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The little book with a lot to say C

atherine Dowling looks at ‘The Little Book of Dyslexia’ by Joe Beech and discovers an interesting take from both sides of the classroom. 10 per cent of the British population are dyslexic; 4% severely so, according to the British Dyslexia Association. So some might say it was about time that a book like ‘The Little book of Dyslexia’ by Joe Beech arrived on the shelves. Joe is currently at the University of Chichester studying to be a secondary school PE teacher and was diagnosed with dyslexia and dyspraxia at the age of seven. In his book, edited by Ian Gilbert, he offers insight into his own personal experiences as well as current research findings to highlight the issues faced by people with dyslexia.

What’s it about?

It’s a rare that a teacher will not meet a student with dyslexia. This book provides a very personal and exceptionally helpful account for those teachers (and even parents) who want to create a supportive, useful learning environment for the dyslexic learner.

Dyslexia literally means ‘difficulty with words’ but the child with dyslexia is likely to have a wider range of challenges. With this in mind Joe identifies some abilities shared by dyslexics including, amongst others: they can use the brain’s ability to alter and create perceptions; they are highly aware of the environment; they

are more curious than average and they think mainly in pictures instead of words. Having established common characteristics, Joe goes on to offer practical tips to help teachers make learning fun and productive. He advises using photos and sticky notes to keep track of key behaviours during the early years and recommends the creation of a ‘go-to-gear tray’ during primary school. He suggests that this useful tray or area filled with tools and resources such as pen grips, lesson overlays, alternative scissors etc., should be available for children to draw on at their own instigation. This, says Joe, means: “Pupils can really begin to gain some independence and take control of their own learning.” He asserts that research shows that children are keen on the idea and are more likely to use available resources when presented in this way.

Should you buy it?

This book differs from most strategy books. Rather than a dry list of ‘shoulds’ and ‘should nots’, Joe takes the reader on a gentle journey through his own first hand experience as a dyslexic learner. Recalling how he was often told: “…that I had two speeds - ‘dead slow’ and ‘stop’ – and that I could ‘sleep for Britain’,” Joe, now as a trainee teacher, is able to determine the techniques that can help others who face similar situations.

“The problem was that even the simplest things required a great deal of concentration, so I became tired and lost focus easily,” he writes. “Possibly the most unhelpful thing to do (as a teacher) is to ask students to copy from a textbook or off the board. If we aren’t careful, it can take a dyslexic child half the lesson just to get the learning objective down!” I’d challenge any teacher, whether a trainee, newly-qualified or a long-time practitioner, not to pick up this self-titled ‘little’ book and learn a little something.

u‘The Little book of Dyslexia’ by Joe Beech is edited by Ian Gilbert and published by Crown House Publishing Ltd. More information is available from

Engineers of the future T

he IET Faraday website has been re-launched and now includes a wide variety of curriculum-linked classroom activities that are free to download, including film clips, online games, posters, careers resources and activity days. To coincide with the re-launch, the IET is running a number of activities and events to showcase our new resources and support teachers of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) to inspire students to keep studying these subjects.

The Faraday Challenge Days are one of our main outreach activities for students aged 12-13 years. This is an annual engineering-based competition where teams of students compete against one another to design, create and promote the best solution to a genuine real-life engineering problem.

The top three teams from the 2012-13 season will go head-to-head at the National Final on 21st June in an attempt to win up to £1000 for their school, but if you missed out, we are now looking for schools to take part in our next season of Challenge Days running from September 2013. The closing date to receive applications is Friday 12th July 2013. The application form can be downloaded at

Can’t wait till September? Take part in our brand new competition to find the IET Faraday Student Innovator of the Year 2013. Students must identify a communications problem and use their engineering skills to develop a solution. The student with the best idea can win an iPad for themselves and £500 for their school. The competition is open to students aged 11-14 years old, with a closing date of Friday 28th June 2013.

To keep up to date with IET Faraday news and events why not follow us on Facebook or Twitter, or sign up for the Education e-Newsletter. May 2013 25

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