THE CoolerRuler:

Boost Your Learning Power

March 2010's Articles

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The CoolerRuler is helping a wider range of children than I had anticipated

I have received an interesting endorsement - via the feedback form on this website - from Veronica Smith from Cambridge. Veronica is an extremely experienced and well qualified special needs teacher and she bought two CoolerRulers just over a year ago. She wrote:

“An excellent product. I have used it successfully children with cerebral palsy and Downs syndrome”

and this fascinated me. I originally designed The CoolerRuler to help my pupils, who were mostly dyslexic. I have used it with one girl who has hemiplegia but had no idea that it could be so effective with readers with more complicated learning difficulties.

I hope to find out more about Veronica’s work with her pupils; I am so pleased to hear that The CoolerRuler has a wider reach than even I imagined.

Another arrogant school is failing another dyslexic pupil

I spent an hour yesterday with the mother of a pupil whom I teach privately and she is apoplectic with rage following a meeting with the head of her son’s school. As a Special Needs Teacher, I have been here before, but it still bothers me.

When I met Sam (name changed to protect the innocent), he walked with shoulders hunched, head down, looking at the ground, a picture of misery. His educational experience at that point had consisted of failure - in fact the failure was that of his teachers at Potburger School (name changed to protect the guilty!) - but he had been assured by these so-called professionals that the fault was entirely with him. They were assiduously avoiding recognising his dyslexia and apparently lying about his achievements when it came to tests. How else could his SAT reading score of 2C have been achieved when he was unable to read even the simplest words?

I have worked with Sam for eighteen months and his progress has been remarkable. This is entirely down to his hard work and the fact that he is so keen to learn now that the teaching is directed towards his preferred learning style, but the most noticeable change has been in his demeanour. This bright, bubbly child now walks tall and his confidence shines through. His mother tells me how desperately worried she was at the changes she had seen in him after he had been at school for a couple of years and now says that she has ‘got her son back’.

She and I know that this improvement has nothing to do with Potburger School.

So why is she so angry? After years of virtually ignoring Sam, the school is now giving him some one to one tuition - and is insisting that my lessons with him follow their programme of study. This despite the fact that Sam’s ‘specialist’ lessons are delivered by a teacher who has absolutely no training in any of the specific learning difficulties. This was admitted by the Head Teacher when Sam’s mother asked the question. She stated that ‘she is a qualified teacher but doesn’t have any extra dyslexia qualifications.’ They just can’t see that simply giving him more of what has already failed him is bound to fail him again.

We had a coffee together and laughed at the school and she gradually calmed down. Although I am a great believer in parents, specialist teachers and schools working as closely together as possible to support a child, in this case I won’t be following their lead. The crumpled sheet of A4 with a few spidery notes of spelling patterns written in red biro isn’t sufficient to make me alter the targets that Sam and I have already agreed for this term.

After all, Sam is doing really well and that’s enough for him, his mother and for me.

Yes, it is a dyslexia reading aid ...

… but it’s not only for dyslexic readers. The CoolerRuler can really help any beginning reader. It can be used at the ‘cvc’ (consonant-vowel-consonant) stage as well as the more obvious syllable stage. A very early reader may be able to sound out c-a-t, but will benefit from using The CoolerRuler to find c+a, then forming ‘ca’ before adding the ‘t’. Later work will include identifying blends and adding endings in the same way (st+o to ‘sto’ then add ‘p’ for stop) and further down the line, beginning and end blends (st+a to ‘sta’ then add ‘nd’ for stand). By the time syllables come into the picture, the use of The CoolerRuler is so natural that it’s an easy step.

As Eleanor Beale commented on a previous blog entry (thanks Eleanor - glad it’s helping your pupils,) “It is a great aid to developing fluency and independent reading”.

Why CoolerRuler instead of CooleRuler?

When it came to naming my product it was an easy choice. I have already said that it was, in effect, my pupils who named it for me - saying that it was ‘like everyone else’s ruler but cooler than an ordinary ruler’ - but working out how to spell it was a different matter. And I had the same trouble with the company name RulerReading.

The logo took care of itself, with the small ‘r’ of Cooler forming the top right hand corner of the capital ‘R’ of Ruler, (ditto with Ruler and Reading) but it was another matter to write it down in type. After devoting so many years of my life to teaching children to spell I simply couldn’t bring myself to leave out an ‘r’ and mis-spell the words!

So I’ve finished up with two r’s in the middle of both CoolerRuler and RulerReading, which is very difficult to explain on the phone. Ho-hum, perhaps I should simply have called it The-Best-Reading-Tool-Ever, produced by The-Best-Ever-Company-To-Help-You-Learn-To-Read …. but then I guess I might have had problems with registering the trademark.

Two CoolerRulers are better than one

The CoolerRuler continues to sell steadily and I had a repeat order from a lady in Liverpool the other day. I noticed it in particular as I had personally delivered the first CoolerRuler last July, so I rang her to ask why she needed the second one and, as I had suspected, her son had broken it!

Two things about this pleased me - firstly that it had been a major accident that had caused the breakage and secondly that she reported that her son was ‘desperate’ because it had broken. “He is lost without it,” she went on to say, “and I had to get a new one as soon as possible.”

Now, I’m definitely not happy that her son is distressed, but I am delighted that The CoolerRuler is making such an obvious difference to his schooling. As a gesture of goodwill, I sent the lad an extra 20cm version of The CoolerRuler - this is a rather Heath Robinson affair, cut down from the full size version, but it has the advantage of fitting inside a pencil case, so I hope it will prove useful to him.

And the moral of the story is … that having two CoolerRulers is an advantage. One for home and one for school is ideal - and if by any chance one of them does break, then distress can be avoided.