This unit will be geared towards a middle school population of emotionally disturbed and learning disabled students for use in a resource classroom. It will be utilized for a 6 week period by students who have abilities ranging between the fourth and sixth grade levels, yet who are between the ages of twelve and fifteen. Since students who are emotionally disturbed and/or have learning disabilities have traits such as hyperactivity, short attention spans, poor organizational skills, low motivation and little overall success in school, the teacher must take these factors into consideration when developing a unit to meet their needs. After working with special education students in a resource classroom, I have found that clear contrasts, such as the ones contained within the two eras of poetry we will be examining, have made it easier for my students to absorb the material.
One of the major goals of this unit is for the students to become self-sufficient in their work habits and therefore to work independently. In order for special education students to be self-motivated, the material must first be meaningful to them and then capture their interests so they want to think and be involved with mental exploration. This task, I have found, is a difficult one even for my most mature and skilled students. Once the student is motivated to work, my hope is for the student to work somewhat independently, without constant teacher intervention, supervision or approval. Some of my students are not capable of this even on a one-to-one basis. This curriculum will be devised in such a way that the student can follow step-by-step instructions, allowing for self-sufficiency. (This is also necessary considering the time element, the wide age-range and ability level, and the various subjects to be taught in one period.) This can only cause a teacher to ask what will motivate my students to become so excited about school. One answer is a feeling of success about material that is motivating in and of itself.
I hope to motivate students to an awareness of their own ideas and feelings, and to become willing to explore and express these ideas and feelings through a study of Black poetry. This study will take students from black slavery and struggle to black independence and freedom. Students will observe that although people of the past have struggled, they were able to express their thoughts, ideas and feelings without a formal education. Despite their social status, living conditions and general being at odds with society, these people saw value in what they thought and felt. We will look specifically at this expression in the form of poetry.
The lesson plans are designed so the students will feel they can relate to the material and express their innermost thoughts and feelings. Because this is hard to do, television jingles will be looked at in the introductory lessons to poetry. Also, the beats of rap music will be played as a motivating tool to being writing poetry. Audio and visual aids such as pictures, tapes, and (silent) films will provide concrete material for the special education student to refer to. Abstract ideas are particularly difficult for the ED/LD student to absorb since he has difficulties carrying over or connecting previously learned material. As a teacher, I find it necessary and more helpful to use visual aids with most of my lessons. The student can touch, feel, or see the materials and write about them according to your instructions. For example, what is its color? How heavy is it? What else can it be used for? Specific instructions will also be given for beginning and/or ending each poem so that the student does not feel absolutely overwhelmed. I am hoping that these instructions and activities will act as a catalyst for self-motivating my students.