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READING STRATEGIES

The arrival of a new grandchild has held up my writing progress over the last eight weeks in the nicest of ways. While the distance between us all is considerable, the two-hour train journey between Bournemouth and Brighton enables me to focus on my laptop screen.

Last month’s Writing Magazine also made the journey but, unfortunately, I did not dip into it. Imagine my horror then, on my return, to see the next edition sitting in a pile of post. I will have to start speed reading if I am to catch up. Tony Buzan’s book on Speed Reading is something I recommend to dyslexic students. Of course reading a book about ‘how to read’ is not easy but a tutor can dispense key points from this book and encourage practice such as moving a pen along the line ahead of the eyes as a means to ‘keep going’. Speeding up then happens quite naturally.

Skimming and scanning for essential points is another skill that benefits dyslexic students. Again running a pencil or other pointer down the page to locate key words is an effective method. Scanning reading material ahead of a more serious study read is something that dyslexic students have often not been encouraged to try. Dyslexic students frequently say they think ‘other students’ read word for word from beginning to end and that they take everything in without any re-reading. This is not true. Even non-dyslexics need to revisit parts of their reading material after the first read. Even they will find that scanning for keywords as a precursor to the actual read enables them to take in the material more quickly on the second read.

Dylexic students and pupils need to practise the following if they are to get the best out of their books and study materials.

1 Look at the Contents page. Find the relevant chapter.

2 Have a reason for reading – a question to answer. Reading for an assignment is an excellent reason. All other parts can be read later.

3 Look at the summary at the end of the chapter before reading to give your brain a ‘schema’ on to which the information gleaned on the second reading will attach itself.

4 Remember learning is about making new connections in the brain. The activity in 3 will pave the way.

5 Look at the first sentence in each paragraph and highlight it. This is the topic sentence and, again, gives you a preview of what you are about to read in the paragraph.

6 Use the margins to scribble notes. Do not be afraid to ‘mess up’ your handouts and textbooks. Not on library books of course!

Now back to Writing Magazine. The front cover tells me about the articles. The fast track to improve your writing definitely appeals as I am short of time on my nearly-completed novel. 10 projects to inspire you this month covers an introduction to NaNoWriMo and if you are a writer and don’t know what this is then google it and get involved. There is an article by Melvyn Bragg about completing your novel – a definite must for me at this point in time.

But what interests me most is an article on How to Fight Writers’ Bottom. Sitting for long periods is an occupational hazard. I intersperse my writing spurts with a quick walk to the shops or along the sea front. Strolling will not lift the pounds. One needs to put in some effort. The fresh air and some human interaction means that I return refreshed to attack whatever part of my WIP (Work in Progress) I am working on.

I have taken Writing Magazine for about eighteen months and it certainly makes my day when it lands on my doormat. It reminds me of why I get up in the morning, puts me in touch with ideas and success stories of other writers and provides numerous tips and valuable information.

Now I just need to find the time to read it!

In later posts I will deal with how parents can help their children with reading and writing about study skills that dyslexic students in Higher Education need to develop early on in their course.

The arrival of a new grandchild has held up my writing progress over the last week in the nicest of ways. While the distance between us all is considerable, the two-hour train journey between Bournemouth and Brighton enables me to focus on my laptop screen.

 

Last month’s Writing Magazine also made the journey but, unfortunately, I did not dip into it. Imagine my horror then, on my return, to see the next edition sitting in a pile of post. I will have to start speed reading if I am to catch up. Tony Buzan’s book on Speed Reading is something I recommend to dyslexic students. Of course reading a book about ‘how to read’ is not easy but a tutor can dispense key points from this book and encourage practice such as moving a pen along the line ahead of the eyes as a means to ‘keep going’. Speeding up then happens quite naturally.

 

Skimming and scanning for essential points is another skill that benefits dyslexic students. Again running a pencil or other pointer down the page to locate key words is an effective method. Scanning reading material ahead of a more serious study read is something that dyslexic students have often not been encouraged to try. Dyslexic students frequently say they think ‘other students’ read word for word from beginning to end and that they take everything in without any re-reading. This is not true. Even non-dyslexics need to revisit parts of their reading material after the first read. Even they will find that scanning for keywords as a precursor to the actual read enables them to take in the material more quickly on the second read.

