Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Curriculum-based activities for high schoolers and middle schoolers can be difficult to conjure up. Here's an activity we adapted from one used by an excellent teacher for students with hearing impairments in Richmond City Public Schools, Ann Hughes:

This activity starts out with lots of adult preparation, but over time it can develop into more student involvement.

The monthly class project revolves around current events for a single month of the school year. For example, the current events for September have been Sports and Entertainment. In October the current events might be the Presidential Election and Fall celebrations.

The adults bring in newspaper photos of Sports and Entertainment (music, TV, movies, dance) and the students discuss which of the two categories a few photos fall into. Then, students are given a handful of photos and asked to place a sticker on the photo which indicates whether it is a Sports photo or an Entertainment photo. The adults discuss the photos with the students as they work and opportunities for class discussion occur spontaneously.

Once a student has completed all their photos, they go to a huge poster and place their photos on the poster. An adult asks them about a few of their photos and points out their work to the class. This continues with all of the students placing their photos on the poster, time permitting.

Our class included a student with extremely limited vision. When we discussed Sports photos versus Entertainment photos, an adult bounced a tennis ball or played a note on a harmonica to include an auditory cue for the topic.

Follow up activities included placing additional photos on the poster and having the students use a die cut machine to create "September" letters to border the finished poster. It would be a cinch to have the students create mini posters for each month, using leftover photos, and this could be assembled into individual scrapbooks for the school year.

The dreamer in me would like to have members of the school's football team visit the classroom to see the completed September poster, as well as a student playing an instrument similar to one in a photo. To illustrate dance I almost grabbed a fellow teacher for a twirl but was able to control myself in front of the impressionable students.

This activity was used with high schoolers in a class for students with moderate mental disabilities. It can be graded for students of differing physical and cognitive abilities.

Don't forget to take pictures for alternate assessments; we also recorded the students' voices in case we ever create a presentation.

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