Music Therapy event Thursday 6th March

ELJAM Music Programme (2)

Music Therapy Continuing Forward – Thursday 6th March 4.15pm – 6pm, The Red School Prestonpans

You are warmly invited to attend an informative event about music therapy services currently available for children in East Lothian.

Find out more about the value of this specialist approach through case examples and a discussion of music therapy in educational settings.   You will have the opportunity to take part in an active music-making workshop to experience the power of music!

Music therapy is currently available in eight schools throughout East Lothian, and provides opportunities for communication, expression, and emotional and social wellbeing.  Particularly for children who are struggling in education, music therapy can provide insight into a child’s abilities and needs; and also provide support to help a child succeed.

Since 2011, the East Lothian Music Therapy Steering Group has worked to promote music therapy services for children in a variety of educational and community settings.   Following a report published in 2012, the Steering Group continues to raise awareness of the benefits of music therapy and to promote access to services throughout East Lothian.  In addition, the Group is interested in exploring collaborative funding opportunities to help support current and future music therapy provision.

RSVP to Lori Tragheim, Community Development Officer at the Red School by Thursday 27th February on ltragheim@eastlothian.gov.uk.

Symbolising the environment: Using symbols to aid communication

LTScotland reports on an interesting region-wide project to incorporate symbols into mainstream schools in Fife.

Fife Assessment Centre for Communication through Technology (FACCT) is a Fife-wide service supporting clients for whom speech is not their main means of communication.

Symbols are images which are used to make meanings clearer and easier to understand by providing a visual representation of a single word or a concept. It is important to understand that symbols are different from pictures. A picture conveys a lot of information at once and its focus may be unclear, whereas a symbol focuses on a single concept and by grouping them together more precise information can be conveyed.

Initially, staff became aware that using symbols consistently in a mainstream class was not only supporting a child with an identified learning disability but was meeting the needs of many children who had no recognised learning or communication impairment. Symbols packs were developed and offered to classes throughout the school and were quickly taken up by other members of the teaching staff as they realised the benefits they brought to pupils’ overall development.

There is a consistent approach to the symbols used in all the establishments involved. This ensures that pupils transferring from one environment to another are familiar with any symbols in use, no matter which establishment they are in.

The chosen symbol software package used to create the resources was Mayer-Johnson’s ‘Boardmaker’.

Examples of the use of symbols include:

 • anti-bullying materials •

rights respecting schools information

• conflict resolution methods

• ‘goal -plan -do -review’

• The Mathematics and Home Economic Departments began using symbols to help pupils establish a routine once they entered the classroom. This supported a positive ethos within the classroom.

• Directional symbols are being developed to help S1 pupils and any visitors to the building

• Symbols are used in the main reception area of the school

• Pupils use personalised symbolised timetables.

Books for All Scotland event

Stirling Management Centre, 18 March 2011

Learning and Teaching Scotland, in partnership with CALL Scotland are hosting this learning day.

The purposes of the conference are:

·         to support teachers, early years practitioners and senior managers to improve access to the curriculum for pupils with print disabilities who need print to be in accessible alternative formats.

·         to give strategic managers and practitioners the chance to learn about these developments and discuss how to implement them in their own context to ensure best value

·         to encourage individuals in their authorities to share their learning with colleagues to sustain and expand work in this area.

Significant developments have taken place to make it easier for pupils and teachers to find existing accessible resources, to use them with pupils, to make them if they don’t already exist and to share them under new copyright arrangements. These developments will help authorities and schools to meet their equality and accessibility responsibilities.

LTS plans to involve colleagues from Scottish Government, HMIE, CALL Scotland, SQA, CLA, RNIB and publishers as well as managers and practitioners. This partnership event is aimed at both educational practitioners and strategic personnel.

 To reserve a place at this event please contact Anne Marie Lamont at a.lamont@LTScotland.org.uk.

Accessible Digital Exams

The CALL Centre recently published a report on the use of accessible digital exam papers in the 2010 diet of exams run by the Scottish Qualifications Authority. These papers allow pupils with disabilities to sit the same exams as their peers, but using a computer to type their answers, and where required read the text from the paper, rather than rely on readers and scribes. The report is available from the digital papers web site, www.adapteddigitalexams.org.uk/Downloads/Reports/.

The report highlights the spectacular increase in the number of school pupils sitting exams using digital papers since they were first introduced in a pilot supported by CALL in 2006. Last year 101 centres made 2000 requests for digital papers on behalf of 675 candidates. Compared with 2009, this represents a 71% increase in the number of requests, a 38% increase in the number of centres, and a 60% increase in the number of candidates.

The use of digital papers increases the independence of pupils, who no longer have to be supported by readers and scribes and can lead to financial savings for schools.

The CALL Centre believes that Scotland is the first country in the world to introduce accessible digital exam papers for national certificate exams in schools, but we would be keen to hear about experiences in other countries. Join the discussion on the adapted papers blog at http://www.adapteddigitalexams.org.uk/Blog/.

Digital Exams Training

CALL has two courses on digital exams coming up in March:

  • 24 Mar 2011 – SQA Adapted Digital Papers and ICT for Students with Additional Support Needs
  • 31 Mar 2011 – Creating Adapted Digital Prelims and Resources for Pupils with Additional Support Needs.

Training can also be provided in schools and local authorities. Further information is available in the Training section of the CALL Scotland web site.

