Thursday, May 19, 2011


In this dyslexia blog article I want to talk about using a thesaurus.

Many dyslexics find it difficult to find a word in a dictionary because if they don’t know the first few letters then they can’t find the correct word easily. In a earlier article I referred to some specialized dictionaries that might be more useful for the dyslexic student to use than the standard dictionary.

Another useful strategy is to teach your child to use a thesaurus so that they can identify spellings.

What is a thesaurus ?
A thesaurus is a collection of synonyms (words or phrases with a similar meaning ) and antonyms ( words or phrases with a opposite meaning ) .

There are two types of thesaurus one which is like a dictionary were the words are in alphabetical order.The other lists the words in a index form which is in the back of the book.

Microsoft word has its own thesaurus which students can make use of in their studies. There are also some online versions of a thesaurus like :

reference thesaurus com

There is also a Visual Thesaurus available online which gives visual diagrams of all similar meaning words.

Your child must first think of a easier word which they able to spell, but which has a similar meaning to the word they are looking for. Eg sad

After they look in the thesaurus under sad to find a more difficult word that they can’t spell eg morose .

Other examples :

Small – miniscule
Thin – gaunt
Dictionary – thesaurus

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Length of lesson times and attention

It was recently reported by the popular Turkish newspaper, The Hürriyet, that the Ministry of Education had decided that the length of school lessons would be decreased while the break times would be increased.At present primary school lessons are 40 mins and high school lessons 45 mins.

The Ministry of Education referred to the fact that Turkey was one of the countries with the longest lessons !!!

In the report it stated that the an average students attention span was 16-20 mins, but this of course would vary from person to person.Naturally younger students would have shorter attention spans , as well as those with learning disabilities.

Of course reducing lesson time and increasing break time is good news for all students, but it is particularly important for students with learning disabilities. Students with dyslexia and other learning disabilities often have problems regarding concentration and attention.

It must be pointed out that only cutting lesson time is not just sufficient.Teachers in Turkey should to be made aware that they also need to provide interesting and varied activities within the lesson in order to maximize students attention levels .

The other problem the Minsitry of Education needs to address is not only reducing lesson time but in reducing the syllabus and lightening the workload of students. Most students after normal school has finished attend cramming schools, in order compete in the hard exams which students have to sit in order to get a place at a high school and or university.

At the other end of the scale Turkish schools have very long holidays of over 3 months. It would be much better if students had more regular breaks and worked more evenly throughout the year.

Alphabet Arc : Dictionary Skills

Here in this Dyslexia Blog article is a useful strategy if your child has trouble looking words up in dictionaries and other reference books that are arranged in alphabetical order.

Make an alphabet arc using a protractor.

First draw an arc onto a piece of card.Divide the arc into 4 roughly equal sections..

Write the alphabet in the four quarters :
A- F
G- M
N- S
T- Z

You could cut the arc out and fold it along the lines into quarters if you want.

They can carry it with them in their school bag.

It makes looking things up quicker and more accurate, and your child won’t have to start from the beginning of the alphabet for each word.

You could make up a mnemonic to remember the first 4 letters in each section eg : All gorillas need tomatoes

Play some games with them to test their skills.- eg they have to find a word within a certain time.

This can even be used with older students.

Still Blogger is playing up - spent 3 hours just adding one blog article.. Its driving me crazy!! So bear with me .

Friday, April 8, 2011


Apologies to anyone reading Dyslexia Blog as I haven't been able to write much lately.As I explained previously we are having some problems in Turkey with Blogger due to a blanket ban on blogs . The blog ban has supposedly been lifted but I tried to post something today but it wasn't working properly .Its annoying to say the least . I feel demoralised.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Science Mnemonic

Dyslexia Blog is now back in action after a few weeks . It was decided finally to lift the total ban on Blogger in Turkey. It seemed crazy to penalize everyone because of a few bloggers who had been showing football matches illegally !

