Year 1 Guidlelines

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Guidlelines for year 1 projects.

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Year 1 Guidlelines

  1. 1. Project Unify “Meet in the Middle” (A US Department of Education Grant-Funded Project) Project Guidelines for School Facilitator (First year participating schools) Congratulations Educator! If you are reading this, you have already been introduced to the unique “Meet in the Middle,” project, and accepted a project kit from Special Olympics Texas. Thank-you for agreeing to be the educator who will facilitate the project on your school campus. Based on the preliminary student, teacher and administrator reviews from the initial implementation in early 2009, you and your students are about to embark on an exciting journey to acceptance, diversity, capacity-building and fun. These guidelines are designed to ‘walk you through’ the project, offer implementation procedures, and answer possible preliminary questions you may have before recruiting students and getting them started on their project activities. Overview “Meet in the Middle” Project The Meet in the Middle project is the “Texas” portion of a federal grant-awarded project from the US Department of Education to Special Olympics on a national level. It is uniquely our own, and was piloted for the first time during the Spring semester of the 2008-2009 school year in more than 30 school districts around Texas. This is the second year of implementation and the project will have two groups: NEW school campuses, such as your own, implementing the project for the first time, and RETURNING schools for an expanded Year Two- “SUPER” Meet in the Middle project. Both groups will conduct year-long projects. The following guidelines are for new schools in their first year of implementation. The Meet in the Middle project of Special Olympics, Texas is designed for school students, both typically-developing, as well as those with intellectual disabilities to partner and participate in activities which focus on interactive, inclusive and FUN opportunities that will increase acceptance and awareness of each student’s uniqueness, while supporting fitness, disability awareness, academic achievement, and sports- related training. It is designed to be a win-win situation for everyone involved. Meet in the Middle is an activity-based project that encourages students to select from a menu of project activities to earn incentives and rewards that Special Olympics will provide you, as the facilitating teacher, to award at the end of the year to students 1
  2. 2. based on the following criteria: the student’s commitment to the project’s goals of inclusiveness, fitness, and sport-specific training to increase the skills, capabilities, acceptance and opportunities for students with intellectual disabilities. As the students select projects from their individual Meet in the Middle folder’s ‘menu,’ your task is to monitor their progress with the activities, offer suggestions and support, and assist them with submitting documentation of their efforts to a special website for sharing the ‘best of what they do’ for Meet in the Middle at your school. (more about this reporting component later in these guidelines.) The student activities which can earn incentives and rewards will be individually selected by involved school student participants, (with your approval) from a special ‘menu’ designed for the project. Each student may individually select projects from their student folder “menu” to carry out, but a more inclusive option would be to “pair up,” a student with an intellectual disability and a typically-developing peer, to work on projects together. Remember, that the activities are designed to foster increased independence, skills and abilities in the students with intellectual disabilities, while fostering acceptance of individual differences and the gifts in all children. Think of the theme “we are more like each other than different from each other!” If you look at the menu options in the folders, you will see that the activities each include a rating called the “Involvement Level” assigned to them. The more involved the activity’s requirements are, the higher the ‘Level.’ The facilitating teacher can use these ‘levels’ as considerations when determining how incentives and rewards sent to you from Special Olympics Texas, will be awarded. Incentives and rewards will be sent to the facilitating teacher at the school address you provide Special Olympics Texas. Smaller incentives may be distributed to participating students at your discretion, but larger rewards at the end of the project year are specifically for the recognized student ‘high achievers’ in the project. In addition, in order to culminate the Meet in the Middle activities for the year, a grant-funded monetary award will be sent to participating school campuses that have met all of the project requirements, including the required project documentation submissions of activities and project successes. Students will sign-up to ‘join’ the project to participate. Posters are provided in your school’s Meet in the Middle kit to place around your campus to introduce the project and encourage interested students to meet with you to inquire about the project’s purpose and activities. Be sure the posters have your name, room, and any other relevant information added. Of course, students may be ‘recruited’ or ‘encouraged’ to join, particularly those who may be in need of a positive school experience like “Meet in the Middle” which encourages acceptance, dignity, heightened self-esteem and mutual respect. Facilitating Teacher Stipend At the end of the project, when all project efforts have been documented and submitted to Special Olympics Texas, from your campus, and end-of-project reporting requirements (such as evaluation surveys) completed, the facilitating teacher from each participant school will be sent a $400 stipend, from Special Olympics Texas, in appreciation for their 2
