Year 2 Guidelines


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Guidelines for year 2 projects.

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Year 2 Guidelines

  1. 1. Project Unify “SUPER Meet in the Middle” Project Implementation Guidelines for School Facilitator in Returning Schools (Year 2) Welcome Year 2, SUPER Meet in the Middle Facilitator! If you are a returning campus facilitator of the Meet in the Middle project, welcome back!! Your school has been invited to once again participate in Meet in the Middle, an activity-based program that combines, fun, friendship, fitness and acceptance of individual differences. All Year 2 schools (our SUPER Meet in the Middle Schools) will have a few additional group activities, and you could be asked to provide some email or phone mentoring to new facilitators just starting Year 1 in the project. Returning schools will be able to replenish the materials in your original Meet in the Middle kit from last year, by submitting an order form to obtain new student portfolios, awareness bracelets, stickers, etc. Information about re-stocking your kit will be provided later in these guidelines. Once again, 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 Year 1 of the project, the 2009-2010 expanded version for returning schools will offer unique opportunities for teamwork plus more challenges, excitement and fun for the participating students, both with and without intellectual disabilities. These guidelines, for most of you who are returning project facilitators, will be a review of the background of the project, an overview of some revised procedures (yes! There have been some documentation changes based on teacher recommendations from last year) and a section of new information about the expanded project components for Year 2 schools. Hence, the revised project name, SUPER Meet in the Middle! 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, implementing the project for the first time, and RETURNING schools (like yours) for an expanded Year Two- “SUPER” Meet in the Middle project. Both groups will conduct year-long projects, and use the original Meet in the Middle kit as the basic tool to implement the program. As a review for returning schools, the Meet in the Middle project of Special Olympics, Texas is designed for school students, both typically-developing, as well as those with intellectual 1
  2. 2. 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. Activities must support fitness, disability awareness, reaching for high academic achievement, development of youth leadership and sports-related training. In the second year of the project, there is an increased focus on developing Special Olympics programs on your campus or in your school district. Ideas to facilitate this awareness and growth will be provided in this document. Second year participating schools will once again participate in activity-based projects selected from a student menu to earn incentives and special end-of-year rewards that Special Olympics will provide you for distribution, as the facilitating teacher. There will not be a point accrual system for the individual student menu activities as in the first year of the project, but there will be specific guidelines for you, the teacher, to determine ‘high performers’ throughout the year. A ‘level’ will be assigned to student activities on the menu based on the involvement and depth of the activities. You will be sent rewards to give out at the end of the year to students based on the following criteria: the student’s efforts to promote the project’s goals of inclusiveness, fitness, and sport-specific training evidenced by the observed increase in the skills, capabilities, acceptance and opportunities created 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 (“Ideas” for activity implementation included later in these guidelines,) 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) as was done last year, 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 in all your student participants, acceptance of individual differences and the gifts in each of them. An overriding theme of SUPER Meet in the Middle is: “we are more alike than different.” If you look at the menu options in the student folders this year, you will see a few changes. The activities are numbered, have a name, and each include a rating called the “Involvement Level” assigned to them. The more effort involved in the activity’s requirements, the higher the ‘Level’ assigned. These Levels were created to replace the ‘point accrual’ system, and to give you, the facilitating teacher, a way to use these ‘levels’ as considerations when determining how incentives and rewards sent to you from Special Olympics Texas, will be awarded your students. Registering your campus: Incentives and rewards will be sent to the facilitating teacher at the school address you provide Special Olympics Texas. Be sure to register your campus for participation in SUPER Meet in the Middle on the SOTX website. From the homepage:, you will see a tab near top that says “Get Involved,” click and you will see choices on the left side of screen; tab on Meet in 2
  3. 3. the Middle and it will take you to the campus registration page. Note: it is imperative that we get the online registration as well as the signed school commitment letter for participation as early in the Fall as possible. Participation letter is included in your facilitator packet. As incentives are shipped to you, they 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. These funds may be used for an end-of-year Youth Summit, Rally and celebration event designed by yourself and the students. The expanded SUPER Meet in the Middle, Year 2 schools, will also be expected to participate in a group service-learning project that is an important new requirement for these returning schools. More information about the service-learning component is included later in this document. Once again, students will sign-up or ‘join’ the project to participate. Posters are provided in your school’s Meet in the Middle kit with the familiar logo from Year 1, but with additional references to the project ‘being back, bigger and better, and the word SUPER added to the name for Year 2 schools, only. The posters are to place around your campus to re-introduce the project and encourage interested students to meet with you to re-enroll and hear about the changes and exciting new service- learning project for each Year 2 school. 