Blog Archives

Innovative Learning using Technology in a Sensory Way

Recently I was asked to run an INSET workshop on the use of technology to promote engagement and create opportunities for learners with complex learning difficulties and disabilities (CLDD). The focus of the presentation was to look how technology can enable students to have a positive impact on their learning, the reasons for using technology, tools that are available and assessment systems that could be used.

Big thanks to Ian Bean(@SENICT) and Anthony Rhys (@trinityfieldsit) as they have some great resources that are shared freely and have added links to their sites below – these were really appreciated by those who attended.  Also the link to the Youtube video in  the Prezi is from Anthony’s school Trinity Fields who are a real leader in using gesture based technology with their students and this impact has led them to be awarded the 3rd Millennium Award from Naace – certainly a school that we use as a benchmark for what we do.

Below is the link to the Prezi and links to the documents that I shared with colleagues:

Link to Prezi

Useful Links

Switch Progression Roadmap – via Ian Bean’s site

Link to PDF on using a Timer to limit students time on iPads via Ian Bean

IpadSEN – Wiki run by Anthony Rhys


Review of the year – where has it gone!!

What a year this has been in terms of my professional development and my discovery of using Twitter as a form of CPD, discovering new and exciting ideas and pedagogies, which I have used in my teaching throughout the year.

It began around October time, when a colleague of mine suggested to follow @SENICT (Ian Bean) as he was coming to our school to run some training. The idea was that we could ask him some questions before he arrived so that the training was suited to our needs. Before this, I had done what many people do and sign up to Twitter to follow celebrities (yes, I did follow Stephan Fry). I did not understand Twitter and what purpose it had in terms of myself developing as a teacher. After following Ian I started to follow people who were similar and wrote a few things about what I was doing in my class. This is when things started to snowball and soon I was immersed in picking up new ideas and chatting to like minded people. I joined #ukedchat on a regular basis and soon found some excellent blog posts to follow and read.

I really liked the idea of blogging and especially after seeing the effect of Quadblogging (fantastic idea created by @deputymitchell) was having with schools around the world, I wanted to try it with my class. I currently teach a mixed ability 16-19 SLD / MLD class who range from a P8 to a level 3 in Maths and English. I found the impact immediate and they were engaged in wanting to write down what they were thinking and share this with whoever would listen. They needed support in creating their blog posts but they seemed enthralled by idea that anyone from around the world could read their posts.

From seeing my class have their own blog, I decided to take the step and create my own blog. This was mainly to reflect on what I was doing but also share my passion for using technology to create an inclusive environment for the students I work with. I have enjoyed the process of creating blog posts and sharing my experiences with others. This has led to many different collaborations inducing the use of iPads and the Kinect in SEN. (I would recommend following @trinityfieldsit and @littleangelssch as they are leading the way for using the Kinect in SEN)

Over the year, through the use of Twitter and my own desire to refine my practice I have picked up loads of great ideas and theories which I hope to continue to use now and in the future. I particularly like the idea of SOLO taxonomy and will be working on ways to enable the students I work with to understand this so that they move forward in their understanding of how to progress.

I have been fortunate enough this year to move on with my career and I am not stating that Twitter and blogging have been essential in me doing this, but I feel that without the use of these two tools I would not be in the position I find myself today. I feel through the use of these I have been able to reflect, refine and develop my practice as a teacher which has enabled me to continue in my professional development and meet my aspirations of moving up in my career.


iPad and Networking day – #ipadbridge – review of presentations – Part 1

A really insightful day looking at how professionals and schools working with SEN have implemented the iPad as a tool to support teaching and learning, in addition to breaking down some of barriers to learning that are in place for many of these learners. The theme from all of the delegates was that the iPad was not the answer to all problems, however it was a tool with so many uses and enables students with SEN to lead the learning.

This post is part one of the two where I will give an overview of some of the presentations that occurred in the morning. The second part will look at the other presentations and the discussions that took place in the afternoon.

John Roberts @johnmroberts – Presentation about how the iPad has helped develop his sons fine motor skills and his communication.

John gave an excellent presentation from the view of a parent and how the iPad has helped his son to develop his fine motor and communication skills. Through the use of apps like Peppa Pig and Talk 4 Me, his son is able to work on these skills and has helped him engage with others. Of particular note was that his son will now ask for the iPad when he wants to use it, whereas he would not communicate his needs verbally previously. Also he talked about how YouTube was a great motivator for his son to complete his work. More interesting though, was through the use of YouTube, they were discovering that he was able to follow threads to find things that interest him just by accessing videos and following similar links.

A really inspiring presentation to begin the day and it was great to see how the iPad had opened up the world of learning for his son.

Sean McDonald @seanfmcdonald – Richard Cloudesley School – iPads and Communication

Presentation about some of the apps that they have used in his school, with a particular focus on communication. Have added link to the App Store for each app:

Tap Speak Choice – allows scanning with a Bluetooth switch, PCS Symbols and you can add your own communication book.

