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The Application of the Structural Cognitive Modifiability Theory with Learners with Down's Syndrome in an Educational Framework
Israela Even-Chen, BA
Dissertation submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirement for the degree of Master of Education, October 2002
University of Derby, Jerusalem Branch
|Printed with the permission of the author|
Research Questions and Data Collection:
The research has gone through the following steps:
Goals and Objectives:
To gain insight into this phenomenon the researcher investigates whether or not the program effects the learning capabilities of children with DS following cognitive development using the MLE and IE methods. The major objective is to attempt to establish if learners with DS can be educated in a more efficient and satisfactory manner. Education is the basis of adult life. A more successful education leads usually to a better job, a fuller social life and a more rounded individual. A more effective teaching program can therefore lead to a more capable adult.
This is a case study using a qualitative approach. This method is chosen because education per se, and cognitive modifiability in particular, are difficult to quantify. It occurs in a natural setting, in the classroom. The variables are largely uncontrolled and uncontrollable. It is one of the better means of evaluating educational objectives. Motivation, progress, the ability to deal with frustration, overcoming innate difficulties, such as the pertinacity often found in combination with DS and social skills are abstract concepts. They are analyzable only as relatives not as absolutes with numerical values.
The design includes teacher questionnaires, direct participant-observer activities and interviews with pupils past and present, teachers and parents.
The full course of the IE program normally covers a period of three years. This investigation researched a period of approximately four weeks only. This aspect will be taken into consideration when analyzing the results.
The recommendations are based on the literature and insight gained in the current investigation to encourage change in the educational methods used today for children with DS in the Ministry of Education in Israel.
Chapter 1 - Introduction
Society is changing. Today individuals with 'differences', physical and cognitive, are more accepted by the society in which we live. They are sometimes found in typical classrooms; older individuals may live in group housing in a regular neighborhood; we see handicapped people traveling on public transportation and working in stores. No longer being segregated from the wider population demands a different level of adjustment from people with cognitive dysfunctions. The theory of Structural Cognitive Modifiability (SCM) using the Mediated Learning Experience (MLE) method and its practical application, the Instrumental Enrichment (IE) program, are historically devoted to just this aspect of life.
I have chosen this subject for very personal reasons. I have worked in the field of special education for 20 years, which includes a variety of special education schools, a typical school and for the Hadassah-WIZO-Canada Research Institute (HWCRI). During these 20 years I have worked with children and young adults who were mentally retarded (MR), neurologically and/or chromosomally disabled, learning disabled, environmentally and/or socially deprived, physically handicapped and with multiply handicapped children with severe MR.
From this personal experience I can see the different results in the pupils at the usual Ministry of Education schools and those of HWCRI. This may be seen in the children and young adults that we teach at HWCRI in improved cognitive functioning, in flexibility and in the ability to adapt to changing social situations. I cannot present actual statistics not having kept them over the years. I can, however, attest to the fact that over time I have seen a larger number of successful graduatesincluding children and young adults expelled from the regular education system, and even from special education schools.
This paper will inquire into the cognitive modifiability of children with Down's Syndrome (DS). Is it possible to use the MLE method to raise the level of cognitive development of children with DS to an extent that has previously not been linked to children with this chromosomal impairment? Can these children classified as retarded by the educational system and assigned to a special educational needs school, be modified to the extent that they will be able to cope in a typical school?
Chapter 2 - Literature Review
In looking at the history of education we can go back to Socrates and ask questions that require inductive thinking processes, or we can look at somewhat more modern thought. Durkheim (1956) considered education social in its origins. A few years later Brim (1960) agreed stating that: "the function of the socialization process...as one aimed at producing individuals equipped to meet the variety of demands placed upon them by life in a society" (p. 161). Yet jumping forward to 1992, Schwarzwald & Amir found that "No significant effects were associated with programs designed to facilitate social relations in the integrated schools" (p. 359).
At the beginning of the twentieth century others were working on the goals of education from different viewpoints: Thorndike (1911), the Gestalten (Wertheimer, 1912) and Piaget (1924), emphasized innate developmental factors. Darwinism and Functionalism of the 1920s looked at thought processes and use of the 'scientific method'. (Pavlov, 1928; Skinner, 1938). Intelligence as cognitive development based on genetic factors, intellectual abilities and the learning process itself followed soon after (Tolman, 1932; Bandura, 1960; Bruner et al., 1966). Others followed a different line basing the idea of cognitive development on education (Feuerstein, 1953).
Then came the dependence on intelligence tests and the so-called 'IQ' scores. Children were separated into different categories based on definitions of their 'Intelligence Quotient' (Binet, 1903 & 1911). Educational framework placement often depended upon physical and/or learning disabilities, emotional difficulties or environmental handicaps (Shakespeare, 1975).
Deaf children had separate schools, physically handicapped children were segregated, children with behavior problems were relegated to special schools and retarded children sometimes did not even receive a formal education. (Kirk & Johnson, 1951)
Sociology tells us that the human has very often been intolerant of the deviant, or alternatively, celebrated such a person as 'touched by God'. (Broom et al., 1988) People with disabilities, whether physical or mental disabilities were treated in different ways according to where and when they lived. The Bible describes how people with any disability were forbidden to become priests or enter the sanctuary:
"And the Lord said to Moses, none of your descendents throughout their generations who has a blemish shall draw near, a man blind or lame, or one who has a mutilated face or a limb too long, or an injured foot, or an injured hand or a hunchback or a dwarf, or a man with itching disease" (Leviticus, 21:18-20).At the same time however, some parts of the Talmud advocated disability as a holy state and a means of getting to heaven. Similar sentiments were expressed towards those who helped disabled people (Talmud Babli, Masechet Taanit, 20b).
Mental retardation has often been regarded not simply as one aspect of a person's life, but as engulfing the person's whole life and becoming that person's identity. Christensen (1996), views definitions of learning disabilities as a means of social oppression which then becomes the 'defining feature' thereby negating and ignoring the multifaceted, complex, whole individual. Wang (1990), makes a point of noting the adverse effects of labeling and goes on to emphasize the "...need for a data base to describe learner characteristics in terms of the cognitive and social competencies required to achieve intended learning outcomes." (p. 2)
These statements are a far cry from the previously held beliefs that IQ number is a specific and a determinate of a person's ability to learn.
On a worldwide basis changes are occurring in education generally and in special education in some specific instances. In the UK during the 1950's and '60's it was recognized that environment plays an important part in the development of social and mental ability. The 1970 Education (Handicapped Children) Act recognized and tried to rectify the problem. The 70,000 children who had been considered uneducable under the terms of the 1913 Act got the right to education under a new category of "educationally sub normal-severe" and 400 new special schools were formed out of the old junior training centers. The Disability Discrimination Act and legislation on inclusion recognize that people with learning disabilities have equal rights and their opportunities for education and employment are much better than 50 years ago.
