Category Archives: SEND

Word Aware – Electronic resources

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Spin Game

Pinterest –   Twitter:  @wordaware

Written by Anna Branagan and Stephen Parsons, Word Aware is an evidence-based approach to Teaching Vocabulary.  It is a ‘Universal’ intervention, designed for all pupils.  It is intended to be part of the life of the school, embedded rather than arbitrary.  Related text books include the  Language for Thinking series, which help teach increasingly complex questions.

During our school based training, Anna described how words are used for speaking, reading and understanding. Children have to be interested and engaged in word learning.  The spiral of being interested and enjoying reading is linked to the development of a wider vocabulary.  Enjoyment can be via a range of activities including crosswords, wordplay and other games. Our students are beginning an independent journey to developing language, based on engagement and enjoyment.

The approach for Word Aware is for the learning to be embedded in the school day, taking place regularly.  A STAR approach is used – Select, Teach, Activate and Review:

  • Select involves identifying appropriate vocabulary, considering whether the words are ‘anchor’ – thoroughly understood, ‘Goldilocks’ – desirable for students to use, or ‘Step-on’ – topic specific, not usually needed for writing.
  • Teach involves a range of elements to teach the vocabulary, including using the ‘Word Wizard’ (available from the book or CD-Rom).
  • Activate involves adding more meaning and making sense from the student’s own perspective, with lots of opportunities to hear and see the word.
  • Review is intended to help fix the word in long term memory.

Electronic resources

I’ve put together a few resources linked to some of the games and activities that I hope may be useful if you are using Word Aware. Continue reading

The positive impact of creating digital games

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Today, I was privileged to attended a workshop organised by Stony Dean School, entitled:

Understanding and developing the use of digital games as a pedagogical tool in the classroom

The workshop featured presenters taking part in ‘The Games Project’.  The Games Project is an action research, collaborative project between Sweden and the UK, funded by the Erasmus+ programme – more information is available from the website:

The ethos of the project is centred around ‘Maker Culture’ (Maker Education Initiative – Every child a maker –, following the assertion that if pupils are makers they are more actively engaged.  In this project, such making is facilitated by computer programming to create and play digital games (artefacts). Continue reading

Book Creator – from indifference to magnificence!

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When I was first introduced to Book Creator several years back, I have to say I was a little indifferent.  I couldn’t really see back then how it did anything different to other apps such as Keynote or Google Slides.  How very wrong I was!  Book Creator is now our most widely used app, and when used in conjunction with the accessibility features of the iPad (0r Android/Windows 10), it has allowed our pupils to communicate their thoughts in whole new ways.  It is intuitive, and really does make the best of facilities such as the camera and microphone which are built in to the iPad.

We use Book Creator for:

  • e-portfolios of computing work
  • as a teacher tool for recording evidence in, for example, Forest Schools
  • maths lessons, for pupils to take evidence of achievements that are ordinarily tricky to record, such as creating 3d shapes
  • science lessons for taking photographs and describing
  • creating comic books
  • mindmaps

…and of course….making books.   I put together an ‘Apps in a Flash’ video to showcase what can be done with Book Creator.  I cannot recommend it highly enough.

Link to Book Creator in the iTunes store

Writing with shapes and technology

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Shape Coding is used in many schools to support language including writing.  The official source of all things Shape Coding can be found at the Moor House School and College website.  Here is a link.

However, many schools have created or adapted resources to support writing, including ourselves.   We have developed an iPad app called ‘Furze Down Shapes’.  To respect the wishes of Shape Coding’s author, we are only using the app internally.    The app allows shapes to be used to support the writing process.  It features text to speech synthesis to read words to students and a limited selection of words in word banks.

FDS ShapesWe have just started using the app with students, and staff have already provided some feedback:

  • “Best thing I’ve seen for using with our students on an iPad”
  • “It’s very useful”
  • “I like the way sentences can be rearranged”


Continue reading