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Volume 3 Number 1

Harry & Rosemary Wong say, "All effective schools have a culture and it is the information one gets from a culture that sends a message to the students that they will be productive and successful." This month the Wongs offer more examples of successful school and classroom management...
Effective Teaching by Harry & Rosemary Wong
Promoting Learning by Marv Marshall
4 Blocks by Cheryl Sigmon
Ask the School Psychologist by Beth Bruno
Online Classrooms by Leslie Bowman
The Eclectic Teacher by Ginny Hoover
The Busy Educator's Monthly Five (5 Sites for Busy Educators) by Marjan Glavac
Around the Block by Cheryl Ristow
Ask the Literacy Teacher by Leigh Hall
The Visually Impaired Child
Teaching Is...
Avoiding the 'Stares' When Intellectually Challenging Disadvantaged Students: Partnership Lessons from the HOTS Program
Why Use an Interactive Whiteboard?
A Bakerís Dozen Reasons!
The Effects Of Diet
Bully Advice For Kids
Teaching Gayle to Read (Part 2)
Both Sides Now in Gifted Education
What Are We Aiming At--What Do We Really Want To Aim At?
Teaching Graph from the Grassroots
Why Teachers Need Tenure
A Different Perspective to the Holidays
A Lesson Learned
Follow The Wonder
The Lighter Side of Teaching
Handy Teacher Recipes
Classroom Crafts
Help Wanted - Teaching Jobs
New in the Lesson Bank
Upcoming Ed Conferences
Letters to the Editor
Chatboard Poll
eIditarod 2002
Planetary Society Protests Stop to Near-Earth Object Observations
Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching
7th Annual Multidisciplinary Symposium on Breast Disease
Arab American Students in Public Schools
School Bus Subsidies for Field Trip to 2002 Tour De Sol
Gazette Home Delivery:

About Dave Melanson...
Dave Melanson is located in Montreal Canada. He has four years experience presenting seminars and sensitization training to elementary schoolteachers on mainstreaming and integrating visually impaired and blind children into the regular classroom. During the past 2 years he has begun to branch outside of the Montreal area and is now covering other Canadian Provinces as well as the U.S. When giving seminars Dave brings with him a briefcase of 10 pairs of simulator glasses, each allowing the wearer to experience a different type of visual impairment.

Dave will provide a tape of a previous seminar to any school district interested in booking a presentation in order to demonstrate the topics he covers with regard to integration and mainstreaming a sight impaired or blind child.

You may contact Dave for more information by e-mail at or by telephone: 514 7683264. Dave can also be found in the Teachers.Net chatroom many evenings during the week, logged on as Dave/Montreal.

Special Ed Chatboard...
Teachers.Net has two resources dedicated exclusively to Special Ed teachers - the Special Ed Chatboard, and the Special Ed Mailring. Join a community of Special Ed teachers and mentors from around the world, and help make your start in teaching effortless and painless! The Teachers.Net community specializes in teacher peer support, bookmark the Special Ed Chatboard and join the Special Ed Mailring and start your career off on the right foot.
ASL/Sign Mailring...
Join the Teachers.Net ASL/Sign Language Mailring! The ASL/Sign Mailring is part of the Teachers.Net Language Center, and provides teachers of mainstream as well as special needs students a place to discuss using and teaching American Sign Language and other sign languages in the classroom. Subscribe today at the Teachers.Net Mailring Center.
The Visually Impaired Child
by Dave Melanson
Helping Sight Impaired Students Within the Social Structure of the Classroom
At the beginning of the school year, the students in your classroom are often forming new friendships and beginning to relate to each other. As we are all aware, children can often be very judgmental of each other in terms of who is "cool" and who is not. Often the children will base their judgments on such things as the clothes classmates wear, how competitive they are in phys ed, and whether they are physically challenged in any way.

This is one of the reasons why sight impaired or blind children often try not to look different than the other children. One of the most common problems I have heard teachers tell me is that many sight impaired children do not want to use their adaptive aids in the classroom. If they have special reading glasses or magnifiers they often do not want to use them in front of their classmates for fear of standing out and looking different.

It is important that you as their teacher encourage the students to use their adaptive aids as this is what allows them to be on a more equal path with the rest of the class. You as their teacher may want to try having an open discussion with your students about "differences," not talking specifically about your sight impaired student but rather about differences in general, pointing out to your students that every single one of them in your classroom has different qualities and that everyone cannot be equally good in all of the tasks that they perform.

