Unveiling of The Shadow Project’s unique SuperSensory Literacy Space at Rosa Parks Elementary, the first of its kind in Oregon, continues to make ripples around the state, thanks to recent press coverage. Special education teachers are calling to receive Shadow services, parents of students in special education are touring Rosa Parks, and children in special education are appreciating the unique, compact, multi-sensory library tailored to their needs.
“Special education teachers have been telling us that they’re hungry for classroom libraries with materials that make reading more accessible and enjoyable for their students,” said Christy Scattarella, founder and executive director of The Shadow Project. “We have kids who do not read in the traditional way. They may “read” with their ears, need the freedom to move around, or crave tools that soothe and calm them so they can focus. They have tenacity and they have courage. We need to do right by these remarkable children.”
Research indicates that providing multisensory elements in special education classrooms increases student engagement and on-task behaviors. A recent study found that fidgeting improves school performance for children with ADHD.
Just ask Fortune, 11, who has a learning disability. During recent state testing, she used fidgets, a vibrating pillow, and earphones in the SuperSensory Literacy Space to relieve stress and improve concentration.
“The pillow massages my legs when it vibrates to help me focus,” said Fortune, who loves reading Junie B. Jones and Captain Underpants books. “The space is cool.”
Rosa Parks Special Education Teacher Kim Giarelli said she is proud of Fortune for successfully utilizing the strategies she has been given. “The learning difficulty is still there, but she now has the confidence to know what she needs to read with focus.” Giarelli said that Fortune’s recent test scores were high enough that she no longer requires special education services. “Fortune now has more confidence in herself and in knowing what she needs to achieve,” she said.
“The SuperSensory Literacy Spaces created by The Shadow Project make literacy more accessible for our students with learning challenges,” said Portland Public Schools (PPS) Superintendent Carole Smith. “I’m thankful The Shadow Project is part of our Read Together initiative.”
One of PPS’ top three priorities is ensuring that all students read well by the end of third grade. The PPS Read Together initiative has brought together six reading and family organizations (Shadow is one) to provide students at five pilot schools with intensive, wrap-around literacy services.