Our school does an excellent job of trying to provide positive reinforcement opportunities for each child. In middle school, this is not always an easy task. One thing that we do is give coupons to students who have made good behavior choices during a certain timeframe. This time our coupons provided students with the opportunity to wear a hat, or sit with a friend at lunch.
One of my sweet students, whom I will call Brian, is totally deaf and has Asperger’s. He can be a neat kid, who adds a lot to our classroom. He is the only student with hearing loss in seventh grade, although there are several other students with hearing loss at our school. During lunch, he typically sits by himself and eats his same lunch in the same order each day. He likes it this way. Routine makes him comfortable, although many of our hearing students don’t understand this. They, enjoying time with him and wanting to help Brian feel included, ask to sit with him and write on a dry-erase board or paper to talk with him during lunch. We usually agree to let them try, but it doesn’t take long before the other student learns Brian would rather sit quietly.
Upon being praised for excellent behavior this quarter, Brian was offered a coupon and he chose a sit with a friend pass. In my less than stellar signing ability I asked if he had a friend he wanted to sit with during lunch to use his pass. He said no, he just wanted to sit and eat. Knowing how big he smiles when we use the iPod Touch in math class, I asked him if he would like to take it to lunch the next day. It was a no-brainer! He smiled and said yes.
Today, he quickly ate his bag lunch as usual, but then with excitement reached for the iPod. I am now thinking of utilizing the iPod as a lunch buddy for Brian on special occassions. I am excited about looking for an app that teachers sign language (I know I have seen one before) and loading it on to the iPod. Then, some students can learn some signs in order to be able to have small conversations with Brian. Then, when he gets an “eat lunch with a friend” pass, he can use the iPod and another student can play apps with him and sign as well, after having learned some sign language.
I just wanted to share this story because we all know how iPods can help keep students engaged, it can differentiate instruction, and make learning fun. Now, it can help students build relationships by learning to communicate and can be a “friend” to a student in need.