Category Archives: training

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My dyslexia book is proving popular

I have just received this lovely comment from handwriting expert Amanda McLeod, “Just to let you know it’s on my table and quite a few parents have looked through and then gone out to buy it. They like its practical nature.”

The book in question is How to Help Your Child with Dyslexia and Dyspraxia which is available from Crimson Publishing and has a foreword by Tom Pellereau who won The Apprentice last year.

Handwriting expert Amanda McLeodThe McLeod Centre for Learning is in Pimlico (London SW1). It is a centre for children who are under-achieving in English and Maths. Children attend mornings and are taught by specialist dyslexia teachers in small groups, or on an individual basis. Children attend up to four days per week and usually stay for two to three terms. They go back to their main schools for the afternoons.

Mr Gove doesn’t visit the same schools as me

I listened with mounting disbelief last week at BETT as Michael Gove, Secretary Of State for Education, revealed his total ignorance of what happens in schools today. Watch the whole of his speech here

Michael Gove
Michael Gove

He said, “The fundamental model of school education is still a teacher talking to a group of pupils. It has barely changed over the centuries, even since Plato established the earliest “akademia” in a shady olive grove in ancient Athens.
A Victorian schoolteacher could enter a 21st century classroom and feel completely at home. Whiteboards may have eliminated chalk dust, chairs may have migrated from rows to groups, but a teacher still stands in front of the class, talking, testing and questioning.”

 
Maybe that’s what they do at Eton. I don’t know. I don’t go there. But hang on a moment. Hasn’t he been visiting academies and free schools lately? Maybe that’s where he saw these antiquated methods.

This week I have interviewed a primary teacher about using Skype, a secondary teacher about putting videos on a learning platform so they can be seen on the other side of the world. Meanwhile in Sidcup pupils at Burnt Oak School are working in groups using MissionMaker from Immersive Education to create games and learning how to include triggers that make things happen on screen.

I know that the teachers I talked to for my new book Brilliant Ideas for using ICT in the Inclusive Classroom don’t stand in front of a class and talk. They have too much of a sense of survival. They would be slaughtered.

Mr Gove, you need to get out more.

Brilliant Ideas for using ICT in the Inclusive Classroom by Sal McKeown and Angie McGlashon is now available from the www.routledge.com/education site

Don’t miss this assistive technology training!

Switch accessible activities
Training with Ian Bean

Assistive technology expert Ian Bean is running a series of online training events. Ian is famous for his work a Priory Woods School where he created a host of imaginative and fun activities for young people with profound disabilities and learning difficulties. The switch accessible version of The Lion Sleeps Tonight has livened up many a stodgy training session!

The four events run between November and February. Sign up now for the most enjoyable in-service training you have ever experienced.

Course Title: Making Something Happen (5-part series)
Session Two
Topic – Assistive Technology/ Switches
Date/Time: November 30, 2011 11:00am CST
Session Two: Making Something Happen
Description: This session will look at the early stages of using switches as an access method for
communication and learning. We’ll examine experiential learners and how we might facilitate the
transition toward early control with switches and how we might meaningfully embed the use of switches at
a cause and effect level across the school day.
Certification of Attendance provided after attending webinar
Registration Link: https://cc.readytalk.com/r/r2h2higcnvey

Course Title: Extending switch use beyond cause and effect (5-part series)
Session Three
Presenter: Ian Bean
Topic – Assistive Technology/ Switches / Cause and Effect
Date/Time: December 14, 2011 11:00am CST
Session Three: Extending switch use beyond cause and effect
Description: This webinar looks at developing switch use beyond the cause and effect stage toward
making meaningful choices with one or two switches. We’ll examine the different routes we need to
facilitate for one and two switch users and explore meaningful activities to embed switch use at this level
into your school day.
Certification of Attendance provided after attending webinar
Registration Link: https://cc.readytalk.com/r/djp4obodfyvy

Course Title: Getting the most from your switches AWAY from the computer (5-part series)
Session Four
Presenter: Ian Bean
Topic – Assistive Technology/ Teaching of switching skills
Date/Time: January 18, 2012 11:00am CST
Session Four: Getting the most from your switches AWAY from the computer
Description: This webinar looks at the development and generalization of switching skills away from the
computer. We examine the role of switch controlled toys, lighting and other electrical equipment and
single message and step-by-step communication devices in the teaching of switching skills.
Certification of Attendance provided after attending webinar
Registration Link: https://cc.readytalk.com/r/l3iycnibki6x

Course Title: Communication Devices in an Inclusive Classroom (5-part series)
Session Five
Presenter: Ian Bean
Topic – Assistive Technology/ Communication
Date/Time: February 15, 2012 11:00am CST
Session Four: Communication Devices in an Inclusive Classroom
Description: This webinar looks the use of single and multiple message communication devices and how
they can be used as an integral part of the school day. We’ll examine vocabulary, motivation and share
ideas and examples that you can use in your classrooms the very next day.
Certification of Attendance provided after attending webinar
Registration Link: https://cc.readytalk.com/r/h0sos2oupxnl

Up to one in ten affected by dyspraxia

Dyspraxia affects, “up to ten per cent of the population and up to two per cent severely. Males are four times more likely to be affected than females.” (Dyspraxia Foundation).

