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    Autism Speaks Final Report Narrative Summary of Key Project Objectives Imagine the Possibilities: Creating Dramatic Worlds with Youth on the Autism Spectrum Submitted by Gretta Berghammer University of Northern Iowa May, 2014 The following document summarizes ALL work and results for Imagine the Possibilities: Creating Dramatic Worlds with Youth on the Autism Spectrum for the grant period of January1-December 31, 2013.

    Project Title: Imagine the Possibilities: Creating Dramatic Worlds with outh on the Autism Spectrum

    Focus: Social skills training, peer modeling and inclusion through a recreation (drama based) program for individuals with autism spectrum disorders.

    Goal: To develop, implement and assess a K-5 Process Drama Curriculum and related teaching strategies that can be implemented in a mainstreamed classroom setting by the classroom teacher, which embeds the principles of ABA for developing and shaping positive individual and social behaviors in youth with autism.

    How: a) Carefully design a K-5 Process Drama curriculum for inclusive classroom and workshop settings which provides opportunities for social and creative interactions between youth with autism and their typical peers AND embraces key principles of Applied Behavior Analysis. ABA methodology is the ONLY research supported intervention with consistent positive results in modifying and changing autism spectrum behaviors that prevent positive social and educational interactions and progress. (See Spectrum Drama Core Companion; See Sample Inclusion Unit) b) Implement the Process Drama curriculum in elementary schools, in spectrum specific and inclusive classrooms, and twice monthly weekend recreational drama program for youth on the autism spectrum and their typical peers and/or siblings. c) Evaluate the Process Drama curriculum in order to determine which Process Drama strategies and designs for learning generate the best outcomes for improving social/communication/behavioral skills of youth with ASD. (See Student Data Sheet Appendix A; See Summary Information and Graph/Data Review below) d) Provide a model for teaching and learning that embeds the principles of ABA in an inclusive and creative context to pre-service teachers/teaching artists and classroom teachers (See Sample Inclusion Unit, Rude Giant Unit, Granny and the Bean Thief)

    Results of All Planning activities 1. Determine content of the Process Drama Curriculum Lead teacher (Gretta Berghammer) met with all cooperating teachers, counselors, and key building administrators January 2013 and August 2013 in order to determine curricular links and establish themes and topic areas that served as the foundation for the Process Drama

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    curriculum. Details of that curriculum are noted in Spectrum Drama Core Companion (attached). Due to changes in district demographics, minor changes in implementation sites were necessary, resulting in a reduction in elementary school sites from FOUR to THREE. Family/student relocation also generated a change in numbers (detailed information below)

    2. Identify how ABA will be infused into Process Drama Lessons Lead teacher (Gretta Berghammer) met with ABA consultant Dr. Lisa Kemmerer a total of 8 times in order to determine how ABA methodologies would be structured, infused into each lesson, implemented and observed; to discuss progress of the grant project; to review curriculum development; and to discuss and analyze data. A definition for each methodology was developed and used to help insure that best ABA practices were consistently used by Lead Teacher Gretta Berghammer (See Teacher Fidelity Sheet, Appendix B) 3. Development of Pilot Lessons Lead teacher (Gretta Berghammer) developed and implemented two pilot Process Drama lessons that enveloped a component of the theme/topic area identified in planning Step One and embraced the ABA methodologies defined and identified in planning Step Two (included below). These pilot lessons were presented at the beginning AND end of the January-April portion of the project and served as the first lesson when reconvening work with students in September. (See Appendix C) 4. Implementation of Pilot Lessons Lead teacher (Gretta Berghammer) implemented both pilot lessons with students at each elementary school. Dr. Kemmerer reviewed and confirmed that best practices for teaching and learning ABA were embedded in the Process Drama lesson pilots.