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 online to Special Olympics Texas, and end-of-project reporting requirements (such as evaluation surveys, receipts from end-of-year celebrations, etc.) are completed, the facilitating teacher from each participant school will be sent a $400 stipend, in appreciation of their efforts to build, promote, and sustain the “Meet in the Middle” themes of acceptance, respect 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 • Background and explanation of the required service-learning component for Year 2 schools • directions for reporting contact information on the SOTX website; • and, information about incentives and awards 3
  4. 4. 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 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 were 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,” is anticipated to include at least 50 schools either in year one, or year two of the project during the 2009-2010 school year. As a Year 2 SUPER Meet in the Middle School (and facilitator), you may be asked to provide some ideas and mentoring to a facilitator of a campus just beginning the project. Mentoring could be through email, phone calls, and shared ideas for a successful program. Schools new to the project may contact Special Olympics Texas if they would like a mentor to offer ideas and suggestions for implementation of the project. The approximately fifty schools statewide, will each create their own projects, but the individual or partnered student activities will once again be chosen from the revised student ‘menu,’ as was done last year. The activities on the menu are related to academic, fitness, sports and wellness- related goals and include this year a ‘Level’ of depth/complexity to increase acceptance and respect on the campus while students earn fun incentives and work toward 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” for both Year 1 and Year 2 schools: 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.) 4
  5. 5. 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’ a. For Year 2 schools, the revised signature campaign will be called “Renew the Pledge”(to Erase the R-word.) When a student signs the campaign renewing their pledge to avoid the R-word, they will be asked to make a commitment to practice doing something that shows Respect for all students. They will sign a Respect poster completing the phrase, “I can show Respect by……….” The poster should be displayed in a prominent location on campus and near the R-word signature campaign table, e.g. in the school cafeteria. 4) Use of Special Olympics “Be a Fan” theme in some capacity. 5) Posters and signature campaign thermometer displayed in prominent locations on the campus and used to track number of signatures. 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) New: Determination of a group service learning project to promote sport-related training, competition, and Special Olympics team and partners development (selected from a pre-determined list of project options.) 8) Positive publicity of the project and student initiatives related to “spreading the word” about acceptance, unity, support, and dignity. 9) Documentation of student/campus efforts: regular online submission 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, provided by the SUPER Meet in the Middle students (through their individual activities and the SUPER Service-Learning project. 5
  6. 6. 10) An end of year culminating activity such as a Youth Summit or Youth Rally to share the accomplishments, insights and ideas for keeping the project momentum going. This activity needs to be youth planned and youth executed. The “SUPER 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, respect, 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 are assigned different ‘Levels’ of value which can assist you, as the facilitating teacher, with determining which particular projects and student efforts will earn the rewards shipped to you closer to the end of the school year. 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. There is a wall where you can report on going projects, meetings and successes. 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 15 students expressed interest in a Unified Bocce team for our district which would include athletes with intellectual disabilities and typically-developing partners. Our next step is____________ .” Contents of the Meet in the Middle kit You should still have the sturdy plastic box from last year. If you do not, please contact your Area Director and they will make sure you receive another one. Your kit contains: Awareness Bracelets - Large Awareness Bracelets - Small DVD – Meet in the Middle & SOTX DVD DVD – Unified Sports DVD – Young Athlete Guidelines for organizing the Project Information Sheet – Unified Sports Information Sheet – Young Athlete Information Sheets - Special Olympics Texas Program and Area Letters of Endorsement Meet in the Middle posters Monthly Checklist for Teachers Photo of Young Athlete equipment 6
  7. 7. Post Its – I will respect the R-word by_____. Renew the R-word Large Poster 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 Thermometer” to track R Word signature campaign Pictures of Young Athletes Kit – Kits can be ordered from Mike Sullivan – 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 “Renew the Pledge!”- Erase the R-word campaign, 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. Spirit Magazine, 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. 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!! In the “SO Get into It” curriculum, you can find connections to academic standards on pages 11-14 of the Resource section of Lesson 4. Getting Started Right Away! As you did in Year 1 of the project, there are some preliminary steps to take before re- introducing the project on your school campus: 7
