Two kinds of applications are generally included in Study Skills. There are programs that you may use all your life, like Mindmaps, Planning as in the Free Resources page and planning and organisation as in the Apps page.
And there are programs which you only use until you have learned that skill. Touch-typing is one such and here are some more.
Contributions by several NTC members.
1. Memory Support.
Cogmed, Jungle Memory,
Brain Booster, Memory Booster, Mastering Memory.
2. Reading development after phonics.
Fluency Tutor, Rapid Reading.
ActiVise, Quizlets, GCSEPod, Think-a-link.
5. Strategies before and during examinations.
To Do Notes, Timely Reminders.
1. Memory support.
Note independent research saying that skills improve on similar tasks, but do not transfer to other short-term memory tasks, and it questions the methodology of papers making claims.
Is working memory training effective? A meta-analytic review.
Do computerised training programmes designed to improve working memory work?
Cogmed is a complete online system to help working memory suitable for all ages from pre-school to adult. This was originally developed in USA and there is a complete supporting network with training and chances to trying before signing up.
Jungle memory is another American program accessible online and via subscription. It is designed to help students between the ages of 7 and 16 years.
Both the above systems can become rather expensive over time so it may be worth considering the purchase of a one off download program or CD version such as offered by Nessy Brain Booster and Lucid Memory Booster.
Nessy Brain Booster is for those who are between 13 and 18 years of age about how students can improve their remembering and revision skills for learning information and taking exams.
Lucid Memory Booster is designed for children age 4 to 11 or older. It has a series of games based on an adventure offering plenty of repetition and a chance to build on skills at the user’s own speed and ability.
CALSC have developed specialist software that has been available for many years. Timely Reminders is for revision and learning to build knowledge in steps prior to examinations. Mastering Memory is suitable for all ages and has memory games that are produced incrementally depending on the user’s ability. See a few items on the screen then remember what has flashed up , and an increasing number in a shorter time. The value is in identifying one’ strategies for remembering.
Planning, organisation and time management all depend on memory and it is important to discover where individual strengths and difficulties lie so that the right software is used when thinking of the strategies that might be helpful. Lucid Research has provided a useful explanation of the two main types of memory difficulties encountered by those with dyslexia and how they impact on study skills and daily living:
“Usually these difficulties are in auditory working memory, so they tend to forget instructions, have problems learning multiplication tables, and easily lose track of what they are doing (e.g. when reading, writing, or doing arithmetic). Working memory also affects children’s acquisition of phonics in school (i.e. learning the relationships between letters and sounds).
Some people with dyslexia have problems with visual memory, so that as children they find it hard to recognise words by sight (e.g. using ‘flash cards’), and also cannot find their way around using visual cues (e.g. in an unfamiliar place). Visual memory is also very important in spelling, because a great many English words are irregular and their spelling does not follow phonic rules. The only way to learn to spell irregular words is by using visual memory.”
2. Reading development after phonics.
Text Help Fluency Tutor records and helps to track pupil progress from recordings. This works in a similar way to an online version of a running record or miscue analysis and is useful for encouraging readers to improve their reading speeds and accuracy by providing immediate audio feedback when reading from chosen texts on screen. For school use, perhaps with assignments for home use. See the video tour.
Rapid Reading for Key Stage 2 learners, and Rapid Plus for Key Stage 3, offer the opportunity to read in a supported environment, digitally record their reading and have this analysed for accuracy in a very motivating way. Pupil progress is recorded.
There are interesting, age appropriate and attractive booklets. The pupil initially reads through the book, with the help of an adult. The computer version of the book looks the same as the printed version and the pupil can then practise reading it with the help of the included speech recognition software.
The software prompts and supports pupils as they read aloud; provides a simple glossary to identify unfamiliar and difficult words; includes interactive quizzes to check comprehension; records and rewards each child’s reading performance.
Other titles in the Rapid range address Phonics, Writing and Maths, all intended for school use rather than home use.
