Sunday, 31 May 2009

Sensory in a box and out in the garden

I'm starting small and thinking ahead to the winter days when sensory experiences must be found in the classroom: a box of smells available from Dale Air. You can read about how one teacher used these in SMD Teacher Blog.

A similar type of product that sometimes turns up at charity shops and car boot is Les Lotto des odeurs
Its a smelling game you can find it new at WINSLOW and is called Follow your Nose (thanks to Becca for this information)

Thinking big and looking out into the glorious sunshine:A sensory garden.
Resike has a wonderful animated breakdown of their Sensory garden which they sell.The animated plan has photos and plant names with sections for touch, taste, smell, sound and sight. I have also written about sensory gardens in my blog entry Gardening

Work Experience

This 3 minute film from the Community Channel follows the work experience of a young man with a learning disability .

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Reward for Excellence in IT.

St Anne's Community Services
an organisation that works for adults with a learning disability has won
a Guardian award : Rewarding Excellence in Public Sector IT
for their project ICT for people with learning disabilities .There are no details of their work but I'm sure there will be more to follow.

One of my favourite Education Technology sites gained the HIGHLY RECOMMENDED slot:
JISC Regional Support Centre Scotland North and East, for AccessApps.
AccessApps consists of a range of free applications which can be use from a USB flash drive.These programs will run without the need to install them onto a computer and offer a range of solutions to support writing, reading and planning as well as visual and mobility difficulties.They are not specifically for adults with a learning disability but I believe they are working on some specific applications for this group.

Making computers easier to use.

I've tried to make the computers easier to use for my students with a learning disability.
I have :
Increased cursor size into a big arrow
Reduced the speed the cursor moves across the screen.
Reduced speed of double click
Made highlighting easier i.e. one click then move mouse, rather than click ,hold down and drag.
Avoided repeated keyboard strokes sssss....
Increased the screen size so that icons are easier to see.
The BBC website Accessibility section has very good information for
on how to do all of these.
For a student guide to making computers easier to read visit :
Newham Easy Read website .
This link takes you directly to the Mothership How to page . Then look in the Hints and Tips section.
If you use a college network and you want to change the settings make sure you
ask for Roaming Profiles (you may have these already) so that the settings stay after the student logs off.

Friday, 22 May 2009

We all need friends.

I have a group of young students age18 -25 with learning difficulties working at M7 to E1. We have started to explore friendship.
We used the DVD Listen to Us.(
See blog entry for details) which has on it a very good short film called
We all need friends .
The students also individually viewed the shortened You Tube version of We all need friends on the PSP.

We also used You Tube to listen and watch some songs about friendship:

Toy story You've got a friend in me

Any time you need a friend cartoon (Mushu and Mulan)

Her are some links to lyrics:
You've got a friend in me lyrics
Any time you need a friend lyrics

I was a bit disappointed in the quality of discussion about friendship that came from watching the songs however they did provide another method of getting the students to think about friendship and what that entails. It was interesting to hear from the students that friends included the taxi driver and other friendly adults hardly known to them.
We've made a good start on the theme . Today, one week later during our class meal we were talking about how well we had helped each other and how nice it was to all sit down to eat our lunch together when one of the students remarked "Yes we all need friends!"

Thursday, 21 May 2009

Learning about Relationships

The Love Show is a really fun and informative show for adults with a learning disability .Its about making relationships with the opposite sex.

The story shows the life journey of "Mark" as he makes his way through school years and on to adult life, exploring love, sex and relationships.

The show explores the idea that falling in love,having a boyfriend or girlfriend is not like you see on the TV or the films and in fact it is not that easy! Its packed with songs and humour pulled together with narration that makes it clear and easy to follow for everyone.

The Love Show is the latest inclusive production developed by Outreach 3 Way, and builds on their long history of supporting people with a learning disabilities to get involved in the performing arts.

Sunday, 17 May 2009

Understanding Asperger Syndrome

Watch this useful 15 minute video about Asperger syndrome from Teachers TV .

Teamwork Switches and the Internet

Jim Thomson is a lecturer in Music and IT in the Support for Learning section at Reid Kerr College.
Team Work Accessing the Internet shows a group of students with learning difficulties working as a team.They are using switch controls to access the Internet. You can read more about Jim's work in the summer bulletin of E learning Accessibility and Inclusion see my blog entry

Saturday, 16 May 2009

Accessible News

I have been using Sqworl to explore the news with my students with learning difficulties M7-E1. It allows me to create a series of picture links to news stories. See my blog entry In the News.
The new accessible newsreader from the BBC should cut out some preparation time .