  3. 3. efforts to build, promote, and sustain the “Meet in the Middle” concept and its themes of acceptance and dignity, on their campus. ____________________________________________________________ The remainder of this guide includes sections providing: • background information about Project Unify, the national grant project; • a description of the contents of the “Meet in the Middle” kit; • ideas for how to use the resources in the kit; • explanation of and recommendations for your school’s “Meet in the Middle” Support TEAM • suggestions and ideas for facilitating the students’ individual projects • directions for reporting contact information on the SOTX website; • and, information about incentives and awards ____________________________________________________________ Background Current educational research shows a strong association between motivation, self- perception, achievement and graduation rates. Studies have found that during the school years, there is a decline in motivation, self-perception and academic achievement in students. Sixth graders who do not attend school regularly, exhibit poor behavior, or fail math or English are very likely to drop out before high school graduation (Balfanz and Herzog, 2006.) Initiatives supported by the National Middle School Association include the recent “Success in the Middle” bills introduced both in the House and Senate (HR3406 and S.2227) targeting innovation programs to provide challenging academics and supportive programs to serve the needs of young adolescents and prepare them for high school and eventually the world of work. Another supported initiative is the “Campaign for School Wellness” focusing on activity, health and wellness as indicators of student engagement and success in the school setting. In order to support existing school initiatives, Special Olympics International was awarded funding from the U.S. Department of Education in accordance with the Budget Authorization outlined in the 2004 Special Olympics Sport and Empowerment Act. FY2008 was the first year education funds have been realized for this national project --Project Unify – which is designed to empower students with and without intellectual disabilities to work together as agents of change, and to build upon existing partnerships and initiate new ones between Special Olympics and the educational community. Our Texas project, dubbed “Meet in the Middle,” invites schools around the state to participate. It is anticipated that at least 50 schools will be participating either in year one, or year two of the project during the 2009-2010 school year. Schools new to the project may contact their local Special Olympics Texas staff if they would like a mentor “Year Two” school to offer ideas and suggestions for implementation of the project. 3
  4. 4. The approximately fifty schools statewide, will each create their own projects, but the individual student activities will be chosen from a student ‘menu’ created by Special Olympics Texas for the project. Activities on the menu are related to academic, fitness, sports and wellness-related goals and activities of varying complexity and depth, which increase acceptance and diversity on the campus while students earn fun incentives and end-of-project rewards. All “Meet in the Middle” projects will be year-long, from September 2009 - May 2010. Required School-wide and Individual Student Components of “Meet in the Middle”: 1) Team meetings facilitated by the project’s contact teacher, at least monthly, with a core group of school personnel and student representatives to discuss ways to keep the project momentum going and to decide on ‘school-wide’ projects such as the ‘signature campaign’ to “erase the use of the R-word, (brochures, stickers, buttons and a thermometer to track number of signatures of students/teachers willing to refuse to use the “R-word are included in your “Meet in the Middle” kit.) The meetings can also focus on creation of a video or ‘news’ feature that encourages students to “Be a Fan…..of Acceptance…of Unity…of Fun….of Fitness…of Diversity, etc. Special Olympics staff from the state (Chapter) or Area office are willing to attend your meetings, do presentations, and bring along a Special Olympics athlete who may be participating in the Athlete Leadership Program, or perhaps be one of Special Olympics ‘Global Messengers,’ to speak to the TEAM or student participants. The team, per school, should be composed of an administrator, the sponsoring teacher, a PE coach, a special education teacher, an Adapted Physical Education or Special Olympics coach, plus two female and two male students (two from the general student population and two students with intellectual disabilities.) 