Posts Tagged ‘special education’
Thanksgiving Week: Day 1
I love the story of Thanksgiving. It is a story of inclusion (click here) and interdependence.
A group of pioneer families risk it all and travel to a strange land. They gratefully accept the help of the Native Americans who look different, speak a different language, have different cultural and religious beliefs. At first they are fearful of the differences, eventually they peacefully trade, share and learn from each other. The Native Americans welcome them into this new people and environment. But the Native Americans save the pilgrims from starvation (yea, corn, pumpkins, turkeys…) and disease (yea, the cranberry). Both groups still value their own cultural beliefs and traditions, but as neighbors they become an interdependent community which shares the hard work and sacrifice. Then, after a successful harvest, they do what every culture since the beginning of time does, they are thankful and celebrate.
As an early childhood teacher and special education professional I looked for ways to teach about cooperation, collaboration, and community. I looked for ways to include my students with special needs into the “normalized” (click here) holiday school programs and activities. I looked for ways to differentiate the curriculum so even the students with the most severe disabilities could partially participate.
Inclusion success stories for ALL children:
White Gifts for the Food Bank:
The entire school sponsored a “white gift” program for Thanksgiving. Each child brought in a non-perishable food item for the local food bank. The children decorated and wrapped the gifts in white tissue paper and put them into donated laundry baskets to distribute.
Thanksgiving Day Program:
I paraphrased and adapted the songs and dances so everyone could participate. We used the songs below in both large whole school programs and our individual class programs.
Bringing in the Community:
These were always crowd favorites. We would sing the songs, have someone dress up like a turkey and strut around. (One time it was the principal, one time a favorite music/gym teacher, sometimes a parent or a student from the high school drama club.) The turkey also lead the rhythm band for a couple songs. When we had a music teacher, she taught the rhythm band, after the cutbacks the teacher did it.
Each student made a picture for their families. If they were able, they wrote and read a sentence of what they were thankful for to the group. If the student couldn’t read, write or talk, they had a picture or the actual object they were thankful for (A picture of their family or a grandparent, a flower…) They might use a tape recorder, or ask their friends to say it with them.
For the grand finale, the class would line-dance to the traditional music of Turkey in the Straw and Old Joe Clark (the gym teacher helped teach the dances).
Finally, we ask the parents, brothers – sisters to join in for the Turkey in the Straw square and Old Joe Clark square dance classics.
The students created and colored/painted the programs, created unique tickets if we had limited seating, and they collected the tickets at the door. The words to all the songs were in the program so the children and parents could read and sing them together at home.
The day before the program we had everyone bring in a piece of fruit for each person who was coming, the class made fruit salad, corn bread and cookies for the refreshments. Extra parents volunteered the day we made the fruit salad, corn bread and cookies. We had about 6 different kinds of fruit and vegetable peelers. We set up “stations” with a parent as supervisor of each station. Everyone participated, or partially participated according to their abilities.
Disabilities were not the issue, it was how can this person participate.
The students decorated the room and bulletin boards. We made several large murals of fruit cornacopeia, or a farm or grocery fruit and vegetable stand, or garden….
During our group story time, we used poster board to plan what we would do, and who would be responsible. We divided up the chores. The children chose how they wanted to do it. We usually combined the farm,Thanksgiving, food and/or autumn thematic units so the bulletin boards and room were decorated at least a week ahead of time. All learning activities focused on the thematic unit, were tied to standardized goals and IEP goals.
Children Giving the Tour:
Before the program, the students gave their parents and guests a tour of the classroom explaining what we were doing, what they were learning.
After the program, the parents got to take all their child’s work home to show grandma and grandpa or other friends on Thanksgiving day.
On Thanksgiving Day
Many families told us the whole family sang the songs and some used the “On Thanksgiving” song as part of the grace at Thanksgiving dinner. It really was a nice way of bringing the families into our program and letting the children be the experts and teach the songs, games to their families.
Ole Mr. Turkey
Who’s that struttin’ round lookin’ mighty perky?
Looks like it might be old Mister Turkey.
Strut Mr. Turkey that’s a fancy way to walk
Strut Mr. Turkey that’s a fancy way to walk.
Gobble, Gobble, Gobble
I’m a mighty fine turkey and I sing a fine song,
GOBBLE GOBBLE GOBBLE, GOBBLE, GOBBLE, GOBBLE
I strut around the barnyard all the day long and my head goes
BOBBLE BOBBLE BOBBLE.
