Review of ‘Literacy for All’ study day PLUS links to online resources for students at the beginning stages of reading and writing

You might remember I flagged up this event a few weeks ago on the blog. Sorry for not posting feedback sooner, however I’m pleased to say that the study day definitely lived up to, and exceeded, expectations! The visiting speaker, Caroline Musslewhite, was full of enthusiasm for her subject, which made for an inspiring and packed day. The focus of the study day was developing emergent literacy skills, particularly with learners who use AAC – i.e. people who use augmentative and alternative communication techniques such as symbols, right through to high tech voice output communication aids.

While part of the day focussed on developing literacy in young children with complex communication needs, this section was nonetheless fascinating to me as someone working in further education, as it provided context and important background information. Useful tips were shared on good practice when choosing texts and using symbols in the classroom.

Caroline moved on to look at emergent literacy in adults and emphasised the importance of enabling learners to freely express themselves to generate ideas for topics they’d like to write about. I’m used to demonstrating software which supports students at the beginning stages of writing to construct sentences – great for exposing learners to correct words and patterns which they can learn and gain confidence from. However, Caroline also demonstrated the importance of also providing lots of opportunities for free expression and shared some great ideas for engaging literacy activities. At the end of this post, I’ve included links to some online resources that were flagged up.

There were so many great ideas shared, that it’s impossible to cover everything in a short blog post! However, disks containing useful resources and writing templates were available on the day. If anyone is interested in having a look at the ‘Write to Talk’ disk, or the information pack from the day, I have these in the BRITE Centre.

Additionally, Caroline’s website contains a wealth of resources and is worth checking out as are some of these other sites she flagged up on the day:

www.aacintervention.com – Caroline’s own site, check out her Tips of the Month.
www.learningmagicinc.com – a series of multimedia books. There are Clicker resources in ‘Caroline’s Corner’.
www.donjohnston.co.uk – look under the Reading Solutions section.
www.adaptedstories.com – includes a series for older students.
www.route66literacy.org – web-based interactive literacy program intended for young adults who are reading and writing at beginning levels. Includes reading, word study and writing activities. The demo site for Route 66 Literacy is: http://testing.route66literacy.net/demo use the following to access it: user name – initialteacher password – password (works best in the Firefox browser).
www.softtouch.com – software resources, including some aimed at young adults.
www.tarheelreader.org – a collection of free, easy-to-read, and accessible books on a wide range of topics. Each book can be speech enabled and accessed using multiple interfaces (i.e. switches, alternative keyboards, touch screens, and dedicated AAC devices). The books may be downloaded as slide shows in PowerPoint, Impress, or Flash format.

This study day was facilitated by Communication Matters and Augmentative Communication in Practice: Scotland. ACIPS tends to organise at least one study day a year. If you are working with students who have complex communication needs, it’s definitely worth keeping an eye out for future events. I’ll aim to post information about forthcoming events here too.

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