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Thorne Comm


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Keywords: speciale ducation
Subject(s): Photography, Social Skills
Grades 6 through 8
Original Author: Kristyn Corace, Port Monmouth
Project Thorne Comm

Parental communication with the teacher is essential for the team to work together for the development and education of the student. When that student cannot communicate effectively or at all, this communication need is even more critical. My students all have multiple disabilities including: Down's syndrome, autism, pervasive developmental delays, communication delays, physical challenges such as poor motor skills and coordination and more!

All middle school students face difficult challenges as they enter young adulthood; choices and changes made now can affect a student’s future. The job of a middle school special educator is to prepare the student for high school and beyond. Students need skills that will allow the most independent functioning as possible. Many parents of students with severe disabilities have a unique situation: they under-estimate the ability of the child. This happens for many reasons, but mainly because of years of reports stating, “Your son/daughter is unable to complete this activity” or “Your son/daughter cannot participate due to his/her disability.”

After 10 years, my students’ parents have heard all of the negative statements that they need for a lifetime. They work hard to get through each and every day caring for an individual who maybe cannot talk or be understood, who still and possibly forever will need assistance with eating, dressing, personal care skills and more. I say, enough! It’s time to focus on the positive for the rest of this critical educational period. The middle school students in the multiple disabilities class can and will learn!

This Thorne class takes a class trip approximately once per month into the community to practice activities of daily living (ADL). Trips include: ordering lunch at different restaurants, buying stamps and mailing letters at the post office, doing a load of laundry at the laundromat, shopping and spending the day at the mall, shopping at the grocery store and more!

When grocery shopping, for example, students are required to bring a shopping list that they can understand. Prior to the trip, for homework, parents and students work together to either write or create a picture list of several items, get together needed money, utilize a wallet, pocketbook or pants with pockets and discuss the trip.

On the day of the trip, students are assisted by the teacher and paraprofessionals to retrieve a cart, appropriately push it through the store, find items, place in cart without throwing or dropping and finally complete the check out procedure and pay for the items.

Please keep in mind that a list of 5 items may take up to 2 hours to complete because of the requirement of independence. Students may be placed in the appropriate aisle and told to find “the Oreo cookies”. A trip up and down the aisle 20 or more times is not unusual.

Although the teacher writes a detailed summary of every community experience, a picture really does say a thousand words! One student who had a very limited food repertoire ate chicken at a restaurant. The parent just could not believe it until at Back-To-School night, pictures were passed out of our first trip. The mom began to cry! Her daughter now eats chicken at home on a regular basis. The student who refuses to talk ordered his lunch verbally (because the teacher would not order for the student) and was caught on film! Mom was amazed! A picture of the student who refused to eat pizza, unless it was cut up into pieces and given a fork, was taken with his hands full of pizza! Life changing experiences have occurred for these students and their families. The teacher would like to make it quicker and more cost effective!

In August, the teacher submits trip schedule for bus transportation arrangements to be made. Each month, students participate in mandatory class trips in the community to practice daily living skills. During the trip, the teacher and paraprofessionals will take pictures of students accomplishing independent functioning. After the trip is completed, the camera can be attached to the TV/VCR in the classroom for students to immediately view their trip. A discussion will follow to increase self-awareness and self-esteem. This immediate feedback is essential for students with disabilities who have poor memory skills.
Within a day or so, the pictures can be burned on a CD-ROM straight from the memory card of the digital camera or printed out using a photo printer along with the community experience progress reports. This procedure will be repeated each month throughout the school year and if special events occur, the camera is always available.

Currently, the teacher brings her own camera to school when needed, drops off film to be developed and personally pays for all film and developing. With a digital camera, only the pictures needed will be printed and many parents would take the option of the burned CD-ROM. There would be no cost of film, nor a delay in sharing the events with the student or family.

Parents have already given tremendous feedback from receiving the pictures. The teacher would love to increase the ability to take pictures of positive things the students are doing throughout the school day in addition to these trips. Please help me, my students, and their families!
Comments
I will shop for the items on sale and purchase any start up supplies that I can within the budget.
Materials: Slideshow, Batteries, Camera Bags, Point and Shoot
Other Items: 1 ink-jet cartridges
1 photo paper
1 usb printer cable, $30 each, total of $30.00
1 memory card, $60 each, total of $60.00
1 photo printer, $400 each, total of $400.00
1 blank cd-r discs