2) Student exposure to the “SO Get into It” curriculum materials. This highly regarded resource is included in the Meet in the Middle kit. There is a DVD, including brief videos of inspirational Special Olympic athletes telling their own stories, background information about the program and the history of treatment of individuals with cognitive disabilities, which are perfect as discussion starters. There is also a full curriculum with lessons and activities related to disability awareness and the benefits of sports, fitness, and acceptance of individual differences in people. Students participating in the Meet in the Middle project should have an opportunity to meet with you and the other students involved in the project, perhaps bi-weekly or monthly, to report on the progress on their individual successes, to design school-wide projects or campaigns, and to celebrate successes. 3) Signature campaign and activities to ‘erase the use of the R-word’ 4) Use of Special Olympics “Be a Fan” theme in some capacity. 4
  5. 5. 5) Posters and signature campaign thermometer displayed in prominent locations on the campus and used to track numbers of signatures to Erase the R-word. 6) Student participation in the project and in their individually selected activities (selected from and recorded on their individual “Meet in the Middle” student folders/activity menus.) Projects focus on positive interactions between typically-developing and intellectually disabled students. 7) Positive publicity of the project and student initiatives related to “spreading the word” about acceptance, unity, support, and dignity. 8) Regular online submission to www.slideshare.net at least monthly, by students and the facilitating teacher, of student essays, uploaded photos and descriptions of inclusive and sports-training related activities that took place that month, and Special Olympics support and participation efforts completed through your campus’s “Meet in the Middle” student projects. The “Meet in the Middle” Kit The “Meet in the Middle” Kit contains everything that you will need to organize, track and facilitate student activities designed to build friendships and promote fun, acceptance, disability awareness and fitness. The main components of the Kit are the individual student activity folders. They are designed as a menu of options the students may select individually or in pairs to do as projects, with your approval. The activities have different ‘levels’ of value which can assist you, as the facilitating teacher, with determining which particular projects and student efforts will earn the rewards mailed to you during the project. Incentives are smaller items that are sent by Special Olympics to you, to help keep the project momentum going. The number of incentives sent will always be dependent on number and thoroughness of the documentation entries (of project efforts) submitted to the online reporting site. In order to have sufficient incentives sent to your campus, please be sure reports include quantifiable information, e.g. “on November 14th, 30 students both with and without intellectual disabilities participated in a demonstration of the sport of bocce, conducted by the Area __ Special Olympics Director. Based on the training, (and fun) that the students had, a potential coach was identified from a teacher on our campus who observed the demonstration, and 24 students expressed interest in a Unified Bocce team for our district. Our next step is______________ .” Contents of the Meet in the Middle kit Your kit will come in a sturdy lidded plastic ‘box’ (the kit) which holds all the materials for the project and is the facilitating teacher’s to keep and will consist of: Awareness Bracelets - Large Awareness Bracelets - Small DVD - Loretta Claiborne DVD DVD – Meet in the Middle & SOTX DVD DVD - R-word” PSAs 5
  6. 6. DVD – So Get Into It DVD – Unified Sports DVD – Young Athlete Guidelines for organizing the Project Handbooks - Family Handbooks Handbooks - Volunteer Handbooks Handouts - SO Get Into It Curriculum Handouts Handouts of Children’s and Adolescents’ Literature on Disability Awareness, Integration and Inclusion: An Annotate Bibliography. Information Sheet – Unified Sports Information Sheet – Young Athlete Information Sheets - Special Olympics Texas Program and Area Letters of Endorsement Meet in the Middle banner Meet in the Middle posters Monthly Checklist for Teachers Photo of Young Athlete equipment R-word Pledge Signature Campaign Forms R-word posters R-Word Stickers Rolls of 100 R-word brochures R-word buttons School Commitment Letter/Student Permission Form Student portfolio materials (Folder and project menu with tracking component Student Roster for Accountability (Meet in the Middle Student ID Cards from roster) Thermometer” to track R Word signature campaign Young Athletes Kit - Contact Mike Sullivan if interested in these materials: 512-491-2958 msullivan@sotx.org Using the “Meet in the Middle Kit” The actual “Meet in the Middle” kit