BRITE team member Charmaine McKissock returned from the 2006 Dyslexia Conference with tales of intimate confessionals, performance art PowerPoint, the hidden delights of Word, a handy Dyslexia-friendly toolbar and the latest news on the Lucid Lads Plus screening test.
Big Brother meets The Dyslexia Conference 2006
The Dyslexia Conference 2006 at Heriot Watt University this year emulated some of the strategies of the Big Brother TV series, with key speakers coming up to the podium and making intimate confessionals one-by-one into the microphone…One speaker tells us that she went to the lengths of having herself hypnotised to feel what it is like to be dyslexic; the next discloses how his step-daughter spends a lot of time arguing with her boyfriend as to who is the most dyslexic; another recounts a long anecdote about her husband forgetting to leave her hot water to wash up her cereal bowl because she is away so often raising awareness about dyslexia all over the UK; a fourth introduces himself as ‘Cheap and Cheerful Craig’ a dyslexic trainer, who was afraid for many years that ‘Satan’ would come down the chimney at Xmas. A fifth speaker comes to the microphone to tell us about calling a group of exhausted teachers at a training event the ‘Grateful Dead’….
Several speakers raised Powerpoint presentations to another dimension, by using clips of Charlie Chaplin films, pictures of themselves waking up looking exhausted on the morning of the Conference, photos of their frosty stagnant garden in winter which was likened to the common learning experience of dyslexics, and a number of rousing jingles and special effects to keep us participants alert and entertained … It seems like the BRITE training team will need to up the anti this year and acquire extra skills in the Performance Arts…
Much of the content of the talks (regarding memory skills, dyslcalculia, differentiation by outcome, raising self-esteem) related to a greater extent to dyslexic children, however it is always possible to extrapolate elements that might be adapted to our own work situations.
Craig Mill’s inspiring talk about using uncommon – almost hidden – features that exist within Word and PowerPoint to create original multi-sensory materials could be of great interest to BRITE participants. He is very generous with his knowledge, ideas and free downloads, which can be found on http://www.assist-it.org.uk/index.htm. He has developed a PowerPoint interactive template and the ‘My Learning Toolbar’ to support struggling learners. The toolbar integrates with Word and provides a range of frequently used tools all in one toolbar, for example, frequent homophones (confusables), increasing text size and space, colour background and the ‘research’ tool for accessing synonyms and encyclopaedias on line.
If you want to get a copy of the handouts from the conference you can buy a pack from http://www.dsconference.org.uk/. Most of the speakers have their own websites and generously offer to answer queries or provide more information about their specialist interests.
I was given a free demo of the new Lucid Lads Plus computerised screening test, which has added a new test of verbal problem-solving to the existing items that many of you will already be familiar with. I undertook the test, as I like to use myself as a laboratory for new products or ideas. All I can say is that I felt very unhappy during and after what is a strangely gruelling and seemingly inconclusive test. You can get a free demo from www.lucid-research.com . Try it yourself (if you dare), and please let us know at BRITE what you think.