A plucky fourth-grade student with a visual impairment and autism at Freeland Elementary is able to be fully included with her peers thanks to the support of teacher Kaylie Lambert, the school’s PALSS committee, and a cadre of other professional staff.
Along with the general education students participating in PALSS (Peers Are Linked for Social Success), Lambert, the elementary resource room teacher, works in partnership with the general education teacher and the SISD’s visually-impaired specialist to make this happen.
"We work together to make sure this student is involved in the classroom as much as possible," Lambert said. "Just because a kid may have a different kind of challenge doesn't mean they are not like the other kids.”
Lambert uses a variety of different tools to help her student.
The fourth-grader uses a math window board, which is the size of a small cork board covered in fabric. She uses small tiles that have Nemeth Code numbers on them, which is a special type of braille used for math and science equations. She also uses an abacus to solve problems.
She reads stories using uncontracted and contracted braille. Uncontracted braille words are spelled out letter by letter. Contracted braille is a system of short cuts where one letter might represent an entire word. The student also uses two different braille writers (Perkins and Orbit) to share her thoughts and ideas. The Orbit attaches to an iPad to create sentences digitally as well.
Lambert can’t say enough about the elementary students in the PALSS group. They partner with her student every day to spend time with her at recess, in her other classes, and walk her down the hallway for lunch.
This peer-to-peer connection allows for friendships to grow, connections to be made, and a comfortable, friendly environment to be formed.
"We are all learning to be more patient, more understanding, and open to new ways of doing things in the classroom," Kaylie said. "It is a wonderful learning environment for all."