Just because you can’t see, doesn’t mean you can’t read. Students learned that as they were introduced to braille during reading month. Dix Street Social Worker, Michael Pavona (Mr. Michael, as the kids call him) provided a “Braille Experience” during March which is both #ReadingMonth and National Disabilities Awareness Month, and taught kids how to read braille. Pavona contacted the county teacher consultant for the visually impaired at the Allegan Area Educational Service Agency (AAESA) who helped him develop a lesson and provided supplies for the students to have this experience. “We discussed how we learn to read with our eyes and how we would read without our eyes through our sense of touch and pattern recognition,” he explains.
Students explored braille through alphabet blocks, short stories, academic texts, months of the year and numbers. “We highlighted the fact that each room in the school has braille numbers and the restrooms also offer braille,” he adds.
They had a fun pop quiz using half an egg carton and ping-pong balls to display letters and numbers in a braille format and the students had to guess the answer using a key. Students, and staff alike, truly enjoyed the experience. “I was a bit surprised at how much the students not only enjoyed this lesson, but the conversations about it continued after the lesson in classrooms and positive comments were made to me throughout the week,” Pavona says.