We were so pleased with the feedback from the pilot project that we thought we'd share the interview with Yvonne Götz Peter and Viola Schönenberger with you.
At first, Jasmin had only planned an end of Pilot evaluation with the participating teachers from Basel. However, this quickly developed into a presentation full of successes with our Orthograph and Calcularis learning systems. Of course, this is all about the development of children, which is super important to Team Dybuster, as it is to teachers and parents. For this reason, we have decided that we would like to conduct a further interview with the two teachers and Ms Sybille Frank from The Support and Integration Office for the City of Basel.
We are happy to introduce to you the two high school teachers.
Yvonne Götz Peter, a high school teacher and educational psychologist that works in an integration class at high school. This is a class in which four pupils with learning differences are integrated.
Viola Schönenberger, a high school teacher and trained special needs teacher, works in a class with 8 to 10 pupils.
Thank you Yvonne and Viola for the wonderful conversation.
Jasmin: Why did you decide to participate in the Dybuster Pilot Program Yvonne?
Yvonne: I was already familiar with the Dybuster Orthograph and Calcularis programmes and recommended them to my clients as an educational psychologist. As an educational psychologist, I had huge successes with them and my clients, as well as their parents, were thrilled. The clients had all been through so many learning and exercise programmes, as well as many tutoring sessions without signs of improvement. With the Dybuster learning systems, success finally came. That’s why I really wanted to bring the Dybuster programmes to the school, but unfortunately we didn’t have a budget for that until now. When I saw that a Dybuster
Pilot Program was taking place, I jumped at the chance!
Jasmin: You mentioned how happy the parents were throughout Pilot, can you tell us more about this?
Yvonne: The parents paid for my work as an educational psychologist privately and they had often tried many things before they came to me. They always said that the remedial classes or the extra practices were of no use and the Dybuster programme really helped.
Jasmin: We are very happy to hear that. What did it look like for you, Viola, why did you take part in the Pilot Project?
Viola: I had not heard of the Calcularis and Orthograph programmes before. However, as a high school teacher and head of the mathematics department, I have always been looking for good learning tasks for young people who have not yet mastered the basic mathematical material. The offer of the Pilot Project was a super useful way for me to try out Dybuster. My need was to find support material that really promotes mathematical learning and focuses on the basic material. And that’s exactly what Calcularis does so well.
Jasmin: What does the use of the programmes look like for you in concrete terms?
Yvonne: I use Calcularis 3 x 20 minutes per week with regular students with dyscalculia, partly at school and partly at home. We also use Orthograph with some mainstream students who have dyslexia. And then of course with the four integrated pupils. We all work with a weekly plan. The students have told me that if it is in the weekly plan, they remember to do the training at home. Dybuster has thus developed into a common learning tool. The most beautiful thing is that now even the integrated pupils sometimes explain something in Orthograph to the other class pupils. The pupils who don’t have Dybuster in their weekly schedule are now a little envious because they notice that their classmates enjoy doing it.
Viola: I did Calcularis for 3 x 20 minutes in school at the beginning. Now I do it 2 x 20 minutes. As homework, it works for some pupils but unfortunately not for others. Orthograph is used by my partner at school.
Jasmin: To what extent do the programmes relieve you of individual support?
Viola: There are two points for me. One is that I am now sure that the learners are working on their individual gaps in basic mathematics skills. I have known all along that I should actually work with them individually on the basic mathematical material, but I did not have the opportunity to create these one-to-one situations to provide them with the necessary incentives. And that’s exactly what the programme offers me. From home, I can then look at the learning data and get an accurate picture of who needs support and where. I feel really relieved that I can finally offer my students such differentiated mathematics teaching.
The second point is that I always know exactly the current learning level of my students. Thus, the programme relieves me of the burden of recording learning levels. I can use this data to write the individual learning reports.
Yvonne: I completely agree with Viola. A huge relief is that I can set things individually and keep track of them. I can look at how the students are learning and what they are learning in a differentiated way. I could not do that without the programme.
Jasmin: What does individualisation look like? Is the individual support, which the programme automatically provides, sufficient?
Viola: It feels like the programme adapts very well to the individual learning level of the students. One of my students has almost finished it! Especially in the lower number ranges, it adapts well. However, I wonder what will happen when they finish.
Yvonne: Calcularis adapts well. If long-term memory is severely impaired, Calcularis could be reset after completion and trained through again. After that, the time can be compared to how quickly they finished working through the programme the second time. With Orthograph, the pupils told me of their own accord what additional content they still wanted.
Jasmin: Can you say something about the implementation of the support and the effect especially in dealing with pupils with dyslexia, dyscalculia or combined learning differences?
