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Showcasing Andria Batcheller and "Press Passes"

"Including regular education students in a fun project is good for public relations and makes my special education students feel more at ease about coming and going to my resource room," Andria Batcheller told Education World.

With that in mind, Batcheller, a resource and methods teacher at Hogan Cedars Elementary School in Gresham, Oregon, invited two regular education classmates to partner with two of her special education students to photograph Special Olympics Day activities at the school. She chose those particular regular education students because they followed directions well, were good role models, and were well liked by their classmates.

Batcheller's four photographers had special "press passes" that allowed them to move among events. The fourth graders documented the day in pictures, used computer software to create a slide show, and then narrated the show during a school-wide assembly. "The students worked together, taking turns shooting photos of each of the 12 students on our Special Olympics team, as well as taking pictures of a list of other things, such as the parade, a classic police car, the band, and more," recalled Batcheller. "As each picture was taken, students checked the item off their list and took turns writing a quick sentence about the picture."

In addition to their digital photos, the photographers took photos with an instant camera and gave each participant a commemorative picture to share with his or her family. Although not all the students in Batcheller's caseload of 45 qualified for the Special Olympics, those who did participate loved having their photos taken and seeing themselves featured at an assembly.

"I don't know if this activity increased the students' interest in photography as a career, but it increased the popularity of being in special education," Batcheller explained. "Now, students often ask if they can come and spend time in my room. As a result, my students are allowed to bring friends in during recess for silent reading or to play games."

The parents of the general education students who took part told Batcheller that they felt their children had a very positive experience during the Special Olympics project. The best feedback the photographers could have received came in the form of cheers when their presentation was unveiled during the final assembly.

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If you're a teacher who has completed an interesting or unusual activity with your class -- or if you know of a teacher who has -- please let us know about it. E-mail a brief description of the activity, along with your contact information, to [email protected]

Article by Cara Bafile
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