Group work blind and lower vision

Developing our country is very important that we have to face. We have to think effectively, how we can use all our human recourses. There are many special categories in any society; they need more intention to extract the wealth that they have. The history has many great blind persons and my country too. But we need to have wise minds to do that. The following essay will deal with blind and low vision students and how we can involve them in group work. That will be done to facilitate participation of blind students with group work. In my opinion I think that blind and low vision students have many handicaps which force them to be antisocial persons. Sack.S & Kekelis.L (1992) said that the children have the social impression from others for example facial expression, eye contact and quick responsiveness for others. Through my observation they need more a professional teacher who has a full awareness and honesty to teach them. Blind and low vision students need to learn many skills to achieve their work well. Another thing related to this subject I think that they will face many barriers. Some times they have many misconceptions and difficulties to learn. As Washington (2004) argued that 'Students who are blind will not be able to see a presenter, visual aids, printed materials, nor demonstrations'. And too the low vision students will have difficulty to use or see any normal educational material, handout and demonstrations to do well. For that I think we must discuss our problems seriously to achieve our aims. Are we giving this category their rights, we need to meet their needs to be qualified on our career, and we need to give them real chances to be equal with other people (Goddard.W, 1995).

We have much identification about blind and low vision students (partial sight). 'Blindness is a major health problem that has received relatively attention in worldwide efforts to promote health" (world health organization, 1997, p3).in my opinion, the blind student is a natural student who has the same features of others, sometimes much more others, because he has a challenge which excite him to do his best, but he needs the suitable tools to achieve that.

"The frequent identification of partially sighted people as partially blind testifies to a general failure to understand the phenomenon of impaired vision " (Hutchinson.J, Atkinson.K and Orpwood.J, 1998, p8). " The partially sighted or partially seeing are a group of physically handicap individuals who stand between blinds and normal seeing in much the same way that the hard in hearing stand between the deaf and the normal hearing they are individual whose visual actually is poor " ( Pintner.R ,Eisenson.J & Stanton.M,1980, p252).

Blind and partially sighted students are important categories in our society, they act a big number of our population in Egypt and the whole world." About 314 million people are visually impaired worldwide; 45 million of them are blind" (world health organization, 2009).the number of blind people in Egypt about 37.000.000 citizen. (Egyptian Association for Prevention of blindness, 2002)

It is essential to put them in our cycle attention, and offer a strong, suitable and update tools, which will include them in our progress. What skills they need to learn, is the group work suitable for them or not, the steps which will help the teacher to involve them in the successful group work.

I shall expose the main points and problems which face blind and visually impaired students, which will lead us to our objectives.

On our childhood we have our face's impressions from our observation to others, and learn from their reaction what we want to send by our face or by our voice. But they can not learn the social skills by themselves. They need to learn that with the help of many organized methods which have different steps; these methods must be observed to give the attended results. . (Sack.S & Kekelis.L, 1992) . As addition through my experience there are two other reasons. Some parents of a student are socially embarrassed because their child is blind, sometimes some of them do not want their child to face critical situations among people, in the two cases they prefer to put him away from people. In this case the community and the school will face a big problem to solve.' The need to be attractive , to make friends, to gain respect and to participate in cultural and recreational activities for many blind and partially sighted students' (Hutchinson.J, Atkinson.K and Orpwood.J, 1998, p8) for that we need to exploit this feeling to provide them with the suitable skills.

The second feature is their weak ability to pay attention for a long time, in the learning time. I think we can sort blind students as lower attainers. The blind pupil can not concentrate with his teacher more than fife minutes so, he faces a big problem in his learning, many times he can not recognize the full meaning of things, in normal cases he use touch, sound, smell test as sensory strategies in his knowledge life, we can exploit them effectively 'the redirection and selection of attention comprises a skill that may require specific teaching' (Hutchinson.J, Atkinson.K and Orpwood.J, 1998, p100).

Group work is 'Formal learning groups are teams established to complete a specific task, such as perform a lab experiment, write a report, carry out a project, or prepare a position paper'(Davis.b, 1993). In my opinion the group work is a significant method that we can use to develop our mental operations and social relationship to achieve our missions and to be effective member in the society in the future.

