CHAPTER 3 SUPPORT STRATEGIES FOR IMPLEMENTING EXPANDED CORE CURRICULUM
Despite challenges encountered in the implementation of ECC, not all hope is lost as there are suggested ways to minimize some of the challenges. Strategies for implementing ECC are examined to try and suggest what can be workable. The final part of the chapter presents literature on the impact of ECC on the life of a visually-impaired person. The areas of focus are academic achievement, employment, communication and social inclusion as well as economic empowerment. The main idea here is that when ECC skills are mastered, there is evidence that visually-impaired persons would excel in school and there are higher chances of getting employed or become self-employed. Besides it is a known matter that education has both economic and social returns. Therefore a visually-impaired person with an education gains just like their sighted counterparts, becoming empowered to make positive contributions to national development.
SUGGESTED STRATEGIES FOR IMPLEMENTING ECC
Many professionals in the education of the visually-impaired have made suggestions on ways to teach skills in ECC. In a survey by Lohmeier, et al. (2009b: 109), most professionals indicated that they did not know the best ways of implementing ECC. Some strategies suggested by professionals are discussed here.
Improve Personnel Preparation
Sapp and Hatlen (2010: 344) proposed this approach pertaining to teacher training for ECC teaching. First, personnel preparation programmes must provide adequate instruction, so their graduates are able to meet learners’ ECC needs. Second, the field of visual impairment should create baseline standards for what first-year teachers need to know about the ECC. Third, professionals must take responsibility for continually improving their own instructional skills in relation to the ECC. Personnel preparation programmes must provide adequate instruction in the ECC at the pre-service level. Teachers who are entering the field should have adequate skills. The AFB (2010: 4) proposes that every teacher training programme must offer knowledge and skill in three categories. The skills and knowledge needed by staff can classified as follows: in the first instance, the teacher must have a foundation in regular education, including methodology in teaching reading, mathematics, and other areas of subject matter. In other words, teaching in the core curriculum is proposed. The second component in training should include understanding and practical skills in curriculum adaptation. The teacher must be empowered with the techniques for curriculum adaptation, as much as possible maintaining visual learning experiences so that the concepts taught remain the same with adapted teaching methodology and materials. The third proposed aspect to teachers’ training is that a teacher must know how to assess skills and deliver instruction in the expanded core curriculum. The specialised areas such as independent living skills, social skills, career education, and functional academic skills are crucial. Lohmeier (2005: 131) argued that these skills enable learners to access the core curriculum and become independent members of the community.
Zhou, et al. (2011: 208) proposed that the gap in knowledge in an area such as assistive technology among practising teachers of learners with visual impairments, can be narrowed by training them at in-service level, thereby providing teachers with adequate hands-on experiences with assistive technology devices. The study found that the lack of knowledge or skills occurred mainly in the following areas: braille literacy and its application in providing assistive services; assistive technology for learners with multiple disabilities; prescribing assistive technology devices; strategies for teaching specific aspects of assistive technology to learners who are visually-impaired, such as assistive technology-related concepts and motor skills. Others are recommending and using assistive technology; and teaching learners to access information and the Internet.
One way of improving skills in personnel as well as increasing numbers of teachers of the visually-impaired learners is through intensive, face-to-face instruction, coupled with Web-based learning. According to Ajuwon and Craig (2007: 12), these methods provide personnel with the requisite skills to meet the needs of children with visual impairments in their classrooms.
Teachers in the study by Zhou, et al. (2011: 205) seemed to lack information to give to the learners and other collaborators. The deficits were noted in knowledge of funding mechanisms, training resources, supportive agencies, manufacturers and vendors of assistive technology, skills to help families obtain assistive technology. These findings suggest that teachers, if not well-trained, will have low confidence levels and skills to collaborate with, teach and guide parents.