    Grant Methodology a) Process Drama lesson were carefully reviewed before and after implementation in order to specifically identify how social and creative interactions between youth with autism and their typical peers were presented and performed. A Student Data Sheet (Appendix A) was used to record these social and creative interactions, along with anecdotal information based on observations. This information was recorded by student associates hired specifically to work on the grant project. These same student associates also recorded information for all spectrum youth participating in the program. b) Process Drama lessons were carefully reviewed before and after implementation in order to specifically identify how key ABA components were presented and performed; c) Detailed records regarding the overall project implementation (teaching schedules, number of participants, duration, etc) were recorded daily by lead teacher. Note: Information garnered via this methodology are included in this final report.

    Curriculum (see Spectrum Drama Core Companion) The drama curriculum developed over the grant period is linked directly to the Iowa Department of Education Fine Arts Curriculum in Drama and Theatre. This curriculum is developed around SIX UNIVERSAL SKILLS: Flexibility/Adaptability, Communication, Collaboration, Creativity, Critical Thinking and Productivity. The drama curriculum developed as a result of this grant project focused on FIVE of those Universal Skills. Productivity was determined to be outside the scope and intent of this teaching and learning project

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    Flexibility/Adaptability: Play Pretend Explore Invent Improvise

    Communication: Perform Practice/Rehearse Share

    Critical Thinking Apply Compare/Contrast Analyze

    Collaborate Participate Synthesize Flexibility Interpersonal Communication

    Creativity Design Perform Integrate Construct Specific examples of drama activities illustrating these skills in action AND sample units of how lessons were structured and sequenced to support student learning are included in the Spectrum Drama Core Curriculum. For more information regarding specific lesson plans, lesson units built around the themes mentioned in this report, please contact Gretta Berghammer at the University of Northern Iowa, Department of Theatre (gretta.berghammer@uni.edu) See also the three sample teaching units included with this grant report.

    Content FIVE drama skills were emphasized throughout the grant project and served as the foundation for all lesson developed. The skills included: Sensory Awareness: Activities that emphasize dramatically at least one of the five senses; in this lesson touch and sight will be emphasized Movement: activities that generate and emphasize a spontaneous, physical response to a prompt. The prompt can be visual or aural. The response can be large or small motor based. Pantomime: acting without words. Activities that focus and emphasize communicating any of the following non-verbally: action, mood, environment, character, age, occupation, emotions/feelings, objects or animals. Can be large or small motor based; can include gesture and facial expression. Story Dramatization/Character Development: The creation of a story using action and sound/words. In most cases, students replay characters introduced by the leader. Role-Play (playing self or another in a regular daily situation)

    mailto:gretta.berghammer@uni.edu

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    As the grant project progressed, FEWER lessons focused on beginning skills of Sensory Awareness and Movement, while MORE emphasis was placed on Pantomime, Story Dramatization/Character Development and Role Play. This modification was made in response to the growth students were showing in their drama skills work and in response to data analysis at the mid-point which indicated that pantomime and story dramatization/character development work was generating the greatest positive change in student work across all age groups.

    Social Skills Embedded Within the Drama Curriculum A key focus of the grant project was to use the drama sessions to support and expand five social skills among the spectrum population AND to provide opportunities for these same skills to be applied when working dramatically in an inclusive classroom learning environment with their typical peers. The social skills identified for the purposes of this grant project for emphasis and inclusion in drama lessons are as follows: Imitation

    Examples: repeating a word or phrase, copying a gross motor action or pose after the teacher OR another student demonstrates (e.g., teacher says, I like to play ball and student repeats, I like to play ball or play ball or ball; teacher models moving like a bear and student imitates the actions of the teacher). Pretend Play

    Examples: teacher models a pretend play action (e.g., using a disc like a steering wheel and models driving) and student demonstrates the same action. Student wears a costume piece and portrays a character other than self. Turn-Taking/Collaborating Successfully with Another

    Examples: student engages in a back and forth action with another student or teacher such as rolling the ball or catching the ball, creating a shape with their bodies; student repeats and replays dialogue between two characters, in turn, with a partner as sha