Elementary Science

Science and Special Education?

I have spent the past three years working with students in a special education setting, specifically moderate- low functioning autism. There are many ways to adapt lessons such as math and language arts for my students, but I have always wondered about science. Science creates such a visual and hands-on learning experience for all students since most lessons can be turned in to an activity or workshop session. Since students with autism are mostly visual and kinesthetic learners, science seems like the perfect subject to reach out to these unique individuals with. Also, I feel that since science is a subject that can relate to all students because it explains how our world, and everything within it, works. I am mostly interested in teaching through workshops when I begin student teaching next semester. My question I pose is this: how can workshops be modified to meet the unique needs of students with disabilities? These disabilities may include any student with an IEP or 504 plan.

Nichole Belline
Nichole Belline
180 Activity Points

Nicole: I am with you there. I am in the process of modifying a program for special ed and ELS. I am attaching a list of articles from the learning center and more that might be of help to you. I hope you find it useful.

Attachments

Adah Stock
Adah Stock
101490 Activity Points

Hi Nichole,

I do not have extensive experience teaching autistic students, however, I found an ongoing discussion in the General Teaching forum about Science and Special Ed. that you might find useful.

Maureen Stover
Maureen Stover
40910 Activity Points

Hi Nichole, Adah, Maureen, and thread participants, This is such an important topic, and of high interest based on how many excellent threads with similar (yet slightly different) titles. Another one that might be of interest to thread readers here is this one under the Evaluation and Assessment Forum: [url=http://learningcenter.nsta.org/discuss/default.aspx?tid=Ro9VD0z3sdg_E#13519]Science Lessons for Inclusion Students [/url] Be sure to check out Dawn N's list and website there. How exciting to find such interest and enthusiasm to bring effective instruction to all of our students! Carolyn

Carolyn Mohr
Carolyn Mohr
84203 Activity Points

I have found that Science blocks are when the students with special needs really come alive. I believe the visual aids and hands on activities allow them much more opportunities to learn the material being presented to them in class. As a result, I try to incorporate a lot of language arts where I can during science experiments, as they are more receptive to the information. As a second year teacher I am still trying to find alternative methods to teach other subjects to my students. Speaking of which, this forum is turning out to be a great resource!

Ross Hirahara
Ross Hirahara
360 Activity Points

Hi Nichole and all contributors and readers of this thread Nicole you mentioned: [color=blue] Science creates such a visual and hands-on learning experience for all students since most lessons can be turned in to an activity or workshop session. Since students with autism are mostly visual and kinesthetic learners, science seems like the perfect subject to reach out to these unique individuals with. Also, I feel that since science is a subject that can relate to all students because it explains how our world, and everything within it, works. I am mostly interested in teaching through workshops when I begin student teaching next semester[/color] Have you looked at the work of Dr Temple Gardin. She is an amazing scientist who is autistic and an advocate for people who think differently. Her book Thinking in Images is a wonderful read to see the cognitive STRENGTHS of students with autism. Here is a 20 min TED presentation she gave last year. http://www.ted.com/talks/temple_grandin_the_world_needs_all_kinds_of_minds.html'' target="_blank">http://www.ted.com/talks/temple_grandin_the_world_needs_all_kinds_of_minds.html' target="_blank">http://www.ted.com/talks/temple_grandin_the_world_needs_all_kinds_of_minds.html Temple Grandin, diagnosed with autism as a child, talks about how her mind works -- sharing her ability to "think in pictures," which helps her solve problems that neurotypical brains might miss. She makes the case that the world needs people on the autism spectrum: visual thinkers, pattern thinkers, verbal thinkers, and all kinds of smart geeky kids Here is her website http://www.templegrandin.com/templehome.html'' target="_blank">http://www.templegrandin.com/templehome.html' target="_blank">http://www.templegrandin.com/templehome.html My best, Arlene JL

Arlene Jurewicz-Leighton
Arlene Jurewicz Leighton
42918 Activity Points

These ideas are great. I really think that science is somewhere where children in special education could thrive. The hands on part of science could be very helpful. I wonder though what we as educators can do to help children who struggle to express themselves express what they discover from scientific exploration. In the same vein students with IEPs may feel inferior to their peers but finding a way to help them succeed in something that caries prestige like science may give them a sense of worth. I think that because science does carry prestige there are some who think that children in special education can not succeed. We must find a way as educators to encourage our students and let them be successful. Also, the hands on kin esthetic aspect of science can be just what the students need rather than less concrete ideas.