 

Dylexic students and pupils need to practise the following if they are to get the best out of their books and study materials.

 

1                 Look at the Contents page. Find the relevant chapter.

 

2                 Have a reason for reading – a question to answer. Reading for an assignment is an excellent reason. All other parts can be read later.

 

3                 Look at the summary at the end of the chapter before reading to give your brain a ‘schema’ on to which the information gleaned on the second reading will attach itself.

 

4                 Remember learning is about making new connections in the brain. The activity in 3 will pave the way.

 

5                 Look at the first sentence in each paragraph and highlight it. This is the topic sentence and, again, gives you a preview of what you are about to read in the paragraph.

 

6                 Use the margins to scribble notes. Do not be afraid to ‘mess up’ your handouts and textbooks. Not on library books of course!

 

 

 

Now back to Writing Magazine. The front cover tells me about the articles. The fast track to improve your writing definitely appeals as I am short of time on my nearly-completed novel. 10 projects to inspire you this month covers an introduction to NaNoWriMo and if you are a writer and don’t know what this is then google it and get involved. There is an article by Melvyn Bragg about completing your novel – a definite must for me at this point in time.

 

But what interests me most is an article on How to Fight Writers’ Bottom. Sitting for long periods is an occupational hazard. I intersperse my writing spurts with a quick walk to the shops or along the sea front. Strolling will not lift the pounds. One needs to put in some effort. The fresh air and some human interaction means that I return refreshed to attack whatever part of my WIP (Work in Progress) I am working on.

 

I have taken Writing Magazine for about eighteen months and it certainly makes my day when it lands on my doormat. It reminds me of why I get up in the morning, puts me in touch with ideas and success stories of other writers and provides numerous tips and valuable information.

 

Now I just need to find the time to read it!

 

 

 

In later posts I will deal with how parents can help their children with reading and writing about study skills that dyslexic students in Higher Education need to develop early on in their course.

DEPRESSION AND DYSLEXIA in students

There is no doubt that a link exists between dyslexia and depression. I spent many years between 1996 and 2007 assessing young people in Further Education for dyslexia. The language they used when describing their difficulties and school experience mirrors the language used by those who are clinically depressed. Self-descriptions such as ’I thought I was thick’ or even, worse, ‘I was treated as though I was thick’ and, yes, some teachers used the word. Unbelievable though this may seem there are still some teachers who lack a clear understanding about the difficulties the dyslexic student faces.

Then there are references to how they apply themselves to their work. Reports abound with ‘must try harder’, ‘need to work harder’. The bright youngster who can answer questions orally and take part in classroom debate fails to impress teachers when he or she does not produce written work which matches their oral knowledge. They are then so easily deemed lazy. But as I have frequently told students and teachers, ‘if you find something difficult you are not to keen to repeat the experience.’ After all how many of us have tried a hobby or activity and given up because ‘it’s just not me’ or ‘it was too hard’ or even ‘I am not cut out for that.’ Well the dyslexic pupil is ‘not cut out for academic work. They find it so hard – the different brain connections of the dyslexic brain mean they have to work four times harder than their peers and tire easily. Yet, they have a thirst for learning and perseverance to match.

Students report acute embarrassment when asked to read aloud. At school, my dyslexic partner would drop pencils to the floor and disappear beneath the desk to retrieve them in the hope his turn to read would be missed. Asking a dyslexic pupil to read aloud can lead to later taunting by his peers and the subsequent bullying can send the child into deep depression with sometimes disastrous results. Parents of children who are struggling at school need to be aware of problems that may occur at school.

