Division on Visual Impairments

VIDBEQ 62(2) Spring 2017

A quarterly newsletter from the Council for Exceptional Children's Division on Visual Impairments containing practitioner tips for Teachers of Students with Visual Impairments, Certified Orientation and Mobility Specialists, and other professionals.

Issue link: http://dvi.uberflip.com/i/827904

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Page 27 of 39

VIDBE-Q Volume 62 Issue 2 Concrete Experiences using Manipulatives and Realia Using realia (objects and materials from everyday life used as teaching aids) is an excellent way to support ELLs with visual impairments. Realia is the physical or concrete object or a close approximation that will help students build their background knowledge. While an ELL might learn about bugles by looking at a picture of one a Civil War soldier is holding, an ELL with a visual impairment needs something less abstract. The actual object is best, but a model can be used so students can physically manipulate and explore the construct being introduced. Ideally, this model will have as many similarities to the actual object as possible - including size and scale. However, the most important qualities are those that are key to the complete concept of what is being represented (Bentzen & Marston, 2010). For example, a toy bugle that is metal and hollow speaks volumes more about the original object compared to one that is plastic and solid. Models with qualities that differ from the real thing can be used, but be sure to discuss which attributes are inconsistent. A real bugle, for example, has a mouthpiece that can be used to perform music and is much larger than the 2- inch model on your desk. Conroy (2005) supports learning where students use all of their senses. Subsequently, listening to a recording of a bugle helps to solidify its purpose as an instrument and opens the door for discussion about how the soldiers used the bugle for not only entertainment but communication. Conroy notes that "the use of realia involves advanced planning by the teacher to identify and gather the objects to be used during the lesson" (p. 104). Accompanying teaching of vocabulary with concrete experiences helps ELLs with visual impairments comprehend and retain information. Brawand and Johnson (2016) posit that teachers can start with real objects, and in many cases, transition to models, then finally two dimensional representations. They note "it is necessary to teach students specific strategies for working with graphics" in order to "assist the students in building a greater understanding of visual mathematical concepts that otherwise would be misunderstood" (Brawand & Johnson, 2016, para. 2). Additionally, the use of tactile graphics and manipulatives can provide children with visual impairments 28

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