Mind Maps

Tony Buzzan

Mind Mapping is a simple and highly effective way to develop ideas and improve knowledge retention.Tony Buzzan first developed this thinking tool in the 1974 although it has only recently become a popular aid for dyslexics .

In the first video below Tony Buzzan explains the origins for this technique whilst the following video explains how  you can use the technique.

Knowledge retention

Mind mapping helps dyslexics to retain infomation as the maps makes use of images, colour, shape, size and symbols, mapping out information in a way that is easier for the learner to comprehend.

A dyslexia tutor recommended the following system:

  1. The ss  creates a simple mind map at the end of the lesson
  2. The following day the ss returns to the mind map, re-reads it and colour codes the infomation
  3. A week later the ss returns to the mind map and re-reads it

Returning to the mind map in this way helps encourages the infomation to be stored in the role term memory.

There is an interesting article about this by BBC News.

A-Z Jobs Resources

Design Project

As part of the first module for the MSc in Multimedia and E-Learning I have been asked to design and create a resource that can be used as part of my regular practice. From the design rationale page on this blog you can see that I decided to create an alphabetical ordering resource for adult literacy learners.

Pasted below is the final copy of the resources. The publisher based documents have been designed for the students to print off then write their answers down using seperate pen and paper. Audio versions on the E2 and E3 resources have also been created using Power Point. If students struggle this version of the resource has audio buttons so the students can hear the instructions and words being read out.

Entry Level 2

Entry Level 3

Audio Versions of the E2 and E3 worksheets

A demonstration video of the resources being used can be accessed by clicking on the following link:


Level 1

Level 2

Copies of both the printable and audio versions of these resources have been uploaded to Skills Workshop and will be available to download shortly.

Famous dyslexics

As Reditho’s tweet below explains discussing famous dyslexics in class can give a real confidence boost to learners with dyslexia or low-level literacy skills.


11:15 PM

RT @Marisa_C: RT @reditho: I once had a teacher who made a lesson plan on famous people with dyslexia. It was good for confidence building  #eltchat

A lot of the basic skills literacy learners that I teach have very low self-esteem. They have convinced themselves that because they  find reading and writing difficult that they are thick and will never amount to anything. Therefore raising awareness of successful dyslexics is extremely important as it proves to these types of learners that they can be as successful as others in the same position have before them.

Instead of presenting a lesson on famous dyslexics I have created a large wall display as this promotes lots of discussion amongst my ever-changing learners ( I have new ones every Monday and Tuesday). Last week was the first time that the display had been presented and at regular points throughout the week lessons were stopped as students pointed out in amazement ‘Steve Jobs was dyslexic…and Winston Churchill….and Theo Paphitis.’ This provided the perfect opportunity to stop the lesson, discuss the image of dyslexics, challenge the preconceptions and discuss how dyslexia needn’t be a barrier to stopping you achieving your dreams.

I printed the resources from TES which has a fantastic a 32 page printable poster series about famous dyslexics. Each page has a picture of a famous dyslexic for example Winston Churchill, Henry Ford, Richard Branson, Albert Einstein and Walt Disney.

Teaching dyslexic students

As #ELTchat  were just discussing ‘Teaching Dyslexic Students‘ and November is the month for National Dyslexia Week here in the UK , I have decided to share my experiences on the subject both as a literacy tutor and as a dyslexic.

*#ELTchat stands for English Language Teacher Chat. The chat happens every Weds at 9pm on Twitter and more information about this can be found on ELTchats website.

As #ELTchat discussed there are a number of different ways that an educator can adapt their practice in order to enhance the learning of dyslexic students. Over my next few blog posts I will discuss some of the alterations that you can make and how these could affect your students. My opinions are based on my personal experience as a dyslexic and my professional experience as a literacy tutor.

Use of Colour

SueAnn tweeted:


11:06 PM

We had a dyslexic student recently who was greatly helped by using coloured acetates over her work. #ELTchat

Coloured backgrounds can greatly help dyslexics as the colour helps the text to stay in one place thus preventing it from swimming around on the page. As well as using overlays coloured paper and coloured ppt backgrounds can also have a positive effect. Cream or pastel coloured backgrounds are the most effective colours for general use like card match activities and ppts, however, dyslexics are very much individuals so you need to find out what colours works best for your learners and then print their worksheets/handouts out on these colours.

