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SEN Jigsaw Conference 2019 was once again a wonderful success and we were please to welcome parents and education professionals from all over the country. John Hicks and I would like to thank you once again for your support.

On average, we received a fantastic 9/10 feedback on the day.  We had great feedback and we’ve also listened to your comments regarding more access to workshops. We appreciate there were so many you wished to attend and couldn’t get to see them all. We also liked you comments about additional aspect of specific learning difficulties, such as ADHD should be covered.

 

We are now organising SEN Jigsaw Conference 2020 and pleased to announce we will be celebrating 5 years of bringing to you, information and advice on specific learning difficulties.

We invite you to place Saturday June 6th 2020 in your diary.

One of the areas you have requested we cover in 2020 is ADHD and we are currently looking to book a plenary speaker for this field of specialism.

You also told us you’d like to be able to access more workshops.  In 2020, we’ll be offering the choice of 3 workshop sessions in the afternoon.  We hope to see the return of Libby Hill, Language Therapist and Laura Graham, Occupational Therapist. Of course John Hicks and myself will also be hosting work shops. We hope to again have specialists in ASD and new to 2020, we are looking to offer a handwriting workshop.

Another enjoyable conference, thank you.  There was a good balance between ‘mingling time’ and speakers. Both plenary speakers had interesting ideas that I can take back to my schools and Libby Hill’s  (Levels of Questioning) workshop was great and a real eye opener. Thank you

An excellent affordable day. I will be taking what I have learnt back into my practice having learnt something new.

We really couldn’t make SEN Jigsaw conference work without your support and we invite you to book your ‘backer’ ticket and in return we will offer you a great discount.  As usual, you can cancel your ticket up to 30 days before and receive a full refund. You’ll get access to the same plenary speakers, exhibitors and more afternoon workshops than 2019.  We continue to offer a 2 course hot lunch a refreshments throughout the day.

Book Now to receive your discounted ticket

Here are just some of the feedback comments we received from SEN Jigsaw Conference 2019

Very good theory based presentation from Peter Jarrett on Dyscalculia.  Ruth Fidler’s talk on PDA was fab!

Really informative day – Dyscalculia talk was very very informative

Extremely enjoyable day worth travelling so far from Northumberland.

Networking has been good and getting info on the different neuro-diversities.

Great to hear professionals, learn from other delegates and I now feel more empowered to help my child and get the assistance he needs.

Learned a lot – I work with a PDA pupil.Very knowledgeable speakers who are enthusiastic about their topics – kept me awake on a rainy Saturday.

Very engaging, thank you.

Great opportunity to have something so local.

A range of different SEN issues which has been interesting.  Applicable to my professional career and as a mum of a dyslexic child. Thank you.

Particularly valuable was the talk on PDA as understanding is not as diverse as ASD. Auditory Processing was another excellent workshop.

Really eye opening: lots of information and I will be following up with lots of people. 

We do hope that you can join us again on June 6th 2020. Follow us on Facebook to learn more about SEN Jigsaw Conference 2020.

You can also find us on twitter

The post SEN Jigsaw Conference 2020- Celebrates its 5th Birthday! appeared first on Codebreakers.

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Do games have a place for post-l6 learners with dyslexia?

by Georgina Smith

Dyslexia Assessor and Tutor and Author of CodeBreakers Dyslexia programme at CodeBreakers Dyslexia Services

Contact:georgina.smith@dyslexia-codebreakers.co.uk

Moving to learn

As a member of PATOSS, I receive the bi-annual, Bulletin Journal.  I read with interest an article entitled, “Does Movement Influence Our Brains Processes? Karisa Krcmar (2018) PATOSS Bulletin.  It made me reflect on games and how they helped my students learn to read and spell during a 1:1 tuition session.

As an advocate and practitioner of multi-sensory learning techniques, I always endeavour to ‘get bums off seats’ and learn in different ways.  I use a lot of games to enable learning. Not only does it stop students getting ‘bored’, I also consider it engages the brain, to process information in different ways, other than sitting at a desk completing workbooks. In a post-16 and HE setting, equally our students need to be stimulated.

Krcmar (2018) identifies Groth (2017) who suggest that when sitting at a  table our brains think we are in relaxation mode or resting and ‘turn off’.  Krcmar (2018) makes a valid point that we expect students to sit at desks and work in exams (and the classroom).

My main and initial purpose of playing games was to provide a visual stimulus for the spelling/reading pattern being taught. For example, I have a golf putting game, football goals, skittles, I find anything which I know will engage a student and a game they often enjoy themselves.  I make a label of the spelling patterns and place it within the view of the student.  For example, if we are learning how to make a /shon/ sound at the end of a word, I will make 3 cards with a label ‘tion, sion, cian’.

I then have my list of words, which have followed a compound and cumulative system.  I ask the student to spell or sound out a word. The aim of the ‘spell aloud game’, is for students to learn to segment words into sounds and select the correct spelling choice, for example ‘technician’.  They may say ‘t-e-/k/-n-i-/shon/’.  At which point they will be asked, “Which pattern would they choose to make the /shon/”.  We can then talk about the choices which make the /shon/ and the rules they have learned.

In addition to sounding out, it helps build experience of using the working memory, whilst being supported by visual prompts.

Games build memories for learning

I also strongly believe that students assimilate learning and have ‘memories’ from our sessions together, which they can then link to new learning, linking into existing schemata.  My younger students will often say ‘Remember when we played…I can recall now the spelling patterns for…”.  These memories aren’t exclusive to younger students.

Learning can become the same and repetitive, if we have provided some semantic links, this can differentiate and help segment learning experiences.  I often tend to find a key word for the specific sound/pattern I am working on, which holds a specific memory for a student.  We may take a few moments discussing that memory in general conversation. I use this as the ‘way in’ to their memory and then try to add into this with the new existing information.  Making sessions different, through games, helps students separate and segment their memories and recall specific experiences. I particularly recall my own university experiences. I am not a natural academic and learning from books does not come easy for me.  Some of the best points where I assimilated learning, came from a non-learning environment, sitting having a coffee and chatting with fellow students and making the connections to my own experiences.

