Thinking Routines Make Learning Visible in the Special Education classroom
A Digital Picture of Practice by Agency by Design 2017-2018 Teacher Fellow Stephanie Taymuree
"Implementing the Agency by Design Thinking Routines is simply good teaching practice...for all students, but especially for students with intellectual disabilities."
Stephanie Taymuree is a Special Education Teacher in 3rd, 4th, and 5th grades in the T.A.C.L.E. Program at Redwood Heights Elementary School in Oakland. The T.A.C.L.E. program (Technology & Augmentative Communication for Learning Enhancement) is structured to teach children with Complex Communication Needs and/or Severe Speech and Physical Impairment.
Over the course of her Agency by Design Oakland fellowship year, Stephanie worked with Agency by Design thinking routines to explore human bodies and hands-on tools. First, using the Parts, Purposes, and Complexities thinking routine students made their learning visible through diagrams of the human body. Using "Imagine If..." students then made their own robot creations, which combined thinking about parts and purposes with creative brainstorming.
Over the course of implementing these routines in the classroom, Stephanie noticed a shift. She describes seeing an "increased curiosity in how things work," a pattern of "persisting with difficult tasks and requesting help when needed rather than abandoning the task," and "increased agency by insistence upon adequate time for exploration and time for working independently ('I can do it myself!')"
"Students learn best when provided with hands-on experiences and opportunities to problem-solve through 'productive struggle.' Maker-centered learning, facilitated by an 'intuitive adult communication partner,' allows children with sensory and communication deficits the opportunity for cognitive and communicative growth to optimize their learning potential."
Stephanie Taymuree was named Alameda County Teacher of the year in 2017. She is the special education teacher of the 3-5th grade T.A.C.L.E. program at Redwood Heights School. The T.A.C.L.E. program (Technology & Augmentative Communication for Learning Enhancement) is structured to teach children with Complex Communication Needs and/or Severe Speech and Physical Impairment. Stephanie grew up and attended school in Altadena, CA and attended Holy Names University in Oakland with a major in Speech Pathology and a minor in Music (Vocal Performance); followed by a Masters of Science degree in speech pathology from Tulane University in New Orleans. She is married and has four adult children and five grandchildren!