Ignacio Estrada once said, "If a child can't learn the way we teach, maybe we should teach the way they learn." I couldn't agree more. I teach in a self-contained classroom of amazing 5th through 8th graders with severe/profound disabilities.
My students are eager learners who work tirelessly to soak in all the knowledge they can, all while spreading smiles and joy to everyone they encounter along the way.
Even with this drive to learn, my students don't experience success with traditional teaching methods.
Our day centers around teaching in ways that they learn best, targeting instruction to students' specific learning needs. We also put a lot of focus on independence and life skills, as my students need to be competent in these areas as well. This is hard because my students are from a low-income area with little funding for any materials or experiences outside of the mandated curriculum, which isn't accessible for my students due to their disabilities.
All children can learn. My students' disabilities just mean that their learning looks a little different than that of others. Help them get what they need so we can teach them in the way they learn best.
Many of my students struggle with social skills and require explicit modeling in targeted areas to help them react, respond, and interact appropriately.
These books will help my students have a model for appropriate social skills and positive behaviors, as well as allow them a safe space to practice and improve upon these skills.
We will be able to do shared read-alouds with these mentor texts. These read-alouds will help students see and hear examples of various situations they may encounter throughout their day, both at home and at school. Then, we will be able to use the books as a means for practice, allowing students to "try-on" various skills and strategies for themselves, tweak them so they work, and then use these strategies in the real world, helping them experience success.
Each book for this project was chosen with a specific student in mind. For one student, the books about sharing and understanding how to react when he does not get his way will be life-changing. He will be able to see characters respond, and see how much better the result is from positive responses. For another student, the books about how to react in unexpected situations (i.e. fire drills, a change in schedule, etc.) will be extremely beneficial. They will allow her to experience these situations through someone else's eyes, and allow her a safe space to develop a plan for when she stumbles across these things on her own.
These books and materials truly will transform my students' lives. They will help my students become more comfortable and able to act in positive, pro-social ways, thus helping to improve their abilities to interact, engage, and participate in a variety of situations- at home, in the community, at school, and the rest of their lives.
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