To ensure cross-curricular learning and engagement, Chris’ school adapts a thematic approach in planning. The themes are differentiated for the primary and post-primary classes across the school, with post-primary themes selected to incorporate junior cycle topics. This allows for shared learning between classes during mixed activities. At a class level, all students can enjoy and experience many of the same lessons as a group while working at an individual progression pathway with personalised targets.
Each theme lasts for half a term, allowing adequate time for learners to become familiar with the theme and demonstrate potential progression in their learning. When relevant learning outcomes have been selected for Chris, the class teacher allocates these to the most relevant half-term according to progression, need and relevance to the theme. For example, LO 3.18 ‘Participate in making healthy snacks’ fits well with the school theme ‘Healthy living’ in January. The following table shows a snapshot example of thematic planning for Chris from January-June.
PLU 3: Personal care and wellbeing
This is me
3.1 Demonstrate awareness of their own body
Encouragement of self-help skills: hygiene sensory trays
Exploring music and dance from different cultural celebrations
1:1 partner mirror-play
Sensory exploration of environments on visits to parks, beach and local area
Personal care and hygiene
3.9 Make choices related to personal care
Supported participation in toothbrushing, hair brushing and face washing during hygiene sensory tray activity
Demonstrating consistent preference for a flavour of toothpaste—lots of visual exposure to each tube
Begin to express preference for toothpaste flavour with eye pointing
Co-operating with adults during personal care tasks in various environments during class visits
Food and nutrition
Weekly cooking lessons: smoothies, soup, stir fries, fruit salads, porridge bars etc.
Feeling, smelling, tasting, making foods related to themed cultural celebrations
Explore and record favourite foods as part of creating ‘This is me’ book
Participate in preparing picnic foods to take on class visits
Key: LO—Learning outcome PM—Progression pathway EA—Example