Willans Hill One Year On – still providing literacy for ALL students

Reposted with permission from www.janefarrall.com/blog


Last year I wrote about the exciting literacy project I was involved with at Willans Hill School in Wagga Wagga on the Spectronics blog.  The inspiration for my original blog (apart from overwhelming excitement about the changes we were seeing) was an interview with Prime Television.  Last week, the school was visited by the television cameras once again, so I thought it was time for a review of the first year.

For those of you who haven’t read about the project previously, Willans Hill is a Special School in country New South Wales, Australia with around 70 students, all with moderate to severe intellectual disability and many with multiple disabilities.

In 2011 the school executive, led by their fabulous principal Chris Lennon, decided to adopt the Four Blocks approach to literacy instruction throughout the whole school.  Each classroom committed to spending a minimum of 2 hours per day on literacy instruction and to provide differentiated instruction for all the students in each classroom.  I was lucky enough to be heavily involved in this process – doing the pre and post data collection and also providing monthly visits for support and training for the school staff.

The results from 2011 have shown the project was an unequivocal success and the school has committed to continue using the Four Blocks approach to literacy.  In the video below, which was aired on WIN Television last week, you can get a taste of the results.

Chris Lennon and myself will be presenting the full results of this project at upcoming conferences, including the Inclusive Learning Technologies conference in May and at the International Society for Augmentative and Alternative Communication conference in July. Hope to see you at one of those great events as we share more information about the educational and systemic changes brought about as a result of this project.

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About Jane Farrall

Jane has been working in the disability and assistive technology field for over 20 years. She has extensive practical experience in both Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) and in teaching children and adults with disabilities to acquire literacy.

Jane has worked as a school and adult service based therapist and literacy teacher. She has also worked as an assistive technology specialist at both ComTEC and at Spectronics and is currently working as an independent consultant in literacy, AAC and Assistive Technology.

She has completed a Masters in Special Education focusing on literacy acquisition in children and adults without speech. Jane is a former Chairperson of AGOSCI (Australian Group on Severe Communication Impairment) and is the founder and organiser of the Big Mouth Camp, a camp for school aged students using speech generating devices and their families. You can get more information about Jane at her website www.janefarrall.com.

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