The Augusta Bulldogs were winning by two runs against the Evans Tigers.
Evans Middle School sixth-grade gifted pupils Chris Burton (left) and Christina Snider (right) sit with special needs pupils Nicole Westmoreland (second from left) and Jenny Yip during a game in the special needs classroom. A group of gifted students volunteered to play learning games in the special needs class in order to help the pupils learn social skills.
Photos by Jim Blaylock
Matthew Van Deventer got to second base when he described the picture of a vegetable peeler.
Gifted student Chris Burton got a triple when the pitcher - a paraprofessional - flipped up a picture of a pair on tongs.
"Whenever they get something good, we have to boo," gifted student Joe Rizner told his fellow Bulldogs.
Evans Middle School's gifted and special education students recently played baseball together, but what they are learning was much more than sportsmanship.
While special education students attend physical education and connections classes with regular education students, their interaction with them is limited. Special Education teacher Scott Norton decided to try it in reverse.
During the school year, he started bringing some gifted students to his classroom.
"My kids are self-contained with me for the majority of the day," Norton said. "Their biggest need is for social interaction."
Gifted Teacher Terri Seader has six students who volunteered to help in the special education class.
"I really haven't seen them have that much fun, so I wanted to help them do stuff so they can do something good when they grow up," Ryan Browning said about the reason he volunteered.
They helped the 11 special education children work on skills by playing games.
They also practiced greetings and role-played grocery store and restaurant scenes to practice social skills.
"These kids really need interaction with regular kids to form meaningful relationships," Norton said. "It's two fold: they get real life interaction with normal kids, and it helps the regular student to appreciate differences of other kids in the building. It helps my kids feel they are a part of the school by helping them build friendships."
They often dress up in apparel provided by Wal Mart, Popeyes and Bi-Lo to make it more realistic.
"This year, we have worked on introducing a friend to someone, using a firm handshake, making eye contact, identifying employees in a store to ask for assistance and speaking clearly for others," Norton said.
With the baseball game, students were shown pictures of common household items. When they named them, they had a chance to draw a block that would advance them one, two or three bases, earn them a home run, or put them out. Just like in a real baseball game, runs were scored when a team drove a runner in.
Norton called out to Ryan Browning, "Make sure Jacob stays on base."
Matthew VanDeventer, a special education pupil at Evans Middle School, identifies the item in a picture to advance around the bases during a baseball game in the classroom. The game is designed to teach the children to identify common household items.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
Ryan stood beside him on second base to make sure he didn't wander.
The goal of the game was to learn about sportsmanship - how to cheer appropriately or boo the other team, Norton said.
"They are learning how to round the bases. So many don't know how to stay on base or go in sequence," he added.
Norton said the students lit up when the gifted students came to their classroom. Special education student Nicole Scott said it has meant a lot to her.
"I like it when they are nice to me because I've got some friends here," she said.
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