After-School and Summer Programmes
Some researchers suggested summer programmes and after-school instruction as ways to go in teaching ECC especially if time constraints were a factor in implementing the ECC (AFB, 2010: 1). These activities are arranged to take place during holidays and some can be after learners have knocked off from their schools. After-school programmes give learners an opportunity to cement skills in the expanded core curriculum. For learners with special needs, after-school programmes can provide supplemental educational programmes that can be tailored to meet learners’ needs and give them a better chance to reach their full potential. After-school programmes also provide a level of individualised attention that learners might not receive during the school day.
According to Lohmeier (2005: 6), instruction in each of the learning areas should also occur during alternate learning times when learning can be derived from everyday experiences. The most effective learning is the result of frequent instruction during times when a skill can be functionally applied. This application is skill-specific. For example, independent living skills and orientation and mobility can be taught in home environments and out in the community where the learner lives. An extended acquisition of ECC skills after school can be facilitated by other people like parents or siblings. According to Koenig and Holbrook (2000) cited in Trief and Feeney (2003: 138), instruction after school hours should not be limited to some ECC areas such as social interaction, recreation and leisure, and independent living development. It should cover all areas in order to give learners rich and wider experiences. Other areas which can be covered during summer-school programmes include work readiness skills such as job hunting, career information, work experience and transition planning.
After-school or summer programmes can be conducted in college and university a well. In these institutions, learners can be given skills such as time management, library use and note taking. Mc Broom (1997) cited in Trief and Feeney (2003: 138) indicated that colleges and universities can help visually-impaired learners become successful by complementing ECC skills the learners may have by using strategies like giving alternative tests rather than those given to sighted learners, use of tutors, provision of reader services where visually-impaired learners have material read to them, making orientation and mobility assistance available to learners and use of adaptive technology. At college or university level adaptive technology, such as personal computers, screen readers and other assistive devices can be an equaliser for opportunities for the visually-impaired. Assistive devices are helpful in academic research and writing. Learners can conduct on-line research and work on assignments and tests using computers, internet and screen readers, and be able to produce their work in media. Sighted lecturers can assess their work without seeking translation.
The training programmes can be executed during college vacations. In terms of who conducts programmes for the learners, Trief and Feeney (2003: 138) suggest a collaborative approach between the school or college and other agencies providing services for the visually-impaired. The agencies can provide specific skills such as orientation and mobility, assistive technology and self-determination while the school can mentor learners in note making, time management, study skills, social skills and use of library resources.
Aligning ECC in the Core Curriculum
Lohmeier (2007: 34) and Lohmeier (2009: 108) proposed that ordinary teachers and ECC specialists should collaborate and incorporate ECC into the core curriculum timetabling. In this model, all areas of ECC are aligned and addressed in the academic areas. Sapp and Hatlen (2010: 344) suggest that incorporating the ECC into a learner’s typical day can be challenging, but it is feasible. Many ECC skills can be embedded in the general education curriculum. There are strong commonalities in terms of concepts in ECC and general curriculum. Lohmeier (2009: 3) identified some of the links between mathematics and orientation and mobility; history and social skills; mathematics/ science and independent living skills. Other specific examples of common concepts in the two curricula include, working in groups (social skills), learning about different jobs (career education), reading a map, and managing money (independent living skills). Teachers of learners with visual impairments and orientation and mobility specialists can pre-teach, co-teach, and re-teach ECC concepts that are partially covered by the general curriculum as one way to incorporate the ECC into a learners’ education.
A study conducted by Lohmeier (2005: 128) showed that overall instruction in these areas is integrated into the regular curriculum and is taught during a normal school day. This was reported by 71.88% of the schools, while others indicated giving instruction before and after school. Although fewer schools do so, instruction is also provided outside of the school day in the areas of compensatory academic skills (18.75%), career education (18.75%), and visual efficiency (12.5%). These findings show that many ECC skills can be practised naturally throughout the day rather than sticking to the formal time table. For this practice to occur in a meaningful way, an assessment should identify that a learner has a need in an area of the ECC. The integrated approach to teaching ECC requires planning and collaboration of personnel as well as matching the subjects of the core curriculum to skills to be taught in ECC.
