Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Relating Learning To Known (prior achievement) & Given Situations by by  Dyslexia Dublin  © 2016

We often try to learn in the style of others (not our learning style). Meaning we focus on the unknown rather than the known areas within in a subject.
I have written extensively on brain types as many regular visitors to my blog will testify.
Well, here we go again, most like me who are dyslexic, dyscalculic, dysgraphic or dyspraxia will know that we learn better when we relate the subject required to a real time event.
We have an excellent long-term memory and poor short term, most events/happenings are stored in our long-term memory.
Would it not therefore make sense to utilise this strength!
Most like me tend to do better as a returning learner than we do during our initial education, why.
We have had more events, more happenings, and yes we have increased our long-term memory bank, this allows us to relate our learning to our real life events.
We are far from suggesting that all students studying for the first time should skip education or press pause till they reach mid to late twenties.

But it does mean that teachers/educators and parents should look at this and try to devise methods that allow the student to work in a kinaesthetic way. Relating things such as mathematics, and language, the very way we would in technology classes. When I want to see an improvement in my language skill, I take a trip abroad. Eat with the locals, and try to live as they do.
When I am shopping, I use that language in my head to prompt purchases. I am living the lesson and guess what it works.

I so often heard my teachers mention that I was lazy and stupid, yet I could take anything apart and fix it without manuals.
Much to the amazement of others.
Can you teach a football player, chef, mechanic; to play football, cook, or repair cars from a classroom, the answer is a simple no.
Education and its direction for teaching are much more simplistic than the chicken or the egg.
If industry came before education, why wasn't education based on industry!
Experiential learning (learn by doing/experience) is just that, we glean much from what we do in practical, hands-on ways,  opposed to the academic study that is taught in a linear way.  Certainly core subjects;  described in simple terms as the process of acquiring information through the study of a given subject (maths, English) without the necessity for direct hands on experience. We know that both methods aim at instilling knowledge with the students as individuals; however one size doesn’t fit all.
Those that have a strong left hemisphere are more likely to gain from linear structured tuition and the right hemisphere from more creative, practical demonstrations.

David Kolb’s Experiential Learning Model (ELM)

Jacobson and Ruddy, working on developing Kolb's four-stage Experiential Learning Model and Pfeiffer and Jones's with their five stage Experiential Learning Cycle. Taking these theoretical frameworks and created a simple, practical questioning model for educators to use in promoting real life and critical reflection within experiential learning and development.
•    Did you notice...?
•    Why did that happen?
•    Does that happen in life?
•    Why does that happen?
•    How can you use that?
These questions are put forward by the educator after a given experience, and gradually lead the group towards a critical evaluation. Using reflection on the given experience, and an understanding of how they can apply the learning to their life (lateral thinking expanded).
I recently watched far from a madding crowd the other day and being a visual factual learner I took more from the production.
Thomas Hardy worked the plot and created the various twists and turns…indeed, I am more likely to read a book if it’s an autobiography than I would fiction.
We, often quoted as being three-dimensional learners and we thrive on adding value to our life through learning and teaching us through a linear program doesn’t press the right buttons.

Turn your child's homework into a practical experience and yes that can be done in all subjects including Maths.
Cut up boxes to calculate area, or fill a measuring jug. Use foot tapping for tables, add and subtract.
Get them to help you cook and turn that into maths.
Cutting a slab of butter is division and subtraction.
Oven temperature plays a part and timings (lapsed time).
best of all it's non-confrontational

If you can do it and make it stick then so should teachers/educators.

Questions on Far From The Madding Crowd welcomed.4

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NB. This information is from personal experience and research and also partly sourced through the work of others.  It is purely for improving the understanding of dyslexia and to offer helpful advice.   Dyslexia Dublin  © 2016

Sunday, 17 May 2015

‘Exam season…Shared Anxiety between Parent and Child/Adult’ by  Dyslexia Dublin  © 2015

End of spring and start of summer signals those dreaded words, ‘Exam time’… most students who are  taking exams see far less of the sounds of summer as they are still seeing less day light hours than the students who don’t have exams to take.  You might be tempted to leave your study and drift outside to catch the rays, but think again… you get very few chances to get a good grade. The secret is to try and get stuck in so you can have some time to relax, instead of playing catch-up, by putting it off till tomorrow and all of a sudden tomorrow arrives the day before the exam!  It will soon be past and you will have a long vacation ahead.
How can we structure our study and avoid meltdowns?
1.       You must be relaxed and in a positive frame of mind to make the best of your revision/study.

2.       Make sure you look after your body by eating a good balanced diet (plenty of oily fish is good for the brain).

3.       Plenty of sleep is so important for retention… a tired brain is a less active brain!

4.       Structure your study into subject areas and concentrate more on your weaker subjects.

5.       Make sure you set the tempo of your study programme… the right room temperature, the right     light (preferably natural light) and the correct noise level.

6.       Stay hydrated (two litres of water per day) as this can cause lack of concentration.

7.       Make sure your study is relevant, have access to past papers as well as well managed course notes (indexed) and colour code your study notes.

