In 2007, I joined DAS as a matured individual after retiring from teaching in mainstream schools for more than three decades. What attracted me most was the small group teaching in a cool ambience and designing attractive lessons to make learning more meaningful and possible to my dyslexic tutees. The initial Orton Gillingham (OG) training took my breath away. Wah! So many phonics rules to learn! But, I made it and six months later, I was confirmed as an Educational Therapist. I started teaching at Bishan Learning Centre and am still there today.
Pioneer of the Maths Programme
After being confirmed, I learned that DAS was starting a Mathematics program to reach out to students who were experiencing difficulties learning Maths. I expressed my eagerness to join the Maths Team and together with Nur Jihan, Ganga and Huilin we attended Steve Chinn’s Maths course on Numeracy Difficulties. We formed the pioneer Maths team.
Together we started the numeracy framework- a guide for EdTs to follow in conducting Maths lessons at our respective DAS centres and the Numeracy Pack — a collation of Maths lesson plans and worksheets.
Found Maths Manipulatives
We went on an outing to source for appropriate and user-friendly teaching manipulatives to facilitate teaching and learning. Although all this was hard work, it was really fun and the Maths Team enjoyed every minute of it.
Developed Maths Assessments
We also designed our very own informal assessments on core topics: addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, decimals, time, fractions and geometry. These tests are mandatory tools to put in place. Before a student joins the Maths program, he/she has to sit for these tests. If the child is found to be relatively weak in concept knowledge in these core topics, the child has the opportunity to attend DAS Maths lessons.
Teaching at Bishan Junction
I am still teaching Maths at Bishan Junction Learning Centre, not only for the DAS Maths program but also for DAS International – a one to one student program that prepares students for school examinations.
Remove Negative Anxieties about Maths
Many of the students who join our programs display much mental block and helplessness in learning Maths. My primary aim is to remove these negative anxieties and make learning Maths a more positive, enjoyable, attainable and challenging experience for them. I try to analyse student errors, then put myself in the child’s shoes and think about the child’s thinking style that caused the child to make a particular error. I then decide on steps that the child could use to counter the error and consider the methods that work best with him/her—is it by handling manipulatives, drawing models or making short notes.
Visualise the sum and break it down
Often I create my own teaching tools to enable my tutees to visualize the story in the sum. Breaking down the sum into parts on a brace map helps the child to organize his/her thoughts and lay out the workings systematically. Since every child’s most important resource are his/ her fingers which can be brought into the classroom, I advocate the fingers be used for finger tables and for counting on.
I research and adapt workable teaching strategies to make learning Maths concepts simple, easy and fun for my dyslexic learners reinforcing the approach:
Our 2nd son, Ong Bang Zheng was struggling with Mathematics since early primary school days. As very concerned parents, in June 2011, we sent Bang Zheng for dyslexic evaluation and examination and he was diagnosed with dyslexia.
On August 2011, we enrolled Bang Zheng, in DAS Education Therapy, under the tutelage of Ms. Aishah Albel. Under her tutelage, my son, Bang Zheng, has been improving tremendously. He did very well in both the Primary 6 preliminary examination as well as the PSLE.
Ms. Aishah Albel, recommended that Bang Zheng continue with the program. Bang Zheng, is now scoring ‘Bs’ in Mathematics. Not only does Bang Zhen like Maths but is also a very confident young man now.
Thank you, Ms Aishah Albel.
Yours Sincerely, Mr. and Mrs. Daniel Ong
In 2010, DAS Maths program students- John DeSouza and Annebelle deCosta attained a Grade 2 at PSLE Foundation Maths. They had been failing Maths fora number of years and this good PSLE score was their first best score they had achieved in Primary school Maths.
Last year, Anne Marie Wong also obtained Grade 2 at PSLE Foundation Maths. Ho You Quan who had all along been failing in Maths passed at PSLE Standard Maths with a Band 3 grade.
DAS International student Ong Bang Zheng, also passed with a Band 3 in PSLE Standard Maths in 2011. He had been failing Maths since Primary 3. I am glad I have helped them achieve their best in Maths.
As a Senior Educational Therapist involved in DAS Maths programs, I feel I have successfully engaged the OG principles in enabling my dyslexic learners to learn Maths more readily. It gives me great pleasure and satisfaction to be able to lift my students from their learned helplessness, ‘I can’t’ impossible state to the ‘I can’ possible state. I look forward to continue bringing out the best in every dyslexic student who comes my way.
About the Author:
Aishah Albel Abdullah
Lead Educational Therapist
Bishan Learning Centre
Learn more about Albel