Category Archives: dyslexia

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Use this summer to teach children a new – and useful – skill

We are just coming to that time of the year when schools are planning holiday activities and their after school clubs for the Autumn term.

Now of course you want activities that are a bit more exciting than school curriculum subjects. Some schools opt for trips out, unusual sports, learning an instrument or a gardening club and I have been intrigued by stories of children learning the Glockenspiel, engaging in cheerleading and joining a Conundrum Club.

Often schools look for clubs as an antidote to technology promoting outdoor pursuits and a break from screen time. All good arguments but there is still a place for learning touch typing.

In the UK we don’t teach it in schools as part of the curriculum and yet it is an important skill for life – as important as learning to cook. Often the pundits claim that
digital natives need no instruction on basic computer skills, including keyboarding but this is not true. These students are using more digital media to make notes, do their homework and even take standardised tests so it is vital that they learn to use it efficiently.

There are different ways to teach touch typing but schools often choose learning online where the most popular programs are:
Touch-type Read and Spell https://www.readandspell.com/ an online-access typing course – Winner of the Education Resources Award – 2017, with 24 levels, each with 31 modules
Kaz https://kaz-type.com/ – shortlisted for the Bett Special Needs Award 2019 – an Accelerated Learning course that teaches the A to Z keys in just 90 minutes – using a multisensory approach that engages both sides of the brain – has the added benefit of a qualification, a City and Guilds badge too
Englishtype https://www.englishtype.com/ uses vocabulary content from the national literacy strategy word lists and follows key stages 1-3 of the national curriculum

The Three Rs are not enough!

Here is Allen Tsui’s account of using KAZ type in different schools. You can read the full case study on the KAZ site

I first encountered KAZ-Type in 2014 when working at a highly rated Independent
Preparatory School based in central London. The Head Teacher asked me to manage the school’s subscription as part of its computing curriculum.

The children I was working with at the time were very enthused by it, especially being able to challenge each other with their typing speeds. Many were also partly motivated by the fact that I had set them a personal challenge to exceed my typing speed.

The school I currently work for – Willow Brook Primary School Academy in East London, is an amazing school, recognised by the Mayor of London as being one of the top performing schools in London in school year 2018/19

Beyond the school timetable, Willow Brook also offers a wide programme of after school clubs which are free to all families to take up. I was hosting or facilitating KAZ after school club held on Friday afternoons. This was so well attended and over-subscribed, we had to hold two groups.

Not just a pretty picture

An overview of a whole topic at a glance

Bett Award finalists Matchware offer top tips for introducing mind mapping into your school
Matchware (stand C142), a Bett Awards finalist in the Higher or Further Education Digital Services category, is looking forward to showing Bett visitors the latest version of their software MindView, the industry leader in mind mapping,

Often described as a visual thinking tool, MindView encourages learners and teachers to structure information in different ways so they can see the whole, the different parts and the connections in between.

It is well known that the visual approach of mind mapping can help the 10 to 15% of the population who have dyslexia or associated Specific Learning Difficulties (SpLD), but it is also a wonderful tool for EAL students and those still to develop full fluency in English who will find that the visual representation of knowledge is so much easier for them to understand and recall.

