Tips for SEN Science

I gave a presentation to Nottinghamshire Secondary Science leaders last year.  I’ve teased out all the important points and listed them below:

The Science lab

  • Displays on wall – reference or pupils’ work (this can be distracting for some autistic children who prefer a feature/stimulation free environment)
  • APP levels/GCSE criteria on display
  • Key words available
  • Use of colour
  • Familiarity with environment and location of equipment
  • Seating plan.  Many SEN children like stability and dislike change.  Sitting in same place is also a powerful tool to use with EBD children

What makes a good worksheet?

  • Choose a suitable font (look at the letters a and e) – eg comic sans
  • Large font size – 14-16pt for weaker pupils
  • Short sentences
  • Simply language but keep some scientific terminology
  • Use symbols or pictures
  • Leave space to fill in answers, perhaps by double spacing.

Possible strategies to use in class

  • Think multi-sensory.  Use sound, text, video, movie clips, clip-art, the internet, CD-roms, the library
  • Use of ICTAC (ICT across the curriculum) – IWBs, word processing, spreadsheets to analyse/graph results, DTP
  • Work with words – key words, word walls, definitions, pelmanism cards
  • Break instructions down into simple steps
  • Sequencing activities – writing up experiments, cycles, cut and paste.  (it is perfectly acceptable for a TA to write sentences or draw diagrams for the pupil to cut and paste themselves.  Do not feel it all has to be their own work
  • Writing frames (Scaffolds) – giving a set of headings which students can flesh out with their own writing, or begin each paragraph so the pupil can finish them
  • Cloze activities and DARTS – fill in the gaps/missing words
  • Paired work – facilitate paired work with a more able pupil

Use of teaching assistants

  • Important how TAs are deployed (Ofsted – good lessons “Teaching assistants and other classroom helpers, and other resources are well deployed to support learning”)
  • Consider who TAs work with, can they support a group of pupils instead?  Could they help run a carousel of activities?
  • Is there scope to plan with the TA?
  • Consider use of the Teaching Assistant’s toolkit (free download)

Useful tips

Don’t Do
  • get TA’s to do pupils’ work for them.  Revision guides remove the need to have an excellent set of notes
  • expect pupils to copy – pupils with poor literacy skills learn nothing from copying, it is a total waste of time
  • isolate pupils within the group – social interaction and groupwork benefits all pupils
  • don’t feel every pupil has to do the same work.  It’s the learning objective that will be the same, not the activity
  • encourage pupils to work out answers for themselves rather telling them things.  Encourage TAs to tease answers out of pupils
  • encourage pupils to work together for practical work rather than wanting a 1:1 group with a TA
  • Consider how to modify an activity to suit SEN pupils
  • encourage the development of literacy and independence skills

Using software you already have:
Using spreadsheets with students
Using presentation software with students

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