Archive for October 31st, 2007
I say it often, but I truly am A LUCKY MAN.
I visited Baytree Special school, in Weston-super-Mare, again today for a sensory session with a large group of children across the age range that the school caters for.
The aim was to use a computer generated landscape as the foundation for a sensory experience. After a meeting with the teaching staff, a few weeks ago, we decided to take the students on a “virtual beach trip”
I didn’t know quite what to expect from the session and confess to feeling something I don’t feel very often: nervous.
I shouldn’t have been. The staff at Baytree are an incredible bunch. They all made a massive effort to give the children an immersive experience in the environment that we visited.
We had every kind of beach-y, nautical, holiday article imaginable. Shells, sand sea-weed (some green, some a deep, rich, sink-into-it brown, the most gorgeous colour I know!) sun hats, water, driftwood, stuffed dolphins, crabs, turtles, towels… you name it, we had it! Fans and hair driers did a great job of impersonating warm, dry coastal breezes. Rocks and pebbles provided some amazing contrasting textures.
What surprised me was the genuine progression and change that occurred between the beginning and the end of the session.
One lad surprised us by using some quite developed vocabulary when he doesn’t normally communicate so readily. For example, we were making sand castles and after Tricia, his key worker had tapped one out of the bucket he said “I am going to make another, bigger one” Tricia and I were quite startled how expressive he had become.
He was also very perceptive about what was generating the images on the whiteboard and the sound effects of wind and waves within the room. When he had discovered my laptop, we spent a little time exploring “up” and “down” and how the arrows on the keyboard were having an effect on whether we looking at the sand or into the sky. His responses, and the way that he manipulated the image showed real, bright thought. A delight to share. That mum was happily surprised at his use of language was also very pleasing.
All of the children, and there were quite a lot of them in the session, seemed to show real delight in the experience, from pouring sand from different heights (and even describing the feeling of it running through you fingers, “cool” and “watery”) through to stroking the gorgeous shining sea-weed.
Thank you to all of the staff: Shelley, Caroline, Ann, Maria, Stephanie, Andrea, Tricia, Laura, Angela, Barbara, Angie and Evelyn for making the session go … swimmingly!
Well done to Adam, Millie, Jack, Maisie, Jamie, Jake, Mollie, Ethan, Ciaran, Lewis, and Liam. It was great to spend time with you in the sunshine.
There were smiles galore through the whole session, one of the biggest being on my face! That smile was wiped off when it came down to clearing up the mess though!
Thanks to all and see you tomorrow for some more.
If you want to see how ICT and sensory stories can be mixed to great effect and with rich humour, visit the master of such things, the wonderful Pete Wells. Pete, another BECTA Award Winner, has been described as the Johnny Vegas of education. This belittles the man’s skills at inspiring children of all abilities but does portray some of his wit behind the wisdom. Visit Pete’s site HERE