Dyslexic children worry more than other children. They worry constantly they will make mistakes and this causes extreme stress, another pre-cursor to depression. They find school or college stressful, declare they never understand fully what they should be doing, do not have time to write down the homework and are often in trouble as a result. Negative emotions and anxiety make the dyslexic difficulties worse. Spelling deteriorates further, reading slows down and written output dwindles to a trickle. A vicious cycle follows of stress, anxiety and inefficiency. Unfortunately the dyslexic usually tends to do things the hard way. Negative emotions include confusion, embarrassment, lack of confidence, frustration, and anger.

What the student or pupil needs are coping strategies which will ease the learning load and awareness of their strengths which can compensate for their weaknesses.To reduce stress, encourage your child or teenager to relax. Teach them yogic breathing and encourage counting on the in breath and the out breath. This counting pushes negative thoughts out of the mind. Exercise also reduces stress so encouraging teenagers to take up active outside activities will help. When I hear of a child or teenager denied play or break time because of a poor result in an essay or spelling test I can feel only sadness. The very activity which can help them learn in the following lesson is being denied them. The dyslexic needs more, not fewer breaks and more, not less, exercise.

A negative term dyslexics face is ‘failure’. Failing does not have to be negative as long as it is seen as a temporary blip on the path to success. Even non-dyslexics fail sometimes at some tasks. There is always another chance, a new school, a new subject, a new teacher, a new-found interest and even a new academic year with work which may not be so challenging in some areas.

 

Some well-adjusted students with dyslexia I have met as an assessor in Further and Higher Education are those whose parents arranged an assessment during their primary school years followed by either extra help at school or a specialist private tutor. These students have been aware early on in their education of their strengths and weaknesses and the true nature of their difficulties. Those who have gone undetected have no understanding of why they are struggling and live with constant nagging doubts as to their abilities. An assessment at sixteen can be an enlightening experience and change the student’s attitude to study and life in general, especially when an IQ test has shown that they are actually very bright. If a student appears depressed and is falling behind, it might be advisable to screen for dyslexia just to be sure. 

 When teaching a dyslexic student some aspects of CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) can be employed by re-framing some of the more negative language with alternatives thus reducing damaging self-talk.

 

For example the student who says

I am always making lots of mistakes’ can be encouraged to say instead

I do make more mistakes than other students but I can learn to check my work.’

 

Rather than say

I’m hopeless at spelling’ say

I am not that good at spelling but I am better than I was and keeping a personal spelling dictionary will help me improve.

 

Rather than

I can’t do exams’

say

‘I am learning revision and exam strategies which will help me in exams and I will learn to use my extra time for reading through my work and checking.’

 

Modifying language can bring about a change in self-perception and raise confidence. With sympathetic and constructive approaches by both tutors and parents, the dyslexic teenager can begin to produce work which reflects his true ability. There is no cure for dyslexia and students will need to use strategies throughout their education and working life. However, with understanding on the part of parents and teachers, the demons of depression can be kept well at bay.

 

Further Reading

Dyslexia: A Teenager’s Guide, Dr Sylvia Moody

 

STUDENT ORGANISATION CHART

Students are welcome to print the chart below, save to their computer and print as often as they need. Use them to list what you have to do to keep ahead of work at college or university. WIP stands for Work in Progress and ticking this column indicates you are moving towards completion. Tick the URG column if the task is urgent and complete the ticked items first. I would welcome comments on how helpful this resource is  for those struggling to keep up with the massive demands in further and higher education.

TO   DO   LIST

Date

To do

WIP*

URG*

DONE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

EXTRA NOTES BELOW

 

  • PRIORITISE BY TICKING THIS COLUMN              * TICK WHEN FINISHED

STUDENT REMINDER LIST FOR COLLEGE OR UNI

SELF ORGANISATION

LIST OF THINGS TO TAKE TO COLLEGE OR UNI

1               memory stick containing all current and past work

2               Laptop (if relevant)

3               folder containing other  information related to my present task or lectures

4               printout of lecture notes (if these are given ahead of the lecture)

5               list of questions to ask tutor re current assignment)

6               something to eat and drink (between lectures or support sessions)

7               relevant text book for work being undertaken

8               printouts of e-journal papers related to the present piece of work

9               printout of current brief – although this can be accessed via the college/uni intra-net

10         diary with all other appointments

11         notebook for making short notes, to do lists and reminders

12         post-its – some small for use on handouts or for marking pages in textbook.

