Monthly Archives: November 2012

Digestive System (yuck!)

This term, we are doing the Science Plus module which covers healthy eating and the digestive system.

With a lot of practice, we’ve mastered the food groups and what we need each one for (hurrah!) so we moved on to the digestive system. I found this which I know colleagues have used before in mainstream and in preparation for my observation today, we carried out the experiment on Tuesday.

The class loved it! TA’s weren’t so sure.

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CREST Stars Award

I’ve blogged about this before, but now we’ve had a go, I thought it was time for an update.

We have a lunchtime Science/PHSE Club – Explorers  Club – that meets for 30 minutes once a week. We have about 12 students who attend, from across KS3, 4 and 5, with some who choose to dip in and out.

We started on the first section of the STARS Award at the end of September, and split the group into three. One group were doing the ‘Shadows’ activity, one looking for minibeasts and the other looking for colours. Pupils took 6 lunchtime sessions to complete the activity that they had chosen, producing work for a wall display in the process (I need to take a photo).

Last week we had a reflection session, where they shared their learning and were awarded their first sticker on the path to completing the award. Now we swap staff and run the activities again with a different set of pupils. Feedback so far is positive from both staff and students. Even the governors are impressed as they too have seen the wall display.

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STEM second session

Ken came back this week to do our second STEM session on Flight.

One of the boys was really excited to see the ‘pilot’ again and didn’t want to know that Ken doesn’t actually fly! We started off revisiting the work that we had done the previous time, and then it was off outside with the tape measure. We discovered that a car/small plane going at 60mph would cross our playground in 1second. We then tried to find out how far a larger plane travelling at 600mph would go in 1 second. We got to the other edge of the field and that was still only half a second. Although the concept of timings is perhaps slightly too hard for some of our pupils, the visual and physical representation of walking up and down the field might have helped.

Back in the classroom we looked at wing shapes, with hairdryers and talked a little about how and where the air has to flow for a wing to ‘lift’. It was quite interesting, and the pupils all enjoyed joining in.

Our ‘homework’ for the next session is to build our own little aeroplanes from kits. The staff who are helping out are very competitive and so we are going to have a competition to see who can get their plane to fly furthest. (Motor skills issues to be highlighted here, some of my students don’t have the coordination to throw a plane!))

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Learned helplessness

Someone else blogged on this recently, but I can’t remember who, please contact me and I’ll add a link if it was you.

The pupils that I teach are very special. They wouldn’t be at a school for sld pupils if they weren’t! They will go through life with a responsible adult always within shouting distance, and as a result learn to depend on those adults for everything, even things that they can do for themselves. This leads to a learned helplessness, where pupils won’t even try.

I try to run an independent classroom. Pupils are expected to do all of their self-help (dressing for swimming, ordering drinks in a cafe for instance) alone, or with verbal prompts if needed. I expect them to ask for help, they are all able to do this. When we are writing, I would like them to ‘write’ independently first, with staff then annotating or transcribing underneath as necessary. Pupils can then copy this so that they can practice further.

For some reason, it’s taking my class a lot longer to get to grips with this this year. I have pupils who won’t even mark make until an adult writes something they can either copy or overwrite. This does not reflect the p level that they are currently working at. I have pupils who suddenly cannot do up their coats, put things away, or get changed for swimming.

I think, in a way, this is happening because we too are being driven by targets. There’s so much to do in English lessons, we don’t have time. Also, (mostly?) because support staff have not been provided with the skills to help pupils appropriately. They want ‘perfect’ work, I want the pupil’s work. They want to rush the pupils on to the next stage, I’d rather they showered properly and got dressed independently. However, in a school where it seems that it has always been the done thing to produce work for the pupils, how do you set about changing that ethos?

In fact, I’m pretty sure that most of the pupils have had someone write and do for them since primary school, and will do again once they leave school, so some may ask why bother? That’s exactly the kind of defeatist attitude I’m trying to overcome.

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