In this video, Sharon Stelzer demonstrates a full-day calendar system that she developed for a 14 year old student. Sharon talks about how the student demonstrated readiness to transition from a half day (morning or afternoon) calendar to a full day system and how the calendar system was constructed to meet the student's needs.
STELZER: Hi, my name is Sharon Stelzer, and I'm a teacher in the Deafblind department at Perkins School for the Blind, and I'm here today to talk about calendar system, specifically about calendar systems made with partial objects and tactual objects.
NARRATOR: Sharon Stelzer stands behind a desk, on which are displayed two calendar systems.
On her right is a rectangular board, approximately 3 feet long and 8 inches high. The board is covered in black Veltex, and divided into 5 segments, by 4 vertical strips of masking tape.
To her left is a board that is twice as high, also divided by 4 vertical strips of masking tape and one horizontal strip that bisects the board, creating ten calendar panels.
STELZER: This is one of the systems for one of my students. She is 14 years old and she has trisomy 22, she has visual anomalies due to complications from her trisomy 22. She has cysts and scarring on both her cornea and sclera, which means that she has lost some vision in the past few years, due to the scarring and because of her cysts.
So this is a student's (calendar system). I am going to talk about today about how she has moved from a morning or an afternoon schedule, which is just a simple, 1-tier to a 2-tier system.
So the first thing I wanted to talk about...you might have noticed that the calendar systems are on an angle. This is really helpful for students who are visually impaired because it brings the calendar system from a flat surface, which is harder to look at, because you're leaning over and you might have to, you know, look down at something...it brings it right up to their visual field and this has been extremely helpful for her.
Our calendar is extremely motivating.
It's made up of (this is all made up of) cardboard, triple-thick cardboard, and it's covered with a Veltex covering that Velcro can stick to it. So, it's really easy to make. This is just simple masking tape because she can see with high- contrast, and she does use her vision for high-contrast and very simple kinds of objects are easier for her to see. And then we also have the tactile component, so that she can see both of those kinds of things.
So, we always work in the left-to-right manner for her...and she is new to me this year, so we started off with just a morning schedule and then we would change it for an afternoon schedule and what I noticed was that she wanted more information about her day, and she was really ready to hear about her whole day, so we moved to a 2-tier system so that she can see her whole day in one shot, rather than having to go through her morning schedule and then her teachers having to set up an afternoon schedule, so she can have all of the information at one point in her day.
NARRATOR: We see a close up of the 2-tiered calendar system. The top tier is filled with black object cards that have white labels and objects that represent the five learning activities: snack, speech, meeting, gym, and OT. The afternoon schedule consists of the activities: smartboard, lunch, daybook, and home.
STELZER: Each of her objects is on a durable, plastic board, and you could use anything. You could use cardboard, you could use an index card...and the nice thing about this is it's a dark color, so for her it's a high-contrast.
What I like to do is, she's not a Braille reader and she's not a print reader, because of her vision. So she really is getting all her information from the tactual object itself.
NARRATOR: Sharon holds a black card with a white label that reads "PT". The symbol for PT is a small, green and white suction ball.
STELZER: So, this is her symbol for physical therapy and what it is, as you can see, it's a nice, high-contrast.
The "PT" gives her exposure to print. Some of her symbols — we also have Braille — so she has exposure to that as well — and the nice part about this is that it's all put on with Velcro, so it's "easy on, easy off" and one of the features of that is then she can explore an object herself.
So what we did for her is, as we had new symbols come into her system, that we make them together, and I think that's a really important point — is that if the student can be part of the process in making their calendar systems, they learn it easier, it's more motivating, and I'd like to give you an example of that right now.
So her first picture was, she comes in in the morning and she always likes a little snack. She has a long bus ride in. What we did...she likes cereal in the morning, so we came up with a symbol for her snack, and all this is is an empty packet of hot oatmeal cereal.
NARRATOR: Sharon holds the object card labeled "snack". She has removed the symbolic object — an empty packet of instant oatmeal — that had been Velcro'd to the card.
STELZER: and what we did with her is — so we made her cereal together. Then what we did was we made the object. So we took the empty packet — and I helped her — we cut it down together, put just simple Velcro on the back, Velcro’d it right on, and so she knew exactly where this came from. So she had the cereal first, then she made the objects, and she learned it just like that, and it was really a great thing for her.
What we've done to expand upon that which I didn't bring today, is then she has choices. As we added more selections for her snacks in the morning, we save the empty containers. So that is one of my tips for you today — definitely save everything so that you can use them to make the objects that are part of the student's schedule. So we did that together, and then what she does is she goes through her schedule and we talk about what she does...and she is highly motivated about her schedule, and everything that she does. As you can see, there's nice, high-contrast.
Always having part of her schedule, having and helping her set it up, we use these objects — at the end of the day that she takes home in a diary, or a journal, so that she can discuss her day with her Mom. So I think those are all really important steps.
She had a new class where she was doing a recycling job. Now that she is 14, she gets out in the community, even more than she was before and she has a new job, where she goes to a local business and they were collecting cans and then, what they get to do is they bring them to a local grocery store and turn in the cans for the money.
But, in order to make an object for this, we took a can, we cut it down, and then we were able to squish it, so you put it right down on the ground...so we cut off the top, put it on the ground, stomped on it, and it made a beautiful object...and we just felt around to make sure there were no sharp edges, we stuck the Velcro on, we put it on our durable, plastic board and it was ready to go and be put on her schedule. So that was her new symbol for her recycling job. So they help make their objects if they can, they help set up the day, they go through each object and find out what their day is going to be like.
You can talk about "first”, “then", "next", what's going to happen "after"...all kinds of vocabulary that you can build in and really having taken the student's lead, and seeing what they're interested in...and my particular student loves parties.
We happened to celebrate her birthday party and we came up with two different symbols: we have a candle for her birthday and then a general, little horn for the regular birthday party.
So really, that was taking her lead and what she was interested in and incorporating that into the schedule...and that's really my Teachable Moment about calendar systems.