I recall some time ago watching Kara Tointon’s programme on Dyslexia “Don’t Call Me Stupid” Watch it here

In this series of programmes, she learns how movement can help her retain information.

Krcmar (2018) discusses how academics are now exploring movement and learning.  In the Creative Academic Magazine (2017) Beard argued, “Movement is an essential principle in the design of effective learning”.  In this same article Groth (2017) discusses the ‘fight or flight’ reflex.  Our brains switch off when we are learning, if we are in relaxation mode, such as sat at a desk or lying on our bed reading. He argues that we don’t process information in the same way, if our brains aren’t stimulated.

Krcmar (2018) identifies 5 methods to help students learn through movement, these are; gesture, seek and appreciate patterns of movement, engage the senses, play and tapping into emotions. It’s thought that even small or non-sedentary movements can aid focus and thinking.

It is reported that engaging in movement helps with the intake of oxygen and therefore brain arousal.  Often the students in my sessions become breathless, as they have taken some exercise during the game, therefore stimulating the intake of oxygen.

Davis et al, (2011) are cited in the article, which is a study of children exercising whilst taking part in an academic task.  It revealed ‘an increase in bilateral prefrontal cortex activity’.  This is the place where executive functioning takes place and significant improvement was seen.  Executive functioning is the part of the brain which functions without conscious awareness. This part of the brain sifts through information, prioritises and actions tasks.

Krcmar (2018) reports on a further study, where moderate exercise was undertaken and reading and spelling were improved. However, an individual with dyspraxia may find ‘sport’ more challenging as they may need to concentrate on balance and engaging core skills.

Sensory learning needs

The article continues, to identify that remaining seated may inhibit some learners from learning, processing and storing information.

Many of my students have anxiety, some have sensory processing difficulties and basically struggle to sit still.  Some choose to stand up and complete their worksheets.  I have never stopped this, as I advocate students taking charge of their learning and as long as they are ‘working’, I am happy.

Krcmar (2018) gives the example of Aristotle, the ancient Greek who ‘walked and talked’.  In addition, Beethoven is said to have walked through countryside whilst composing. Playing games also aids bite-sized learning, it provides an opportunity for recapping and over-learning, all of which are important to retain learning.

Students can be encouraged to experiment with how they learn best and when they feel most stimulated to learn.  For some it can be standing or pacing.  Some need to ‘fidget’ to focus and concentrate.  Some require sensory feedback and for this reason, I recently used an exercise band, tied to the chair legs and watched as many students started to use it, bouncing their feet on it, receiving sensory feedback.  All was going well, until it became worn out and snapped!!

Krcmar (2018) extends the discussion to applying the ideas to study support.  The concept of using a flip chart to encourage students to stand and plan their ideas.

A ‘safe’ place to learn

Although playing games may be perceived as immature to some, some students may still be motivated by playing games, it can build light-hearted relief into sessions, which can be otherwise academic and stressful for struggling learners and build a rapport with your student.  Personally, I find rapport and building mutual respect with learners is key to developing a trusting working relationship. One of my mature students recently told me, ‘It’s safe here, I’m safe to make mistakes’. This student had worked his way up from through volunteering with St John’s Ambulance, to working as an ambulance technician and was about to start his foundation degree to qualify as a paramedic. We need to provide our students with a ‘safe’ learning environment, if we expect them to ‘take risks’ and there is a chance of making mistakes.

I recently watch the inspirational Jay Shetty talk, he spoke about failure being an opportunity to learn.  We can apply this in the same way to errors/mistakes being an opportunity to learn about our misconceptions of previous learning and as tutors this can be an opportunity to observe a student’s misunderstanding.  Without ‘trust’ our students may not move from their comfort zone and explore new ways and methods of learning.

Working with students’ interests and building rapport and mutual respect

I have had the pleasure of working on a project with a senior EP.  He chatted about the work he has been doing with sports professionals and their coaches.  He told me how these individuals were elite in their field and providing them with an opportunity to express their expertise and share their knowledge, was valuable to build their confidence, in a setting which was essentially addressing an area which they did not excel at.  FE and HE students may well have selected core subjects which they excel in, yet their literacy skills may not be comparable, essentially this is the same as the EP working with elite sportsman. Often my sessions with the ambulance technician would start with a chat about health matters and he would provide me with a very detailed account of the biology and science and I truly learned many things from him.  It built a mutual respect of two adults sharing knowledge and experience.

Choose games which are key to your student’s interests, I have used indoor goal posts and putting greens in the past.  The aim of the game, for my students, is to use the knowledge/rules from the systematic synthetic phonics programme to practice sounding out or spelling words from the sound or pattern they are working on.  Basically, you can adapt this to any piece of learning required.  The great thing about games, is students can also make choices and take charge of the game by making up their own rules.  It is really important for students to feel in control and take charge of their learning.

Anxiety, learning and working memory

It has long been considered that intellect is a key indication of academic success. However, Packiam Alloway suggests that working memory is also a key factor and indicator of success.  Without good working memory, we cannot efficiently process information provided at an auditory or visual level.  We need to be able to process the information, as it is received and assimilate it to existing knowledge/schemata, in order for it to pass from the short term to the long-term memory.  If information is to be retained and retrieved, it needs to pass into the long-term memory. There are of course many ways, including multi-sensory learning, which we can ensure that this information transfers.  There are many reasons why it may also not transfer, such as language processing.  However, Packiam Alloway reports that anxiety can impact upon the working memory, anxiety created by any external factor reduces our ability to processing information in the working memory.  Therefore, by introducing games, building a rapport, providing sensory feedback, offering opportunities to move to increase kinaesthetic learning, we can then help decrease anxiety, resulting in optimising the working memory.