In the 1960s in the United States a maxim developed during the Civil Rights demonstrations - "Separate is not equal". To me it appears that the same maxim is applicable to education. Special education in Israel is of high quality. It is however separate and therefore not equal. In Universities and Teacher's Colleges the emphasis for students destined to work in typical schools and for those studying special education is different. The former learn basically to emphasize the subject matter while the latter are guided to consider their future pupil's difficulties and disabilities. The problem is that sometimes such dysfunctions can blind special education teachers to their pupils' very real abilities. Feuerstein has shown that many pupils in special education are capable of far more than they are allowed to learn.
Some of the changes we see occurring throughout the world include the field of special education itself. New laws, new ideas and experiments in reducing the separation of people with physical and complex learning difficulties are appearing. In the recent past, the teacher in the school for children with special educational needs had no guidance at all, other than her or his own professional background and training. He or she was required to design, prepare and carry out an appropriate curriculum, with due regard not only to the class, but to each individual child according to their own needs, with almost no help. In my own working lifetime in Israel I remember when there were no Educational Advisors for teachers in Special Educational Needs schools, few para-medical therapists specialized in children with learning difficulties and educational psychologists were not usually assigned to these schools. Then came that period in some countries when government decided to prepare a set curriculum, not always sufficiently respective of the individual child's needs (Visser, 1993), and which required adaptation by the teacher. Most currently, in Israel, the UK, the US and other countries we are using, or at least discussing the potential use of, collaborative assessments and team teaching.
Improved educational opportunities and the advent of collaborative teaching, or teamwork, appear to be occurring concurrently in a number of places. In Britain, the passage of the Education Act 1993, and in the United States, Public Law 94-142 (1975), both require that full educational rights be extended to include all children regardless of any learning disabilities (DfE-Code of Practice, 1994). These laws expressly designate the child's right to learn in the "least restrictive" or mainstream framework. In Israel the Special Education Law (1988), is somewhat different. More emphasis is placed on extending the ages of children with disabilities to free compulsory education (now from age 3-21), and on "providing for special services and therapists as needed", than on placement in mainstream schools.
This has not produced widespread Mainstreaming in Israel, but rather a greater emphasis on providing therapeutic services within those schools designated to provide individualized education for children with learning difficulties. Appendix 1 is a free translation of the Law. Particularly relevant to this paper are Part A, 1(a), Part C, 7-9 and Part D, 14-15 and 19-20, the last being the first introduction of Individual Education Plans (IEP) and their required "Accompanying Services" which includes professional therapists. Today (2002) IEPs have developed or reverted depending on your point of view. The format is now as Visser described it eight years ago, with the government requiring a set format, not always sufficiently cognizant of individual pupil's needs.
The emphasis on the "least restrictive environment" as used in the U.S.A., requires co-teaching in inclusive classrooms, generally with a regular grade teacher at the primary school level, or a subject teacher in secondary schools and a special education teacher. (IDEA, 1975) In Britain, Special Education Coordinators appear to be responsible for "special education provision" in the mainstream schools (Code of Practice 1994) with the introduction of special needs assistants as a primary method of implementing these special provisions (Nolan and Gersch, 1991). In Israel, on the other hand, schools for children with special educational needs are meant to be provided with para-medical professionals, such as speech, occupational and physical therapists, art, music and movement therapists, educational advisors and so on. The list is long. Additionally, funds were to have been supplied for more teaching aides, educational psychologists and school-based social workers. Due to national budgetary considerations, many of these recommended financial subsidies have not been forthcoming. Even if the the funds were provided, this is still segregation.
Presseisen and Kozulin (1992), show how both Vygotsky and Feuerstein correlate with the classic Piagetian ideas of intellectual operations. Their own empirical research used as subjects recent immigrants to Israel, from different countries, some in special educational frameworks. The research subjects ranged in age from 10 years old to adults and included immigrant teachers. Both their research and that of Jitendra & Kameenui (1993) agree with Feuerstein & Rand (1997) that traditional static assessment techniques are insufficient; that dynamic assessments provide a more complete picture of specific learning processes and cognitive dysfunctions. Reynolds (1992) presents some alternative forms of assessment including 'Curriculum-Based Measurement' to counter-act the "presumed predispositions" of children's ability to learn. As he says: "...school psychological studies sometimes put more emphasis on intelligence and other dispositional traits than on school learning itself...and...that data [gathered in the classroom] is more useful to teachers when compared with present measurement and classification practices." (p.73)
Lebeer and Garbo (1997), in a qualitative research project emphasize that the development of the women they examined differed widely despite similar IQs. They attribute this to the different ecological mediation in the environment. They then go on to note the importance of the mediator: "Different therapists yield different results even while using the same methods. This is very important in comparative evaluation studies. The differences in successes of a certain method could be due, not to the method itself, but to the way these methods are applied." (p. 252)
Lebeer and Garbo's (1997), research is of special importance to this paper. Their research was on the use of MLE with children with Down's syndrome. They emphasize many times that it is the mediation, or the ecological environment, that made the difference in the level of competence in the child, once she reached adulthood. Their abstract states:
"Development and learning which are seriously hampered by chromosomal or brain impairment can be greatly modified if interventions are ecologically based. This study confirms that Mediated Learning and the organization of an Active Modifying Environment can be potent factors in the development of low-functioning children, provided the concept of MLE is understood as a multi-dimensional and is not turned into an ideology." (p. 239)Others too have noted the changes in recent years in the field of special education. Issacs, (1996); Sharron & Coulter, (1996); Feuerstein & Rand, (1997); Klein & Arieli, (1997); Martinez, (1997); and Slater (2000), all make the point that children with DS can learn more academic skills than previously believed, if the educational format is an appropriate one.
Many specific programs have been developed in recent years for improved education for youngsters with DS. Some deal with communication skills (Kumin, 1994; Miller et al., 1999), others with reading skills (Oelwein, 1995). Yet others are specific to mathematics skills (Klein, 1997; Martinez, 1997). Some general programs for cognitive development (Gardner, 1996; Cognitive Research Program, 1996) are now being applied to learners with DS. Wishart (1998) states that:
"... Trisomy 21 shows only a weak correlation between the degree of learning disability experienced and parental IQ level, inheritance factors which normally strongly influence children's achievement levels. This suggests that other non-biological factors, including psychological factors, may play an important role in determining the progress made." (p. 197)and
"Psychological as well as biological factors clearly play a role in influencing what happens - or does not happen - in cognitive development in children with DS. The wide differences seen in ability levels are not likely to stem simply from 'brighter' children having had more opportunities to learn than others - early intervention, professional input, and full-time schooling are now the norm. We are still a very long way from understanding why it is that some children with DS succeed in mastering so much more than others but looking much more closely at the contexts in which the children learn and at the ways in which we support their learning might lead to at least part of the answer." (p. 201)Wishart was not alone in trying to solve this conundrum. Part of the answer may be to look at children with DS as children first. It is simply a fact that some children succeed in mastering so much more than others master it then becomes acceptable for children with DS to have the same characteristic. People with DS generally have mild to moderate mental retardation, they are however, more similar to their peer-group than they are dissimilar to them, or than they are similar to others with DS.
