The Optimus blog

The blog that inspires leaders in the UK education sector

The Optimus blog

The blog that inspires leaders in the UK education sector

Evie Prysor-Jones

Simple strategies to achieve assessment basics

Learn practical strategies to help pupils with SEN get the basics of test vocabulary, spelling and times tables.

It's unlikely any pupil enjoys the exam period, but for pupils with SEN, even the ethos surrounding tests can be enough to provoke stress and self-doubt. 

As Jean Gross points out in her four-page special in our Insight magazine:

 ‘imagine understanding that you’re a zero – any child who plays video games will recognise that this is the bottom level. Or being told you’re working at a Year 1 level when you’re actually in Year 3! An unmotivated pupil is not a learning pupil.’

In this blog, I'm pulling out some of Jean’s most practical tips for ensuring pupils with SEN are not left behind.

Jean’s full four-page special is available to members in our Insight magazine. Not yet a member? Delve deeper into SEND assessment models with our toolkit.

1. Learning top test terms

Children need to analyse each word:

  • by its sounds (what does it begin with/end with/rhyme with/number of syllables)
  • by its meaning – children should agree their own child-friendly definition for the word being taught, using a dictionary like Collins CoBuild to help them. They might also say where else they might see the word (e.g. ‘examine’, ‘outline’), apart from in tests, and make up a gesture to help them remember the word
  • by grammatical structure – identifying the word as a verb, and making up a sentence containing it.

2. Learning spellings

Not all children learn spellings in the same way, and it is worth systematically trying out several methods until you find the right one for a given child.

Some are mentioned in the picture at the top of this blog. Another option is mnemonics.

Mnemonics work best with pictures, supplied or drawn by the children.

They can be applied to the whole word, or just to the tricky part – a CIA agent is a special agent, for ‘special’.

3. Learning times tables

Finally, every SENCO needs to pass on tips for those children who just can’t remember their times tables by heart. Most can manage the two, five and ten times tables, so build on that. Elevens are easy too (at least up to 99).

Tips for times tables
 

Threes

Multiply the number by two, then add the original number to the total- so 8 X 3 is the same as 8 X 2 plus 8

Fours

Multiply the number by 2, then by 2 again

Sixes

Multiply the number by five, then add the original number to the total- so 8 X 6 is the same as 8 X 5 plus 8

Sevens

Break the seven into two and five – so to work out 3 X 7,  add 3 X 2 and 3 X 5

Eights

Double the number three times – so for 5 X 8, double 5 to make 10, double 10 to make 20, double 20 to make 40

Nines

Use the finger method: you can find loads of examples on YouTube

Twelves

Try using the list approach: search for 12 times table trick on YouTube

What's next?

As we head into the final year of implementation of the reforms, it's time for SENCOs to reflect on current success, set clear action plans for next steps and leave with a renewed focus on your provision.

Join us for the 15th annual SENCO Update, Thursday 25th May 2017 in London. Register now to secure your place! 

 

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