By, Hannah and Kailee
The sixth grade students on Team P in Sinking Spring Intermediate School, recently conducted projects on Autism. This was led by the reading teacher Mrs. Cushatt on the team.
She stated that she chose this topic of Autism because,“Last year our school welcomed a new classroom for students with autism. The classroom happened to be right across the hall from my room. Many students were curious about what was happening in that room and would often see the students in the hallway and recess. I seized the opportunity.” Throughout the interview, we asked what she and her students were doing to help. Mrs. Cushatt answered, “I wanted the students to choose how they would showcase, so I kept the door wide open and welcomed any ideas for projects. The students went above and beyond all expectations. They created apps, websites, board games, kahoot quizzes, educreation videos, iMovies, wrote stories, songs, diaries, grants, and even created tools like stress balls and fidget toys.” We asked if she thinks that the students did a successful job. She informed us that, “I was amazed by their creativity. The students took a great deal of pride in their work, and when they shared with the class, I could see how much their knowledge, understanding, and empathy had grown since the beginning of the school year.” Mrs. Cushatt told us some names of the students that she believes have done a nice job. Here are some of their stories.
One of the first students interviewed was Bella Hons, the creator of the board game “Awetism”. She spells the game this way because she refers to the students as being awesome. We questioned Bella about what her favorite part of the project was. She replied with, “I think my favorite part is the cover because this was the overall idea of the entire project….and was the base of my research when I saw the basic social skills.” But overall she really enjoyed the cover of her board game because it includes the social skills and an inspiring title. A fact she had stated was that the teachers of the autistic kids tried the game and really enjoyed it. The teachers commented, “It was well thought out and was not too advanced for them.” As everyone has room to improve Bella thinks that she would neaten up a few things and go the extra mile. “I could have laminated the cards and the characters.Overall,I think the planning was very strong,” she stated. Bella had a blast doing the project and was happy to partake in this learning experience.
The next student from Team P, is Sam Ketterman. His choice of presenting the project was in a website format. Sam says that his favorite part in the project was, “Building a website for everyone to see.” Sam and his partner in the project (Alexander Puffenberger who moved out of the school district) chose to create a website because, “ me and my friend Alex enjoy making websites and doing code too.” Through the process of coding, this project took about five days. We queried what was all in their website. Sam answered, “We included many slides and a grant for a tool, a survey, and awareness facts.” You can find Sam and Alex’s website at autisma.weebly.com
Our last interview was with Marley Bond and Samantha Neil. These two partners used a tri-fold to represent their app Little Geniuses, which includes step by step drawings on what the game looks like and how to use the game. This game is designed to help kids with math and coloring for fun. They chose to make it on a tri-fold because, “We originally wanted to make the game but we didn't know how to code well. So we just decided to draw step by step which would show how it works,” explained Marley Bond. They say how they had many ideas but they chose to do the game. We asked if they thought the game was easy enough for the autistic students to understand, and they answered with a simple yes. They showed enthusiasm so we asked them why they enjoyed this project. “I liked the whole concept for the autistic kids,” Marley shared. Samantha replied with, “We haven't seen anything like it in the App Store.” The two girls put in many hard working hours which paid off.
All three projects have ended up with a very respectful grade. We may have only chosen these few students, but a majority of the students have completed a successful project. Mrs. Cushatt is very impressed with this year’s work. She is looking forward to next year.