Among individuals with MR, there is a wide range of abilities, disabilities, strengths and needs for support, as is true of all human beings (Dyson, 1994; Spitalnik, 1994; Norwich, 1996; Wishart, 1998). There are however differences as well (Schalock, et al., 1994). It is common to find language delay and motor development significantly below norms of peers who do not have mental retardation. More seriously affected children will experience delays in such areas of motor-skill development as mobility, body image, and control of body actions. Compared to their non-disabled peers, children with MR may be below norms in height and weight, may experience more speech problems, and may have a higher incidence of vision and hearing impairment (Kumin, 1994; Oelwein, 1995; Dever & Knapczyk, 1997; Miller et al., 1999; and others).
In contrast to their classmates, students with MR often have problems with attention, perception, memory, problem solving, and logical thought. They are slower in learning how to learn and find it harder to apply what they have learned to new situations or problems. Some professionals explain these patterns by asserting that children with mental retardation have qualitatively different deficits in cognition or memory (Laws, 1996; Katims 2000). Others believe that persons with mental retardation move through the same stages of development as those without retardation, although at a slower rate, reaching lower levels of functioning overall (Gable et al., 1993; Switzky, 1997).
Many persons with retardation are affected only minimally, and will function only somewhat slower than average in learning new skills and information (Feuerstein & Rand, 1997). Educational and research programs today often do not accept this basic fact. This can be seen in programs written for the education of children with DS or children with MR. It is possible to split them into two major groupings:
The second group on the other hand, while accepting the need for social skills emphasizes the need for the development of literacy and other academic skills such as arithmetic skills as crucial to survival in the modern world. This group tends to prefer separated schools or classes within typical schools. When pupils are integrated this group tends to prefer the use of 'resource rooms' and 'pull outs' in order to teach basic reading, writing and arithmetic skills. Early Intervention as a specific program is popular with the adherents of the school skills and literacy skills group. IEPs are considered a basic necessity for every learner. An example of those in his group is Oelwein (1995) who says:
"Today, my experience is that the person with Down syndrome who does not read (at least to some degree) is the exception." (p. iii) (Emphasis is in the original).It should be noted here that neither of these basic groupings is exclusive. There are many researchers and educators that combine the two approaches in different ways. Some examples may be found in Lloyd et al., (1993), Bird, (1994), and Farrell & Elkins, (1995).
A third group exists. This is the one that I find most fascinating and wish to investigate. To gain insight into this group may provide both others and myself in the field of education with more effective tools to gain our objective...to provide the best possible education for children with DS.
This group incorporates the goals of both of the above groups by emphasizing neither of those basic approaches but rather the idea of cognitive development as a goal in itself. The person that has learned to identify a problem, to analyze it and to use inductive thinking processes to develop a strategy for its solution, is more likely to find a greater level of success in adult life (Molina & Perez, 1993; Ben-Hur, 1994; Sharron & Coulter, 1996; Feuerstein & Rand, 1997; Kozulin, 1997).
Research on cognitive development has been driven by a pragmatic approach, through which we observe the child's interactions with the physical world to determine the child's cognitive skills as demonstrated in home and school environments. There are many and varied definitions of cognitive development. One may think of cognitive development as the development of the thinking and organizing systems of the brain. It involves language, mental imagery, thinking, reasoning, problem solving, and memory development.
Among the many and varied definitions is the one provided by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (USA) (2000):
"...physical and behavioral development are most adequately and accurately described as variable processes in which individual differences in cognitive, social, affective, language, and neurobiological maturation, environment and life experiences, and genetics interact in complex ways to influence child development." (National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, 2000).Wang (1990), Montague (1995), and Christensen (1996), agree on the need for individualization; it is essential to focus on understanding students' individual attributes if we are to provide adequate instructional formats and encourage cognitive development.
Essentially it may be said that cognitive development is the growth in children's ways of thinking about and interacting with their environment. Young children initially learn about the world through active, physical exploration and then gradually develop the ability to think symbolically and logically about their experiences.
Children's cognitive development progresses as they develop in the areas of:
When typical development is stymied, for whatever reason, it becomes crucial to help children to pass through the necessary stages of cognitive development (Scheid, 1990; Newcombe, 1999). This is where education for, or in, cognitive development comes to the fore. Education in specific skills while important does not address the problem of development and generalization of abilities learned within those specific areas, and therefore aggravates the retardation of the individual learner. The instruction of specific skills however, when taught concomitantly with guided cognitive development has been shown to help pupils with special needs to generalize their learning over time and space, e.g. from the abstract cognitive development exercises to the specific school material to be learned (Scheid, 1990; Feuerstein & Rand 1997; Klein & Arieli, 1997; Gersten & Baker, 1998; Wishart, 1998).
A number of theories for cognitive development are now extant. Not all of them fulfill the requirement intimated by Kant in his Critique of Pure Reason: "Thoughts without content are empty. Intuitions without concepts are blind." (p. 61). Much less do many of them take into consideration the modifiability of children with special needs. Theories of cognitive development require a practical pragmatic form of application for the child in the classroom. How does it help him or her to learn arithmetic, reading and writing? What about the social sciences? Is the theory applicable to the child expected to learn history and geography?
One of the more popular theories available today is Howard Gardener's idea of multiple intelligences, (Gardner, 1983 & 1993) which is based to a large extent on Piaget (1972), and on Feuerstein's (1979), development of Piaget's theory of cognitive development. According to Gardner, everyone possesses numerous 'intelligences' and each person's blend of competencies produces a unique cognitive profile. His theory provides a framework for a metamorphosis of education at all levels of learning and may be critical to learners with various disabilities. The strengths of children with various learning disabilities (e.g. dyslexia, dysgraphia, and other dysfunctions) are rarely obvious in the classroom. The application of Gardner's theory can be highly beneficial for these children. If we believe that every child can learn, it behooves us as educators to learn how to teach every child.
Yet for children with DS the problem is generally more one of over-all general delay in development. Can Gardner's theory of various intelligences be applied to those children who are delayed in almost all, if not actually all, of their abilities as judged by chronological age? The theory emphasizes problem-solving skills, which is certainly important for all learners, including those with DS, but does not provide a practical means of teaching them. There are many examples of people with DS that have developed an expertise in specific areas such as in music or art (Appendix 2). Gardner's theory of multiple intelligences would appear to be especially appropriate in such cases.
Chapter 3 - Methodology
The research project is a case study using Qualitative Research that takes place in HWCRI. It occurs in a natural setting, in the classroom. The variables are largely uncontrolled and uncontrollable. All will be considered when analyzing any changes found in the child's ability to learn.
Tzabar Ben-Yehshua in her book Qualitative Research in Education and Instruction, (1997), defines the goals and objectives of Qualitative Research as the development of knowledge and the understanding of concepts. It includes the description of different aspects of events; theory anchored in reality and built continuously based on comparisons of similarities and differences with the area of the research subject.
