| A Is for Aviator
HOW IT WORKS
As an introduction to A Is for
Aviator, community helper books are used for guided reading.
A KWL model helps determine the students’ prior knowledge of
aviators/pilots, and the completed charts are prominently
displayed in the classroom. An ongoing word wall is
developed with vocabulary words on the topic (i.e.,
scientist, experiment, spacecraft, control tower, air
traffic controller, and compass). The students create their
own creative/artistic models of astronauts and pilots.
This study began while the space shuttle
Columbia was in flight. Students discussed how the
astronauts/scientists on board conducted scientific
experiments and the nature of these activities during space
flight. They learned basic research skills via daily
newspapers, National Geographic magazines, and television
coverage of the flight. Models of the shuttle were created
to emphasize the different components of the spacecraft such
as booster rockets, heat shields, computers, etc., and the
importance of each part in relation to the astronaut’s
scientific responsibilities. During the orienteering
lessons, the children learned primary directions using a
“hands-on” approach. They walked around the classroom and
the block equipped with their own functioning professional
compasses. They truly felt like junior aviators, and became
painfully aware of current events when the Columbia
exploded. Interactive writing was used to record their
thoughts and feelings, and they also drew pictures. These
pictures and a class letter were sent to the families of the
fallen astronauts. Individual books for each child on
astronauts and pilots were created with the use of a
computer, utilizing scientific vocabulary and concepts. The
students read and illustrated each page of their spirally
bound teacher-created books.
Ten 6- to 8-year-old special education students with a
variety of handicapping conditions and readiness to first
grade levels actively participated. This program can easily
be adapted for older special education students and a
lower-grade general education population.
Donna Rose McNamara has taught special education students in
New York City for 14 years and has a master’s degree in deaf
education. She received an IMPACT II Adaptor Grant in 2002.
This is her first year conducting this program. Two
paraprofessionals and NYU student Kristen Cappadona
WHAT YOU NEED
Compasses, art supplies, and books on maps, astronauts,
pilots, airports, and planes are useful. Newspapers,
magazines, a globe, and United States and world maps are
vital visual information sources.
The class experienced a wealth of meaningful knowledge and
took great pride in their work. They were exposed to
scientific concepts and vocabulary, current events, map
skills, literary selections, and creative art experiences.
After the compass study, they made the connection of the
importance of scientific precision in flight. Their newly
gained knowledge also enabled them to become aware of the
“distinctiveness” of aviators and to communicate with each
other in a more meaningful way.