Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Week 6 Study skills, aids and accommodations

Weeks 6 Summary
University of London, UCL Institute of Education & Dyslexia International

The focus of week 6 is to supply more suggestions for study skills, aids, and accommodations. Most of the accommodations were reiterated from earlier weeks' lessons:
  • extra time
  • bigger font size, sans serif
  • computer usage when possible
  • give definitions and teach spelling of discipline specific vocabulary
  • print on one side of the paper only (not two sided)
  • don't take marks off for spelling 
  • spelling tests can be limited to words the child thinks she has memorized
  • questions can be read aloud, if the reading itself isn't what you are evaluating
  • evaluate only one aspect of the writing assignments, where possible (punctuation, content, syntax, grammar)
  • be tolerant of digit reversal in mathematics
  • give dyslexic child a summary with a few key words omitted while other children are writing down the summary
  • celebrate the child's progress
  • celebrate child's strengths in other domains (3D spatial thinking, for example) 
  • remember the above average fatigue, and the visual stress, the child feels 

Apps and website recommendations:
Reading Rockets, www.readingrockets.org
Mind manager by mind jet
A text to speech toolbar called the ATbar
Evernote, which allows for synchronizing meetings, notes, post-its, etc
Trello, which is a project management tool for collaboration and delegation
About improving reading comprehension, Dr Jenny Thomson had the following recommendations: 
  • Talk around the subject first (pre-reading)
  • Rehearse challenging words (previewing)
  • Physically adapt the text to improve readability 
  • Separate into readable chunks
  • Allow for some reading from another person, device, or audiobook for portions of the work 
Improving writing tasks can be more challenging, according to Dr Thomson, in part because less research has been focused on this area.

In the pre-writing stage, there is a program called Kidspiration, a kind of picture mind map.

Google Chrome's speech to text function in Google docs for the actual writing stage, when vocalizing is an option. 

Alternatively, Dragon Naturally Speaking is a popular program, and has been improving over the decades.

For writing out, Dr Thomson suggests text expanders, such as Phrase Express, LetMeType, and Texter.

Here's a device I would dearly have loved as a college student: a livescribe digital pen. It records audio as you write, and also digitizes your handwriting. I missed so much in lectures simply from falling behind that this would have been a real help. Unfortunately, it seems not to be totally ready for market – with features no longer supported, and other glitches. It's still being sold, of course :)

As for spelling, Dr Thomson recommends Ginger. This tool can check your spelling based on context – converting “there” to “they're” where appropriate, for example. It also has a grammar feature.

Help in remembering what tone to take for which audience can be found from Grammarly, which also performs many of the same functions as Ginger.

Dr Thomson addresses memory as a complicating issue for students with dyslexia or other dys constellation issues. She emphasizes the need for “over learning”, or simply reinforcing many more times whatever the concept or spelling task is. 

One way to do that is through cross course collaboration, so vocabulary words and various concepts get reinforced Monday through Friday across disciplines. Using a combination of auditory and visual backup is ideal.

Students need to be encouraged at every stage to use metacognition. For example, they can ask themselves, “How long is the chunk of reading I am most likely to retain? Under what circumstances does this faculty become stronger or weaker?”

If a student is having difficulty comprehending, perhaps you have given those students a square of felt they can put out on their desks as a visual cue that they may need your help, rather than requiring them always to have their hand in the air. Different colors could have different meanings.

Orienting herself in time and space can be common difficulties in any of the dys constellation. Creating timetables with the student, using multiple colors and even images, can help this. This activity should be done at school with teachers, and at home with parents. These tables and maps should be visible, in locker doors and on walls. 

A check-in time with a particular teacher, perhaps at the end of the school day, can keep everything in line, and not going haywire. 

Week 5 More on Practical teaching approaches