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Speech and Language in the Classroom

The Blog

Friday, 16 May 2014

Help your pupils ask for help

Independent kids

Increasing the independence of pupils is important to help them complete tasks, and become responsible for their learning. Pupils may struggle to recognise that they need help, tell you they need help, or tell you what help they need (ask for appropriate help).

Here’s two ideas you could try out in your classroom to support your pupils in asking for help.

1/ Use red, amber and green flash cards for pupils to show whether or not they have understood. This can be used across key stages with individual pupils or the whole class. When you have given the class an instruction, ask the pupils to place a card face up on their desk, to show if they need extra help.

Red: I don’t understand and I need help -- Amber: I have some questions -- Green: I understand

Encourage pupils to show you or tell you if they understand by using these cards. They could place them on the corner of their desk for you to spot as you walk round. This will increase pupil responsibility for their own learning, and pupil awareness of their understanding.

A school I visited recently use coloured paper cups instead of cards, and they say they work really well. I love this idea! The children stack the cups on their desk (red, yellow or green cups).

2/ Use Help Me cards

Using ‘Help Me’ cards, pupils can be taught to recognise why they don’t understand something or can’t complete a task, increasing awareness, independence and responsibility for their own learning. ‘Help Me’ cards are simply a series of cards which represent what the pupil is finding difficult, for example ‘the words are too hard, you spoke too fast, it was not clear’. Using the system helps pupils learn what it is about the situation that is difficult and how to ask for help appropriately, for example

“The words are too hard. Can you say it in a different way?”

Try putting these cards in the middle of each table so pupils can grab them easily. They can be used individually with children with SLCN, so you could make up a keyring of the cards for the pupil to carry around with them.

These two approaches represent types of Visual Support which can be used in the classroom. Read more on Visual Support here...

I hope you enjoy trying these out in your classroom!

Sarah Wall, Speech and Language Therapist.

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