Tuesday, February 19, 2008


This is just a simple one, the right kit for kids.
When I was teaching (of course I still teach!, I mean when I had a class), we were often issued with some extra tools to aid children who had particular needs, for example one girl needed a raised slope to aid her writing as she had very poor sight. I also remember how learning just a little PECS enabled me to help one child write ( picture clued word by piture clued word, rather than letter by letter) simple meaningful sentences.

Fast forward to today to our laptopped classrooms and our plush computer suites, and its here that some times we leave access back in the classroom, alongside the large pile of coloured in worksheets.

In some lessons, all children are using the same equipment and the same software and ultimately it is expected that they should all create (and print out!) the same sort of thing. But how could the child who can't see the keys type a sentence or the child who can barely control the mouse drag and drop. Or how could the child who has great difficulty communicating type out their story key stroke by key stroke.

Sometimes it just takes the implimentation of a simple access tool to remove barriers to learning. For me recently its been giving a child a Big Keys and to another a trackerball. These are not revloutionary or overly costly, but they are necessary for the children concerned to help them access the ICT lesson. .In the same way I was given a bag of plastic pencil grips a few years ago to help a child in my Y3 class, who had poor motor control. A Big Keys is just a big pencil grip.

A further tool and on the software side of things, there is Clicker, an extremely versatile and yet underused resource, perhaps because the learning curve is slightly steep. This lets the child communicate anything from simple phrases to complex stories, through the aid of fixed or pop up text grids, acting as liberating e-word banks. Use of this software promotes independance, builds self esteem and can allow children to communicate far more than they would if they had to push key after key to construct words.

I'd like to think this adapting of our resources was something we'd have got sorted in 2008, thought it seems we have a long way still to go! My challenge to schools, teachers and myself is this, when I am planning or delivering an ICT lesson involving computers;
  • Can all my children access the task?

  • Is the hardware appropriate for all involved?

  • Do they all need to be using the same software?

And I am sure there are other questions to ask about this issue, and I am conscious that I have focussed on the SEN side of the Inclusion question, without even thinking about those children who are bored in ICT because the task is too easy!

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