The arrival of a new grandchild has held up my writing progress over the last week in the nicest of ways. While the distance between us all is considerable, the two-hour train journey between Bournemouth and Brighton enables me to focus on my laptop screen.
Last month’s Writing Magazine also made the journey but, unfortunately, I did not dip into it. Imagine my horror then, on my return, to see the next edition sitting in a pile of post. I will have to start speed reading if I am to catch up. Tony Buzan’s book on Speed Reading is something I recommend to dyslexic students. Of course reading a book about ‘how to read’ is not easy but a tutor can dispense key points from this book and encourage practice such as moving a pen along the line ahead of the eyes as a means to ‘keep going’. Speeding up then happens quite naturally.
Skimming and scanning for essential points is another skill that benefits dyslexic students. Again running a pencil or other pointer down the page to locate key words is an effective method. Scanning reading material ahead of a more serious study read is something that dyslexic students have often not been encouraged to try. Dyslexic students frequently say they think ‘other students’ read word for word from beginning to end and that they take everything in without any re-reading. This is not true. Even non-dyslexics need to revisit parts of their reading material after the first read. Even they will find that scanning for keywords as a precursor to the actual read enables them to take in the material more quickly on the second read.
Dylexic students and pupils need to practise the following if they are to get the best out of their books and study materials.
1 Look at the Contents page. Find the relevant chapter.
2 Have a reason for reading – a question to answer. Reading for an assignment is an excellent reason. All other parts can be read later.
3 Look at the summary at the end of the chapter before reading to give your brain a ‘schema’ on to which the information gleaned on the second reading will attach itself.
4 Remember learning is about making new connections in the brain. The activity in 3 will pave the way.
5 Look at the first sentence in each paragraph and highlight it. This is the topic sentence and, again, gives you a preview of what you are about to read in the paragraph.
6 Use the margins to scribble notes. Do not be afraid to ‘mess up’ your handouts and textbooks. Not on library books of course!
Now back to Writing Magazine. The front cover tells me about the articles. The fast track to improve your writing definitely appeals as I am short of time on my nearly-completed novel. 10 projects to inspire you this month covers an introduction to NaNoWriMo and if you are a writer and don’t know what this is then google it and get involved. There is an article by Melvyn Bragg about completing your novel – a definite must for me at this point in time.
But what interests me most is an article on How to Fight Writers’ Bottom. Sitting for long periods is an occupational hazard. I intersperse my writing spurts with a quick walk to the shops or along the sea front. Strolling will not lift the pounds. One needs to put in some effort. The fresh air and some human interaction means that I return refreshed to attack whatever part of my WIP (Work in Progress) I am working on.
I have taken Writing Magazine for about eighteen months and it certainly makes my day when it lands on my doormat. It reminds me of why I get up in the morning, puts me in touch with ideas and success stories of other writers and provides numerous tips and valuable information.
Now I just need to find the time to read it!
In later posts I will deal with how parents can help their children with reading and writing about study skills that dyslexic students in Higher Education need to develop early on in their course.