is designed to help you keep the materials and resources organized in one easy-to-identify place. Special Olympics Texas recognizes how busy your workday is already! You will want to keep ‘hard copies’ of your records for the project in the kit, e.g. signatures from the “Erase the R-word campaign,” and student permission slips and release forms, and any documentation of TEAM meetings (e.g. agenda/sign-in sheets) etc. The Kit also holds extra copies of the student folder/activity menus, and other resources (e.g. SO Get into It Curriculum and DVD) that you can use at TEAM meetings as discussion ‘starters’ or with students for ideas for writing or presentation ideas. The extra resources are included to assist you by offering your ideas, but allowing for flexibility in their use, dependent on your own ‘twist’ to the project. 6
  7. 7. TEKS/TAKS Connection: It is hoped that students will chose both the fun activities from the menu in their folders as well as some of the academically-based ones. One ‘teacher’ recommendation is to consider TAKS practice writing prompts around topics such as ‘What I Have Learned from my “Meet in the Middle” Partner” or “What My School Can Do to Support Special Olympics,” etc. Based on reports from teachers and administrators from Meet in the Middle schools that participated during the ’08-’09 school year, participation in the project generally increased attendance, motivation, self-esteem, and grades/TAKS scores of the participant students. Students reported that they would ‘always get their schoolwork done,’ because they wanted to be able to have time to work with their Meet in the Middle partners! What bonuses from the project!! Getting Started Right Away! Before initiating the Meet in the Middle project, there are some important preliminary steps to take to introduce the project to you school and recruit students to participate. 1) Be sure a signed copy of the district/campus/teacher Commitment Letter (included in the facilitating teacher guidelines packet) is given to the Special Olympics Area Director who provided you with your Meet in the Middle kit. (You have his or her name and contact information in your kit.) The required signatures on the letter are those of a Special Education Administrator from your district, a campus Administrator from your school, and your own. 2) Contact your campus or district Special Education Administrator regarding confidentiality procedures to facilitate the involvement of students with intellectual disabilities on your campus who will be encouraged to participate in “Meet in the Middle.” It is strongly advised that parents/guardians of these students sign a Special Education release form specifically allowing their children to participate in the project and allowing information about their child’s disability, e.g. how it affects learning, socialization, etc. to be shared as part of the learning and ‘disability awareness’ activities of the student projects with their non-disabled peers. A photo release for Meet in the Middle participation should be included with the general confidentiality release. When posting photos online for the documentation summaries, if names are used, only provide a first name. Keep a copy of these parent/guardian-signed releases in your “Meet in the Middle” kit. 3) At a faculty meeting on campus at the beginning of the school year, introduce “Meet in the Middle” to your faculty colleagues. Be sure to familiarize yourself with all the items and resources in your school’s “Meet in the Middle” kit first. You may choose to, for example, show part of the “SO Get into It!” DVD, and review samples of a few of the menu activity options in the ‘student folders.’ During the introductory meeting, solicit members for your “Meet in the Middle” support TEAM (one administrator, yourself, a general educator, a special 7
  8. 8. educator, and a PE teacher or coach, and an Adapted PE or Special Olympics coach, plus four students.) This ‘TEAM” meets at least monthly to help keep the project momentum going, to suggest school-wide efforts, and to meet with student participants in “Meet in the Middle” who will share their projects or requesting assistance or support for individual projects. 4) Get the “Meet in the Middle” interest posters up in the hallways of your school which get the most ‘student traffic.’ Be sure that your name and room number is at the bottom of the poster, and provide a ‘best time’ to stop by (for interested students.) 5) Frequently use the “morning announcements” at your school to raise awareness of the “Meet in the Middle,” to invite any students to join the project, and to encourage students to come by your room to learn more about the activities options and incentives. 