13         highlighter pens, coloured pens,

14         mobile/smart phone for using as a calendar/alert/notes and to record lectures or 1-1 advice from tutor

 

You should print this list and put it where you will see it before you leave the house.

READING STRATEGIES

The arrival of a new grandchild has held up my writing progress over the last week in the nicest of ways. While the distance between us all is considerable, the two-hour train journey between Bournemouth and Brighton enables me to focus on my laptop screen.

Last month’s Writing Magazine also made the journey but, unfortunately, I did not dip into it. Imagine my horror then, on my return, to see the next edition sitting in a pile of post. I will have to start speed reading if I am to catch up. Tony Buzan’s book on Speed Reading is something I recommend to dyslexic students. Of course reading a book about ‘how to read’ is not easy but a tutor can dispense key points from this book and encourage practice such as moving a pen along the line ahead of the eyes as a means to ‘keep going’. Speeding up then happens quite naturally.

Skimming and scanning for essential points is another skill that benefits dyslexic students. Again running a pencil or other pointer down the page to locate key words is an effective method. Scanning reading material ahead of a more serious study read is something that dyslexic students have often not been encouraged to try. Dyslexic students frequently say they think ‘other students’ read word for word from beginning to end and that they take everything in without any re-reading. This is not true. Even non-dyslexics need to revisit parts of their reading material after the first read. Even they will find that scanning for keywords as a precursor to the actual read enables them to take in the material more quickly on the second read.

Dylexic students and pupils need to practise the following if they are to get the best out of their books and study materials.

1                 Look at the Contents page. Find the relevant chapter.

2                 Have a reason for reading – a question to answer. Reading for an assignment is an excellent reason. All other parts can be read later.

3                 Look at the summary at the end of the chapter before reading to give your brain a ‘schema’ on to which the information gleaned on the second reading will attach itself.

4                 Remember learning is about making new connections in the brain. The activity in 3 will pave the way.

5                 Look at the first sentence in each paragraph and highlight it. This is the topic sentence and, again, gives you a preview of what you are about to read in the paragraph.

6                 Use the margins to scribble notes. Do not be afraid to ‘mess up’ your handouts and textbooks. Not on library books of course!

 

Now back to Writing Magazine. The front cover tells me about the articles. The fast track to improve your writing definitely appeals as I am short of time on my nearly-completed novel. 10 projects to inspire you this month covers an introduction to NaNoWriMo and if you are a writer and don’t know what this is then google it and get involved. There is an article by Melvyn Bragg about completing your novel – a definite must for me at this point in time.

But what interests me most is an article on How to Fight Writers’ Bottom. Sitting for long periods is an occupational hazard. I intersperse my writing spurts with a quick walk to the shops or along the sea front. Strolling will not lift the pounds. One needs to put in some effort. The fresh air and some human interaction means that I return refreshed to attack whatever part of my WIP (Work in Progress) I am working on.

I have taken Writing Magazine for about eighteen months and it certainly makes my day when it lands on my doormat. It reminds me of why I get up in the morning, puts me in touch with ideas and success stories of other writers and provides numerous tips and valuable information.

Now I just need to find the time to read it!

 

In later posts I will deal with how parents can help their children with reading and writing about study skills that dyslexic students in Higher Education need to develop early on in their course.

30 WAYS TO HELP CHILDREN STRUGGLING WITH WRITING

THIRTY WAYS TO HELP CHILDREN WITH WRITING

1 Teach them how to mind map and brainstorm ideas for a story. Model it for them. You do the spider’s legs and write their ideas for them. This releases the strain of putting words on paper. Each leg becomes a sentence – later a paragraph. They choose the order.

2 Let them dictate a story or the answers to homework and you write them down. The children can then copy them. This is NOT cheating. They are the child’s ideas.

