Vocational & Life Skills Training in Bangkok : presented by STEPS with Theera Cafe

STEPS with Theera Cafe (visit website)

Vocational & Life Skills Training in Bkk

Join us at STEPS with Theera Cafe to find out more about this new vocational training centre which offers work based learning experiences alongside an accredited life skills programme with further education options available. Suitable for ages 14+ and with teaching in English and Thai, they offer full or part time enrolment. Please join us to learn more about what might be an option for your child now or in the future.

Theeta Hotrakitya & Max Simpson are the brains behind this new initiative. They both have extensive experience working with kids with special needs. In their words,

Steps with Theera is a cafe and vocational training centre for teens & young adults with special needs and for those who benefit from an alternative pathway. Our focus is sustainable and fulfilling employment opportunities, life skills and independence. We work towards a community of acceptance and equality with a strong ethos in giving our trainees the chance to show the able in disabled.

To visit and see the presentation see the flyer: leap-wed-5-oct-16-step-gathering (click on link to open flyer)

Visit STEPS with Theera website (click here)

Should children learn to touch type?

Should children learn to touch type?

This question has been around for a long time, certainly since the typewriters in the business studies rooms were replaced with word processors!

Students are now surrounded by digital technology and use a range of devices for their work. It is common for children to use tablets, such as iPads from a young age, and many secondary and high school students are using laptops. These are trends that will continue.

Is it important to be able to touch type?  I mean being able to accurately use a keyboard, while looking at the screen or elsewhere, and using all fingers on the correct keys. There are commonly heard arguments for and against learning to touch type

Arguments against learning to touch type

  • it takes a lot of time, time that is better spent on other learning
  • technology such as predictive text and touchscreen devices mean children will not need to type in the future
  • speech recognition and dictation software is replacing typing
  • one or two finger typing is just as fast on hand held devices

Arguments for learning to touch type

  • using a keyboard is the most effective way of inputting text, if you can type efficiently
  • laptops and computers, with keyboards, are going to be around for a while
  • it is a lifeskill, like riding a bike, once you learn you will not forget
  • good habits are best learned at an early age, as bad ones are hard to shift
  • once you can touch type accurately, your speed should increase

In conclusion, why I think that touch typing needs to be taught in school

Students in high school and above are going to be expected to use computers to produce longer and longer texts, for this reason efficient and correct touch typing is essential. Schools need to put aside time to teach this invaluable lifeskill, we cannot rely on parents and self motivated children to learn only at home. Maybe a compromise is to have ‘typing club’ at times during the school day. If we have 12 and 13 year old children typing with two fingers we are doing them a disservice.

Recommended Free Typing Tutor

There are free typing tutors available. I have seen children succeed with the free typing tutor available on line from typing.com. Teachers can even set up classes and monitor progress. The free version does have advertisements but they are not too noticeable. A small fee will remove the ads completely.  Another reliable one is typingclub.com There are many other typing tutors available, some of which are very good, but beware of ones with too many distractions and games!

What do you think?


SENIT-Special Education Network in Thailand @ISB November 27, 2015

Many schools have mentioned that they would like to learn more about available school psychologists and speech therapists in Thailand.  We have a range of outside providers that will attend the meeting, present on their particular services/areas of expertise, and participate in a question and answer session afterwards.  After some time spent catching up with each other over lunch, we will reserve the remainder of our time for discussing topics and issues that are brought up by you!  As such, please come prepared with a list of topics, questions, and/or issues to share.

Next meeting will be in April 2016

Teaching Jobs in South East Asia at International Schools

International School Teaching Jobs in South East Asia


Yokohama International School | Yokohama | Employment page http://www.yis.ac.jp/about-us/employment


UWCSEA Vacancies page https://www.uwcsea.edu.sg/jobs/teaching


NIST International School | Bangkok | Employment page www.nist.ac.th/employment/

Other schools in Bangkok | A list of international schools in Bangkok, Thailand

Please follow the links to check out employment opportunities in the South East Asia Region. Many schools will be advertising initial vacancies from October onwards.

International Teaching Jobs in Japan. International Teaching Jobs in Singapore. International Teaching Jobs in Thailand.

Teacher’s Tech Toolkit

What does a teacher need in their Tech Toolkit?

I recently read this article: Which should I buy a PC or a Mac? I know it is a perennial topic but it made me think – what does a teacher need in their ‘Tech Toolkit?’ For this post I am thinking about hardware rather than software, which is another story. Of course many people will have their own ideas but what should be the minimum?

What should be in a teacher’sTech Toolkit?