6) Most importantly, start to actively recruit students both with and without intellectual disabilities for the project. There is a ‘sign-up’ form in the Appendix of your Guidelines. Your campus may want to have evidence of parental permission to participate in the project. Special Olympics strongly encourages parent/guardian approval for participation. Student Folders/Menu of Project Activities The student folders are designed for each student participant in the “Meet in the Middle” project. Upon receipt of a signed permission form with both the student and parent/guardian signature, the student may be given a “Meet in the Middle” awareness bracelet to denote their participation and to encourage their friends to consider participation, too. You may speak to the students individually, as they commit to the project, or in a group ‘meeting’ with several or all of the participants to review the purpose of the project, how the folders are to be used, the importance of keeping record of their activities, and the importance of getting your approval (by initialing the activity they are working on, on their folder before they begin the activity, and a ‘sign-off’ initialing when the activity is completed and the student has provided evidence of completion and online submission of photos, poems, stories, artwork, essays, media creations, etc.) Typically-developing students may never have actually interacted with their peers with intellectual disabilities and they may have some apprehensions or misperceptions about them. You may want to provide a disability awareness event (e.g. a talk from the Life Skills teacher on your campus, or a visit from the Special Olympics coach, a parent of one of the Life Skills students at your school, or a student speaking about what it’s like to have a sibling with an intellectual disability, etc.) Another idea is to use the “SO – Get Into It” curriculum in your Kit. It contains many great suggestions for an orientation kind of activity plus disability and Special Olympics awareness video clips that are very appropriate to use. 8
  9. 9. The students should be told that their folders contain a wide variety of project activities they can select from, and that they do not have to complete all of them, or complete them “in order.” They may pick and choose the activities they are most comfortable with and will ENJOY doing. Several of the activities purposely required that a typically-developing student interact and do a joint activity (e.g. ‘fitness minutes’ walking the track together before the start of the school day) with a student who has an intellectual disability. A close relationship with the special education teachers who know these students best of all, will help as far as answering questions or addressing concerns the students might have initially about their ‘partner.’ It will also be essential to get as many of the students with intellectual disabilities as possible to ‘join’ the project, as well. They may need support to participate, but partnering with a non-disabled peer, allows them BOTH to get project credit for the activities they complete together. Encourage comparable activity ‘evidence’ from the intellectually disabled students, as well as their typically-developing peers, such as artwork, writings, posters, and media presentations, etc. Solicit parent reactions about the project’s benefits and outcomes and post them online, as well. You will notice on the project menu portion of the folders, that there are several columns after each activity description. Two columns are for your initials (approval at the beginning of a project and your verification of completion of each activity.) There is also a box labeled: Total (times; minutes; amount). If the activity is in blocks of time, e.g. 15 minute ‘fitness minutes’ blocks, then the total block would say, for example, 245 minutes. Individual tracking of minutes, etc. can be logged on the back of the student activity menu. There is also a box labeled “Involvement Level” (i.e. the relative complexity of each activity. Levels are from 1-3 with 3 being the highest level.) Remind students to keep track of the dates, amounts of time for any ‘fitness minutes’ on the back of their menu. The interior of the folder should be maintained by each participating student, to keep track of activities accomplished, and to serve as a reminder to submit project online summaries, photos, essays, etc. Depending on your student participants, you may wish to keep the folders in your classroom or in the Meet in the Middle kit. STUDENT ACTIVITIES in the Meet in the Middle folders Facilitating teacher ideas or clarifications for each of the individual activities on the student folder/menus, and the Level of Involvement for each. Please follow along on one of the student folders when you review the implementation ideas below: 1. The activity choice about YouTube and videos related to “Intellectual Disabilities” provides an opportunity for students to experience, through family members’ own thoughts shared online, the gifts and joys of having a family member with an intellectual impairment. The videos are positive and up-beat. Writing an essay, either for a class, or to share with “Meet in the Middle” peers or at a school event, is a level 1 activity; if the essay is shared in a presentation to another class 9
