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Awarded Grant Summaries

Sensory Pathways

Laura Wellman, 3rd Grade Teacher, 2021-2022 School Year

Description & Need:
Many kids in CPS's student body have a need for sensory stimulation whether diagnosed or not. Many children benefit from anticipatory sets before learning can start. The sensory pathways are literal paths in the hallways with different cognitive material aligned to state standards such as letter recognition and math facts. Putting this throughout our building will continue learning while transitioning from classes as well as giving kids increased cognitive function in the classroom. 

How project meets Instruction Goals and Mission Statement:
The mission statement for the district is Meeting the needs of all learners. These sensory paths will meet the needs of all learners. A preschool child can use them for motor skills, letter and number recognition, classroom behavior expectations (i.e., direction following). Older children can use them for the previously mentioned skills but in addition, these will directly benefit by more cognitive processing after physically and mentally processing stimuli as one. Two examples are specific math learning goals. Students will identify points on a number line. One of the sensory paths can have a number line, as students are passing in the hall, kids can jump on the number the teacher calls out on the number line. Therefore, addressing practice on the standard, having sensory stimulation, and allowing the body to be ready to learn and process more information when they get to their next class. An example for lower elementary would be, I can identify upper-and lower-case letters. A second sensory path would have alphabet letters and children can jump, push, and sit on to give another example of integrating visual, auditory, and kinetic learning.

Major Objectives:
The major objectives for this project are to give children another option for the practice of skills taught through multiple learning modalities. It is also giving them skills to process them in a more physical way so when they are learning in the classroom, they will be ready to cognitively process the information than they would without the sensory practice. A district example of measuring objective for lower elementary would be utilizing L to J. First graders will be able to recognize letters and sounds for all 26 letters of the alphabet. Once a week the teacher quickly pulls kids or does it as they are walking in the hallway. Kids jump on path teacher has them physically move to letter and tell sounds. The teacher then checks if they have it or not. At the end of each week, they have a record of gains or stagnant learning and use this for intervention or moving forward to more advanced skills like blending phonemes they land on. An Upper elementary example would be using the number sensory pathway, teacher measures knowledge of multiplication facts which is a priority standard in 3rd grade. The teacher can have her L to J checklist and have the child hop to two numbers and give the product when multiplied. After multiple practices, the teacher will see if they are more automatic (getting more facts and accurately or not).

Teaching Methods:
In elementary schools' transitions are make or break learning times. Students and teachers can utilize this time by having a skill practiced and behavior decreased by having an engaging task. We will teach kids how to use the sensory pats, individually, in small groups, and in the whole class. The instructional model of Marzano, I do, we do, you do, will be used so students are able to successfully perform and use these for learning practice. In addition, they can also be utilized for learning breaks for all kids, sensory breaks for children that need them, and situations where children can also practice partner work social skills with a specific goal in mind: retaining previously taught skills. 

Grade Level Impacted:
This project will benefit every student preschool through grade 4 in our building. Approximately 250 students. Eventually, we would love to see these expanded to the outdoor playground area for more learning goals could be incorporated. 

Additional Materials: 
There will be no additional material. We order the sensory pats, apply them to the floor and they are made to withstand traffic, cleaning, and use.

Project Evaluation:
I have a teacher at each grade level that will use the L to J method to record specific learning goals and if improvement, retention, or gains have been made on the specific learning goal. Example: In kindergarten, they would track letter recognition improvement after each usage of the sensory path. In 3rd grade, we would measure skip counting and multiplication facts based on exposures. Also, we will use it to measure classroom behaviors. After incorporating sensory paths, we are seeing more or less use of a safe seat during instruction.

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