In Qualitative Research the investigator uses various exploratory tools such as: "Review of literature and factors available, the researcher him or herself, notebooks and writing materials, photocopies and tape recordings, open observation and open interviews." (Tzabar Ben-Yehshua, 2001) (The quote is a free translation from the Hebrew.)
Barenboim (1993), determines that the Qualitative Approach attributes meaning of items in the eyes of the research subjects themselves. By exposing their own comprehension of themselves and their ideas the Qualitative investigator succeeds in understanding internal processes, as they exist in real life.
According to Guba & Lincoln (1994), the Qualitative Approach is a dialectical compromise. The social framework of both accepted and variable types of interaction between the investigator and the subject of the research are oriented to stabilize the framework as a mutually accepted state. This permits an interrelation that is reciprocally acceptable despite potential tensions.
The Impediments of the Qualitative Research Method
This research program did not analyze the factors according to the standards of Quantitative Research. The analysis presented does not examine the results of the population investigated according to number and amount (age, sex, new concepts achieved). (Amir, 1996) The objective of Quantitative Research is to explain the findings according to certain set rules and principles. The Research question determines in advance the focus of the investigation. It does not include the ideas and thoughts of the subjects themselves, in that the variables investigated are not those of ongoing and changing processes, as they are experienced, nor of behavior and its explanations, as in the case in a Qualitative Research program. (Marom, 1996) I preferred a Qualitative Approach to this project because the characteristics of the research answered the needs of the question under investigation; to gain insight into the process of learning itself for this population.
Reasons for Choice of a Qualitative Approach
Academic theories notwithstanding, it is the teacher in the classroom that sees the whole child, over-time and in all moods. No researcher that comes in for a session or two can possibly evaluate the entire human being as can the teacher who sees the child daily, under many different circumstances. Action research by the teacher in the classroom is therefore appropriate in these circumstances.
In this project the gathering of the data was sufficiently long and substantial to describe the processes of thought required for the target population to develop new concepts. During the period in question (four weeks) both the teacher-researcher and the educational aide found themselves deeply involved in the process. This helped them to guide the pupils in a direct and helpful manner. It also gave the teacher-researcher more insight into the processes that the pupils were undergoing themselves.
Data Evaluation: The evaluation of the project had two main phases:
Howe and Moses (in Tzabar Ben-Yehoshua, 2001) are clear in their opinion. They say that the qualitative researcher working in the social and educational fields must base his or her ethical code on mutual respect, mutual confidence and cooperation between himself or herself and his or her subject population. The ethics of the research must be an integral part of the research plan and its goals.
In this project I found it ethical to inform the parents of the subjects, in advance, that I was going to research their children's learning behaviors and processes. I also had to be ethical in my observation analysis since I could not claim to be an objective observer, being rather involved with the pupils and wanting them to succeed. Here again ethical means honest. I did not find it necessary to inform the pupils themselves at any point that they were the subjects of a research program, for them it was just another lesson period in school.
According to Tzabar Ben-Yehoshua (2001), ethics applies to publication of one's finding and the anonymity of the subjects as well. In this paper they are neither identified nor identifiable. Within HWCRI the story was different. All of the teachers involved were made fully aware from the beginning of the research. This may have influenced their own behavior with those pupils, but was unavoidable when considered within the parameters of ethical qualitative research. The principal was informed to gain his permission to carry out the research, but was not informed of which specific pupils would be subjects of the project.
Chapter 4 - Results
The pupils involved should show an increased ability to recognize that a problem exists, to define the problem and to search for a solution. These processes include:
Establishing confidence in the ability of children with DS to acquire greater academic skills if provided with the necessary tools to do so, will hopefully have an effect on special education in general.
Non- and beginning readers, the age level is wide, from eight to seventeen years, some with motivational difficulties, but all with the basic ability to understand concepts.
Two classes were investigated. Both classes consist of six pupils each. In the first class, two are boys with DS ("A" and "B") and one a girl with DS ("C"). In the second class are four boys and two girls. Three of the boys have DS ("D", "E" and "F"). The remainder of the pupils in each class have other learning disabilities. The biological ages range from eight years to seventeen. The level of operation for these pupils ranges from non-readers to beginning readers. One pupil, "C", can read on the third grade level and write on a second grade level. "A", "B" and "D" are reading on a first grade level, can write their own names and copy the letters of the alphabet.
Functional reading skills are somewhat higher. "E" and "F" are non-readers but recognize their names, some words and the numerals 1-5; the others can read numerals up to 10. The pupils in the first class have addition and subtraction skills from 1-5. They have not yet learned to carry. All can count by rote up to 10 or higher.
During the first lesson I distributed a personal calendar to each pupil. Discussion of the use of a calendar and explanations and examples were provided e.g. "Today is Tuesday, where is next Tuesday?" "What day is tomorrow?" "Where is it on your calendar?" The pupils discussed this and then marked with colors Tuesday and Wednesday. These are the days of the week in which the pupils have IE lessons.
The use of clues, such as the date that is written on the blackboard and discussion of the day's specific programs were tools used in the lesson.
Only "C" was able to fulfill the task successfully without full support. The others all required extensive help, including actually pointing out to them the frames to color ("D", "E" and "F").
The Instruments chosen for the project are those that are accessible even to the more or less totally or functionally illiterate individual. When reading skills were required the mediators read the material to the pupils (Appendix 4, A-D).
The Accomplished Goals:
|Action||Freq.||Reflection||Categorization of Mediation|
|Pupils joke, drop pencils, are unable to find place for book bags.||Start of first 3 lessons.||
||Intentionality and reciprocity, Transcendence, Meaning, Individuation and psychological differentiation, Perception of feelings-verbal and nonverbal, Transmission of past and representation of future.|
|Pupils show interest in general environment of classroom.||Most lessons||
||Meaning, Regulation and control of behavior, Goal-seeking, goal setting, goal-planning and goal-achieving behavior, Focusing, Verbal stimulation.|
|Pupils ask for a drink of water, to go to bathroom.||40% of lessons||
||Perception of feelingsverbal and nonverbal, Goal seeking, goal-setting, goal-planning and goal-achieving behavior, Act substitute, Inhibition and control, Problem solving strategies.|
Pupil refuses to cooperate.
