When I was teaching in primary school, we were lucky enough to have a dyslexic centre within the actual school. These children were integrated into the classrooms in the afternoon for subjects other than mathematics and literacy. As my teaching developed I became more proficient in providing learning opportunities for them to access the work. One of the areas of work which I started to develop was how the children were allowed to record their work – so this week’s waffle will discuss some of these ideas.
Can images paint a thousand words?
There is a lot in that infamous saying of “a picture paints a thousand words” and this is why I consider images and diagrams to be a valuable way of recording information. This is already apparent within science where diagrams are used to provide the set up of equipment, but images can be used throughout the curriculum to demonstrate understanding of the concept.
“Avoiding the emphasis being on the actual art will support them in completing their cartoons strips with the original purpose rather than trying to achieve something which is publishable for MARVEL.”
Spider diagrams– Spider diagrams were a way I used within my teaching to record information and to demonstrate understanding. The central image could be an image that is provided by the teacher which the children are encouraged to annotate. Starting with an image of a character or setting in the centre of the page can be used to collect adjectives to describe that character or setting. Of course the image could be provided by the child and then presented to each other. This method of recording can be used to identify properties of shapes from real life images or even ways to improve the layout of rooms. It can be used to record their emotions from a piece of music or artwork to ideas for their latest piece of creative writing. The advantage is that the amount of writing is reduced to the important key vocabulary. This can also provide the children with a basis to start investigating the spelling or words that they would use in their ‘final’ piece of writing. Technology can play an important part here as well from the taking of the initial images to the annotations – applications such as Notability and Skitch are particularly useful here.
Sequence strips – Many of the concepts or skills that are taught can be related to a sequence of events. This is where sequence strips can be used effectively. Providing the children with the initial squares allows them to concentrate directly on the progression of the sequence of events and also to fit the sequence into the required number of key points – this in itself can be a valid learning opportunity. Avoiding the emphasis being on the actual art will support them in completing their cartoons strips with the original purpose rather than trying to achieve something which is publishable for MARVEL. The sequence strip does not, as you can imagine, need to be recorded by just drawing it. Using images the children take can be presented in order to show the progression. This makes links to drama still frames and also freeze frames for methods within science. Creating a series of images to demonstrate how we hear things can be used within Deaf Awareness Week.
DJ recording – Of course, as well as using images to record the children’s thoughts, ideas or work, sound can be used in a similar way. Children can use a range of technology to record their thoughts in preparation for writing stories, or even better, use the sound recording to present their experiments or mathematical investigations in the form of podcasts or radio reports. Careful planning here is essential, unless you want to spend some time on editing afterwards. Encouraging the children to record each step or each section as a separate sound file can reduce the need for editing and means that mistakes does not mean the whole sound file needs to be re-recorded. Linked with video – this can relate to the starting context of the activity – if the children are aware they need to create a ‘report’ for that crazy scientist at the beginning of the activity then the whole experience will become more real and purposeful for them. Again there are many free applications or software out there to support you with this. Audacity, Audiboo and SoundCloud to name just a few.
These are some methods which I used within my teaching to remove the emphasis on written recording. Feel free to give some of these a try and let me know how they go, or if you have any of your comments and ideas then please add them in the comments below or send me them to be via twitter(@iwilsonysj), Facebook, google+ or email.
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