Lohmeier (2009: 3) states that aligning ECC to the general curriculum is a process and identified the stages as follows:
The first step in this process involves determining what the learners with visual impairments need to learn from the general curriculum. This is done by professionals working with these learners, who include teachers and orientation and mobility specialists. These professionals need to set academic goals for their learners which will be addressed by themselves or the general education teacher.
The second stage involves analysis of what the academic goals will achieve in the learner. An analysis of the goals is critical because goals will guide the teacher in the classroom on the important things to focus on when teaching.
The third stage in the aligning process is one which requires the teacher of the learner to ascertain the skills the visually-impaired learner needs to have in order to achieve the set goals.
Having identified the ECC skills needed, the teacher of the learner has to analyse these skill areas so that outcomes which are in line with the general curriculum are produced.
In the final stage, the teacher of the visually-impaired constructs one integrated goal which is reasonable and also in line with the learners’ ability.
According to Lohmeier (2009: 2), there are some gains to aligning ECC and general curriculum. Aligned ECC and general curriculum provides an avenue for meaningful achievement of individualised education programme goals. An alignment of the two curricula also helps in bridging concepts, thereby helping us appreciate that ECC is not an isolated matter but one that is part and parcel of the learners’ school content.
For visually-impaired learners transition from high school to college or university can bring about an array of experiences ranging from making new social networks to feelings of loss of support received at high school. A transition plan is an important area in the life of a visually-impaired person. Transition from high school to college for a visually-impaired learner requires preparation both academically and psychologically. Academic preparedness calls for acquisition or sharpening of skills such as assistive technology, self-determination, orderliness and social interaction. This is necessitated by the complexity of college work and the new environment which require the learner to use new strategies of dealing with academic, social and psychological demands. Kirchar and Simon (1984) cited in Trief and Feeney (2003:in a study to analyze enrolments of learners with visual impairments found that many learners with viual impairments have challenges in college education and some drop out. The scenario may be due to high academic demands as learners lacked adequate skills. Researchers have therefore concluded that there was need to have a pre-college curriculum programme in place to help the learner become successful in college or university (Bina, 1997; Dote-Kwan & Senge, 2002) cited in Trief and Feeney (2003: 138). Some programmes proposed include ongoing instruction in ECC throughout the education of the learner while others talk about summer or after-school programmes before the learners enters college or university. Summer or after-school programmes can be a time to teach transition strategies from high school to college, but also an opportunity for learners to sharpen skills in ECC which they already have. According to Trief and Feeney (2003: 139), some strategies suggested are communicating with college professors before enrolling, ordering materials early and working with the office in the college responsible for the welfare of learners with disabilities. Such preregistration preparations allow the institutions and the learners to streamline services for the individual learner as well as giving the learner a chance to sharpen their skills for the adjustment to be made in the institution.
Advocacy and Collaboration
Empowering visually-impaired persons is a shared responsibility that requires advocacy and collaboration. It is vital for raising their economic and social status because many groups in society have a stake and contribute to making empowerment succeed (Boame, 2009: 8). Friend and Cooks (2009: 9-11) outline the characteristics of collaboration as based on mutual goals and voluntary participation; depending on shared responsibility; partners sharing resources; and including shared accountability for learners.
