I have spent some months now looking at Computing activities to do with learners with special needs, ahead of the new curriculum that comes into force in September. During the last couple of weeks I’ve finally managed to teach a few classes to try them out. Firstly I was really pleased to trial a lesson at Talbot Specialist School, here in Sheffield, with their ICT lead, Fraser Speechley. This helped to refine some ideas we’d had for teaching simple algorithms and control to KS3 students from around P4 to 8. A week later I taught 3 lessons at Stubbin Wood School in Derbyshire, in KS1 and 2, to pupils with a similar range of abilities, plus a couple working at NC level 1 or 2. Thanks to Hazel Renshaw and the class teachers for the opportunity. Here is a summary of two different lessons that I hope are useful to other teachers in Special Schools. The first one is aimed at lower ability (P4-7), and would last about 45 minutes, the second is better for P6-NC1/2 and may require an hour.
Lesson 1 – This is all about understanding that we can control technology in different ways.
- Introduction to lesson, looking at everyday objects that can be controlled, e.g. pedestrian crossing, TV remote, CD player.
- Remote control students – we practised a few actions all together, e.g. waving hands, touching nose, and then the students took it in turns to wear the special remote control hat (see image) and be controlled by another person pressing a Big Point button with image and audio of action on.
- This was followed with an activity on the board, built in Scratch, which involved the pupils tracing a route along the river for the fish to get to the lake. You can see the activity here. We then moved onto a slightly harder version with a fork in the river, one that leads you to the lake, another to a shark! You can see it here.
- We then used the remote-controlled bugs by TTS (any simple toy with controls will do) to extend their understanding of controlling an object. Ideally I’d have started this section with images of the controls on the board, and getting the students to move accordingly, but time was short and we just let them experiment for a few minutes, before setting simple tasks like drive the bug under the chair; don’t crash into another person etc. You can also set out a very basic course to manoeuvre through.
- We finished by looking at different pictures on the board of objects and asked the pupils to identify the ones you could control, and those you can’t.