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  • Writer's pictureThe Hambrick Foundation

THF grant will support growth of multi-sensory instruction for special needs students

Multi-sensory instruction will expand at GMS thanks to a THF grant

Dawn Williams is developing real-world applications and hands-on experiences to enhance the curriculum for her students at Glenwood Middle School in Chatham, Illinois.

"My math and science classes are a mix of special needs students experiencing ADHD, autism, trauma history, reading and learning disabilities, physical challenges and cognitive delays." Williams said. "Many of these students could have future vocational careers as mechanics, medical technicians, CNAs, RNs, landscapers, construction workers, etc. Therefore, exposing them to higher-level math and science while filling in gaps in basic skills creates opportunities for future success."

Williams will use funds from a THF grant to expand multi-sensory instructional activities for her students. She plans to expand a garden center and purchase lab materials for teaching about plant and animal cells, genetics and human systems. She will also purchase sensory lights, fidgets and flexible seating to accommodate physical and sensory needs within the classroom and lab activities.

She recently moved her math and science programs for special needs students into a lab, which she said offers greater opportunities to engage in higher-level thinking and problem-solving activities relating to future career options.

"The materials purchased provide hands-on manipulatives and real-world applications for our special needs students to improve access to the regular ed curriculum with sensory accommodations," she said. "The seventh-grade life science materials would add to our classroom garden and aquarium, as well as enhance lessons about plant and animal cells, the human body and genetics. Eighth-grade science lessons include chemical reactions, studies of magnets, rockets, mechanics and STEAM activities."

Williams also hopes to invite community members with relevant experience to serve as guest speakers and build engagement beyond the classroom.

"The overall goal is to provide a safe, engaging, trauma-informed, accessible environment where all students can learn and feel included in lessons and activities that are relevant," Williams wrote in her THF grant application. "The purchased materials will provide students with sensory-friendly science and math classroom environments and experiences."

Williams added success will be measured through IEP goal progress and feedback from parents and students.

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