Monday, May 21, 2018

Social scripts



Social Stories  Social scripts are a social learning tool that supports the safe and
meaningful exchange of information between adults and learners who need additional support.
Written to help students deal with and understand difficult or confusing situations. Stories can be written to prepare students for upcoming events or to explain why other people act they do or what the rules are.


Social stories are most common with students who are on the autistic spectrum; however I also use them with other students when I see they need additional support. They are simple stories that help remind students about appropriate social behavior. 

What are social stories for?
Social scripts/ stories can be used to:
  •  develop self-care skills (eg how to clean teeth, wash hands or get dressed), social skills (eg sharing, asking for help, saying thank you, interrupting) and academic abilities
  •  help someone to understand how others might behave or respond in a particular situation
  •  help others understand the perspective of a person and why they may respond or behave in a particular way
  •  help a person to cope with changes to routine and unexpected or distressing events (eg absence of teacher, moving house, thunderstorms)
  •  provide positive feedback to a person about an area of strength or achievement in order to develop self-esteem
  •  as a behavioural strategy (eg what to do when angry, how to cope with obsessions).

I begin by identifying the behaviour that I want to modify.  For example, inappropriate hallway behaviour.  One particular student was having difficulty walking in the hallway quietly and keeping her hands off the wall.  Now that I have the behaviour identified, I go to Google.  

Sometimes I have to walk in the hallway.
I need to keep my voice and feet quiet in the hallway.
My hands stay at my sides.
It makes my teachers happy when I walk quietly in the hallway. 

I like to search for social stories that are already written so that I might not have to reinvent the wheel. I then adapt and personlised as needed,
I also include pictures to go with the story. These can be computer images or photos I have taken.

How do social stories/ scripts help?
    Social scripts/  stories present information in a literal, 'concrete' way, which may improve a person's understanding of a previously difficult or ambiguous situation or activity. The presentation and content can be adapted to meet different people's needs.
    They can help with sequencing (what comes next in a series of activities) and 'executive functioning' (planning and organising).    
    By providing information about what might happen in a particular situation, and some guidelines for behaviour, you can increase structure in a person's life and thereby reduce anxiety.
    Creating or using a social story can help you to understand how the autistic person perceives different situations.
    • Present the social story to the person at a time when everyone is feeling calm and relaxed, using a straightforward approach, eg I have written this story for you. It is about thunderstorms. Let's read it together now.
    • If it is preparing for a special event/ experience  make sure you have read through a few times before the event/experience

    Social storiesTM were created by Carol Gray in 1991. They are short descriptions of a particular situation, event or activity, which include specific information about what to expect in that situation and why.
    The terms 'social story' and 'social stories' are trademarks originated and owned by Carol Gray.







    Sunday, May 20, 2018

    Early literacy.


    Early literacy research states that:

    • Early literacy development is a continuous developmental process that begins in the early years;
    • Early literacy skills develop in real-life settings through positive interactions with literacy materials and other people.
    Therefore a broad, deep and rich curriculum as advocated should ensure an environmentally rich literacy context, which gives children many opportunities for:
    • Movement and developmentally appropriate experiences of both large and fine motor skills;
    • Exploration of three dimensional props and books; and
    • Real experiences of books, rhymes .

    The development of early language and literacy begins in the first three years of life and is closely linked to a child's earliest experiences with books and stories. Young children come into contact with a range of materials including books, paper, and crayons. Together with the adults in their lives they are the important building blocks for language, reading and writing development. Current research demonstrates the critical role of these early experiences in shaping brain development. 

    For our students who have complications in the early years, whether that be medical issues, complex family dynamics or other situation that have limited the normal development of language we need to find ways to build on their language development. Opportunity is needed to build their developmental stages and experiences before we expect these learners to gain an understanding of formal literacy.

