Tag archives: courses

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Supporting children with learning disabilities

I’ve just been putting together the handouts for a course for on effective provision and support for children with learning disabilities, a topic I feel passionate about. We will be exploring the needs of children with a wide range of learning challenges, the barriers they may face with learning and participation, and the implications, before going on to identify ways to maximise engagement, learning and enjoyment. This particular course is for a museum, but I also give lots of training on special needs for other cultural and heritage organisations, and for schools and libraries, and I find that many issues are common to all.

whistestop tourA Whistle-Stop Tour of Special Educational Needs by Clare Welsh and Rosie Williams is no longer in publication, though copies are still to be found. I have always found this section from it very pertinent and helpful:

‘As far as working with pupils with SEN is concerned, we must look at our assumptions and be prepared to challenge them.

  • the assumption that pupils will be at the same developmental starting point
  • the assumption that pupils will have the same knowledge
  • the assumption that because pupils have experienced something before, they will automatically remember it
  • the assumption that all pupils can understand the language that is being used around them
  • the assumption that pupils will have the gross or fine motor skills to carry out certain tasks
  • the assumption that all pupils enjoy social interaction
  • the assumption that all pupils will understand and respect standards of behaviour’

Wise words. Assumptions and stereotypes are dangerous things. Every child has different needs, even if they have the same diagnosis. A flexible, listening approach is vital. So is a calm environment in which every child feels safe and supported. Many children with learning difficulties have very high anxiety levels. Change, in particular, can be scary. For children on the autistic spectrum, and plenty of others, providing information – preferably with photos – in advance so they know what to expect from new experiences and new places makes a huge difference. Noise, crowds and clutter are very stressful for some. It’s great that lots of cultural and heritage organisations now offer specific activities or opening times to support children and families for whom these are a problem.

Like other children, most children with learning disabilities love getting involved. I will blog another time about inclusive participation strategies and the value of multi-sensory approaches.

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

New courses: Object-based teaching and learning and Using artefacts to support literacy – plus website problems

Intractable and very frustrating problems mean I’m currently unable to update my website, so for the time being I’ll post my training news here on my blog.

footballThere has been an upsurge of interest recently in object-based learning, and I’ve created two new courses in response to demand. They are particularly relevant to school library services that offer artefact collections or topic boxes with objects as well as books, and are suitable as inset for individual schools and museums, and as regional or national training. Please get in touch if you would like extra details. I adapt all my courses to local needs and circumstances.

The lovely photo comes courtesy of Farnborough Grange Community School.

Using artefacts to support literacy

Practical, hands-on training to identify the value of object-based literacy learning and explore ways to embed object-based literacy teaching across the curriculum.

Participants can expect to gain:

  • more understanding of the role and benefits of artefacts in literacy teaching
  • the context in terms of the national curriculum and Ofsted
  • ideas for using artefacts to support reading skills and enjoyment
  • strategies for developing research skills, comprehension, inference and deduction
  • new ways to deliver literacy across the curriculum
  • methods for enhancing information writing and creative writing
  • greater knowledge of the SLS artefact collections and topic boxes and ideas for using them (where appropriate)

Object-based teaching and learning

An interactive course to explore the value of object-based teaching and learning and identify practical strategies to support learning across the curriculum.

Expected learning outcomes:

  • greater awareness of the role and benefits of object-based teaching and learning
  • ideas for using artefacts to support the curriculum and theme-based teaching
  • methods for fostering cognitive and problem-solving skills and critical thinking
  • strategies for developing literacy and comprehension
  • ways to develop information and investigative skills, inference and deduction
  • tips for nurturing creativity
  • ideas for lesson-plans