Back to the page menu
Penfriend XL provides prediction and onscreen keyboards with appropriate characters for European languages.
Clicker has two sets of applications for teaching French and Spanish. They are intended for use in a primary classroom with a whiteboard, for class use by a non specialist linguist, as there are so few of them in primary schools. They can also offer good support for private reinforcement and revisiting lessons learned in secondary school. They are really well structured, with images appropriate for any age and the really useful part is the native speaker exemplars, with the opportunity for speaking into the computer and repeating phrases until they sound correct.
They also include good text to speech voices in the relevant language.
They would be useful for silver surfers who want to learn or brush up on their French or Spanish, to keep up with their grandchildren or to use on holiday. Older users could use the application with headphones so they can work at their own pace and level. There would be a lot of mileage for dyslexic pupils to use it in this way, either with another pupil or T.A., or at home, to build up their skills and confidence.
A single user licence for each language CD is £100 and £50 for the story CD. The applications need Clicker to run them.
Other programs, such as Kurzweil 3000, Texthelp Read & Write, ClaroRead and Dragon Naturally Speaking, have facilities for writing, text to speech and speech recognition in other languages. Microsoft has “proofing packs” that add spell checkers etc., in other languages to Office. Iansyst has a useful article.
B Active Brain Solutions ActiVise software, for creating revision quizzes, now has a choice of font, colour and size, and easier handling of images. They are also producing banks of topics that can be loaded and amended or added to as required. Contents can be heard with Read & Write Gold. It requires screens of 14 inches or bigger. Also available from B.D.A. store.
Quizlet is free for Windows and app for mobiles. There are many sample sets of questions and answers (or terms and definitions) and it is easy to create your own. There is integral text to speech for some aspects of the five activities and you can hear others with free TTS, e.g. Natural Reader.
Teachers can use with classes of pupils. (One teacher sends access by Twitter). In the learning and practice activities, you have to get items right in order to progress. In the games, you can try to beat your own score for speed with accuracy, or become champion of your group.
The expectation seems to be for teachers to make quizlets, but, as Activise suggests, students will remember more if they create the sets.
GCSEPod: Buy and download learning and revision podcasts with text and images. Hear human voice audio files on Android, Blackberry and Apple devices, or in computers. On-line and downloadable samples.
If you like mnemonics, have a look at Think-a-link lists of facts and ways of remembering them. The best mnemonics are those you think up yourself, perhaps with personal references. Think-a-link may give you ideas for your own, e.g.
Wow, that’s ‘one L’ of an acceleration you’ve got on that 1000cc motorbike!!
5. Strategies before and during examinations.
- Contact your advisor in plenty of time to check whether extra time is available for examinations. Use a computer based diary, electronic organiser or mobile phone to put in the appointment date with an alarm.
- Check timetabling of examinations and location. Use the same technologies as above to make notes of these details. Set up a mind map or outline with To Do notes that can be ticked off.
- Keep the key points in your pocket, or short voice notes on your recorder. Notes can also be held on a mobile phone. Use the program ‘Timely Reminders’.
- Make a checklist of all the items required in the examinations such as spare pens, batteries for calculators and coloured overlays etc.
- Check the computer being made available, if this is an option. Make sure the desktop settings are appropriately set-up to suit your needs, with background colour and font settings ready for when you begin writing.
- Once in the examination room, check the table and chair are comfortable, make sure you have a timing device that you can see clearly and try to relax.
- Having read the paper through, check times for each section, allowing sufficient time to check over work at the end. Some mobile phones and electronic organisers have stopwatches and timers but these may not be allowed in examinations, so a watch is preferable.
- If you are stuck, think of the mind maps you have created, the colours you have used for highlighting and the pictures that went with certain topics. Mind maps may also help for generating ideas and planning in a hurry.
- Finish well in time in order to proof-read, which may take longer without text to speech.