A year ago, my headteacher was approached by the borough inclusion advisor about a project to improve parental engagement for SEN pupils using ICT. She sent myself and a member of our SEN team to participate. To my surprise, the project was actually to create an app for SEN pupils that would help captivate parental interest in their child’s learning and we were invited to act as advisors.
Over the course of the next term, staff from my school (including myself), experts from the borough/local schools and an app developer worked to create an app called Mission2Maths. It was designed to allow SEN pupils to practice number facts from 1-20 across an engaging interface that offered feedback at each level. Each ‘world’ was designed with input from our SEN lead and a maths advisory teacher to provide question formats inline with the research in testing in maths. My role was to assist in this area but also inform the overall app layout from the point of view of a class teacher/ technology-user.
The progressive levels are controlled by an adult user and each question allows multiple attempts before moving to the next question while providing scaffolding as needed.
If the child cannot answer the question it is indicated in the progress section visible to the parent and the child is able to go back and practice those questions again. From a teaching point of view, this is beneficial because I am able to see the specific areas that the child is struggling with and adapt my planning to suit those needs.
Once the development/feedback phase was completed we organised to test the app in foundation state and with SEN pupils throughout my school and others in the borough. This gave us an idea of the difficulty of the questions we set out and the how intuitive the user interface was. After the test phase was complete the app was launched across the borough to pupils and parents.
After the success of Mission2Maths, the borough ordered a second app around the topic of literacy; named Time2Read. Once again I was able to work a small team advisors and teachers across the borough to develop the app layout and objectives. This time around, however, Time2Read was much more complex requiring knowledge of phonics. Time2Read is a more complex app that not only provides feedback on the child’s answers, but also gives a verbal model of letters sounds and blending.
It was a very rewarding experience working with officials from the borough then implementing the app we created across our schools and to parents in our community. At my school we still use both of the apps in the SEN and nursery departments, while I use it as a tool to support/assess the SEN children in my classroom.
Both apps are available for iPad on the iTunes app store: