Special Education Expo July 2013

Yesterday I presented at the  Special Education Expo, which was organised by
SERU. As usual there were some great workshops at the Expo. My session was called ‘Bringing the Australian Curriculum to Life in my Classroom.’ Some people who attended the session requested copies of my  and the planning proformas that I talked about. I have attached them here ( Room 8 AC planning proforma term 2 completed draft,  AC planning proformaa[2] draft,  AC planning proforma A4 horizontal)but making the powerpoint (Bringing the AC to life July 10 final for blog )into a ‘Show’ so no one can fiddle with it means that you can’t see my notes. So, trying to condense 90 minutes into a quick blog post:

My class at Adelaide West Special Education Centre  has 7 students in it – these are not their real names! Of the seven:

  • All have complex communication needs. Only one is to any extent verbal and her vocabulary is roughly equivalent to an 18m-2y old
  • 3 have a diagnosis of autism and additional disabilities
  • 2 have learned to walk in the last two years but need ongoing input around their physical development. 1 is unable to weight bear independently and is supported in sitting and walking using equipment
  • All students have Negotiated Education Plans (NEPs)  which include at least one communication goal. Additional goals around developing physical skills and academic skills are individualised. All NEPs are discussed with parents who know that their children are not working to the age level achievement standards of the Australian curriculum

Because all the students at Adelaide West  are not working to age appropriate achievement standards within the Learning areas of the Australian Curriculum, we use the General Capabilities as a significant part of our planning. The students NEP goals sit within four General Capabilities – Literacy, Numeracy, Personal and Social and ICT. As illustrated in the slide called The Students, all of them have literacy skills on the Australian curriculum literacy continuum between 1a and 1d and are working towards 1a in Numeracy. As the extended Personal and Social Capability has not yet been published, our learners are working towards the Foundation level skills in this area – which is extremely important to all students but particularly so for students with disabilities.

The session was designed to illustrate the planning process that I used for a term 2 unit of work on ‘Houses and Homes.’All classes at Adelaide West are implementing the ‘Four Blocks to Literacy’ as I discussed in a previous post so texts for Guided reading were chosen to reflect the topic and lead into Learning Area lessons. The ten texts for the term are listed with Science and History activities are listed on slides 18 and 19.

I began with the Learning Design Model as developed by Teaching and Learning Services at DECD.  This comprises 6 questions intended to lead to in-depth thinking about curriculum planning. The questions do not necessarily have to be considered in a linear fashion so I thought about them in this order: ‘What do they bring?’ ‘What might the intended learning look like?’ ‘How might I assess their learning?’ and ‘How do I engage, challenge and support the learners?’ Then I looked at the Australian Curriculum Scope and Sequences for History and Science. This answered the first question: ‘What is the intended learning?’ and I moved on to designing the learning plan.

Because all of the students’ learning goals are based in the General Capabilities, I devised a planning proforma which incorporates each learning area under the umbrella headings of the four Capabilities. A completed proforma for the Houses and Homes unit is attached as is a blank proforma that you are welcome to use if you find it useful.

Because Reconciliation week and the lead up to NAIDOC week all fell in this term, there was a big focus from week 5 on around the importance of place for people of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander origin. We are fortunate to have a relationship with students from Ocean View College who prepared a Reconciliation week activity to carry out with our students as part of this.

The section of the presentation that talks about what happened in the classroom has lost a lot of its impact without pictures of the students. Generally I had planned rather too much for the available time! (But I find I always do that!)  I found that much of the work around using photographs needs further development for this group of students. However, work around the books, You and Me: Our Place by Leonie Norrington and   led to some good learning. We took lots of pictures of ‘Our Place: Adelaide West’ and related this to the place in the book. After moving on to Bronwyn Bancroft’s book ‘Why I love Australia we went to the beach (which is very close to the school) and this too led to some good opportunities for writing for our students.

This is a very short version of my session – if you have any comments or need any more information from me please don’t hesitate to get in touch.