Students at Premm Learning Center were recently able to take part in a multi-phase fan club project with their peers, which targeted the use of their communication skills. Speech-Language Pathologist Jessica Fox created this project utilizing leading-edge technology. This made it possible for her students who are both cognitively impaired and suffer from multiple physical handicaps to independently access technology and therefore participate in this activity. Premm Learning Center is an Eastern Suffolk BOCES school that provides special education services to students with special needs.
The technology tracks the user’s eye movements across the monitor, allowing their eyes to act as a mouse and make selections. Fox used a specially-designed software program and reviewed user data to determine which celebrity character each of her students favored the most. Next, she helped her students pen their own fan letters using cloze phrases and picture symbols.
Cloze statements are familiar phrases where a word is omitted so that students can fill in the blank. In this case, Fox’s students used technology to complete the phrases with picture symbols. Letters were stuffed into envelopes and addressed with assistance from staff. To date, Fox’s class has received autographed photos from Mickey Mouse, Tim Allen (Buzz Lightyear), Robert Downey, Jr. (Ironman), and Dwayne Johnson (Mauii from Moana).
Fox also included a cover letter with each piece of fan mail so recipients could understand the scope of this school project. “This exercise helped my students learn and develop better communication skills, as well as make connections with classmates,” said Fox.