Reflection - what these stories exemplify
Anna can express her needs orally (using language, symbols, and texts) by vocalising a tune she has learnt. She consistently sings that tune in association with being hungry (thinking). Her ability to use that tune to get others to meet her needs is evident (relating to others).
How might these stories strengthen Anna’s identity as a learner?
Anna has made this song part of her communication (agency) by vocalising the same tune to express her hunger. She has been doing this since Term 4, 2006 (continuity). Most of the observations were in the school setting with occasional ones while she travelled in the van (breadth). Her skill has been maintained with a range of staff at school, and is extending to other needs, such as thirst (depth).
For more information on the four dimensions of agency, breadth, continuity, and depth (ABCDs), refer to Narrative assessment: a guide for teachers.
Level 1 English
Anna’s learning is situated in the Listening, Reading, and Viewing and Speaking, Writing, and Presenting strands of English. Anna successfully uses song to communicate a need.
What does this tell us about teaching and learning in this setting?
Consistency and routine are critical to Anna’s learning. Because all staff have the same expectations and deliver her adapted curriculum faithfully, Anna has been able to show that she has understood her learning (enhancing the relevance of new learning) by vocalising the same song to express her need. She knows that only by communicating appropriately (encouraging reflective thought) will she get the desired response from staff.
Reflective questions for the reader
“How do we find out about the variety of communication strategies for students like Anna?”
“Why is it important to help students learn appropriate ways of communication?”
“How can we take advantage of opportunities for teaching and learning that occur outside of the classroom setting?”
“How can we use the student’s interest to foster further learning in other settings and curriculum areas?”
Butterfield, N., Arthur, M., & Sigafoos, J. (c1995). Partners in everyday communicative exchanges: a guide to promoting interaction involving people with severe intellectual disability. Baltimore: Paul H. Brookes Pub. Co.
Downing, J. E. (c2005). Teaching communication skills to students with severe disabilities. Baltimore, Md.: Paul H. Brookes Pub. Co.
McCormick, L., Loeb, D. F., & Schieflbusch, R. L. (c2003). Supporting children with communication difficulties in inclusive settings: school-based language intervention. Boston: Allyn and Bacon.