Check out the lesson plant at:http://www.tolerance.org/magazine/number-47-summer-2014/feature/beautiful-differences
This lesson plan is really important to my studies. I really appreciate how this lesson focuses on having student explore and learning some of the difficulties that people with differing abilities face. The lesson plan articulates a really important point: “be sure to explain to each group that you are not expecting them to know everything about the disability or to become experts or representatives; rather, you are asking them to try to put themselves in the shoes of someone experiencing life with this disability.” This is essential, it is not about becoming an expert or thinking that they know everything about the disability, but just exploring some of the hurdles people with disabilities face everyday.
I found it to particularly interesting that the students are asked to come up with ways in which the world could change to make it more accessible for people with physical disabilities. I think that it’s really good for young students to be thinking about solutions and actions that could be taken to make life more accessible.
I found a beautiful book of poetry called Beauty is a Verb the new poetry of disability edited by Jennifer Bartlett, Sheila Black and Michael Northen. Here are two poems that I felt spoke to many.
Poems with Disabilities
by Jim Ferris
I’m Sorry—this space is reserved
for poems with disabilities. I know
it’s one of the best spaces in the book,
but the Poems with Disabilities Act
requires us to make all reasonable
accommodations for poems that aren’t
normal. There is a nice space just
a few pages over—in fact (don’t
tell anyone) I think it’s better
then this one, I myself prefer it.
Actually I don’t see any of those
Poems right now myself, but you never know
when one might show up, so we have to keep
this space open. You can’t always tell
just from looking at them either, Sometimes
they’ll look just like a regular poem
when they roll in…you’re reading along
and suddenly everything
changes, the world tilts
a little, angle of vision
jumps, your entrails aren’t
where you left them. You
remember your aunt died
of cancer at just your age
and maybe yesterday’s twinge means
something after all. Your sloppy,
fragile heart beats
a little faster
by Laura Hershey
What you risk telling your story:
You will bore them.
Your voice will break, your ink will
spill and stain your coat.
No one will understand, their eyes
You will park yourself forever
on the outside, your differentness once
and for all revealed, dangerous,
the names you five to yourself
will become epithets.
Your happiness will be called
Your sadness will justify their pity.
Your fear will magnify their fears.
Everything you say will prove something about
their god, or their economic system.
Your feeling, that change day
to day, kaleidoscopic,
will freeze in place,
brand you forever,
justify anything they decide to do
Those with power can afford
to tell their story
Those without power
risk everything to tell their story