New THRASS SING-A-LONG Resources Given Thumbs Up by Caribbean Dyslexia Association

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The new THRASS SING-A-LONG Family Reading Resources have been enjoying huge success since they were launched in South Africa at the end of January and now they have just been given the thumbs up by the Caribbean Dyslexia Association, the first Dyslexia Association in the world to take part in a THRASS SING-A-LONG workshop.

at least double the normal rate of progress

The new THRASS SING-A-LONG Family Reading Resources have been enjoying huge success since they were launched in South Africa at the end of January and now they have just been given the thumbs up by the Caribbean Dyslexia Association, the first Dyslexia Association in the world to take part in a THRASS SING-A-LONG workshop.

The workshop took place in Barbados during a recent visit by THRASS UK to train 130 teachers, lecturers and Government officials on behalf of the Government of Barbados, which is now seriously considering implementing THRASS for all children aged three to nine. The three-day training programme was overseen by Alan Davies, Executive Director of THRASS UK and an Educational Psychologist who holds the Dyslexia Institute Diploma and the British Dyslexia Association Diploma.

The THRASS (Teaching Handwriting Reading And Spelling Skills) synthetic phonics programme is already used in the Caribbean for children with special educational needs, including dyslexia, as well as for mainstream children and has already received extremely favourable reviews there. The Caribbean Dyslexia Association organised an earlier THRASS training course for teachers from Barbados, Trinidad, Montserrat, Jamaica and St Vincent in July 2007.

The THRASS SING-A-LONG Resources use 44 songs that parents and others can sing with children to explain the 44 sounds (phonemes) and 120 main spelling choices (graphemes) of English and the MOVE-A-LONG WITH SING-A-LONG workshops give parents and teachers the confidence to dance and perform actions to the 44 songs with children to help them read and spell.

The SING-A-LONG songs, written by South African music teacher Janine Plunkett, are real fun for both adults and children, as they all have wonderful imaginative titles such as "The moon fell out of the sky", "A great big gorilla" and "You don't get pandas in Africa", and really memorable tunes in different musical styles and dance rhythms such as such as African Round, Blues, Charleston, Hawaiian, Jazz, Ragtime and Reggae.

The THRASS SING-A-LONG Resources and the workshops are already making a major impact in South Africa and the response to the recent Caribbean Dyslexia Association workshop has now also been overwhelming. "There is so much enthusiasm within the entire programme and you can teach so much to the children through the "SING-A-LONG". It's inspiring." "The resources will definitely help with reinforcement of reading principles especially in dyslexic children who need opportunities for over-learning. The SING-A-LONG adds a dynamic element to the process and activities." "I think it is a very good programme for children as it covers auditory, visual, kinesthetic aspects of learning. An excellent idea, I only wish I could be part of more sessions like this!" These were just some of the comments made by those attending the SING-A-LONG workshop led by Janine Plunkett.

THRASS is a whole-school synthetic phonics programme for teaching learners of all ages and abilities using pictures and keywords and it has been shown that it can "at least double the normal rate of progress" made by primary school children who have reading and spelling difficulties. The very first THRASS programmes in 1992 and 1994 were based to a considerable extent on Alan Davies' work with dyslexics, both children and adults.

THRASS helps learners to understand the building blocks of the English language by teaching them about the 44 phonemes (speech sounds) of spoken English and the 120 graphemes (spelling choices) of written English. It is a multi-sensory programme that is based on developing VAK (Visual, Auditory and Kinesthetic) skills in learners. No assumption is made that children can hear or say the phonemes but they are progressively taught to become more discerning. The stages move from listening to and discussing whole words related to 'concrete' pictures on the Picturecharts and in books, through to listening to and pronouncing the phonemes, blending them to make words and then segmenting them to analyse words.

In Africa, THRASS has been welcomed as heralding the start of a new era in the teaching of English and has enjoyed considerable success in many different types of schools ranging from farm schools in the Kwena Basin, Mpumalanga to prestigious independent schools such as the Crawford Schools, the largest group of independent schools in South Africa. Over 4,000 teachers and student teachers in South Africa have earned the THRASS Accredited Certificate and Janine Plunkett has now been invited to train Foundation Phase student teachers in five South African universities, starting with the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg.

A further indication of the significance of THRASS is that in South Africa it is being sponsored by Absa Bank, a member of the Barclays Group, through the THRASS Absa TalkTogether Project that intends to introduce the programme into 1,000 schools using the SING-A-LONG Resources, and Pritt.

The THRASS SING-A-LONG Family Reading Resources will enable children, and also older learners, to develop their literacy skills, while at the same time having lots of fun. They will also enable children to enjoy a whole range of other benefits as a result of making singing part of their daily lives. The main resources are an interactive book and an audio CD, complemented by a 96-page hard-back book and a colouring book. Later in the year a sheet music book and a MOVE-A-LONG WITH SING-A-LONG DVD will also be available.

The THRASS extensive picture-based training website for schools and parents with easy access to a wide range of resources and support materials and extensive evidence of the widespread success of THRASS is at http://www.thrass.co.uk/teaching.htm

For information, videostreams and a radio broadcast about THRASS IN THE CARIBBEAN, visit http://www.thrass.co.uk/thrassinthecaribbean.htm

For information about the THRASS SING-A-LONG Family Reading Project, visit http://www.thrass.co.uk/sing-a-long.htm

For details of THRASS Professional Development Courses, visit http://www.thrass.co.uk/courses.htm

Issued by: THRASS UK News Media Centre http://www.thrass.co.uk/nm.htm
Mike Meade, Media Director, +44 1829 741413 Mob: +44 7970 151 738
Chris Griffiths, International Development, +30 266 203 1207

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