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What's Happening in the School for the Blind

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April 2024

Celebrating a member of the Class of 2024, Asher Morelock. Congratulations!
[Text: Colorado School for the Deaf and the Blind - Graphic: Bulldog - Photo of male student - Text: "Honoring the Class of 2024, Asher Morelock, School for the Blind, Brighton, CO"]

Colorado School for the Deaf and the Blind - Graphic: Bulldog - Photo of male student - Text: "Honoring the Class of 2024, Asher Morelock, School for the Blind, Brighton, CO"
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March 2024

Three students, in the School for the Blind, competed at the Regional Oratorical Contest hosted by Optimist International last week. All students did a great job. Mikayla (right photo) won first place and will advance to the next round! Congratulations, Bulldogs.

Image: left, a female student speaks at a podium with the Academy Optimist Club banner at her right; right, a female speaks at a podium.

All reacti24
 

 left, female student speaks at a podium with the Academy Optimist Club banner at her right; right, female speaks at a podium.
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March 2024

All aboard for the Enchanted Hills Camp in CA! It's Spring Break and this group of five students and one staff member, from the School for the Blind, will spend their time in the blindness skills immersion training. The airlines was fantastic and gave hands on demonstrations of all safety procedures!

top, 5 students and 1 staff member group for a photo in the airport; lower left, 2 students and 1 staff member seated on the plane; lower right, three students seated on the plane.
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March 2024

Seamus, a freshman in the School for the Blind, represented CSDB at the Deafblind Limitless Conference. He participated in the Closing Ceremony as a panelist. The panel was asked thought-provoking questions that centered around Assistive Technology & Education, Instructional Support, as well as Promoting Literacy & Language. Seamus represented the school with all aspects of PRIDE and he mentioned how fun the experience was for him.

Upper, nine people pose for the camera; Lower, four people stand together and smile
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March 2024

Students, in the School for the Blind, just returned from their annual ski trip to Crested Butte, CO with the Adaptive Sports Center (ASC). https://csdb.colorado.gov/crested-butte-ski-trip

Student on a ski bike and student & guide skiing downhill;
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March 2024

Our students, who are Blind/Visually Impaired, experienced a night at Springs Adventure Park recently. The kids enjoyed attractions that include jousting, an obstacle course, and a large variety of trampolines. https://csdb.colorado.gov/dorm-students-at-play
[Images: left, boy jumps on a trampoline; right, boy climbs on pipes.]

left, boy jumps on a trampoline; right, boy climbs on pipes.
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February 2024

CSDB students, in the School for the Blind, just experienced the Southern Colorado Braille Challenge. This 60-second video shares the competition and the fun!
[This video has an audio description and background music.]
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February 2024

Children lit up the stage during the School for the Blind music program, in the Adams auditorium.
Thank you to Julie Harrison for sharing photos.
 
[Collage image: left, girl in a wheelchair smiles and waves with an adult next to her; top right, six students in a band and an adult on the stage; lower right, two children play music while an adult looks on.]

left, girl in a wheelchair smiles and waves with adult next to her; top right, six students in a band and an adult on the stage; lower right, two children play music while an adult looks on.
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February 2024

Three CSDB Students on a stage with the El Paso County Sherriff's Office Honor Guard

 

Three CSDB students, in the School for the Blind, were honored to be asked to sing the National Anthem at the El Paso County State of the Region, this morning. Great job, trio!!

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From the EPC Sheriff's Office:

The El Paso County Sheriff's Office Honor Guard conducted a Presentation of the Colour, alongside students from the Colorado School for the Deaf and Blind- who sang our national anthem at the State of the Region for El Paso County, Colorado.

El Paso County is a wonderful place to work, live, and raise a family- and it is our honor to serve and protect the citizens who call it home.

Thank you to the Colorado Springs Chamber & EDC for hosting a great event- and to all of the community members and business owners who attended.

We love where we live and serve.

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January 2024

Blind skiers on the hill? Yep, through the great work of Foresight Ski Guides, some CSDB students, in the School for the Blind, experienced skiing, last week. One of the boys, who is blind, had his father along. At the end of the trip, the boy piped up, "I learned to ski! I can do a sport with my dad now." What a great impact!

Photos courtesy of Cara Johnson, School for the Blind School Psychologist (Thanks Cara!)

 

[Image: collage - upper left boy and 2 adults wearing ski vests, chat inside; top right, boy and male ski guide on the slopes for instruction; lower left, girls wearing goggles, a ski vest and gloves poses inside; lower right, a girl and a ski guide face each other using the snow plow while outside on the slope.]

upper left boy and 2 adults wearing ski vests, chat inside; top right, boy and male ski guide on the slopes for instruction; lower left, girls wearing goggles, a ski vest and gloves poses inside; lower right, a girl and a ski guide face each other using the snow plow while outside on the slope.
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December 2023

This semester, School for the Blind students created their class coffee cart. Students sell coffee and other drinks to staff in the building and are responsible for collecting money and assisting with making the drinks.
[Image: Cart with the cash register, brailler, coffee cups, and more!]

