DEC
08
2014

The Christmas Gift of Reading

The National Literacy Trust are offering the Gift of Reading this Christmas. For as little as £7, you can buy the Gift of Reading gift card for your friends or family and the National Literacy Trust will use the money to give disadvantaged children books to keep.  A shocking statistic is that one in seven children in the UK does not have a book of their own.

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NOV
04
2014

Master of Arts (Adult Dyslexia Diagnosis and Support)

I am thrilled to have been awarded my Master of Arts degree with distinction from London South Bank University My dissertation examined the link between perceptual talent and dyslexia. It proved to be a fascinating research area as I delved into the different thinking styles between people with dyslexia and people who are not dyslexic. I could not get to the graduation ceremony as I was attending a Davis workshop on Attention Mastery, a difficult decision but it was a fabulous workshop and they had packed a lot into each day. October was a full month for workshops as I also had an energising three days in Germany at the Davis International Symposium with colleagues from 22 different countries. It was wonderful to catch up with old friends and meet so many new facilitators too.

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SEP
23
2014

Dyslexic spies

‘Dyslexic spies: GCHQ’s secret strategy to tackle terrorism and espionage‘.  An article in the Sunday Times this week focussed on how GCHQ is utilizing dyslexic strengths in their work against cybercriminals and terrorists.  The case of Alan Turing, the dyslexic cryptanalyst and mathematician who  succeeded in breaking the Nazi’s Enigma code during the Second World War, is now well known.  GCHQ have recognised the aptitude that some people with dyslexia have for isolating facts from complex patterns and events, and apparently regularly recruit them as intelligence officers.

 

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SEP
08
2014

Claymation interviews

I love this short animated, claymation film which features interviews with some very famous (and entertaining) characters!  It was produced by art students in Sydney with the support of Marianne Mullally, a Davis facilitator.

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MAY
08
2014

UK Davis Dyslexia Programme bursary fund

Thank you to everyone who contributed to Klaire de Lys’s bursary campaign.  The campaign raised £5035 and has been a fantastic start for the new UK Davis Dyslexia Programme bursary fund.   Earlier this week, she fulfilled her pledge and shaved her head. There is an incredibly moving 2-minute video on her blog:     Last week, Klaire also launched her new band and her song, “Paper Wings”, which is based on her experiences with dyslexia.
If you would like to donate to the fund, there is a link on the DLF website : http://www.davislearningfoundation.org.uk/bursaryfund.html

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MAY
08
2014

Dyscalculia and the Davis Maths Mastery Programme

Dyscalculia and the Davis Maths Mastery Programme

Mathematical understanding runs throughout all areas of our lives. It measures change according to a standard and enables us to establish order through the sequential steps, and to assess the result. It is estimated that between 3 and 6% of the population struggle with dyscalculia, an inability to conceptualise numbers and the number facts.

The DfES defines dyscalculia as:

‘a condition that affects the ability to acquire arithmetic skills.  Dyscalculic learners may have difficulty understanding simple number concepts, lack an intuitive grasp of numbers, and have problems learning number facts and procedures.  Even if they produce a correct answer or use a correct method, they may do so mechanically and without confidence.’

There are five main problem areas commonly experienced by people with dyscalculia:

  1. Anxiety and stress
  2. Reading problems
  3. Memory difficulties
  4. Reasoning problems
  5. Arithmetical issues

Dyscalculia typically occurs in thinkers who need to learn through meaning who have failed to grasp the meanings behind some or all of the mathematical symbols they have encountered. For these problems to be resolved, a medium has to be found through which these meanings can be mastered. In the Davis programme, a multi-sensory medium in the form of plasticine clay is used.

The Davis approach looks at how confusion can arise in the learning process as a result of symbols, terms, concepts and processes that are not understood; abstract concepts are made a reality and confusions are “clayed out”, often with dramatic results. Mathematics begins to make sense as it becomes related to real-life concepts.

The Davis approach acknowledges the dyscalculic person’s preferred learning style, namely to learn through meaning and hands-on explanation, rather than by rote or repetition, and uses multi-sensory teaching strategies before moving to the traditional paper and pencil medium. The Maths Mastery Programme is an individualised one-to-one programme, typically done over 30 – 45 hours.

The programme provides a unique and different approach to address dyscalculia:

1. Anxiety and stress

  • Fluctuations in concentration and ability
  • Increased stress or fatigue
  • Anxiety and exasperation

Studies have shown that students with dyscalculia become confused and experience an inability to concentrate as they become overwhelmed by their difficulties. Reducing and managing anxiety is a key component of the Davis programme. The student is shown how to self-manage their stress and energy levels using kinaesthetic tools. They are also given strategies to help monitor and maintain concentration.

