Sssssshhhhhhhhhhhh – quiet! Something HUGE is happening at ILC!

By Dr. Shari Rosen

On April 8th when the children in our full-time program, the Innovative Learning Center, returned from Spring Break, they arrived at ELG and into a time capsule that took them far into the past, to the age when dinosaurs roamed the earth. Children are being assigned special roles, depending on the group they’re in. For example, our youngest children’s room is now “The Hatchery”, and our Teen and Life Skills Program youth will be our excavators. We are using a very hands-on or experiential approach to learning, and nearly all of the learning content this month will pertain to the prehistoric era.

ILC's Time Capsule. The gateway to our theme-based learning month.

ILC’s Time Capsule. The gateway to our theme-based learning month.

There is a good deal of research supporting experience-based learning, especially for those with significant learning differences. They are far likely to retain, use and generalize new information that is meaningful and motivating to them. Students with significant learning disabilities learn best through:

  • Playing
  • Building
  • Pretending/acting out what they saw, heard, touched
  • Drama, art, movement/music
Digging for dinosaur bones!

Digging for dinosaur bones!

The motivation for implementing this method comes from my research on the Lab School in the Washington, DC area of the US. In her book, “Live it, Learn it: The Academic Club Teaching Methodology”, Sally Rogers further explains how experiential programs:

  • Help students focus
  • Set clear boundaries
  • Require total involvement
  • Don’t need to rely on using lots of language
  • Learn material in a unintimidating way
  • Communicate content in ways that promote long-term retention
  • Are inclusive of every student – have membership
  • Keep students engaged
Experiential learning motivates children to learn better

Experiential learning motivates children to learn better.

This theme will last about 6 weeks and will culminate in a large display of science and art projects, a slide show detailing the adventure, and a live performance led by our drama therapist, in conjunction with the program staff.

Finding fossils and working on fine-motor skills

Finding fossils and working on fine-motor skills

Not only is this exciting for the students, but also for the entire team at ELG, as they are all involved. Our program leaders, assistants and specialists all worked together to plan and execute an amazing prehistoric experience. We are so motivated and full of so many ideas on how to incorporate our children’s goals into theme-related activities. A truly cohesive bond is taking place among the staff as they join forces to embrace this new educational approach.

Our youngest group learns about volcanoes

Our youngest group learns about volcanoes.

Stop by for a visit, you may not recognize the place!