TUNE: FRIERE JACQUES – Round
(In our school program, I took a song the children knew, rewrote the words, and chose one child to be the “conductor” for each part of the round. Another time in a whole school program, three different classes each sang a different part of the round.)
On Thanksgiving, on Thanksgiving
We are glad, we are glad.
For all the special blessings, all the special blessings
That we have, that we have.
(repeat 3 times)
TUNE: Turkey in the Straw
(I paraphrased the words so we could act it out.)
Oh, a turkey is a bird, just as proud as can be.
He struts around with his tail in the breeze.
He makes gobble noises at everyone he sees.
But thanksgiving is coming, and that’s not make-believe!
RUN TURKEY, HIDE TURKEY
Turkey in the straw, turkey in the hay,
Where oh where will the turkey be
When the table is set Thanksgiving Day? (rub tummy)
(Transition verse- putting on coats, getting in line….)
In winter when it’s cold and snows
I have to wear a lot of clothes.
If only I were like a bear
I wouldn’t have all this to wear.
Whatever weather she is in,
She grows her coat right on her skin.
What are some of your memories? How did the teacher include ALL students, including the students with disabilities in their activities? What were some of the lessons of that first Thanksgiving that apply to building community and celebrating diversity?
Keep Climbing: Onward and Upward
All my best,
The first time Aaron brought home a hand-print turkey he was 3 years old and I thought it was adorable.
When Aaron was 25 years old and brought home the same hand-print turkey, I was livid.
What’s the difference? Same kid, same activity. Why is one turkey a treasure, another only fit for the garbage?
The difference is the educational and philosophical debate between “developmentally age-appropriate” and “chronologically age-appropriate” activities for people with autism and developmental disabilities.
In a previous post, I introduced Dr. Lou Brown’s ecological assessment tool the “Life Space Analysis” (click here) This planning tool for people with disabilities helps identify the when, where, who and what fills a person’s day and gives clues on a person’s quality of life–though this tool can be useful for all of us.
1970s: The Birth of Special Education
Back in the 70s when IDEA was passed and people with disabilities first got the right to go to public school, everyone was trying to figure out how people with disabilities learned? What were the appropriate activities and curriculum? If you want more information about this time period click here: Parallels in Time II.”
Dr. Lou Brown and his colleagues found adolescents and adults across the country playing with infant toys. The “what” in their Life Space Analysis consisted of meaningless activities repeated every day like: coloring, stacking blocks, putting colored rings on tubes, playing with wooden puzzles and generally keeping Fisher Price in business.
The rationale was these students were eternal children. It didn’t make any difference what they did. There were no expectations. They had low IQs and were functioning at a preschool or early childhood developmental level. So teachers used materials and activities matching the student’s developmental levels. For example: If a person had an IQ of 50 and a developmental age of 5.2 (6 years and 2 months), then the person with the disability should do activities that matched what a normal 5.2 month old child would do. It didn’t matter if the “child” was actually 19 or 35, or 70 in chronological years.
2010: Adult Services
I have to admit, I thought the idea of developmental age was long dead. Aaron went to public school and had plans for his future as an adult (click here). He had a functional community based curriculum, he had a transition plan, and he had work experiences. Plus, the research in the whole field of special education and adult services, strongly supports the idea of chronologically age-appropriate activities.
So, again: What’s the Problem?
In my recent round of looking at adult day care for people with disabilities and the elderly, I have been shocked out of my mind to find rooms with Fisher Price toys. I know the toys are indestructible, but come on. They are NOT AGE-Appropriate! If the toy package says ages 3-6, then if you are over 6 years old, it is not age-appropriate.
Schools vs. Adult Day Care
The difference between best practice in the schools and best practice in adult services is the fact that the staff and teachers are licensed. They have training and have studied the research literature about best practices. They have done student teaching and got first hand experiences under mentor teachers.
The people who run and work in the adult day care systems are lovely people who have high school diploma’s (or GEDs) and because the job pays little more than minimum wage, they get no inservice, no vision of what CAN happen. They have the reality of too many people with disabilities, not enough help, and no training. So making preschool turkeys, or paper plate pilgrims makes sense to them. The materials are cheap and the activity matches their developmental ages.
I am thankful Aaron has some place to go during the day. (Some states have nothing and the people sit at home.)
I am thankful these kind people don’t abuse and hurt Aaron.
I am thankful they take him to the bathroom, wipe up his messes, help him eat his lunch, and do their best.
But, they send home a paper plate bunny, toilet paper firecracker, macaroni Santa… And I am not thankful.