  10. 10. or student group, it is a Level 2 activity. 2. The activity about reading a book or story about a person with a developmental or intellectual disability can be done over time. There is an annotated bibliography in your “Meet in the Middle” kit with many possible books and stories relevant to the topic. The school librarian may be able to ‘pull’ some of these books for you to have available in your classroom as a resource for the project. After reading a book from the bibliography, encourage the students to complete a project related to the book’s message, such as an essay, poster, skit, ad, song, etc. Reading the book would be a Level 1 activity; creating a project related to it and sharing it would be a Level 2. Note: you may want to create a special place in a high-traffic hallway where student work on their “Meet in the Middle” activities is displayed. 3. This activity is an extension of the ‘read a book or story and create a project’ idea above. If the students create a skit or panel presentation and share it with other students, teachers, or a parent group, etc., it would be a Level 3 activity. 4. The “Morning Announcements” activity requires that a student ‘write a positive message relevant to “Meet in the Middle’ that is accepted by the administration for broadcast over the school’s public address system. Each ‘message’ accepted and broadcast, is a Level 1 activity. You may consider challenging your Meet in the Middle participants to see who can write the most creative ‘morning announcements’ and get the most broadcast through your school’s public address system. This is a Level 1 activity, but the ‘winner’ of the challenge, would have completed a Level 2 activity. 5. “Fitness Minutes” are designed not only to encourage students with and without intellectual disabilities to ‘buddy up’ for this activity, but to engage in positive activities that promote heath, wellness, fitness and otherwise increase the ability of the student with the intellectual disability to better perform skills that are needed for the Special Olympics sports they are already involved in, or may be involved in, in the future. Fitness minutes may be tracked on the back of the student folder. It is a Level 1 activity, although the facilitating teacher may wish to consider additional ‘merit’ to student pairs completing on-going and concerted efforts to increase physical fitness, stamina or sports- skill development. 6. “Training Buddies” work together in a PE class to develop sports-related skills. The typically-developing peer can model, assist, or otherwise help their ‘buddy’ improve skills needed for a sport they may already be participating in through Special Olympics, or one that is taught during regular P.E. instruction that the student with an intellectual disability may or may not have any prior experience with. Discussions with the PE coach, and/or the Special Olympics coach about the best way to work on the skill and how to interact with the individual safely, etc, is recommended. Training Buddies is a Level 2 activity. Extra consideration toward student rewards can be given by the facilitating teacher based on the time and commitment to the activity. 7. This project involving a student with intellectual disabilities (ID) inviting a peer to “Be 10
  11. 11. a Learning Partner,” is an opportunity for the typically-developing peer to get involved in an activity in a classroom setting that may be new and unfamiliar to them. It gives the student a chance to interact with a group of disabled students and to bring their own interests, talents and positive ideas to the special education classroom. The time of day that this activity could be done is dependent on the schedule of both students, and the special educator’s flexibility in his/her own routines. Collaboration (on multiple levels) is a sure indicator of success for this project. This is a Level 2 activity. Consideration of effort and time commitment should be taken into consideration for student incentive/awarding. 8. The “Health and Wellness” project is for students to take positive steps toward goals of making better food choices, understanding the food pyramid, and developing their own project related to healthy lifestyles. Together the ‘buddies’ must create some type of project, e.g. a health-related poster with the guidance of the school nurse, etc. to post near the nurse’s office or in their classrooms, or a ‘nutrition news’ feature in the school newspaper. This is a Level 2 activity. 9. “Track Your Eating Habits” is a partner activity to keep a food diary for a month and then the partners visit the school nurse for recommendations to eat healthier or a more balanced diet. This is a Level 2 activity if both a typically-developing and an intellectually disabled youth complete it, discuss similarities and differences in their eating habits, consult the school nurse, and complete the project together. A food diary can be written, drawn, or cut out of magazines and advertisements. 10. “Interview Each Other” challenges students to get to know one another better, and to learn about the ‘things they have in common.’ Both the typically-developing student and the intellectually disabled student have to find ways to ask questions so that the other can respond. This might require some unique communication strategies. Encourage the students to ‘think outside the box.’ Differences lessen when similarities are recognized and celebrated! This is a Level 2 activity. 11. “Volunteer at a Special Olympics Practice” has to be coordinated with the campus or district Special Olympics coach and approved by the “Meet in the Middle” facilitating teacher as well as the student’s teachers and administrator. Some practices take place during the actual school day (e.g. during a PE or a special education Recreation and Leisure class period ) while in other districts Special Olympics practices may occur after school or on Saturdays. This is a Level 2 activity. Special consideration should be given for multiple volunteer experiences. 11