Dyspraxia Awareness Week runs from 6-13 November. Why do we need these awareness weeks? Many conditions get a lot of recognition and media coverage –think autism, dyslexia, and behavioural issues. Lesser known conditions get overlooked and so parents, teachers and therapists are less clued up and children’s needs can be overlooked.

the cover of How to Help your Dyslexic and Dyspraxic ChildMy new book How to Help your Dyslexic and Dyspraxic Child features two boys with dyspraxia, Matt and Jake. You will also meet Rupert who has both dyspraxia and dyslexia. This means that not only does he have problems with words and symbols (dyslexia) but also with the messages from brain to body (dyspraxia) so he may also find tasks involving fine motor skills or organising himself a challenge.
Children with dyspraxia may demonstrate some of these types of behaviour:
• Can’t keep still
• Very excitable and may have a loud/shrill voice
• Prone to temper tantrums
• May constantly bump into objects and fall over
• Hands flap when running
• Finds it hard to pedal a tricycle or similar toy
• A very messy eater. May hate the texture of certain foods
• Over reacts to noise and lights
• Has problems holding a pencil or using scissors.
• Can be slow to respond to what people say and have problems with comprehension
So what did our parents notice?
• He was very slow to do things such as doing up buttons, tying laces, catching a ball, riding a bike.
• He held his pencil in an odd way and was always writing with his hand twisted over so he was writing back on himself
• His reading was good too; it was his writing which let him down
• He was so accident prone, we used to joke that he would fall over his own shadow.

For more information, buy the BOOK which is out at the end of the year

Real Training recognises the most special school

There is some amazing work done in special schools and yesterday I met many teachers from schools shortlisted for the TES Award for Outstanding Special Needs School of the Year.

The finalists were:
The Bridge School, Telford, Shropshire
Frank Wise School, Banbury, Oxfordshire
James Brindley School, Birmingham
Newman School, Rotherham
The New School Butterstone, Dunkeld, Perthshire
The New School at West Heath, Sevenoaks, Kent

Pupil from Newman School shows Lorraine Petersen and Sal a magic trick

This award was sponsored by Real Training which specialises in online training courses such as the National Award for SEN co-ordination, an essential qualification for Sencos and the Certificate of Competence in Education Testing which means schools can use in-house expertise to assess children.

The ceremony took place at Park Lane Hilton with comedian and impressionist Rory Bremner as host. I was sitting with Lorraine Petersen, CEO of nasen the professional body for special needs staff. One young man from Newman School in Rotherham is a member of the magic circle and entertained us between main course and pudding with card tricks.

Mark Turner far right with winning school

The winning school was New School at West Heath in Sevenoaks, an independent school with a therapeutic unit which specialises in treating children who are severely traumatised. The school’s motto is “Rebuilding damaged lives” and they work with children from all over the country who have been abused or neglected.

At the end of the ceremony Lorraine Petersen turned to me and said, “Every day the government criticises schools and says the standards are not high enough. Events like this prove just how wrong they are.”

Mark Turner, Managing Director of Real Training, was delighted with the awards. He said, “I am so proud that Real Training can sponsor an award like this. Today, we have seen so many positive examples of excellent work in special schools which turns children’s lives around.”

Great day in Worcester

Big thanks to everyone who came to my training day last Friday in Worcester. It was organised by Walford and North Shropshire College and brought together staff from further education colleges across the region. It was called From Theory to Practice and the idea was to develop lots of practical activities to use in the classroom with Foundation level students. These may have learning difficulties but certainly will have literacy issues and be ‘quick forgetters’ so teachers will need a variety of materials and approaches to revisit the subject matter in different ways.

I wanted to make it a very lively course with lots of group work and hands on activities to do. I was lucky as the delegates were keen to take part. We took the theme of food hygiene and played card games, made a podcast about a dirty hotel, created pop ups so when the mouse hovers over a picture of a chicken, information about temperatures pops up.  We played with PhotoStory and Smart Notebook software to make some drag and drop and rub and reveal activities using visuals and a kinaesthetic approach.

By the end of the day we all knew more about food hygiene than we thought was possible and the delegates had a workbook of materials to adapt for their own subject.

Check out the PROGRAMME here. Similar courses can be booked through Martin Smith at Education Associates

Education Associates Limited 07932 179320 educationassocs@aol.com

Pitching and Dealing in Manchester!

Yesterday I went on a Pitch and Deal course run by the National Union of Journalists in Manchester. I chose Manchester for family reasons and had a great night out at Dimitris Tapas Taverna – a cross cultural confusion if I ever I saw one. Check out their website http://www.dimitris.co.uk/. You won’t thank me for this but it’s fine once you get past the first page.

Role Play

Anyway, on to the course. There were only 7 of us so we got a lot of practice at role play. I started the day off pitching a piece about technology for older people. Lisa, a freelance music journalist and photographer, obligingly played an editor. Each time the group stopped me and we started again, Lisa sounded more abrupt and short tempered – so like real life. In the end I would rather have chewed my arm off than pitch to her again. I resisted the urge to apologise for troubling her and tried very hard not to waffle on about my experience and why I was the only person who could produce the copy.

Good Networking Opportunities

One of the other course members was Louise Bolotin. We got talking about epilepsy. I have just finished a big article of Special Children and won a Responsible Reporting Award from the National Society for Epilepsy 2 years ago so it is a subject dear to my heart. Louise developed epilepsy a few years ago and has written Epilepsy: The Essential Guide. It was published by Need2Know earlier this year and the first edition sold out within a week. Louise is a very interesting person and in addition to her experience as a music journalist and a finance writer, she is also editor of Skin Two, a fetish magazine which produces a ‘coffee table’ hard back year book. Check out this multi talented woman at http://louisebolotin.com/

Armed and Ready

The Pitch and Deal course was really good. Humphrey Evans & Phil Sutcliffe, the tutors, really know their stuff and after surviving the day none of us are going to be palmed off by magazines which say they have no budget. Oh no – we know the inside story now. For future courses, have a look on the NUJ site .

The only worrying thing about the course is that the group reckoned I had a natural talent as a commissioning editor, so maybe I need to look for another job now.