Cwmbwrla Primary School has a roll of 260 children including 28 children based in 3 Specialist Teaching Facilities classes organised on the basis of age. There is a Foundation Phase class, a Lower Key Stage Two class with children from year’s three and four and an Upper Key Stage Two class made up of children from year’s five and six.
The children within these units have Speech and Language or other communication problems. However, these difficulties can often be linked with other needs in the majority of cases of the children in the STF’s.
The school as a whole has a strong inclusive ethos to accessing the curriculum for all additional learning needs. This is especially apparent in the STF classes where the teachers recognise the need to still follow the requirements of the national curriculum in this setting but acknowledge that doing so can take more time than in mainstream settings.
Mrs. Gabb, class teacher in the Upper Keystage Two STF class wanted to improve the children’s ability to work independently while developing their thinking skills in class. She decided that with the children in the class enjoying using ICT and being well motivated by it that she would set a project for the children to plan, develop and later reflect on in line with the Thinking Skills element of the Skills Framework.
Mrs. Gabb hoped that the project would have other benefits to the children including improved co-operation skills, improved oral skills from both presenting their information and supporting peers with their work and raised self esteem levels within the class.
It was envisaged that this project would take place over an eight week period and would involve time spent in class to plan the work as well as using the timetabled slots for the class in the computer suite.
Mrs. Gabb built on the skills acquired previously from the previous lower junior STF’s class teachers work in using presentation packages in ICT and developed these transferrable skills by introducing the children to Microsoft Powerpoint.
The children were set the problem of creating a slide show to share information with the class about their likes. The class discussed their likes and came up with ideas about the type of information that could be shared on the slides.
The children used an internet image bank to find and save images on objects or topics that they liked to prepare a presentation about their own likes as individuals. The children were supported in this activity by Learning Support Assistants and the class teacher if it was required though many of the children within the class were confident navigating the network drives in the school.
The children then imported the images into a template set up by the class teacher in Powerpoint and entered their own text into the slides again supported where necessary to facilitate the language skills needed.
Further ICT skills were demonstrated using the Interactive Whiteboard in the timetabled computer suite such as the addition of animations, importing of sound clips through sound banks and slide transition. The children added these to make their presentations interesting and attention catching for the audience.
The children presented their slide shows in a presentation to the class in which they explained what their likes were and why to their peers which was supported by the presentation on the screen. The children gave informal feedback to each other following the presentations regarding what they liked about the slide show.
Mrs. Gabb through her assessments has noted an improvement in a number of areas for the children in her class. She feels that the children have improved in both their written and oral communication work along with their co-operation skills. This has been thanks to the co-operative elements in which the children helped each other with their ICT skills or language difficulties as non-readers were positioned on a machine next to children with better language skills.
The children found it to be very motivating and enjoyable and that it gave those who did not have access to technology at home the chance to use it more freely and for those who had access to computers and related technologies at home a chance to apply it in a more focused way.
Mrs. Gabb was particularly pleased with the learners developing abilities to take ownership of their learning and make key decisions for their presentation both in terms of the images that were used, the layout of text and the inclusion of animation and sounds.
Mrs. Gabb now aims to give the children another context to develop their ICT and other key skills in later on in the academic year.