice recorders, such as the Easi-speak microphone, the voice record function on the iPod or iPhone etc or simply the sound recorder in the accessories in different operating systems can be used to orally record work/responses, useful for those that have trouble writing down thoughts and ideas.

Ok, those are just some ideas that you might find useful if you’ve got pupils or students with dyslexia, SpLD or general literacy delay.

Thoughts on ipod, Clicker and Ds in the classroom

In contrast to the previous posts, I’ve been pondering about how I’ve been using the Ipod and the Nintendo DS (mine is an iXL< good for my failing eyesight) in the classroom. The Clicker bit I’ve added since i started this .

I work with a small class of MLD pupils.

My first pop was during the Winter Olympics and I used Super Mario at The Winter Olympics and Winter Sports 2009, both on DS. Both had instantaneous internal combustion with the pupils. I just provided 1 rule, that they  had to write the time/distance/points etc. down they had taken at the end of their turn.  Outcome was really positive, lots of self-evaluation on turn-taking, ordinal numbers, using minutes, seconds and 100ths of seconds,  arguments and resolutions, plaudits and accolades at playing a good game, data handling, sorting, table-building etcetera. Have since used the DS’s in a SEAL lesson getting the pupils to draw emoticons/smiley faces in Pictochat and sending them to the others to guess which emotions were being shown.

They used Word Magic on the Ipod and 2 non-readers were shouting the letters or sounds missing from the words at me within minutes of switching the game on.

For our Romans project the pupils used Rotten Romans on DS,  the good readers could be really involved with this and used the 2 readers in the class to read the historical info, then relay the instructions to the others, then all pupils could play the games – check out their claymation and commentary about gladiators that they made following this, I’ll add it soon… their Movie Maker editing skills are progressing slowly but surely.

I’ve used the Ipods as research tools using google,  google earth, and maps, and  already pupils are indicating the notion that the web is more than about homepages of Ben10, Transformers, Spongebob, Dr Who etc etc. I bought a tube-shaped battery operated speaker from ebay for a tenner so more pupils can hear the audio easily.

The World Cup app from Duchy software looks to be a great entry point into finding data about teams, players and fixtures. I’ve already used it in conjunction with the Panini sticker albums to locate countries,  flags, which teams are from rainforest areas (cc IPC project, other world geography etc.  I got 7 free sticker books from a big supermarket chain for the kids, could cost me and arm and a leg…..)

Clicker 5 by Crick software isn’t handheld but I think it is a brilliant tool on many counts. There are lots of tutorials online to do most anything. One thing useful is to create a grid that has nothing in it and save as Reading Grid or whatever , I get the pupils to copy and paste research info they have located that they might not be able to read much of and get them to paste into the blank doc and they know how to make it speak, here’s a Jing of them and I showing how. You can do anything with Clicker, but the tailorability (if there’s such a word) to your students can be quick and effective e.g. a wordbank specific to their level and task. We did a writing task on Transformers Robots as a report writing exercise.  The pupils made a wordbank of words they might use often, ( e.g. characters-Optimus Prime, Megatron, places- Cybertron etc, which would take them ages to write with a pencil,  and then they found pictures which they added into cells to make word identification easier. For little words, they either spelt out or used the built-in wordbank.  with mine and the NNEB’s  scaffolding, they made such a good job of the format, they all succeeded hugely in creating a report about  something that was led by them, and which looked great. A report about rainforest birds came after, all of the struggling writers were using reference books and the internet for info with previously uncharted skill as if they were fluent readers and writers , I’m sure as a result of the ICT-based first activity.

Am looking forward to developing the potential of these learning tools further…

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