Prior to this class I had limited or no knowledge about certain disabilities, such as autism, down syndrome, and cerebral palsy. I was nervous about conducting a service learning project at UCP because I knew I would come into contact with disabilities I was unfamiliar with or unaware of. I did not want to insult or accidently embarrass a child or myself. I also wanted the children to understand the stories we were telling, but what if the they didn’t understand? What if our prescience frightened them? Furthermore, I wanted the children to enjoy our presentations and be comfortable with the topics being covered. I wanted the children to feel relaxed and comfortable around myself and the other group members. I wanted the stories and props to be exciting and interesting. I wanted the children to participate in our presentation and not be intimidated by myself and the other team members. I wanted to do my best to ensure that the children enjoyed our visits and looked forward to the presentations. Engaging the children’s interest and peaking their curiosity was what I wanted the story telling presentations to accomplish. I simply wanted to make the children comfortable and relaxed so they could enjoy the story telling sessions. Thus, my thoughts prior to going into the service learning project were centered around the children and how they would feel about the presentations and the stories being covered.
Pictures of our service learning project.
Before Joann joined the group Melissa and I had already decided on Story telling. We just didn’t know where to present. Then, Joann started talking to Melissa in their Wednesday night class and she loved our idea, in fact she had the same idea as us. She wanted to present in front of children, but wasn’t sure if she wanted to story tell or just read to them. Since, we had similar ideas we decided to become one group.Joann had a grandson who had went to UCP, so she was familiar with the staff and facility. She informed Melissa and I about the location and place. We decided to present at UCP because of the children. The age groups were two and three year olds, some three and four year olds, and four and up. We liked the ages of the children. We thought they would enjoy storytelling. Then, we submitted our applications and chose the books to be presented. That was easy, we chose books focused on animals. After the books were chosen we then looked at our calendars and decided that the month of March was the best time to present. We could finish up our service learning by April 1 and then have the last month to put our project together. The choice of books, location, and time worked out smoothly. We completed the three stories and were able to give the school our backboards and props for additional creative learning.
For our service learning experience to be successful each of us had to participate. The stories had to be appealing and interesting or we would lose our audience. An excessive amount of time went into this project. The backdrops had to be colorful, the puppets had to be realistic, the stories had to be simplified to meet the needs of our audience. I believe we achieved our goal, which was to gain the attention of our audience and to hold their interest. We did! They loved playing with the props and hearing the stories.
We presented to each age group separately. The teachers and staff did not want to combine the age groups into one room for the story telling presentations. We served at least 70 children.
This experience introduced me to disabilities I was unaware of such as autism and cerebral palsy. Prior to this project I had never known or been around anyone who had these disabilities. I noticed that the children with autism were bright and could remember events from the previous week. The children with cerebral palsy sat in wheel chairs that held them in place. I felt empathetic to the children who had cerebral palsy because they could not participate in the activities or play with the props. The children we presented in front of were similar to my four year old son, they loved to play, be told stories, and express their views and opinions.I was amazed to find that the children could remember the story from the previous week. They would retell the story, but in their own words. I was even more amazed when the children compared the stories of the Three Little Pigs and the Wolfs Version of the Story. Majority of the children sided with the wolf and believed that the pigs were just mean to him. The three little pigs should have invited the wolf in and they would have became friends. I enjoyed listening to their views on the stories.I will have to say that I am disappointed in how the teachers treated the children. The teachers seemed to have no patience and yell at the children. Many times I felt the children were undeserving of the verbal disciplining.
I will take from this experience a better understanding of how children with disabilities interact with their peers and teachers. I learned that the children with down syndrome are eager to play with their friends and are open to new experiences. Children with autism tend to be secluded and wary of the children around them. I noticed that these children sat with their teacher during the presentation and not near their peers. They were even nervous to touch the textures on the backboards. I also noticed that the children with emotional and behavioral disorders were more likely to act out and yell at their teacher and peers. This experience allowed me to observe the different disabilities and understand how these disabilities can effect how the child interact with their teacher and classmates.I also observed how the teachers managed and handled the children, such as taking away recess when they misbehaved, holding a child when they got angry or upset, singing a song to get the children to line up, and having the children hold hands wherever they went. I noticed that their was a great deal of interaction between the students and the teacher. The teachers had to talk to the children constantly or repeatedly.
My learning and teaching processes have been impacted by this experience. I have learned that no one is the same, we learn differently and have different points of views. As a future teacher I will have to meet the needs of all my students. I will have to determine how my students learn best either by visuals, hands on activities, or auditor ally. In addition, I must accept my students views and opinions, whether I agree with them or not. Students shouldn’t feel ashamed of asking questions or participating in discussions.From this experience I learned that treating a child with a special need as a baby is inappropriate and demeaning. Children with special needs are similar to any child their age, they are curious, inquisitive and at times a little mischief. There is no need to treat them as a baby they understand more than you know. They want to be treated as a person, not a baby.
