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Life Skill Communication

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Keywords: language arts, life skill
Subject(s): Special Needs, Social Skills, Photography, English/Language Arts
Grades K through 12
Original Author: Andrea Romano, Lambertville
Olympus Grant
LESSON TITLE: Life Skill Communication
SUBJECT AREA(S): Science, Math, Life Skill, Language Arts, Visual Arts and Technology

The purpose of this lesson is to have students with special needs better able to communicate their individual needs. Students, ranging in age from 5-21, with significant learning disabilities will better be able to communicate through the use of pictures.

Students actively engage in many community learning activities. Students take public transportation, shop in community grocery stores, participate in recreational activities in the community and are employed in the community. The students involved in the program have significant language delays or utilize augmentative communication devices that assist students in expressing their desires.

Through learning how to use a digital camera and then utilizing the cameras in the community, students will be able to photograph people, places or objects that may be involved in direct learning objectives. At the high school level, for instance, if a student would like to take a break while working and grab a snack at the vending machine, the student would be able to photograph a picture of the vending machine or a snack to let the teacher/job coach know what he is needs to help him be successful. At the elementary level, students would be able to identify activities that they like to earn as free time/privileges. At all levels, students would be able to express their desire of their choice in life skills-such as foods they want to eat, clothing they would like to purchase/wear. Students will also be able to utilize digital images when designing schedules for daily activities. This can help students identify in their environments what comes next.

Extensions of these activities include:
Students developing digital images of activities in the home, with peers and by themselves so that they can communicate their needs with others in all arenas of the studentsí life.
Students developing books about their likes and dislikes which will help in identifying transition goals as students grow with the program or as students begin to plan for life after high school. These digital images will also allow students to advocate for themselves regarding their personal habits.


By the end of this lesson, the students will:
-Be able to effectively operate a digital camera.
-Utilize digital images to express needs
-Identify objects, people and places through photo images
-Create communication books inclusive of everyday objects in home/school/personal life
-Advocate their likes/dislikes through visual images


The lesson will be introduced as extensions of the language arts program. Activities will include showing models of student/teacher digital image communication books.


Prior to developing digital image books:
Activity 1: Day 1-Day 10 (depends on ability of students): Digital camera usage demonstrations and practice broken down into steps at ability level.
Activity 2: Survey student/parent if applicable about hobbies/likes and dislikes. Begin to have student photograph some of the likes/dislikes.
Activity 3: Utilize the digital images to enhance communication skills of students on a daily, ongoing basis.
Activity 4: Assist students with putting together digital image books about home, work, recreation/leisure activities, school and personal. Utilize software components to develop books that are usable and lend themselves to the development of the whole student.
Activity 5: Have students make presentations to teachers, parents, at individual education plan meetings and at school assemblies regarding themselves, their habits, their desires.
Materials: Batteries, Flash/USB Drives, Camera Bags, Digital Voice Recorders, Point and Shoot, Word Processor
Other Items: 3 CR-3v batteries, $15 each, total of $45.00
3 Camera cases, $30 each, total of $90.00
1 Photo quality paper, $100 each, total of $100.00
1 CDR's (50 pack), $40 each, total of $40.00
3 Memory Cards for each camera, $35 each, total of $105.00
Ink for printer, $150 each
Book Binding spines, $60 each