Special needs

17th November 2000 at 00:00

THESEUS AND THE MINOTAUR. ROMEO AND JULIET. pound;34.99 each. By Beverley Rees

White Heron Educational Products, 112 Harrowdene Gardens, Sandy Lane, Teddington, TW11 0DL.Tel: 020 8977 8721

More schools and centres than ever before are discovering that literature and drama offer opportunities for learning, social interaction and enjoyment to students across the ability range. Resources that are truly inclusive should indicate some differentiation and adaptations - for example, for pupils with sensory impairments, specific language difficulties, profound and multiple disabilities, or severe physical disabilities.

Given the pressures on classroom staff, it should also be crystal clear what skills the activities promote, and their relationship to the curriculum; and the activities should be practical, easy to understand and implement, cheap and fun.

These two publications offer narrative verse dramas, paired with a series of 15 workshops designed to teach drama skills to all students. They are packed with creative ideas that are referenced to particular skills.

A somewhat uniform approach to special needs is adopted. The resources seem mainly to be aimed at pupils with mild to moderate learnin difficulties, reasonable understanding of language and some basic literacy skills. There are occasional nods in the direction of pupils with more complex difficulties - one mention of sensory activities (Friar Lawrence's herb garden) and one or two references to Makaton signs.

This said, I think any competent teacher would find the activities easy to adapt. I particularly like the way warm - up activities are related to the main story line, and the links made to the personal experiences of pupils. The narrative verses offer a rollicking way to tell the stories - though personally I would rather try to make Shakespeare's wonderful language accessible to all pupils, instead of rendering it into verse that does not always simplify and can seem a little pedestrian.

The resources are very well designed and produced, particularly Theseus, which has helpful worksheets, and impressionistic colour illustrations. These will be useful and enjoyable additions to the library for teachers in both primary and secondary sectors - I am going to put some of the ideas into practice right away.

Nicola Grove is a senior lecturer in the department of language and communication science at City University

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