Thursday, July 25, 2019

Teach the ECC Using a Hoverboard

a graphic that says "teach the expanded core using a hoverboard"
Teach the Expanded Core using a.....hoverboard? YES! A hoverboard!! Why? How? Huh? Let me start at the beginning. I spent a few weeks mulling over the activities for STEM Camp. I already knew the theme (STEM Camp in the Old Pioneer West) but needed to do my research for other activities. I look for STEM activities that are popular with all kids. I want to keep our students looped in with what their peers are liking. I walked passed a hoverboard while buying some supplies and instantly made a U turn. I was going back for the hoverboard. I had an idea! 

a female student kneels down and checks out a hoverboard
I knew that it would be a total blast to teach my students how to use a hoverboard at STEM Camp. I loved this idea not just because I thought it would be cool but because my ECC lightbulb went off. There were so many things I could teach to build an awesome ECC experience! It was just hoverboards that I purchased, I rounded up different types of helmets, photos and pieces for location and got to work. 
the group of students sit with the teacher on the floor with their legs extended

Before we even got on the hoverboards, we needed to do some serious concept development, STEM instruction and pre-teaching. First, I set the stage and we discussed what everyone knew about hoverboards and all things related to them (helmets, locations, etc). 
Then we get to the STEM of it all. We talked about the parts of the hoverboard, the science of it and how they work. This was a bonus because I could teach STEM and the ECC at the same time. Students learned where to place their feet, how wide the foot pad sensors are and positioning. We sat on the floor and extended our legs to practice tipping our toes and working our heels. I bought different types of helmets on purpose to discuss the features, uses, etc. of the helmets. 

a female student wearing a fun helmet sits on the ground and checks out the hoverboard
Can you see all of the attention I'm giving to the details? Too many times I see teachers just pass the object to a students a move on. I purposely gave students a variety of helmets and bought different brands/types of hoverboards. I wanted them to get a rich experience and concept development. 

a female student sits on the ground and checks out the hoverboard
Can you see how many areas of the ECC we are hitting? I was so excited throughout our initial hoverboard lesson because it was like an ECC buffet! We hit lots of orientation and mobility--from spatial awareness to directionality and balance. (Once students got their balance, we did have them use their canes if they were a cane user). We even hit career education. How? We discussed the rules and earning your dues at the skate park. We also discussed what types of jobs you could have in the skate industry. 
students stand on the hoverboard with teachers standing in front of them holding their hands
Let me share some of my instruction progression on how we taught the hoverboard. Most important, use a chair to get on and off! The very first thing we did was just simply having students stand up, balance and then sit down. Once they could stand up and maintain their balance, I knew they were ready to move on. Students must wear a helmet at all times. 
Students then learned how to move forward and backwards. This was great because they learned a lot about body awareness and control. Each student had an adult staff in close proximity. I also had a teenager who had typical vision there to model, support and talk with students about her experience.

a female student moves forward on a hoverboard
It took all of the students about one full day of hoverboard practicing to grow to mastering it. Everyone, students with low vision to no vision were rocking their skills on the hoverboards! It was awesome to watch my students with no vision cruising along with their canes. They just adjusted their speed and coordinated with their canes to find their way up and down our hallways. 
a male teenager moves on the hoverboard and uses his cane
The next time you are looking for a fun ECC lesson, consider a lesson with a hoverboard! I bought my boards from Walmart. (I actually price matched and got an even better price). I purposely bought different boards to compare and contrast. I even bought one with a bluetooth speaker built in!
a male teenager moves on the hoverboard and uses his cane
Another bonus: the confidence that all of our students gained by mastering the hoverboard! Yaaaassss! They learned the physics behind the hoverboard. They were fearless with gaining speed and fluidity. It was just an ECC party with students learning skills a lot of people probably don't think blind kids can do! It's not about what we see, it's about what we do! 

