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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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E801: Action 3.10: Considering special interventions

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Norwich, B. & Lewis, A. (2009) 'Mapping a pedagogy for special educational needs' [Reader 2]

What are the authors' doubts on the value of specialist interventions?

  • Effective teaching is the same for all pupils - common pedagogy position (see p173)
  • SEN-specific pedagogies do not account for the individual approach. Learners have complex needs e.g. a learner may be deaf and from a literacy-rich background OR deaf and from a literacy-poor background OR at any point in between and with many other variations such as the student I worked with who was deaf, EFL learner, literacy rich background with dyslexia.
    i.e. more within-group differences than out-group differences
  • Most studies do not examine how carefully the programme is implemented by teachers

What evidence do they cite for their criticisms of process interventions?

Process interventions = interventions focusing on presumed underlying processing difficulties p.177

  • Brooks et al. (1998) - features of effective schemes were that of normal pedagogy [p.174]
  • Wang (1999) - core features of adaptive learning [p. 174]
  • Reading Recovery results
  • Various studies suggest short interventions lose their effect and work is needed throughout learning(pp. 175, 176)
  • Stevens & Slavin (1995) Jenkins et al (1994) special ed. teachers team teaching with class teachers - better results than withdrawing children
  • Various sources such as Vellutino (1987), suggest range of approaches is important.

How convinced are you by the arguments put forward by Norwich & Lewis?

Unique differences position - refers to the need to provide something different for students with SEN i.e. differentiated teaching.

Not totally convinced either way. They suggest common teaching principles and pedagogies but with a realisation that some pupils may require more explicit and/or more extensive teaching in some areas. They also suggest that some pupils with SEN may need common teaching at some times and differentiated teaching at others.

They mention that account needs to be taken of learning styles such as a no-error approach for those with Downs Syndrome. I also find this with those students with Asperger Syndrome and in some cases with those with low self-esteem. Is this just a learning style? I would regard it as a difference of teaching approach.

They discuss a common teaching programme with plenty of examples and more practice so that the pupils can achieve mastery before they move on. Silbert et al. (1990) report that teachers have been shown to move on before low attainers have reached mastery. What about the high attainers/fast learners? When they get bored they find other ways to distract themselves from causing chaos in the classroom and distracting everyone else to doing things wrong on purpose (both examples from a small private school with 5 learners in reception class!). Should you aim this common teaching programme at the lowest end of the class? The private school where I was teaching, decided to let the children go on at their own pace so that they could concentrate on those having difficulties but struggled to cope 12 months later when there was 4 years difference between the English and Maths books that the pupils were working on. At this point there were only 12 pupils in the class and two qualified teachers. How would this work with 30 in the class? My favourite story concerns the three year old who had moved to the reception class early - just before she was 4 years old. The teacher introduced the history topic that they were about to study and set them some work to do. She realised that this pupil was missing and turned around to find she was reading on the other side of the room. She went over to her and the girl explained that she was interested in the topic but thought the teacher had got some things wrong so she was looking them up in the encyclopaedia. How do you cope with this level of differentiation?

Reid (2009) Chapter 15

The Council for the Registration of Schools Teaching Dyslexic students in the UK

www.crested.org.uk

Distinct provision for pupils with dyslexia - no category for schools with in-class provision

Centre for studies in inclusive Education:

www.csie.org.uk/inclusion

I was offered a special school for my daughter who is severely deaf. I was also offered a school with a unit and I visited both. My conclusions were that she would do better academically in a special school and better socially in a school with a unit. Eventually we chose home education as she had the advantages at working at her own pace whilst hearing everything and the wide social circle of the many families in the area who home educated.

I am a little cynical about inclusive education as I have seen too many young people who have struggled through inclusive education, whose schools have proudly advertised their inclusiveness but the learners have ended up in basic education classes at college, often with an oral ability far above their written ability. Many report that they have been placed in the lowest streams at school because of their literacy difficulties when their oral academic skills are more suited to top streams.

I must get that Wearmouth (2001) article as I seem to be agreeing with much of what Reid reports! - found book at Keele Uni library so in luck for once as it is £23 at cheapest second hand!

 

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E801: Action 3.9: Early Screening for Dyslexia

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DVD - 'Early intervention in East Renfrewshire'

Read (2009) Chapter 4

What are the advantages and disadvantages for having a screening programme in the early years?

The advantages are that children with any sort of difficulty are picked up and can receive extra support. Those who are slightly delayed developmentally will benefit as well as those with SpLDs. Parents can be assured that extra help is available for their children.

Disadvantages come from labelling a child when they are so young and setting up expectations/excuses for failure.

What would be the difficulties in implementing such a strategy?

It must be a screening strategy for all difficulties rather than a diagnosis and communication with the students and parents must be carefully handled.

Power struggles and communication between various agencies i.e. overlap between nurseries, pre-school and school.

What differences might it make for young children?

Catch the children before they fail thus preventing loss of self-esteem. Children can be assisted to stay on the same track as their classmates and parents can be reassured that children are being helped with a genuine difficulty rather than being lazy thus avoiding them putting pressure on the child.

How does this fit with a policy of inclusion?

It allows the child to stay with the class and there will be less likelihood of their withdrawal for special help at a later stage.

 

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E801: Action 2.4: Reid & Valle (2004)

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E801: Action 2.4: Reid & Valle (2004)

the mostly white middle class teaching force operates on assumptions embodied in our discursive practices about what constitutes knowledge, the purpose of schooling, and appropriate curriculum (Losen & Orfield, 2002)

Currently the focus is on remediating individual impairments rather than redesigning the context.

The teacher sets and assesses tasks depending on expected 'normal' responses. Children consistently performing outside those norms are analysed, individualised and pathalogised as different.

Testing the children justifies the reasons for their failure and exclusion. This exclusion from the learning environment removes the child from the community in which is so important for him/her to gain their learning and thus reinforces the difference from the norm. This will be more pronounced in children whose primary (home) environment is substantially different from the school environment.

If the child's primary linguistic discourse is different from the one at school, teachers may question a child's linguistic competence and use tests to diagnose disability. These tests are based on standard English and so those with a different primary discourse are likely to do poorly.

Educational settings and legal regulations are set to maintain the situation of the power elite and the majority of white, middle class parents are happy to support a system that will give the educational and economic advantage to their child.

Differentiated instruction - e.g. present text at various reading levels

Compensatory instruction - e.g. watch film rather than read whole book

Instructional compensation e.g. design for norm and adapt for others

My views

The paper presents ideas for fully inclusive education without the need for special needs categories. The suggestions reflect the ideas suggested by the universal design for learning movement that was previously so commonly discussed in e-learning discussions. Nowadays they have been supplanted by more of a discussion on flexible design.

Having made such a fuss about the social environment, Reid & Valle conveniently forget it when they discuss how to implement their ideas for inclusion. What about the family backgrounds of these children? Cultural influences? It is all very well getting the children to discuss their backgrounds and life experiences but many may be unwilling to do so due to family prohibitions or culture. Inclusion does not equal a safe environment and bullying will still occur. It will not be safe for children to discuss life experiences in front of bullies and they may not consider it safe for them to reveal their problems by accessing the variations in curricular design. How do we create this safe environment when they go out of school to exist in other environments which may demand they protect their identity by attacking the identities of classmates?

 

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