||3-4 per lesson.||
||Perception of feelingsverbal and nonverbal, Meaning, Intentionality and reciprocity, Feelings of competence, Regulation and control of behavior, Positive anticipation, Shared responsibility, Comparative behavior, Association and application, Problem-solving strategies, Transmission of values, Cognitive operationverbal and motor, Perception of feelings-verbal and nonverbal.|
|Pupil says: "I can't do it."||2-3 per lesson||
||Feelings of competence, Regulation and control of behaviour, Challenge: the search for novelty and complexity, Focusing, Selection of stimuli, Positive anticipation, Act substitute, Repetition, Reinforcement and reward.|
|Pupil says: "Let me do it."||1-2 per lesson||
||Intentionality and reciprocity, Transcendence, Feelings of competence, Sharing behavior, Challenge: the search for novelty and complexity, Reinforcement and reward, Verbal stimulation, Identification and descriptionverbal, Cause-and-effect relationship, Comparative behavior, Perception of feelings-verbal and nonverbal.|
|Request for help on task that is easy for him or her.||1-2 per lesson||
||Feelings of competence, Goal-seeking, goal-setting, goal-planning, and goal-achieving behaviour, Challenge: the search for novelty and complexity, Optimistic alternative, Selection of stimuli.|
|Pupils use trial and error methods.||90% of time at start of project.||
||Focusing, Selection of stimuli, Act substitute, Inhibition and control, Identification and description verbal and nonverbal, Assuming responsibility, Discrimination and sequencing, Spatial orientation, Directing attention, Association and application, Critical interpretation, Deductive reasoning, Problem-solving strategies, Precision at output levels, Need for logical evidence at input and output levels, Systematic exploration, Organization of stimuli, Cognitive operation-verbal and motor.|
|Pupil doesn't recognize complexity of task.||90% of lessons||
||Focusing, Selection of stimuli, Provoking mediation, Imitation, Verbal stimulation, Inhibition and control, Identification and description-verbal and nonverbal, Cause-and-effect relationship, Discrimination and sequencing, Spatial orientation, Comparative behaviour, Directing attention, Association and application, Critical interpretation, Problem-solving strategies, Need of precision at both input and output levels, Systematic exploration, Organization of stimuli, Cognitive operationverbal and motor.|
|Pupils lack ability to see own errors||90% of time||
||Focusing, Selection of stimuli, Provoking mediation, Inhibition and control, Provision of stimuli, Identification and description-verbal and nonverbal, Assuming responsibility, Discrimination and sequencing, Spatial orientation, Comparative behaviour, Directing attention, Association and application, Critical interpretation, Deductive reasoning, Problem-solving strategies, Need of precision at output levels, Mediation of need for logical evidence at output levels, Systematic exploration, Confrontation of reality, Organization of stimuli, Cognitive operation-verbal and motor.|
|Two pupils are very verbal, but unclear. Difficult to understand.||Always||
||Focusing (speech), Verbal stimulation, Discrimination and sequencing, Directing attention, Critical interpretation, Need of precision at both input and output levels, Confrontation of reality, Perception of feelingsverbal and nonverbal, Reciprocity.|
|Most pupils procrastinate.||60% of time||
||Focusing, Selection of stimuli, Scheduling, Positive anticipation, Act substitute, Verbal stimulation, Inhibition and control, provision of stimuli, Transmission of past, Assuming responsibility, Cause-and-effect relationship, Fostering of a sense of completion, Critical interpretation, Confrontation of reality, Perception of feelingsverbal and nonverbal, Reciprocity.|
|Pupils begin to exhibit skills||10% of time||
||Focusing, Provoking mediation, Positive anticipation, Reinforcement and reward, Verbal stimulation, Representation of future, Identification and descriptionverbal and nonverbal, Cause-and effect relationship, Comparative behaviour, Fostering of a sense of completion, Transmission of values, Perception of feelings-verbal and nonverbal.|
|Some pupils respond negatively to authority.||Almost always||
||Focusing, Selection of stimuli, Positive anticipation, Act substitute, Verbal stimulation, Inhibition and control, Provision of stimuli, Assuming responsibility, Shared responsibility, Cause-and-effect relationship, Responseverbal and motor, Fostering of a sense of completion, Directing attention, Critical interpretation, Transmission of values, Confrontation of reality, Perception of feelingsverbal and nonverbal, Reciprocity.|
From the fourth lesson:
1-2 times each lesson.
Chapter 5 - Discussion and Analysis
In analyzing the of the observation analyses, according to the Criteria and Categories of Interaction (Feuerstein & Rand, 1997 p 333), it becomes clear that the pupils are in greatest need of mediation of regulation and control of behavior (appears 16 times) due to impulsivity. The need for mediated focusing (appears 12 times) is also due basically to impulsivity.
Based on Feuerstein's theory, once the learner is cognitively aware of the problem we can begin to work on a solution. Changes began as early as the fourth session, a clear sign of the success of this portion of the research project. Mediation of feelings of competence (appears 11 times) and mediation of perception of feelings (appears 10 times) may well be contributing factors to the pupils' new control of their impulsivity. Certainly with the increase in feelings of competence impulsivity has decreased. But that cannot prove a correlation. There are too many other factors involved. That they are contributing factors may well be, but since intentionality and reciprocity also appear 7 times, they too are likely contributing factors.
Evidence of the latter may be seen in their newfound ability to work independently and to concentrate on a task for up to 20 minutes. Potentially the mediation of inhibition and control (appears 9 times) has also contributed towards this newly acquired ability.
In this project I have attempted to answer some of the research questions, and specifically to gain insight into the pupil's own reactions to learning. In the above table we can see that changes did take place and that even the pupil with the most severe difficulties, F, began to respond positively. It must be remembered that this project was very short. The entire IE program normally is taught over a three year period. The lessons were not consistent and consecutive in content, since the project required jumping around from one IE instrument to another.
As Feuerstein et al. (1982) state:
"Many of the usual educational practices for people with learning problems are limited to the act of dispensing information aimed toward the acquisition of modest goals by a process of over learning. Far too little investment is offered for development of the learning-to-learn ability." (p. 45)There are likely many other major factors contributing to the pupils' ability to change and learn. Not the least of these would be the home life in general and other teachers in school. The results found here are perhaps indicative of which methods should be continued in these pupils' education. These results, taken during a period of four weeks only, cannot however be considered final.
There has been in this brief period change and progress that could not have been expected of any child with DS if one relies solely on general prognoses for learners with this syndrome. Till now I have attributed such change and progress to SCM and the MLE method. The Lebeer and Garbo (1997), report however has cast a new light on the subject.
It is difficult to write generally about pupils who vary so greatly in their abilities and personalities, but I will add that some of the pupils coped with the full workload more easily than others; C is a case in point.
One must accept that categorization is essential for some aspects of organized life. On the other hand, educators should seriously question its use. Whether discussing labels referring to a pupil's origins, cultural derivation or learning ability, the stigma of stereotyping must always be kept in mind. A human being is a holistic entity, a total individual and as such, more than the summation of parts. Therefore, it is our duty and pleasure to enable each individual pupil to reach self-realization and to have his or her full potential released.
As noted above the other teachers when interviewed tended to be influenced by their own need to be proud of their pupils. Hargreaves (1994) tells us that to best serve our pupils we must be able to distance ourselves from them, to better provide them with the needed service. Teachers that work in the field of special education have a special difficulty with this. Yet when their professional pride was appealed to they did respond accordingly. From this we may perhaps deduce that those who choose to work in this field pride themselves on their professional abilities. McDaniel et al., (1989) note that a special education teacher's sense of personal teaching efficacy influences the teacher's motivation and effort, teacher-student interactions, and student achievement. This agrees with Lebeer & Garbo (1997) in their statement that the mediator may be as important as the method being used. To be aware of the danger of stereotyping should then be in the forefront of our minds at all times.
