Are you writing for all learners?
– Romulo Neves
The most unequal thing is to treat unequal people equally.
Romulo did an activity to demonstrate how students may feel in the classroom when they are finding something harder than others. (We had to say the alphabet and follow instructions, allocated by letter, to lift our left or right hand – harder than it might sound!) The goal for today is not to suggest that materials writers are doing the wrong thing but to show us some ideas to help certain types of learners so that we could take one or two forward when writing the next course book/set of materials.
difficulty with social interaction, limited or inappropriate interactions, robotic or repetitive speech. Also love repetition and structure, if they can’t predict what is going to happen, they feel anxious/nervous and start to daydream/escape. Lowering the bar is inappropriate as they may be as bright as others.
Romulo did an activity in which he read a sentence and we had to write down certain words. The goal was to show us how easy it is to get lost and switch off. Then we looked at a page from a course book in two different versions – the more inclusion friendly version looked less “pretty” but had the capital letters at start of sentence in bold to draw attention and boxes to write the answer, as well as less content on the page/more white space. No Picture. The names of the characters in a dialogue are in a different font and colour to differentiate between the names and the speech. If you have a choice of words to fill in a blank, have a blank box to write the answer and the choice words after it. Every unit should follow the same pattern i.e. what you are going to do in each activity – a “map” of this is helpful.
Reduce instruction words and teacher talk by including cards at the back of the book for “Feeling great” “Have some doubts” “Need help” so they don’t have to interrupt to communicate. With speaking, give an example of what they are going to say so that they have something to guide them to know how to work together.
They do pay attention but they pay attention to many things at the same time so it is hard to focus. They have no idea of time management, they are always moving. Matching is easier than writing an answer, as no scope for misspelling. Two questions rather than three – same amount of time, do it better. Separate texts, e.g. if there are two postcards, don’t have them together on the page, and use less imagery. Mini-whiteboards are calming as they write rather than speak. Emphasise good behaviour not bad behaviour – give a sticker for good rather than chastising for bad.
Letters, numbers, right/left, rotation problems.
Visual dyslexia – need to listen to the information in order to understand completely as the letters rotate.
Auditory dyslexia – need to read the information as short term memory disorder.
Reading rulers are useful. OpenDyslexic in a new open source font created to increase readability for dyslexic students. Record as much as of the course book as you can in audio that students can access online. Use visual aids (e.g. arrows) to show where to get the information from and vocabulary tables with “I know this word”, “I recognise this word”, “I don’t know this word”. Provide templates and examples for them to follow.