I total agree with Krcmar, that as specialist teachers we are able to adapt and offer different student experiences and go further to personalise learning. It is our role to provide opportunities for learning through multi-sensory, metacognition, memory opportunities, ensuring our students are relaxed, decreasing their anxiety about an area of work they feel is not their strength.

CodeBreakers is presently seeking schools and colleges to participate in a study. If your school or college is interested, please contact georgina.smith@dyslexia-codebreakers.co.uk

Bibliography

Jay Shetty

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6_93xq8gea8

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fQNFMxYxFSQ

Kara Tointon

Krcmar (2018) PATOSS Bulletin Winter

https://www.patoss-dyslexia.org/Resources/af418439-98f6-4a01-90fc-496b252e88b9

Packiam Alloway working memory resources

http://tracyalloway.com/working-memory-and-learning

http://tracyalloway.com/books

Game resources and ideas

CodeBreakers www.dyslexia-codebreakers.co.uk

The post Do games have a place for post-16 learners with Dyslexia? appeared first on Codebreakers.

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How do we know if a child just doesn’t understand maths, it just isn’t their subject or strength or if it’s a specific difficulty called Dyscalculia?

As a specialist teacher I often get asked to help children with maths.  I also get asked for services to diagnose dyscalculia.  Having received a training day specifically on the subject, I still feel it’s a very difficult thing to isolate and clearly identify Dyscalculia.  Like Dyslexia, there are often co-existing difficulties which make it hard to identify the cause.

The British Dyslexia Association describes Dyscalculia as “A specific learning difficulty with mathematics or more appropriately arithmetic. With 5% of the population believed to experience the condition there isn’t a lot of information out there to inform teachers and parents about how it affects those that have it.  Peter Jarrett is the Chair of the BDA’s Dyscalulia Committee and we are really lucky to be able to have him as one of our key speakers at SEN Jigsaw on June 8th. Peter, told us about himself.

“Hi, I’m Pete Jarrett and I am a specialist teacher and assessor with an interest in dyscalculia and maths learning difficulties. I am Chair of the British Dyslexia Association Dyscalculia Committee and am on other committees that work on behalf of or professionals and people who find maths learning difficult. I speak at conferences around the country as well as lecturing at Bath Spa University.”

Why do you do what you do?

I am dyslexic myself and that has meant that there are aspects of life and learning that I can find difficult at times – for one thing, I am really disorganised!

Whilst my dyslexia has not held me back it has meant that I have done things in unorthodox ways at times. I went into teaching later in life, and I was soon struck by how many people struggled with their learning but weren’t really understood. To be brutally honest, I was dismayed that many people who struggled with traditional learning were still being called lazy when it was very apparent to me that they needed a different approach to shine.

I can do maths, and I understand struggle, so I have combined both and now my focus is on helping teachers to understand how and why people can struggle with maths and to give them some ideas on how to help.

Where can we get to hear you speak about Dyscalculia?

On June 8th I will be speaking at the SEN Jigsaw Conference delivering one of the plenary talks entitled “Defining Dyslcalculia: What have we learnt about maths difficulties and maths learning?”.

I will be talking about what dyscalculia is and about the other ways that people can find maths difficult. I will also give some ideas around ways that people who struggle with maths learn and what can be done to help them.

I won’t be asking anyone to do any difficult maths because part of my talk will be about the things that people find uncomfortable in the maths classroom and how they feel about the maths in their everyday life.

That sounds great. What will delegates get from attending your plenary talk?

I hope that everyone will understand dyscalculia a bit better. They will be able to recognise some of the indicators and learn how other conditions such as dyslexia can cause difficulties with maths learning.

People will get some ideas about strategies that can help children to understand maths better.

How can our readers find out more about you?

My business – Tutorum Training  – has a website: www.tutorum.co.uk

I am on Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/pete-jarrett-9086b735

I am also on Twitter: @idyscalculia and @tutorum

People can also email me at pete@tutorum.co.uk

Along with  Dyscalculia specialist Peter Jarrett, we will also have Ruth Fidler discussing Autism and Pathological Demand Avoidance (PDA) as key speakers.  You can read about our PDA speaker here. 

In the afternoon we will have workshops in Dyslexia, Assistive Software, Language Development, An Autism Friendly Classroom, Dyspraxia and Auditory Processing Difficulties.

There will be a number of SEN exhibitors too.

Parents and education professionals will be assured a very warm welcome. A professional yet relaxed conference.

Did you miss our event last year? Here’s a link to SEN Jigsaw 2018

The post Maths difficulty or Dyscalculia- How do we know the difference? appeared first on Codebreakers.

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As a specialist tutor, I have worked with many students who have anxiety related to learning and many might use distraction techniques or negotiate with me about what they’d like to do and when they’d like to do it.  As a 1:1 tutor I appreciate I have the luxury of being able to offer more flexibility for my learners. It’s my role to engage students and help them over come any anxiety.

However, what happens when you’ve tried every ‘trick in the book’ yet you still can’t engage a student, you are met with melt downs like you’ve never experienced and point blank refusal to complete any work.  At this point you’ve completely ran out of bargaining tools and reward systems.

I experienced this and it honestly made me question my role as a specialist teacher.  I questioned why I could not engage this student and why some times my reward systems worked and other days there was no way in this world I was going to get even a response from my student.  I started to look around to see how I could find better reward systems.  It was at this point I learned about Pathological Demand Avoidance.  The description totally described my student.  I knew I had to learn more.

Since then I’ve learned more and know I still need to learn more if I am to offer my students the best learning experience. I’ve invited Ruth Fidler to present on Autism and PDA and SEN Jigsaw on Saturday June 8th in Stoke on Trent.  Here’s what she told us:

I am an Education Consultant specialising in complex autism, Pathological Demand Avoidance (PDA), interactive approaches and emotional well being.

