As many of you will know, it was World Book Day on Thursday. In celebration of this special day, Mrs Holland, supported by our wonderful staff turned this day into a whole week reading related celebration. On Monday we had the pleasure of welcoming Pippa Pixley (https://pippapixley.co.uk/news/) in school to deliver some story telling sessions and a festival draw along themed session to our young people. Her passion for reading and storytelling was the perfect start to the week and got the pupils excited and enthused about their favourite books and characters.
On Tuesday we joined the reading revolution competition that aims to help share a million stories as a nation. Every time we shared a story for at least 10 minutes, we shared it on our ‘Share a Million Stories Reading Record’ so it could be added to the live national total. It made for a lot a reading!
Wednesday had us getting involved in the ‘Title Quest Competition’. This is a great speaking and listening activity that involved members of staff carrying an image of a book on their lanyard. The pupils were then set the task of approaching members of staff to see the book cover on their lanyard and log as many as they could over the school day by posting a picture of the book in our Showbie group using their iPad. The pupils loved it and it sparked lots of conversation and practising our speaking and listening skills as children and staff across the school discussed their favourite books. Also on Wednesday, we had paused for ‘Drop Everything and Read’, 15 minutes of the day where we stopped what we were doing to read a book. Many of us also got involved with the ‘Design a National Book Token Competition’. We’re hoping one of our pupils gets to win hundreds of pounds worth of books or even have their design made into a real-life National Book Tokens gift card, to be distributed across bookshops nationwide in time for Christmas!
With Thursday being World Book Day itself, the school was filled with favourite book characters; The Mad Hatter, Fantastic Mr Fox, The BFG, Beauty (from Beauty and the Beast), several of the Mr Men and Little Misses, The Cat in the Hat, the list goes on … As we arrived at Friday it was time to catch our breath and celebrate all the amazing literacy work that went on in the week in our achievement assembly. Mrs Holland led an extra special assembly featuring everything we’d been up to during the week and presented prizes to all the competition winners. For this we’d like to say a big thank you to our local branch of Tesco who kindly donated lots of reading related prizes.
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If all that excitement wasn’t enough, our Music teacher, Mr Thompson, shared with me an absolutely stunning piece of work from one of our newest pupils, Toni. Toni has a real interest in rap music and as a way of encouraging her participation in Music lessons, has been exploring the app GarageBand on her iPad. The result was an impromptu recording of a rap song using this app which Toni was brave enough to share with us. I’m not going to say any more, I’m just going to let the track speak for itself..
We’re currently pursuing a link with a Manchester-based rap artist to see if we can share Toni’s recording. Watch this space!
Mr Thompson has certainly been busy this week. On Thursday evening, he took our Rock Band, The Outer Ground, made up of a mixture of young people from across the Group, to Sub Pressure Studios in Diggle to rehearse and record some of their upcoming tracks. This was the first time the band have played together outside of school and they had a brilliant time travelling together, having a McDonald’s tea and practising their songs as loudly as they wanted..
The evening was very successful and the guys had lots of fun. I caught up with guitarist Bradley on Friday to find out how it went and he was struggling to find the words to describe how enjoyable it had been, though it was definitely playing his guitar through such loud speakers that had given him such a thrill. Stay tuned for upcoming performances.
Equally brilliant are our IB2 team, and Miss Ward has plenty to share on everything they’ve been getting up to so far this year..
We have been working on accessibility and iPad use in the classroom. The students have been playing their favourite music and using a switch for ‘More’ or to ‘Stop’ the music. Some students have used their hand movements, some their fingers movements, some their head movement and one has had fun using his nose to make sound effects on the iPad. This has been quite a challenge at times but we have had lots of fun trying out new apps. We have used a range of communication methods which have included speech and vocalisations, eye pointing, photos and symbols during this time.
Miss Taylor (one of our VI Champions) has been making and using lots of new resources to make our morning routine more VI friendly. The morning routine is all about positive looking! It is a ‘Vision Friendly’ classroom where the use of light and dark, UV and high contrasting colours is a main resource to engage our students.
We start with the lights turned off and calming music is played to encourage a 2 minute meditation. This helps to prepare both the students and staff for the day ahead. The students have really started to relax during these 2 minutes with some watching the timer counting down on the screen.
Each student has a specific target to work on during this time with some students having a VI target set by the Oldham Visual Impairment Service.
Each student then has an individualised section of the morning routine based on their target, e.g. to match symbols and to choose their photo from a choice of 6. Another student will track their photo from left to right or up and down whilst others use bright UV colours to help them locate their photos.
Once each student has completed their routine, we finish by holding hands with the staff member and singing ‘Good Morning’. The students anticipate by smiling and reaching out to hold hands. We then move on to the weather by using the drum and singing ‘What’s the weather like today?’ song. Once we have sung this we use one of our weather jars placed in a black box to help to students to focus on one specific area. This ensures all the students have the same opportunity no matter what their vision is and this is regularly updated to keep it fun and challenging.
We continue to encourage our students to be as independent as possible and this is clear to see when they access their walking frames, are laying out on their Acheeva work stations or laying out on a mat during ‘Learning for Life’ lessons. We work on choice making and communication in these lessons and throughout our day, including lunchtimes and break times.
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One of our Sherborne sessions raises awareness of our joints and other body parts and promotes relaxation and gentle participation during movement and massage. This is a lovely session with the use of classical music and coloured lighting.
Our cooking lessons are extremely multi-sensory and are some of our favourite lessons due to the amazing aromas they leave in the room. We have worked on our mixing, rolling, chopping and kneading skills and have made some great looking and very tasty savoury treats and cakes. These have included Broccoli bites, heart shaped sweet treats and yummy pizza..
Paul from Live Music Now! visits our class every Tuesday morning to play musical instruments and also uses the iPads to create music too. The students listen and explore the musical instruments with smiles and they reach out to feel the vibrations from the trumpet when he plays this, and he plays to each of us for some one to one interaction.
Mr Thompson also delivers a music session and sings silly songs to us and dances around the room. This is lots of fun!
IB2 students have also accessed outdoor education where they have been visiting museums and parks. Some have regular sessions in the hydrotherapy pool and Finley has just started to have Rebound Therapy sessions.
Our theme for World Book Day was the Mr Men books. We all chose a character and created some paintings to represent them. We each coloured in a t-shirt to wear and take home too. It’s been a good week listening to familiar and new stories. We have listened to audio books, watched animations on our iPad and on the large screen and staff have read some funny and lovely stories in class.
We have had so much fun and a great school year so far!
I hope you have a good week,
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