Dyslexia Action Week: new resources are working

Last year, in Dyslexia Awareness Week, we spoke with local student Tim Muntwyler. This year it’s called Dyslexia Action Week and we are happy to report on the action that is happening for Tim.

Tim has dyslexia, which means he learns differently from most students, though the Dyslexia Foundation estimates there are up to 70,000 other dyslexic students in New Zealand schools.

Last year Tim was in year 6 at Central Takaka School and was working on a special programme, which he said was helping. Tim is now at Golden Bay High School, where he says things have become easier for him.

“I’ve been able to read a lot more easily,” said Tim. “I’ve just started my first chapter book. It’s called Kidnap. I go to the Green House [the school’s learning support centre] almost every day and it has really helped me. I work on something called Multi-Lit about three times a week. It’s really cool. I’ve got better at reading, so all my other classes are better. I can do the stuff the other kids are doing without getting someone else to read it to me.”

Golden Bay’s Resource Teacher of Learning and Behaviour, Lynn Evans, said that recently-bought resources were having positive effects in schools throughout the Bay.

“I’m just loving seeing our schools taking advantage of new resources like Lexia, Cross Trainer and MultiLit to put programmes around kids who need them,” said Lynn. “Thank goodness for those community groups who helped us buy some of these resources.”

People around New Zealand are participating in Dyslexia Action Week, including 1200 educators who have signed up for workshops to be run by international dyslexia expert Neil Mackey. Lynn Evans and Val Brownlie, the high school’s literacy support co-ordinator, will travel to Wellington to take part in workshops there.

“We’ll be bringing all that up-to-date knowledge back to the Bay for anyone who needs it,” said Lynn.

The Dyslexia Foundation is also actively working to improve things for dyslexic students in schools. Further support for schools will come later this year with the exciting evolution of its free “4D For Dyslexia” programme. This revolutionary programme, detailed at www.4d.org.nz, has already been adopted by more than 350 New Zealand schools, including some in the Bay. The foundation’s new plans include Virtual 4D School – an interactive world where viewers take a tour of a hypothetical New Zealand school that demonstrates dyslexia-aware best practice in all areas of school life. Further initiatives in the pipeline include a world-leading remedial spelling programme and a DVD to share latest international thinking with every New Zealand school. It is envisaged that 4D will be transformed into the most comprehensive programme ever undertaken to address dyslexia in New Zealand schools.

Also as part of Dyslexia Action Week week, the Living Channel has been screening a moving television series which highlights the heartbreak of adult illiteracy. This British series reflects what workers in the field know to be the New Zealand situation.

Can’t Read, Can’t Write follows “super teacher” Phil Beadle’s attempts to teach six adults basic reading and writing skills. In doing so, he uncovers the shame, fear, anxiety and frustration that have haunted these people because of the way they learn. It has some uplifting moments as well: 58-year-old Teresa, who burst into tears when faced with a reading test in her first lesson, is reading children’s books after three lessons. Another participant, Kelly, improves to the point where she is not only able to help her dyslexic son, but also proves her own talent as a writer. The third of the series screens at 10.30pm on 16 June on the Living Channel.

Golden Bay also has out-of-school tutors who can help students who learn differently. They work for SPELD, the Specific Learning Difficulties Federation, and can be contacted on 525 7050 or 525 8115.
Neil Wilson
Thursday 11 June 2009


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