Ruth Fidler

I worked at an all age non-maintained special school for 94 pupils across the autism spectrum for 22 years until 2014 and have worked independently since then. During my time on the senior leadership team the school sustained Ofsted outstanding status. I worked within the school promoting interactive approaches and emotional well being for pupils with complex autism. As a member of the leadership team I had a strategic role and contributed to continuing professional development for all staff. I also led an outreach pilot project working with other agencies to meet the needs of children and young people currently unable to attend school.

As well as providing training, I regularly observe and monitors teaching and learning, supporting staff to embed and refine good autism and SEND practice.

I regularly presents at local and national events and conferences for parents and a range of professionals. I provide training and consultancy for a variety of schools and services across the UK and with organisations including the Autism Education Trust, the National Autistic Society and the PDA Society. I am also a member of the National Autism and Girls Forum and the National PDA development group.

I have contributed to publications in the Good Autism Practice (GAP) journal on the subject of promoting emotional wellbeing and is co-author of the following books; ‘Understanding Pathological Demand Avoidance syndrome in children’ (2012), ‘Can I Tell You About Pathological Demand Avoidance?’ (2015) Collaborative Approaches to Learning (2019) and Girls and Autism (2019)

You have clearly built up a real body of work in the field of Autism. Why do you do what you do?

Put simply, I am very lucky to have been able to build a career doing something I love. I am motivated by seeking to make a positive difference to children and young people, to their families and to the adults who support them. I am able to draw on nearly 30 years of experience, but it should also be said that I invariably learn more from all sorts of individuals I meet.

Where can our readers see you speak about PDA and Autism?

I will be delivering a plenary talk entitled “Understanding and supporting pupils with Pathological Demand Avoidance” at the SEN Jigsaw Conference on June 8th in Stoke-on-Trent.

I will help delegates to gain a better understanding of Pathological Demand Avoidance profiles and more importantly, of ways to support this group of vulnerable youngsters in terms of their well-being and their access to learning.

That sounds really interesting. What will the delegates gain from attending your talk?

Delegates will develop an understanding of Pathological Demand Avoidance profiles and the implications for individuals, for families and for education practitioners working with these pupils. They will learn strategies and approaches to enhance their practice and to promote engagement with learning and emotional well-being for pupils.

How can our readers find out more about you?

Your readers can find out more about me by looking at the Autism Associates website or my Linkedin profile, or by looking at publications on Jessica Kingsley Publishers website (www.jkp.com)

Along with Ruth Fidler we will also have Dyscalculia specialist Peter Jarrett, as key speakers.

In the afternoon we will have workshops in Dyslexia, Assistive Software, Language Development, An Autism Friendly Classroom, Dyspraxia and Auditory Processing Difficulties.

There will be a number of SEN exhibitors too.

Parents and education professionals will be assured a very warm welcome. A professional yet relaxed conference.

Did you miss our event last year? Here’s a link to SEN Jigsaw 2018

The post Poor Behaviour or Pathological Demand Avoidance (PDA)? appeared first on Codebreakers.

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In April the All Party Parliamentary Group met  in Westminster to discuss the Human Cost of Dyslexia. This was a a report commissioned by the British Dyslexia Association and made stark reading.  Overall it detailed how having dyslexia not only had an impact on literacy but also an emotional impact. You can read the full report here .  From my own family’s experiences I know dyslexia can contribute to poor self-esteem,confidence and have long term mental health implications.

I’ve worked in this field since 2003 and my passion is driven by wanting to ensure every child leaves school with the ability to read and write and be able to make the life choices, not only about education and employment but choices regarding health, social and finance. I wish to see children and students of all ages confident in their ability to read and spell.

The APPG report highlighted over half of the children tried to avoid school, clearly there is a very close link to dyslexia and the negative impact on mental health where individuals are not supported correctly.  Since September 2018 I have implemented a pilot study of my dyslexia programme, CodeBreakers, in some Staffordshire schools.  During the last 8, of a 12 month pilot programme, using CodeBreakers in schools, I have received not only amazing statistics and seen 75% of the students’ abilities grow in decoding and encoding I’ve also heard heartwarming anecdotal evidence from the staff involved, regarding the children’s confidence.

I spoke to the SENCO last week (May 2019) and she reported,

One of our students had experienced lots of other intervention programmes and was developing some ‘behavioural’ difficulties in school, I’m certain this was linked to his low self esteem around learning. After just a few months of 1:1, for 1 hour a week, I’ve seen an increase in his confidence and a decrease ‘behavioral’ difficulties. For the first time he’s realised he can learn to read and spell.

It’s the small changes that can’t be measured but which have such a great impact on an individual’s life, the SENCO told me,

Only last week one of my students came in with such excitement, telling me that they’d had a take-away over the weekend.  I was a little confused as this wasn’t anything unusual.  He then told me “But Miss, I tried something different for the first time ‘cos I could read the menu!”

Those confident moments can transfer to the classroom too and can have an impact wider on learning as a whole.

For the first time, one of my students using CodeBreakers put her hand up in class and was able to answer a question about spelling and tell the teacher and the whole class why the spelling was wrong.

The fabulous thing about this moment is, the student was able to clearly quote the rule behind the spelling errors, as she’d learned and retained it from CodeBreakers sessions. Not only that, she was able to transfer the learning from 1:1 into the classroom and apply it.  This was a child who previously was too shy to contribute in class.

The programme has received praise from a headteacher, she identified, after  just 20 weeks intervention, encoding and decoding skills had increased.

I just wanted to say a great big thank you on behalf of all the children that you have helped support at our school! These results are fantastic and I know that CodeBreakers has made a very real difference for our children and for our staff!

