The class teacher, Lee Burnell at Gorseinon Junior School selected a pupil who was a bright, articulate and knowledgeable person possessing an inquiring mind. He has an endearing character with a sense of humour and strong potential as a learner, who enjoys Physical Education, Mathematics and Science. However, he prefers to work alone in his own space and can become frustrated when asked to work with others. This pupil possesses excellent problem solving skills but finds great difficulty in cooperating with others; he becomes dysfunctional within a group situation, where he experiences high degrees of frustration which leads to some physical aggression. Frustration also seems to be caused by his difficulty in recording ideas.
There is a clear discrepancy between the pupil’s cognitive ability and his Literacy skills. The Paediatrician Consultant diagnosed Pupil B with the following conditions:
1) Uneven cognitive profile with evidence of Specific Learning Difficulty - Dyslexia.
2) Developmental Co-ordination Disorder – DCD (or Development Dyspraxia)
The learning programmes for Pupil B were collaboratively devised between Pupil B’s teacher, teaching assistant, parent and SEN co-ordinator. The following areas were to be improved:
1) To promote the pupil’s posture at a desk and grasp of pencil;
2) To promote the pupil’s handwriting skills (letter formation skills);
3) To recommend a measured approach to written recording for the pupil with use of alternative means of recording and development of IT skills to assist the pupils communicating his learning for his long term needs;
4) The pupil’s dyslexia and poor fine motor skills mean problems with the mechanics of writing, resulting in slow and reluctant writing.
Word processing packages supported his writing development. Editing, replacing and deleting mistakes developed confidence in his writing and even with his poor fine motor skills the pupil could present work of equivalent quality to his peers using the school’s resource drive.
Word banks developed improved pace during the writing process, reduced typing and supported spelling. Spell-checkers and speech feedback supported the development of the pupil’s spelling and writing. Writing Frames were constructed to support the pupil’s writing to expand his ideas, using copy and paste to organise draft writing. Interactive Whiteboards were seen as useful to support the pupil’s reading and writing development since they enable better visual clarity for text, images and diagrams. This provided inclusive, and sound, practice throughout the whole class, not just this pupil. The use of tools such as reveal, magnifier or spotlight improves tracking of text and discussion points. Activities were delivered through a more multi sensory and kinaesthetic approach.
Multi-media techniques benefited the pupil in a variety of ways with graphics and sound as well as text. This created opportunities for learning which are not dependent on the written word. Text to speech facilities were seen as essential strategies for support within literacy activities such as reading, spelling and writing. Supportive feedback made within interactive games and can promote confidence and self-esteem, and enabled the pupil to simultaneously receive visual and auditory access to all text on screen, even as it is typed.
Mind mapping software aided the pupil with focussing, planning and organisation of ideas and thoughts.
Visual alterations supported the visual difficulties experienced, relieved discomfort, reduced glare and provided improved clarity for reading and recording dense text.
Interactive spelling activities such as Wordshark and Literacy Builder were used to develop and track progress. Interactive reading activities using resources such as audio books supported the pupil’s reading development in many ways, since they are far more engaging and multisensory than standard paper books. Typing tools and software were essential so that he had a good understanding of the keyboard. He needed to develop his touch typing skills so that entering text did not obstruct or interfere with the recording of ideas. Ideally, the ability to type should be as fast as, or even faster than, writing speed. Attention was also given to the seating and the positioning of the equipment Pupil B is supplied with a laptop and had access to the software 2Type to develop this.
The pupil was very closely monitored over the period of intervention and his levels of understanding, his knowledge and skills were measured both pre and mid intervention. The results showed enormous progress in his abilities such as reading age, comprehension age, letter recognition and typing speed. One of the biggest improvements which was not measurable but immediately obvious was in his self esteem, feelings of achievement, his levels of inclusion within the class and how his improved behaviour, due to being able to access the curriculum in a way appropriate to his strengths and needs being met, meant other pupils were able to work in a calmer environment with more adult attention shared throughout rather than being focused on a pupil who as a result of previous barriers to learning was acting out and disrupting. This pupil now modelled work for the pupils he previously struggled to keep up with.The teachers were more empowered, all the pupils in the class were benefiting from a more stimulating, interactive and multi sensory learning approach and the course of the life of the pupil who was supported has possibly been changed for the better.