Do you teach pupils who can’t read as well as they should? Do they skip words or lines when reading? Or struggle to read long words? Do they struggle to copy off the board? Do they need to run a finger or ruler under their place when reading? Or lay their head on their arm, to cover up one eye, when reading or writing? Do they have difficulty catching a ball? All of these problems can be symptoms of convergence problems.
What is excellence and how do we achieve it? How can we take the secretarial out of excellence? You may have heard of Ron Berger and Austin’s Butterflies, showing the stages a boy goes through to create an excellent drawing of a butterfly. It’s an uplifting clip, reminding us how we need to teach our students the drafting process in the pursuit of excellence.
Over the years I’ve taught and supported quite a number of pupils with Autism Spectrum Condition (ASC). I found frequently that a very easy tool to use to aid the development of social skills is social stories. They are a strength-based teaching strategy that helps to develop greater social understanding by providing a visualised plan of a chain of events or situation. The plan or time-frame can be in the form of pictures, sketches, stick figures, comic strips, simple text or photographs. Social stories were created by Carol Gray in 1991 “to help teach social skills to people with autism. They are short pictorial descriptions of a particular situation, event or activity, which include specific information about what to expect in that situation and why.” (The National Autism Society)
Cycling has long been a passion of many staff at Ravenscliffe, a secondary special school in Calderdale that educates children with complex, severe or moderate learning difficulties, autistic spectrum disorder, and physical disabilities.
Unfortunately, a lack of local facilities had meant that there was little chance of the school's pupils developing a similar passion - or even getting the opportunity to cycle at all.
In 2004, a group of staff members decided to do something about this.
That year, as part of a Comic Relief “Cycling Fun Day”, Ravenscliffe had been visited by Wheels For All, a national charity that aims to introduce people with all types of disability to cycling. Our pupils enjoyed the day so much that we were inspired to investigate ways of providing cycling at the school on a more permanent basis.