September 2019 will see the start of a second year project to identify CodeBreakers’ effectiveness in small group settings.  CodeBreakers can be delivered by TAs effectively and can also be sent  home to enable parents to participate and ensure that parents can see progress and intervention.  CodeBreakers has been devised specifically to be delivered by TAs, as they are often the staff supporting the most vulnerable students.  It’s an easy to follow programme which is systematic synthetic phonics with multi-sensory techniques.  It’s unique as it provides a number of opportunities for over learning which many programmes lack. It also works across all age ranges.  The mix of fun games and worksheets keeps children of all ages engaged. The baseline tests can be administered without qualifications and establish a start point and evidence progress.

Our year 1 project focused on 1:1 intervention.  We know funding often constrains this type of intervention.  Therefore, year 2 (September 2019) pilot study will focus on small group intervention.

If you’d like your school to be considered for the pilot study, we are currently receiving expressions of interest from primary and secondary schools. We are happy to provide a webinar based demonstration for you.

Contact us here.

We’ll be talking about the pilot study and chatting to schools at the annual SEN Jigsaw Conference on Saturday June 8th In Stoke on Trent. There are a number of specialist providing morning presentations and afternoon on SpLD workshops. This is a ticket only event, Booking is essential by 30th May.

The post Dyslexia, confidence, self -esteem, mental health – How can we change it? appeared first on Codebreakers.

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SEN Jigsaw Conference is for education professionals and parents.  A whole day event in a relaxed and professional setting.  Entrance in via ticket only.  Tickets on sale until May 30th via Eventbrite .

CLICK TO BOOK

The SEN Jigsaw Conference 2019: What's happening next month? - YouTube

The post What’s on at SEN Jigsaw 2019? Saturday June 8th – Stoke on Trent appeared first on Codebreakers.

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April 2019 saw the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) meet and discuss the Human Cost of Dyslexia.  It made stark reading for many.  I’m sure the comments and anecdotal evidence were no surprise, in a climate where schools lack funding to be able to provide dyslexia assessments and intervention.

The APPG report was commissioned by the British Dyslexia association (BDA) and I’m proud to say my colleague and co-organiser of SEN Jigsaw Conference, John Hicks,  was asked to conduct research among parents of dyslexic children, where he saw a phenomenal response to his survey. The aim of the survey was to compel politicians in Parliament to take action to raise awareness about dyslexia and make available better support for dyslexic pupils not only academically but also pastorally.  The survey had 1300 responses with over 2500 comments collected from parents of dyslexic children about the emotional aspects of living with dyslexia.

John Hicks is a dyslexia blogger, parent of a child with dyslexia and provides life coaching, specialising in dyslexia.

The TES reported on the survey’s findings and you can read their article here . The BDA also report an overview of the findings here .

The full report can be downloaded here .

It is estimated that 10-15% of people in the UK have dyslexia. This equates to approximately 800,000-1.3 million individuals, in the school environment.

Sharon Hodgson MP and chair of the APPG reported, ”We need to do more to identify and support individuals sooner”.

95% of parents reported they ‘did not know how to support their child’.

82% of parents reported  ‘their child tried to hide their dyslexia’.

85% of parents reported ‘their child was embarrassed by their dyslexia’.

All these statistics point to children who may grow up to have anxiety related to learning.  However, in my own experiences of teaching adults and having a father with dyslexia, I know this goes far beyond anxiety related to learning.  The low self esteem which comes from struggling to learn to read and spell has  a wider impact; socially, on relationships, life choices as well as work and education related choices. Choices such as being able to read the TV screen or menu in a restaurant to make a different choice, life choices being able to read letters from the bank, utility company or access any information about health and finance, the confidence to enroll on a vocational college because they may ask them to fill in their name and address, that even at 60, they still can’t write, the desire to simply sit in a coffee shop and read a book, the ability to read a bedtime story to your child or help them read as they enter school, the reliance on their wife to organise the car insurance or write a cheque and the stress it places on their relationship because ‘she does it all’.  It’s  the resentment that he is reliant on her to do all these things and he can’t be independent and the stress it places on her because she has to hold it all together.  It’s the secret the individual keeps for all of their life because they are ashamed that they are not literate and  they’ve spent a lifetime hiding it.  It’s the fear that if they go to work tomorrow, the boss may have changed something that they know automatically and now they might need to read something to learn something new.  The fear their employer might find them out. It’s the choice not to have any children of their own, because they didn’t want to pass of the dyslexia gene.  These are all very real experiences of the people I’ve worked with. It’s not just one experience of each person but a multitude of their experiences, on a daily basis.

 Sharon Hodgson MP wrote,

Whilst dyslexia does not affect intelligence and the contribution of dyslexic thinking to our country is undoubtedly great, almost all adults you speak to with dyslexia however successful they have been – will tell you they have at times felt less than their peers in the general population and have irrational feelings of failure that hark back to their childhood.

The reason I work in this field is because I am passionate about not allowing the next generation of people, school leavers (and adults) experience these very life changing difficulties.  It’s not about passing a GCSE for these individuals, it’s about the pure ability to read and write which changes their lives.  Somewhat, there are chances later in life to gain GCSEs and go to university.  We don’t get second chances at childhood, enjoying going to school and feeling happy in the place we spend 6-7 hours a day for 11 years of our lives.  Many of these children endure daily anxiety, lack self esteem or are reported as having ‘behavioural difficulties’.

Pennie Aston, Director, GroOops Dyslexia Aware Counselling, said at the APPG for Dyslexia and other SpLDs on 24 April 2019:

“In the 12 years we have been operating we have identified a core matrix of
presenting problems that are common to all our clients. They are not
exclusive to neurodiversity but the frequency, intensity and energy required
to cope with them, is. Our investigations have also looked at the origins of the
presenting problems which we find firmly embedded in early years
experiences.”

