I supported five students with autism in a general ed science class. All of the students were bright enough to understand the material, but there were some obstacles that got in their way of being focused enough to absorb the information and express their comprehension of the material. For some there were too many distractions from the number of students and level of noise in the classroom during projects. For others, the task of writing notes was overwhelming because of handwriting problems, or the task of reading was jumbled by the challenge of dyslexia. The teacher was fabulous, skilled at capturing their attention with visuals, experiments and short video examples of the concepts she was teaching. Brainpop.com (a wonderful site full of funny video lessons on core curriculum concepts) was integrated into almost every chapter. The teacher also allowed the students to show what they know in whatever way they choose. She had planned creatively about different ways to approach the concept and express understanding of the concept through all the different learning styles and modalities. She had a point sheet for each section that the student could choose which activities they wanted to do in order to earn their grade for the section. These activities ranged from taking notes to creating models and performing experiments. She always left a blank for other ideas that you needed to confirm with her to assign an appropriate number of points. Video Stories were a wonderful way for the students to demonstrate their comprehension of the material in a sophisticated way that they could be proud of rather than nervous about or embarrassed by. With the Video Story, they were able to edit out any mistakes or awkward silences. They were also able to present the information with typed text and innovative technology, presenting something that was often of higher caliber than their peers projects.
Video Stories helped the students show what they know. For example, one of our sections was on density and it hadn’t registered as high on the priority list of my students to remember how to measure density. When I asked them if they wanted to create a Video Story on density for their section project, I had their full attention. They decided they wanted to do a spoof of Bill Nye the Science Guy and conduct an experiment of which is more dense – Coke or Diet Coke. In order for them to act like they knew what they were talking about, they kind of needed to know what they were talking about. I had a captivated audience as I reviewed how to measure density. The students brainstormed and collaborated how they wanted each scene to run. They incorporated their own creative genius, humor, and understanding of the scientific process and density equations. They created a funny, sophisticated, and focused visual lesson on how to measure density. When they presented their Video Story in class it truly changed the perspectives of many of their classmates.