Over the last academic year in the Sixth Form we have been experimenting and exploring with the use of half termly enrichment days to supplement the daily curriculum.
These enrichment days provide numerous opportunities for students with the main aims being;
- to encourage students to work outside of their daily comfort zone
- to encourage students to work across different environments and locations with different staff and volunteers to generalise communication skills
- to provide dedicated opportunity to learn important life skills that are not fully covered by the everyday curriculum
- to engage in new experiences and activities
- to build community and collaborative working between students, staff and the community
Each day has a focussed theme where students have time to fully immerse themselves in the topic and explore it in different ways. We have found this to be a very positive way of delivering focussed teaching and experiences. Students are keen to engage, they enjoy the collapsed timetable and opportunity to work with other classes across the key stage. They have proved a very positive way of building good working relationships between staff and students.
Themes covered or due to be covered include first aid, performing arts, keeping safe, sports, employability skills, healthy lifestyles, navigation & travel, problem solving & team building,
world culture, animal care & music.
The use of video modelling and augmented reality apps is currently forming part of the support we are putting in place in our Speech and Language work and development of life skills and working with independence. Currently this is mainly being explored as a way of supporting our SLD pupils in Sixth Form with helping the development of their working memory for everyday domestic and clerical tasks – working towards independent or supported living and employability.
We are looking to exploit the video modelling as a crucial tool for two main reasons. Firstly to tap into the required visual learning style of many of our learners – especially those with Down Syndrome and ASD and secondly to enable these learners to access help and support independently and therefore develop their overall practical independence as well as their independent learning and thinking skills.
If we can enable our learners to access the support they need, when they need it and in a way that they need it then we can help them achieve their full potential and best prepare them for life beyond school.
Aurasma is the iPad app we are using to put this video modelling support in place and make it accessible to the learner as and when they need it. Each task to be learnt is recorded in a video as a step-by-step process. The video is then uploaded and linked to a trigger image. The trigger image can be placed as part of a schedule or in the environment and context where the process takes place. When the learner comes to complete the task they can access the video demonstration by opening the app on a mobile device, holding the camera on the device up to the trigger image and then upon recognition of the trigger image the video demonstration plays to give a visual reminder of the task to be completed.
Leaners can access these visuals without staff support, as and when required to remind them of how to complete the task properly. The repetition in watching the video prior to completing the task is also helpful in enabling the learning to commit to the long-term memory and improving the recall of the process in future.
COMMUNICATION IN SIXTH FORM
Working alongside colleagues in primary, we are supporting some of our students with speech and language to help develop the clarity and functionality of their communication – with a specific focus of functioning within the vocational environments in year 14 or the work experience settings we are developing.
Specifically this is a combination of strategies based on the learners needs working in combination
to develop clarity of speech, building of contextually relevant phrases and vocabulary and visual support to enable the development of comprehension in their vocational and work setting.
THE STRATEGIES AND HOW WE ARE WORKING THEM TOGTHER
The Cued Articulation programme is used to help develop the clarity of learner’s speech and enable them to practice and manipulate their mouth movements to verbally communicate. This is delivered in dedicated daily one 2 one sessions and in lessons or the work place to help them recall and remember how to make the speech sounds they need to communicate. It is the daily repetition of practicing speech sounds that is proving to have a positive impact on speech and also the learner’s confidence and desire to speak.
The sound work is then built upon by learning contextually relevant phrases and vocabulary that students may need to access at work, home, school, college and in the community. We are exploring different ways of doing this through iPad apps, sentence strips, video modelling, sound, and vocabulary and topic books.
The topic book and vocabulary books are being used in multiple different ways to support the learners. They give a focus for practicing the range of speech sounds in 121 sessions, they develop reading skills and recognition of letters, they enable the building of vocabulary that learners can apply in different settings and they are also a very useful tool in developing comprehension of verbal communication by providing a visual support and prompt for the learner to help access their working memory.