The result is that dealing with the emotional repercussions of dyslexia is dealing with trauma.

I don’t write this attributing blame with teachers and schools, it’s about he government and its investment.  I’ve met headteachers, teachers, SENCOs and TAs in many schools who are passionate about supporting individuals. I’ve seen situations where even when a programme is supplied free, there aren’t the staff to deliver it.

The APPG research reports that in the current system of funding and assessment, many young people become reliant on their family to gain private diagnosis and support.  The reality is, many parents cannot afford the fee for assessments. As an assessor, I have to advise any family that an assessment is not the key that will unlock the door to provision.  The changes in the Children and Families Act 2014 did not make it easier for parents to gain appropriate support for their child.  Even with a diagnosis, children are not guaranteed the suitable level of intervention as it comes down to funding and appropriately trained staff within the school, who can deliver a dyslexia specific intervention.

The BDA make excellent recommendations that dyslexia trained specialist teachers should be available within schools or a cluster of schools. However, in reality, I’m not sure under the current funding situation that this would be met. If 10-15% of the students are experiencing dyslexia difficulties which require intervention, this means there will be a large number of students requiring intervention. I’m not sure that funding will permit to train enough specialist teachers or afford them.

Currently, it is TAs who are at the fore of intervention. Traditionally TAs might have been parents who came into schools to help reading.  Yet presently, we see TAs who have degrees from other subjects, TAs which have a number of years experience supporting teachers in class or providing individual support, TAs can be responsible for delivering a lesson for  a whole class.  There are a number of very able TAs who are overlooked for training, yet are the staff who are supporting the most vulnerable students in a school. I question why we do not provide effective training to TAs.

In 2019, I conducted a very quick and random survey in a education professional social media group.  I asked what their job title was, how long they had been in their role, what their highest level of qualification was and how long they had spent during their training, learning about phonics.

Over a third were SENCos and approximately 17% were HLTAs. Over 60% had been working for over 10 years in education. I asked how much phonics training had been received during their training.  A startling 56% had received no training and around 17% had received one day of training. Surely this is the equivalent to teaching someone to drive, are we simply passing on our own knowledge and experiences which aren’t always correct?

They were also asked if they had delivered a systematic synthetic phonics programme, 37.5% had done so. Only 15% had delivered a dyslexia specific or multi-sensory language programme.

Clearly, there is room for further investment and training for staff if we are to provide children with the best opportunity to develop literacy skills.

In a year long project (2018-2019) ran by CodeBreakers Dyslexia Programme, we aimed to demonstrate that;

  1. Children with dyslexia or at risk (struggling readers and spellers) could increase their reading and spelling ability with 1 hr a week, 1:1 intervention, using CodeBreakers systematic synthetic phonics programme
  2. These children would see an increase in their confidence and self esteem
  3. That an effective dyslexia specific programme can be delivered by appropriately trained TAs.

I agree with Dr Helen Ross. Commenting on the findings of the APPG report, Dr Helen Ross, dyslexia/SpLD expert and SEN practitioner, Helen’s Place, said:

“It is hugely disappointing to see the extent to which parents still feel that schools are not able to support young people effectively. As researchers and teachers, we find it is frustrating that we are still not equipped by the legislative environment to meet the needs of dyslexic children – particularly when the established strategies that support dyslexic learners work well for all
learners.”

Using systematic synthetic phonics, with multi-sensory techniques and given ample opportunity for over learning, does work well for all. Given the number of SPLDs, it’s highly likely that the differentiation made for some would benefit more, without diagnosis.

These children are not children are bright individuals and have skills and strengths in their own fields, they are resourceful and many are doing exceptionally well, given the lack of intervention and could be progressing much further, with the correct intervention, which will allow them to access all of the curriculum. However, for some, we run the risk of them disengaging from the education system.

Parents have very real worries and concerns about their child’s prospects and as a result feel the need to fight for their child’s needs. As a dyslexia assessor, I know parents feel they need to gain a diagnosis to get the attention of their child’s school. The APPG report highlights that for some, they are told that they will need to gain a private report because funding is simply not available. Parents feel they need a diagnosis to enable them to unlock the support and intervention.  However, what if we viewed this differently and provided a good standard of intervention, as soon as a child was identified as struggling to access reading and spelling skills?

Over 70% of parents report feeling anxious and dis-empowered when dealing with their child’s school. I know for many in the role of providing intervention, they also feel anxious dealing with parents, unable to provide suitable intervention programmes or funding for assessments. For many this route ends in fractious relationships, EHCP applications and tribunals, which becomes costly and stressful for all. What if we provided a good level of intervention early, to avoid the cost, stress and breakdown in relationships?

In addition to the stress and anxiety felt by parents which needed to ‘fight’ for intervention, over 70% of parents felt exhausted by the situation and nearly 80% admit to losing their patience and were frustrated with their child, due to dyslexia. It’s this fractious relationship and memories of trying to do the homework at the dining table which I recall in my own home, with my family. It’s a scenario which can be eased if parents didn’t feel the responsibility to teach their child to read and spell, let alone the additional homework which they find themselves having to support their child with, as they can’t access the information. The situation affects family dynamics in so many ways, siblings might gain less attention or time with their parents, money needs to be spent on private tuition and parents working more hours to pay for it.  This is without the arguments which happen on a daily basis as parent and child battle with learning spellings and sitting down to complete homework. Parents have reported their changing role from parent to educator.

The APPG report highlighted over half of the children tried to avoid school, clearly there is a very close link to dyslexia and the negative impact on mental health where individuals are not supported correctly.  During the last 8, of a 12 month pilot programme, using CodeBreakers in schools, I have received not only amazing statistics and seen 75% of the students’ abilities grow in decoding and encoding I’ve also heard heartwarming anecdotal evidence from the staff involved, regarding the children’s confidence.

