One glance at my students leads many people to believe they are no more than their disabilities. Don't let the wheelchairs and equipment fool you; these students can, and do, learn. My classroom consists of 7-12 students with multiple disabilities, ages 14-22. These students are generally bright teenagers and young adults who are not served in their home communities or in programs catering to just one disability (such as hearing or visual impairment) because they present with such complex needs. At the current moment 6/8 students are wheelchair users, 4/8 are moderately to severely hearing impaired, 2/8 are legally blind, 4/8 have medical issues and all students have some level of communication disorder. The high level of need means what money there is gets spent on special needs equipment, not curriculum.
To communicate some of my students need an alternative communication device costing up to $10,000. A gait trainer to teach walking can cost $3,000. Even a pair of scissors with special adaptations is expensive, $45.00 a pair plus the cost of an activation switch. Therefore we are not provided with books, manipulatives or other curriculum materials. Teachers learn to be creative and inventive. Books come from the library and yard sales, math manipulatives are made from soda bottle caps, but science lab materials we do with out. This year my class started a year long unit on physical science which I wrote. The students are enjoying learning about matter, mass, solids, liquids and gases for now. We will need materials to be able to learn about electricity, simple machines, magnets, light, and sound in a meaningful way.
The Delta Educational Company comes highly recommended for their science kits, which include everything a teacher needs to do multiple experiments on a topic. The Physical Science Classroom Kit covers, "electricity, magnetism, light, color, sound, force, motion, molecules, and chemistry. Includes enough hands-on materials for 30 students".
I should be able to use this kit about three times before I will need to obtain funding to purchase a refill kit for some of the supplies, making it a long term solution.
Donating this kit to my students shows a commitment to the adage, "all children can learn". Where would our society be if we assumed those with disabilities cannot contribute? Roosevelt wouldn't have lifted us out of the great depression and Hawking wouldn't be teaching us about black holes. Thank you.
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