Teaching Spatial Skills: Part One
Teaching spatial skills was not something I thought I would have to teach my students ever. I have always thought there was one right way to teach spatial skills to different individuals. After giving my students specialized strategies for conveying their spatial information, I was excited about what we could do for them. One student, however, needed some extra help. He was a child born with severe speech impediments and, even after some professional work and therapy, still struggled to express his spatial information on an even level. He had difficulty finding words to explain how he felt about space. He also had difficulty determining spatial relationships.
So I realized that I needed to teach him some strategies to improve his thinking about space and relationships, as well as some skills for getting and telling stories about space, relationships, and spatial objects. In my own classroom, I relied on the stories I had talked about in class before reading them. I showed him pictures of ground or roofs, and talked about how a roof gets wet and sometimes dries out. I talked about trees, as well as the trees our students saw out of the window, and how the world changes. I built some stories around space so he could appreciate its power.
When I taught him about space, we did it in a matter of days. After each class he would tell me that he could name his pieces of space, and he would tell me the story behind the story. Each of these pieces of space or relationships was a different story. As we move toward learning more about spatial representation, how does it vary and change from student to student? How can we create spaces that provide the best support for all students to learn?
What are some of the best techniques in developing spatial thinking?