Kathleen Chachich
Kathleen Chachich
2825 Activity Points

From my experience studying methods of teaching, I believe that this issue is now bigger than ever- How do we diversify our lessons to meet the needs of all students? However, what I have read and what I see put into practice in classrooms is often conflicting. I do know that these students want to learn as much as the other students in the classroom and often times more. I worked with a downs syndrome child (age 7) over the summer, tutoring her and preparing her for the upcoming school year. What I found out was that the pacing of her lessons had to be set at a slower and more structured pace than the lessons I prepared for her older brothers who didn't have this condition. We engaged in many hands on activities. I taught her about animals and where they live (the farm, jungle, desert). We used small figurines of animals and placed them into shoe boxes decorated like their habitat. With repetition and hands-on materials I believe she grasped the concept. This is just one example of an activity I did with a child with downs syndrome but I believe that we need to further investigate how to get through to all children and cultivate a love for science.

Lauren Clark
Lauren Clark
595 Activity Points

Lauren said, "I believe that we need to further investigate how to get through to all children and cultivate a love for science." I agree, Lauren.
A while back I had don an advanced search of the Learning Center's resources and compiled an extensive collection of resources centered around special needs children. I will share it here in case anyone is interested: Making Science Accessible – Special Needs Students
I have discovered that when I create new ways to help a special needs child connect to the learning, it is usually an excellent modification that several others in my class can benefit from too.
Carolyn

Carolyn Mohr
Carolyn Mohr
84203 Activity Points

Greetings all, I absolutely love the feedback and list of resources provided in this discussion forum. They will be most helpful as I modify and adapt lessons to meet the needs of my diverse scholar population; including scholars with special needs and those who speak English as a second language. I earned my third Master's Degree in Bilingual-Special Education from The George Washington University in May, and became certified to teach mathematics, science, ESOL, and Special Education. With that being said, my principal decided it would be best to combine students with Special Needs/ESOL Level 2s/general education scholars into two of my classes. I must say that although I thought it would be extremely challenging, I have been enthralled the entire semester. Yes, I have modified each of the units taught so far...but my scholars STILL get the curriculum, and the laboratory investigations, and still take notes (using their iPads), and are still held accountable for learning all of the assessment limits my other classes have to learn. What I found was that the strategies I use for my Special Needs and ESOL scholars (Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol, Kagan Strategies, Total Physical Response), work for ALL my scholars. Thanks for the resources. As I use the winter break to modify our next unit of study, I most certainly will harness the information found within the materials highlighted here to actively engage all my learners in meaningful ways. LA

Lorrie Armfield
Lorrie Armfield
51418 Activity Points

I agree from my experience studying methods of teaching, How do we diversify our lessons to meet the needs of all students? Students with Special Needs want to learn as much as the other students in the classroom . I found as I look through the many articles in the learning center , I was impressed with an article. I found in my search called First Hand Learning. Students can empower their learning through hands on activities that allows them to work at their own pace. Students keeps a mini journal of hands on activities . There is opportunities for firsthand exploration, so that students become genuinely engaged in investigations that intrigue them. I think this would offer many opportunities in their learning experiences. See the website below http://www.firsthandlearning.org/current_news.html

Sandra Stargell
Sandra Stargell
350 Activity Points

I agree from my experience studying methods of teaching, How do we diversify our lessons to meet the needs of all students? Students with Special Needs want to learn as much as the other students in the classroom . I found as I look through the many articles in the learning center , I was impressed with an article. I found in my search called First Hand Learning. Students can empower their learning through hands on activities that allows them to work at their own pace. Students keeps a mini journal of hands on activities . There is opportunities for firsthand exploration, so that students become genuinely engaged in investigations that intrigue them. I think this would offer many opportunities in their learning experiences. See the website below http://www.firsthandlearning.org/current_news.html

Sandra Stargell
Sandra Stargell
350 Activity Points

Thank you for the resources, I know that I really struggle to modify my lessons for my special education classes. I teach two self contained special education class, one mixed special education and on ELL class. The resources are really going to help me engage my students, not just my special education classes but also my general education. I reflected back on my last unit and I need to fix a lot of what I do so that I do not lose my ELL's and my students in my special education classes.

