Saturday, 31 December 2011

The Plenary

Check this out from a great post about plenaries, he gives a great outline of what a plenary and how we can use it!
The image box demonstrates 10 different types of plenary that can be used for a multitude of different lesson types!

Friday, 30 December 2011


So while I am procrastinating desperately avoiding my medium term planning which is lingering over me I thought I would try and do something that I haven't yet done despite my blog title which is tell you about TEACCH.

I am a TEACCH teacher in Sheffield and have set the approach up form scratch with a class of mixed SLD students.

TEACCH stands for 'treatment and education of autistic and communication related handicapped children' which is awfully long winded and old fashioned (the word handicapped isn't a nice one!). However I love the approach and having worked in classes that used it before securing my current role I was confident in how to set up and maintain the approach.

Simply it is a structured teaching approach designed for students who are autistic and more information can be found at the web address below. But essentially there is loads of visual support and a nice mix of individual an group work times. Each session (of which there are 3 in a day) has a very repetitive structure and in my class we do independent work, choice (the reward for the work), circle and group (which is the national curriculum subjects) and then reward (to reward the circle and group work). I use my IEP's to inform my individual work programs which are completed independently and repeated twice a day until complete.

I am not saying that the approach I take is true TEACCH, I have adapted it so that all students are taking part in each activity at the same time to make it easier for me and my team to manage. I will try and add some photos of my class layout (as this is very important) or at least the old room.

The main difference in the way I use TEACCH compared to the traditional American program is that my class is mixed SLD and is not just made up of Autistic students. I find that it is particularly useful for students who have ADHD and there are even some physical difficulties in there (I have therefore adapted the system further).

I have also done some work on setting up an individual TEACCH system within a mainstream school class, here we had to think of ways to integrate students in the class while providing them their own spaces to work with appropriate levels of visual support. The key to this was timers! We used plenty of timers for students to complete work pieces in a work booth while the rest of the class completed the same work at group work tables. Students then usually returned to group work situations, this meant that the forced interaction was limited and more suited to these specific students!

more info and hopefully pictures to come. Look up 'work tasks' for some of the tasks that I have used and the ways they have been presented!

Thursday, 29 December 2011

Sensory Sacks

The Hirstwood training site has some great sensory sacks which you can buy from them or alternatively put them together yourself if you can find the right resources. 

I recently bought the 'write in light' sack (which I will post some pictures of) and it is great for writing activities. Some students with physical difficulties can find it difficult to use, you have to have quite good fine motor control but for those students we have used it to create finger tracking courses to work on finger isolation and precision fine motor activities
They are great as you can write with the UV torches and they simply fade away!

There are some other great sensory sacks as well which I have not yet purchased...the sound to light sack is great for cause and effect (some of the sound to light equipment can also be bought from the glow shop - linked  to the right) and the underwater sack is great to use in the pool!
 The sound to light sack is great if you 'amp it up' but putting a reflective survival blanket into a really large clear plastic box like a really useful box, pop the sound to light equipment in and pop the lid on, makes great visual effects and requires only a light tap to operate.

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Floor Turtles

TES have some great planning units for controlling a floor turtle which you can download here:

Floor turtles or beebots are great in SEN as they are simple to control and they can be used in a number of different ways. Great for maths, art, ICT...

More Folder Tasks

I found another great website which has some folder tasks ideas...

There are free printable documents on here which give you nearly everything you need to create your own folder tasks.

One idea I love is the number bond stars and hearts:
On the stars we see a series of numbers and there are corresponding stars which have number bonds on, work out the = number and stick the number bond onto the folder. Great idea!
In this case the number bonds are displayed on the outside of the folder in a pocket:
Check it out for more great ideas, and visit the blog for other great resources:

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Chatter Mats

Here are some tried and tested communication resources which can be downloaded fro the TES website here -

Chatter mats are great for getting students talking to you and other staff but also for talking to each other. The ones available on the TES are made by Sam Maxwell and use Widget symbols to prompt students and provide them with a reference point for conversation. 

I have since made loads using Communicate in Print, I made one recently for a P.S.H.E. lesson where students were making smoothies for each other, it had a bank of fruit symbols we were using and 3 questions down the side to prompt students in what to say to each other. They work really well for students that have difficulty in word finding!

(widgit symbol software: Communicate in Print)

I will try and add some photographs of some of my chatter mats as examples but check out Sam Maxwells on the TES

Monday, 26 December 2011


I have been working on writing a scheme of work for ICT for students between P1i-P8 which is a mammoth job! However I have come across some useful things while writing it. I may make some of it available if I can link to this blog. 

Inclusive Technology have written a switch progression road map which is a must have for anyone working with students between P1i and P6. 

The best thing about it...IT'S FREE, click on the link which will take you to Inclusive Technology's website and you can get the PDF. It has loads of examples and resources which take you through the progression of switch usage and skill acquisition. 

Just to add to this... a web page which has some detailed work on switches and switch use. Worth a look after the switch progression road map!

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Follow me on Twitter

Anyone on twitter?

