The Sound of Music!

http://disabled-musicians.org/schools/

source url I am most unfortunately, tone deaf, but does this stop me from having a good sing a-long with my class every day? Never! Especially with the powers that are ‘youtube’.

There is plenty of evidence to support the fact that Music therapy is a very successful means of communication for children with SEND, and today I thought I’d share a bit of my research into it over this wet bank holiday 🙂

Music therapy helps pupils who find it difficult to communicate with the world around them. As music is non verbal, it allows learners to connect with the world around them using music. It allows the pupil to communicate in their own personal way. First of all, you are able to develop the listening skill, and the process of listening. Some pupils may like to take their time to respond to the sounds they hear, and some may respond to a quicker pace, but music is so adaptable; loud, quiet, slow and fast there is a sound for everyone. Watch your learners as they share a response with you, and over time, do they share the same response?  Can you then develop vocalisations and sound making? Intensive interaction can be developed with the use of the sounds initiated by the pupil, and developed into a turn taking activity. With a more able learner, might the song stimulate speech or signing?

Music may encourage social skills, which may link in nicely with any PSED targets you have for your pupils. Music can be a nice way to lead a whole class activity, where every pupil still benefits from it. Music is also an inclusive subject, so try mixing your sensory learners with higher functioning pupils in your school, and see how they respond to each other. Encourage social skills such as; turn taking, waiting, listening, eye contact (with other pupils, not just adults) and expression of feelings. All of these are so important to our learners, which means we can justify why our classrooms are filled with the sound of music!

I’m a big advocate for physical activity, and music is a fabulous way to get pupils moving and developing independent movements. Develop fine and gross motor skills with a variety of interactive play activities. These could be with just the exploration of the instruments, as you encourage learners to reach and grasp for the beater, or you could develop movements with interesting props that brings the piece to life. Encourage pupils to stand (with or without frames), or walk where possible to the beat and develop co-ordination. As ever, there will no doubt be a physical target that can get ticked off in this wonderful music session!

You may use music as part of your daily routine to help the pupils understand what is happening next, and within this you probably deliver most of the ideas and targets suggested above. You may introduce new songs to your curriculum topics, which then link Music too every subject on your timetable. With clever cross curricular links, you can use music to show pupil progress in Literacy, Cognition, MFL, PE, ICT (if you don’t know about it, google ‘soundbeam’) …. and it won’t stop there!

Music is just an amazing tool, and if you are lucky enough to have a musical staff member in your turn then use their strengths, and if not, you tube will never let you down! So this summer term, let’s get the tunes out, and give our pupils ample opportunities to develop their ever important skills 🙂 Enjoy! I know I will!

www.soundbeam.co.uk

 

 

 

 

 

Communication

Communication can be a massive barrier to sensory learners, and a big part of what we do is finding a method of communication that can help support the individual child. We want the sensory learner to understand what is going on around them, and the ultimate aspiration is to offer them a means to tell us how they are feeling and what they want. This is no easy feat.

Here are some communication strategies that might be helpful in your sensory classrooms. Pick one (or two) for certain pupils and link the strategy to their annual targets. This way you know you will practice the strategy every day and you can easily monitor, assess and show progress within the target.

  • TASSELS- http://www.communicationmatters.org.uk/conference-session/2014-tassels-tactile-signing-for-sensory-learners This is a form of on-body signing for your P1/2 pupils. Your school will require training as it is something everyone needs to do and use with each sensory learner. You only pick a few signs, for example in my classroom we tend to use; hello, move, hoist, wipe your face, drink/ food (if applicable). It’s a lovely way to consistently cue your learner into what is happening next. Over time might your learner show some slight anticipation to the cue.
  • Objects of reference (OOR)- http://www.communicationmatters.org.uk/page/using-objects-of-reference These objects, once decided upon by your whole school team, will be used with every child P1-3, to cue them into what is happening next, or to show them where they are going. As a team, think of what is important to your pupils, and ensure that every class have the exact OOR available to pupils using them. It is not effective practice to give them a stand in object if it is just going to confuse the child, so whole school consistency, is as always optimum. We tend to use OOR to help pupils understand where they are going from the classroom, so PE (quoit), swimming (arm band), home (seat belt). The pupils will be introduced to the object in the classroom, and be encouraged to hold it to the venue, where the adult will reintroduce it, linking it to the venue.
  • Switches/ High tech AAC- http://www.communicationmatters.org.uk/page/what-is-aac I have discussed switches before in my blogs (see ICT, Cognition blogs), as they are so versatile. We use the big mack switches to record simple phrases onto; e.g. ‘more please’, ‘hello’, or song words. We will encourage pupils to use the switch by pressing it to request more of what they like, or to finish a song. What you do with the switch will depend on what you want the child to learn. Switches are great for consolidating cause and effect. You press a switch, and you get something back. You can challenge pupils with double big mack switches, or “2 talkers”. Add photographs to two switches and ask pupils to press the switch which shows what they like. Switches can also be placed by elbows, feet and heads, so they can be accessible to children with limited hand/ arm movements.
  • Intensive Interaction- http://www.intensiveinteraction.co.uk/about/ Follow the link to find out more. Intensive Interaction is a beautiful activity completed in a 1:1 context. It allows you time to work on eye contact, responses, turn taking and really can bring out the best of your P1/2 level pupils. Your school should have training to ensure best practice.
  • PECS- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Picture_exchange_communication_system Again, follow the link to have it explained much better then what I could hehe! PECS is something to offer the more able sensory learner, so a P3 pupil who may be able to exchange a photograph for the actual object. Again, schools may require a key person to be trained in PECS to offer correct guidance.
  • Makaton- Surely you have all heard of the magic of Mr. Tumble 😉 Makaton reinforces language rather than replaces it. Makaton is useful to work alongside symbols to develop understanding of language. It can be a successful method of communication for your more able pupils. As for all these methods, courses are available so your whole school can be consistent in the usage of signing.