8.       Make sure you are well aware of your exam timetable, the marking scheme will give you an idea of the amount of points to be awarded  per question, and this will give you an idea of how much to write, relative to the points awarded.

9.       Confidence is an attribute and over confidence can be obstructive to sound revision.

10.   Comprehension is key in most exams… the person marking your paper could be the other side of the country so bear that in mind and make it clear what is being said…make sure you have covered all points asked in the question.

11.   On exam day, make sure you are relaxed and read through the paper before you begin to answer any questions… you will be more relaxed and positive and will make far fewer mistakes.  Divide the questions by points value and time so you don’t spend too long on a given question.

12.   Don’t revise on the day of your exam unless this works for you… cramming can cause confusion in many.
we stock resources at www.dyslexiadublin.ie and will ship to any place

13.   Don’t dwell on a poor result, look forward to the next one… invariably you will have done better than you think.
Try to read books on subjects that interest you, record your work, watch documentaries/films on subject areas... You Tube is good for science/biology, history, literacy and geography.  I read, then rough write my prep and then type it onto the laptop and by then it usually goes in.
Stay close to your family and open up with your thoughts…so many of us have been there and they really do mean well…they will embrace and support you good or bad.

NB. This information is from personal experience and research and also partly sourced through the work of others.  It is purely for improving the understanding of dyslexia and to offer helpful advice.   Dyslexia Dublin  © 2015

Friday, 8 May 2015

‘Dyscalculia - (revised) The Why’s And How To Spot Some Of The Signs’ by  Dyslexia Dublin CETC © 2015

Do you as an adult, or maybe your child, have problems with immediate number recognition?   This article has been penned to give you an idea of what dyscalculia is all about and some helpful tips to improve things along the way.
 Dyscalculia can be described as an innate specific learning disability (in the mind) that prohibits various levels of understanding in mathematics.  It is very similar to dyslexia and, in some cases, children/adults can have both (co-morbidity).

Unlike its close relation, dyslexia; dyscalculia is new to many within the education sector, we are one of very few that work in this subject area.
Maths as we all know is a core subject and therefore has to be studied, but there are ways that it can be improved by becoming number fluent… we suggest and use a very visual/kinaesthetic approach to improving fluency and improving mental imagery, and visualisation is all important. Those of you who share dyslexia and dyscalculia, as I do, will know that we are constantly told we have a great imagination… can you imagine how many football players or snooker players would have never reached the height of their profession without great imagination? It is a great asset and if we can apply this to our studies, we will truly fly! Numbers for many is tiring, unless you are an accountant or extremely rich and spend all your time calculating your wealth
We have great results from many that at one point shook just hearing the word maths, it needs to tuition needs to take into account all the various learning styles.

There are very few centres that work with dyscalculics, if you would like to discuss this further then you can visit our website at www.dublin-cetc.com

Just to mention… to see other articles and information around Dyscalculia, check out our Facebook forum page - https://www.facebook.com/DyspraxiaGlobalDyslexiaDyscalculiaForumForAll?ref=hl
There are many variants with dyscalculia, which can include a difficulty in understanding numbers, ie. 5 back to front and getting sums reversed (54 x 4 can be read as 45 x 4), learning how to manipulate numbers, learning maths facts and a number of other related symptoms, such as recognising the letters/words side of maths (dyslexia) and even down to reconstruction of the sum onto to your workbook (dysgraphia) and number alignment, which is key to totalling sums correctly.  As with dyslexia, Maths disabilities can also occur as the result of some types of brain injury (apraxia), in which case the proper term is acalculia, to distinguish it from dyscalculia which is of innate, genetic or developmental origin.
Although maths learning difficulties can be genetic, occurring in children with low levels of academia, dyscalculia also affects people from across the whole IQ range (Einstein had dyslexia) and sufferers often, but not always, also have difficulties with telling the time and measuring (eg. cooking).
 Many find counting numbers going forward in a particular pattern straightforward, however they have problems with reversing numbers, especially those that have a sequence involving 2's and 3's.  Very few develop islands… by this I mean number platforms like 5-10-15 or 3-6-9… this alone can improve calculating as many use their fingers and count from the base line of say 1-10-20, so 20 + 8 becomes 21-22-23-24-25-26-27 and finally 28, instead of platform 25 and 26-27-28, much easier and quicker too.

Estimates of the population with dyscalculia range between 3 and 6%.  Around 50% of those with dyslexia have dyscalculia and those who don’t are generally quite good at mathematics.
Dyscalculia can cause problems with the written maths and indeed for those with dyslexia and dyscalculia, algebra can cause particular problems as the calculations and written word become entwined… however, not so with physical maths (eg. counting with fingers or an abacus) as this is visual.  Learning Maths through the visual channel is very important (games, etc.).  Also, I find that some, but not all, children are no longer being taught by rote (ie. memorising through repetition)… children with specific learning needs would benefit from this method also as it creates rhythm and provides another method of learning. As I’ve mentioned in previous articles, over learning is so important, ie. a variety of ways of learning a subject and lots of repetition.