I don’t have an answer. I have tried to send in more age-appropriate materials and resources. I have tried to show alternative activities. And they are not thankful.
What do you think? Is my age-appropriate rant just silly? What do you think I should do the next time Aaron brings home a preschool craft? Do you think the types of activities makes a difference to the people with disabilities?
If this makes sense and you want to spread the word, please retweet or link to Facebook. We have a whole lot of people to reach before the Christmas and holiday crafts begin.
I would be thankful.
Keep Climbing: Onward and Upward
All my best,
Brown, L., Branston, M., Hamre Nietupski, S., Pumpian, I., Certo, N. & Gruenewald, L. (1979). A Strategy for Developing Chronological Age Appropriate and Functional Curricular Content For Severely Handicapped Adolescents and Young Adults. Journal of Special Education, 13(1), 81 – 90.
Here is one of our most popular posts. Relax and make an individualized ENJOYMENT plan for your best holiday ever.
Mom’s I.E.P. for the Holidays: Individualized Enjoyment Plan
Want to enjoy the holidays?
Easy as I.E.P.
Don’t laugh. I.E.P.’s were developed because they are good planning tools. Some people are intimidated or challenged by the I.E.P. in Special Education. One way to demystify the I.E.P. process is to use it in our everyday lives. So, stick with me for a minute while we look at how this can work in real life.
Let’s use the Individualized Education Plan to create a holiday planning guide.
The first part is to create your Dream Plan of what you want. Then we plug in the basic parts of the I.E.P.: Evaluation, Annual Goals, Short term objectives, Related Services, Placement, and circle back to the Evaluation for the next I.E.P. for next year.
Dreaming of YOUR perfect holiday
Everyone’s perfect holiday looks different: Grandma’s turkey feast, or make that a roast goose, or Uncle Bob’s ham and sweet potatoes, or a vegetarian, or Kosher, or vegan, or gluten-free …
Everyone has different expectations, traditions, time and money constraints. So forget the Women’s magazines, forget what your Mother-in-law wants, forget what happens on the Food Channel and Martha Stewart show.
We don’t care about “Everybody.”
The beauty of the I.E.P. is it is individualized. It is for You. Not your mother, your children, your boss…YOU! This is YOUR moment, your freedom, just YOU–what do you want?
Action Step 1: Visualize a Dream Holiday
Take a deep breath and picture a smiling yourself surrounded by your favorite people, doing what you really want to do. Ahhhhh.
Are you skiing down a mountain? Are you sitting by the fireplace listening to Bing Crosby? or Lady Antebellum? ….
What would make this a joyous holiday for you–with just the right balance of work and relaxation?
What were the strengths and weaknesses of previous holidays?
Do you want to start any new “You” traditions, new family traditions?
Define your dream plan (see related post)
Feel empowered to do it YOUR WAY. This is your holiday gift to yourself. You deserve it!
Don’t you feel better already? This holiday is going to be the best.
1. Take a sheet of paper and fold it into four squares: Wants, Needs, Likes, and Dislikes.
2. Fill in the boxes based on YOUR Individualized choices.
If you are feeling pressure because others are trying to get you to do something you don’t want to do, be polite but tell them to make their own IEP. Empower yourself! I know this is hard for me and most Moms.
3. Circle your five top priorities and they will become your goals.
For example: Want live tree. Need family to be together for dinner. Loved shopping with Aunt Ruth. Hated the last minute rush….
One Priority goal: Need family to be together for dinner.
Making a decision is the first step. What do YOU want? What would bring YOU joy?
Since there is no standardized tool to measure the
holidays–no HFA (Holiday Fun Assessment) or HQ (Happiness Quotient)–we will create an informal evaluation tool based on ecological assessments.
LONG TERM GOAL I: To have a traditional, homemade turkey dinner with family members on Christmas Day.
Do we want to raise the turkey and grow the corn for the stuffing? Serve the strawberry preserves from your summer garden? Do we want to skip the preparation and order in? Or go out to eat? So many choices?
If we decide to keep this as one of our goals, then we must break down our long-term goal into measurable, observable steps.
Mom decides she wants to cook the Christmas dinner and eat at home.
SHORT TERM OBJECTIVES:
“Short term objectives are merely small steps that enable us to get from where we are now to where we want to be by a certain date.”
A. Mom will finalize the menu by December 10.
B. Mom will make the list and complete the shopping by December 15.
C. Mom will prepare the dinner by December 25.
Each of these short-term objectives can be “task analyzed” and broken down into smaller parts.