I think the following should be the minimum for a teacher’s tech toolkit:

  • a laptop
  • an external hard drive
  • a smartphone

Now I will explain why I think this!

Why have a portable hard drive?

External Hard Drive
External Hard Drive

Let’s start with possibly the least obvious. External, portable hard drives are cheap and can be used to keep a back up of your data. They typically use a small size hard disc (that keeps the overall package small) and do not need a power supply. They are powered when plugged in to the USB slot on your computer. They come in a number of sizes (e.g. 500gb, 1tb, 2tb, 3tb). There is not a lot of point in buying a very large capacity unless you have a lot of video to store. As a rule of thumb get one with the same capacity as your computer. If this gets full over time buy another – the price will have fallen by then!

Once you have your external hard drive remember to use it from time to time! If you are using one on a day to day basis you should have another one stored somewhere safe. I know of people who have had break ins and lost the photos stored on their computer and the back up hard disc, which has been stored nearby. Why not leave one in a safe place at work? Or at your mum’s?

Why have a smartphone?

If you already have one you will probably know why. If not consider this: smart phones have a camera, and a video or sound recorder. You can use your smart phone to record activities instantly and you can access google or Pinterest there and then. You can even make phone calls. Just make sure that it is on silent mode, and it is rude to look at it while ‘listening’ to people.

Why have a laptop?

MacBook Air
Apple MacBook Air

Any recent laptop has the capability to connect to the internet and it allows you to type documents, arrange photographs and look at or edit video. A laptop is obviously portable. How portable you want to make it depends on your needs. If you are always on the move the lighter the better – and that means more expensive.

What are the alternatives?

At the minimum a teacher should have a laptop, smartphone and external hard drive but there are some other things that may also fit your needs.

A desktop computer

If you are working in one place and use the computer for hours on end you should consider getting a desktop computer if only because it is better for you. The ergonomics of a separate keyboard and adjustable screen are better for your back, neck and eyes. You also get more bang for you buck with a desktop (compared to a laptop) and they are much  more expandable.

A tablet

A tablet can do many of the things that a smartphone does and will offer a larger screen. This could be an alternative to a smartphone – but do you really need both?

So what do I actually use?

  • For everyday use: An Apple Macbook Air (mid 2013) with 8 Gb of RAM and 256 Gb solid state hard drive running OSX (work supplied)
  • For back up: 500 Gb portable hard drive (USB)
  • Home computer: Dell Inspiron (2011) 4 Gb RAM and 500 Gb hard drive. (I can plug this into my TV using HDMI cable) running Windows 10
  • Smartphone: Sony Xperia Z3 Compact with 64 Gb SD card running Android 5
  • Tablet: iPad (2003) 16 Gb running IOS 7 (work supplied)

From this list you may conclude that I am fairly neutral in the ‘should I buy a PC or mac?’ debate. I like using both, but look where I spend my own money!

What do you think?

Is there something else that should definitely be in a Teacher’s Tech Toolkit? Please share you thoughts in the comments below or on the social media links.

Dictation and Reading Tools – on a Mac

Here are some built in tools that allow the Mac to read aloud and turn our speech into text.

Text to speech (reading) on a Mac

This cool feature is built into the Mac operating system. You may need to activate it. Here’s how:

Quick step-by-step

Open System Preferences > Dictation and Speech

Choose : Text to Speech

Check: Speak selected text when the key is pressed

Current Key: option + esc

Window showing text to speech options
Window showing text to speech options
How does it work?

Select (highlight) the text that you want read to you. Press the option and esc keys together. The text will be read out loud to you.

Part of Mac keyboard: opt and esc keys
Part of a Mac keyboard showing the option and escape keys

If you would like more details, including how to change the voice you can look at this video. The uploader also talks about how this helps with his dyslexia.


Dictation on a Mac

Quick step-by-step

Open Preferences > Dictation and Speech

Choose: Dictation – On Button

Press fn (function key) twice

Dictation Dialogue Window
Activation window showing where to turn dictation on
How does it work?

Open your word processor (e.g. word), click the cursor for where you want to start. Press the fn key twice. Speak normally and the text should begin to appear. You will most likely need to do some editing on the text but it is a good way of getting your ideas written down.

Part of Mac keyboard showing function key
Mac keyboard showing function fn key


Read & Write for Google Chrome and Drive

These settings will not work with Google Chrome or Drive.  Herer are some videos to add an extension that will work with Google.

Here’s a video about how to add the Read & Write for Google – Chrome Extension


Here’s some more info about how to use the Read & Write toolbar