‘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?

Google Apps supports isolated learners

At a recent CPD session at Knox Academy, several teachers experienced using Google Docs for the first time.

We tried using an application which would allow a pupil at home to type on something set by a teacher, e.g. a Past Paper. The teacher can send responses and explanations back.

One Guidance teacher planned to put her learning straight into practice to support a pupil in his final year of school. While undergoing medical treatment which will keep him at home and in hospital  over several months he can keep in touch with teachers and peers by participating in pieces of work online.

Look at the Youtube clip Googledocs in plain english for further direction.

Google Docs for isolated learners

Recently at a CPD session at Knox Academy several teachers practiced using Google Apps together.

One application which is useful in supporting a pupil who cannot be in class, perhaps due to illness, is to paste and send them a Past Paper or other document which they can work on at home. The teacher can type on comments as the pupil is working rather than sending it back and forth as you would with email.

A way for a pupil to keep in touch with peers, is to work from home on a document while classmates type from school. A group can participate together on a Powerpoint or other document from various computers in various locations simultaneously.

One Guidance teacher was eager to put her learning into practice in support of a young man in his final year of school who is undergoing lengthy medical treatments. He can now communicate with classmates and teachers from hospital or home from a lap top and can progress in subjects with a better chance of achieving his potential.

The scope for creating learning opportunities is exciting.

To learn more look at Youtube Googledocs in plain english

“Blogs and Online diaries should be part of school curriculum ” says Thinktank

Charles Leadbeater introduced his lecture at the Scottish  Learning Festival on 25/09/08 with a You tube clip of a teenage boy playing guitar in his bedroom. The clip had had 49 million hits!

A report in the Guardian 6/10/08 points out the claims of the Think tank, Demos, (with which Leadbeater is associated), that young people “are being failed by adults who are not paying proper attention to this new medium.”

“The study.. considers how their enthusiasm and skills can be encouraged.”

“The report makes recommendations to help adults cope with the changing online environment and calls particularly on schools to help youngsters understand the long term implications of living their lives in a semi-public way.”

“Schools should prepare young people for an era where CV’s may well be obsolete, enabling them to manage their on-line reputation .” says the report, “we need an educational response that extends beyond the focus of safety towards broader questions of privacy and intellectual property.”

I was personally concerned about the information my teenage daughter was relaying about herself on Facebook, especially when she realised that her boss had added herself as a friend.

Politicians see youngsters as apathetic and unreachable, according to the Guardian.

“The (UK )government is pouring money into this because they feel young people should be making themselves heard”…”but bloggers say it feels contrived.”

Barack Obama in the United States, on the other hand, is said to be the first ‘Youtube politician’ because “he gets that you can’t control it. His campaign team get that its about the enthusiasm”…”he encouraged (young voters) to exercise their creative urges online, instead of simply dictating his ideas to them.”

Relationships and Participation with Pupils and Parents

I listened to Charles Leadbeater at the Scottish Learning Festival and was excited by his notions of :”Learning with rather than teaching to pupils ;the learner as participant not an empty vessel; and community being crucial to the learning process”

I reflected on my work with a P.1 pupil who had cognitive difficulties. Her barriers to learning were compounded by social and emotional deprivation and her family had difficulty in providing an environment to offset some of the disadvantages she was born with.

Unfortunately working and learning with parents is time consuming and costly. Leadbeater says that we may have exhausted other avenues for further development in education except in “Personalisation and collaboration.” A redistribution of resourcing and flexibility of provision might reach pupils currently missed.

TESS (3/10/08), reporting on several speakers at the Learning Festival says the emphasis needs to be on “Relationships”.

Martin Rouse called on schools to focus on “relationships,respect and recognition”  while Professor Teese said that Scotland should be strengthening relationships within its schools.

 

Dads ‘don’t read bedtime stories’

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/education/7340720.stm
The BBC reports that less than half of fathers regularly read bedtime stories to their children, research has suggested.

Some 42% of fathers said they were bedtime story readers, compared with 76% of mothers, a poll of 2,207 adults for the National Year of Reading found.

But 60% of fathers blamed long hours and stress. Television was children’s most common pre-sleep activity. Children’s Secretary Ed Balls said reading opened doors to everything. Boys are consistently outperformed by girls when it comes to reading. Last year 87% of girls reached the required standard of reading at the end of primary school, compared with 81% of boys.

Settling Back to School after Illness

GIRLSometimes pupils have to be absent from school for extensive periods to have hospital treatment. This can be disruptive to the class but even more so for the individual pupil.

One example was a P.2 pupil who  was diagnosed with Leukaemia while attending nursery class.

As the chemotherapy treatment goes on for 2 years, with some hospital stays , the family learns to cope with the various effects of drugs which can alter behaviour, appetite and brings  nausea, etc . She had not had the opportunity to settle well into P.1 so P.2 was daunting for her.

Unfortunately a well meaning volunteer from a support organisation had decided to teach her to read by the ‘Look and Say’ method and not phonics so  she was feeling very confused by sounds and letters.

A swift phone call to the volunteer and a visit to meet her teachers began to clear the path for confidence to grow.

A conscientious probationary teacher sent me weekly emails detailing what the class was doing in school. The pupil was able to complete the same work at home whether it be making a cardboard cereal packet model of her house which could be put on the wall with all the others, or being on the same reading book as her group.

Result?

One happy child ready to return to school full-time with no further anxieties.

Mental Health and Young People: All In The Mind?

Children studyingWe all meet  some brilliantly inspiring characters in East Lothian Schools  and I don’t just mean teachers.

Some of the young people we teach are struggling to come to terms with illness and become anxious about falling behind in school work.

Occasionally they look well  but their illnesses are of a psychological nature and they need all the help we can give to ensure that they are well supported to achieve and reach their potential. Continue reading