3 When they have dictated their thoughts to you. Read it back to them but get them to follow your finger as you run it under the words. Do this once or twice. Then get them to read it WITH YOU. Only when you are sure they will succeed should you get them to read it alone.

4 Play consequences. Each person writes something down and folds the paper to hide it. Pass it on and the next person writes something. Parents please keep it simple with small words that are easily read. At the end, each child/parent/person reads out the story which won’t make sense and everyone has a good laugh.

5 Use every opportunity! Been to a film? Write three things that happened in the film. Everyone must listen when they are read out.

6 Make shopping lists together. Make a birthday present wish list, a Christmas wish list. Stick them on the fridge. Have a purpose (what better than that?) for writing.

7 Write a letter to a friend asking the friend to tea. Good reason to write!

8 Write and tell Nanny what you want for Christmas. Excellent reason to write.

9 Find their passion. This can take a while. Try lots of different activities – horseriding, gymnastics, dancing, art, singing. When you find what motivates them, get them to write on the subject using the guidelines on this page.

10 Let them use a computer, laptop or iphone (notes) to write a story. This is much more fun for a young child than giving them pencil and paper. Print out the result if you can. Make no more than three corrections and only by discussing them with the child. For example Tom misspelt the word ‘birthday’. He wrote ‘dithday’. Never tell the child off for any mistake. It is NOT careless. Their brain works differently to most children. Discuss the first sound in ‘birthday’ and change it for them – add the ‘r’ for ‘ir’ and explain the difference between bithday and birthday. Let them make a card for a friend using this word correctly.

11 For spelling mistakes – on a separate sheet write the correct word in large joined up handwriting. Get the child to write over the top. They should say the word as they write it. This is multi-sensory ie it uses more senses speaking, listening, watching and (writing action)

12 Write the first few words of a sentence and let them complete it. Could be a game.

13 Ensure the child always succeeds. This may mean writing a word they ask you for on another piece of paper. It may mean gently prompting the child if they read something wrong in their writing.

14 Never criticise as this can put children off.  For example, do not criticise their handwriting when they have laboured over a piece of work. They can’t get everything right at once.

15 There are free software programs on the internet but one good investment is a voice recognition program. When the child has practised and trained the software to recognise their voice they can speak to the computer and see their words come on to the screen by magic! This is not a cop out or opt out. Don’t let anyone tell you it is!!

16 Praise, praise, praise everything they do.

17 If they never complete work in school so never get to see their work put up on the wall, ask the teacher if they can type up a piece of work and have it displayed so the other children can admire their thoughts and imagination. This is wonderful for raising self-esteem.

18 Encourage family members to write letters and emails to the child. Get the child to respond. Explain all the above to the grandparents or aunties ie there must be no criticism and no over correcting. They could choose one spelling to mention when they write back. Only you can do 3 corrections!

19 Never learn/teach one word when there are others of the same pattern. For example, there are several words with the ‘ay’ pattern. If they spell today/todai show them play, way, stay, clay, may. Then make a funny sentence with all the words eg We will stay and may play with the clay all day.

20 Use 3D plastic letters on the fridge to demonstrate spellings. Leave them there for a couple of days.  Keep shuffling the letters and get them to put them back in the correct sequence.

21 Only deal with one pattern at a time. One a day helps the spelling to stay!

22 Encourage writing with coloured pens, art brushes, chalk and in sand. Make it fun.

23 Get the child to paint a picture and then write a description – even two or three words will do.

24 Children should always draw a picture of something they have written about.

25 Make writing fun. Make it get results. Let them show their work to admiring grandparents.

26 Buy the child a diary and get them to write in it what they are going to do (eg in the holidays) or, in the evening, they could write down what they have done each day.

27 Buy the child an address book where they can write friends’ names and addresses. This is establishing a good habit.

28 Let the children write in different coloured pens – each word a different colour.

29 Make a treasure hunt together with clues hidden over the house. They can write the clues.

30 Let them see you writing. Be a role model. Read out the letter (or email) you have written to their grandmother. Let them add a post script. If you are a writer, your child will be too.