This school year is quickly coming to an end but as an itinerant, I’m already thinking ahead to next year. Some of my students will be transitioning to the next grade in the same building; some will transition to new buildings for kindergarten, junior high or high school and some are transitioning to schools in new districts. No matter what, each student will be in a new classroom with a new teacher! So along with scheduling in-services for staff trainings this spring (see my earlier post on Spring Orientations), I’m working with my students on projects that will introduce them to their new teachers.
These projects take many forms. My preschooler and I are filming and editing an iMovie presentation; an older student chose to write and illustrate a book and a junior high student is working diligently on a PowerPoint. It’s easy to weave advocacy and language goals into these projects and it’s always more powerful when a student can tell teachers what they need in their own words—especially if that teacher is new to working with a student with hearing loss!
Tips for helping students create introduction presentations
· Help students understand who the audience is and what the purpose of the project is.
· Choose a media form that both you and the student are comfortable working with. Movies are fun to make but if you and the student are both new to this format, learning how to edit and add effects can be frustrating and counterproductive.
· Provide the student with an outline or graphic organizer to guide the project. Topics generally include information about:
o the student’s life and interests
o how typical hearing works
o the student’s hearing loss and amplification
o beneficial instructional strategies (e.g., use of closed captions, note taking, facing the student when speaking, etc.)
o factors that impede comprehension (e.g., hallway noise, sitting in the back of the room, etc.)
o communication tips for peers
o how the student feels about having a hearing loss
o how the student feels comfortable advocating and where they’d like support.
· Include language frames (e.g. “Before the sound travels to the_____ on my cochlear implant, it first enters the ______”) and prompts (e.g. How does the FM receiver pick up sound?”) as needed to guide the student and address language objectives. I edit my organizers slightly to meet the individual needs of each student that I work with.
· Share examples of what others have made! Sometimes my students get stuck. YouTube has a wealth of instructional videos made by kids with hearing loss and with permission, I’ve shared PowerPoint presentations made by other students.
· Decide with your student how the presentation will be shared with the new teacher. Most junior high and high schools do not announce teachers and class groupings/schedules until late summer, for instance. But in some cases—especially with younger children or smaller school districts—there is only one teacher per grade and families find out who that new teacher is at the end of the current school year.
Working with students to create presentations is a great way to begin planning for next yea and can help alleviate any anxiety the student may feel because they are taking an active part in the transition process. How else do you involve students in the transition? Please share!