Chapter 6 - Summary, Conclusions and Recommendations
This research has attempted to research the question of whether the MLE method can be made more successful than it is for pupils with Down's Syndrome. It has been shown that in a very short time period a number of pupils that were operating on a variety of academic skill levels, but all well below their age norm, have made progress despite a diagnosis of special educational needs.
As may be seen from the above, most of the pupils' behavior began to change during the fourth meeting. They were able by then to accept that making errors is acceptable. The level of some of the pupils' perfectionism began to become reduced. They therefore were willing to attempt more, and to successfully complete, tasks that they previously believed beyond their ability. Added to that the newfound spontaneity and the flexibility that began to develop permitted them to understand new and more difficult tasks. Some of them then found it possible to work independently.
This evidence would appear to show that the use of MLE can improve the learning ability of a child with Down's Syndrome. The question remains, according to Lebeer and Garbo (1997), whether it was the IE program or the intense and formal MLE method that was instrumental in that change. The evidence of Tzuriel (1992), and Sharron & Coulter (1996), would point to the IE programas would my own experience to date. I know of no other method that works so well, despite having worked in the formal educational system for 20 years in the field of special education. Providing an Active Modifying Environment is not always possible, most especially not for young children living at home.
Some of the target population has the advantage of highly educated, intelligent parents, some of warm and loving homes that are very involved with their education. Some of the parents have received guidance in MLE since their children were very young.
That environment alone however was insufficient to change these pupils' learning abilities until they began the IE program. Again referring to Lebeer and Garbo (1997), as quoted above: "Different therapists yield different results even while using the same methods." (p. 252), it may, in this case be that the mediator made the difference. In my own experience however, I have seen changes of this sort often enough, with different mediators, that at this time I must still attribute it to both the IE program and the MLE methods applied according to the Criteria of Interaction as propounded by SCM.
This is true especially since not all of the pupils in the project have the advantage of a warm and accepting home life.
As to the research question itself, only time will tell. It is my own personal belief that most of these pupils are capable of reaching a higher academic level than was previously expected of them. I will continue to work with them hoping and believing that they will gain more from the IE program in combination with specific knowledge (reading, writing, arithmetic) than they would from specific skill instruction exclusively.
For myself, I am very excited by the idea that other educational methods, together with MLE, may provide children with the same chance to change and progress.
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Appendix 1 - Special Education Law, Israel
Appendix 2 - Examples
This section presents some people with Down's syndrome that excel in specific areas.
The first article in this section is deleted from the publicly published dissertation because permission was not received to disseminate it. For the others, the URL is provided.
In alphabetical order:
תלמיד\ה\ים מכיתתך למד\ה\ו העשרה אינסטרומטלית (ה"א) בקבוצות שונות השנה ולא בכיתת האם.
בשאלון זו את\ה מבוקש\ת לענות על כמה שאלות בקשר ללימודים הנ"ל.
אנא למלא שאלון אחד עבור כל תלמיד\ה שהשתתף\פה בשיעור ה"א.
אנא להקיף את הערתך לפי הסולם הבא:
מספר 1 = בכלל לא
מספר 2 = כמעת ולא
מספר 3 = במדה בינוני
מספר 4 = כן, מעט
מספר 5 = כן, מאוד
אני מוקירה מאוד את שיתוף הפעולה שלך במילוי השאלון זה.
שם התלמיד: ___________
|1. התלמיד\ה התקדם באופן כללי הסמסטר.||1||2||3||4||5|
|2. התלמיד\ה לא התקדם כללי הסמסטר.||1||2||3||4||5|
|3. התלמיד\ה נסוג\ה הסמסטר.||1||2||3||4||5|
|4. התלמיד התקדם בתחום\ים מסוימים בלבד (אנא לציין איזה).||1||2||3||4||5|
|5. התלמיד נסוגה בתחומים מסוימים (אנא לציין איזה).||1||2||3||4||5|
|6. לא היה שינוי כלל בתחומי הלימודים.||1||2||3||4||5|
|7. התלמיד\ה מתייחס לתחומי לימודים ברצינות יותר.||1||2||3||4||5|
|8. התלמיד\ה מתעניין בנושאים שונים וחדשים.||1||2||3||4||5|
|9. התלמיד\ה מתעניין בנושא מסוים יותר.||1||2||3||4||5|
|10. התלמיד\ה מאורגן\ת יותר באופן כללי.||1||2||3||4||5|
|11. התלמיד\ה מאורגן\ת יותר בתחום מסוים בלבד (אנא לציין איזה).||1||2||3||4||5|
|12. התלמיד\ה מחפש סדר בלימודים.||1||2||3||4||5|
|13. התלמיד\ה שואל יותר שאלות\מבאי דוגמאות בשיעורים באופן כללי.||1||2||3||4||5|
|14. נא לציין עוד תחומי לימודים החשובים לתלמיד\ה זה\זאת.|
|1. התלמיד\ה הולך לקבוצת ה-ה"א ברצון.||1||2||3||4||5|
|2. היה שינוי ברצון התלמיד ללכת לשיעור.||1||2||3||4||5|
|3. השינוי מתבטא ביותר רצון ללכת לשיעור.||1||2||3||4||5|
|4. השינוי מתבטא בפחות רצון ללכת לשיעור.||1||2||3||4||5|
|5. התלמיד\ה מתבטא את רצונו\ה באופן מילולי.||1||2||3||4||5|
|6. התלמיד\ה מתבטא את רצונו\ה באופן בלתי-מילולי.||1||2||3||4||5|
|7. יכולת הביטוי של התלמיד השתנה במשך הסמסטר.||1||2||3||4||5|
|8. התנהגות התלמיד\ה השתנה במשך הסמסטר.||1||2||3||4||5|
|9. התלמיד\ה יותר רגוע\ה באופן כללי.||1||2||3||4||5|
|10. התלמיד\ה יותר "פתוח" באופן כללי (אף אם זה כולל התנהגות לא רצויה).||1||2||3||4||5|
|11. נא לציין עוד תחומי לימודים החשובים לתלמיד\ה זה\זאת.|
יתכן והשאלות אינן מקיפות את כל הנושאים החשובים עבור כל תלמיד\ה
באופן אינדיבדואלי\ת. אנא להרגיש חופש\י להוסיף למטה נקודות חשובות לפי דעתך. אפשר
להתייחס לכל תחום: לימודי, התנהגותי, חברתי וכו'.
אנא לציין כאן את הערתיך:
תודה רבה על עזרתך!!
Lessons 1 and 2 - Organization of Dots, pages 2 and 5
This is a compilation of two lessons for each of the two classes investigated.
It is a free translation of the lessons from the Hebrew.
The pupils are from a number of different classes. Lessons are held at 10.30 A.M., immediately following the morning break and at 12.30 P.M. following the noon break, on different days. They tend not to return to class on their own initiative. It is therefore usually necessary to gather them. Some will come willingly when called others must be encouraged and persuaded. Some will wait quietly in the classroom while others are being encouraged to enter; some will wander away again. This first lesson it took nearly 15 minutes to get all of the students into the classroom and seated.
