This term we have focussed on the human body, with an aim to beginning to produce coursework for the new OCR National ‘Science in the Workplace’ that I have been told to deliver, due to it being mostly coursework and, therefore, in theory, easier for our students to access. In practice, they are still struggling, so I’ve advised we stick with Entry Level! Anyway, content. Skeleton Joints and Muscles Circulatory System Respiratory System. I used a lot of the SIEMENS resources (Human Body) which, although they are aimed at KS2, are at the right level for my class. We particularly enjoyed the interactive body and the ‘make a model arm’ activity to see that muscles work in pairs and how that makes an arm move. There’s also been lots of work with Fred (our resident skeleton) and George (our model torso) We watched this video about the circulatory system – the underlying music is irritating, but the students were able to access the content. We used peak flow meters and measured lung capacity. Although students were aware we have a mouth and lungs, we had to spend quite a lot of time wondering how the two were connected. We drew a giant human body with all of our learning on.
And to finish, we’ll have a look at a heart and lungs from the butcher, so we know what they really look like!
I’ve just realised I never actually blogged my #SENDTeachMeet presentation. How lax of me!
Although I based my talk on Science, as that is my subject, the content holds true for any subject – if students don’t have the vocabulary to explain concepts they are not going to be able to access the full curriculum and make progress.
This is something that I see in another part of my role – testing for exam arrangements. Part of one the tests (the WRIT, for those who are interested) requires students to explain what words mean. Words such as swim, car, dinosaur. None of my students can fully explain, for instance, that swim means ‘to move through water by moving body parts’. They can act it out, but they can’t say it. And I sense their frustration right there. How do they manage a whole day with our curriculum?
I spend a lot of time making sure students can say key words, repeat them back, and tell me what they mean. My whole class can now say ‘protect’, tell me that the rib cage protects our heat and lungs…but not all of them can say that protect means (at our level) ‘to keep safe’. We use communicate in print symbols to help students learn words – I figure if it hasn’t made it onto the CiP list then it’s too hard. Also, lots of encouragement of talking. I can teach whole lessons without resorting to a pen – my students aren’t going to read their notes back anyway.
It’s the middle of the year, so I thought it about time I updated this…
Five things I would like to do in the coming year
1) Find a job that makes me happy – and makes me feel like I belong.
Well, I quit my job at half term, having decided that enough was enough – I wasn’t making a difference because I wasn’t allowed to, so time for a change. Fate, as ever, intervened at the 11th hour and I am returning to my previous school for a term to cover a space they have. My interview felt like going home. I have another interview for a longer term position next week, so we shall see.
2) Get to the final few ice rinks at both Elite and EPL level.
This is for the end of the year, when the season restarts. I’ll get to the Scottish rinks, at least
3)I am looking forward to the SEN #teachmeet in Oxford in February. Hopefully I’ll feel I have something useful to contribute.
Here are the general notes. It appears I didn’t blog my own! watch this space
4) Travel. This feels like a bit of a cop out as it’s always there, but I aim to go further afield this year, to get some more countries coloured in on my map.
I’m going back to India this summer, but to different parts, and on to Poland in October. Will have to see what the finances look like in the summer and maybe grab a couple of days somewhere sunny…
5) And finally, I think, at the moment, to keep active. Be that swimming, ice hockey, walking, baking, sewing or reading – I will not let work consume my every waking hour. Just because I don’t have that someone special to share my life with, does not mean I don’t deserve a proper life-work balance.
I’m doing this well. Lots going on to keep me busy. Still noone really to share my life with, but I’ll find him somewhere. I hope.
Who am I kidding? I’d like nothing more than to find someone to share my life with. I’ve been on my own for such a long time, and then, for a short while, there was someone special. And now he’s gone, I’m lonely. I’ve never felt this way before, maybe it’s a sign of getting older, I don’t know. I’ve reached the point where I want someone to share things with. Don’t get my wrong, I’ve got an amazing circle of friends, but it’s not the same. I want someone to come home to. To have dinner with and talk about how the day has been. Someone I can rely on to be there for me – and to let me be there for them. Where do I start looking? (and if you suggest on line dating I will hit you!)
Another assignment I have been asked to share. This was originally a powerpoint presentation with notes.
As a special school, there are very few interventions that we do not already carry out. In order to ensure that progress could potentially be shown, it was important to choose an intervention that was easy to manage and that was not being carried out elsewhere, as that could have affected the results.
Analysis of need
There are a number of students in the school for whom fine motor skills developments appear to be a problem. Referring to the Occupational Therapist results in a link to a website and parents are expected to carry out their own interventions. Although only one student was chosen to be worked with for this intervention, her class teacher quickly picked these up and now the whole class spend ten minutes a day on fine motor skills practice, with some positive results already.
