The development of vocabulary and an understanding of the patterns of language are essential parts in the development of literacy. "10 Minutes With" is a program which has enabled some of my students, who have multiple disabilities, to develop broader vocabularies and a greater understanding of patterns of language used in speech.
The Purpose of "10 Minutes With"
- I met with the class teacher to discuss and modify the program
- I discussed the program with the SLSOs who work with Al, explaining its purpose and the extreme importance of adults enabling the confidentiality by staying away from students.
- I spoke to Al’s class about the purpose of the program; the class teacher and I both explained:
- how this would benefit Al
- how this would benefit other students (we talked about the importance in workplace and private relationships of being able to express ourselves clearly and explain ourselves, among other things).
- We emphasised the confidentiality of the conversations.
- The teacher selected a pair of boys who she thought would be successful in this program. She spent her lunch time playground duty speaking to them about what they might say and do with Al. (In fact, she trained them in the task before setting the task. I believe this step is essential in making the program work).
- During English each Wednesday, 2 students went into the playground with Al, sat and chatted for 10 minutes. I and a SLSO supervised from afar.
- Early in the program I talked to the whole class after each session, commenting on my observations of Al. It was the most engaged I had seen him, he was enjoying himself and I talked to them about understanding Al’s responses, which clearly showed how much he enjoyed himself.
- From the beginning I had to run interference in the playground. Staff were so used to seeing Al with an adult that when they saw him with his peers they almost ran towards him, demanding to know why the students had him. (I think some of them believed he’d been kidnapped.) I had to explain the program, and reassure them that this was a good thing. In some cases I was challenged about the language that his peers might be using. My response was – “He’s 17, what language should they be using?”
Things to Note:
- Many students had been at school with Al for years and they had a desire to interact with him, this program helped them to find a way.
- The students really liked the class teacher and I am sure that this influenced them to participate enthusiastically in the project.
- All students in Al’s class participated in this program. The class teacher continued to encourage and facilitate participation.
- There is now a different teacher on this class and the new teacher has embraced "10 Minutes With", so it continues. Students are on their second or third 10 Minutes. Recently a student asked if they could set up a Facebook account for Al.
Other ways to use “10 Minutes With”
- In a recent meeting one teacher suggested that "10 Minutes With" could be used by students to reflect on their learning within a subject. At the end of the lesson one student could sit with Al and explain what they’ve learnt that lesson. This would fit the stage 6 outcome “A student reflects on their own learning.”
- Another of my students is 11 years old and has cortical vision impairment, cerebral palsy and delayed speech development. Our aim was to help her develop speech patterns and vocabulary that are age appropriate and ways to interact with her peers without adult assistance. This meets the requirements of the stage 3 English syllabus in the speaking and listening section.
- Her class teacher suggested a modification to "10 minutes with" that suited well.
- Literacy groups are held daily with groups (of 3 to 5 students) doing a different activity each day. Each day my student joined a different group for 10 minutes. They had scripted questions provided by the teacher that were repeated for 2 weeks. My student asked each of the students in the group one question and heard their answers, then one student asked her the question and she answered.
- Questions such as “Do you have a pet?” “Do you have brothers and sisters?” were used in early sessions. Others such as “What are you looking forward to in High School?” came later.
- Words from "10 Minutes With" became part of my student’s reading and spelling word lists for the week.
- In this modification of "10 Minutes With" it was once again possible to see the development of vocabulary and language patterns. Students enjoyed the interaction and my student loved spending time with her peers.
- I’ve also recently used "10 Minutes With" as part of a socialisation program with a student of mine. He is in year 2 and quite anxious. Recently 3 mature and self-motivated year 6 boys were asked to volunteer to spend 10 minutes once a week with my student during play time. My student loves this interaction and is learning positive behaviours and play by spending time with them. The older boys really enjoy having this opportunity to support him.