Skip to 0 minutes and 3 secondsWhat general accommodations can you make to your classroom and lessons to benefit your students with SEND. Think about the physical environment. Are your students seated with consideration for any needs? A child with attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder, ADHD, may be more distracted if seat by a window or a door. Are the classroom displays very busy and overwhelming for students with sensory overload? Technology can also be incredibly distracting for students, so do you have strategies for minimising this when teaching in a computer room? You might want to consider turning off screens when not in use, using classroom management software to control access, or setting very clear rules for when pupils can touch devices.

Skip to 0 minutes and 42 secondsAre your students able to plan digital content and programs away from a computer? For example, you could use a fake bot, like this, to plan out bee bot programs before testing with the real thing in the primary classroom. Provide clear routines in structuring your lessons. This will particularly benefit students with autism and ADHD by helping them to understand what is going to happen and when. You could provide a checklist for individuals to cross off elements of the lesson as they occur, so they know what's coming next.

Skip to 1 minute and 11 secondsDeveloping consistent routines for logging on, accessing work from the same shared folder on the network, handing out, putting away any technology, this helps to manage expectations and can also contribute to reducing cognitive load which we'll look at in the next step. Students could even create their own algorithms for carrying out routine tasks to help them remember the steps. Many students with SEND struggle to follow along with complex instructions. For example, log on and open the presentation you were were working on last week, and add suitable images. You can find some in the shared folder, or search something relevant on the internet. This will be overwhelming for some children.

Skip to 1 minute and 46 secondsSo try to give one instruction at a time when setting a task, using simple language where possible. Provide visual support for longer instructions if unavoidable, such as a list or an image of the task steps. Check your pupils understanding of tasks by asking them to tell you what they think they should be doing. And be sure to praise and reward effort and achievement. Provide opportunities for students to succeed early on in a task. So for example, a blank canvas may be intimidating, so provide some working code or a template for students to modify. You'll explore this pedagogy further next week. You should also provide opportunities for students to fail, however.

Skip to 2 minutes and 23 secondsAnd emphasise this is not only acceptable, but an integral part of learning. Help learners come to terms with this by teaching the importance of debugging. Even experienced programrs have to do this. You should also teach strategies to solve problems and demonstrate the common misconceptions in a topic and common errors in a particular program. All of these approaches will enable your students to participate fully in lessons and help them to concentrate on the learning. So how will you use one of these approaches to change the way you teach? Share your thoughts and ideas in the comments. In the next step, you'll investigate cognitive load and how you can start to reduce it.

High-quality teaching for all

In this step, you will learn about some general considerations for the delivery of your lessons that can be hugely beneficial to learners with SEND, but that are also considered to be excellent practice. You may already know about many of these, and employ them in your classroom.

Physical environment

Firstly, think about the physical environment. Are learners seated with consideration for their needs? For example, a young person who has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) may be more distracted if they are seated near to a window or door.

image of student at a desk in a classroom gazing out of window

Are the classroom displays overwhelming for learners with sensory overload? Technology can be incredibly distracting for learners — do you have strategies for minimising this when teaching in a computer room? You may wish to consider turning off screens when not in use, using classroom management software to control access, or setting clear rules for when learners can touch devices.

Can learners plan digital content and programs away from a computer? For example, if you are using a Bee-Bot in your lesson, you could use a ‘fake bot’ to plan out the programs before testing with the real thing in the classroom.

A still of fakebot activty. This consists of a 2 by 2 grid with a flower in the bottom right and a fakeot with up, down, left, right, go, cross and pause buttons in the top left

Routine

Provide clear routines and structure in your lessons. This can be particularly beneficial for learners on the autism spectrum and learners with attention deficit disorder. You could provide a checklist for learners to cross off elements of the lesson as they occur, so that they know what is coming next.

Developing consistent routines for logging on, accessing work from the same shared folder on the network, and handing out and putting away any technology helps to manage expectations, and can also contribute to reducing cognitive load, which you will learn about in the next step. Learners could create their own algorithms for carrying out routine tasks to help them remember the steps.

Instructions

Many learners with SEND find it difficult to follow long or complex instructions, for example, “Log on and open the presentation that you were working on last week, and add in suitable images. You can find some in the shared folder, or search for something relevant on the internet”. This type of instruction may be overwhelming for some learners. Try to give one instruction at a time when setting a task, using simple language.

For example, break up the instruction:

  1. “First, log on to the computer.”
  2. “Next, open the shared folder for the class.”
  3. “Now, open your presentation from last week — you named it ‘holiday + your name’.”
  4. “In the shared folder, or on the internet, find images to match the text.”
  5. “Add these images to your presentation.”

If you cannot avoid longer instructions, provide visual support, such as a checklist or image of the task steps. Check your pupils’ understanding of a task by asking them to tell you what they think they should be doing.

image of pupil ticking off elements on a checklist; they have ticked '1. Log onto computer', '2. Open the shared folder for the class'. Three elements still to tick '3. Open your presentation from last week - you named it holiday + your name', '4. In the shared folder, or on the internet, find images to match the text' & '5. Add these images to your presentation'

Questions

Effective teachers ask lots of questions and check the responses of all learners. For learners who find it difficult to process information quickly, or to be singled out for attention, the following strategies can help ensure that they are included:

  • Provide extra thinking time before asking for an answer
  • Ask learners to discuss the answer with a neighbour
  • Ask learners to raise their hand if they agree with an answer given by another person
  • Ask learners to write their answer on a mini whiteboard
  • Provide multiple choice options to choose from or ask ‘true or false’ questions
  • Use technology — Plickers, Socrative, and similar formative assessment tools can help anonymise answers and ensure that everyone is taking part

image of student’s hand selecting a multiple choice question on a tablet

Success

Praise and reward effort and achievement, and provide opportunities for learners to succeed early on in a task. For example, start by providing working code or a template for a poster for learners to modify, to avoid them starting from a blank canvas, which may be overwhelming. You will learn more about this in week 2.

However, you should still provide opportunities for learners to fail, and you should emphasise that this is not only acceptable, but an integral part of learning. One way to help learners understand this is by teaching the importance of debugging, even for experienced programmers. You should also teach strategies to solve problems, and demonstrate the common misconceptions in a topic, or the common errors in a particular program.

All of these approaches will support your students to participate fully in lessons, and help them to concentrate on learning.

Discussion

In the comments, discuss the following questions:

  • How many of these approaches do you already employ in your classroom?
  • How will you use one of these approaches to change the way that you teach?
  • Could the use of digital tools to assess learning create further barriers?

In the next step, you will investigate cognitive load, and how you can start to reduce it.

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This video is from the free online course:

Creating an Inclusive Classroom: Approaches to Supporting Learners with SEND in Computing

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