Latest articles from the Innovate My School community.

For November and December, we’re bringing you Leading The Way, a series all about being an effective school leader. We’ll be publishing articles on the likes of staff wellbeing, school communities, curriculum planning, CPD and networking. Then there’s the case of edtech, which offers schools a variety of challenges and opportunities.

“To state the obvious, technology is now fully embedded in our lives,” says edtech specialist Terry Freedman. “It therefore stands to reason that a school in which technology is not part of the very fabric of the place is likely to be seen as somehow not quite part of the ‘real world’.

“Being a technology-rich school is no longer merely a ‘nice-to-have’ - it is essential. Put simply, why would anyone stay in an environment in which their job is made harder because of the lack of time and labour-saving software, if they have the choice of working in a better-equipped school?”

With this in mind, enjoy these amazing articles, which are powered by edtech solutions provider Groupcall.

Handwriting: cover the page or colour it?

Bob Hext

Ex SEN teacher Bob Hext is Managing Director of Crossbow Education Ltd, which he started in 1993 to publish the literacy games he was developing to help his dyslexic students with their reading and spelling. In 2005, Bob and his wife Anne designed and patented the Eye Level Reading Ruler to support children with Visual Stress. In 2006, The Eye Level Reading Ruler was runner up SEN product of the year at the BESA Educational Resources Awards. Since then Bob and Anne have worked with leading academics in the field to widen their range of Visual Stress support products, which now include A4 overlays, tinted exercise books and pads, as well as computer-related products. Bob started teaching in 1973, and has wide experience in many environments, as a class teacher, Head of Department, and SEN teacher. Bob is an experienced training provider and has spoken on various aspects of Dyslexia teaching at Conferences and CPD events over the years, including Education North in April 2011, and will be presenting the seminar “Reading Writing and Colour” at Special Needs London on Saturday 15th Sept 2011.

Crossbow are a trusted “first stop” for many SENCOs looking for “dyslexia-friendly” teaching materials for literacy, from decodable phonic readers to spelling games and handwriting resources. Their visual stress support products are now used in 60% of the schools in the UK, and are also sold in the USA through their North Carolina subsidiary, Crossbow Education Corp. Crossbow were short listed for the Supplier of the Year award at the BESA Educational Resources Awards 2011.

Follow @crossbow_ed

Facebook: www.facebook.com/CrossbowEducation

Website: www.crossboweducation.com Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

According to a recent BBC press release, the state of Indiana is the latest in a succession of US states which will not require its schoolchildren to learn joined-up, or cursive, writing. The move is part of the Common Core State Standards Initiative, which aims to ensure consistency in US education and makes no mention of handwriting.

Some critics say writing well is a vital skill for life and builds character, and that there is a link between kinaesthetic memory and spelling. Supporters of the move say that typing skills are more useful in the modern digital world, and that keyboarding develops kinaesthetic memory as well as cursive writing. But whatever is propounded by theorists, the fact is that handwriting remains an important medium for learning and communication, and is still going to be with us for quite a while.

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I remember teaching a child in year 9 (we’ll call him Sammy) who was so ashamed of his handwriting that he covered everything he wrote (which, to be fair, was very little) with his left hand as he wrote it. He hated what he saw in his exercise books – so he put nothing into them, or, if he really couldn’t avoid having to do something, he made sure he could see as little as possible of what he wrote. His behaviour, not surprisingly, was a constant problem, and the last I heard of him, he had become yet another exclusion statistic.

My previous article looked briefly at Visual Stress and reading. The same applies to writing: a person with Visual Stress writing on white paper may well see the letters moving around as they write. The result can be seen in the example (below) on the left. When they come to read what they have written, it is moving around again…

Now look at the example on the right: the same child, the same words, the same lesson. All that has changed is the paper. And the presentation, and the legibility, and the spelling of about eight words, and the child’s self-esteem…

I wonder what would have become of Sammy’s life if he’d had tinted exercise books to work in? Tinted exercise books cost more than plain white ones, but exclusion, and in many cases prison, costs a lot more still.

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