Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Adaptive Physical Education (APE)

Greetings blogland!
I am really excited about the new topic I have to blog about: adaptive PE (APE)! I recently partnered with a great APE teacher, Justin Haegele, at Camp Abilities CT. Justin is an APE teacher in the NYC public schools. He also is the director of Camp Abilities Alaska. I wanted to reach out more to the recreation & leisure parts of the ECC especially physical fitness and APE for my students. As luck would have it, I met Justin!
I asked him to put together a Top 5 Resource List for easy & quick accommodations for APE for children with vision impairments. His article is below. As with everything, give credit where credit is due. This article is written by Justin Haegele, APE teacher. Feel free to use by make sure you site him!

Look for more APE postings this week!!

Five Simple Solutions to Including Children with Visual Impairments in your P.E. Class
Justin Haegele, APE teacher
Casey is entering his tenth year as a physical education teacher at a public elementary school. He is very passionate about his job and that passion translates into good teaching in a positive learning environment. His administrators have noticed his ability to teach and are giving him more responsibility with his classes. One responsibility is that Casey will now be teaching an inclusion class with children with visual impairments. This will be the first time since he will teach a child with a visual impairment since his college education. Even though Casey is a good teacher and is passionate about teaching all of his students, he is unsure as to what he can do to include children with visual impairments in his physical education class.
The previous situation is not uncommon in school districts across the country. Physical education teachers are often asked to teach children in inclusive environments with very little training other than one class or field experience in college. For seasoned instructors, that could mean ten or more years of teaching without a child with a visual impairment in their class. Even teachers like Casey, who are valued because of their passion and ability to teach, may have difficulties figuring out how to modify activities for children with visual impairments to be successful. The following are five simple solutions for physical education teachers to include children with visual impairments in their class.

1. Verbalize your Instruction
Physical education teachers regularly instruct using large body movements and visual modeling. Physically displaying a movement and having a group of students follow along is an easy way to teach general education students most physical activities. Visual modeling is not an effective teaching method for children with visual impairments. In order to include a student with a visual impairment, without completely changing a program and alienating the student from their peers, the physical education teacher should verbalize each critical movement while modeling it. Verbalizing each movement will allow a student with a visual impairment to follow along with their classmates throughout activities. For example, while demonstrating a correct push up, the instructor should verbalize the beginning stance, the push up movement, and the ending stance while demonstrating.

2.The Use of Sound
Many activities in physical education classes include running to or throwing an object at targets which are a distance from the participants, such as a 10 meter dash or shooting an arrow. Since children with visual impairments may have trouble with objects from a distance, P.E. teachers should consider using sound sources to reinforce the targets location. Sound source can come in many different forms such as a purchased sound device, a wireless doorbell, or another person clapping their hands. The sound should be lined up directly with the target. Additionally, the instructor should tell the student whether the sound source is located in front of or behind the target.

3. Change / modify your implement
The base of most activities taught in physical education use equipment such as balls, short or long handled implements, and targets. When including a child with a visual impairment in a P.E. class, instructors must consider modifying equipment in order to improve its visibility. Equipment which is dark in color or lacks contrast from the environment may be difficult for children with visual impairments to use. Physical education teachers should consider different ways to make equipment more visible by changing to a brighter colored implement or using neon tape or paint. Adding sound to a piece of equipment, such as a bell, is another way of modifying equipment to accommodate the needs of children with visual impairments.

4. Peer Buddy System
Physical education teachers cannot work with one student throughout their classes without alienating them from the group. Using a peer buddy system will ensure that all students in the class will understand activities without the need of one to one instruction. A peer buddy system consists of pairing each student in the class with a partner whom they will work with in physical education (NOTE: Do not simply assign a buddy to the child with a visual impairment or it may alienate them from the class). The peer buddies can work together to learn activities and participate in them as a pair.

5. Disability Sport Activity
Creating a disability sport activity in a school is a great way for physical educators to teach activities which are both fun and meaningful for children with visual impairments. Physical education teachers can create units on Paralympics sports for visually impaired athletes such as Beep Baseball or Goalball which the entire school can play. Creating units such as these will broaden the teacher’s knowledge base as well as create disability awareness to children without a disability in inclusive classes. One natural transition for physical educators to consider is to follow a baseball unit with a Beep Baseball unit. In this instance, children with and without visual impairments will have an opportunity to compare and contrast the two sports.

Using the previously mentioned simple solutions, Casey now feels more comfortable teaching children with visual impairments. He is creating a baseball/ beep baseball unit for all of his students to play throughout the next month. During the baseball unit, he plans on using a neon colored ball and having sound devices at the bases when each player is batting. He is also planning on splitting his class into peer groups when demonstrating the batting stance, a time where Casey knows he will verbalize each movement from the beginning position to the follow through.

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