Scoptopic sensitivity (colour sensitivity) doesn’t only effect dyslexics. 1 in 10 people in the UK are dyslexic where as 2 in 10 people suffer from scotoptic sensitivity. Therefore changing the colour of your resources could have a great impact on your students learning. Scoptopic sensitivity  is rarely diagnosed in people without dyslexia therefore there are a lot of suffers who don’t know that they have the condition. I had suffered with migraines since starting primary school and had regularly been to the opticians, however scotopic sensitivity was never mentioned until I was diagnosed with dyslexia at the age of 26. Despite suffering from constant migraines throughout my compulsory education now I have tinted glasses and use green paper I rarely suffer from migraines.

Audio Recordings


11:10 PM

#eltchat using audio /voice recording for notes can help

As cerirhiannon mentioned audio and voice recordings can help dyslexics considerably with note taking. Dyslexics generally have weak short-term memories so copying notes from the board or from lectures is extremely difficult as by the time they have finished noting down part one down they have missed part two and the tutor is on to part three.  Since being diagnosed I have started recording all of my lectures and have a noticeable improvement in my knowledge retention and the quality of my work. I am able to listen to the recordings over and over again until I have noted down all of the information I need. Then I can turn the information into mind maps to help retain the knowledge. A series of podcasts with lesson recordings may be a useful resource, espescially as many students may not have access to a dictaphone.

ELT Chat

Below is a short selection of the tweets from #eltchat.


11:17 PM

RT @kalinagoenglish: As dyslexic learner – another thing that’s really hard are activities which require listening and writing at the same time #eltchat

11:16 PM

RT @kalinagoenglish: RT @reditho: – in truth, dyslexics r often high IQ 🙂 and visionary-out-of-box thinkers  #eltchat (wink) > 🙂

11:08 PM

We worked with a specialist in Greece-1st thing he told us, no clutter for sts on desk,board, nowhere #ELTChat

11:11 PM

RT @Marisa_C: Sharing a dyslexia checklist which I often give to my trainees http://t.co/EWLZ6vnh #eltchat #dyslexia

11:26 PM

@Marisa_C  #eltchat cloze activities if the words needed are written in a  box to guide the student – spelling wise..depends on ss

11:42 PM

RT @TES_SEN: Lots of support for managing dyslexia in the classroom on the TES – http://t.co/burG6RDP #eltchat

11:52 PM

RT @antoniaclare: @reditho I think it’s important to look at content, point out what is good, but note areas that need sep work to focus on #eltchat

Design Ideas

As part of the first module of the MMEL MSc  I am required to create a learning resource that integrates a range of ICT tools  into current teaching practice.

Below is a list of my ideas. I would appreciate it if you could vote on the idea that you feel would most benefit my basic skills learners.

Idea 1 – Wordle a-z activities

Like the activity above from Skills Workshop I am thinking of using Wordle to develop a series of A-Z worksheets for my adult literacy class. Each worksheet would be based on the differing themes from the live exams. The worksheets would then be used to prepare students for the end of course exam as there is quite often a question where the students must arrange a list of names or objects in alphabetical order. The students are generally ok with ordering things from a- z but struggle when they are faced with two words that start with the same letter, for example Peter and Paul. The worksheets could be used to address this problem.

As my learners can range from the age of 18 to 70  I often have a wide range of ability levels when it comes to using software on the PC. An advantage of using Wordle is the fact that I can make an online and paper based version of the resource so that my learners can have a choice over how they use it.

Idea 2 – Hot potato multiple choice worksheets

As the L1 and L2 numeracy exam consists of an on-line multiple choice test I think it would benefit my learners to be able to practice using this format of questioning as they learn different topics throughout the course. Therefore my second idea is to use Hot Potato to develop a series of interactive end of topic multiple choice quizzes

Idea 3 – Interactive Word documents

Although I teach on a basic literacy course a lot of my learners have English as an Additional Language and often have very low level English skills. A lot of the learners have higher level writing skills but struggle to understand the English language  when it is spoken. However my native English learners are often the other way round and are fine at understanding spoken English but struggle with their reading skills. Therefore I feel that it may be beneficial for both sets of these students to be able to hear as well as read the instructions on Word based worksheets. I would like to develop this resource further by creating a series of gap fill activities where the students use drop down boxes to choose the correct word.