Recipes for Living: A Life Skills Curriculum Development Designed to Foster Independence for Learning Disabled Students

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When a fourth of the students failed to show progress in spite of in-depth diagnosis and intensive adaptation, the staff of the Every Child Counts special education program concluded that continuing to teach academic skills that the students couldn’t learn was futile. The staff decided to adjust curriculum to teach the independent living skills their island’s learning disabled students needed to function as adults. Initially identified the basic skill areas of farming, cooking, cleaning, and sewing were targeted. These would allow students to grow their own food, prepare it, maintain a clean living environment, and cloth themselves. They analyzed these functional living areas to identify what students needed to be able to do. Specific behaviors were placed into checklists which became the gauge of student progress (assessment) which informed subsequent lesson focus (teaching), adjustment, and development. Ultimately, student progress verified by these checklists will provide a means of documenting graduation. Volunteer educators developed the curriculum materials that evolved from these checklists. The materials are fast becoming Recipes for Living, which provide visual cues to guide students’ practice to mastery of these essential behaviors. Academics were not eliminated, but instead take secondary supportive roles as they evolve naturally in the form of enrichment from the basic behaviors that are critical to independent adult living. The curriculum will be drawn up into a reference book which will be presented to each student, along with the essential associated tools (e.g., measuring cups, spoons, trowels, sponges) as they graduate from the program. This will refresh the processes throughout the students’ lives. It will be available electronically post it as shareware on the Every Child Counts website for other countries and special education projects to download, personalize, and use at no cost beyond what is required to access and print. (295)

Keywords: Life-Skills Learning Objectives, Academically at-Risk Adolescent Learners, Special needs Learners, Visually Cued Lessons, Instructional Adjustment, Special Education, Life-Skills Learning, Behavior Checklists
Stream: Curriculum and Pedagogy; Student Learning, Learner Experiences, Learner Diversity
Presentation Type: Virtual Presentation in English
Paper: Recipes for Living

Dr. Sharon Kossack

Professor, College of Education
Department of Curriculum and Instruction, Florida International University

Miami, Florida, USA

Professor of Reading; Directs at-risk-student-embedded in-school Professional Development Academies; stateside coordinator of a literacy and special education program (Every Child Counts) in Abaco, Bahamas. Reviewer for International Reading Association publications, AERA, and American Reading Forum. Former column editor for Journal of Reading.

Ref: L08P0575