‘Absences leave holes in learning’

“Most school systems are based on the assumption that learning is sequential and successful outcomes are the result of regular attendance.”  John Howson in TES (14/01/11)

The disruptions in attendance experienced by teachers and pupils due to the recent weather and now flu viral outbreaks have brought this home only too well. The coming months will demonstrate how well  teachers and pupils are able to bridge the holes.

Howson’s analysis of available data suggests that “the percentage of special educational needs (SEN) pupils who are classified as persistent absentees is always higher than the average for all pupils.”

“..for those who want to come to school but cannot do so, often for reasons of illness, we need to find a way of ensuring technology can help.”

Not every home is equipped with the technology to ensure all young people are included even when they are ill but many do. School edubuzz blogs had some lovely suggestions for activities during the snow closures. Teachers and pupils can keep others informed and included while they are absent with illness through the use of imaginative Apps/ photos /videos,etc. Try www.wallwisher.com ; www.glogster.com. Any other ideas?

Grid 2 Training opportunity

There are a few available places on a training course to learn about Grid 2 software.  The Grid 2 allows people with limited or unclear speech to use a computer as a voice ouput communication aid, using symbols or text to build sentences. In addition to this, you can send and receive email and sms messages, browse the web, listen to music and more.  The Grid 2 is accessible to everybody, accepting input from switches, headpointer, touchscreen, mouse, and other options too such as Eye Gaze.

Training is being held at Musselburgh Grammar on Friday 21 January starting at 9:30.  Please contact me if you are interested in attending or have questions about the software.  slawson@eastlothian.gov.uk

Ipads and disability

Ipads will be on many children’s Christmas list this year mainly because of advertised hype and the perceived ‘cool factor’ of possessing the latest Apple product.    It will keep children amused for a certain amount of time but depending on the apps installed, they will likely gravitate back to their laptop.

But for some children – and adults – the iPad could prove invaluable. Read this article which appeared in the New York Times about Owen Cain who has had motor neurone disease from infancy.  His parents say he is a normal boy trapped in a abnormal body.  “We have spent all this time keeping him alive, and now we owe him more than that,” said his mother, Ellen Goldstein, “I see his ability to communicate and to learn as a big part of that challenge — not all of it, but a big part of it.

The iPad has been a tremendous breakthrough and opens up endless possibilities.  So many of it’s features ideally suit those who have limited movements, hearing and sight.  Owen can have his arm hoisted into a position which allows him, with the lightest of touches, to read a book by flicking over the pages.  He even typed up, ” I want to be Han Solo for Hallowe’en” using the onscreen keyboard.

Read the story, watch the video.  It’s made me think, wonder, cry and plan.

Music for all at the Hub

Koby and the Skoog

The Skoog is an exciting new musical instrument with accessibility at its heart.  An instrument designed explicitly for special education to empower those unable to play traditional instruments.  The Skoog is a soft, squeezable object that simply plugs straight into your computer or laptop’s USB port.  Simply touching, pressing, squashing, twisting or tapping the Skoog allows you to play a wide range of instruments, intuitively.  Learn more about it here

You can see Koby Major, age 5, having a brilliant time playing with the Skoog.  Inventor and entrepreneur, Benjaman Schogler, came along to demonstrate how it could be used.  He worked with all three classes and everyone had a go.  Even the very lightest touch can generate a sound.  Some pupils hit the Skoog, some squeezed, some rolled it, Jonathon leaned on it with his shoulder and played the flute.  Using a WOWee one gel speaker, sound vibrations gave another dimension to the musical experience.

Joy, a student in musicology from Greece and on work placement with Benjaman, is going to work with groups of pupils over the next few weeks.  Mark my words, there’s going to be a lot of fun and a lot of music happening down at the Hub!

Switch accessible activities FREE online

Inclusive Technology have a section on their website called HelpKidzLearn with free games and activities.  These are high quality resources giving you a taster of some of Inclusive’s bespoke software.  From simple Cause and effect switching activities  you can progress onto ‘Wait then Press’ activities (eg.  Mystery Egg in the Early Years section).  Increase a pupil’s concentration and co-ordination skills with Catch the Crocs  (games section) or improve letter recognition on the keyboard by playing Letter Pop! (Find out section).  Have fun!

Assessing Dyslexia Toolkit launched

New guidelines for identifying children with dyslexia were launched by former racing driver Sir Jackie Stewart on Tuesday. The online “tool kit” , available since January but now open to all, has been created for every teacher: we are all responsible for literacy regardless of our subject or sector. The resource supports the Curriculum for Excellence’s emphasis on literacy and numeracy across learning.

 The Assessing Dyslexia Toolkit for Teachers aims to help teachers and early years workers identify literacy difficulties and dyslexia among pupils. A key target is to spot problems as early as possible so children can be given support and are not disadvantaged educationally.

A key aim of the new guide is highlighting to all class teachers that they are in the best position to identify early indicators of dyslexia and other learning difficulties. It identifies problems teachers should look out for at various stages in a child’s education from pre-school to late primary, right up to senior secondary and college.

Dr Margaret Crombie, who led the team of experts behind the creation of the project from Glasgow Caledonian, Strathclyde and Edinburgh universities, said: “We now have a resource that all teachers can use to help them work through the process of assessment of literacy difficulties.”

It’s superb: check it out.