The students in my intellectual disabilities classroom love stories. They love reading books repeatedly and acting out all the exciting scenes. Although they love books they comprehend best when books have been adapted so that they can interact with the pages and use objects to retell the story.
I have an amazing classroom of kindergarten, first, and second grade students with intellectual disabilities.
Each student is also learning to speak English since another language is spoken in at home. These students try so hard at school, and genuinely love to learn. Watching their faces light up as they master a new skill or enjoy a new book is the best part of my day. In order to help them get the most out of the typical school day activities we must adapt our materials. If they can touch objects that relate to the story, retell the story using physical props, or touch the pages and feel elements of the story they are more likely to be engaged and to comprehend.
Comprehension is an element of literacy our children struggle to demonstrate. They have difficulty answering direct questions about what happened in the story and so it appears that they did not attend to the text. Yet when they are given physical objects to re-enact the story they are able to demonstrate their understanding.
These materials will be used to adapt our classroom texts and read aloud stories, so that our children with intellectual disabilities will be able to fully engage in the materials. We will use the fabric to add texture to the pages and will use the Velcro to make the story interactive, so that the students can move characters through the book, manipulate the words on the page, and can take off key vocabulary words in the text. The physical props such as the doll house, barn, and people will allow children to retell the stories and demonstrate their comprehension of the text.
Last year I submitted a similar project, requesting funds for props that would correspond with our classroom read aloud stories. With the materials I received I was able to observe how powerful adapting texts and asking children to re-enact stories can be. Now that I have seen the data showing how much my children's comprehension increased when using these objects, I want to further expand the project, adapting the texts even more
It is often assumed that children with disabilities cannot do things typically developing children can do.
Yet every day I teach I see just how much my students can do if we adapt the lessons to meet them where they are as learners. This project will allow my students to fully engage in classroom literacy activities and truly enjoy books.
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