How can unconventional introduction to Braille motivate and enhance literacy skills for a child in primary school?
JORUNN: This presentation is entitled How an unconventional introduction to Braille Can Motivate and Enhance Literacy Skills for a Child in Primary School.
ISABELLE: Hi, my name is Isabelle Berget and I'm a special education teacher at Norwegian primary school.
JORUNN: And my name is Jorunn Ytrehorn Wiik. and I work as a senior adviser at Statped in southeastern Norway, the Department of Visual Impairment. I have been one of the advisors from Statped who has been lucky to follow the good work at this school. We would now like to show you a presentation about how an unconventional introduction to Braille can motivate and enhance literacy skills for a child in primary school.
ISABELLE: In our presentation, we focus on how to facilitate the teaching of a child with blindness and additional difficulties in reading and writing Braille, With guidance from Statped, We aim to achieve the following: interaction with the student, an introduction to communication tools such as tactile symbols and schedules, working with the student at the desk instead of having the students sit on the floor, motivating the student to work at the desk, which means finding meaningful activities based on the student's interests, promoting learning through an early intervention in introducing Braille.
JORUNN: So, who is this student we are talking about?
ISABELLE: The student is a charming and good-natured child with a big smile. He's trustworthy and kind. He also has a very good memory and can recall things and details that others easily forget. His parents are curious and inquisitive, and he loves to play with Lego, small cars, pictures and plastic animals. He also loves listening to music and memorizes songs after that, after hearing them the first time.
JORUNN: The student was five years old and had just started first grade when we became acquainted with him. He had congenital blindness and additional difficulties. He did not have an autism spectrum diagnosis, but experienced difficulties that resembled autism spectrum disorders, ASD. The student had a vocabulary consisting of numerous words and good articulation, but he had few utterances to express his own needs and wishes. He had an idiosyncratic communication style, which means that he could use his own words to describe things and situations depending on the context. The student had difficulties in interacting with the adults at school, but was able to interact on his own terms. His activities were stereotypical and limited. He often wanted to sit on the floor, listen to music and handclapping to rhymes. He did not like change and protested fiercely when introduced to new activities and tasks. To organize the school day, the school created a daily tactile schedule with tactile symbols to provide an overview and predictability for the student. The school incorporated symbols for daily routines, activities, events, persons and places in the tactile schedule. The tactile schedule was presented to the student at the start of the school day and the relevant symbols at the start of each routine or activity. This was to clarify what was going to happen and to communicate what was expected of him. It also gave the student the ability to influence and interact through the symbols. Then a work schedule for each activity was introduced. By using these symbols, the school achieved interaction, joint attention and tools for communication. It also gave the students help with starting the activities. He currently has 113 symbols. He discovered that his utterances... We discovered that his utterances were often associated with the tactile symbols and that the number of utterances was increasing. He appeared to be attaching meaning to the symbols. Here, we have a picture of tactile schedules. This picture shows example of two tactile schedules. The first one is a tactile daily schedule. The second shows the typical work schedule. From the left on the work schedule, a tactile symbol for Braille, followed by the letters A, B, L, M, S, and I. Then a new tactile symbol for reading Braille, followed by the book we are going to read, a tactile symbol for the flexiboard, geometric shapes, and the solar system.
ISABELLE: Communication. Over the course of the school day we focused on confirming and responding to the student's verbal communication, We challenged him to expand his sentences. For example, the students might say, "Milk". Then we responded: "How do we ask for milk?" The students say, "May I have some milk?" We then asked, "Would you like to have some milk?" The student replied, "Yes." Meaningful activities based on the student's interests. The first activity we created was based on the student's fondness for music, it was also based on his ability to manipulate with his hands and tactile discrimination of plastic toy animals. We placed plastic animals on the sorting board and played songs referring to a specific animal. The student's task was to find the correct plastic animal from the song and place it in the finished box. Here we have a picture of the music game. Mathematics, geometry. This is a picture of geometric shapes. Once we found a motivating activity like the music game, we developed more individualized activities, like this geometric task. In this picture, you can see the student is working with both hands, finding the geometric shapes that we request and putting them in the finished box. We started with a few shapes and increased the number as the student became more familiar with them. After practicing this for a while, he was familiar with large and small squares, large and little circles, triangles, rectangles, octagons, cylinders, and dice. Science, the solar system. We challenged the student's memory and tactile discrimination ability by making models of all the planets in the solar system, including the Sun. All the planets are different from a tactile perspective, and the moon is connected to the Earth. At first we gave the student one planet a time on the sorting board and said the name of the planet. The student examined the planet with both hands to find the characteristics of all the planets. To motivate the student for the task, we played a song about the solar system, in addition to stating the names of the planets. The task was to find the right planet and place it in the finished box. Here is a picture of the solar system activity. Literacy activities. Flexiboard is an external keyboard with tactile overlays. We used to flex the board for prereading activities. We made our own overlay for practicing the letters that the student had learned. He needs to read letters in a wide range of contexts in order to automate decoding. The task was to find the letter on the overlay, decode the letter and say the letter aloud. The flexiboard has all the support and confirms the letter when the student presses the letter. We attached a string onto the overlay to create a tactile line. The next task the student was asked to do was to fight- to find the start of the line to the left, follow the line with both hands, press the buttons and find the end of the line. This picture shows the student following the line on the flexiboard with both hands. Individualized approach to Braille. We spent a lot of time teaching the student to be careful with the tactile symbols as he tended to destroy them while examin- examining them. The pre-reading activities, like reading the tactile schedules and flexible tasks, gave the students the opportunity to carefully discriminate the point cells in Braille. The student was not interested in print cells on a sheet of paper. Since the student enjoyed reading the tactile schedule, we glued braille letters onto a small round piece of wood and attached them to the tactile work schedule next to the tactile symbol for Braille. We started teaching the student the letter A, followed by B, M, L, I, and S. The picture shows the student reading letters on the work schedule with both hands.
