Dyslexic students – no recommended devices?

Alphabet inside of men's heads face to face contrasting order and chaos

Alphabet inside of men’s heads face to face contrasting order and chaos. Source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com

We did some professional development recently regarding teaching students with dyslexia. Some of the strategies suggested for the classroom were…

  • Speech to text (Google docs)
  • Read Write (Chrome extension)
  • Dyslexic font
  • Multi-sensory approach to support big picture thinkers (eg, Use real objects as props, charts)
  • Differentiating assessment (eg, video, oral assessments where possible to meet the standard)
  • Offering/encouraging use of devices for assist learning. Eg, taking photo of information on the board, use phone to record instructions for later playback
  • Breaking tasks down – into short achievable stages.
  • Use large font with lots of space on handouts/power points
  • Intentionally talk less often, or for a shorter time
  • Offer brain breaks
  • Actively promote peer to peer learning opportunities

Some (not all) of these strategies use computer technology. Given that many schools now require a device be purchased at Year 9, I asked Dyslexia Foundation (NZ) was “Are there any guidelines regarding student devices/software that can be given to parents of students with dyslexia?“.

Unfortunately there are no guidelines. Their answer “There are no guidelines as such, and this is a problem, because many children are using different devices and different apps and the school teacher doesn’t know how to help them, …”

A little surprising perhaps? For students recently diagnosed this information would be useful to themselves and their families.

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I gave students an overview of the types of roles (broad bush) available in the ICT industry. I then asked them to indicate where they might like to see themselves . This class had a fairly equal distribution between management, analysis and programming. (Yes they used plastic animals to vote… most of the debate prior to voting was actually what animal figure they should use!)

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Standing Desks – on the cheap


Standing desks appear to be a good idea. When you have no budget the just DIY.

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The Year 9 Digital Technologies  girls are learning image manipulation using Photoshop (or GIMP if they want to). I asked them to create a simple silhouette of themselves and upload to Google Drive. I subsequently pinned them… Pinterest , and will invite them to guess who each silhouette represents. Some of the more creative girls have included a context for their silhouette.


Quite a fun learning activity, and not only gives me an idea of their skills but also their imagination and creativity, the latter two being the more valuable skills….

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Girls in STEM


Interesting article in Stuff, Alexandra is at Wellington East Girls College – we teachers seem to be saying the right things! http://www.stuff.co.nz/life-style/well-good/inspire-me/86719718/what-really-matters-to-young-kiwi-women-girls-in-stem

Meanwhile in the US… “While many 2016 high school graduates are interested in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) majors and careers, few of those students are well prepared to succeed in first-year college STEM courses.” See here for full article.

With students abandoning Maths and Physics because of their difficulty (read credits are not easy to get) I suspect we have the same problem in NZ.

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Was it the quake or the rain, or a bit of both?

Melrose Road

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Dead of Winter – would make an interesting lesson

Dead of Winter

I had the opportunity to play Dead of Winter recently.  “Dead of Winter is a meta-cooperative psychological survival game. This means the players are working together toward one common victory condition–but for each individual player to achieve victory, they must also complete their personal secret objective.” This would be great for teaching team work, collaboration and striving for team and individual goals. Only problems are I would need more than one lesson and the students would need to have a reasonable attention span…  I recommend this game.

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