  8. 8. 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 student 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, re-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. There is a new DVD that has general Special Olympics information and a Meet in the Middle video that talks about the program. You may choose, 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 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. Use the re- introduction session for the faculty to also explain the service-learning component for the Year 2 SUPER Meet in the Middle Schools. 4) Get the “Meet in the Middle” interest posters up in the hallways of your school which get the most ‘student traffic.’ As you did last year, 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 “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 activity 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. 8
  9. 9. 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 and disability and Special Olympics awareness video clips that are very appropriate to use. 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 (time, minutes, amounts) to log and keep track of projects done over extended periods. If the activity is in blocks of time, e.g. 15 minute ‘fitness minutes’ blocks, then the total block might say, for example, 245 minutes by the end of the school year. 9
  10. 10. The final box indicates the “Involvement Level” (i.e. the relative complexity of each activity. Levels are from 1-3 with 3 being the highest level.) A Level 1 Activity is relatively easy to complete, has limited time commitments and may or may not be a partnered activity. A Level 2 Activity requires additional planning, involvement and effort to complete and requires partnering activities or activities designed to raise awareness and acceptance in others not necessarily in the project. A Level 3 Activity involves an extensive time commitment, systems- change kinds of activities, development of new programs or sports, health or wellness opportunities for students, and publicity or a presentation of some kind. Students can keep track of the dates, and amounts of time for any ‘fitness minutes’ or other multiple-day projects, on the back of their Student Folder. 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. While there is no ‘point accruals’ necessary to earn rewards at the end of the school year, the extent to which you and your students submit summaries and ‘proof’ of students projects online will determine the amount and type of rewards sent to you to distribute based on the students’ participation. You determine the high performers for the project on your campus. Depending on your student participants, you may want to keep the student activity menu folders in the Meet in the Middle kit. Implementation IDEAS for Student Activities/Meet in the Middle menu Here are some suggestions and/or clarifications of the individual activities on the student folders, and the Level of Involvement for each. Please follow along on one of the student folders when you review the 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 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. 10
  11. 11. 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 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 11
  12. 12. 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. 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 12
  13. 13. 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 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 13
  14. 14. 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 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. 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 fundraising project and donate the proceeds to your local, Area, or State Special Olympics. **Work with the Area Special Olympics staff to develop this project so that it meets Special Olympics fundraising guidelines. 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 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. 14
  15. 15. Reminders for Teacher Regarding Student Folders/Activity Menu 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 determine the awarding of 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 regularly as this is the way progress will be documented this year instead of point submissions. Students and facilitating teacher may enter the submissions. New!!! SUPER Meet in the Middle and “SUPER Service-Learning” SUPER Meet in the Middle, Year 2, adds a group service-learning project requirement that is directly related to increased participation, inclusion and diversified involvement in Special Olympics programs. Year 2 schools will select and develop one group project from the options described in this section. Determining which type of project your students would most like to carry out has to be decided by a collaborative group including both typically-developing students and student with intellectual disabilities. Learning to express one’s opinions, be part of an active group, develop plans, implement them, and review/revise goals is a way ALL students in the service-learning project will be able to develop their own leadership and teamwork skills. The Special Olympics Director from your local Area, and your district Special Olympics coach (if your school district already participates in traditional Special Olympics programs) are essential partners in the SUPER Service-Learning project. First, they will be able to talk to you, the facilitating teacher, as well to your SUPER Meet in the Middle students about the program development ideas of the three options below. Second, they will help you develop the activities for your service-learning project and support your efforts. Here are the options for your school’s SUPER Service-Learning project: 1) Initiate and support a Young Athlete program and a Future Stars Sports Day in your school district (for children 2-7) 15