You will often be able to detect any signs of intolerance about differences by some students and be able to help put them in check. There are many ways to put positive pressure on these students to stop being intolerant. For example, if you detect unfair treatment of the sight impaired, or any other child in your class, you could invite the children displaying the unfair treatment to participate in acting out situations (role playing) in which THEY are the physically challenged students being treated unfairly. In this way they have the opportunity to experience how it feels to be treated unfairly. This might help them develop empathy for the challenges experienced by others. When you notice them being helpful afterward, be sure to acknowledge that appropriate behavior with a smile, a pat on the back, a comment showing your appreciation.

Peace Pals Pave the Way to Tolerance

Here in Montreal Pierre Eliot Trudeau School has a new program for students. Peace Pals is open to senior students (grades 5 and 6). This program is designed to encourage students of the school to become actively involved in the well being of their school community. At the beginning of the school year students are asked to write and submit a letter stating their interest in becoming a Peace Pal. A limited group of students are chosen for the program. These students then go through a training program which lasts until the middle of November. They learn how to be tolerant and how to negotiate and, most importantly, how to be fair.

In the middle of November the school has an assembly in the gym where the certificates are handed out to the students who have successfully passed the Peace Pal program. They are then given orange vests to wear at school so that they are easily identified by both students and other teachers.

The Peace Pals are then given the responsibility to assist the teachers in the school yard at recess and lunch to look out for the physically challenged children and ensure that these children feel included in the play activities. If they see a fight, they will try and talk to the two students involved in the fight to resolve it peacefully. Often the children do resolve it with the Peace Pals because they know that if they do not resolve it with the Peace Pal, a teacher would resolve it.

Peace Pals are also permitted to leave their classroom during the school day to resolve disputes. If there is a dispute between two students they go to the Peace Pal table which is situated near the main office where they are allowed 15 minutes to resolve any problems which may have occurred. This is usually effective as the students know that if they can settle these issues with one of their fellow students voluntarily they do not have to have a teacher settle the issue in a way with which they may not feel comfortable.

It has been very encouraging to me to talk with teachers today who tell me that visually impaired and blind children are now often able to form strong, positive friendships with their classmates. These other classmates often look out for and assist their sight impaired friends. Such assistance is always welcomed and beneficial to the giver as these children are able to learn at an early age how to assist someone who is physically challenged and, most importantly, how to be tolerant and accepting of others.

David Melanson, frequent contributor to the Teachers.Net Gazette, has just self-published Integration: A Rewarding Experience, a manual for educators on the topic of working with sight-impaired students. As a sight-impaired person whose parents persisted in having their son placed in "regular" (public school) classrooms, David's experiences, perspective, and advice are particularly interesting and helpful. The manual is interesting and worthy of reading even if one does not currently have a sight-impaired student in class.

The cost in the U.S. is $10 plus $2 .45 for postage. In Canada: $15 Canadian plus $1 .45 postage. Money orders are preferred. To order the manual, contact Mr. Melanson by e-mail: Should you have difficulty reaching Dave directly, contact Kathleen Carpenter with "Melanson Manual" in the subject line.

To access monthly chats on the topic of working with sight-impaired students, moderated by David Melanson, visit the Teachers.Net Archives.

Sight Impaired Students, December 12, 2001
Integration Of Visually Impaired And Blind Students Into The Regular Schools
Accommodating the Visually Impaired Child
Working With the Sight Impaired Students, Sept. 21, 2000
Working With the Sight Impaired Students, December 6, 2000
Working With the Sight Impaired Students, February 15, 2001
Working With the Sight Impaired Students, May 7, 2001
Working With the Sight Impaired Students, July 19, 2001
Working With the Sight Impaired Students, August 6, 2001
Working With the Sight Impaired Students, October 23, 2001

You may contact Dave Melanson by e-mail for information about consulting, sensitization training, and speaking services. Write to

I have developed several audio tapes from previous seminars I have given on the topic of mainstreaming and integrating sight impaired children. I am willing to sell these tapes for $10 U.S. each. If there is any school district that is interested in purchasing a tape, please contact me:

Postal Address:

    Dave Melanson
    702 Riverview Ave
    Verdun Quebec Canada H4H 2C1