Discussion is the tool of preference using the MLE method. This means starting a subject and getting the pupils to play an active part. Since many of our students are hesitant to attempt active discussions, it becomes necessary to make the subject interesting to them.
I opened with the topic of how we can 'learn to learn'. As an example, I told them about myself, that I had gone back to school at a mature age and some of the difficulties that I encountered. In my experience, pupils are more willing to talk about themselves if the teacher does so as an example. When I asked them for personal examples they were slow to start, but became more willing as first one and then another was willing to give at least one example. Pupil "C" was especially eloquent despite her pronunciation difficulties. Others joined her when she spoke particularly about her problems with mathematics. Only one pupil, "F" did not respond at all during this first discussion.
After some 10 minutes, I guided the discussion into the subject of IE. Some of the pupils had some experience with the program, others none. Since page two of Organization of Dots is usually provided in the very beginning of the program there were those who felt that they should not need to do it again. We then talked about working as a group rather than as individuals. I requested examples from them. "D" mentioned planning a party, "C" talked about housecleaning and "A" talked about team sports.
As I distributed page two I asked the pupils to look at the model and to tell me what they saw. Slowly, as a group, we analyzed the two shapes and the fact that there are two triangles. We then discussed which shape to look for first, how to find clues for the square and how to identify the base line of the triangles. The pupils began to work independently and to complete the first row. Both the teaching aide and I moved around providing individual help as needed. It was necessary to stop the work in the middle to talk about the fact that making mistakes is acceptable, that we can learn from our mistakes and that such errors are correctable.
During the last 5 minutes of the lesson, we talked about how this work can help us in other areas. We learned to gather all of the data before attempting to solve a problem, about thinking and planning rather than using trial and error methods and to recognize that an item can remain the same even if it changes orientation. We then related these items to daily life. I was particularly proud of "C". She was able to compare the change in position of the shapes to the positions of the dates on a calendar each month.
Most of the pupils proved to be more excited about the second lesson. Only two students required encouragement to enter the room. The others were already at work on their pages when the two entered. It was not difficult therefore to get them seated and working as well. "F", an impulsive person, had particular difficulties with frame three on the second line and with frame two on the third line. He required individual guidance. We then stopped to discuss how using time to plan actually saves time. I asked the pupils to provide examples. This was very difficult for them. After the aide and I gave a couple of examples the pupils repeated them, but were unable to provide original examples. In the end, "B" surprised me, using the army as an example. His father is in the standing army. Apparently he has heard about planning. Now he was able to relate our work and his father's. He was rightfully very proud of himself!
Introducing page five, we analyzed the shapes emphasizing the apparent similarity to rectangles, squares and triangles. It was necessary to identify carefully the differences between these shapes and the shapes on the previous page. As we discussed this I handed out their personal calendars and we noted that the same day of the week had different numbers in different months. They were not the same, despite their similarity. The pupils then proceeded to complete page five, receiving help individually as needed.
Afterwards we spent some time discussing the virtual relationships, emphasizing the need to recognize when similarities are important. It is easier to see differences. Four dots in a line are not the same as four dots in a square, despite the similarity of number. Not all lines that are parallel and equal will lead to a square. Empty spaces are important.
When "A", "E" and "F" each appeared to be somewhat overwhelmed with the task, their fellow pupil's explanations and examples were helpful.
(Sample pages follow.)
(Sample pages are copyrighted material. They may not be published in a public format.)
Lesson 3 - Comparisons, page 9
This is a compilation of two lessons one from each of the two classes investigated.
The lesson began with a discussion of the activity of comparing. With slight encouragement, the pupils provided some good examples such as preferring a certain food to another or a particular school subject over another. They were in the main unable however to ascertain the reasons for their preferences other than in a very general mode.
The discussion that took place emphasized the need for a basic similarity in any items to we compared. They accepted quickly that a bird and a rock are not comparable. We searched for commonalties in the foods suggested, and then the differences between them. We based judgments on specific criteria. We then repeated the exercise with the school subjects mentioned previously.
The realization that it was sometimes the teacher and not the subject that was the basis for preference surprised many of the pupils.
Taking the discussion a step further, we wondered if thoughts and ideas are comparable. This quickly led to a political debate that was difficult to bring under control! The pupils resisted accepting that another had an equal right to his or her opinion. Discussion of this topic usually occurs in the instrument Orientation in Space 1. There was a time limit on this project, so I did not diverge and work on that concept at this time. I will however, do so at the first opportunity. For now, it was only possible to insist that all had an equal right to express their opinions.
I proceeded to hand out the work pages, which I asked them to analyze as we had done with the shapes in the two previous pages.
None of the pupils mentioned that this page has written instructions in addition to models. The fact that only some of the pictures are models was not obvious to them at first. They all saw the pictures and some of the differences but were unable to define exactly what were the similarities or the differences.
I presented them with an example on the blackboard of a large and a small apple. The latter also had a leaf that the former lacked. Almost all of the pupils noted the leaf first, although it is not of the essence. Discussing comparative behavior, I asked them to provide criteria in which the two objects were similar and dissimilar. We drew a table on the blackboard with the different criteria suggested.
In the first class "A" and "C" mentioned fruit. "B" and two other students refined the subject and said 'apples'. After further mediation, all agreed that 'apples' was a more appropriate term. (Fine discrimination.) They then found it comparatively easy to note the difference as 'size'. In the second class, only one student attempted to answer. He also used 'fruit'. This class required more time to understand the differences in the concepts of 'fruit' versus 'apples'.
Turning to the first example we examined the model and analyzed it. Then we looked at the other two drawings on the line. Since "C" can read she immediately noted that the criteria in both drawings are the same and related it back to our earlier discussion that basic similarity is required for comparison.
We then proceeded to do the exercise verbally together. Afterwards the pupils began to work on the page individually, the aide and I helping with reading the criteria as needed. In the second class, the explanation of what criteria are, how we use them and the active participation of the students took longer. We spent a good deal more time on concrete activities, such as comparing the eyeglasses of two of the students. "E" required an additional hands-on explanation using two similar pencils of different lengths.
Fine discrimination proved to be a problem for all of the students in the fourth exercise. They all felt that the squares are larger that the circles and that the white circles are larger than the black circles. I used the opportunity to teach them how to measure an object lacking a ruler. This activity became quite popular; they then proceeded to measure every other item presented whether necessary of not. Working with a strip of paper torn off the bottom of the exercise page requires a great deal of exactitude, which I was happy to have them practice.
The final exercise on the page provided an excellent example of differing opinions, both of which may be correct. Each pupil therefore was permitted to choose whether he or she was comparing the square itself, or the lines within it. Most of the pupils in the second class did not manage to complete the exercise within the time available for the lesson.
The last five minutes we spent in discussion of what we had learned. The pupils were most interested in discussing the subject of right and wrong in relation to personal opinions. I was happy to tell them that we would discuss this topic further in about three weeks.