Yvonne: I worked with students with a variety of learning differences such as dyslexia, dyscalculia and ADHD. The student with dyslexia is incredibly well served by Orthograph because he can finally concentrate and gets immediate feedback on every task. Generally speaking, the use of the programmes is a huge relief for those teachers who do not have any training in remedial diagnostics, because the handling is actually relatively simple and the effect is great. Calcularis specifies exactly what the pupils have to do. With Orthograph, you have to set the learning plan, but that’s it. But it really is a support tool that is effective for all pupils.
Viola: I work with pupils with dyslexia, dyscalculia and other learning differences. Learners with dyslexia and or dyscalculia make huge learning progress in a very short time. Children with more severe disability progress much more slowly. But they practise exactly where they need to, according to their level of learning.
Jasmin: To what extent are the coach functions helpful in responding to the individual needs of the pupils?
Viola: I can check what the students are doing at any time and can give information about where the students stand. I recognise the individual difficulties better and thus also have important information for other mathematical tasks.
Yvonne: Unfortunately, I didn’t use the coach enough. But I found it cool to look at the data together with the students and to talk directly with them about the mistakes. I also have something tangible that I can print out. This way I can show that work was done here and these are the results! I can also show the parents in black and white where the students stand. This is beneficial and gives me an incredible amount of security.
Jasmin: How well were the students able to work independently with Dybuster?
Yvonne: Regular pupils are totally enthusiastic and can handle the programme well.
At the parents’ evening, I would recommend presenting the programmes well. If the parents understand what it is about, they will do it at home. With integrated students, we only do the programme at school.
Viola: In my class it depends on the student. There are some who could do it very independently. With others, I had to introduce it with a lot of guidance, but then it has an enormous effect.
Jasmin: With which teachers and specialists do you cooperate? What does this look like? Does this take place in already existing structures or have you designed new settings or cooperation structures for Dybuster?
Yvonne: I did not collaborate with other specialists. The trainee who works with us suddenly also wanted an account to learn French. The class teacher was also excited and wanted the programmes for the mainstream students. She told me, “We really need this programme!”.
Viola: We did it as a team, my class partner in German, me in Maths. It has really become a routine. At first, she was sceptical. But now she’s really into it! We had one student who couldn’t write properly, after working with Orthograph, he can now even write small texts without mistakes. An incredible success! It would be very valuable to us if we can continue working with it.
Jasmin: What are the biggest challenges regarding the use of the programmes?
Viola: For me, this was the organisation of the equipment. Apart from that, there were no major challenges. It is easy to use and can works perfectly in class. In the beginning, it was perhaps a little difficult to schedule 3 x 20 minutes per week for training in class, but only until it had become established, after that it was no longer an issue.
Jasmin: What impresses you about Dybuster?.
Yvonne: The easy handling, the clear structure, the bypassing of the learning organisation, the differentiated support diagnostics, individualisation and learning on the same subject. The crowning glory is that it really specifically promotes competencies, and indeed subject-specific competencies.
Viola: Individual support of the basic mathematical material, with inclusion of the action and symbol level. This support works and the learning success is evident in a short time.
Jasmin: Why would you recommend the assignment to the whole class?
Yvonne: Because of the learning on the common subject. Every learner can benefit from this unique learning technique. It is an individual support tool for all mainstream students who are struggling somewhere in German, English, French or Maths.
Viola: Dybuster removes inequality of opportunity. It should definitely be used to all.
Jasmin: What progress have you made during the pilot phase?
Viola: As I mentioned, there is a boy in my class who cannot read or write well and he refuses to write texts by himself. He could hardly write down a sentence, for example, what he did yesterday. Thanks to Dybuster, he can now write practised words correctly. I asked him once why he can now suddenly write these words and sentences. He answers: “Yes, you know, the computer tells me the words as often as I want and at some point, I will be able to write them”. Working independently on the computer takes away the stress, the competition and the pressure. Also in mathematics, I observe that they suddenly work on their tasks with satisfaction and motivation.
Yvonne: The nicest thing was today when an integrated student with severe learning differences solved a whole sheet of calculations and everything was correct. I was sceptical and asked if she used the calculator. She replied, “No I can prove it, I wrote down the calculations on a notepad.” My jaw just dropped! I’m sure that’s the effect of the programme because we haven’t changed anything else in our teaching.
Jasmin: Who would you recommend working with Dybuster?
Yvonne: At primary level, I would recommend Orthograph to all children. In high school, I would recommend it to those who want to improve written skills and reading in German, English and French because it is a completely different learning technique. In mathematics, I would recommend it to very many who have struggled in primary and have not mastered the basics. At my school, I would also definitely like to use it to promote equality of opportunity and inclusion. There are hardly any support measures for pupils with a disadvantage. The programme would close a huge gap there.
Viola: I can only agree with Yvonne.
Jasmin: What was the response from the pupils?
Yvonne: A pupil whose first language is English was humming to himself. I asked him, “What are you humming?” He replied, “I hum the sounds of Dybuster, it helps me write.”
Yvonne: A pupil told me: “When I write words now, I think of the colours.”