Tuesday, 24 March 2015

The Colour Thesaurus

I saw this on Twitter and thought it was pretty cool. I know I sometimes struggle to picture the difference between "azure" and "cerulean". I think this would be a great resource to help expand vocabulary.

The original post is here.

Friday, 20 March 2015

Supporting children with reading and writing difficulties week 6


  • Allow for extra time
  • bigger font size - 14 Ariel
  • Allow computer
  • Define words
  • Teach spelling of subject specific vocab
  • Don't double side pages - dyslexic learners often miss the verso side of the page
  • Don't take off marks for spelling, especially if it is not the competency being measured
  • When evaluating spelling allow for modified marking - eg if they get 20 words to learn, tell dyslexic child to write the ones they think they know and their mark is how many they got correct vs how many they attempted.
  • Read questions aloud unless evaluating reading
  • Use visuals to support input as well as manual-kinaesthetic 
  • Evaluate one aspect of the writing eg spelling, grammar, punctuation...
  • Write the correct answer for spelling. Circle correct words
  • Provide students with multiplication tables for maths
  • Provide a summary of the lesson rather than get them to write it. Get them to highlight key words (for example ) so that they are not passive.
  • Evaluate orally rather than in writing
  • Discuss a mistake as a positive thing eg over-generalisation can talk about the rules and the exceptions
  • Celebrate progress.
  • Text -to - speech conversion
  • Record questions
  • History - allow for use of computer, vocabulary, define words, bigger fonts, they may reverse dates - don't penalise them for that, allow for use of mind maps
  • Maths - have multiplication tables next to them, display four basic operations, evaluate reasoning and result separately, simplify instructions, allow use of computer/calculator

Technology Aids Reading

  • Programs may have been superseded by something more useful
  • Text to speech; annotation tools (on and offline); change visual appearance of text (colour, contrast, font, letter spacing, smaller window?); organisational tools for collating information from multiple text sources
  • Text to speech - AT bar (text to speech, magnify text, take images, use dictionary); 
  • Change visual appearance of text - eg change background/text colour; 
  • Annotation - eg increasing letter spacing. Voice Dream includes this.
  • Size of Windows - a guide for lines, text in columns. Try what works with individual students. 
  • Organisational tools - Evernote, Trello (project management tool, allows different people in a team to log in, assign tasks to different people), reminders
  • Give responsibility to students to choose apps that work for them

Aids for Writing

  • Pre-writing - graphic organisers, mind maps etc. Kidsperartion. Pre-planning is VERY important for children with dyslexia. We have a tendency to rush the pre-writing stage and it is important that this doesn't happen with dyslexic learners.
  • Writing - text expander - shortcut so that don't have to type whole word - Phrase Express, Let Me Type; Live scribe digital pen audio records the writing (for notetaking); Ginger spell checker - takes into account context; Speech to text tools - use with caution with younger children because of the frustrations involved in training the software, also has difficulty with accents, hard to speak in the same way that you write so might add cognitive demands rather than reduce them

Aids for Memory

  • Can we increase our memory? Science isn't clear
  • Software to increase memory span - some evidence that can increase specific skill you are training but unsure how generalised this skill is
  • If we know that auditory memory is vulnerable, support it with our other senses eg images, videos, manipulating objects
  • Overlearning things - once introduced word, then get them to do more active retrieval, repetition of word over time (Word Generation)
  • Chunking - instructions are in chunks so that they can be remembered (eg digit span test)
  • Front-load key information - say action verb in instruction early on; give visual back-up
  • Think of a signal the child can give that they don't understand that won't be obvious to other children
  • Record instructions

Aids for Organisation

  • People with dyslexia may also have problems with things in time and space
  • Can be seen as a motivational thing rather than related to dyslexia
  • Scaffold some planning strategies
  • Orientation in time (timetabling, planning) - eg timetable using symbols and pictures to aid memory
  • Timetables in multiple places
  • Timetables that make sense for the student = collaborative effort
  • Give students content before hand so they can plan
  • When setting homework allow some time in class so misunderstandings can be clarified

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Supporting children with difficulties in reading and writing - Week 5

Multisensory Teaching Practice

Auditory Discovery

  • Children listen to the words and identify the common sound (fog, careful, sift, refill, funny, cliff, often, fight).

Visual Discovery

  • Give list of words - children circle the letter that makes the sound.
  • They don't need to read the word.
  • What is the name of the letter?


  • "Catch" each f by circling it, keeping pen on the paper in between.

Oral Kinaesthetic Discovery

  • Try to feel what is happening with our bodies when we say f.
  • Put hands on neck and feel the difference in sound between f and v.
  • When we pronounce f, the vocal chords are not moving
  • Tongue - explore movement with children. It can move in all directions. How does it move when we say f? Sh? Ss? When saying f, tongue is against your teeth.
  • Teeth and lips - pronounce f and s. What difference do you see? When you say f, lips are closed, can't see teeth.

Manual Kinaesthetic Discovery

  • Read words with fingers, not eyes.
  • Use cards with raised letters - can you read the word?