Kelly Amendola
Kelly Amendola
10310 Activity Points

Hi! I have attached a collection of articles that might be useful. Adah


The Inclusive Classroom Collection
(26 items)
Research Collaboration With Learning-Disabled Students: Strategies for Succesful Student-Faculty Partnerships
     -Journal Article
Making Technology Inclusive
     -Journal Article
Methods and Strategies: Science Success for Students With Special Needs
     -Journal Article

Adah Stock
Adah Stock
101490 Activity Points

There is a wealth of information already shared here! As a teacher of students with severe and profound intellectual disabilities, I have to use hands-on activities. I also incorporate pictures or pictures symbols with my activities. One problem faced by teachers who have special needs students (whether it be in the regular or self-contained classroom)is the wide range of disabilities. It is not possible to place students under the "one size fits all" umbrella. Our activities are usually presented in several different forms, depending upon the student. It is great to have fellow educators that can share ideas and information.

Lisa Malcom
Lisa Malcom
575 Activity Points

Welcome to the discussion thread, Lisa. I like how you put this: It is not possible to place students under the "one size fits all" umbrella. Our activities are usually presented in several different forms, depending upon the student. I am wondering if you are able to utilize technological tools with your students. If so, what kinds of technology is more useful to aid in your students' learning? I noticed, too, that Adah's awesome resource collection contained several articles that had 'technology' in their titles. I am very interested in learning how and what kinds of technology is working with students with different needs. Thanks. Carolyn

Carolyn Mohr
Carolyn Mohr
84203 Activity Points

Hi Carolyn, I do use the computer with my students. I have a touch screen so students are able to participate in activities and make choices about what they would like to do next. We also complete activities with a fifth grade class. We recently completed a unit on vertebrates and invertebrates. Students often pair up with a partner to complete assignments. One of the assignments involved classifying/sorting pictures of vertebrates. All of our students enjoyed working together and completing the activity. Thank you for your response to my post! Lisa

Lisa Malcom
Lisa Malcom
575 Activity Points

I teach SPED Resource for ELAR, however I use science as a reward for behavior and completing work. This has been really successful as students want to work toward a science experiment that is hands on and relevant to them. Using it as a "reward" has made my students think of science as exciting and fun, not a subject so hard that they do not enjoy.

Melinda Wright
Melinda Wright
175 Activity Points

Hi Melinda, I think this is where many teachers have "missed the mark." Science should be hands-on and relevant for our students. Textbook learning is not fun or memorable. We have to get our students interested in Science. Some of my most memorable experiences are the hands-on activities from high school and college. Why would it be any different for my students? Lisa Malcom

Lisa Malcom
Lisa Malcom
575 Activity Points

Hi Melinda, Lisa, and all other thread participants,
Weloome to the discussion forums, Melinda.
Lisa, one of my colleagues brought this technological tool to my attention for visually impaired students: Live Scribe
I am wondering if anyone has used it and how.

Carolyn Mohr
Carolyn Mohr
84203 Activity Points

Hello, Science lessons can easily be adapted to work for special education students. Other than the obvious of making science hands-on, there are also a lot of resources out there for turning science infomation into songs. Teaching the information through songs is a great way for many special education students to remember the information. They may not be able to sit still and focus on memorizing vocabulary, but teaching it in a song is a great way to "trick" them into memorizing what they need to know. Start off or close each lesson by singing a song about what you're studying. It's simple to take the information and put it to the tune of a familiar song (e.g. Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star, etc.). If you couple this with the hands-on activities, you will be amazed at how long the students will retain the information. Good Luck!

Jessica Nazario
Jessica Nazario
2125 Activity Points

Hi, I also wanted to piggyback on what Lisa said about making science memorable. I DEFININTELY agree that hands-on activities are meaningful, fun, and memorable! But as a "science person" who has taken boatloads of science courses and labs, the most memorable science task I've ever been given was a creative writing assignment in a Parasitology class in college. We had to research a chosen parasite and develop a scientific presentation on it. After the presentation, we had to describe our parasite's life cycle through poem, song, etc. Ten years later, I still remember the life cycle of the parasitic worm, Onchocerca Volvulus, because I had to turn its life cycle into poem. Science is so easy to integrate across the board - reading, writing, math, etc...

Jessica Nazario
Jessica Nazario
2125 Activity Points

I had a special needs student who was main streamed only to my science class when we were doing hands on activities. My students sat in groups of four desks to make a table. This student sat with three other students who helped him with the activities. These were not always the same students. All of the students helped the special needs student with the activity. Students are great at helping students that need extra help. The special needs student very frequently surprised me by being able to answer discussion questions that I would not have expected him to answer. His interaction with the other students was the guide to learning through hands on activities. So i feel that using hands on activities with special needs students is very effective!!!

Betty Paulsell
Betty Paulsell
48550 Activity Points

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