  12. 12. 12. “Volunteer at a Local or Area Special Olympics Competition” requires coordination and information from the Special Olympics coach or “Head of Delegation” about the schedule of Fall, Winter and Summer competitions in which your school or district participate. If there are few or no official Special Olympics competitions available, contact your Area Special Olympics Director about opportunities to attend Area or regional competitions as a ‘day-of-event’ volunteer. This is a Level 2 activity. 13. “Recruit Friends to be Fans in the Stands” at a local Special Olympics competition to cheer for athletes who are participating. Share with the new ‘fans’ some of the talents and gifts of your friends who are competing. Challenges to recruit the most ‘Fans in the Stands’ highly encouraged! This is a Level 3 activity. 14. Be a Special Assignment Newspaper Reporter” – take a photo of one of your classmates participating in a Special Olympics competition and write a short ‘newsy’ article about them and their performance in the competition. Submit the photo and news article to your “Meet in the Middle” sponsor teacher within on week of the event, and offer the photo and article to your school newspaper. Getting the article/photo in the school paper is a Level 2 activity. Getting the article/photo accepted by a local newspaper is a Level 3 activity. 15. “Let’s Do Lunch” together, with your ‘Fitness Buddy’ (a student with an intellectual disability) and learn more about him or her or what you have in common. The more times the pair eat lunch and ‘hang out’ together, the greater the consideration for student rewards. This is a Level 1 activity. 16. “SO- Get into It!” videos. In the teacher’s “Meet in the Middle” kit is the “SO-Get into It” DVD containing a variety of information and interesting videos about persons with developmental and intellectual disabilities in history, a famous Special Olympics athlete—Loretta Claiborne, the history of how people with disabilities have been treated in society, and a video about all that Special Olympics offers. Get permission to show one of the videos in one of your classes or extracurricular activity or club. Use the video to guide a discussion about what your classmates learned and to come up with ideas for how to support Special Olympics in your school. Share your ideas with your sponsor teacher or the Special Olympics coach. This is a Level 3 activity. 17. Ideas for a “Challenge Day” – Special Olympics has a program especially for students with the most significant disabilities of all. Often these students use wheelchairs 12
  13. 13. and may have very limited language skills or self-help skills. The Motor Activities Training Program (MATP) of Special Olympics gives teachers, coaches, classroom aides, and students the chance to create ‘unique’ one of a kind movement (motor) activities that these very special students can actually participate in, even with their severe limitations. For example, a blown-up balloon might be placed on the tray of their wheelchair and the student moves his or her hand forward in any way possible to knock the balloon into a box (held by YOU!) at the edge of their wheelchair tray. An activity such as the one described, would be that MATP athlete’s ‘basketball’ related skill that he or she is demonstrating. If you have students with very severe disabilities, both intellectual and physical, at your school, “Meet in the Middle” students can participate in this activity. You may want to talk to your Special Olympics coach or have the Area Director for Special Olympics come to your school to explain more about MATP. If your school or district has an MATP “Challenge Day”(see next activity) and your students create a unique MATP activity for it, it would be a Level 2 activity. 18. Organize an MATP “Challenge Day” along with the adult on your campus or in your school district who is certified as a Special Olympics MATP coach. Your district Special Olympics coach or the Special Olympics Area Director will help organize the event with your students. This is a Level 3 activity. 19. “Promote Your Challenge Day” through banners and posters. Help raise the awareness of Special Olympics most unique program through student art and publicity. Encourage Meet in the Middle students not only to volunteer at a Challenge Day event, but to decorate the venue with signs and posters supporting the athletes, welcoming their parents and the community, etc. This is a Level 2 activity. 20. “MySpace and Special Olympics” - go to Special Olympics on myspace.com and blog with others about your own experiences with the “Meet in the Middle” activities. Watch the Erase the R-word videos. This is a Level 1 activity. 21. “Facebook and Special Olympics” - Go to the Facebook website as it’s listed on your menu of “Meet in the Middle” activities. Add SOTX as a friend. Then swap SOTX FLAIR and represent your school on the SuperWall. This is a Level 1 activity. 13
