Playback device offers independence and the ability to blend in
One district has found a way to successfully work towards mainstreaming its special needs students. Afton Central School, located in upper New York state, has a population of 800 K-12 students housed within a single building. Susan Bethel, one of the school’s special education teachers, manages a self-contained resource room with seven students for two periods each day, and helps students with learning disabilities who are taking regular classes throughout the day. To help the special education team with their reading activities, Dan DeVona, the school’s librarian and media specialist for grades 6-12, decided to research how personal media players can enhance the learning environment.
“We pride ourselves on trying to anticipate the technology we need, such as MP3 players,” DeVona said. “We try to think about our technology purchases strategically, making sure they can be used in multiple ways across the curriculum.”
One goal of the program is to raise the student’s self-esteem. Studies have shown that by being included in a regular-paced education setting, students with disabilities have shown to be more confident. One assessment showed that out of all students with disabilities 96% felt they were more confident. Overall, students felt that they were equal to their peers and felt that they should not be treated any differently (November, 2007 study by the National Research Center on Learning Disabilities).
Bethel now uses the Califone MP3 Player to record required reading for special education courses, allowing her students to listen to the story or activity during their free time for remediation. “The MP3 Player is easier to use than a tape recorder, and students can use it without drawing attention to themselves. It doesn’t make them stand out,” Bethel said, which supports the self-esteem facet of the program.