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Learning Beyond The Classroom For Kids With Special Needs

Designed by a teacher and a therapeutic recreation specialist, the multi-week lesson plan kit accompanies “A Day in Pittsburgh,” a video tour of one of America’s most popular accessible cities.

The Background

Recognizing that not everyone with a developmental disability has had the opportunity to learn firsthand the benefits of travel, Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist Debra Shumard saw there was a definite need for engaging videos, classroom kits and other products for teens with cognitive disabilities in the transition age group. Combining her knowledge of travel for people with special needs and an understanding of the importance of community integration for them, she and her team at Beyond Our Boundaries launched a video tour accompanied by a multi-week lesson plan kit called “Learning Beyond the Classroom: A Day in Pittsburgh.”

The Experience

Shumard poured her imagination and experience into developing “A Day in Pittsburgh,” a video tour, which is a 30-minute documentary featuring Bob, a young man with developmental disabilities who shares the sights of the “Melting Pot” city with his viewers. For example, Bob treats those who watch the video to stunning views from the top of the incline and a colorful Pittsburgh skyline at night, and later he and his friends set sail aboard the Gateway Clipper. Students in SPED classrooms can talk about the magic of Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood, laugh, and learn at the Carnegie Science Center, watch an expert chef create mouthwatering sandwiches at Primanti Brothers and enjoy friendly conversations with shop owners and souvenir vendors in the Strip District. To join Bob on his adventures, watch here https://youtu.be/GsR1aMIh7f0.

More Details

The lesson plan kit is designed for teachers of students with special needs, using recreation to help develop life skills that can be applied beyond the classroom. Lesson plans that accompany the video were created collaboratively between Shumard and intervention specialist Molly Weisel. “Learning Beyond the Classroom: A Day in Pittsburgh” allows students to engage in lessons in history, math, English, and more, while watching Bob and his friends participate in fun and accessible activities throughout Pittsburgh. To watch a video of Weisel explaining her background and why she believes the lesson plan kit belongs in special needs classrooms, visit:

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    Learning Beyond The …

    by Carolyn Garisek Time to read this article: 5 min
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