Cart with cash register, brailler, coffee cups and more
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December 2023

We hear a storm is coming our way this evening, into tomorrow. A funny tradition for CSDB is wearing pajamas inside out or backwards as a way to encourage lots of beautiful snow to fall. Does it work? Who knows! But it's fun and makes everyone laugh.
In this photo, the School for the Blind staff recently had a pajama day at work. Not inside out or backwards, but fun! Thank you to Robin Teuting for this photo.
[Image: 13 staff members pose for the photo while in PJs.]

13 staff members pose for the photo while in PJs.
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November 2023

The young scientists in the CSDB Adams Building have been busy this first quarter with a multitude of investigations, experiments, and observations. Students incorporated literacy by writing a song, a rap, or a poem about renewable resources and the importance they have for sustaining life. Below is one of the poems:

Renewable Resources

Renewable resources, the resources of our Earth.
We need them from our birth.
Rain showers give us flowers,
But it also gives us powers.
Sun rays hit uneven ground,
Creating wind all around.
If the sun grows old, 
It turns red and is enough to wake the dead. 

 

The scientists have also used their understanding of the germination process and planted sunflower seeds and/or pumpkin seeds. They have tended to them and watched them sprout. Additionally, experiments and observations are in full swing. They’ve implemented the scientific method and are currently in the data collection phase. Soon they will be able to answer their questions, can a plant grow with only a disco ball for light? And, which will affect the penny more, soda or toothpaste?

The image below is from a field trip that the Adams scientists went on. They were invited to participate in the National Federation for the Blind of Colorado State Convention in Denver. The focus for the day was Science and Health and Wellness. The young scientists participated in exploring tactile art and dry ice experiments. They learned a valuable lesson that science can sometimes be unpredictable, but even when an experiment does not go as planned, they learn and observe and can use those observations to try again. 

 

Written by Shannon Lovern, School for the Blind Science TVI

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November 2023

Thanks to the Colorado Springs Police Department for sharing the time of Officer Baker with our School for the Blind elementary students! Students are in the Career Education class.
[Images: left, Officer Baker with six students and a teacher inside the classroom; right, Officer Baker along with six students and a teacher stand in front of a patrol car.]

Officer Baker with six students and a teacher inside the classroom

Officer Baker along with six students and a teacher stand in front of a patrol car.
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November 2023

The young scientists in the CSDB Adams Building have been busy this first quarter with a multitude of investigations, experiments, and observations. https://csdb.colorado.gov/adams-building-scientists

[Image: Student touching bubbles created from dry ice, water, and dish soap. ] 

Student touching a bubble created from dry ice, water and dish soap
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October 2023

top left, sun on black felt board and sun on lightbox; top right, moon on black felt board "The moon is in the sky"; lower left, "BEFORE" felt board; lower right, "Who, What do, Where, How" poster board

The Adams Elementary team is extremely passionate about promoting inclusivity, unity, and equity among all of the K-5th-grade students. We model what that looks like in hopes of students mirroring that behavior as well. To support that philosophy, we also advocated to have 1 co-taught content class with our elementary special education program. Aside from having our entire elementary program together any chance we get, we have now been co-teaching literacy every day (Grace Gundel & Liz Arnquist) and co-teaching math every day (Jerred Sonneborn & Liz Arnquist). However, this article is about the co-taught literacy class.

This class was created around the Comprehensive Emergent Literacy Model. We have been co-teaching this class for 3 years now and it has evolved and taken many forms over the years. However, this year, we are really excited to make literacy accessible for all students. The combination of special education and blind-specific teaching strategies being implemented is giving students access to literacy in a way that is totally accommodating to the student’s needs. Accessible literacy doesn’t only benefit the students in our special education program.

Accessible literacy is where it starts. Giving students opportunities to derive meaning and information using their hands is where it begins. Teaching students how to use their residual vision to derive meaning from the world around them is where it begins. That is how we make literacy accessible to students. All children have the right to read and love reading. It’s our job and responsibility to present it on a level that is accessible to all students in the way that they need it.

Picture Description (top left): A CVI-friendly foam picture of the sun is velcroed to a black felt tri-board. The sun is yellow and the background is red. To the right of that picture is a see-through picture of the sun velcroed to a homemade hand-held lightbox (made by Mr. Jerred, helping our ideas come to life!) with two handles on either side. In front of both of those versions of the sun is a recordable button with a puck light tactile symbol velcroed to the top. These are all versions of the word ‘sun’ to be used during the pre[1]teaching phase of our literacy lessons. Picture Description (top right): A homemade felt book has a CVI-friendly foam picture of the moon. The moon is white on a red background. The sentence reads underneath, ‘The moon is in the sky.’ Above the adapted page of the story is the actual page in the story that has been adapted for the students to access.