  • Cover eyes with blindfold.
  • Read words with fingers.
  • Use counters to count the number of syllables in a word.
  • Then put hand under jaw to count syllables. How many times did your jaw touch your hand?
  • Write the word with a line after each syllable.
  • For long words, use your thumb to split the word into syllables.

The Alphabet

  • Lay alphabet in the shape of a rainbow so that you can see all of the letters.


  • Blap is from planet Gizoom.
  • What sounds do you hear in the name Blap? Put a counter down for each sound.
  • Find words (real or imaginary) that end the same way as Blap.

Revision of Reading Cards

  • Review short and long sounds for vowels and the sounds for consonants/blends.
  • Say the clue word, children say the first sound they hear in the word.

Teaching Phonological Awareness and the Alphabetic Principle

  • Start with shorter words and move on to longer words.
  • Use the Blap "alien" to work through the assessment tasks.
  • Use counters/objects to help teach phonological awareness. Ideally, different colours - syllables, two shades of same colour to represent onset and rime and a colour for the phoneme.
  • Have wooden/ plastic alphabet for touch. Get children to write the letters. Start with upppercase because less confusion between letters.
  • Must make sure child has a thorough understanding of the alphabet.
  • Dyslexic children may not be able to tell you which letter comes before or after a target letter, although they are able to recite the alphabet.
  • Five minutes a day work on alphabet - use in a rainbow shape.
  • Ask them to lay letters out and put their hands on their mouth and throat so they can feel the movement.
  • Close eyes. What letter comes before another? If they get stuck, ask them to feel the letter.
  • Have a word in your head. Each child has one letter. They have to listen to each other the work out what the word is.
  • Auditory discovery of phoneme - series of words where the target phoneme is at the beginning, middle and end of the word.
  • Visual - circle the grapheme relating to the phoneme you are working on.
  • Write the word in the air, in sand trays etc.
  • Tracking - have the letter in different fonts/forms
  • Reading cards to use for revision. Important to reinforce the grapheme-phoneme correspondences.
  • Spelling cards - when teaching the spelling of phonemes always start with the more frequent graphemes (eg first f, then ff, then ph).
  • Children can review reading cards each day - say the clue word, say the phoneme, and then turn over the card to see if they are correct.

Multisensory Techniques

  • Working in structure - don't put child in a situation where they haven't seen the grapheme/ phoneme link in a multisensory link.
  • Give the children self-correction tools so that children can self-correct
  • Reading - grouping words into families - teach explicitly with colour coding
  • Reading - helping children separate longer words into smaller sections eg syllables.  Underline the phonemes, cross out the silent letters, separate the syllables.
  • Make a reading pack of irregular words
  • Spelling - teach cursive writing because each time the pen is lifted from he paper. the more chance of error for a dyslexic learner (American dnealian). 
  • How to teach regular/irregular words.
  • Regular - SOS (Simultaneous Oral Spelling) 
  • Irregular words - LSWC - Look Cover Write Check
  • Sentence dictation - allow child to read the text before you dictate it. Child says back sentence. Teacher dictates sentence, students write it. Pupils read what they have written. Find mistakes.
  • Tricks to remember spelling.


  • Try strategies with students to see what works with those students.
  • Use audio books to allow children to access content when you are not focussing on working on the text.
  • Be aware of font when creating worksheets etc. San serif fonts like Ariel, size 14 with letters a little more widely spaced can make things easier to read. Double spaced too.
  • When presenting a text to a child:
  1. Verbal preparation, preview difficult words in the text, what do they know about the topic?
  2. KWL - knowledge, what do I want to learn, what have I learned?
  3. When the child is reading - self-monitoring eg re-read sentences, look up words. Stop  - what did that just say? What words didn't they know?
  4. Active processing of the text - asking children to recall, get children to sequence chunks, students take on role of teacher and ask questions of a student or a peer.
  • Reading Rockets website, Reading Educator website.
  • What kind of text is it? Different strategies for different types. How is the text organised?
  • Visualisation, mind maps. Use visual imagery for comprehension. Is it useful for the child in front of you (not always useful)
  • Mind maps can be used to plan writing


  • Pre-writing stage - bring together background knowledge, make sure student knows exactly what is expected from the writing. Brainstorm, mind-maps, get the ideas down.
  • Karen Harris researcher
  • Organisation - structures.
  • Try to make writing task authentic
  • Think about audience - who am I addressing?
  • Drafting - then edit
  • Editing - part of the process. Make process explicit
  • MAPS - Meaning, agreement (grammatical), punctuation, spelling
  • Use writing strategically - do they need to demonstrate their knowledge via writing?

Monday, 2 March 2015

Māori Greetings Spinner

I want to put together a set of resources to use for a te reo lapbook so thought I would start with simple greetings. It occurred to me that I could use a spinner element to show the different greetings you use for one, two and more people in te reo Māori and so that is what I made.

My illustration skills are rudimentary and my Adobe Illustrator skills are virtually non-existent, so I used a tutorial from the Guardian How to Draw series to help me make some cute little aliens for my spinner.

I have made two sizes. The original printed on A4 paper and works fine but the drawings are quite small to colour (perhaps blow up to A3?). This version has some brief instructions.

The slightly larger version that prints on two A4 sheets. The pictures are still quite small, so I have included a colour one as well as black and white.