What people say about this training

  • A fantastic day. I feel more confident about using objects within my planning, teaching and learning. We have drawn together an action plan which will help us implement what we have covered today.
  • Thanks for today, the teachers were raving about it and they left buzzing with ideas.
  • It was really valuable to unpick the many benefits objects have in teaching and learning. I really enjoyed the practical and hands-on approach and the time to work collaboratively.
  • An excellent opportunity to further investigate our museum and how to use objects to inspire learning.
  • Interesting and stimulating look at how to use objects for teaching and learning. Useful models for learning.
  • I found talking about linking the objects to the different areas of the curriculum useful, especially linking to literacy.
  • I have a greater understanding about the effectiveness of objects in a learning environment and how they can stimulate children’s ability to be creative.
  • Now we have lots of ideas for how to move our museum and object-based curriculum forwards.
  • Enjoyed learning about different theories and approaches to learning.
  • Useful ideas for where to go after the questioning/exploration of the objects.
  • I learnt more about how using objects can inspire children’s creative thinking and cover all aspects of the curriculum.
  • Good strategies to improve my teaching practice.
  • Very engaging and interesting. Anne has tailored the day around our unique needs. This enabled us to get exactly what we needed as a staff without having to fit square pegs in round holes.
  • Practical activities looking at objects and questioning skills.
  • Useful activities and questions. Splitting up the planning process made it clearer, along with discussion between staff. Useful to use objects.
  • Great flow about the presentation, relaxed atmosphere, got everyone thinking and hugely enjoyable.
  • Showed how useful/important object-based learning can be. Great ideas and a feeling that we, as a school, had moved on/developed understanding.
  • Lots of imaginative and creative ideas that can be applied.

Friday, 27 February 2015

Supporting children with learning difficulties in museums – my course in Qatar

tileI felt immensely privileged and touched to be given this tile by a delegate on the UCL Qatar course I gave last week on working with children with learning difficulties in museums. It was made by a young Qatari man with very severe learning disabilities. His needs were not met by school, but working with an artist in a cultural organisation released his abilities, and enabled him to express himself. What a fantastic illustration of the positive impact arts and cultural engagement can have on SEN children.

I had an amazing time in Doha delivering the training. The delegates came from five different museums, one of them well-established, the others all in the planning stages. Because the course was five days long, we were able to explore issues in depth. There were so many fascinating and important debates about the needs of children with all sorts of learning problems and the implications for engagement with museums, and about effective methods for supporting their learning and enjoyment. It was great to have time to share a wide range of case studies. We talked a lot about autism-friendly approaches. I found the discussions on multi-sensory learning especially interesting, and the plans groups produced for inclusive activities and events were truly exciting. The lists of components of successful practice that each delegate came up with on the last day were extremely impressive.

3D printsWe were very lucky to have the use of some wonderful artefacts commissioned by UCL Qatar. These 3D prints of the lid of an Egyptian canopic jar are amazing. They are different weights, sizes and finishes to enable a variety of learning methods. A fabulous way for children to experience history.

And these puppets, based on two very special and precious exhibits in the Museum of Islamic Art, made by the Little Angel Puppet company, and ably demonstrated here by Annie Rowbotham from UCL are superb. They are used to help children learn about conservation. The children ask the monkey and falcon questions, and the answers come via a ventriloquist. Such a brilliant idea. They are also going to play a role in museum story-telling events. Approaches like these can be totally transformative for children who struggle with learning.monkeyfalconMany thanks to all the great delegates and to Qatar Museums and a big thank you to UCL for inviting me back to Doha. It’s a stunning city, so to end, a few photos: the souk, the royal camels against the inevitable background of cranes (they’re everywhere in Doha), two shots from the extraordinary falconry souk, some dhows, and the beautiful Museum of Islamic Art.souk at night 2camelsfalcon - souk 1falcon - souk 6dhowsMIA

Friday, 31 October 2014

Literacy across the curriculum – statements by Ofsted and in the new national curriculum

IMG_1208This term I am giving both primary and secondary courses on literacy across the curriculum, a sign of the importance of this issue. It is extremely high on Ofsted’s agenda, and the new national curriculum also places great stress on teaching literacy through all subjects.