I spoke to the SENCO last week (May 2019) and she reported,

One of our students had experienced lots of other intervention programmes and was developing some ‘behavioural’ difficulties in school, I’m certain this was linked to his low self esteem around learning. After just a few months of 1:1, for 1 hour a week, I’ve seen in increase in his confidence and a decrease ‘behavioral’ difficulties. For the first time he’s realised he can learn to read and spell.

It’s the small changes that can’t be measured but which have such a great impact on an individual’s life, the SENCO told me,

Only last week one of my students came in with such excitement, telling me that’d they’d had a take-away over the weekend.  I was a little confused as this wasn’t anything unusual.  He then told me “But Miss, I tried something different for the first time ‘cos I could read the menu!”

Those confident moments can transfer to the classroom too and can have an impact wider on learning as a whole.

For the first time, one of my students using CodeBreakers put her hand up in class and was able to answer a question about spelling and tell the teacher and the whole class why the spelling was wrong.

The fabulous thing about this moment is, the student was able to clearly quote the rule behind the spelling errors, as she’d learned and retained it from CodeBreakers sessions. Not only that, she was able to transfer the learning from 1:1 into the classroom and apply it.

The programme has received praise from a headteacher, after identifying that after just 20 weeks intervention, encoding and decoding skills have increased.

I just wanted to say a great big thank you on behalf of all the children that you have helped support at our school! These results are fantastic and I know that CodeBreakers has made a very real difference for our children and for our staff!

September 2019 will see the start of a second year project to identify CodeBreakers’ effectiveness in small group settings.  CodeBreakers can be delivered by TAs effectively and can also be sent  home to enable parents to participate and ensure that parents can see progress and intervention.

If you’d like your school to be considered for the pilot study, we are currently receiving expressions of interest from primary and secondary schools. Please contact us here.

We’ll be talking about the pilot study and chatting to schools at the annual SEN Jigsaw Conference on Saturday June 8th In Stoke on Trent. There are a number of specialist providing morning presentations and afternoon on SpLD workshops. This is a ticket only event, Booking is essential by 30th May.

The post Dyslexia – The All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) – stark reading. How can we change dyslexia support and the human cost of dyslexia? appeared first on Codebreakers.

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If you’ve ever considered helping your own child with reading and spelling at home you’ll know there are a multitude of programmes out there and knowing which to chose is difficult. Recently a parent bought CodeBreakers, here’s her view of how CodeBreakers has helped her child to read and spell.

The parent asked a dyslexia tutor to deliver CodeBreakers at home but the programme is written to enable parents use the programme themselves with an easy to follow handbook.

I am an adult education tutor with a specialism in dyslexia and was asked if I would privately tutor a boy of nine, with a low working memory and strong indicators of dyslexia.  I agreed to help the parents to help build up his phonic knowledge and his self- confidence, and decided to try CodeBreakers.

I have been working with him now for just over three months and have been really impressed with how much the programme is working for him.  It is very easy to follow, has just the right amount of repetition and definitely helps to improve self-confidence, as the students can see for themselves how they are improving.

His mum tells me every week how pleased she is and made a special mention last week of the fact that:

‘He has started to read things when we are out and about; something he had never done before and I feel sure that’s because of CodeBreakers.’

She also told me that she had struggled for months to try to get him to understand the concept of the ‘Magic e’ but in a few short weeks, he has mastered it and the pure joy on his face last week when he didn’t make a single mistake was great to see.

I tested him recently on spellings from the past few weeks and he got 15 out of 15!! He told me

‘I’ve never got my spellings right before!’ and off he went to show mum and granny his achievements.  Lovely to see!!

I would have no hesitation in highly recommending the CodeBreakers programme for anyone who is struggling with their reading and writing.

with thanks to, Vanessa Goddard, Managing Dyslexia

As the author of CodeBreakers, one of the the greatest things I observe, from the people using using CodeBreakers, is confidence.  The simplest of comments can be so heartwarming and touching. Recently, we’ve been trialing CodeBreakers in schools. I spoke to the SENCO last week and she reported,

One of our students had experienced lots of other intervention programmes and was developing some ‘behavioural’ difficulties in school, I’m certain this was linked to his low self esteem around learning. After just a few months of 1:1, for 1 hour a week, I’ve seen in increase in his confidence and a decrease ‘behavioral’ difficulties. For the first time he’s realised he can learn to read and spell.

It’s the small changes that can’t be measured but which have such a great impact on an individual’s life, the SENCO told me,

Only last week one of my students came in with such excitement, telling me that’d they’d had a take-away over the weekend.  I was a little confused as this wasn’t anything unusual.  He then told me “But Miss, I tried something different for the first time ‘cos I could read the menu!”

Those confident moments can transfer to the classroom too and can have an impact wider on learning as a whole.

For the first time, one of my students using CodeBreakers put her hand up in class and was able to answer a question about spelling and tell the teacher and the whole class why the spelling was wrong.

The fabulous thing about this moment is, the student was able to clearly quote the rule behind the spelling errors, as she’d learned and retained it from CodeBreakers sessions. Not only that, she was able to transfer the learning from 1:1 into the classroom and apply it.

Just like the little boy learning at home, spelling tests can be adapted to use the key words from the word lists in CodeBreakers, which follows year 1-2 of the National Curriculum, with years 3-4 to be released soon. By adapting spelling tests children are able to gain 10/10 and with this gain a great sense of achievement.

I will be chatting about the success of the pilot study in schools and how to deliver an effective synthetic phonics programme, to support struggling readers and spellers and those diagnosed with dyslexia, at SEN Jigsaw Conference, on June 8th 2019 in Stoke on Trent. There will be a great line up of professional speakers, workshop hosts and SEN exhibitors. The event is for professionals and parents.  The event is ticket only and booking is essential by May 30th.