JORUNN: And here we have a picture of a Mountbatten Brailer. School started the student's writing process with a Perkins Brailler, but the keys on the Perkins Brailler were too hard to press down for the student, so they borrowed a Mountbatten Brailler from Statped until they got their own. The Mountbatten Brailler is a tool for teaching to write Braille. It's an electronic brailer and does not require as much pressure to press, press down the keys to type the letters. The Mountbatten Brailler also has audio support that states the names of the letters as the student writes them. The student loved this machine from the very start, and it became a motivating factor to write Braille. Off camera speaker (teacher): [In Norwegian] Type "A". Student: Tabulator. Off camera speaker (teacher): Type "A". Student: Tabulator. Student: Tabulator. Student: Tabulator, yes. Student: Enter. Student: A. Teacher: Space. Student: Space. Student: A. Student: A. Student: Space. Teacher: What are we going to do at the workplan today? Student: Braille. Teacher: What are you going to write? Student: A, M. Teacher: L. Student: L. Teacher: S. Student: S. Teacher: I. Student: I. Student: B. Teacher: That's right. -Teacher: And then you are going to? -Student: Read Braille. -Teacher: Which book should we read? -Student: "Elliboka." -Teacher: And then what will we work with? -Student: Geometric shapes. Teacher: Before geometric shapes? -Teacher: We are going to work with? -Student: Flexiboard. Teacher: And finally? Student: Geometric shapes. Teacher: Now you are going to write? Student: Braille. -Teacher: Yes! -Student: Yes! Teacher: And the first letter is? Student: A. [Speaking in Norwegian] least let me in. Oh yes. Teacher: Then you are done with A. Teacher: The next letter is? [Singing in English]: "I'll be home for Christmas." Teacher: [Norwegian] The next letter is? Student: M Teacher: Remove letter M. [singing in Norwegian] Teacher: Are you ready to write M? [Speaking in Norwegian]
JORUNN: [In English] Framework factors. The school spent much time the first few months becoming better acquainted with a student. It was important to learn about his interests and things that motivated him. They had to establish structured settings and routines, and the tactile schedules and symbols were important tools for this. As educators, it was necessary to be predictable, so he knew he could trust them. From an adviser's point of view, I was impressed by the educators dedication and how they managed to clarify and balance the requirements and expectations. They did not give up and completed tasks as intended, even if the student expressed the opposite desire. Nevertheless, they realized that each day could be different, so it was necessary to read the student's signals correctly and adapt accordingly. Framework factors in tasks. First of all, the school had to find meaningful and motivating activities based on the student's interests. New activities were then built on successful activities. Less is more. In other words, keep the activities simple to maintain motivation. A great deal of positive attention and praise for the efforts made is important. Give the student plenty of time and a sense of mastery. During instruction, the educators use few words and a minimum of small talk. The same words were used repeatedly, so the requirements would be recognizable. They incorporated activities and Braille into the daily tactile schedule. As an adviser, it was impressive to see all the work and effort the educators put down in making predictable settings and creative tasks, they always believed that he was capable of learning to read and write Braille. We think that all of these factors led to an intrinsic motivation for him to enjoy working and learning. He now often asks to read and write Braille. This was all from us. Thank you for your attention.
ISABELLE: Thank you.