Krystal Guillory, NCLB—a teacher of blind students working in Louisiana’s Lincoln Parish Schools—has set a high braille-reading goal for her elementary-aged students: read 100 braille books this school year.
The schools are participating in the Accelerated Reader program designed to develop reading comprehension skills and foster independent reading. When a student finishes reading a book, they take a short quiz. Based on their score on that quiz, the difficulty of the book, and its length, students are awarded points. If, school-wide, the students accumulate enough points each six weeks, they are rewarded with a party or prize.
“Since the students are already reading for school and wanting to go to the parties,” Guillory said, “we’ve incorporated this into our braille lessons this year.”
In her “Braille Race,” each braille reader is assigned a car tacked on a bulletin board. When a student reaches five points (which could mean 10 early-reader books or fewer books for more advanced students), the student can move his or her car on the board.
“It’s really neat to see how some of our youngest readers are outpacing the older students,” said Domonique Lawless, NCLB, NOMC—a student teacher working with Guillory. “The ones who didn’t used to like to read are enjoying this the most.”
More than adapting a classroom activity, though, Guillory has received buy-in from the school administration for the braille reading program. While only points earned for braille books count in Guillory’s class, those points all count toward the school-wide total. Just as the program has proven results for sighted readers, Guillory has noticed results after just a few months for her blind students.
“Many of the students are reading below level in braille,” Guillory said. “This has motivated them to
read braille and has already shown growth in braille and overall literacy skills.”
Lawless, who will soon graduate with her master’s degree in teaching blind students braille and cane travel from Louisiana Tech, said that she wished that she’d learned braille at a younger age.
“If you think about it, there’s print everywhere,” Lawless said. “But you really have to immerse yourself in braille to get that constant exposure, to really build your skills, and build your speed.”
You can read about other teaching strategies that encourage braille reading here on our blog. If you are interested in advancing your career as a teacher of blind students, we encourage you to contact us at the Professiaonal Development and Research Institute on Blindness at (318) 257-4554 for more information.
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