Friday, September 01, 2006

Strategies for Educating

Specific example for Autism: Andrew Bondy and Lori Frost developed the Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) in the early 1990s when they were working with the Delaware"Autistic Program. Although originally the programme was used to foster communication with young autistic children, it is now used with older children and adults who have a range of communication difficulties. The aim of PECS is to give a means of communication to individuals who previously have had none. The system revolves aroundthe concept of exchanging pictures for desired objects. To begin with, the teacher needs to establish what the child finds rewarding. Several objects (crisps, a carton of juice, and various toys) are placed on a table and the child is observed in order to determine what his or her preferences are. Once preferences are established, pictures of preferred objects are made into cards. The next stage of the programme involves the child being shown the picture of the preferred object and the preferred object itself. To receive the preferred object the child must give the picture card to the trainer. Once the child has done this, they receive the preferred object. To begin with, the child might need some physical guidance and prompting. This is the first exchange. From these small beginnings other picture cards are introduced. Eventually children are encouraged to use picture cards in combination to form sentences. Children using this system will carry arouiid personalisie4 books of picture cards, which include a Velcro strip to which they add picture cards (backed with Velcro) to form sentences.

Bondy and Frost (1994) summarising work with eighty-five autistic pre-school children over five years found that:

Almost all children learned to use one picture to communicate a request within one month of starting the programme. 95 per cent of children learned to use two or more pictures. 76 per cent of the children developed some speech through the training programme.

In summary, the programme not only offered a practical form.pf , communication to those who had none but, for many, speech developed with the use of this programme.

Examples for other types of SEN

Acceleration

Stanley's (1976) radical acceleration model, initially developed primarily for students girted in mathematics, is an example of acceleration. Radical acceleration attempts to compress the ordinary curriculum to enable gifted individuals to complete a course of studies in only a fraction of the time ordinarily required. Many of these accelerated students are enrolled in university-sponsored courses for additional acceleration. For example, and Smyth (1995) describe a radical acceleration program at the University of Washington 14-year-olds are allowed to enroll in university courses. Robinson (1992) describes a similar program in China, and Gross (1992) outlines another in Australia. Their reports indicate that students often express boredom and frustration before acceleration, and higher levels of self-esteem, achievement, and better social relationships after acceleration.

Enrichment:

The enrichment approach is well illustrated by Renzulli's (1977) enrichment model, also called the revolving door model (Renzulli, Reis, and Smith 1981) this model advocates selecting, gifted individuals on the basis of three characteristics: high academic ability, high creative potential, and high motivation. No rigorous cutoff scores are used; instead, all students who's achievement or apparent potential places in the upper 25% of students in the school are designated as talented. Any of these students may then enter enrichment programs and drop out of them as they wish (hence, the revolving door). The programs vary according to the expressed interests of the students. When students identify a project and commit themselves are allowed to enter a resource room and work on the project. Under this model, enrichment programs tend to be schoolwide rather than restricted to specific classes or students (Renzulli & Reis, 1994).

Inclusion or Exclusion

There is an ongoing debate within educational communities as to whether including children with SEN within mainstream education is desirable or not. Currently there seems to be more support for inclusion rather than exclusion (special provision outside of mainstream education). To enable inclusion to occur effectively some factors need to be taken into account -

1. Providing special education teachers for the regular classroom on the basis offering, "collaborative, consulting teachers." This type of teacher would work with children with disabilities in the regular classroom on a regular basis. Thus, the consulting teacher would move from child to child and classroom to classroom as needed.

2. Designating cooperative learning as the basic form of instruction. This would include placing high- and low-ability students in cooperative groups. High-ability students would then tutor low-ability students. All members of the group would receive the same academic grade.

3. Providing intensive instruction in special education procedures to teachers.

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