- Student S was identified by teacher as having significant difficulties with handwriting
- As you can see, letter formation in the name is poor and number formation, although consistent, is equally awkward.
- It was felt that some dedicated time practicing fine motor skills on a daily basis was required
Identification of targets
Fine motor skills are more important than just handwriting, as it leads to students being able to carry out a much wider range of self help skills and tasks. There was not much in the way of research available on the effects of developing fine motor skills.
- From the previous slide, it is clear to see that the target should be to improve handwriting.
- However, from reading that I have done on this subject, it is more important to develop the wider fine motor skills of the student, and then an improvement in handwriting should follow
- Thus, the target is ‘to show improvement in a range of activities designed to develop fine motor skills’
Each intervention was carried out three times in the six week period. Each is stored in its own box, similar to a takeaway box, which itself provides a further challenging in removing and replacing the lid during the session. It was important to swap hands halfway through the session, in order to ensure both hands were exercised and improved
- The planned intervention is to follow some of the activities in the ‘Clever Hands’ leaflets provided in discussion with the Occupational Therapist linked to the school
- The activities include:
Rolling playdough Building lego towers Stacking and turning over coins Jigsaws Colouring in and cutting out shapes Threading screws Putting pegs onto the lid of the box Putting paperclips onto card Doing up shirt buttons Threading beads
- It is important to encourage the use of both hands
I was coincidentally reading Jordan while preparing for this task, having been recommended it by our Educational Psychologist in order to better support some students with behavioural difficulties and it had some good suggestions about working with students with ASD/SLD that I had not really thought about previously.
Both websites, as previously mentioned, provide a range of activities that can be done to develop fine motor skills. The OT that I spoke to about this felt that a range of activities was best, rather than the same one every day for six weeks, as that would make sure you worked as much of the hands as possible.
As you can see, the journal articles that were available are based on developing fine motor skills in younger students. Memisevic and Hadzic noted that ‘Fine motor skills are prerequisite for many everyday activities and they are a good predictor of a child’s later academic outcome… Furthermore, the results indicated that there are possible sensitive periods at preschool age in which the development of fine motor skills is accelerated. Early intervention specialists should make a thorough evaluations of fine motor skills in preschool children and make motor (re)habilitation programs for children at risk of fine motor delays’
Huffman and Fortenberry report on the importance of young children participating in a variety of developmentally appropriate activities intentionally designed to promote fine motor control. It states fine motor skills depend on muscular control, patience, judgement and brain coordination.
- Huffman, J. & Fortenberry, C. (Sep2011, Vol. 66 Issue 5). Developing Fine Motor Skills. YC: Young Children, p100-102
- Jordan, D. R. (2013). Autism with severe learning difficulties. London: Souvenir Press.
- Memisevic, H., & Hadzic, S. (2013, vol 14 issue 1/2). Development of fine motor coordination and visual-motor integration in preschool children. Journal of Special Education & Rehabilitation, pp. 45-53
- http://www.ekhuft.nhs.uk/patients-and-visitors/information-for-patients/patient-information-leaflets/fizzy-leaflets/ link to the ‘Clever Hands’ leaflets (20/3/15)
- http://www.covkidsot.co.uk/pages/motor-skills-advice-for-schools-2.html link to the Coventry OT website (20/3/15)
Recording the intervention
I could not find an academic measuring tool for fine motor skills, apart from highly specialised ones that are not available for me to use.
Instead, I took a baseline at the start of handwriting, and then took note of how hard each task was each time we did it. The majority of the tasks seemed to get easier as time progressed.
Measuring the effectiveness of the intervention
As you can see, the cutting has significantly improved. The colouring still needs to be done with verbal prompts to stay within the lines. I found that by giving the shapes to cut as the only shape on the piece of paper made the cutting much neater.
I kept comments on the progress seen each day, and structured the sessions as suggested by Jordan, not assuming that S (who has ASD as well as a severe learning disability) knew what was expected but giving full verbal prompts in every session. Particularly when completing the jigsaw puzzle it was noted that asking where pieces with matching colours were meant that she was more easily able to complete the task – although fitting the pieces together was still a challenge.
Commentary on intervention, critical reflection and learning points
- Although this was short time of intervention, it can be seen that the formation of numbers has improved
- It was noted that S was using the opposite hand to write with that the initial assessment, so was asked to write again using the other hand
- This has been fed back to class staff to ensure consistency when improving writing
- I felt that the intervention worked well, and with sustained practice would be shown to make more of a positive impact on both writing and everyday self help skills.
- The most interesting thing I learned was not to assume the student knew what was meant from them in the task, but to use lots of verbal prompts, keeping them on track to complete the task, and also reminding and encouraging them to use the non dominant hand as well
- I will be looking to set up this programme for more than just one class to help our students to develop their skills.