Recently my child had to learn the moon phases in Science. I found a mnemonic to help him remember the sequences of the moon phases - "DOC"
D - Waxing moon - curve on the right.
O - After comes the full moon symbolised by a "O"
C - Waning moon - curve on the right .
In an earlier blog I have wrote about mnemonics.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Turkish Ban of Blogger / Blogspot

From the 1st of March Blogger in Turkey has been banned due to Digiturk, a digital TV platform. Some blogspot addresses have been illegally streaming football matches online. As a result ,Digiturk who owns the rights of live matches, went to court and managed to get Blogger banned completely.The ban has affected millions of websites that have nothing to do with Turkish football or pirating - like my own !! The same thing happened in 2008 but Blogger was re-opened again.

As a result of this ban I can't access my blog or go to any other blogspots ,even ones written outside of Turkey.Its annoying and upsetting as a lot of effort and hard work goes into the Dyslexia blog.

Turkish bloggers have started protesting by using a Facebook site called blogumdokunma.

"Blogumadokuma" mean's "Dont touch my blog "

Let us hope Blogger is opened soon in Turkey ..

Webinair : Free Assistive Technology

Last week I participated my first Webinair which was organised by Dyslexia Action. Dr Ian Smythe talked about the free assistive technology available on the internet which can help dyslexic learners.

A Webinair is an interactive public lecture with a Powerpoint presentation but it has no video.It is interactive in the fact that you can submit written questions and also the speaker can ask questions of the audience in the form of an opinion poll.

130 people from 22 different countries took part in the webinair I listened to .The webinair is recorded so if you miss one you can listen to it another time by going to the Dyslexia Action website.

Please note : You can register with the Dyslexia Action and then they will inform you on up and coming talks via youe email.

The talks are aimed at parents as well as professionals.

Here are some of the things I learnt from the talk :

Dr Ian Smythe talked about and demonstrated the use of a free text to speech software called Balabolka.

It is available in a number of languages eg English, Bulgarian, Chinese, Czech, Dutch, French, German, Hungarian, Italian, Korean, Polish, Portuguese , Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Spanish, Ukrainian.

It seems fairly early to use .Unfortunately Turkish is not listed.

Highlighting – free within word
Dr Smythe said that dyslexia students could highlight written text but he advised that it is best to highlight not by a single word (as this could be distracting) but by sentence or paragraph.

On screen ruler
The onscreen “ruler” can be used to help follow lines when reading.

Adobe Acrobate text to speech facility

It is not widely known that Adobe Acrobat has a built in text-to-speech reader called Read Out Loud. That means that you can ask the program to read any PDF to you .Go to drop down menu after select View – after ‘ read outloud ‘

Also you can change the background of the text – make a different colour, change font size –
Go to preferences – accessibility
Replace doc.colours

Reminders and Organisers
Stickies are reminders that you can put on your desktop.

Coloured overlays
Many dyslexics find it difficult to read text on bright white backgrounds on a computer screen so they could use a coloured overlay.
Dr Smythe has produced a free overlay called Smart LP ColourMe –
See link below for details.

You can use technology to help you proof read written text – eg spelling, grammar.
Some word processing systems have the ability to spot and automatically correct spelling errors as you write. In Microsoft Word, for example, this facility is called AutoCorrect.

Concept Maps

These are good to help dyslexics plan writing and for revision purposes.Need to give a dyslexic person a structure to work with. You can draw a circle – in the middle of a page for your central theme with six circle questions around it .

Ikon Maps is a free site which is very easy to use where you can make concept maps.

Free study skills booklet from the Dessdy Project.Available in a number of languages.

There are various other Eu projects with free information such as Embed /Isheds etc .See the link below for more details.

Dyslexia Action org uk ( webinars )

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


Online Public Lecture :

Assistive Technologies: Why pay?
Dyslexia Action


Event date:
Thursday 24 February, 2011 - 19:00 - 20:00

In this webinar, Professor Ian Smythe will present a number of free software resources that can be used to assist learners with dyslexia to access materials on and through their computer.

