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I run a special group on Wednesday afternoons for children from local schools. It’s a British Dyslexia Association (BDA) registered program called Children will Shine and we have 16 children who come regularly.
In the five years that I’ve been delivering TTRS, I’ve found that children who struggle with literacy skills benefit most from the course. It gives them confidence and is a learning activity they look forward to.
While most of the children in our group have learning differences, we have English as an Additional Language (EAL) learners and students with motor-skills difficulties too.
There is one little boy who has to learn to touch-type before he goes to senior school. If he can type at a speed faster than his handwriting he is allowed to use a computer in the majority of his lessons. He tries constantly; you can see the effort he’s putting in not to look at the keyboard. He is bilingual, exceptionally intelligent, and is in the gifted range, but he struggles with written language because he has dyslexia.
What I like about Touch-type Read and Spell, is that children like this boy are taking typing modules without realizing they are getting spelling help. It is behind the scenes learning.
In our group students attend once a week for an hour and a half and work on different stations. One of these stations is 15-20 minutes on the computer using Touch-type Read and Spell.
The students come in and get started right away. They can work independently and with little input from us -- TTRS is really easy for our teachers to deliver and the students can access it at home too.
When we first started out, we had a helper who was doing his Duke of Edinburgh course, who ran the computer suite. We also had an ICT teacher oversee the program. He was great as he would remind the children ‘no pecky fingers’ and had a brilliant conversational banter that really encouraged the students. Now we mix it up and different teachers will step in and oversee different sessions.
The children are always saying to us ‘When are we going to do our touch-typing?’ I like to hear this because it shows me they’re engaged.
For children who get 100% on their TTRS modules, we announce their score at the end of the session. These children are not generally students who do well in school. That’s why we make a big fuss over them and give out as much praise as we can. It helps them build confidence and self-esteem.
They all strive to get the magical 100% on typing and if they get 99% we’ll announce that too and all of the other students will give them pats on the back, so they get acknowledgement for the effort they’re putting in.
At the end of each term we make certificates for the students who have gained 100% and colour code them for those who achieve this on more than one occasion. We also make certificates for the students who complete the most modules.
There are a couple of children who find typing really difficult because of motor coordination. We find other ways to praise these children because they rarely get 100%.
However, I believe it’s still good for learners with dyspraxia to do TTRS. Following the lessons improves their concentration, focus, confidence and spelling, and gives them invaluable typing skills they can use when handwriting is too hard or painful.