Bianca Ni Ghrógáin, 1983-2015

It’s a year ago today since I learned of the untimely death of Bianca Ni Ghrógáin. I had spent the day at Maggie Green’s TechMeUp in Letterkenny, in the company of many of Bianca’s #edchatie friends. I was so shocked and saddened by the news as everyone was. I knew Bianca primarily through Twitter. I had the privilege of meeting her at a TeachMeet in the Guildhall in Derry in 2014.

I often think of her life and am inspired by how she lived.

In her poem ‘The Dash’, Linda Ellis talks about the significance of the dash between the date of your birth and the date of your death. I think everyone who knew Bianca would agree that she should be very proud of how she ‘spent her dash’.






Reading Aloud in the Infant Classroom


CC BY-ND 2.0 Thomas Life (Flickr)

My very first headteacher was previously a Literacy advisor with ILEA. I was fortunate to team teach with her for many years and she instilled in me a love of using picture books in the infant classroom. Many of our pupils came from homes where reading aloud was not a tradition and so we read aloud to the children every single day and followed more or less the same format which I will share with you.

We always read three books: A favourite book, a brand new book and one which was on it’s way to becoming a favourite. We had a box of books marked favourites and the children decided which books made their way into it. These were generally stories which the children knew ‘off by heart’.

We actually planned for the breadth of books which we wanted to read to the class, for e.g. on a Monday it might have been a big book, Tuesdays may have been poetry etc. We read wordless books, traditional tales,  chapter books, action rhymes, finger rhymes, non-fiction books, books which related to a project we may have been doing and sometimes to support the children’s emotional development.

For some stories we used flannelboards. Flannelboards provide a lovely visual display of a story or rhyme and we would often find children retelling the stories to each other using the felt pieces – fabulous for children learning English as a second language. For some stories we would use little figures and puppets also to bring the story alive.

Reading aloud really helps children to internalise the rhythm and the language of stories. This is invaluable to children when they are learning to read by themselves as they can almost predict what the words might be by using the context. It also motivates children to want to read books over and over…which is what we want!




Making Space for The Competent Child

I have been following the  ICT in Education Conference, online, since 2012 and it never fails to make me think and rethink my ideas about education. This year was no exception.

The work of wonderful Youth Media Team, facilitated by Dr. Conor Galvin, Bernie Goldbach and Pam O’Brien, continues to evolve and this year, at the CESI conference and @ICTedu conference, they ran workshops to teach the ‘teachers’ about their recording processes. I love how the roles have been changed here. It would be interesting to hear from the Youth Media Team about how they perceived this experience.

I was delighted to see the tradition of  a pre-conference MakerMeet being continued. This year Bernie Goldbach brought his young children to the MakerMeet and he has recorded their responses to being participants in the MakerMeet here. Another essential viewpoint.

Making spaces for our young citizens to  be active participants in education is often spoken about and @ictedu this is certainly happening.

“We like to say that the child is competent but it is not enough just to declare this. If we really want the child to be competent, we have to change time, space, roles and rules to permit this competent child to exist.” -Carla Rinaldi





The Humble Snipping Tool

snipping tool

I have only recently discovered this tool for capturing screenshots and I love it. Before I started using the Snipping Tool I, like many people, used CTRL and PRTSC which, in comparision to the Snipping Tool is time consuming and unwieldy. Continue reading

Wearable Visuals


In my classroom I follow the SCERTS model. SCERTS is an educational model which addresses the main challenges faced by children with autism and their families. The model focuses on  building competence in the areas of  social communication, emotional regulation and transactional supports and was  developed by Amy Wetherby, Amy Laurent, Barry Prizant and Emily Rubin. Continue reading

Touchscreens in Special Ed.



In my classroom I use a 42″ touchscreen instead of an Interactive Whiteboard and I often get asked why I don’t just use an Interactive Whiteboard instead. I had many reasons for choosing this particular touchscreen for my school: Continue reading

Using Technology to Promote Communication


priory woods.JPG

Priory Woods Switch Videos were one of the very first resources which I used when I started teaching in special schools. They were developed by  Ian Bean during his time at Priory Woods. They are free to download from Priory Woods School Website. Continue reading