I now have a twitter page, share it and lets get 'learning to TEACCH' some attention!/learning2TEACCH

Apps in Education: Creating an Appropriate App Collection within your...

Apps in Education: Creating an Appropriate App Collection within your...: Collections of Apps can be expensive. How do you locate appropriate apps at a reasonable price or better still for FREE. Here are some reall...

iPad Apps

Here is a link to Flo Longhorns iPad Apps PDF, check it out and download it or print it off, its completely free and has loads of brilliant apps for 'very special learners'. Some apps you have to pay for and some are free but its a great reference point for when you are getting started with you iPad in school or at home!


Folder Tasks


I have just had another look on the shoebox tasks website and noticed a new addition. Folder tasks. Why havent I though of this?? I have been making tasks for some of my students and am constantly irritated by wandering symbols/laminates! I have been racking my brain trying to think of how I can get around this...


Simple move from one A4 laminate with loose parts to velcro on to a book or folder which is all self contained!
The shoebox tasks website sell a set of 3 and I am very much in support of the site and buying from them as it promotes supported employment schemes for autistic adolescents. BUT...when they are so simple you can make them yourself for nothing! These will be great for some of my students who struggle when there are various tasks displayed together.

Also it supports the TEACCH structure by working from left to right and is great for students progression from shoebox tasks to more paper based activities

Have a go and let me know how it goes!

Friday, 23 December 2011

How do autistic individuals view the world?

Well isn't that a question!

There are a few videos which try to exemplify this, one is by Chris Barson which tries to explain sensory overload or hypersensitivity

This is also a great example which I believe was created by someone who is autistic.

These videos are great for teaching but the one thing they do not consider is hypo-sensitivity or a sensory under load if you like!

Something to consider isn't it! Makes you think about how we use our sensory teaching, a lot of the time I believe we use the 'more is more' approach, however in autism...less is definitely more!

Display Work

I am trying to put a slide show on the blog to add display photos to, some that me and my team have done and some that I have shamelessly stolen! But it just does not seem to want to work for me!
So until then  will post the pictures.

Last year we did some quite interesting displays. One topic - Africa was great for display work.

We printed curtains with homemade African printing blocks, we made masks which we then used for some green screening and we charted where food comes from in Africa using a multi sensory food map of Africa, everyone got to smell, feel and in some cases taste the foods and then we stuck it onto the map which was used for out lovely display. Just remember if your using lentils some students may be allergic (which I found out) and also careful, we PVA'd over the whole thing to make it safe for display. We also did some African drumming and looked at the story of the lion king to go along with this!

Second piece of work we did was for the theme of 'Under the Sea'. Loved this theme - and what other book could you do other than the 'Rainbow Fish'. Great P.S.H.E. links here as well. From the story we made this display:

We used this to make reference to as part of our story and my class loved finger painting the octopus and really enjoyed painting their fish and decorating with multi coloured scales. Our partner class also created the most amazing ceiling display by handing netting from the roof between the two classrooms and using it like a fishing net and putting loads of different models of sea creatures in and loads of green tissue paper for seaweed which the students loved! Unfortunately because this was last year I do not have a picture of this!

From this we adapted the story...I got students to think about applying the story to a different animal and we came up with 'Rainbow Bird' and we acted out the same story line with these new animals. We ended up with this display which we were able to use to track the story.

I will add some more display photos from this year in the new year when I get back to school.

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Shoebox tasks

Fantastic! Shoebox tasks are on the way!

Here are some absolutely awesome tasks that I saw on a TEACCH course recently. They are called shoebox tasks (here is the website ) and I have just managed to get some funding to buy the whole lot! Awesome! I will keep you updated on how they are when they come.

These are great for special needs and younger mainstream students. They are progressive in skill and work from very simple put in tasks up to pre academic Numeracy and Literacy tasks. They are fantastic for fine motor development (which my kids do a lot of as a pre requisite for writing!)

Even better they are designed for students who are Autistic, designs are plain and simple and accompany TEACCH structures as they work from either left to right or top to bottom! An added bonus is that they are put together and shipped by Autistic individuals in a supported employment program in the US...The draw back is that they are form the US and have to be imported...oh well that's a minor drawback for a fantastic product!
This is a picture of the basic curriculum!

Cant wait for mine to come!!

Sensory Ideas Website

Check out the Hirstwood training website!

This is a fantastic website for anyone working in Special Needs! Check out the videos, especially the cheap ideas videos! Fantastic!

I recently went on one of the courses and would highly recommend it for anyone who needs sensory teaching ideas. The course I went on was the 'Sensory approaches to Autism' course in Birmingham ( ) which really opened my eyes to some of the issues faced by students who are Autistic! I have worked with an Autistic teaching approach (TEACCH) for a few years now but this was a real eye opener!

The website also has loads of other free info such as great iPad apps and other great ideas...

Richard Hirstwood blog is here if you want to keep up to date with everything...

Getting Started

I am apparently 'getting started' with blogging...well here it goes! This is a bit of a new concept but hopefully I am going to post plenty of my classroom ideas on here and ideas that have shamelessly been stolen (don't worry I will be nice and tell you where they came from)!! Here it goes...wish me luck...