Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Adapting Classrooms

If you haven't seen the movie Including Samuel, you should.

Dan Habib's documentary looks at how including children with disabilities in mainstream classrooms can enrich everyone's education.

One thing is clear, though. Including children with a wide range of abilities is work. Hard work. I applaud any teacher, but especially teachers who sign up to the challenge of including children with special needs.

I think technology is part of the solution. My daughter's class does cooking every two weeks. The teachers use a fun activity the children relate to as a way to sneak in lessons about math, science, nutrition, following directions, and all sorts of other subjects that could be dry when not drizzled with a raspberry glaze.

But part of cooking is interacting with the physical world. At www.switchamajig.com, there's a video of Jackson helping his sister make cupcakes. He uses the Switchamajig to control a mixer, blender, and can opener. But that's only part of cooking; what about measuring out the ingredients and pouring them into the bowl?

As children get older, the subjects get trickier. Cooking gives way to chemistry, which has a lot of things in common with it. Can we adapt chemistry class for the motor impaired, like what Cory Supalo does for people with visual impairments? I'm thinking tubes with switch-controlled solenoid valves.

What about other sciences, like biology and physics? What other classes do you think we should adapt?

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