This was a teacher training day and PE teacher A thought it may be a useful day for me to see what it’s like for teachers to teach things like phonics, and there was also going to be an emphasis on physical activities.
Literature and Phonics
The first session of the day was about teaching phonics to special needs children. A majority of this session was centered around useful resources for special needs teachers that were available for teaching phonics and reading etc. One particular resource was the Bug Club books and online activities. The Bug Club aims to help special needs students to understand phonics and learn how to read using picture books and comics. I was quite surprised to hear about comics being included, but I was told that some students will reach a certain age when they are not happy to read a picture book that appears as though it is aimed at children. However, special needs students i.e. teenagers who at that age who don’t think it’s appropriate to read picture books do not alway possess the level of reading required for a usual comic. So bodies like Bug Club aim to present stories as comics, so they can be appropriate for older audiences, but still have a lower level of reading so that the students can learn at a steady pace. This is something that appealed to me and my idea of story games, picture books for special needs audiences who can learn how to play physically demanding games and activities. A comic style could come in handy for older students when it comes to trying these ideas out. Famous characters and icons were also discussed, and about how they were being implemented in some books to be recognised and help influence student interest. This is a them that I have been integrating into my project, using superheroes like spiderman to create fun and innovative tasks for the students. I was pleased to see ideas like these had been known to work elsewhere in schools.
The session also covered the Bug Club website and how it uses online cartoons and games for the same purposes. Many special needs students enjoy and benefit greatly from the use of modern technology in the classroom, and Bug Club provided their resources in a visual and fun way on their site. The use of games and digital images on the web seemed like a brilliant idea because this is something students could access at any time and enjoy having their literary work come to life. This also influenced my ideas, making me think that perhaps one day my story games ideas could evolve into cd’s or dvd games were digital images, cartoons and useful demonstrations could be used to get students excited about physical activity at home as well as in schools. In theory the idea seemed potentially effective, but how would I muster finances for cd and dvd production?
The Special Olympics
The Special Olympics is the third official leg of the Olympic games; unlike their brothers, the Special Olympics is for a range of abilities rather than the top 5% performers in a field. The Special Olympics provides motivation for any person with special needs, giving a systematic structure that allows people to train hard before the main events, though it’s more like therapy as all tasks will make a change to a persons daily living skills. The Special Olympics will be held in Bath in August and will be using our school to help host the events and provide support.
The leaders of this session got us all working in groups after explaining how the Special Olympics works and provided us with fictional characters to see if we could get them to perform a physical task. The characters each had a profile, stating if they were paralyzed on one side or from the waist down, if they had any visual impairment, speech impairment, any preference to colours and so on. The physical tasks were generally simple, for example our character was to hit a ball off a stump with a racket. It was the differentiation and progression that we had to pay close attention to; if they didn’t like the task or if they were particularly good at that task how could they move on? Our group thought of placing visual markers for where the ball landed and encouraging the student to hit it further than the marker, or we thought of training his swing in different directions to see if that would help his control during a forehand swing. All these meticulous elements make the difference to a special needs person and to anyone who trains in physical activity. So practicing them today with the other teachers was a refreshing exercise for me.
Live life to the full.