I have pulled together relevant extracts from the national curriculum and statements made by Ofsted about literacy across the curriculum.

National Curriculum in England Framework Document

  • Teachers should develop pupils’ spoken language, reading, writing and vocabulary as integral aspects of the teaching of every subject.
  • Teachers should develop pupils’ reading and writing in all subjects to support their acquisition of knowledge.
  • It is vital for pupils’ comprehension that they understand the meanings of words they meet in their reading across all subjects.
  • It is particularly important to induct pupils into the language which defines each subject in its own right, e.g. accurate mathematical and scientific language.

Ofsted: Moving English Forward

  • Too few schools have effective programmes for developing literacy skills across the curriculum.

Ofsted: School Inspection Handbook

  • Literacy includes the key skills of reading, writing and oral communication that enable pupils to access different areas of the curriculum.
  • Inspectors will consider the impact of the teaching of literacy and the outcomes across the range of the school’s provision. They will use the evidence they gather to inform the overall evaluation of pupils’ achievement, the quality of teaching and the impact of leadership and management on raising standards.
  • Progress in literacy is assessed by drawing on evidence from other subjects in the curriculum, where this is sensible.
  • The descriptors for an outstanding school include the following criteria:
    • The school’s curriculum promotes and sustains a thirst for knowledge and understanding and a love of learning.
    • Pupils read widely and often across all subjects to a high standard.
    • The teaching of reading, writing and communication is highly effective and cohesively planned and implemented across the curriculum.

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Picture books at key stages 2 and 3 – why they are valuable and some great titles

DSCF1678I was delighted to give a course for KS2&3 teachers and librarians yesterday on using picture books. There were great discussions about how they support enjoyment and learning. The best ones have many layers of meaning, so they work with everyone, whatever their abilities. They benefit every area of literacy – fabulous for building comprehension skills. They’re great for fostering thinking, creativity and social and emotional development. And they are immensely valuable in terms of subject teaching. Literacy across the curriculum is heavily stressed in the new curriculum, and it’s something Ofsted is very concerned about. Picture books really help!

I made a promise on Twitter that I would share a list of some of my favourite picture books for these key stages. There are dozens I could have included, but I have restricted myself to these, all of which are very thought-provoking (a few are too young for KS3):

Allsburg, Chris Van: The Mysteries of Harris Burdick
Baker, Jeannie: Mirror; Where the Forest Meets the Sea; Window
Baker-Smith, Grahame: Farther
Briggs, Raymond: Ug: Boy Genius of the Stone Age
Browne, Anthony: Into the Forest; Willy the Dreamer;  Willy’s Pictures
Child, Lauren: That Pesky Rat; What Planet Are You From, Clarice Bean?
Crew, Gary: Memorial
Davies, Nicola: The Promise
Duffy, Carol Ann: Lost Happy Endings
French, Fiona: Snow White in New York
Gaiman, Neil: The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish; The Wolves in the Walls
Garland, Sarah: Azzi In Between
Gravett, Emily: Little Mouse’s Big Book of Fears; Meerkat Mail; The Rabbit Problem
Greder, Armin: I am Thomas; The Island
Grey, Mini: The Adventures of the Dish and the Spoon
Jeffers, Oliver: The Incredible Book Eating Boy
Kelly, John: Scoop!
Kitamura, Satoshi: Once Upon an Ordinary School Day
McEwan, Ian: Rose Blanche    
Morley, Ben: Silence Seeker
Pinfold, Levi: Black Dog
Rosen, Michael: Sad Book
Scieszka, Jon: Stinky Cheeseman; The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs!
Snicket, Lemony: The Dark
Tan, Shaun: Lost Thing; The Arrival; The Red Tree
Thompson, Colin: How to Live Forever; The Last Alchemist
Wiesner, David: Art and Max; Flotsam; Tuesday