How to Experience a Story
Maureen Lee Maderos & Meghan Aycock
Teachers, Related Services
|Project Description: Maureen and Meghan have spent much of their post-graduate work and professional career focusing on the areas of reading and phonics instruction for students with vision and multiple impairments. They have found that students with visual impairments are often lacking strong vocabulary and the pre-literacy skills of their typically developing peers. It is this research that has brought this project to fruition. Story Boxes are a way to help bring literature off the pages and into the hands of children by allowing students to tactually experience the the story through actual objects. This approach helps with many of the print nuances that typically developing peers can manage. This provides a way for them to experience what others do.
It is the goal of our team to work to align books with actual objects to help literature come alive. The universal learning concept will help students with low vision, Braille users, English Language Learners and students of all abilities access literature.
BLOG POST #1
By Maureen Lee Maderos & Meghan Aycock
Approximately 80% of what we learn is visual. We crawl because we see something we want and move towards it, we face another person when we are speaking to them because we see others do it, we know what a stop sign looks like and how high a building is all because we can see. What if you couldn”t see? Think about how we teach our students. So much of what we do is visual. We write on the board, blink the lights if we want quiet and use our facial expressions to convey how we feel about what”s going on. If you are visually impaired or blind, so much information is being missed. Direct instruction is required to know when to face someone, what a stop sign looks like and how high a building is. Incidental learning is less likely to happen as so much of what is going on around us is visual.
A Story Box is a way for a young child who cannot see learn by experiencing. A collection of items related to a story are compiled in a box or bag. One of my favorites is If You Give a Mouse a Cookie. The mouse in the story eats a cookie, drinks from a glass using a straw, makes a mess and cleans it up with a dust pan and broom and on and on.
Maureen Lee Maderos graduated from Boston College with Masters in Special Education and Teaching Students with Visual Impairments. Maureen has spent the last 18 school years working In the Boston Public Schools with students with various special needs. Maureen has spent thirteen years in a substantially separate classroom at the Richard J. Murphy School in Dorchester. There she worked with students with visual impairments. Maureen taught curriculum through various access points of Braille, technology, audio books, and taught functional academic skills.
She now travels all over the city to many schools and works with students in all different models-fully included, substantially separate, pilot schools, and innovation schools. It is a wonderful buffet of learning from colleagues and best practices from dozens of classrooms and how to best serve students and families all over the city. Maureen is a graduate of the Boston Public Schools and is very proud to work in the oldest public school system in the country.
Meghan Aycock graduated from Boston College with a Master”s Degree in Intensive Special Needs with a concentration in educating students who are Deafblind. She also attended Umass Boston where she obtained a M.Ed in the areas of Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments (TVI) and Certified Orientation and Mobility Specialist (COMS). She spent 15 years as an aide and then a teacher at Perkins School for the Blind and the last 7 years working as an itinerant TVI and COMS in the Boston Public School System.
Meghan has an interest in communication and literacy for students who are blind or visually impaired including those with additional disabilities. Research has shown that using a total communication approach increases understanding and promotes learning for all children. Adding tangible objects to literacy experiences enhances concept development for children who are visually impaired.
Exploring the items in advance, learning what each item is and how to use them gives meaning to the story. The child should be allowed to touch, look and smell. Teach how to put the straw in the cup and take it out, ask questions “where do cookie crumbs come from?” demonstrate and have the child assist in cleaning them up with the broom and dust pan. Read the story and have some of the items available for the child to play with as they are listening. This is the perfect activity to use with peers either 1:1 or in a small group.
The sooner direct instruction is implemented the stronger the foundation is for learning. Story Boxes also provide an opportunity for an interdisciplinary approach to learning in addition to direct instruction from a Teacher of the Visually Impaired (TVI) the Speech Language Pathologist (SLP) can use it to develop concepts and language skills, the Occupational Therapist (OT) can work on opening and closing the box along with tactile discrimination and a Physical Therapist (PT) can teach the child how to get the box, carry it to a place to use it and walk, crawl or roll to put it away. Other incidental skills include organization, leisure skills, choice making, turn taking and social skills.
Some questions to be explored include : Do miniature items provide an understanding of what something is (toy horse, house) or is it confusing? Will a Story Box actually help children who are visually impaired or blind develop knowledge about everyday items they may not have had previous exposure to and in turn increase reading comprehension? Making Story Boxes for classrooms that have children who are visually impaired or blind will provide the classroom teachers with a ready made, accessible activity that can be experienced and enjoyed by all students but will provide a direct teaching tool for our students who have difficulty seeing or cannot see.