Bella's story

Bella is a high school student who loves meeting new people and working with others. She loves shopping, pets, cooking and crafts. Bella has an intellectual disability and has a School Learning Support Officer (SLSO) in the classroom.  Bella can follow a visual schedule to complete tasks independently once she is familiar with those tasks, and is keen to learn and engage when tasks are visual or hands-on. 
 
Bella sometimes struggles to retain information without repetition. She tends to have low confidence and become frustrated quite quickly when learning something new or when working on a task that involves problem-solving. This often results in a refusal to engage further, or high levels of distress about potentially making ‘a mistake’. Bella’s maths teacher is introducing Bella to the distributive property in arithmetic.
Students posing for a photo.

1. What are Bella's strengths and what has been helpful so far?

Bella's strengths:

  • Bella loves meeting new people and working with others.
  • Bella loves shopping, cooking, and crafts.
  • Bella has access to learning support within the classroom.
  • Bella can follow a visual schedule to complete tasks independently once she is familiar with those tasks.
  • Bella is keen to learn and engage when tasks are visual or hands-on.
  • Bella knows how to use a calculator for addition, division, subtraction and multiplication sums.

What has been helpful:

  • Bella works well with a visual schedule or working system.
  • Bella understands information best when there are visual supports, simple text, gestures, or hands-on activities. 

What has not been helpful:

  • Once Bella loses her confidence or becomes frustrated with a task, the teacher’s or SLOS’s attempts at having her persist have resulted in higher levels of distress and refusal to participate.

2. What is the goal and why is it important?

The goal:

The overall goal is for Bella to understand the principles of distributive property in arithmetic, and to be able to solve some simple equations by the end of the module. Bella’s maths teacher and SLSO will support Bella’s engagement, confidence and focus.

These goals may be developed into growth goals as part of the collaborative curriculum planning process and included in Bella’s Personalised Learning and Support Plan.

Why

Mathematics skills can help reinforce logical thinking, and is a transferable skill for day-to-day living, all of which will support Bella in other areas of her education, and in her future autonomy and independence.

Personalised learning and support will ensure Micah enjoys a rigorous and meaningful education.

3. What evidence-based strategies can be used to reach the goal?

Bella’s maths teacher and SLSO used the high school students with intellectual disability guide to learn more about evidence-based strategies and resources. After using this resource, Bella’s maths teacher and SLSO have identified some strategies that can be trialed in the classroom to build on Bella’s existing strengths and help her achieve the desired goals:  
 

Strengths

  • Bella understands information best when there are visual supports, simple text, gestures, or hands-on activities.
  • Bella knows how to use a calculator for addition, division, subtraction and multiplication sums.
  • Bella understands information best when there are visual supports, simple text, gestures, or hands-on activities
  • Bella loves shopping, cooking, and crafts.
  • Bella is keen to learn and engage when tasks are visual or hands-on.

Strategy

  • Bella’s maths teacher and SLSO will use gestures to draw her attention to specific parts of a problem (for example; pointing to a number or part of an equation).
  • To reduce working memory load, and incorporate skills Bella has already mastered, Bella will use a calculator to complete the individual components of sums.
  • Bella’s maths teacher and SLSO will develop a range of visual supports and hands-on activities that draw from her interests (for example; shopping with print-outs of coins and notes of different values). Similar visual supports differentiated in difficulty will be provided for other students in the class, so that Bella can work with similar materials to her peers.
  • Bella will be given many opportunities to practice using different materials and activities (for example; ingredients for a cooking activity; paper, strings and blocks to work through different equations). 

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Strengths

  • Bella loves meeting new people and working with others.
  • Bella is keen to learn and engage when tasks are visual or hands-on.
  • Bella knows how to use a calculator for addition, division, subtraction and multiplication sums.
  • Bella understands information best when there are visual supports, simple text, gestures, or hands-on activities. 

Strategy

  • A short classroom activity and celebration will be developed for students to practice arithmetic principles (according to their mathematical skill level).
  • Bella will work with a small group with a group leader (assigned by the teacher) who can provide discreet support where needed to Bella.
  • Bella will be assigned a familiar equation and fun hands-on task(for example; calculating the cost - and putting together - simple party bags for a class celebration).
  • A visual schedule reminding her of the steps to solving the problem will be provided.
  • Bella will have access to a calculator to ensure she can participate confidently. 

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Strengths

  • Bella can follow a visual schedule to complete tasks independently once she is familiar with those tasks.
  • Bella works well with a visual schedule or working system. 

Strategy

  • Bella will use a visual schedule with steps to problem solve and a working system to practice different equations throughout the module.
  • Bella will use this schedule as well as a hands-on activity, and will be assessed over a number of lessons to monitor her progress and ensure the distribution principles are completely clear before introducing new content.