2. Reading problems

  • Reading and understanding maths books
  • Feeling that nothing makes sense
  • Relating printed questions to mathematical techniques

The reading correction strategies are used from the Davis Dyslexia Correction Programme. The methods use the three dimensional learning style of the dyslexic student. The Davis methods are based on the idea that there is something different in an individual’s thinking style; something of great value, that can be worked with towards a greater understand of language and maths.

Since dyslexic students think in pictures, they have difficulty thinking with the sounds of words. The methods correct the learning disability, using the natural strengths and talents of the individual’s personal thinking and learning style. The student is shown how to extract meaning from the written text.

The BDA estimates that about 40-50% of dyslexics show no signs of dyscalculia and that, for some dyslexic pupils, difficulty with maths may stem from problems with the language surrounding mathematical questions, rather than with number concepts – e.g. their dyslexia may cause them to misunderstand the wording of a question.

It is important to clarify whether a student is struggling because of their reading difficulties or whether they truly have a fundamental difficulty with maths concepts.  These factors are explored during the assessment and each programme is individually structured to meet the student’s needs.

3. Memory difficulties

  • Remembering what different signs/symbols mean
  • Remembering formulae or theorems
  • Recalling dates, times, phone numbers etc.

A good memory for facts often depends on being able to organise them into meaningful patterns.  If arithmetical procedures are just sequences of meaningless steps, then they will be hard to remember and frequently misapplied.

Mathematical symbols and processes all rest on a series of foundation concepts or universal laws which have to be fully understood before maths can be mastered. The Davis facilitator takes the student on an exploratory journey through the seven main concepts which underpin maths.

For example, one such concept is sequence, the principle that one thing such as a number or quantity follows another. Another important concept is ‘time’ and all programmes include a detailed look at how time relates to the student’s own life.

Once the student has mastery of these concepts, the programme then follows a series of exercises to introduce arithmetical concepts and symbols.  These small, careful steps ensure that the student has a clear understanding of the meaning behind the symbols and procedures.

Rote learning depends largely on auditory memory and is unlikely to be a natural learning strategy for a dyscalculic child. The exploratory nature of the programme is a more powerful learning tool.  The student is also given ‘tools’ to rediscover their visual and kinaesthetic learning, which will assist in remembering formulae and telephone numbers.

4. Reasoning problems

  • Moving from concrete to abstract
  • Following steps in a mathematical process

The multisensory nature of the programme, the use of plasticine clay, provides a basis for the student to experience the steps within a mathematical process. Once the meaning is established, the student can move intuitively from the concrete to the abstract.

 5. Arithmetical issues

  • Understanding place value
  • Carrying out sums without a calculator
  • Difficulty in learning and remembering arithmetical facts

Dyscalculic pupils often show a kind of rigidity that accompanies rote application of a procedure that is not properly understood.  Once the underlying mathematical concepts have been mastered, the student works through a series of exercises and is encouraged to explore how the concepts are applied to mathematics. The exercises are structured to ensure that the student demonstrates, through the plastine clay, that each step is understood with complete certainty before they progress further.

The programme ensures that they develop ‘numerosity’ and understand that ‘one is one’ and this relates to a standard. Once this is understood the student can progress to look at ‘amount’ and develop an understanding that a numeral represents a number.

The Davis approach acknowledges the dyscalculic person’s preferred learning style, namely to learn through meaning and hands-on explanation, rather than by rote or repetition, and uses multi-sensory teaching strategies before moving to the traditional paper and pencil medium.

Copyright 2011 DDFA

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APR
12
2012

Mandatory phonics test

You will be familiar with recent discussions in the news about the Government’s plans to introduce a mandatory phonics test for all six-year-olds. These plans were the subject of a ‘phone-in on BBC Radio 4’s consumer affairs programme “You and Yours” on 10 April.

Six and a half minutes (6:21) into the programme, there is an extended contribution by a lady whose son completed a Davis programme and is now taking five AS Levels. The caller speaks very eloquently about the Davis approach to dyslexia, the gifts of dyslexic individuals, and then goes on to express her reservations about the proposed new testing regime.

The programme is well worth a listen and can be heard on the BBCiPlayer

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AUG
29
2011

‘Dyslexia Is the Best Thing That Ever Happened to Me’

Donna Flagg, author of Surviving Dreaded Conversations, has written a moving account of her experiences at school and how her success (she now owns and runs two businesses)is directly tied to my ostensible failures of the past, not because of the scars, but because of what I had to learn in order to survive a system that did not recognize me as a legitimate member’.

You can read the full article here.

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