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E801: Action 3.11: Inclusion, Policy and Practice

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Reid (2009) Chapters 11, 12, 15

What are the factors that Reid considers contribute to the potential tensions in including children with dyslexia in the mainstream school? Refer to your own situation

  • Whole class/group teaching
  • Standardised assessment
  • Competition between schools (league tables)

In a higher education setting, I would list the tensions as:

  • Premium placed on academic literacies including publication so that spelling and grammar are identified as a top priority
  • Emphasis on written exams as assessment method
  • Government emphasis on preparation for employment and graduate level employees must be able to critically analyse literature and write reports

What are the issues identified in the chapter that need to be addressed to ensure children with dyslexia can have full curriculum access in the mainstream school?

  • The Context: age of student / nature of learning / class size / environment / opportunities for withdrawal. Communication important when children receiving support outside classroom.
  • Identification of Needs: how it informs teaching / are they adequate to identify strengths and difficulties? Informal assessment can be good to inform needs.
  • Curriculum: how can teaching approaches be related to curriculum? Can gains be transferred? Which approaches have been successful or unsuccessful in the past?
  • The Learner: individual factors such as learning style and cognitive factors / are there opportunities for extended learning?

Reid suggests that student self-advocacy is an important factor. Do you agree with this and how can this be accommodated and developed for students with dyslexia? Refer to your own situation.

I believe self advocacy is very important. Probably one of the most important factors I considered when I chose to home educate my children. As an adult I am less stressed when I feel in control of the situation and it is no different for children. Stress has been found to be unproductive in the learning environment and it has been reported to impair both short and long term memory when associated with learning processes (Bisaz, 2009). In a higher education institution the student with dyslexia can be assisted to feel in control of the situation by ensuring that they are fully aware of the assessment procedure for DSA and of their choices. In the past students were offered dyslexia tuition and this was then structured around the current requirements of their course. The current situation seems to be changing and Derby University is insisting that students take up dyslexia tuition before they can access other forms of assistance. Some universities are also dictating the format of support sessions and not allowing students to structure their own individual plans. This seems to be a response to funding constrictions. However, students are becoming more vocal about their needs now that they are personally paying so much more in fees so this situation may change.

In Chapter 11 Reid refers to over twenty key components of a teaching approach for students with dyslexia: study these factors, how do they fit with the views of Norwich and Lewis? Can they be embedded into teaching approaches for all or are they representative of the unique differences position highlighted by Norwich and Lewis? Refer to literature and your own practice (see also pp183-4)

All the general points (p.158-159) are vital requirements for the general population of students and so should be embedded into teaching approaches. Coming from a background of working with students with various impairments, I also think it is very important to point out that WCAG2.0 really must be complied with. For example, use of colour to highlight key words can help some people but the use of colour alone to transmit information is discouraged under the guidelines as it impairs reception of the information for people who are colour blind.

Universal design is important but flexibility is also important. For example, I know people with dyslexia who find font size 14 impossible to read as it changes the letter spacing and others who much prefer this size.

In the list of key components, I would also suggest that these are Key components for all learners. I was surprised that transfer of skills was not mentioned. In my opinion, one of the most important considerations for the choice of in class support rather than withdrawal is the ability to reinforce current learning in all subjects throughout the curriculum. It is part of situated learning (Lave & Wenger) and helps the learner to understand the importance of the skills by placing them in a social context. In higher education, the most successful dyslexia tutoring is that which works on the necessary skills in the context of the current course requirements - as a part of gaining knowledge of the academic culture.

Other notes

Reid reports that Nicolson and Fawcett (2001) proposed that dyslexic children have difficulties making skills automatic (Reid, 2009, p.157). Not sure about this one. Is it a problem with automaticity or is it a multi-tasking problem? Is multi-tasking an automaticity problem? Working with young people with Asperger Syndrome, I find that many have no problems with gaining automaticity but cannot multi-task easily due to focus. Perhaps they are interlinked but I would be careful about saying that people with dyslexic have automaticity difficulties.

 

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