in every student
Everyone can learn!
I believe that! I believe that every person can learn. We may all learn differently and at different speeds, but we can all learn. I believe that the principles of STEAM
- Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math -
are exactly what all Special Education students need and deserve.
I am a graduate student at Northern Arizona University in Special Education. I thought
I would create a place where I can keep lesson plans and project ideas for my future students and any other who might be interested. I'll also share some of my questions, insights, and ponderings.
I invite you to join my journey.
All are welcome here!
The National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) has made this statement about science subjects being taught to Special Education students:
"Science for All” is a key goal of science education. Thanks to legislation such as the Individuals with Disabilities Act and the No Child Left Behind Act, students with disabilities have access to the general education curriculum more than ever before. Science teachers now have the opportunity to unlock the scientist in every student by identifying and fostering each child’s strengths while also attending to their challenges.
I believe that science can open our minds in ways that nothing else can. The truth is science will never be completely understood by anyone because there is always more to discover and learn. If we are choosing not the let Special Education students participate in science classes because we think they will not understand, we might as well not let any students study science. It's the process of discovery that we all need ... all of us!
Including students with special needs in general ed classroom activities can be a challenge, however, activities using technology can often put everyone on equal playing fields. If a student feels overwhelmed with spoken directions, language, math, or written assignments, technology can ease those fears and make an assignment feel doable. Some programs allow teachers to adjust the skill level of assignments or allow all students to adjust assignments to fit their particular interests and needs. Technology also allows each student to display their grasp of a topic in different and individual ways.
Engineering is simply the creative way scientists, technicians, artists, mathematicians, etc. find to bring their imaginative ideas to life. Engineering is about problem solving. Engineering is about figuring things out. Engineering is about seeing something that needs to be improved or invented, and figuring out how to bring about those improvements and inventions. It most often requires thinking out of the box, coming up with new ideas, and seeing what others have not seen before.
I can't think of any other group of people who are better suited to engineering than those who find themselves in the "Special Education" category. Every day may be an engineering adventure for most of these students and their families. What if some of our greatest engineering inventions yet to come, will come from those with "disabilities"? It could happen! In fact, I'd like to go on record as predicting it will happen!
The A in STEAM stands for art, but truly, it is The ArtS. Visual arts, performing arts, literary arts, all art can create a beautiful way for everyone to express themselves. The wonderful aspect of the arts is there really are no boundaries to artistic expression. Art comes from one's own heart and soul making it the perfect subject to include in all Special Education programs. Think of a student who is confined in many ways in the world he or she lives in, but for a few moments in an art class each day, they can create with no confinements, restrictions, or expectations. Or, the emotional and mental benefits of music on one's heart and mind are so immense, it seems only natural to include music in all Special Education programs.
There are so many ways to incorporate art into every Special Education day. This can be especially helpful as schools become more and more inclusive. A natural bonding can occur when students are participating in art-related lessons and activities. Special Ed and Gen Ed students are all alike in these activities, vulnerable and independent in their creativity.
In art, we can express feelings and thoughts that we might not otherwise have the courage to share, or for some, be able to share. That concept alone should encourage Special Education teachers everywhere to find ways to incorporate art into their regular schedules.
So many of us claim we are no good at math. That may be true for tests and classroom assignments, but the truth is we use math every single day. Math is about problem solving (sounds like Engineering up above!) in our every day lives, at work, in social situations, and math truly has played a major role in the history of our society and the world we live in.
The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics has a vision statement that, in part, states: “We envision a world where everyone is enthused about mathematics, sees the value and beauty of mathematics, and is empowered by the opportunities mathematics affords.”
Learn more at: NCTM
An example of how math instruction can help us in our daily lives is simply learning to manage money. Wow! If more of us understood that principle, the world would be a better place.
"Mystery creates wonder and wonder is the basis for man's desire to understand. Who knows what mysteries will be solved in our lifetime, and what new riddles will become the challenge of the new generations?"
"Congressional Record", Tuesday, September 16, 1969.