  16. 16. 2) Form a Unified Special Olympics team for one of the existing sports your school already participates in, or develop a new team consisting of students both with and without intellectual disabilities partnering to learn, practice and compete together in a new sport (how about basketball, volleyball, bocce, or any of the twenty-some others available?) Unified Special Olympics teams is a wonderfully inclusive Special Olympics option that can develop life-long sports and friendships. 3) Form a Partners Club with specific steps to support and build a stronger and more inclusive Special Olympics program on your campus or in your district. Details for the three SUPER Service-Learning options: Young Athletes is a sports play program designed to introduce children to the world of sports prior to Special Olympics eligibility at age eight. The program uses physical activities to develop fundamental motor tracking, and eye-hand coordination play. The program began when families wanted a way to involve their young children (aged 2-7) in Special Olympics in some way. How does a Young Athlete program work? The young students work on skills naturally as part of their school day, for example, it could be in a preschool program like Pre-K, PPCD, or in Kindergarten. Through fun activities (Special Olympics can provide a guide for the activities, and possibly some equipment, too.) The activities correlate to developmental milestones and fitness standards for young children. The young children practice skills such as balance, jumping, throwing, kicking, walking and running, trapping and catching, striking and more. They may learn these skills through fun activities like bunny hop, obstacle course, and bean bag throws. Once or twice a year, there is a culminating day called the Future Stars Sports Day, where the students demonstrate the skills they have learned for family and friends. Best of all, students with and without intellectual disabilities may practice and participate in these non-competitive events. The Future Stars Days have proven to be a very popular, inclusive, and fun opportunity for everyone involved. The SUPER Meet in the Middle Schools choosing this “SUPER Service-Learning” project may be involved, for example, as teacher helpers in the classrooms or gym assisting the young children as they develop their physical skills; they may help plan and assist the Special Olympics coach, PE teacher and/or Area Director for Special Olympics with putting on a Future Stars Day in your school district; and they may create an awareness campaign for the Future Stars program and event, by creating flyers and posters, recruiting other and attending themselves as helpers or fans to cheer the young children on, or assisting in other ways, as needed. Young Athletes and the Future Stars Sports Day will be a fun and rewarding project for any SUPER Meet in the Middle School to select. The Area Special Olympics staff will assist you throughout the project. Check with your Area Director to determine if there is a Young Athlete program at an elementary near you and get involved with the established program, or, start a program in an elementary near you. 16
  17. 17. _____________________________________________________________ Unified Special Olympics teams recruit approximately equal numbers of participants with intellectual disabilities and typically-developing teammates without intellectual disabilities. They should be of similar age and ability in the sport for which they would like to form a Unified Special Olympics team. For sports such as basketball, soccer, softball and volleyball, having similar ability levels is very important so that all players can participate equally. In general, teammates who would be ‘recreational level’ or ‘beginner players’ make the most appropriate teammates for Unified Sports, as it is easier to match such teammates with the Special Olympics athletes. In most cases, Unified Sports is not designed for J.V. or Varsity-type athletes. Practicing and competing primarily for fun and enjoyment is a common trait of new Unified teams. The benefits of forming a Unified team include sport skill development, since a qualified Special Olympics coach must work with the team; competition experiences which benefit all teammates and challenge them to do their best both in Special Olympics Unified matches and events, as well as, possibly, in community recreational ‘leagues’ of play, e.g. for softball; meaningful inclusion, where all athletes are recognized as teammates and expected to contribute meaningfully; socialization and friendships are developed naturally through a shared focus and goal to work together; Transition to adult life can be enhanced for teammates who choose to continue to participate together into adulthood through Special Olympics adult teams and community programs, for example, through Parks and Recreation or other community sports organizations. Your Special Olympics Area staff can assist any SUPER Meet in the Middle School with creating a plan to develop a Unified Sports team as their SUPER Service-Learning Project. A Unified Sports team is a sure way to develop long-term friendships, social and recreational inclusion for the participants both with and without intellectual disabilities. Partners Clubs A Partners Club is a school club in which individual members of the club are paired with Special Olympic athletes, and serve as friends and supporters of the athletes. The partners in the club, 1) help the athletes in their practices, 2) attend their competitions to cheer them on, 3) plan social gatherings, and 4) conduct fundraisers to support their local Special Olympics team. SUPER Meet in the Middle Schools can organize and implement a Partners Club through their SUPER Service-Learning project in a variety of creative ways to suit their own district or campus needs, structure of the existing Special Olympics program, and resources available. Goals of Partners Clubs: a. to promote Special Olympics sports training and competition in school and community sports programs b. to encourage meaningful relationships and friendships between Special Olympic athletes and their peers through planned and coordinated activities c. to provide opportunities and activities for Special Olympics athletes to improve their quality of life, learning important social and life skills, and to feel accepted in their community 17