Children suffering from visual stress and those with dysgraphia can also have a problem with writing down sums, as they have a problem in forming columns and rows.
Symptoms of dyscalculia could be if you throw down a number of coins or counters in a random fashion the child/adult would have difficulty in arriving at the correct value/number.  They would have a far greater chance of accuracy if they were in rows.  This, in itself, can be a problem if your child goes into a shop to buy something.  If, for example, you ask them to buy milk in the shop and get something for themselves, it’s helpful to give the money for both separately so they know which is which and don’t get confused.  It can also be useful to let them pay the cashier when you’re with them, counting the money out loud, to help them get used to the values of different notes and coins.  As they get more confident, you could get them to calculate the supermarket shopping, adding each item as you put it in the basket either on a calculator or by writing and adding the numbers in their maths copy book (squared).  All these things help to build greater number recognition.
Also, with varied objects, ie. one of each… cow, pig, horse, dog for example… they would then use their visual image side to great effect and gain the correct answer and with increased speed too.
Reading a clock is also difficult, especially analogue as opposed to digital… again, games can speed this up.  Also, going in up in 5’s is good (5, 10, 15 mins) again using platforms and try, for now, to avoid introducing the ‘to the hour’, just use past the hour, ie. 10,20,30,40 mins past, etc. ‘Quarter past/to’ and ‘half past’ can be introduced later on.  Also. time keeping can be a problem – it’s beneficial to use minutes when giving instruction, ie. we’re going out in 10 minutes, it’ll be time for bed in 20 minutes… as they will find this easier to understand.
As with Dyslexia, left and right is a problem - with map reading people often turn the map towards the direction they need to head.
Other symptoms are an inability to process multiple requests, difficulty in multi-tasking. Also, problems with reading music and with visualisation in general.
Many adults with dyscalculia have learnt to adapt their world to allow them use their strengths. Being creative for the most part, many become writers and artists.

Software intended to intervene and improve children and adult’s academic ability is now widely available.
Multi-sensory educational therapy is a very effective way of increasing academic (ability) age up to a person’s chronological age range.
Need resources to support those struggling with maths?... then visit our online store at www.dyslexiadublin.ie
 NB. This information is from personal experience and research and also partly sourced through the work of others.  It is purely for improving the understanding of dyslexia and to offer helpful advice.   Dyslexia Dublin CETC © 2015

Saturday, 2 May 2015

Are you left or right side dominant? By Dyslexia Dublin 20 15 ©

I wonder how many have stopped to think where our dominant side is. We carry out actions involving our dominant side subconsciously.
We know that this has little or nothing to do with left and right brained learners/thinkers.
Our brains are separate, in two parts, within the skull, the two hemispheres are connected (corpus callosum) by pathways.
Many use one-half of the brain far more than the other, and certainly when carrying out certain tasks, Language skills are left brain techniques.
Many believe that side dominance causes us to learn differently, many years ago I was told that left-handed be people were less likely to have strokes. I am afraid to say there is little to back up either of these theories.
This dominance is okay providing we use that side for most activities.
There are activities that utilise both sides, like tying shoes or buttoning shirts. These require a huge degree of dexterity.
The two activities mentioned are extremely difficult for children with specific learning needs like dyspraxia
The half that is used is sometimes tied to which hand they prefer to use. If someone likes to use their right hand when doing an activity, like drawing or throwing a ball.
Checking left, and right dominance in those with learning needs especially those with dyspraxia is crucial.
Many children with planning and co-ordination problems can end up using the wrong hand or leg, this can lead to problems as the muscle tone is far greater on our dominant side.
You can see the grip is very crab-like and awkward.
If this is the case the writing will be of poor quality and they will complain of tired hands or hand cramps.
Have you noticed how high jumpers, long jumpers, and hurdlers take off, starting off and the stride pattern is so important and allows for them to arrive on the right side?
Measuring muscle diameter can point to this being true.

How can we check for handedness:
We can check the leg we use to step off into our stride pattern.
What is the leading leg while climbing the stairs?
You can try by using your trailing leg and seeing how strange it feels.
The arm we grasp things with or carry a bag.
Where do we carry our bags?
You can improve co-ordination skill sets by making sure you or your child are using the correct side, left or right.
You may have noticed from an early stage that your child struggled with colouring, etc. and this can also be an indicator that is well following up.
Even riding a bike can be problematic if the child is starting off with their weaker leg.
I would like to mention that for any child with a dominance problem or balance, planning or co-ordination issues would benefit from increasing activities with both sides.
Exercises that can promote balance:
Brushing your teeth.
Brushing hair.
Stepping off on your non-dominant side.
Activities that get you or your child to cross over their centre line.
We have also written a piece on left-right brain dominance that can be found on this blog site.

follow us twitter at dyslexiadublin and facebook. There are also  great resources available at  www.dyslexiadublin.ie

All our articles are for information only and guidance… professional advice should always be sought.  Dyslexia Dublin CETC © 2015