Thursday, September 8, 2011

Just as Able

We have a student with low vision on the team this year, and of course he has several accommodations to make sure that he can see the instructional materials we are using. He needs bigger print and enlarged images, so the vision specialist laid in a supply of 11 x 17 paper to use in the copy machine. That's double the standard size, however, and there's nothing like a ginormous piece of paper to make you stand out in a group, which is the very last thing this student wants to do. For the majority of kids, sixth grade and the transition to middle school is all about fitting in, and developmentally, that is quite appropriate.

Maybe it's my own worsening presbyopia, but last week when I was reviewing the documents that I would need for the first days of school, I made a decision that rather than enlarging the handouts I had, I would reformat them so that he could read them, and then I would use that version for everyone. Not knowing him, it just seemed the safest thing to do to begin with, and it's worked out fine so far. So today, when I mentioned that to the other teachers on the team, they jumped at the idea.

Our social studies teacher told us how he had pushed a larger copy of the map aside, unwilling to use a different worksheet than the other kids. "It's too bad," she said sympathetically, "but I LOVE the bigger maps-- they look so much better, and they're a lot easier to work with."

"Why don't you use the 11 by 17 paper to make big maps for everyone?" someone suggested, and our strategy was sealed.

I feel good about it-- a larger format is certainly not going to hurt anyone, and who knows how many kids a bigger font and a simpler design might benefit?

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