How fast is “fast?” A Teacher Innovation Grant Story

It’s a question special education teachers at Hilburn Academy have to answer every year. How do you teach elementary school students with disabilities the concept of “fast?”

The challenge is that for many students with disabilities, going fast is a secondary experience. Some students lack muscle skills to be able to run down a track, while others face significant cognitive impairment. For most, “fast” is something they see, but rarely do they experience the sensation first hand.

That’s when Hilburn teacher Amanda Hummel got an idea. “What if her students could go fast and maybe have a little fun in the process?” She partnered with a few other teachers at Hilburn and submitted an application for a Teacher Innovation Grant to WakeEd. Hummel wanted to buy special swings for students with disabilities, ones that would be around for a long time and truly change learning for her students. WakeEd funded the $3,000 grant allowing the group of teachers to receive matching funds from several other community organizations.

The swings have solid bucket seats that support the kids\’ bodies and a special harness that keeps them upright. When students get strapped in, the swings become a learning experience. Fast, Slow, High, Low – they are no longer just concepts. They are realities.
Students who are nonverbal suddenly become verbal, squealing with delight as the swings move up and down. They are learning concepts, but they are also just having fun. For once, they get to be a kid.
Click the video below to see the students on the swings and hear from Amanda Hummel.

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