To help schools and colleges not yet up to speed with mind mapping, Matchware’s manager David Kidd offers these top tips for introducing it into the classroom:
• Fire up your students: MindView is an excellent notetaking and idea generation tool classroom that encourages students to brainstorm and organise ideas for written documents and presentations. As a starting point choose a topic where students have prior knowledge or strong opinions and can collaborate.
• Think visual: Young people switch off if they are listening for too long. Mind maps often work better than linear presentation slides but for maximum effect incorporate pictures, colours, different fonts or text styles to make the ideas stand out.
• Expand and contract: Remind students that they need to crystallise their thoughts into a word or key phrase, a picture or symbol, a vital skill in an age where we are all overloaded with information. Then show them how to build on key words to create fuller accounts or more detailed work, gathering examples and evidence.
• Stretch the mind: Mind mapping helps us to gather, sort, structure and create in different ways. It also is a great aid to memory and learning. Once you have a fairly detailed mind map, switch off the screen and ask students to recall sections.
• Use MindView in the flipped classroom: It is often hard for students to evidence the work they have done before coming to the classroom and for students new to English it is a good way for them to process and interact with language and build their comprehension skills alongside curriculum learning.
• Try mind mapping as a planning tool: Teachers tell us that they use MindView to help with lesson planning, report writing and for curriculum planning, using the built in Gantt chart and Office integration. This gives them a clear visual overview of what needs to be covered.
• Make MindView a regular feature in the classroom: Mind mapping should not be a one-off. Plan to use it regularly for several weeks so it is seen as an accepted strategy in class and not as something special.

There are so many advantages to incorporating mind mapping into teaching and learning. Find out more from the MindView team on stand C142 at the Bett show https://www.matchware.com/mind-mapping-software

Ends

Press contact:
David Kidd
Matchware Ltd
T: 020 8439 8220
E: david.kidd@matchware.com

Guest post: Helping Children Overcome Working Memory Problems

Former teacher Jackie Taylor shares her research findings

Having a sharp working memory is essential for success in many areas in life. The working memory (which is part of the short-term memory) is responsible for remembering names, lists, and other information just long enough for us to be able to use that information. There are visual and auditory parts of the working memory that help record the unique kinds of information one can encounter. However, there are many individuals who struggle with the use of their working memory due to the conditions they are managing.
For example, those diagnosed with ADD and ADHD can have difficulties with their working memory, which can make daily interactions and learning challenging. Not having the ability to recall information when needed is especially frustrating for children. At a time where learning is a top focus in life, it is essential for all parts of the memory to be working optimally. Thankfully, recent research has shown that there are certain brain exercises that can be used to improve the working memory for almost anyone.
Why is the working memory so important?
Because the working memory serves the specific function of being a mental “sticky note” (as many experts put it), it is extremely useful in learning. When children are required to learn and store new concepts or remember multi-step instructions, a strong working memory is necessary for success. If a child is struggling with his or her working memory, learning to read, being able to complete math problems, and staying focused become difficult tasks. Although there may be several contributing factors to these kinds of learning challenges, it makes sense to start with improving the working memory.
Research findings on improving working memory
To discover the best ways to boost the working memory, a study was conducted among 136 college students. The students were divided into three separate groups. Two of these groups “received training utilizing different working memory exercises, while the third was given challenging exercises that did not involve working memory exercises.” All members of the three groups were given an EEG at the beginning of the study. At the conclusion of the study (five days of training), it was discovered that students who had used the “dual-n-back” brain training exercise “showed a 30% improvement in their working memory.” In less than one week, these individuals were able to significantly boost their working memory simply by engaging in specific brain exercises.
Dual-n-back” (DnB) training programs
The study listed above shows the importance of choosing an effective brain training exercise when seeking to improve the working memory. While “dual-n-back” (DnB) training programs are relatively new, they have already demonstrated their effectiveness in this area. Numerous computer-based training programs were developed using this technique, including Brain Workshop and BrainScale.net. These programs can be used by people of all ages to help overcome the challenges of a weak working memory.
Training isn’t everything
When looking to help a child improve his or her working memory, the training by itself is not the only key to success. Instead, there are other elements of support that parents and teachers can provide. Encouraging children to regularly utilize brain training programs, as well as providing positive feedback, can make a major impact on their success. Additionally, consistency is also an essential element in improving the working memory of a child. If these programs aren’t used on a consistent basis, it will take a lot longer to reap the benefits and make a difference in the functioning of the working memory. Therefore, in addition to using proven techniques to enhance the working memory, it is important that parents and teachers provide one-on-one support to achieve the best results.