Teaching science to SEN students – ideas and strategies from #ASEchat (on Twitter)

Tonight the focus of #ASEchat was on teaching science to SEN students.  (If you want to know more about #ASEchat on Twitter read this).  The full text of tonight’s chat on Twitter can be found here (in my unofficial archive) or on the ASE site here.

The chat session started off discussing the P-levels and the new guidance that had been issued earlier the same day by the DFE.  It was felt that the levels for P7 and P8 were harder than those for level 1 which is supposed to be more challenging.  @Cleverfiend explained that this was because the P-levels were added to the national curriculum as an afterthought.

The topic moved onto strategies to use when teaching SEN or lower attaining students.  I’ve included the twitter ID of those who mentioned each strategy so you can get in touch if you want further details:

  • Pictorial or symbolised instructions for use for practical work (also good for EAL learners) – @ejw232 @cleverfiend
  • Repetition using different tasks @ejw232
  • Use of digital photography to create the method and turning them into a digital photostory @Mallrat_uk
  • Use of low literacy activities with not much writing. Collaborative poster work, wipe clean surfaces, pictures instead @90_maz
  • For low literacy levels, lots of emphasis on key words, lots of practical, short notes, diagrams @13loki
  • A reminder that you may go back to previous key stages or select parts of the curriculum for students who have SEN.  However @cleverfiend reminded chatters that there is already plenty of repetition in the national curriculum as it is!
  • Use of symbol software like communicate in print @90_maz (@cleverfiend reminded purchasers to check their stringent copyright terms first)
  • Repetition of key words by the class @anhalf
  • Relevance to everyday lives. An example given was making speakers from cupcake cases @asober
  • An interesting debate broke out about writing on walls and desks (using appropriate pens). @mallrat_uk and @cleverfiend were in favour.
  • Use of Velcro to display key words and allow repositioning on wall @cardiffscience
  • Voicethread as an assessment tool @asober
  • Scaffolding or using writing frames. They allow students to focus on the content rather than the structure @biolady99 @cleverfiend
  • Use of random name picking like The Hat to select random pairs @cleverfiend
  • Use of special software on iPad to create comic strips @mallrat_uk
  • Clear learning objectives, use of WALT and WILF @biolady99

Accreditation at 16 was varied across the schools discussed, ranging from GCSE (AQA B) through BTEC to Entry level.  It was felt that the new format of linear assessment for GCSE wouldn’t suit children with SEN.  The final word however must go to @anhalf who reminded us that “defined learning outcomes, well-pitched lessons are no different for sen than mainstream!”

Useful links:


Published by Rob Butler

Ex-science teacher, ex-school leader and full-time geek.