    Learning to communicate and to read has changed dramatically and most recently due to digital technology. Vygotsky (1987) states that learning is a social phenomenon and emphasises that the learner must be involved in the whole activity as a meaningful context rather than discrete parts. This view supports the holistic approach to learning literacy based upon the fundamental assumption that reading and writing are learnt from whole to part (Goodman, 1986); (Goodman and Goodman, 1979). Learners should understand and experience the purposes and functions of language before learning to manipulate its constituent parts. Oral and written language have to be learned in meaningful and enjoyable circumstances, and thus children construct language as they use it. So in holistic approaches the child has the lead and the approaches vary between individuals in multiple contexts and via multiple interpretations. Harste et al., (1984), Cambourne and Turbill (1987) suggest that certain conditions support this approach with children, such as immersion in print, demonstration of how print and books are used, and encouraging children to explore through approximate and practical ways of using reading and writing meaningfully whilst giving supportive and instructive feedback.

    Saturday, May 19, 2018

    Effective in teaching.

    My latest professional reading has lead me to:

    "What Really Works in Special and Inclusive Education : Using evidence-based teaching strategies. Using evidence-based teaching strategies. David Mitchell.

    In the Introduction David Mitchell talks about the  UK evidence that  shows teachers who are effective in teaching disadvantaged learners demonstrate skills in a 'bundle' of strategies.

    At Sommerville Special School we talk about having "lots of tools in our tool box". Students with additional needs are still unique individuals with their own complex learning needs. While there is a lot more research around on best teaching practice for students with specific identified disabilities, each student is still individual learner.



    The strategies mentioned in this book  include:

    • Excellent organisational skills.
    • Positive classroom climate.
    • Personalised their teaching.
    • Use of dialogic teaching and learning.
    The effectiveness of your teaching is judged by:
    • the value you add to your learners' store of information. concepts, skills and values:
    • the degree of independence your learners are able to exercise in managing their own learning now and in the future;
    • the extent to which you develop a sense of well-being in learners.

    Sunday, May 6, 2018

    Come along and learn about How Visuals can help our students



    Come along and learn about  How Visuals can help our students Manage their own behaviour and access the curriculum.

    Link to this doc https://goo.gl/TvV7rr
    Book you attendance here.

    Thursday 10 th May


    Facilitator: Donna Ryan

    Venue: Sommerville 80a Tripoli Rd


    Using visuals to support learners with additional needs.

    How to help our students access the curriculum using a variety
    of visual strategies and supports.


    Suitable for teachers working with all age groups.







    Tuesday, April 17, 2018

    Helping our students manage themselves




    What can I do to help students Manage their own behavior?


     Recognise that a change in a child’s behavior usually occurs when there is a change in  their home or school environment.


    • Avoid engaging in power plays, struggles with children -YOU WILL LOSE AND SO WILL THE CHILD. 
    -Recognise that positive attitudes of encouragement, understanding, and respect by an adult are the basic conditions for desirable behavior in children - Avoid the use of threats, put-downs, embarrassing statements, and criticisms to control children’s behavior.


    • Keep in mind that children are social characters who have a need to belong and feel significant and important 
    - Provide/create opportunities for children to share, to be independent, to be recognised, to receive praise, and to be involved in achievable work tasks and jobs.

    • Keep in mind that children are decision-makers - Create an environment where children are encouraged to make choices and are actively involved in planning activities at sometimes during the day.


    • Recognise that acting out behavior in children is often related to their language development -  children’s language capacity assists them to express their needs. Children may feel and express frustration when they have not yet developed the language to effectively communicate their wants, needs, opinions and feelings.



    • Catch a child doing something right instead of catching him/her doing something wrong.
     Many times when a child is behaving desirably, such as playing nicely with a peer, or sharing in a friendly manner or working on task, we ignore the child or are too busy at that moment to notice. Giving a child a smile, a word of praise, or a pat on the back can go a long way in making the child feel special, significant, and a sense of belonging.



    Sunday, April 15, 2018

    Behaviour and learning


    Student’s behaviour can create barriers to learning and inhibit wellbeing for both the student and for those around them.

    This is a growing concern of the teachers I visit. 

    Behaviour is defined as the way one acts or conducts oneself, especially towards others. It is often a response to a particular situation or stimulus.

    Totally agree with this :
    "If students are learning successfully, if they are feeling connected, if they know that people care, they are less likely to behave in ways that jeopardise their opportunities to be part of that".
    Ngaire Ashmore, Principal, Tangaroa College


    Over the next few weeks I will be adding some strategies to help support our students to access their learning while managing themselves.




    Often our students do not know what is 'good behaviour " we need to show them what we want.