Learning to teach: a focus on the personal rather than the technical aspects of teacher education
Textbooks on dyslexia ascertain that writing strategies designed for dyslexic students are effective, some suggesting their suitability for all students. However, there is a lack of empirical evidence to substantiate these claims (Glazzard, 2011). This paper examines these claims, by presenting the findings from research into writing strategies designed for students with dyslexia. The research was conducted within an 11-16 all ability secondary school, in the East Midlands of England. Three writing strategies were trialled over a period of six months on four science classes (yrs. 7-8 aged 11-13, n=131) containing students with diagnoses of dyslexia (n=5). Written work was assessed pre-and post-strategy, to monitor progress, using National Curriculum (NC) levelled writing tasks and compared with progress of a control class (yr.7 aged 11-12, n=28). Empirical evidence provided shows that strategies impact positively upon all students. Whilst there was variation, variance between pre- and post- strategy NC levels shows all three writing strategies produced statistically significant improvements to NC levels. The small number of students with dyslexia meant there was not sufficient data to analyse statistically, although four showed gains above the average for their class. Teaching assistants (TAs) and students asked about the usefulness of the strategies identified, they helped organise written work. However, students acknowledged they would not use them independently. Identifying frequent modelling of strategies is necessary until students use them autonomously. Strategies provide a scaffold to organise thinking, and direct writing in a logical manner. Whilst trialled within science, strategies evaluated were general, applicable across the whole curriculum.