It provides one click access to news stories which are in text and are spoken . You can read a review about this on the
one switch blog and look at their list of news resources In my quest to keep the students informed I have also been using newspapers. We have been learning to
  • Identify the name of the newspaper
  • Understand the meaning of newspaper related words: headline, newspaper, article, broadsheet, red top and local newspaper
  • Develop skills that help us read the newspaper and find articles of interest.
We have done this by:
  • Cutting out a headlines, the newspaper name and adding key words to an information sheet.
  • Finding one picture that we like and explaining why.
  • Finding the weather forecast .
  • Turning the newspaper pages one at a time. Some tried The Guardian without leaning on the desk!

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Blogging Birthday

My blog is one year old today.

ImageChef Word Mosaic -

Saturday, 9 May 2009

eLearning Accessibility & Inclusion

The summer edition of eLearning Accessibility & Inclusion is now available to download. It is full of interesting and helpful articles about using accessible technology for learning. I recommend the article by Jim Thomson a lecturer in Music and IT in the Support for Learning section at Reid Kerr College.He writes about how he uses technology with students who have complex needs.There are also articles on preparing documents to be read by a screen reader,making moodle easier to access, information on how to change text to an MP3 format,details of an Access Apps application for students with complex needs and much more.

Thursday, 7 May 2009

Just Pictures

Sometimes pictures are just what we need to get us talking:
The wordless universal phrase book from icoon

Wednesday, 6 May 2009


The final batch of Glastonbury tickets is now on sale . Its a term time event so I've never managed to go but I enjoy watching it on TV and hearing the stories from my kids when they return.
BBC Ouch blog is also thinking about summer festivals.
There is a reminder that Heavy Load are playing at Glastonbury and that the festival will feature a stage in the Shangri La field for disable
d performers.
Also at Glastonbury will be students from the Organic cafe at City and Islington College who work with Greenpeace at the festival every year.

Monday, 4 May 2009


Our garden is an outside classroom. A place of experiences to look, touch, smell and enjoy fresh air, warm breezes and the occasional sharp shower. It is a place for getting hands dirty, and the satisfaction of planting a tiny seed and seeing it grow to a wonderful plant.
We use it to give vocational experience,for enrichment and to deliver Edexcel units such as Producing a Product ,Working Together ,Health and Safety.

A college garden is not an easy place to manage.
The initial costs for an accessible garden can be high The paths must reach high standards so that everyone can access it and providing these is expensive . As the garden develops greenhouses and sheds are built and surrounded by fences with expensive locks

The most important thing is that someone e.g. a lecturer has to take overall charge of the provision, preferably with some remission in teaching hours for this job. Like a workshop or a catering kitchen the garden will need technician support. Not every job can be done by the student. The garden must be nurtured through the summer holidays and coldest months of winter.
A budget for the garden is a must. The lawn mower needs maintaining and plants/seeds purchased.Of course there is always the chance that as soon as you have it up and running your Senior Management team will take it away for a new building!

Places to look for ideas for your garden:

Sensory Garden from Sensory Uk ltd has lists of plants for the senses and a good definition of a sensory garden.

The Butterfly garden An independent organisation working with schools and adults with learning disabilities. The site has lots of pictures on their project which should inspire you Including:

Tarmac paths

A portable garden for wheel chair users £395 from C.Lewis Fabrications.

See the portable garden being used in this picture

For buying seeds:
Chiltern Seeds

For information about what plants to grow and how Growability

has a link page under Horticulture

I like their link to

The Plants page has lots of picture links and well presented information about plant size

From the library look at :The Ultimate Garden Designer Tim Newbury. It has a page showing a garden designed for People with a Learning Difficulty and a garden for the Blind or partially sighted. Both feature a design and a list of suggested plants for the garden.

The Growing Zone a new allotment project for school students and people with learning difficulties. Its Contributors page and Link page show where their funding comes from and may give you some ideas.

Gardening Symbol from Imagine Symbols

Friday, 1 May 2009

More Money Bingo

Maths worksheet wizard has money bingo in three currencies: British,U.S. and Euros. Its very quick and easy to use.The worksheet generator makes a different worksheet when Make Worksheet is clicked.
The same coins appears in each worksheet but they are in a different order and one of the coins is repeated twice.
This means that when you play this bingo remember to have the rule of crossing off one coin at a time otherwise everyone wins at the same time!

See other money related resources at my money label