Monday, July 1, 2019

Teach the ECC at a Home Improvement Store

Text with three pictures of students touching appliances at The Home Depot

Hello friends! I am finally getting around to blogging about one of my favorite places in the community for Expanded Core instruction: a home improvement store! Yep, like Lowe's or The Home Depot. These stores a treasure box of skills, experiences and learning opportunities. There are many options for doing community based instruction (CBI) at a home improvement store. I recommend doing it as a series. This means you come back several times and break up the store into smaller parts. I like this option because there is more opportunity for students to have a stronger connection to the concepts. After all, there's much to learn, see, touch and do at a big home improvement store. The pictures from this post are part of a two part series I did. We did some work in the classroom and then put it together at the store. Part one was dedicated to learning about tools and basic home improvement around the house. Students learned a lot from the difference between a flathead and a Phillips screwdriver to how to plunge a toilet! Note: I always buy a new plunger and label it so students can touch it and explore it without it being gross! I feel that students should know basics of their home. These areas often get overlooked but it is a valuable skillset. Plan time for this. It's easy to just do a "show and tell" lesson. That's not effective ECC instruction. Use the "I do. We do. Y'all Do. You do." approach for this one! It's okay to break it up into a series of learning as well! 

A male young adult examines a stove dial appliance close up

A male teenager examines a refridgerator at the home depot.

A home improvement store is also great for a variety of age groups. I brought younger students to high school students for this outing. My younger students had a bonus lesson: they went and explored different textures! There were so many textures for younger hands to find and discuss. We also did a scavenger hunt of shapes, textures, measurement and comparing/contrasting sizes with their group. 

A young adult male and an elementary age male touch a display of small rugs

A group of young students tactually explore a wall of carpet samples.
 Plan a few hours for an ECC CBI--even if you are breaking it up in a series. There are many departments that have lots of hands on exploration even for older students. Check out the picture below with all the different faucets! We had lots of discussions about student's preferences, uses and locations of just faucets!
a photo of a wall display of faucets at The Home Depot.

a group of teenagers hold up flooring samples and smile for a picture
 I brought a medium sized group of students for this outing. I broke them up into small groups and gave them an "educational scavenger hunt" (aka a creative list of things I want them to learn about). Each group had time to go about the store at their own pace. They had to check out major departments and apply their new "tool knowledge" to each department. Can you see all the possibilities?? We spent almost an entire day on our home improvement unit.
a group of students listen to a male teacher as he points out items on a heating system
 There's another reason why I like doing ECC lessons at a home improvement store: the appliance section! Many students haven't had the opportunity to check out a variety of appliances. Their knowledge is usually just their own home appliances. I like to do a whole lesson about accessible appliances. I like to review what makes an appliance accessible. I give the students a checklist of accessible options to consider and tell them to find these options on appliances. I encourage them to learn about their own accessibility needs. Then look for appliances that match their needs. Note: I don't rush this lesson. We go appliance by appliance---we do laundry first, then kitchen, etc. I let students discover features of appliances.
A female student explores a washing machine

a male young adult smiles next to a washing machine.

Don't forget to talk about the money! We also discuss prices and budgets. I kind of like to play "The Price is Right" for this. I have students take a guess at how much appliances cost including their dream accessible appliances. Fortunately, many of the most accessible appliances are the most basic ones. We compare and contrast pricier models with basic. We discuss all the bells and whistles. It's such a great ECC lesson!! 

a close up of a basic dial on washing machine
 Make sure you go during off hours if possible. It makes it easier to have "department to yourself". You can do a lot more instruction without everyone staring at you. The workers are usually awesome to work with. Many employees will take extra time and really help out where possible.
a male young adult turns the knobs on a stove as he checks it out.
 I have students pack their assistive technology (that includes their phones) for this CBI. I like them to use their AT when determining what accessibility they need. Feel free to invite an orientation & mobility instructor as well for this one. There's so much to gain on this ECC adventure!
a male young adult checks out the knob on a stove.