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.