This Teachable Moment provides a brief overview of the use of a multi-step object system for students who are ready to move on from a single object system. Hillary demonstrates several adaptations to aid in gaining visual attention and describes how the use of calendar systems aids in the development of literacy skills.
NARRATOR: A montage of photographs, depicting students and teachers.
A graphic of the Perkins (School for the Blind) logo and the words "Teachable Moments".
A title: Schedules and Calendars, with Hilary Travers.
TRAVERS: Hi, my name is Hilary Travers and I'm a teacher at Perkins School for the Blind in the Deafblind program and today I'm going to be talking about schedules and calendars.
With me, I have a calendar I created for one of my totally deafblind students. She is 17 years old and we created this schedule for her for a range of reasons.
The number one reason is that it's portable. That was huge for us. She wears this bag across her body and it works really well because she can bring it to all of her classes, she can bring it out in the community, and it doesn't necessarily scream, "schedule". It's really "normalizing", it's trendy, it has a nice color.
We created this based off a vendor at Etsy actually but you can use two pieces of cardboard, which was our original system, or even the checkbooks that you get at a restaurant are actually very practical.
NARRATOR: Hilary sits behind a desk. In her hands she holds a folio that is covered in a brown fabric with a yellow, geometric chain pattern.
There is also a long strap made of the same fabric that allows the folio to be carried over the shoulder.
TRAVERS: Once we look inside the schedule, there are two distinct sides to it.
The left-hand side has soft Velcro and the right-hand side is a zippered pouch.
We used to have a schedule that had two sides of Velcro and I will explain the benefits of having a pouch instead, but the left-hand side of our schedule — as we read left-to right — is where the student creates her schedule, where she aligns things in the morning and the right-hand side of the schedule is where the finished words will go.
On the finished side of the schedule, the original Velcro on this side was (so) she could move things from left-to-right, to signify that they are finished.
We now have the pouch because this particular student was getting so obsessed with the words on the finished side of the schedule and she wanted to constantly review what happened in her day and it just seemed more practical to hide the words until the end of the day, when we could re-align and refocus on what she covered.
So, on this left-hand of the schedule — I'll put this down for a moment — In the morning, we would set up her words.
NARRATOR: Hilary picks up a 3-ring binder and presents it towards the camera. Each page of the binder has two strips of Velcro tape that run vertically, down the page.
On these strips are the words the student will be using to create her schedule. The pages of the binder are labeled with the days of the week.
TRAVERS: So, for example, today we would flip on our teacher list to a Wednesday's day, we would set up on a felt board some of her words on her schedule.
So, for example, "Wednesday" — maybe she would do her schedule first, she would go to the bathroom, and she would attend morning meeting. So, we'll have these on a felt board, set up in the morning, and she'll then put them on top of her own personal schedule here and we'll go through each word with tactile sign language just to make sure we have comprehension and clarity. We use perma-Braille paper to create these uncontracted Braille words.
The benefit is that they're durable, they're water-proof, they don't tear easily and you can attach a Velcro to the back really, really, simply — and on a budget — and so, she put these on her schedule, we read them and she moves through her day.
As the activities are finished, you know, if she finishes her schedule, we'll sign the schedule as "finished", she'll open up her pouch, take the word off, move it across and that word is "finished". She then will move on to the next one, she'll sign "bathroom" and then she'll go on to her next thing.
One of the major benefits of this is it really allows us to use some expansion activities so, we've really focused on the word "aware" this year, in terms of identifying as a location question.
So, this year, we now are saying, "Now" — you know — "we are doing our schedule". When it's finished, we'll say, "The schedule is finished, where are you going?" and she'll say, "I'm going" — and then sign the next thing on her schedule, so she's learning to anticipate, she's learning how to read the schedule in a sequence of events, and she's really understanding that "where" responds to the location of the next event on her schedule because she is physically getting up and moving independently, which has been really awesome for us.
Another extension activity that we've started to work on is answering the "who" question. So, when we have certain classes like "meeting", we can ask, "With who?" And then she'll say, "With" — and the sign the name of the staff person that she'll be with and it's, again, great because she's identifying that the word "who" in sign language is attributed to people and persons in her world, which is really great.
It's been our most successful way of understanding question words. So, that's really nice for us — and you can expand this — you could do "aware" if there are certain areas, or if you are going on a certain field trip.
You can expand the activity, depending on your student's communication level and cognitive ability and you can really explore with different "wh'" questions, you know, throughout your day.
And that was today's Teachable Moment!