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Essential Study Skills for Dyslexic Students

Dineke Austin, Senior Tutor Anne Main, Egham Centre Principal

What ARE Study Skills?

THE $65 question!
As many interpretations as there are study guides on the market! However: Concise Oxford Dictionary skill, n, expertness, practised ability, facility in. Thus: what are the key skills that we wish our dyslexic students to become automatic in?

What do you think are meant by study skills?

Take a few moments to jot down with a partner what you think are included in study skills:

Now compare with the following list: which ones are key areas for our dyslexic learners? Which ones might make the greatest difference?

Which ones are we as specialist teachers best fitted to teach explicitly to our dyslexic learners?

Key Study Skills:

Organisation personal/work Listening Thinking (critical/analytical) Speaking Reading (esp. higher order) Note-taking/making Writing (secretarial, authorial) Research (Internet) ICT (esp. enabling) Memory (short/working/long term) Metacognition (awareness of strategies) Revision & exam. techniques

Why Study Skills for Dyslexic Learners?

Weaker & slower reading skills than peers: need to be taught short cuts. Less well organised & slower note-taking skills: need to be taught effective techniques. Verbal short term memory difficulties: need to be taught strategies. Good study skills are truly multisensory - VAK! Gives ownership to student, encourages independence. Creates a more level playing field! Success!

The Role of the Specialist Teacher?

As specialist teachers, often much of our lesson time is devoted to specialist teaching programmes (DILP, Units of Sound, Alpha to Omega, etc) and we are certainly trained to do so as no other teachers. However, this is frequently not all we do: the older the learner, the more this is the case, often. Too often, study skills techniques and strategies are still not being taught systematically in schools/colleges: an assumption is made that learners somehow absorb strategies. Is this the case? My argument is that we have an equal role to play in developing transferrable cross-curricular skills in our learners, to develop independence.

Which Study Skills?

Reading Skills: From fiction and non-fiction texts/Internet For different purposes Using different techniques Note-taking Skills: From teachers/DVDs From books/Internet For different purposes Using different techniques Writing Skills: For different purposes e.g. descriptive, informative, discursive, etc. For different subjects e.g. science reports, CDT explanations, media persuasion, etc. Revision skills: multisensory

Fitness for Purpose

Why ACTIVE Reading?

We REMEMBER approximately:
15% of what we READ mechanically 30% of what we HEAR 40% of what we SEE - images 50% of what we SAY 60% of what we DO 90% of what we SEE, HEAR, SAY and DO!

Matching Reading to Task

1. Following instructions: WORD-BY-WORD Start at the beginning and read every word. Follow instructions in the order given. Tick off each instruction as it is carried out. 2. 3. 4. Study: SKIM, SCAN, WORD-BY-WORD, SQ3R/PQ4R. For information: SCAN For pleasure (English literature): somewhere between SKIMMING and WORD-BY-WORD.

Eyes move quickly over a page to glean an overview: Key/signal words Names Dates/numbers Words in different font Topic sentences Concluding sentences Connectives Question:

What do I know about this already? (hook) What do I think it will be about? (activate) What do I want to find out? (interact)

Read the page quickly to locate specific information. Always use a reading guide to direct eye movement: the tip of a pencil or a reading ruler. Use the assignment/comprehension question to scan:
Title Pictures Charts Diagrams Sub-headings Captions Summaries Text itself

How to Read Quickly:

Practise reading every day: little & often Read all summaries and conclusion first Select an appropriate style of reading: skimming or scanning Set time limits for reading a specific amount of text Experiment with the SQ3R active reading strategy Train the eyes to move, not the head (Ann Arbor, etc) Concentrate on the main ideas, rather than the detail Use a reading ruler/onscreen ruler

Directed Activities for Reading Texts (DARTs)

Techniques for directing learner to engage with aspects of text to develop comprehension and develop an active relationship to reading:
use highlighting use cutting, pasting move enlarged text around make notes in various frames such as mind maps, outlines, boxes cause and effect tables draw pictures draw cartoons

Note-taking Skills
Wh Questions: What is this about? Why is it important? When did it happen? Where did it happen? Who was involved? How did it happen? [Use 6 box trick template] The 5 C Rule: CLEAR CONCISE COMPREHENSIVE COMPLETE CORRECT

Notes from Listening

One particularly effective strategy when listening to new information is TQLR:
TUNE IN: ask yourself what you already know about the subject QUESTION: develop questions, give yourself a focus for listening LISTEN: while listening, take notes and highlight key words on any handouts. It can also be effective to take notes in the form of spider plans or pattern notes, as not all lessons are presented in a linear form RECALL: have you had your questions answered?

Taking Notes from a Teacher (or DVD)

Key words only. Omit small words e.g. the, is, to (keep: not, no!) Use abbreviations wherever possible e.g. &, etc., N.B. Use symbols wherever possible, e.g. Use the six box trick for support (Who? When? Where? etc). Use a writing frame/table if at all possible.

Use a Frame for Note taking

Who? When? Where?


