I am so lucky to be one of two teachers for 11 amazing students this year. I teach Emotional and Behavioral Disabilities in a special education school. Our program is new and growing so quickly! We currently serve students grades K-8 and have grown from 5 to 17 students in the past year.
Almost all of my students have been alive less than 12 years and have endured more than most adults I've ever met.
They are bright, triumphant, creative and hilarious. They've experienced trauma and adversity - but they are also beginning to experience support, consistency, success and confidence like they have never felt before.
More than 80% of the students in our program receive free or reduced price lunches. My students spend anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes on the bus to school each day to arrive at our out of district placement. It's my hope that by the time they get to us, our classroom is a safe, cheerful, comforting space for them to learn, grow, love and be loved.
Every year, our students work hard in the final marking period to complete a "capstone" project that encompasses all of the skills they have learned throughout the year. For my students this year, their final project is a "Roadtrip USA" project where students are each given a state to research and become an "expert" on. The culminating assignment is a presentation about their state and a potential trip they would take there. They have to create a budget, research costs of travel and staying and make sure they can afford their trip. Students use math, reading, writing, oral presentation, geography and science skills they have learned throughout the year to make their final project really great.
The school closures have cost my students so much already, and it is so important to me that we don't let them lose their capstone unit as well.
Using these materials, I will be able to create virtual manipulatives and lesson materials to teach the units the students need to complete their work remotely. My special needs students benefit so much from real-life applications of knowledge, especially as it relates to financial literacy and saving money. Allowing them the opportunity to learn about creating a budget, saving money, researching costs and making plans for their expenses is an invaluable life skill and it is important to me to have the materials to continue to teach this unit even if we are far apart.
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