In addition to assessment and instruction, one strategy that can help in delivery of ECC is the advocacy and collaboration whereby the teacher of the visually-impaired learners share information with different stakeholders. The teacher must be able to explain the importance of the skills and concepts of the ECC to administrators, parents, and other educators who may not understand the need for time and resources to be spent on the ECC (Lewis & McKenzie, 2009: 490). The role of administrators in the success of ECC instruction is critical. To be most effective, these teachers need to have administrative backing through resource allocation for the program as well as ensuring that teachers have normal workload. The entire educational team needs to reinforce the skills being taught, and the family needs to support the instruction that is provided. When the teachers of learners with visual impairments educate others about the importance of the ECC, professionals and families can work as a cohesive team providing adequate instruction and practice in the areas of the ECC. A collaborative approach is necessary for the implementation of ECC. With collaboration, teachers and other professionals have an opportunity to align ECC into the general curriculum and also create an atmosphere where teaching ECC skills and achieving goals in the individualised education programme become feasible (Lohmeier, 2009: 2). Collaboration may help those involved to appreciate that ECC cannot be taught in isolation but must be a part of programme that visually-impaired learners receive. In a study by Hamilton-Jones and Vail (2014: 82), preliminary findings suggested that collaboration between teachers led to increased individualised instruction and increased academic support. This was viewed to have a positive impact on learner success in all areas. However, the study did not find a close measurable correlational evidence to back this finding. Further, participants in the study by Hamilton-Jones and Vail (2014: 80) felt that collaboration occurred when teachers shared resources and professional responsibility in order to teach all learners. The research further recommended that voluntary collaboration, particularly with co-teaching, was fundamental to the success of the programme.
Academic and Life Transition
Transition planning has been described as an outcome-oriented process which is designed to promote success in the post school environment. According to Alberta Education (2006: 6), comprehensive transition planning is not a once off activity, rather it is a student-centred, ongoing process which should identify, assess and document skills that learners require as they move to different learning environments. Just like learning teams, transition-planning teams comprise of parents, specialised teachers, orientation and mobility instructors, educators as well as representatives from other organisations involved with learners. The main role of the team is to develop a learner’s portfolio which includes information pertinent to the skills necessary to succeed in new environments. The skills required should be clearly indicated as contained in ECC. These may include orientation and mobility, independent living skills and available scholarships (Department of Education, 2007: 4). According to Cameto, Levine and Wagner (2004: 4), transition-planning goals are identified early in the programme planning process and usually should end when a child reaches his/her teens. Older learners are usually not catered for by this programme and their parents are more likely to receive information from the schools about adult services.
CHAPTER 1 an introductory orientation
1.2 MOTIVATION FOR THE STUDY
1.3 PROBLEM STATEMENT
1.4 RESEARCH METHODOLOGY AND DESIGN
1.5 MEASURES TO ENSURE TRUSTWORTHINESS
1.6 ETHICAL CONSIDERATIONS
1.7 DEFINITION OF CONCEPTS
CHAPTER 2 IMPLEMENTATION OF EXPANDED CORE CURRICULUM
2.2 THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK
2.3 THE NATURE AND DELIVERY OF EXPANDED CORE CURRICULUM
2.4 CHALLENGES IN IMPLEMENTING EXPANDED CORE CURRICULUM
2.5 CHAPTER SUMMARY
CHAPTER 3 SUPPORT STRATEGIES FOR IMPLEMENTING EXPANDED CORE CURRICULUM
3.2 SUGGESTED STRATEGIES FOR IMPLEMENTING ECC
3.3 CHAPTER SUMMARY
CHAPTER 4 RESEARCH METHODOLOGY AND DESIGN
4.2 RESEARCH APPROACH AND DESIGN
4.3 PROCEDURE AND METHODS OF DATA COLLECTION
4.4 METHODS OF DATA ANALYSIS
4.5 MEASURES TO ENSURE TRUSTWORTHINESS
4.6 ETHICAL CONSIDERATIONS
4.7 CHAPTER SUMMARY
CHAPTER 5 PRESENTATION AND DISCUSSION OF FINDINGS
5.2 BIOGRAPHICAL PROFILES OF PARTICIPANTS
5.3 FINDINGS AND DISCUSSION
5.4 CHAPTER SUMMARY
CHAPTER 6 .SUMMARY, CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
6.2 LIMITATIONS OF THE STUDY
6.3 SUMMARY OF THE STUDY
6.4 SUMMARY OF THE FINDINGS
6.7 Recommendations for further research
6.8 SUGGESTED EXPANDED CORE CURRICULUM MODEL
GET THE COMPLETE PROJECT
ASSESSING THE EXPANDED CORE CURRICULUM FOR LEARNERS WITH VISUAL IMPAIRMENTS IN SPECIAL SCHOOLS