(Sample page follows.)
(Sample page is copyrighted material. It may not be published in a public format)
Lessons 4 and 5 - Comparisons, introductory page and page 1
This is a compilation of two lessons for each of the two classes investigated e.g. four lesson hours.
The lessons began with a discussion of how items are made up of parts. We investigated first concrete objects in the room, the chairs, our clothing and so on. As the discussion progressed, we discussed our homes, streets, neighborhoods, city and country. This led us to the idea of continents, but the pupils were unfamiliar with the concept. An important subject this needs to be developed later.
I then introduced the idea that we could analyze items in our environment. The need to use a strategy, familiar to the pupils from previous lessons, helped to introduce the subject of criteria for analysis. The pupils remembered the idea of comparing items by both their similarities and differences. We were now able to make progress. The idea of arbitrary criteria according to specific need became the subject of discussion.
"A", "C", "D" and "F" were able to produce examples. "C" discussed house cleaning, "A" the buildings in his neighborhood, while "D" and "F" used their own watches. "B" and "E" followed suit, not being able to find other examples.
Building on the discussion of watches, we discussed the way in which we perceive time. We analyzed our different perceptions of the passing of time. We developed criteria such as pleasure in an activity versus a boring or difficult activity. "E" gave an example of IE lessons as opposed to reading lessons. "B" talked about swimming versus school. The others also were able to give examples following the lead of their classmates.
The introductory page of the instrument Analytic Perception (AP) became a game. The pupils vied to produce criteria for the analysis of the four kangaroos. They spent quite a lot of time on the discussion of the different colors of each mother kangaroo and her baby. They decided that in animals it is not the same as in people.
A difficulty arose in the use of the parameters as criteria on the subject. Some wanted to analyze the mother kangaroos to each other and some the baby kangaroos to each other. One pupil, "E" wanted to analyze the white mother kangaroo with her own black baby. They almost got into a serious argument about who was right. This was a wonderful introduction to the idea of divergent thinking. We verbally analyzed both the two mothers to each other and the two babies to each other as a group. While it was quite difficult for them, they finally reached the conclusion that there was no one correct method. Interestingly, they discovered that the same parameters, though applicable in both cases, produced different results in the comparison of the drawings.
Writing the criteria on the board for them to copy, I asked them each to do an individual comparison as proposed by "E", a mother kangaroo versus her own baby. Help in reading and writing was provided as needed.
The lesson proved enthralling and over-ran its time limit. I promised that we would continue it the next day.
On the following day, I first distributed page one of the AP instrument. This page requires analysis first; followed only later by the identification of the criteria used. The latter half proved much more difficult for all of the pupils. It was no longer a free-swinging discussion, but required serious operational cognitive processes. We discussed the reasons that the problem of identifying the criteria was so much more difficult than setting up the criteria and then using their comparative skills. The pupils using 'figuring out what's wrong' discussed the idea of analysis. They could easily accept the similarities as analyzable, but the differences upset them. Some pupils were stumped by the idea of essential clues, such as the size of the apple versus the leaf on the orange. The whole concept of fruit was difficult for them. The concrete was ascendant over the theoretical in their thinking.
We spent the remainder of the time searching for examples of our own. By the end of the lesson all but one pupil, "E", gave appropriate examples.
(Sample pages follow.)
(Sample pages are copyrighted material. They may not be published in a public format.)
Lessons 6 and 7 - Temporal Relations, pages 10 and 19.
This is a compilation of two lessons for each of the two classes investigated, e.g. four lesson hours.
These pages chosen to reinforce the idea of divergent thinking and of perceived time versus absolute time, also introduced was the idea of sequencing.
On page ten the introductory discussion related to the previous lesson. First, we discussed the instructions and the word list. Then we referred back to the idea of using specific criteria with different values. The pupils quickly discovered that the time span was different for each element of time on the word list. Almost all of the pupils had difficulties with some of the concepts, such as seconds and seasons. Those with a temporal concept were accustomed to thinking in terms of holidays. Some could recognize a 'day' or a 'week', but a 'year' was not in their personal concepts of time. It proved necessary to define a 'week' as from the Sabbath to the Sabbath, a season as winter or summer. (Spring and autumn are not clearly delineated in this geographical area.) Seconds and minutes were defined according to the classroom clock, and the speed of the movement of the hands of the clock. A year, defined for the religious pupils as from Rosh Hashanah (New Year) to Rosh Hashanah helped. The non-religious pupils found the concept very difficult. The idea of the span from the summer vacation to the summer vacation helped minimally, as did the idea of from one birthday until the next. The cyclic relationship in time was difficult for all. It became necessary to reduce the concept to the concrete. We played a game in which each pupil took the name of a holiday. Then we made a circle. The two mediators were the year's end and beginning. As we circled around the table in the center of the room, each pupil pointed out as he came to the same spot repeatedly. This did seem to help later when we referred back to it verbally while filling in the circles on page ten.
Following the reading of the instructions, the pupils worked independently on the three problems of page nineteen. Afterwards we discussed the difficulties.
The first problem was obvious in its objective, although many had trouble with the fine distinctions, especially between the second and fourth frames as presented on the page. Only "C" was able to refer to the amount of liquid in the glass. The rest all relied on the bottle alone. This engendered a discussion of searching for all pertinent clues.
The second problem presented no special problems for any of the pupils, all recognizing the situation. Only "B" was unable to relate it to the idea of specific criteria that required analysis. His thinking was good, but improper in the situation. He discussed wind, temperatures and season. It was very difficult for him to accept the clue of the sun shining in the first frame.
The third problem engendered a lively and active discussion of whether the ship was docking or leaving the shore. The pupils themselves provided the reminder of our differences of opinion over the comparison of the kangaroos in the previous lesson!
A very successful lesson enjoyed by all.
(Sample pages follow.)
(Sample pages are copyrighted material. They may not be published in a public format.)
Lesson 8 - Comparisons, page 16
This is the penultimate page of the instrument Comparisons. Together with the final page it is a summation of all the skills learned up to this time. I used the instruments differently, not in the standard order. This page however still served its purpose; the goal of the project being to gain insight into this phenomenon of cognitive development in children with DS. This page helped in the investigation of whether the program effects the learning capabilities of children with DS following cognitive development using the MLE and IE methods.
The exercise requires them to understand commonalties and differences and to be able to provide examples of the items provided.
The introductory discussion included reviewing some of the skills gained in the past four weeks and their application to problem solving techniques. We reviewed flexibility in problem solving and divergent thinking.
The discussion centered for some time on the differences and similarities:
None of the pupils had any idea about mail. It was necessary to give them exact examples, such as a letter versus a package. Still it was obvious that they had no life experience in this area.
Despite all of these difficulties, the pupils clearly understood the principle involved in the comparisons on the page. They provided examples involving responsibilities between themselves and their siblings. In the same vein many examples were regarding the differences in privileges accorded themselves and their siblings.
(Sample page follows.)
(Sample page is copyrighted material. It may not be published in a public format.)