Tag archives: curiosity kits

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Special educational needs – training and ideas

curisoity kitOf all the training I do, the courses and inset I give on supporting children and young people with special educational needs are probably the most rewarding. I am always very moved by the tales that are told and the imaginative strategies that are shared.

I’ve illustrated this piece with a curiosity kit (thank you Lowton St Mary’s School in Wigan) because these sets of books, artefacts and activities are great for developing SEN – and all – children’s reading, learning and enjoyment. I’m a fan of Bag Books too for children with profound learning difficulties. Multi-sensory approaches and opportunities to engage and interact make learning much more accessible for children with special needs. Role-play and drama can be immensely beneficial.

I love delivering training on promoting reading to SEN children. It’s not just delegates who pick up new ideas. I’ve learnt so much from inspired teachers, TAs and librarians – creative ways to engage children who struggle with reading. It’s a privilege to be able to pass on great practice. I’m giving a course on this in Wiltshire tomorrow and have several open courses coming up.

I have started getting requests for courses specifically for special schools on supporting reading, and it has been fascinating to design and deliver this new area of training. The discussions at a course last week for schools in Northern Ireland were amazing, and I am looking forward to more in Surrey next month.

In fact I can’t remember a time when so much of my training has been on SEN related themes. I really enjoy providing courses on supporting children with learning difficulties in museums, so I’m delighted to be running one on ss Great Britain next week. We’ll be discussing lots of wonderful inclusive ideas. And I’m very excited to be going to Qatar in March to give three days of training for library, museum and archive staff, one of them on working with SEN children. It is always a treat to give training for school and public library staff on special needs. Libraries offer so much for children who find learning difficult.

Thursday, 13 June 2013

Promoting reading in the secondary school library

I loved giving a course on promoting reading enjoyment for school librarians at Heath Books this week. The discussions were excellent and so many wonderful ideas were shared that we all left with our heads buzzing. Here are a few of the ways we discussed for raising the appeal of reading, not all new by any means, but no less effective for that. In no particular order:

  • exciting reading promotion programmes devised, led and marketed by students
  • cross-curricular reading promotions, e.g. making book trailers with ICT, shadowing the Greenaway Award with Art
  • students creating social network pages for book characters using Fakebook
  • students dramatising books or making comic strips, computer animations, videos or even Top Trump cards based on books
  • reading ambassadors: older students who go round the school enthusing younger ones about reading
  • reading buddy schemes
  • book boxes with a range of appealing contents for tutor times
  • promoting books in the dinner queue and playground
  • using book trailers and book-related video clips e.g. from YouTube and Literacy Shed
  • huge photos in the library of some of the coolest students in the school reading
  • a virtual extreme reading challenge: students superimpose photos of themselves reading onto interesting backgrounds
  • students filming each other talking about favourite books
  • involvement in the Stan Lee Excelsior Award for graphic novels
  • storytelling in every subject area in National Storytelling Week

I’m a big fan of curiosity kits for attracting children to reading. The photo shows a fabulous one made by a student at Lowton High School in Wigan, under the aegis of the librarian. There are more ideas for promoting reading in school libraries here.

Many thanks to the great librarians on the course, and Heath Books.

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Special educational needs

What a treat to attend the wonderful Lighting the Future conference last weekend. I was delighted to give a workshop on how school and public libraries can support children and young people with learning difficulties. Thinking about it afterwards, I realised that lots of people might find these links and resources useful.

Asperger Syndrome Foundation
Attention Deficit Disorder Information and Support Service
Bag Books
Barrington Stoke
British Dyslexia Association
British Institute of Learning Disabilities
Down Syndrome Education International
Down’s Syndrome Association
Dyslexia Action
Dyslexia Friendly Books
Dyslexia Friendly Libraries
Dyslexia Parents Resource
Dyspraxia Foundation
Helping Autistic Pupils to Use the Library
Learning Disabilities Online
National Autistic Society
What Meet Our Authors Means to Me

I have found these three publications very helpful:
Frances Ball, Supporting special educational needs in the secondary school LRC, School Library Association, 2002, ISBN 9781903446126;
Edwina Cole, Walk in their shoes: a day in the school life of an SPLD student, Barrington Stoke, 2004, ISBN 9781842991626;
Claire Welsh and Rosie Williams, Whistlestop tour of special educational needs, Barrington Stoke, 2005, ISBN 9781842993019.

Those of you who have not seen them already may also like to check out my article for CILIP Update on supporting children and young people with special educational needs and my blog post about children’s books featuring disability.

I am giving a course on special needs for library, museum, gallery and archive staff in London on 6 July with Creating Capacity.

The photo shows a curiosity kit in use in the library at Lowton St Mary’s School in Wigan. I love giving training on curiosity kits. They are a fabulous way of making reading and learning more accessible.