How can we make our classrooms a more inclusive learning environment? (Are ‘tech tools’ the answer?)
Summary of Discussion:
The topic was one which was wide open with diverse issues of inclusion being discussed: from making things easier for left handed children to making your learning environment wheelchair accessible. Again, as has happened in previous weeks, relationships in class, staff training and parental involvement was highlighted as a key factor. The teacher must be properly informed of the child’s needs and the LSA supporting must have the necessary skills, otherwise inclusion is falling down at the first stage.
A number of points were additionally raised about working with pupils in ability based sets: was this a good thing or a bad thing? Votes fell on both sides, but all agreed that even within an ability setting there can be a number of differing needs and work would still need adapting and differentiating.
Although the discussion was passionate and fast paced there were a number of things that just made sense immediately. When talking about topics that engage the pupils it was suggested that certain topics often inspired and encouraged the less able children, especially those with ASD, to join in more without disrupting the balance of the class. This led to a quick listing of such topics and a general chat about other strategies for including pupils with ASD, with visual timetables and fidget toys high on the list.
Of course the second part of our topic was ‘Are tech tools the answer’ and there were some solid ideas for using technology to assist. Some suggestions were pure and simple: like changing the mouse settings on a PC. Many ideas were built upon the need for alternative ways to record using easily available software, like Audacity or PhotoStory but there were additional comments about how VLEs, Ipads and hand held learning devices could be utilised too – all very useful ideas.
Finally everyone agreed that expectations should be high for every child in the class: we all want them to develop independent skills and reach their full potential. After all, it’s our job to help them become the best that they can be.
Eye-Catching Tweets from the Session
@simonhaughton It’s important to balance promoting inclusion within a group whilst ensuring each child’s individual needs are met
@nellmog A huge amount of inclusion issues often stem from behaviour and emotional issues and building learning relationships are key
@daviderogers We should also keep expectations high for all and not allow anyone to hide behind ‘disadvantages’
@2simpleant (on using tech) It needn’t be cutting edge. You can do loads with a digital camera and a presentation tool
@tonycassidy: Never underestimate the power of a huge inflatable penguin – hug it, punch it…
@malcolmbellamy: desk moving does not cause a riot if it is part of the culture of the class and promotes the learning
@dailydenouement Being in secondary, I find I have to sometimes do ‘unobtrusive’ inclusion! Doodlepads etc mentioned earlier easy to slip to pupil
@dughall Relationships are essential in the inclusive classroom (student-student, adult-student)
@ebd35 Have been truly amazed at how engagement went thru ceiling using Itouches (in a carefully planned way)
@colport I am hoping to use Ipad to support ICT inclusion in the classroom next year. Various good apps available to support learning
Tweet of the Week
@tonycassidy Don’t lose your humour – a key to a challenging class and developing an inclusive environment
Useful Web Links highlighted:
Not a lot of discussion on webistes but @dughall reminded everyone about Dasher: http://www.archive.org/details/LeonCychDasherdasherqtmov_0, @knikidavies shared a link to a phonics site suitable for KS2: http://www.ks2phonics.org.uk/ and a couple of links were posted about engaging learners through gaming: http://www.readingagency.org.uk/adults/gaming-for-reading/ and http://www.l4l.co.uk/?p=1088
I am an ICT Leader/Co-ordinator at a large Welsh community school with over 700 pupils. I currently teach ICT to pupils from Year 1 to Year 6 and also work with and support a number of SEN settings within the school. I am interested in all aspects of technology and e-learning but have a particular passion for inclusion, multimedia work and stop motion animation.