Students convert lab to fully inclusive classroom

January 1 2006

Graduate students in Vannessa Coonrod's Communication Disorders class (CD 520 - Microcomputer applications for speech-language pathologists) recently transformed the speech-language pathology laboratory into a fully inclusive classroom - a learning environment for children who are unable to use speech to communicate.

The room that has been transformed by the graduate students is room B23 of the College of Education.

"The room was large enough to allow the class to divide into five different groups - each having a separate, but equally important, mission of transforming the room into a fully inclusive classroom environment. The room is designed to allow full inclusion and full educational opportunities for a child unable to use speech to communicate," said Coonrod, assistant professor of communication disorders at ISU. The project focused entirely upon the use of augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) systems in order to allow communication and participation in the classroom activities. System development required students to not only be cognizant of available computer programs and symbols useful for students unable to use speech, but required creativity to allow for the child's smooth transition into all of the classroom's daily activities while providing a suitable communication system.

Five areas were developed in the classroom and represented a typical classroom agenda for a first grade student: welcome time, circle time, math and literacy time, snack and lunch times, and special craft activity time.

"By creating the inclusive classroom as part of my educational experience at ISU, I have a better understanding of the little and big things I can do within my speech room or to do to help the regular classroom teacher," said Kevin Fleetwood. "This could be something as simple as increasing the font on the computer monitor or adding picture cards of the different subject areas that they may need help with."

Students participating in the design were:

Jarod Baker, graduate student, communication disorders (speech-language pathology), Orleans;
Mary Jane Baxter, graduate student, communication disorders (speech-language pathology), Mooresville;
Laura Bullington, graduate student, communication disorders/teaching (speech-language pathology), Terre Haute;
Sarah Creech, graduate student, communication disorders/teaching (speech-language pathology), Terre Haute;
Kathleen Ebert, graduate student, communication disorders/teaching (speech-language pathology), Terre Haute;
Krystal Edwards, graduate student, communication disorders/teaching (speech-language pathology), Terre Haute;
Dawn Farris, graduate student, communication disorders/teaching (speech-language pathology), Center Point;
Kevin Fleetwood, graduate student, communication disorders/teaching (speech-language pathology), Clinton;
Kristin Houghland, graduate student, communication disorders and special education, Edwardsport;
Amberlee Jackson, graduate student, communication disorders/teaching (speech-language pathology), Terre Haute;
Kim Krouse, graduate student, communication disorders/teaching (speech-language pathology), Terre Haute;
Abel Lettiere, graduate student, communication disorders/teaching (speech-language pathology), Linton;
Tiffany McLin, graduate student, communication disorders/teaching (speech-language pathology), Terre Haute;
Sara Miller, graduate student, communication disorders and special education, Greensburg;
Lori Myrick, graduate student, communication disorders/teaching (speech-language pathology), Evansville;
Melissa Robinson, graduate student, communication disorders/teaching (speech-language pathology), Terre Haute;
Amy Smith, graduate student, communication disorders/teaching (speech-language pathology), Fort Branch;
Erin Swing, graduate student, communication disorders/teaching (speech-language pathology), Terre Haute;
Caroline Weinert, graduate student, communication disorders/teaching (speech-language pathology), Bedford;
Ashley Wilson, graduate student, communication disorders/teaching (speech-language pathology), Oakland City;
Kelly Wilson graduate student, communication disorders/teaching (speech-language pathology), Washington; and
Sarah Wolfe, graduate student, communication disorders/teaching (speech-language pathology), Greenfield.

"ISU's communication disorders department has teachers and supervisors who honestly care for the education that both their undergraduate and graduate students get from ISU," Fleetwood added. "As each year progresses, they begin to treat you more like a colleague than a student. This helps to build the confidence and self-esteem needed to succeed in the real world."

Coonrod says that projects such as this are important because speech-language pathologists are relied upon to provide these types of communication systems in classrooms "now more than ever.

"Future trends are toward more inclusion of children with disabilities," she said. "The skills these graduate students displayed will be in high demand by all elementary school systems."

Contact: Vannessa Coonrod, assistant professor, Communication Disorders and Special Education, Indiana State University, (812) 237-2806 or vcoonrod@isugw.indstate.edu

 

 

 

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Students transformed the speech-language pathology laboratory into a fully inclusive classroom.

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