Humanities, sld style

A response to (part of) the questions raised here

‘how do you teach pupils who cannot read or write, e.g. science or history’

I’ve written a lot about my science teaching, so today I shall try and tell you about my ks4 history/humanities lessons. First up, I’m not an expert, second, it’s probably the lesson I enjoy least in my working week, in terms of content, even though it’s flexible.

Meet my class – E, working at p6, no letter formation, mostly echolalic responses, although with support we get there.
A – p7, decodes beautifully, not much comprehension of what has been read
L – p8, recognizes some words, identifies sounds but doesn’t blend. Good recall of content
M – p6, no reading, forms about 3 letters, recall not bad but medical complications make this erratic at times
R – p5, non verbal, no secure signing, always chooses second option
C – p5, occasional words, narcoleptic, no fine motor skills to speak of.

Topics we have studied this term include ‘celebrations – harvest, halloween, bonfire night, christmas’, ‘media – man on the moon’ and ‘inuit culture’.

How do you begin? For the majority of my class, recall is not helpful, so I (along with my TA) concentrate on experiences that match the topic, while providing the chance for those more able students to build on learning each week.

For the celebrations topic we were as hands on as possible. We made spiders in webs, witches hands, fireworks pictures, as well as using the interactive whiteboard to ‘carve’ pumpkins and set off fireworks. We read, each week, a short story on the reason for Bonfire night, and most of the class were able to share that it was because of ‘a bad man called Guy’.

Media. We watched, every week often two or three times, the video of Neil Armstrong walking on the moon for the first time. We asked the same questions each week. We made our own spacemen, complete with jet packs and US flags. We dressed up as spacemen and practiced how we thought it would be to walk on the moon.

Inuits. I found an amazing book called ‘mama, do you love me’ which I had scanned in so we could all see it on the whiteboard. We read it every week, encouraging A and L to read what they could, while E joined in the refrain. The pictures provide a lot to talk about and point to. We each made an Inuit in outdoor clothing, encouraging the verbal pupils to use new words (parka, mukluks). We held ice and thought about why they need warm clothes. We designed igloos from bubble wrap and polystyrene plates and put our Inuit in them. We are going to use stones to build an inuksuk, and plan to make model kayaks.

KODAK FUN SAVER Digital Camera KODAK FUN SAVER Digital Camera

I find it hard assessing my pupils. The verbal ones show progress with support. Careful questioning reveals that some knowledge and understanding has been gained. I struggle with my two non verbal pupils, but they show a desire to interact by completing the activity to the best of their ability, and can, at times, use symbols from ‘communicate in print’ to show their understanding.


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