The talk will be in English, but the resources discussed will be aimed at an international audience.

A dedicated web page with resources will be available after the talk.

This webinar is aimed at teachers, school administrators, parents and learners themselves.

You will need to "register" by going to the Dyslexia Action website.

Talk for Parents about Dyslexia

Event date:
24 March, 2011 - 19:00 - 20:00

In this webinar, Anne Main, Principal of Dyslexia Action's Egham Centre will discuss key information parents should know about dyslexia.

While this webinar is primarily aimed at parents, it will also be of interest to teachers.

Dyslexia and Co -occurring difficulties

Event dates:
16 June, 2011 - 19:00 - 20:00

In this webinar, Glenys Heap, Dyslexia Action's Director of CPD will discuss the key issues related to learning difficulties frequently co-occurring with dyslexia such as dyspraxia, ADHD, etc.

You will need to "register" for these talks by going to the Dyslexia Action website.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Lakeshore Learning Free Resources

Lakeshore Learning, a well- known American company which supplies educational materials, has many free educational resources available on their website.

They have templates for word searches which you can add your own words. These would be good to use to help dyslexic children learn spellings or familarize them with specific subject vocabulary.

There are also printable awards which you can customize. These are useful for a teacher or parent to give to a dyslexic child to encourage them and acknowledge their progress.There are also flash cards which you can make and print. These can be used to test basic maths facts, vocabulary, or to make up questions and answers for exam revision etc .. They also have some lesson plans .

See free resources :

Thursday, January 27, 2011

E Book Reader

Technology has the potential to help dyslexics quite considerably .One such technological aid is an E book reader. The E book reader is a small portable computer device which enables you to download books which you can read wherever you are.

There are a number of readers available for example : Kindle Amazon , Nook( Barnes and Noble), Sony E Reader, Ipad, Reeder ( this brand is sold a lot in Turkey) etc.


The font size can be enlarged.

Kindle ( Amazon) has a text to speech option allowing children to listen to the book while they follow the text, which in turn can help to improve comprehension.

The text to speech facility also would enable dyslexic children to tackle a more difficult book than they would normally read by themselves. In addition this option would be useful not only for recreational reading but for reading textbooks.

Children are generally drawn to technology and it might help to make reading seem more appealing to reluctant readers.

Possible Problems

The initial cost of the e book reader .

Some publishers have decided that it is a copyright infringement to have the book read out .As a result not all E books allow you to use the“text to speech” option.

Unfortunately the choice of e books in Turkish is considerably more limited compared to books written in English. The “Kindle Reader” does not read Turkish books .

I wonder if it will be tiring on the eyes reading from the screen constantly. ?? Some readers have anti-glare screens so they can be used outside in bright sunlight.

If you are going to invest in a e book reader do some thorough research first before buying …

Check whether books in the your language can be downloaded .

Is there a text to speech option ? .Not all of them have this option– with some you have to purchase another programme to enable you to get speech to text.

I would be interested to hear anyones feedback about the use of e readers for dyslexics.

A great blog with useful information about technology and dyslexia is Ian Smythes technodys site.

Monday, January 24, 2011

World Dyslexia Forum Videos

The website for the World Dyslexia Forum that was held last year contains videos of the presentations made at the forum.

I particularly enjoyed the talk given by Dr Duncan Milne called "Teaching the brain to read"

Click on the video camera to watch videos from the forum.

A website for children with learning disabilities

Produced by Schwab Learning, is a free, website for students aged 8-12 who have learning disabilities, including dyslexia. . It is interactive and allows kids to ask questions, play games, and learn about themselves and others .

Explore is the section that provides information about the brain, learning, and how it all works. It contains tips on studying.

Create is an area that allows students to undertake a variety of creative activities such as drawing pictures, manipulating images, mixing music, recording voices or writing .

There are online games.

Childrens can also connect with others with learning disabilities around the world.

There is a useful BrainPop movie on Dyslexia designed for children.