  14. 14. 22. “Be a Fan”….of fun….inclusion…dignity….joy…courage, etc. Visit the Special Olympics website to learn more about how everyone can be involved. Design a presentation, poster, essay, make up a song or poem, etc. based on something you learned from the website. Share in a class or club you belong to and answer classmate questions. This is a Level 2 activity. 23. “Make a Difference”: - with your Meet in the Middle classmates, organize a fundraiser to donate to your local, Area, or State Special Olympics. Work with the Area Special Olympics staff to develop this project. This is a Level 3 activity. 24. “Honor the Woman Behind the Legacy” – In August, 2009, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, the founder of Special Olympics (forty years ago) passed away. Visit her website www.eunicekennedyshriver.org to learn all about the vision, commitment and service of this wonderful woman. Create a project of your own to keep the legacy of Special Olympics alive in her honor. Projects could be testimonial photo albums, skits, fundraisers, Youth Rally’s, etc. This may be a more appropriate project for the students to do as a group. This is a Level 3 activity. Reminders for Sponsoring Teacher Regarding Student Folders/Activity Menus. Please meet regularly with your students in any way that works best for you, but still ensures that the students are using the folders for project ideas and uploading project summaries, creative work, and photos to the Slideshare website so that Special Olympics Texas can monitor project implementation and uniqueness, and celebrate individual and school successes. You will have to approve each project (which means the students should at least talk to you beforehand about what they plan to do.) Once they have completed an activity, they should be able to show you evidence that they completed the projects, e.g. fitness minutes recorded on the back of their folder in 15 minute blocks, a copy of their essay, poster, ad, morning announcement, food diary, photo, poem, song, news-loop created with a classmate who has an intellectual disability if the project is a ‘partnered’ activity. The “Involvement Levels” of each activity and the types of activities chosen by the individual students are to be used by you to award the prizes that Special Olympics will send to you. Quantity and quality of the incentives/prizes will be based on the ONLINE SUBMISSIONS of your school’s efforts. Please keep your school’s submissions of projects updated. Students and facilitating teacher may enter the submissions. 14
  15. 15. Directions for online submission of Meet in the Middle projects: Direction will be coming soon. They will be simple to follow. Once you register with Meet in the Middle, your school will be set up on the Slideshare site so that you simply need to log on and submit your information. Signing On as a Meet in the Middle School There is a hot link for “Meet in the Middle” on the homepage of Special Olympics Texas, www.sotx.org. Once on the “Meet in the Middle” pages, you will find a “Campus Registration Form.” Only campuses accepted into the project through their Special Olympics Area Director, with the approval of the school principal and a commitment from an educator on the campus to be the facilitating teacher of the project, can register their campus for the project. Campus Registration Forms must be completed online before a Meet in the Middle kit will be given to the project’s facilitating teacher. The form requires the following information: the Education Service Center Region, the campus name and mailing address, the total number of students on the campus, and campus sponsoring teacher’s and administrator’s contact information. Incentives, Awards and Prizes There are R-word campaign buttons, stickers, and awareness bracelets in your “Meet in the Middle” kit that can be used as incentives as you wish to use them to keep the momentum of the project going. The stickers can be given to students and educators signing the “Erase the R-word’ campaign. Special Olympics Texas will also be sending you prizes and awards (such as school supplies, key chains, totes, and larger prizes toward the end of the school year, to award students based on YOUR determination of their individual accomplishments particularly worth recognizing. Special Olympics staff will be in contact with you to support your efforts and provide ideas for other opportunities that may interest your student participants. Very important: At the end of the project, it is necessary for grant purposes, that each campus hold an ‘end of project’ Youth Summit of some kind so that the “Meet in the Middle” students can present as a panel to the student body, student council, faculty, etc. to share highlights of the project and/or discuss future ideas to keep the momentum going regardless of whether there is additional grant-funded support, e.g. perhaps to create a “Meet in the Middle Club,” a Special Olympics booster club, etc. More information about incentives, awards and the end-of-projects winners will be shared with the sponsoring teachers throughout the project period. 15

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