Written by Grace Gundel and Liz Arnquist, CSDB School for the Blind Teachers of the Visually Impaired

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October 2023

Student self-assessment is an integral part of the learning process and a skill that will help students continue learning after they graduate. Based on each student’s self-assessment, they can identify if they need help with part of an assignment. As the teacher, I can also use this data to plan follow-up or extension lessons. https://csdb.colorado.gov/self-assessment-in-the-english...

Written by Emma Avery, Secondary Language Arts TVI, School for the Blind

 

Chart with numbers 0-4, each with a tactile marker. Each number has a level of understanding statement from 0-not learned to 4-I know this.
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September 2023

Math adaptation tools

The most entertaining aspect of working in the vision field and special education is utilizing my creative traits. One of the privileges of working at CSDB is the access I have to the abundance of adapted math tools that I can provide to my students. However, there are times when I must dive deeper into the adaptation of tools to accommodate the needs of students.

Recently, I have taken a step back to observe what needs must be met to obtain student motivation, accessibility, success, and understanding. I look for the gaps and struggles a student may have using a tool and think how can I make this more accessible for them? For this to come to light, I first focus on the motivation piece. What will draw a student to enjoy this tool but also provide the input needed to understand the topic presented? What can I do to make this tool stimulating enough to keep the student engaged but also understand its purpose? When those questions are answered, I then proceed to create a tool that is adapted to their physical needs. Finally, I figured out what I needed to create for the content to make sense to the students and appropriate contrast for the students using the tool which lead to success.

The most recent tools that I have adapted/created pertain to one-to-one correspondence, place value, and addition/subtraction as seen in the photo.

Tool 1 (far back) is a universal counter. This tool allows the student to manipulate the counters with control and emphasizes the concept of sliding to the right for addition and left for subtraction like on a number line as well as organization for 1:1 correspondence. The buttons are voice recorders where I will record “plus one” and “minus one” or whatever vocabulary I want to target that day. The buttons serve as the motivation piece for the student who uses this tool. Each counter is also a different texture for both tactile stimulation and to emphasize that each number is different in value. An example of how this tool is used is the student is given an operation and a number (+2). They will slide one counter at a time to the right and hit the button each time being reinforced with the language of “plus one” or “one more.” This tool can be used as well for

Tool 2 (middle) is a place value base-10 block holder. Each block type has designated slots that will only allow the designated block to fit in the slot. Each place value is color-coordinated to the assigned clock to provide the student with that visual aid. What inspired this creation is that a student loves to stand the blocks upright but does not have the fine motor control to do so. The slots allow for the student to set the blocks up in their desired way and stay organized.

Tool 3 (front) is a number line with LEGOs at each number on the line with a LEGO person as a placeholder. This tool is used for counting, addition and subtraction, and rounding. The idea behind this tool is to make a fun and play-based twist on a typical number line, a tool that I readily use especially with our younger students. This also puts an emphasis on fine motor skills.

Written by Jerred Sonneborn, CSDB School for the Blind TVI

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September 2023

Concrete Coyote Concrete Couch hosted our School for the Blind high school students, once again.

Students toured the property, learned about different varieties of wood (smelled pine and cedar to see if they could distinguish the type of wood) and explored the tactile kiosk made by our former CSDB students. Then, this group created more tactile tiles out of clay to add to the kiosk. They also learned to use tools such as electric screwdrivers, screws, and drills to put together wooden sculptures they created.

What a great experience for our students! Thank you, Concrete Couch!

Thanks to Jennifer Holt, CSDB School for the Blind TVI, for sharing the photos and story

upper left, a student uses a power drill into a circle of wood while being supervised; lower left, a student holds a block of wood while an adult drills; right, four tiles with tactile patterns, created by students
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June 2023

Awesome video on the topic of Blind Awareness, created by the CSDB Media Production team.

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May 2023

CSDB students, who are blind/visually impaired, visited the Bear Creek Nature Center VIP Trail, in El Paso County, CO, to test out the new audio signage, using a Pen Friend. Overall, students said the audio signage made the trail 100% better, and then they offered a few suggestions that the trail guide recorded. Such a great experience for our students to use an accessible trail and advocate for themselves!

Bear Creek Nature Center & Fountain Creek Nature Center El Paso County, Colorado

[top left and center, students walk along a trail using their canes; top right, students and staff follow a rope to the signage; lower left and center, students use a Pen Friend scan the signage and activate the voice; lower right, male student listens to his Pen Friend, text "Bear Creek Nature Center VIP Trail]

Bear Creek Nature Center Trail 2023
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May 2023

Over the past 8 weeks, students in the school for the blind have been participating in an afterschool archery program. Students have learned the 11 steps to archery success through the National Archery In the Schools (NASP) program. Students learned about archery safety, range setup, and how to shoot a compound bow.

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