As a teacher of students with
severe disabilities in a self-contained special education classroom, I’m
constantly hunting for opportunities for life skills, community-based and
social skills instruction. Of course, you can create these opportunities in
artificial classroom activities, but the best way to learn them are in genuine,
real-life situations. Last week, an answer to many of my silent prayers for
such opportunities was answered.
It all began when one of my
parents inquired about the 4-H Club at our school. I’m sure many of your
schools have active 4-H clubs, but, if not, I highly encourage you to learn more about 4-H Club. I made a call to the
local 4-H office and spoke with their representative, who works in our county’s
schools (it just so happens we were acquaintances from high school — one of
the benefits of living in a tiny town). When I explained my reason for calling,
he immediately began to show an interest in doing some things for and with my
I was completely overwhelmed and
thrilled about all he had to offer. Here’s
a quick run-down of the things we discussed and are planning:
4-H meetings for my class: The 4-H representative will come into our class
for about 1.5 hours each month to hold meetings. During the meetings, students
will display projects they have been working on for the club and learn about
upcoming projects. They will also get to participate in hands-on science
activities planned by the representative.
in projects: 4-H has six projects, which also can be entered in county competitions.
The projects include a poster contest,
speech contest, arts/crafts, photo contest, baking and recycling.
cooking classes: Our 4-H representative’s supervisor has offered to do
monthly cooking classes with my students at a nearby community office building
equipped with a full kitchen.
Next fall, a garden will be built behind our school that we will be in charge
of managing, with the help of our 4-H representative. We will be allowed to
sell the produce as a class fundraiser. The entire project is grant-funded,
We will be raising six chickens through the 4-H Chick Chain program. Students
will be in charge of feeding and caring for the chickens, which will be shown
and judged at the county fair in September. The chickens are then auctioned
off, and our 4-H club will receive the funds.
opportunity: Our 4-H representative has had a request from the local animal
shelter for a club to volunteer at the shelter (i.e., cleaning kennels, feeding
animals) and he believes my class would be a great fit for the job.
trips: We will be going on trips to a local wildlife sanctuary, poultry
farm and cattle farm.
What’s so great about this list
of opportunities is that they ALL allow my students to practice their life and
social skills and get us out into the community! There may also be times when
we get together with other clubs, giving us that much needed exposure to
Of course, I’m thrilled about my
class’s future in 4-H, but I was equally thrilled to meet others in the field
of education who are passionate about their jobs and excited about enriching
students lives. The 4-H representatives have such a great attitude toward my
students, as well; they have no doubts that my students can participate fully
in their organization and glean a lot from the experience. My students don’t always
get that kind of confidence from people , and it has been very refreshing.
I’d love to hear how your
students participate in clubs. Which ones do you find to be the best fit? Which
ones allow you to practice those ever important life, social, and community