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Student Programming

by Cindy Williams, Coordinator of Student Programs

This semester we’ve had a full house for our numerous student programs. While students attend our programs, we instruct in the areas of the Expanded Core Curriculum (ECC). The ECC goes beyond academic skills and bridges the gap between academics and life skills, giving our students the opportunity to learn skills to lead independent and productive lives. 

We started out the year with our middle school program in September. Our theme was “Solving the Mysteries of Life!” Besides instruction in their individual classes, the students partook in various educational and social activities which included: 

  • Listening to a presentation from one of our students, Edward, and his experience at a Leader Dogs for the Blind summer program.
  • Playing the digital Clue game displayed on a smart board and another game using the app called Frequency Missing which is an interactive and immersive audio game for the visually impaired. 
  • Throughout the week, we worked on strengthening self-advocacy, improving listening and communication skills, and exploring personal strengths. The students introduced themselves and also named and described their visual condition and described helpful accommodations/modifications to better advocate for oneself. Some students wrote an essay for the Lion’s essay contest. 

Our elementary program in October was themed around Halloween and titled “Have a SPOOKtacular Time with the ECC.” During our elementary programs, students are busy in their individualized ECC classes. They also enjoyed learning, playing, and reinforcing their skills in the game of goalball. Goalball is a team sport designed specifically for individuals with a visual impairment. Some members of the Delta Gamma Sorority joined us one evening to create tactile ghost decorations. The students also ventured out for a field trip to the pumpkin patch one late afternoon, and to Choice for swimming one evening.

Our career/teen program took place in November and included our Independent Living Program. This entailed staying in an apartment with roommates, making a grocery list, shopping for groceries, cooking meals (with minimal assistance) and keeping the apartment clean. Some highlights from our program included:

  • Job shadow experiences.
  • Assisting in set up and preparing a potato bake bar for students and staff where they also enjoyed a game of “Turkey Bingo.” 
  • Giving back to the community by volunteering at the Good Samaritan home and being part of their “Treats and Trivia” event.
  • A presentation from the UND’s Disability Support Services where students learned about how to self-advocate for their needs in a higher educational setting.
  • An experience learning and riding Cities Area Transit (the busing system for Grand Forks) which included exploring the bus and practicing using the card and coin slots to pay the fare. The student’s partook in a Scavenger Hunt at Cabela’s and enjoyed lunch at Mike’s Pizza.

Our last program of the semester, our 7-10th grade students ventured to the Metigoshe/Bottineau area where we collaborated with Annie's House in the Bottineau Winter Park to participate in some outdoor fun and adventures during our Winter JAM. Despite the low snow amounts this year, they all had a blast tubing, and laughing as they zoomed down the hill time after time. The students enjoyed creating a group chain numerous times trying hard to hang on to each other’s tubes as they went down the hill. During our adventures, our students received instruction in O&M as they navigated around our lodging at Metigoshe Ministries and took the “magic carpet” up the mountain. They also enjoyed hiking around Metigoshe State Park and checking out a yurt. Social Skills and Self-Determination were enhanced and covered while meeting new people out in the community, ordering at a restaurant and paying for their bill, discussing their visual impairment with their peers and others, and playing Apples to Apples. Vocational skills were improved as they learned about various jobs out in the community and at Annie’s House. They were amazed to learn how snow was made! Independent Living Skills were used while stripping and making the beds, dishing up buffet-style meals, washing dishes, and keeping their accommodations organized with their roommates. Technology skills were used when they used their phones to zoom in on various things including reading their Apples-to-Apples card, researching online and learning or enhancing their use of Air Drop to share videos and pictures of their adventures. Numerous Sensory Efficiency skills were used as students played Christmas charades and showed off their creative and dramatic side. They had fun creating tree ornaments as they scraped and cut old crayons to do so. And of course, Recreation and Leisure was covered during our entire adventure! 

On another note, if your child/student is in need of an overall assessment in skills, consider the ND Expanded Core Curriculum Assessment (NDECC). We have recently updated this assessment and have conducted it on a couple of students this past semester while they attended programming. The student’s IEP Team commented on the various benefits of the assessment and how it can aid in planning goals. The NDECC is a rating scale of concepts and skills in areas related to the Expanded Core Curriculum for students who are blind or visually impaired. Scores for the assessment are determined through direct assessment, review of previous performance, and student/teacher/parent interviews, and are conducted by the teacher who specializes in instruction in the area indicated.

It is a pleasure to serve students during our short-term programs, and our programs serve as an opportunity for students to learn skills in the Expanded Core Curriculum and discover new experiences and independence. 

Upcoming Programs/Events: 

(Note date change in February program and Family Weekend)

January 7 - 11     Elementary Literacy STP (1-5th/6th grade)

Feb. 4 – 9           Middle School/Teen STP (7-12th grade)

Feb. 9 & 10         Goalball Event with SDSBVI joining us

Mar. 3 – 8           Teen STP/Careers (10-12th

Mar. 8 - 9            SD Goalball trip in Aberdeen

April 14 - 18        Middle School STP (6-9th grade)

April 26 - 27        Family Weekend

April 28 – May 2  Elementary STP (1-5th/6th)

If you have any questions regarding our student programs, please reach out to me by emailing ckwillia@nd.gov or calling 701-795-2704.


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