Classroom Behavior Improves with Sensory Spaces

Classroom Behavior Improves with Sensory Spaces

School can be stressful for children with disabilities, leading to behavior that affects the whole class. But in Oregon schools whose students have access to The Shadow Project’s SuperSensory Literacy Spaces, teachers report that 73 percent of children strengthened their behavioral management skills.

Without tools to cope productively with the challenges of disability, trauma, and chronic mental health issues, students can act out and be disruptive, and the effects are immediate and long-term. Instruction time for all students decreases.  Students can be suspended or expelled, decreasing their chances of graduating high school.

Responding to the call from educators to have more resources to address their students’ increasing mental health and behavior needs, The Shadow Project’s SuperSensory Literacy Spaces alter this trajectory.

Our multi-sensory breakout spaces empower children with tools to develop and practice self-regulation skills, a key determinant of life success and mental health.  Last year, 61 percent of students were less likely to have behaviors that interfere with peer learning, and 39 percent increased attendance, according to educator observation.

Read more about student outcomes here, and see our spaces in action at one North Portland school.

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Shadow in Oregonian Season of Sharing

Shadow in Oregonian Season of Sharing

The Shadow Project is honored to be one of 10 Portland education nonprofits selected for The Oregonian’s annual Season of Sharing. Read “Empowering Students with Special Needs” and then donate (your gift will be matched!) through the newspaper’s Facebook fundraiser.

The Oregonian highlights Shadow’s Reading Mentoring program in which students up to three years behind in reading have gained as much as two years in ability. The program equips students in special education with audiovisual reading technology, and a trained adult volunteer to help them set and achieve reading goals. The mentoring program is now in eight schools in Portland and McMinnville.

Says Woodmere Principal Katherine Polizos, “The audiovisual technology gives kids who are struggling to decode words at grade level access to text, and to use reading for learning in a way that they are not able to, at a higher level. It’s giant! A lot of kids ask to use the audiovisual technology because it is a cool thing, and cool has a lot of cache with kids.”

Polizos said that the access to assistive technology through The Shadow Project has created a “huge culture shift” at the school. For example, she recently overheard two second graders excitedly discussing Minecraft Ninja, a book they were both reading. One student read the print version; the other used the audio-visual version. In the past, those students would have not been able to connect over a book, she said.

Portland Timbers Mascot Joey Webber, who is a volunteer Reading Mentor with The Shadow Project, had a difficult time learning to read as a child. “Having the opportunity to share that challenge and help these kids realize their potential is a very special experience,” he said.

“The most impactful part of The Shadow Project mentoring program is for the kids to have someone consistent who will show up every week, long term, to help them set goals and motivate them to continuously practice their reading. As they learn they can depend upon their person, they really excel.”

 

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Ready for Middle School Reading

Ready for Middle School Reading

Transitioning to middle school can be a scary step for kids with learning challenges who are worried about fitting in academically. But Shadow Project student Annjel is up to the challenge!

Annjel used to become exhausted when reading. “I would have to read the sentence over and over, just to understand what I was seeing,” she said. “I wanted to know what happened next in the story, but I had to keep figuring out the meaning first. It was tiring.”

Two years ago, The Shadow Project made an audio-visual library available at Annjel’s school. The large font size and text highlighting on the screen as the story moved along, plus the vocabulary repetition, helped Annjel improve. She skipped recess to read with her ears and eyes on the assistive technology, and often stayed up late to read at home, even after her mom, Sally, told her to turn out the light.

By spring of fifth grade, Annjel’s persistence paid off with her reading scores rocketing two grade levels! “I feel like I can read more now,” said Annjel, who loves Junie B. Jones and the Mermaid Sirens books. “Now I’m reading books that are not audiobooks, which feels great.”

Says Sally, “I’m really impressed by how far she’s come. Annjel used to get discouraged some times. But she is more confident now about her reading, and she’s gotten to where she needs to be for middle school.

“Everyone learns differently, and I would like for The Shadow Project to be available to other kids who need help.”

Shadow’s high-tech reading mentoring program is supported, in part, by the Oregon Cultural Trust

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Spirit Mountain Community Fund to Advance Equity for Children with Learning Challenges

A $35,000 grant to The Shadow Project will help children with disabilities like dyslexia and autism thrive, and achieve their potential.

The Shadow Project, a 15-year-old nonprofit committed to making school more accessible and engaging for children with learning challenges has received a one-year, $35,000 grant from the Spirit Mountain Community Fund. Shadow Founder and Executive Director Christy Scattarella, M.A., received the grant in a September ceremony in Grand Ronde.

“The strength of our local partnerships is something we take pride in,” said Mychal Cherry, Spirit Mountain Community Fund executive director. “It’s an honor and a privilege to support an organization like The Shadow Project that makes it possible for children with learning disabilities to meet and exceed their full academic potential.”
The majority of the children in The Shadow Project are from low-income homes and communities of color. The Spirit Mountain grant gives them personalized learning experiences such as reading mentors who use a specialized audio-visual library to make books comes alive, sensory spaces where children can find calm and focus, and a goal-setting program that motivates discouraged learners.

“Because of Spirit Mountain’s generosity, our children have tools tailored to the way they learn, teachers equipped to support them, and a sense of belonging in school that sets them on a path of pride and accomplishment,” said Scattarella. “Many of the students we serve have been ready to give up—on school and on themselves—and their perseverance and determination inspire me daily.”
The Spirit Mountain Community Fund is the philanthropic arm of The Confederated Tribes of Grande Ronde, distributing $78,610,930 in grants to non-profit organizations in 11 counties, government agencies in Polk and Yamhill counties, and the nine federally recognized tribes in Oregon, to improve the quality of life in Northwest Oregon.

Download the full release here. (PDF)

Join us for Pub Trivia

Join us for Pub Trivia

Who wrote the children’s book, Corduroy? In what year did the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) become law? Questions like these are on the menu at a free Pub Trivia event open to the public. Grab your team, and join us!

WHEN:      Monday, Oct. 8, 2018, 7 to 9 p.m. 

WHERE:   The Oregon Public House, 700 NE Dekum Street, Portland, 97211.

The 15-year-old Shadow Project, a leader in education equity, is hosting six rounds of Pub Trivia, with all rounds focused on education and literacy. Prizes will be awarded to the top players/teams.

A portion of proceeds from food and beverages will benefit Shadow, a Portland nonprofit that makes school more accessible and engaging for students with learning challenges like dyslexia, ADHD, and autism, so they can achieve their potential.

 

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