Written by Natalie Kerslake B.A (Hons), MA Ed SEND KS2 Teaching Assistant
A bit about me
My name is Natalie Kerslake B.A (Hons), MA Ed SEND, and I am a primary school teaching assistant, currently teaching in Year 6, with a particular interest in supporting children with special educational needs and disabilities. In January 2016, I graduated with my MA Education with a specialism in Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) at the University of Derby,
I became motivated to complete my MA Ed research on dyscalculia after supporting a child with this in my first teaching assistant post. I did not know anything about dyscalculia myself at the time and not much was available to support teachers and children in this area. I wanted to investigate the current situation as to supporting children with dyscalculia in one particular primary school and see whether this was the case in another school.
This is a guest article from Special Education Teacher Monise Seward, you can find out more about her work on her website – http://www.moniseseward.com/
For the last 8 months, my IG and Twitter posts have focused on two main goals; find (a) Dyscalculia and Dyslexia training; and (b) Math Apps and/or curriculum designed with my students’ needs in mind. Both proved to be challenging and time-consuming endeavours, eventually I found one.
Dyscalculia is the Learning Difference you’ve probably never heard of, despite the fact that 5-10% of the population has it. Based on the challenges non-identified students experience, I believe there are more kids (and adults) with Dyscalculia. We simply characterize their struggles as ‘Math anxiety’; at least, in this country. Based on conversations had with U.S. teachers, few are aware of the existence of Dyscalculia. They are unable to identify the characteristics exhibited by students who may have it. Compounded by a lack of training on Dyscalculia, many teachers adhere to a pacing guide that does not allow time for remediation or accommodations.
It’s important to take signs of dyscalculia seriously. At the beginning of school, all children experience occasional difficulties with math. If these problems fail to dissipate with supported homework sessions or additional hours of practice, however, parents and teachers should be on alert for potential dyscalculia.
The following signs can indicate the presence of dyscalculia:
…has anxiety about going to school
…has anxiety about taking tests
…has a negative perception of their own intelligence
…expects to fail
…displays frustration and a reluctance to try (maths) in other subjects
Are you wondering why your child struggles with numbers and finds it difficult to solve the seemingly simple tasks?
Dyscalculia is usually perceived as a specific learning difference for mathematics, or, more appropriately, arithmetic. In isolated dyscalculia, there are no deficits in reading or writing. Dyscalculia is classified under WHO ICD-10, a classification system for diseases and mental disorders, as:
Looking for a new job is stressful. When you have a disability, especially one that can’t be seen, it can be even more stressful. You may feel pressured to list your disability on your CV or be fearful of asking for accommodations after you’re hired if you don’t give them a heads up. But many of these fears are unfounded, and there are laws that make the job search less intimidating. There are also tons of jobs that are ideal for people with physical and neurological disabilities.
There’s no denying that the landscape of education is changing. With the advent of computers, the internet and mobile phones, there are so many technologies available today that were not present in the 1950s, or even five or ten years ago. A decade ago, the iPad didn’t exist. Now you’ll find them in millions of classrooms around the country.
These new technologies are completely altering the education landscape, from the way students learn to where they are physically located when they consume educational material.
In this article, we’re going to give you the what, why, and how regarding the ways education technology is reshaping the education world, including both the pros and cons.
What is Education Technology?
At a high level, education technology is any kind of technology that is specifically used to promote or enhance education. This could be software, hardware, devices, online programs, servers, cloud storage and so on.
Education technology, often referred to as “EdTech” for short, can be used in many different schools and locations and has been a growing force in education for years.
When you’re expecting a baby, it’s normal to spend hours on end thinking about the ways in which you will have to prepare your life and home for the arrival of a new family member. These anxieties are significantly amplified for expecting parents living with a disability. You may be keenly aware of how to adapt your life to your disability, but it’s not as obvious when you have to consider how a brand new life fits in.
But don’t worry – every parent goes through this. Your disability offers a different sort of challenge, but that doesn’t mean that preparing for parenthood has to be a logistical and emotional ordeal.
If your dyscalculia was undiagnosed until adulthood or perhaps you’re still undiagnosed, it is possible that you have gravitated towards a career that doesn’t involve maths. But no matter how often you need to do equations or handle numbers on a daily basis, simple accommodations can help you to perform your job to the best of your ability.
Developmental dyscalculia can be either genetic or environmental, even interaction of the two and is present from birth. It is a specific learning difference that affects the acquisition of arithmetic skills. It is equally common in boys and girls and impacts 5-6% of the population.
Genetic causes include known genetic disorders such as Turner’s syndrome, Fragile X syndrome, Velocardiofacial syndrome, Williams syndrome. In addition, studies suggest that there are genes present in the general population which increase the risk of dyscalculia.
It is well known that schools tend to put mental arithmetic skills above the visual ones, as something like counting with your fingers is seen as a weakness in one’s calculation abilities. Educators and scientists have been tackling this obsolete cliché with research and scientific reports that seem to prove that visual aids are more than just helpful in the learning process.
Indeed, visual aids, such as the use of fingers, have a key role in children’s understanding of mathematics. This form of visualisation gives the abstract world of numbers a real side and establishes a connection to something tangible. This results in the creation connections from the prefrontal cortex (main memory / data centre) to the visual and motor cortex. Thus, when visual aid is used, thinking becomes outsourced to other brain areas generating a more efficient use the brain’s capacity.
However, these findings do not mean that you child will forever use their fingers to count. Over time a mental image of the fingers will become connected to the mental processes of counting, making the physical counting unnecessary. This is proven by numerous studies with primary school children that measured increased activity in the visual cortex while children were solving complex math tasks, even when they did not use their hands.