We have to be aware the main steps that we need to make a successful group work. The first step is that the teacher has to make general strategy in the begging when he is writing his syllabus; he must decide which topic suitable for group work method. He has to think how he can organize the groups.(Davis.B, 1993). Make sheets of explanation for the pupils (structuring the learning) the teacher has to provide his students by this paper. It will help them to know the limited time for every task, the importance of feedback and the behavior that is essential to have, it will has a number of group work and the mission of every one. (Davis.B, 1993)If the teacher has a challenging class it will be better to start group work gradually (Cambridge University, 2004). After that the teacher gives the pupils the skills and rules which they need to establish their work, such as collaborative dealing, listening to others, instructive criticism, it is important to explain to your pupils why they must have these skills, during the lessons the teacher can reinforce the skills by his praise, he can encourage them when they do good listening or good collaborative learning group, maybe it is just words but effective. 'they need to become a routine part of pupil behavior' (Cambridge University, 2004, p6) and this is the common dealing we want to establish in blind students that they need to deal with each other more and more to learn these skills.

The second step which is important is creating independency, self confidence and self-esteem of the blind students, he must know his rule and the task that he must achieve. At the same time he should interactive with other students and share their ideas with them, they must know that they are all one team and their work will complete each other. (Davis.B, 1993) the assignments must fit the ability of blind and low vision students , before we give students their tasks we must make good judgment for it, it will be more knowledgeable for the students, and the achievement ability become more realistic, and this will not create the inability feeling for themselves as this will affect them negatively. The main task must be divided into equal contributions, for example the mission is writing about the most famous places in Egypt, every one is responsible for getting information from different source, at the end the group leader collects information and make a report, then they choose a representative to present it in front of all the other groups, the roles must be exchanged every time in order to gain different skill to every one. Beside the collaboration feeling, we need to create a challenge environment between them by making a competition, this will help students to be more effective. (Davis.B, 1993)

The third step is Designing groups... the group form is better if the teacher do it mix of males and females, mix of cynical and optimistic students. (Fiechtner and Davis, 1992; Smith, 1986) some schools prefer that every friends make a group, but that will not improve their socialize features, for this reason it is not suitable for blind students. The size of group is better if it is four or five, this will give more effective achievement. If the group does not finish his work, it is a big fault if the teacher breaks down the group that will throw off the group process and will make them frustrated. The teacher has to follow their work to lead the group to the right direction. That is suitable for blind students to guide them if they have any misconceptions or wrong meaning. Here the teacher will face the pupil who shirks from his mission, Walvoord (1986) recommends that the teacher in the middle of the work has to make a check on member achievement to give them another opportunity to be more serious, and till them; he will do an individual exam for every one to evaluate his work. (Davis.B, 1993)

The final step is about the tools which the teacher will provide the groups with, for blind and low vision students, it is very essential to be aware of the effective tools which are suitable for them, for example Audiotape class sessions, Electronic course materials which can be converted to speech output, Brailler or computer for notetaking, Handouts in Braille or on tape. (Washington, 2004). The teacher must focus on all skills we need to create, listen to others, participate respond and make suggestions, cooperate with others, take on role, take the lead, make sure tasks are completed, engage in exploratory talk. (Cambridge University, 2004, p6)

Some criticism about group work, some opinions said that the student does not pay to take the knowledge from his colleague but from professional person, this is a waste of time, in this case it is better if the teacher tells the group about his methods in the beginning of the year, and informs them the benefits of the subject, both on the short term and the long one, another opinion say that the learning of some pupils is based on individual learning, they will not be active with the group, then their learning is not efficient, for that the teacher must explain the method that he will use, then how he can make interactive environment in the class gradually. On the other hand some people may say that the teacher will need tools for the group work more than the usual lesson, that is true, but he can do that by less potentials. (Davis.B, 1993) last opinion... the teacher can not cover many subjects during the term, but I think that this can be in the beginning of the year till students get used to it, after that the groups will be more experienced to do that effectively.

Egyptian schools for blindness unfortunately are not efficient, the system has a big weakness when it puts the blind students with low vision students at the same school and the same system, the methods which the teacher uses is not suitable for them, the victim here is the low vision student, I think in UK every category has a special school, about group work in my school I have never seen a teacher uses group work as a style in his teaching. Maybe they are not professional to use these methods; In UK I have not good experience about blind school. In Egypt I think we need concentrated training for the school staff and teachers to conduct this teaching style. It will be more effective for pupils to gain more benefits form the teaching time. If I learn a skill it will remain with me but if I just hear words I will forget them soon. I think as a wonderful solution for blindness problems is using group work method to teach blind students the social skills and to avoid their learning weaknesses by making challenges, tasks, discussions, feedback, evaluation and encouragement.


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