Tap Speak Sequence – can store multiple conversations, Bluetooth switch and Airplay compatible.

Tap Speak Button – works like a big mac on the iPad!!!

Predictable – predictive text for those who use AAC devices. Allows switch access and the ability to update Facebook and Twitter accounts.

Gridplayer – Communication boards which use Widget symbols, comes with three complete grid sets. Sentences are spoken in English. Grids can be customised with PC software The Grid 2.

Proloquo2go – Another AAC app. Use of iPod touches to help communication in group settings. Showed an example of this, with a video where students were able to respond to group discussions with the use of iPods connected to external speakers. Excellent example of how the use of technology is helping students communicate and collaborate.

Diviya Garg – Willow Dene School – iPad ideas

Using the schools VLE/website to communicate with staff and parents about the apps they use in school, so that parents can continue learning at home. VLE also included booking section for staff to book out the class set of iPads. Well thought out use of VLE to share experiences of students using the iPad.

Bea Moreno – DownsView School – iPads and communication

Excellent presentation about the need to assess students on the suitability of the iPad as a communication tool. Key point was to ensure that clear aims were in place for using the iPad as a communication tool instead of other AAC devices. Communication app that was used was the Grace app which is a non-speaking, picture exchange app to help students communicate their needs independently.

Flo Longhorn – Sensory apps

Presentation about how the iPad can be used by all learners with the focus on accessibility. Flo demonstrated that the iPad is a device that can be used with your finger, hand, nose, tongue, well pretty much anything!!! Also championed its mobility by suggesting it can be used anywhere floor, table etc. I really liked the video of the student, who used a shoulder sling to enable them to use the iPad to play the harp – excellent example of how the iPad can be accessed by all. Flo also gave some examples of apps that she had used with learners:

Milk the Cow – very sensory and does what it says.

Brushes – great for drawing

Peekaboo Barn – students have to guess the animal from the sound and open the barn doors to see if they are right.

I will endeavour to write the second part of this post within the next week where I will cover the rest of the presentations and the discussions that took place in the afternoon. For the meanwhile have a think about ’What makes an Outstanding iPad?’………

The second part is now available click the link here iPad and Networking Part 2

PuppetPals HD – Aesop’s Fables

I was first shown this app at a training day and really liked the simplistic interface for recording your own shows. I was looking forward to using this app with my students to allow them to create their own movies. I chose the theme of Aesop’s Fables and the lesson was planned so that everything that they needed to do they would do on the iPad. The reason I chose a theme rather than letting the students come up with their own creations was that some of my ASC students struggle with creativity and I wanted a level playing field for all students to participate in the activity.

They first had to choose an Aesop Fables that they were going to recreate. These were available on iTunes U for free which allowed them to listen the story and note down the key points. Next they created a mind map using the app ‘Popplet’ and noted down what characters, settings and scenes they needed for their movie. Once this had been done the students got searching on the internet for the various images they would need.

20120227-115139.jpg   20120227-115145.jpg

Now onto Puppetpals. When you first start a new show you need to select the actors. Puppetpals comes preloaded with various actors and backgrounds but would recommend purchasing the ‘Directors Pass’ which allows you to download more themes. The students found importing the images really easy as they had saved them to the camera roll. Puppetpals allows you to import pictures from the camera library or take a photo using the iPad’s camera. If you want more high res images, some students used the digital camera then transferred them using the camera connection kit (more on that in a later post). Once they had selected the images, Puppetpals allows you to draw round a particular part of the picture to cut out the background allowing you to create your actors. So once all the actors had been imported and selected the next step was for them to choose their backgrounds. Again the students imported pictures from the camera role and resized the images to make their backgrounds. Once the backgrounds had been selected it was onto filming.

20120227-115200.jpg    20120227-115205.jpg

20120227-115211.jpg    20120227-115215.jpg

With Puppetpals, when you press the record button everything you do on screen is recorded as well as any sounds made. The students soon learned that they had to be quiet during the recording process as any background noise would be included. What really struck me about Puppetpals, was how quickly students with Severe to Moderate Learning Difficulties pick up the controls as if it was second nature. Some students struggled with the pinch-to-zoom motion, to increase/decrease the size of the characters, due to their physical limitations, but overall they were able to quickly film their scenes using the friendly and intuitive interface. What was also nice to see was the students discussing amongst themselves the different roles they would undertake and making decisions collaboratively as a group. Once each scene was made they saved them and then exported them into iMovie to make the final edits. The students enjoyed making these videos and were excited to share them with each other.

To conclude, I found using Puppetpals in the lesson as an excellent and simple tool to help students create their own movies. The interface is very simple to use and all students were able to participate in the activity. Below are their finished movies, enjoy!!

%d bloggers like this: