Good planning or a miracle?

Rosa Eggertsdottir, Department in the Local Education Service, North-east Region of Iceland.

Kalli is a delightful boy of ten. He lives in a town of 15,000 inhabitants in north-east Iceland. He is attending his 5th year at the neighbourhood school and spends his days learning Icelandic, maths, social studies, PE etc. Sometimes he works alone, but quite often he participates in cooperative learning activities with his peers. Outside school he and his friends play and fight, watch video, take trips out of town together and attend handball games. His hero is Duranona, a handball champion.

The fact that Kalli is severely disabled, can hardly speak or control his movements, has caused much consideration within his school. From the beginning the teaching has been considered effective for various reasons. There is progress in Kalli's studies and his social environment is strong, both within and outside the classroom. He uses a communication system called 'Bliss' to express himself, either through tables or with the help of a flashlight attached to his glasses. He also uses a computer with help from an adult. Head movements, eye or facial expressions are also forms of communication. The speed of communication that he and his classmates have developed over the years is amazing. During a map making lesson, for example, one of them might say: "Kalli, what treasure map do you prefer the group to continue with?" this is one (points at his left hand) and this is the other (the right hand). And Kalli would either look to the left or the right, depending on his opinion. With the help of the teacher he would participate in developing the map.

The excellent situation in this class is not a coincidence, nor has it come naturally. It is effective because it is planned that way, like any other good practices in schools. The teachers, in close cooperation with the parents have developed their skills, nurturing a positive atmosphere for learning and social growth.

Rosa Eggertsdottir is the head of department in the local education service in the north-east region of Iceland. Rosa and her colleagues are making plans to document their experience and produce a staff development resource pack. Colleagues from Spain and Austria will be joining them on this venture.

Rosa can be contacted at: Skolathjonusta Eythings . Glerargotu 26 . 600 Akureyri . Iceland . Tel: 354 460 1480 . Fax: 354 460 1490 . Email:

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