Lots going on with East Midlands Writing PAD this Summer!
Thanks to Jackie Hatfield and Tina Horsman for this blog post about their recent event…
The day was the first ever collaboration between the Association of Dyslexia Specialists in Higher Education (ADSHE) and Writing PAD. It gave the opportunity to explore embodied teaching and learning methodologies that engage the senses and support metacognitive development for neurodiverse students (and enhance student and tutor well-being). Members of the audience represented both organisations, coming together from different universities and independent tutors. The event attracted tutors from around the country and not just the Midlands.
Lisa Clughen (Nottingham Trent University) started the day with her session entitled Writing is Physical too: Embracing the Body in Writing Support. Lisa reminded us of the trauma that often accompanies the requirement of the production of a piece of academic writing. She had real examples from her practice and this resonated with the tutors in the room. It was fascinating to experience and be reminded of the emotional investment made by students when confronted with a piece of writing. Lisa presented a convincing argument for the importance and centrality of the body when writing and hence a need for tutors to be aware and integrate the body in their practice.
Kaye Towlson (De Montfort University) followed with New ways of seeing and other stories. She showed us how using multisensory activities initially designed to support art and design students have become strategies that have been enthusiastically adopted across the academic disciplines. For ADSHE members, whose practice is based in the multisensory mode, it provided reinforcement to continue with those practices and resist the temptation to rush the student into the linear word.
The last session of the morning was presented by Alke Groppel-Wegener with her Board Game Blueprint. This was a practical hands-on session where each group created a board game based around essay writing. Alke’s rational is to provide students with a multi-dimensional interface through which to understand the intricacies of academic essay writing and how long the process takes. It was fascinating to see the different concepts emerge albeit with similar outcomes. These were all produced on Magic Whiteboards and displayed around the room.
The afternoon was taken up with Amanda Schofield and Angela Hayes, who together are Red Herrings, with their session Being – Playing – Connecting. This was based in the theory of Clowning. The session began with an exploration of ourselves – our breath, movement, sound and playfulness. We explored spontaneity, improvisation and connection as a whole group using music, play and sound. This journey challenged our self-awareness and reminded us of the vulnerability of our students. As tutors supporting neurodiverse students we recognised the synergies between clowning techniques/strategies and developing metacognitive skills with our students.
Overall the day brought together a wide range of members and presenters where embodiment was at the centre of the discussion and participants left with additional strategies to use with their students and the opportunity to reflect on how embodiment and creative play affects their practice.