HOW IT WORKS
Project Friend teaches values to both students
with disabilities and their non-disabled peers. They learn to appreciate friendship,
tolerance, and patience. Students integrate language arts and
technology skills by using the computer to create original literacy and
art projects related to friendship. It also increases the social skills
of the special education students by using their non-disabled peers as
role models. They also use a digital and video camera to demonstrate
The program is implemented in the classroom in several settings. The students work in
their second grade classroom and in the school library. Both groups of students work together
in the computer lab for several weeks during the integration program for special projects.
Students at the general education school receive sensitivity lessons
prior to meeting the students with disabilities. The students also
contact each other weekly via e-mail and participate in read-aloud and
“book buddy” sessions in which they hear and read relevant stories.
They put their responses on the computer, create a book on friendship
using the KidPix program, and create a “friendship mural”
using the digital camera to take photos of each other as they work together.
Each student creates a paper square for a Friendship Quilt. They
respond to the question “What is a friend?” and illustrate their response
using KidPix. The students then do a performance, using sign
language and singing songs about friendship, with their computer-created Friendship Mural as
scenery. The program ends with a Celebration of Friendship party where students videotape
vignettes of reactions and feelings about Project Friend.
There are 35 students participating in the program. The students meet in the computer lab
once a week. The special education students need assistance in accessing the computer
through adaptations and adult assistance. Students have Individualized Education Programs
(I.E.P.) with computer access goals. This program can be adapted for older
students as well as elementary level students. Students can be
grouped in pairs and can work cooperatively on this project.
Susan Bellack has been teaching for fifteen years and has dual
certification in general and special education. She works in the library
at P.S. 811Q and does language art lessons. During the past five
years, she has been providing Sensitivity workshops for the general
education students and Inclusion Support workshops for participating
staff. The program uses the support of the computer teacher and
second grade teacher from the general education school, the library
cluster teacher, one special education teacher, and paraprofessionals
assigned to the special education students.
WHAT YOU NEED
A classroom with computers or a computer lab is needed for the
program, as is access to the Internet, a digital camera, KidPix
software, lesson plans, tapes, and various books.
Project Friend addresses one of the most important issues in our
society today. It serves as a values- and character-education program
for students with disabilities and their non-disabled peers. It addresses
tolerance, patience, and friendship towards those who may seem
different. It provides special education students an opportunity to
interact with their general education peers, which helps increase their
communication skills. It teaches students with disabilities appropriate
social behaviors by using their nondisabled peers as role models. It
also teaches general education students to better understand
and accept people with disabilities.