What happened?


Taking Notes from a Book

Experiment with different formats:
Linear notes bullet points Numbered/lettered points Concept map/spidergram Flow charts Time lines Tables Venn Diagrams Summary shapes Revision cards
Next... After this... Finally... After this... Then... This then... Firstly... Next... Then...

Taking Notes from a Book cont.

Make them more memorable by: Different coloured pens/pencils/felt tips Use of BLOCK CAPITALS Underlining Highlighting Drawings Symbols Diagrams

A Mind Map summarising the life of the great scientist Marie Curie
c Tony Buzan

Linear Notes
Linear Notes The most common form of note taking Uses few words Fast Simple No forethought required Key points Use lined paper wide lined is best Leave a right-hand margin for later additions For CLARITY write on every other line Try to use colour if possible Can use headings from essay/report titles Ideal if word processed as reorganising very simple

Successful Writing
Task analysis:
Analyse the title/question - SARI

Subject Aspect Restrictions Instructions

Brainstorm ideas, preferably with others Develop ideas into a spidergram, flow chart, or columns, etc, & arrange information in order Choose relevant writing frame (Hamburger) Select appropriate information Organise into paragraphs Select vocabulary that best expresses ideas Use appropriate flag words, enumerative, transitional, etc.

Writing cont.
Word process draft/s! Use assistive technology wherever/whenever possible, eg
Kidspiration/Inspiration, textHELP Write Outloud, etc.

MAPS editing & proof reading:

Meaning Agreement Paragraphing & Punctuation Spelling

Have ready a dictionary & thesaurus/use electronic versions

ICT for Teaching:

There are so many software programmes that teach skills, that there are too many to itemise. Broadly speaking, they fall into categories, such as:
Literacy or numeracy skills, such as Wordshark, Nessy, Units of Sound, CVC Word Builder, Numbershark, etc. Strengthening memory, such as Mastering Memory, or Memory Booster. Planning and organisation, such as Inspiration, Kidspiration, Mind Genius, etc. Touch Typing programmes, such as Englishtype Junior and Senior. NB: there are free downloadable versions of many of these teaching tools, such as Freemind or ikonmap for concept mapping, Senselang for touch typing.

ICT to Support:
By this, we mean technological solutions that do just that: they support, rather than enable or teach. Examples might be: Reading pens e.g. IRISPen Text to speech software e.g.Read & Write Gold. Speech to text software e.g.Dragon NaturallySpeaking In other words, they help a learner to read or write, but if those skills are learned, it is almost incidental, not the purpose of the tool. Free versions of some, such as WordTalk, Balabolka, (Blio for e-books), Adobe Reader, PowerTalk.

ICT to Enable
These, in many respects, are the most useful, as they develop skills as well as enable learners to produce work that they would either not be able to do at all, or would take far longer to do. Examples would include: Digital recorders and note takers Alternative forms of reading documents, such as digital texts Mobile phones for accessing PowerPoint presentations at home, for capturing images with voice-overs on field trips, etc. Colour overlays to support ease and speed of reading Talking dictionaries. Dictionary/thesaurus WordWeb 5.0

Enabling cont.
Spellchecker in Explorer IEspell with UK dictionary Onscreen ruler to assist efficient tracking, e.g. Online text to speech Diary planning on a monthly and weekly basis. On screen stickies with alarms Password management options,

Approaching Revision
A number of techniques can be taught/practised:
Revision equipment shopping list Timetabling revision sessions in advance Organising notes & materials e.g. colour coded topic dividers, computer equivalent Memory techniques e.g. mnemonics, pegging, key cards CLOSE and ACTIVE reading techniques Practice in understanding exam questions different subjects Exam strategies dos and donts!

Memory Task:
look at these numbers for 1 minute, then write them down:


The number could have been memorised in this way: 365 days in a year 52 weeks 12 months 4 weeks in a month with either 31, 30 or 28 days

Memory a Summary
We remember things more easily if we organise them into groups, patterns and categories We remember unusual things We remember things that interest us most We remember only a few things at a time It is difficult to remember things we do not understand

Memory cont.
Memory works by building links We remember things better if we know something about them Learning is an active task - we have to learn about how we can remember something

Revision Tools:
Record ideas Create a reference list Sticky notes

Note book


Bullet points

Resources & references:

Dupree, J. (2005) Help Students Improve Their Study Skills A Handbook for Teaching Assistants in Secondary Schools. London, David Fulton. Holtom, E. (2007)Study Skills The complete guide to smart learning. Tenterden, Galore Park. Lee, J. (2005) Letts GCSE Success Essentials Study Skills. London, Letts Educational. Smythe, I. (2010)Dyslexia in the Digital Age Making IT Work. London, Continuum. Jane Dupree Brainwaves Education Ltd Ian Smythe posters on SQ3R, definitions of words used in essays, keyboard short cuts, etc Useful information on creating learning content, using ICT, for users who are dyslexic. BDA site for collating useful iPhone apps.