We know these are important steps to reaching our goal so they must be completed with 100% accuracy. (75% completion of the meal may leave some family members hungry.)
LONG TERM GOAL II: To have the gifts wrapped and under the tree by December 24.
SHORT TERM OBJECTIVES:
A. Mom will purchase all supplies by December 10.
B. Mom will supervise the gift-wrapping by December 15.
Task Analysis example:
Mom will supervise:
1. Billy will cut the paper.
2. Dad will wrap and tape the gifts.
3. Susie will add the bow.
4. Tommy will place the presents under the tree.
Notice in the Task Analysis, family members with different skill levels can all partially participate.
—“Developmental, corrective and other supportive services to enable you to reach your goals.”
To achieve Goal IC –“Mom will prepare the food by December 25”—Mom will need the following supportive services:
Consultant: Grandma has the expertise to bake and bring perfect pumpkin pies.
Consultant: Aunt Jane will come early to help in the kitchen.
Community Resource: We will purchase the local bakery’s famous dinner rolls.
Now that we have written our IEP we must determine the least restrictive environment for accomplishing our goals.
We could cook and wrap the presents at Aunt Sara’s and bring
everything home, but to meet Mom’s goals on this particular IEP, her own home is the least restrictive environment.
Remember any IEP can be revised or modified at any time. For instance, if Paula Deen wants to invite my family for a holiday dinner, I would change these goals in one butterfat minute.
I hope using the I.E.P. process not only makes it easier to understand, but I hope it can be a tool for you to have a magical holiday season.
Well, what do you think?
1. Do you better understand the IEP process?
2. Would this process be useful for everyone?
3. Does anyone raise turkeys?
Keep Climbing: Onward and Upward
All my best,
Other posts you might enjoy:
Thanks to everyone who Tweeted, Facebooked (is that a word?) and otherwise shared information about Ed Roberts and his first official memorial day in California
The Ed Roberts Campus at Berekley California is open. The campus uses Universal Design and is built for EVERYONE. Here is an article about how the architect had to think differently about successful design. It is across the street from a fully accessible transportation system. Win-Win.
Historical Videos for YouTube
We had a great response to reformating the historical videos into segments for YouTube. We are creating a plan for moving forword. As we get news, I’ll pass it on. Thanks to everyone who so generously contributed in any way to this important project.
The Inclusion and Disability Rights Movement has come a long way, yet we have so much farther to go.
Adapting: Becoming a Star
Ed Roberts often joked that in the first 14 years of his life he was “just an ordinary kid.” He was more interested in sports than in school work and wanted to be a professional baseball player when he grew up. That all changed.
In 1953, before the vaccine, Ed contracted polio. Overnight he became paralyzed from the neck down and required an iron lung, which he used the rest of his life.
One of Ed’s greatest talents was being able to look at a situation, and ADAPT.
Ed decided a baseball career was out, and became a straight A student in High School.
When all the students stared at him, he decided this was an attitude problem. Instead of being embarrassed, this was how it must feel to be famous. In time, he reframed the whole experience, adapted, and decided he would pretend to become a famous movie star.
Indeed he did become a star. How fitting we are now trying to get his video on YouTube. I think he would get a bang out of that.
Stares into Stars
This would also be a good tip for people who are being stared out. Parents, Caregivers, Teachers could all adapt this strategy and help “reframe” those stares into stars!
Skype and Technology
I just saw a video (2010) where a teacher and class used Skype to help one of the students who had cancer keep up with what was happening at school.
When Ed Roberts got Polio, (1952) he was quarantined and had to listen to his classes over the telephone. Think of the differences.
Skype would have been amazing to him.
When Ed returned to school after missing almost two years of school, he felt like a stranger. Not only had he changed physically, he was now paralyzed, but he carried the stigma of “polio” and having a “Quarantined” sign on his front door.
At 16, Ed had to start his life and start making friends all over again. Plus, with the stigma of “polio” people were afraid of him and he looked so “different.” If the students could have seen him over “Skype” they would have seen him evolve, and gradually they would have adjusted to his new learning style and physical appearance. It would have been a learning experience for all of them.
It’s nice when students send get well cards, but including the student on Skype shows another dimension of caring.
BTW: home with Skype is the least restictive environment for this child at this time.
The new Technology Act will make other learning opportunities available for people of all ages. Who knows what the future may hold.
Any other tips for reframing embarrassing situations Stares into Stars? Any other uses of technology you would recommend? What would you want if you had to miss school for a long time?
Keep Climbing: Onward and Upward.
All the best,