Furthermore, children with special needs are just as creative as any child their age. They enjoy participating in activities and putting on plays. They are not shy about getting in front of their peers and performing. They seemed to like the spotlight and the attention from their teachers and fellow classmates.In addition, I learned that children with special needs are able to comprehend and understand as much as any child their age. They could recall and narrate the story of the previous week as well as compare and contrast the different versions of the Three Little Pigs. On our final visit the children were able to tell us what story was their favorite and why. They understand the moral of each story and what we were trying to teach. More importantly, I learned that people with special needs are not incapable of retaining or understanding information.Children with special needs do not view themselves as having a disability. They view themselves as a person, a person who enjoys reading, laughing, and having fun. They do not let their disability effect how they act to situations or participate in activities.I learned that accommodations should be implemented in the classroom based on the child's needs. For example, space should be made in the aisles and rows to accommodate a child in a wheelchair. If a child is hearing or visually impaired then accommodations should be implemented to assist them in the learning process. If accommodations are necessary to assist the child then they should be implemented in the classroom.Be open minded! Do not look down on individuals with disabilities. They are capable of understanding, comprehending, and retaining information. Treat them as you would anyone else because they understand exactly what you are saying.
Story Telling at UCP of Kissimme,Florida<br />Presented by: Emily Danks<br />Group members: Melissa Gatlin and Joann Wettingfeld<br />email@example.com<br />April 23, 2010<br />EEX 4070 <br />
Prior Expectations<br />Wanting the children to enjoy the presentations and story lines.<br />Nervousness: coming in contact with unfamiliar disabilities<br />
UCP of Kissimmee, Florida<br /> Inside UCP<br />Inside one of the classrooms where we helped the children complete their activities.<br />The gym, where we presented the three stories<br />
Preparing for the Three Little Pigs Our first presentation <br />(me-painting the background) (Melissa and I) <br />The two and three year old classes Presenting the story to their<br />(our first time presenting) peers (playing with props)<br />
A little about me<br />Interests: I enjoy history and reading inspirational books<br />Hobbies: I love spending time with my son and exercising<br />Experience: I have been an Osceola County school system volunteer since 2002 <br />(my son and I)<br />
Engagement Activities<br /><ul><li>Activities: presented three stories at UCP with Melissa Gatlin and Joann Wettingfeld during the month of March
Used costumes, props, and puppets to bring stories to life.
Provided two activities for each child (one coloring page and one wolf stick puppet)</li></ul>(me, creating the backdrop for the (During the Three Little Pigs I was the <br />Three Little Pigs and the Wolf’s Version) wolf and wore the sock puppet)<br />
How it all began<br />In the beginning it was going to be just Melissa and I, but then we started talking to Joann and she had a similar idea for the learning project<br />Each of us wanted to present in front of the children. We wanted to bring to life stories that they may be familiar with<br />Joann informed Melissa and I about UCP. Both Joann and I went to UCP and spoke with the coordinator. She loved our idea. We submitted our applications and everything fell into place<br />
Jobs and Contributions<br />Emily: created backdrop, found both activities, simplified story, narrated story, printed out copies for both activities, cut out pictures for second activity, created mask for Little Red Riding Hood, and bought materials for project.<br />Joann: narrated story, printed out copies for both activities, brought in additional props for second story, made sock puppet and 3 pigs stick puppets, cut out pictures for second story, and made red robe. <br />Melissa: Created backdrop, printed out copies for both activities, simplified two stories, cut out pictures for second story, narrated story, and purchased materials for project.<br />
Participant Demographics<br />Age Range: the ages ranged from two to five<br />Ethnic backgrounds: Caucasian, African American, and Hispanic<br />Linguistic heritages: Spanish and English<br />Exceptionalities: Down Syndrome, Cerebral palsy, autism, emotional and behavioral disorders, and hearing impairments. <br />
Participants<br />Number of children served from ourservice hours: 70<br />One of the 3 and One of the 4 and 5 year <br />4 year old classes old classes <br />
Reflection of myExperience<br />How has this experience effected me? I am aware of more disabilities<br />What experiences had the most impact? I was amazed how the children could recall the story from the previous week and could even compare and contrast the different versions of the Three Little Pigs<br /> *I was disappointed in how the teachers treated the children <br />
Reflection of myExperience<br />What will you take away from the experience? A better understanding of how children with autism, down syndrome, learning disabilities, cerebral palsy, and emotional and behavioral disorders interact with their peers and teachers. <br /> *how the teachers handle and manage the different disabilities <br />
Reflection of myexperience<br />How my learning, approaches to teaching, and insights into working with persons with special needs were impacted?<br /> *Everyone is different, nobody learns the same way<br /> *Do not treat an individual with special needs as a baby<br />
* Children with special needs are creative and enjoy participating in activities<br /> * They are capable of understanding and comprehending<br /> * They do not view themselves as having a disability<br /> * Implement appropriate accommodations for the specific child.<br /> * Be open-minded<br />