iPads in the Classrooms
The FLDC recognised the importance of students with DLD developing their skills in Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) to support their learning. In collaboration with the P&C, a bank of iPads was purchased to be used across all sites. The staff was involved in a series of professional learning opportunities on how to effectively use iPads to develop Oral Language, Literacy and Numeracy. They have proven to be a very engaging and motivating tool for learning. This continues to be a focus with the expansion of iPads in classrooms for students to create and communicate information and ideas across all curriculum areas.
MULTILIT (“Making Up Lost Time In Literacy”) is a specialized reading and spelling program that has been developed at Macquarie University Special Education Centre (MUSEC). It has been specifically designed for teaching low-progress readers in Year 2 and above who are reading at a level considerably below what might be expected for their age. It involves intensive, systematic instruction in word attack skills (phonics), sight word recognition and supported book reading. Research from MUSEC has shown that incorporating these elements in classroom programs greatly supports student progress. There are three components to the Word Attack Skills part of the program – accuracy, fluency and spelling. These components incorporate explicit and systematic teaching of decoding skills (teaching students’ sounds that they can then build into words), achieving automaticity of those decoding skills, and putting these skills into written practice. In 2012 volunteers were trained in implementing the MULTILIT program and with the assistance of support teachers and Education Assistants the program was provided to all year 2 & 3 students across the three sites.
Sports and Fundamental Skills
All students from years 1 – 3 participate in 2 hours of physical activity per week as stipulated by the Department of Education. This is achieved through a specialised physical education program combined with a daily fitness timetable of activities. The Sports and Fundamental Skills Schedule concentrates on playground games, circuit work, field hockey, basketball, athletics, and dance. A playground games and associated virtues program is implemented at the start of the school year to develop positive playground behaviours from day one. Through this program the students are encouraged to have fun and make friends by using the virtues to guide their behaviour and decisions.
The continued implementation of “circuit work” assists to individually develop student’s overall body strength, balance (vestibular system) coordination (proprioception) and self-confidence. A gross motor test, based on a physiotherapist screening test, is used to assess students Yr1-3 in their skill development in Term 1 and again in Term 3. The results of individual performance is then presented to parents in the student’s summative school report. Students at all three sites participated in a dance program which concludes with a “Social Dance”.
The virtues continue to underpin all Health and Physical Education lessons to develop appropriate behaviours during sport and play times. These behaviours are modelled and discussed by teaching staff and Education Assistants working with the students. The Fremantle LDC promotes a Healthy Eating Healthy Lifestyle policy through modelling and reinforcement of personal hygiene, safe play and sun awareness. The school is a registered Crunch & Sip school and all students participate in daily crunch and sip activities.
The Fremantle LDC recognises that many of its students display difficulties in the area of fine motor, sensory processing and sensory regulation. The school has a specialist program that supports student development in this area. This is further supported by the OT Grant for students in Pre Primary. The Sensory Motor program is provided to students in year1-3 and is an intensive individual and small group intervention program. Students receive Sensory Motor lessons with specialist teachers across the three sites and handwriting/fine motor programs were implemented to support the development of strength and skills necessary for appropriate classroom application. At the Caralee site the Sensory Motor room has allowed for the establishment of a permanent movement circuit that targets the development of vestibular and proprioceptive input and can be accessed by students throughout the week. Staffs are provided with professional learning in the areas of fine motor skill development, sensory processing and the “Alert” program that support students having difficulty with self regulation. The strategies taught in this program are embedded into the Fremantle LDC Behaviour management processes and policy. Classroom teachers have access to Occupational Therapy resource boxes to support classroom programs with additional support being provided by the Sensory Motor teachers.
A parent information session on the Sensory Motor Program are conducted in term 1at all 3 sites to support parents in learning about sensory processing and the exercises to support their child’s development. Parents have continued to be informed of their child’s exercise program and their achievements throughout the year with parents being able to access videos of the exercises through the FLDC webpage.
Information Communication Technology
The FLDC recognises the importance of staff and students having access to the technology to support “21st Century Learning”. Many students with DLD rely heavily on the visual mode of learning and technology and computers can play a major role in supporting their learning. Information Technology also boosts student motivation and engagement, and in turn enhances learning. A range of technology including Interactive Whiteboards, Board maker, computer banks, iPads and audio visual programs are used consistently within daily classroom programs to ensure that all students have maximum opportunities in accessing the curriculum. All classrooms are fitted with Soundfield Systems to maximise auditory input and support student learning.