The pilot study in schools has been so successful we’ve now devised a second year project for September 2019. If you’d like your school to be considered contact me directly and I will be happy to chat to you further.  

If you are a parent and would like a sample please contact us.  

The post How can CodeBreakers help your child to read and spell? A mum’s view. appeared first on Codebreakers.

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We’ve known for some time that highlighting and visual prompts can aid our memory when learning.  Who would have thought we needed to be selective about the colour we use?  Dr Tracy Packiam Alloway  is a psychologist whose specialisms is memory, in particular the working memory. How can colour influence working memory?

I recently wrote an article regarding how drawing can help study skills and memory in particular regarding reading and spelling  and this fantastic additional information can really add to how we retain learning of any kind.

Imagine if you were decorating a room and you wanted a calming effect, which colours would you choose? I’d go for greens and blues. Naturally we know these colours calm, however I’d never really made that simple link to studying and memory.  Dr Tracy Packiam Alloway suggests that using hot and vibrant colours naturally stimulates our memory more. Therefore, we are more likely to retain information.

I’m about to update my highlighters and colouring pencils!

Not long now until SEN Jigsaw 2019, June 8th In Stoke on Trent.  Get your tix here . You will always be assured a warm welcome.  You will have an opportunity to speak directly to the professionals and ask any questions you may have.

The post How colour can influence study and working memory appeared first on Codebreakers.

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Can drawing improve reading and spelling skills? Yes!!!

At CodeBreakers, we’ve been using a reading card technique, to help with automated recognition of sounds in isolation, for over 10 years and students have always been asked to draw a picture on the reverse of the card to represent their key word.  Here are some videos we use to train teachers and TAs, using the CodeBreakers intervention programme.

Watch our “How to make a Reading Card” video HERE

 You can learn how to use the reading cards in the routine HERE

During my training we were taught that the picture provided a semantic link.  A semantic link is a range of meanings which can be attached to a word and helps stimulate the memory.  For example, if you say the word ‘cat’, what does this word mean to you?

A smell, the touch of the fur, the motion of stroking the fur, a memory of your own cat, an experience with a cat, the sound of it purring?

Immediately you are taken to your own personal experience and have brought to the fore of your memories, the association to the word ‘cat’. We can now teach and link in to that knowledge which a student has and this way learners can store knowledge linked to this information.  In teacher and psychology language ‘the existing schemata’. It helps learning stick.

As my students have drawn their ‘cat’ or which ever other word they link to the letter ‘c’ making a /k/ sound (my personal favourite is cake!!!), they link their own experience to the word and sound.  The aim is when they see the ‘c’ they will know if makes a /k/ (in this instance) and be able to recall a clue word which reinforces the sound.  We often have a quick chat about the picture they’ve drawn, just to bring in a little more experience and memory to the key word.

I saw a recent head line about drawing and memory.  You can read the article here.   It made me think a little more about the additional benefits which the reading card routine brought to students.

The article directs the reader to a specific study on drawing and memory

I’m sure in your experience as teachers and parents you’ve introduced mnemonics to learning to try to help learners recall how to spell words.

The article states “drawing is superior to activities such as reading or writing because it forces the person to process information in multiple ways: visually, kinesthetically, and semantically. Across a series of experiments, researchers found drawing information to be a powerful way to boost memory, increasing recall by nearly double”.

It’s not just spelling and reading which the article suggests drawing aids. The researchers have studied the ability to increase learning through drawing as a study skill.   The researchers compared two methods of note-taking, writing words by hand versus drawing concept.  They found drawing to be “an effective and reliable encoding strategy, far superior to writing.” The researchers found that when the undergraduates visually represented science concepts, their recall was nearly twice as good as when they wrote down definitions supplied by the lecturer.

Don’t worry if you can’t draw, the researchers state it’s the process rather than quality of drawing which aids memory.

The researchers explain that it “requires elaboration on the meaning of the term and translating the definition to a new form (a picture).” Unlike listening to a lecture or viewing an image, activities in which students passively absorb information, drawing is active. It forces students to grapple with what they’re learning and reconstruct it in a way that makes sense to them.

When a student draws a concept, they “must elaborate on its meaning and semantic features, engage in the actual hand movements needed for drawing (motor action), and visually inspect their created picture (pictorial processing).”

They state, when we draw, we encode the memory in a very rich way, layering together the visual memory of the image, the kinesthetic memory of our hand drawing the image, and the semantic memory that is invoked when we engage in meaning-making.

As a student myself, I can still recall my lecturer suggesting we draw a picture in the margin to help us recall the point was important.

The researchers have provided some fabulous ideas for learning through drawing:

IN THE CLASSROOM

There are several ways that teachers can incorporate drawing to enrich learning.

  • Student-created learning aids:ask students to make posters that reinforce learning, through maps, charts, or diagrams
  • Interactive notebooks:Don’t let students take notes verbatim—push them to be creative. One side of their notebooks can be used for written notes, the other for drawings, diagrams, and charts.
  • Data visualisation:Asking students to collect, analyse, and present data in visual form can deepen their understanding of a topic. Examples include visualising concepts in math, analysing classical literature, and exploring fractals.
  • Bookmaking:Blending academics and art, students to visually represent topics in subjects ranging from science to English language arts. Students can also create comics books to tell stories or describe events.
  • Assessing learning through art:Challenge students to show their understanding about a topic through art, making it less about finding the “single correct answer” and more about crafting a response they can stand behind.
  • The takeaway:Encourage students to draw. Doing so is a powerful tool to boost student learning because it improves recall by challenging students to explore an idea in different ways.

Would you like to learn more about supporting students in the classroom or at home? You will receive a very warm welcome at SEN Jigsaw Conference, June 8th 2019. We look forward to chatting with you.

Tickets available via Eventbrite

The post How drawing can improve reading and spelling? appeared first on Codebreakers.

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