  18. 18. d. to foster greater understanding and respect for individuals with intellectual disabilities and other developmental disabilities e. to provide students an opportunity to develop an appreciation for volunteering in the community, to meet service learning requirements, and to explore possible future vocational interests. The Special Olympics Area Director and staff can provide you the support you need to establish a Partners Club. They also have a variety of other resources available to promote Special Olympics in the schools including brochures, promotional videos, and even have athletes in the Area that may be trained as public speakers, who would be willing to visit your school to promote the Partners Club concept. Request the “Guide for Inclusive Sports Programming” from your Area Director. It includes all the steps needed to develop a Partners Club. How Does a SUPER Meet in the Middle School Develop a Service-Learning Project? 1. Preparation: After explaining what service-learning is (see Supplemental service- learning information at the end of the SUPER Meet in the Middle guidelines), hold one or more brainstorming sessions with students, making sure to include students with intellectual disabilities who currently do, and also those who may not currently participate in Special Olympics, as well as the typically-developing Meet in the Middle partners. Invite the Special Olympics Director if the district has one, as well as the Area SOTX Director. Your school district Special Olympics Coach or the Area Director may be invited to describe the current Special Olympics program (sports, number of participants, local, area and state competitions historically attended by athletes in your district.) Additional invited participants in this brainstorming session could be the parents of the students with intellectual disabilities, who could provide personal anecdotes about their child’s friendships, what Special Olympics means to their son or daughter and their family, ideas about expanding sports, or recruiting new athletes, and life challenges, e.g. in the area of friendships, that their son or daughter with an intellectual disability may face. The preparation phase includes identification of a Special Olympic involvement ‘focus’ (selected from the SUPER Service-Learning project options, possible solutions, possible resources, and learning objectives tied to the curriculum (TEKS) that can be concurrently addressed during the project. The service-learning goal should be directly related one of the three project options for Year 2 Meet in the Middle Schools. 2. Planning: Have all students organize the project, both those with ID and their typically- developing peers – this gives them practice and models for planning, collaboration, and personal responsibility for the projects implementation and success. Define roles and responsibilities of students within the project. (e.g. create a project name and design a bulletin board display to track the progress and successes; talk about the project during “morning announcements” to raise awareness of the project, it’s goal, and the progress toward it through the school-year.) Decide how ‘learning objectives’ (how ALL students 18
  19. 19. will specifically use their reading, language arts, math, science, writing or social studies competencies during this project); identify and recruit a variety of community and school partners needed for success of the project. The students will enjoy seeing their ideas develop. Assist them to create a plan of action and a timeline. 3. Implementation: Document the progress of the project (e.g. through student essays, photographs, reports, projects, timelines, media coverage, school newspaper articles, etc.) Conduct regular ‘team’ meetings to update progress. Give feedback; discuss problems as they emerge, and possible solutions. Be sure students use the online Meet in the Middle reporting webpage through Special Olympics Texas, so that your school’s SUPER Service-Learning project can be included in a competition with those of the other Year 2 SUPER Meet in the Middle Schools. Judging by a Special Olympics panel will be based on online submissions of your project’s development, progress and results. There will be state recognition and award/publicity for the top Year 2 school. 4. Reflection: Provide students with structured opportunities to reflect on the significance of the project at the end of the school year. Discuss ways to sustain the Young Athlete, Unified Team or Partners Club that was the developed. Students may analyze the significance of the project to the community, school, and/or individual students, and especially, themselves. Their own personal roles in the project should be summarized, as well as their reactions to the entire service-learning project. Again, written reflections should be shared online. Additional Resources for SUPER Service-Learning Projects 1) The Special Olympics Get Into It curriculum (included in your SUPER Meet in the Middle kit) 2) The Unified Sports Information: 3) The Special Olympics Texas website: 4) The Special Olympics (national) website: Directions for online submission of Meet in the Middle projects at will be coming to you soon. We will make it as easy as possible to log on, load materials or update your wall. Stay tuned. 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, 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. 19
  20. 20. 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 or Youth Rally 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, a “Be a Fan” project, etc. The Youth Summit or Youth Rally can and should be a culmination effort that recognizes, especially, the success of the SUPER Meet in the Middle Service-Learning project. Additional ideas for end-of-year Youth Summits or Rally’s will be emailed facilitating teachers during the Spring of 2010. 20