Differentiation Helping A blind student access the science curriculum

While I have taught 1-to-1 iPad classes in the past, currently I am at a school where iPads are shared across the school, and the local demographics do not support a BYOx option. I use my device regularly to organise units into iBooks, activities and other resources daily as they support my teaching pedagogy and help to expose my students to the digital world.

Currently, we are using the expert model for teaching science and history this term to the Year 2 students in our cohort. I am responsible for teaching science to two classes. The current unit of study is on Living and Non-living things. Unbeknownst to me, a boy from the SEP was to join my class for this lesson each week. He was blind and had ASD. The teacher accompanying him said that just getting him to class was a major fete.

This is the cover of the iBook I created in the workflow app Book Creator, and am using it throughout the unit as both a visual and informational resource for my lessons of the science unit. I am able to airplay it to project the pages on the large classroom screen, as well as create worksheets from its pages, generated on my computer.

I was glad I had planned on a YouTube clip to introduce the topic of living and non-living things. The video clip featured Cookie Monster, from Sesame Street, comparing himself to a rock to define what is living and what is not. All the students enjoyed this clip and learned very quickly how to identify if something is alive or not.

Lesson 1 from the unit iBook

Students were given a worksheet that resembled the page in my iBook. They needed to cut out the pictures of various things and sort and glue them into groups of living things and non-living things on the page. I modelled this first with the whole class as my page was interactive, allowing for the images to be moved around on the screen.

I realised I needed to be very explicit and descriptive with my language so this student could be able to visualise what we were discussing. I also knew he wouldn't benefit from the worksheet, so asked his assistant to help him verbalise what is living and non-living from the objects on the page. He was able to do this and could give oral definitions of living and non-living things.

Week 2 lesson notes

For the week 2 lesson, we explored a variety of life cycles, both for animals and plants. I played another video clip from Bill Nye the Science Guy, as he described life cycles in more depth. His TV program was very quick moving and included a lot of creative sounds and actions. I was hoping it wasn't an auditory overload for this student, so I observed him from across the room to see how he reacted to the video. He was moving his body and arms while listening to the video, which appeared to be his way of engaging with the music and ideas, which I took as a positive sign. However, I felt he needed to experience science through more of his senses than just sound.

This in mind, I decided to create some resources to help him 'feel' what a life cycle of a butterfly might be, hoping it would give him more sensory information to help create a bigger picture of life cycles in his mind.

Tactile resources

I decided to start with the same leaf size for each stage of the life cycle to help him understand that the leaf stayed the same size and it was the animal that grew. I didn't worry about accurate colour choice, as this wouldn't support information gathered through the sense of touch.

As I continued to create the stages of a butterfly, I would often close my eyes as I was creating, to see what it actually felt like and if that feeling seemed accurate.

Stage 1: the egg

An insect egg is often hard and round, and attached to a leaf. I chose a bead for this.

Stage 2: Larva

The larva stage is the caterpillar. It has a long, bumpy, soft body that could squish easily. I used what I had and created a caterpillar using pipe cleaners coiled arount a pencil.

Stage 3: Pupa

The pupa stage was a tricky one to create. The chrysalis, or cocoon, is a casing around the animal that seemed a bit paper-like. I decided to coil another pipe cleaner up and wrap it in tissue paper. A coating of craft glue sealed it together, and then it was glued to the bottom of a leaf. When it was dry, I was pleased with the texture it created of being a casing around something living inside. It had a papery feel but wasn't solid or too hard.

Stage 4: Adult

Finally, the butterfly emerges! I chose tissue paper for the wings as it was light, thin and delicate. The body was again created out of a pipe cleaner but this time it was folded in half and held the wings within it. I created a clump of the pipe cleaner for a head and left the two ends free which created the antennae. Although the wings are a bit rustly sounding, and real butterfly wings are quiet, I felt the goal of a tactile experience was achieved through these resources and hope it will effectively 'paint a mental image' in his mind as he learns more about animal life cycles.

Digital Post by Cynthia Cash as an evidential sample that demonstrates an ability to differentiate curriculum to reach diverse learners. 2017

Aitsl standards:

Standard 1: know students and how they learn. 1.1; 1.5

Standard 4: create and maintain supportive and safe learning environments. 4.1

Created By
Cynthia Cash

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