As ever, please share effective communication strategies that you may use with your sensory learners and enjoy J

ICT in the Sensory Classroom.

I am in awe of technology at the moment as we can do so much (as long as we know how haha!), but at times simplicity is the key. I often wonder if sometimes we can be too technological and too focused on the WOW factor. We have to remember that sensory pupils are learning how to be reactive on their environment and need suitable opportunities to have an impact on the world around them. Sensory pupils may also prefer to take in one colour/ visual/ sound effect at a time, so they can learn to understand what has happened. Put the needs and interests of your pupils first and create individualised technology sessions that really cater for the individual.

So here are some simple ways to bring ICT into every sensory lesson you deliver, that require very little technical skills as I’m stuck in the 90’s 😉

  • The Interactive whiteboard (IWB)- I tend to use ours to share videos from you tube that relate to our topic, e.g. this term we are following STOMP (the use of household items to create rhythms) and in this context, I would use it for a whole class session, because, let’s face it, sometimes a group music session is FUN!
  • The interactive whiteboard- We can tilt ours/ change the height of it, and this really makes it a useful teacher tool as any child can then access it at their level. Once you find the perfect angle, pupils working at a P1/2 will enjoy tracking activities. I use this program a lot-http://www.northerngrid.org/senswitcher/ . You can change the colour and the images. You can change the setting from experience to cause and effect, so pupils can press the screen to make the shapes move. It’s a really useful resource, as a teacher led activity, or as continuous provision.
  • The Interactive whiteboard- 2 Simple software- Have you seen this software http://www.2simple.com/ ? We use 2 Paint to encourage pupils to make marks on the whiteboard. This reinforces cause and effect, and will tick off any mark making objectives for your pupils. While we are on 2 simple software, check out the music programs as they can bring ICT into your creativity/ music sessions.
  • Floating switches- thanks to the invention of wireless switches (http://www.inclusive.co.uk/helpkidzlearn-easyswitch-p6315 and adapted plug in switches( http://www.inclusive.co.uk/inclusive-kidtrac-p2408 ) you can make your IWB accessible to those pupils with limited arm movements. They press the floating switch in a position that is accessible to them, and see the effects on screen. The wireless switches are amazing as because you don’t have to worry about stretching the wire too far, you can place the switch by their head/ food/ elbow, wherever you know the child can be most independent.
  • The Powerlink http://www.inclusive.co.uk/powerlink-4-uk-p2575 – I just love this!! It’s so simple, yet makes sure every lesson can be related to ICT/ communication (cause and effect). You can plug almost any electrical item into it, add your pupil’s preferred switch and the pupil can turn on the electrical item, finding out about the world and learning about their effects on the environment. The settings can be changed from either a direct on/ off control, to a timed on/ off or a latched setting. I quite often use the fan/ lights (in the dark den/ sensory room)/ massager/ foot spa, as these have a strong effect. I like to see if my P2 pupils can press the switch with greater independence and begin to show anticipation of what is happening.
  • The eye gaze http://www.inclusive.co.uk/articles/eye-gaze-say-it-with-your-eyes-a490 – this totally blew my mind when I was first introduced to it 4 years ago. The pupils can control the screen with their eyes!!! The Speech and Language therapy team linked to your school should recommend this for specific pupils. The programmes that we use in class develop pupils understanding of cause and effect, control, anticipation and encourage independence with those how have limited movements. This therefore links to both communication and cognition targets in your classroom.
  • The ipad- Has so many options. The two main features I use it for are the apps and the camera. Get your ICT co-ordinator on task in finding lovely cause and effect apps. We like the piano/ xylophone, as the pupils can move their fingers across the screen to make sounds. It is handy if you need to work with another pupil in your group. Ipads are so accessible as you can hold them in the preferred position for your pupil to watch visual movements/ listen to sounds. You can move the ipad, to see if they will track and follow light or sound. They are also small enough to take into the dark den with you! As we like to be on trend in class, who doesn’t enjoy a selfie, or watch themselves back on video to celebrate recorded successes!

As ever, enjoy and please share your easy ICT tips J