Original Teaching Materials and School Activities for Students With an Intellectual Disability

Original Teaching Materials and School Activities for Students With an Intellectual Disability

Ryoichi Ishitobi, Fumio Nemoto, Youko Sugita, Susumu Nakamura, Toru Iijima, Azusa Takatsu, Mimiko Taniuchi, Kaoru Harada, Yoshie Kanno, Kota Tagami, Shodai Tanaka, Masayuki Yamashita, Shigeru Ikuta
Copyright: © 2019 |Pages: 21
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-6240-5.ch005
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Most of the present authors, the teachers at the School for the Mentally Challenged at Otsuka, University of Tsukuba, have been creating original teaching aids and materials using low-tech and high-tech methods. Original teaching aids created with woodworking and metalworking are usually used for students with an intellectual disability. The original teaching materials with Grid Onput dot code, which could link multimedia, such as audio, movies, web pages, html files, and PowerPoint files were created in collaboration with one of the present authors, Professor Shigeru Ikuta, who organized a large research project, and Gridmark Inc. that developed Grid Onput dot code. The present authors have recently developed a new software program, SmileNote, to help students create presentation slides in expressing their feelings, will, and desires to classmates, teachers, and parents. Basic information on these materials and their use in schools is presented in this chapter.
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In Japan, there are 1,135 special needs schools, with approximately 142,000 students enrolled, and nearly 84,000 teachers work in these schools. Of these schools, 553 (nearly one-half; a majority) are for students (91,083 students) with an intellectual disability (Statistics Japan, 2017).

The School for the Mentally Challenged at Otsuka (Otsuka School) is one of 11 schools attached to the University of Tsukuba. The University of Tsukuba, the former Tokyo University of Education, has big Colleges of Education and Disability Sciences. The Otsuka School has four divisions, Kindergarten, Elementary, Junior High, and Senior High Schools, and plays a central leading role. Its successful outcomes are distributed to all of the schools in Japan.

Each student with a disability needs individual, customized teaching aids and materials (Dell et al., 2012). The present schoolteachers have been creating handcrafted teaching aids and materials for students with intellectual disabilities by using woodworking and metalworking, as most special needs schoolteachers do (Figure 1).

Figure 1.

Handcrafted teaching aids created at the Otsuka School


In collaboration with Professor Shigeru Ikuta, one of the present authors who organized a fairly large research project, the teachers at the Otsuka School have been creating handcrafted teaching materials using Grid Onput dot codes developed by Grdimark Inc. These novel dot codes can link a maximum of four multimedia, such as audios, movies, web page, etc. Dot codes are so tiny that they can invisibly overlay any graphical letters, photos, and illustrations without impacting the designed visual images.

The Otsuka School teachers, in collaboration with Unity Company, have recently developed a new application called SmileNote, which is available on iPad. This software enables students with intellectual disabilities to perform their presentations easily. The students can create presentation slides by taking photos with an internal camera on the iPad and adding text by typing and/or handwriting. These slides are printed out, and then Post-It sticker icons overlaid with Grid Onput dot codes are pasted on the printed handout and linked with the multimedia. Touching the icons with a sound pen and/or scanner pen can replay the audios, photos, movies, and Web pages on a PC, an iPad, or an iPhone.

In this chapter, the authors report recent advances on handcrafted teaching materials and the unique school activities designed to assist students with intellectual disabilities, and introduce their new software, SmileNote, which was recently developed to help students express their feelings, will, and desires to their classmates, teachers, and parents.



Over 12 years ago, one of the present authors, Professor Shigeru Ikuta at Otsuma Women’s University who organized a research project participated in by more than 180 schoolteachers. At first, Scan Talk code, developed by Olympus Company (Olympus, 1999) in Japan, was used, wherein the voices and sounds were encoded and printed directly onto paper as two-dimensional dot codes. To reproduce the voices and sounds, students had to trace fairly long dot codes with great care using a Scan Talk Reader and/or Sound Reader. This first system was a very powerful tool for students with various disabilities (Ohshima et al., 2007; Ishitobi et al., 2010; Nemoto & Ikuta, 2010; Ikuta et al., 2013), as the specially designed software could be used to create original, hand-crafted teaching materials focused on individual needs and desires, was easy to use, and was free of charge for schools. However, some students were unable to trace the long, straight, Scan Talk codes correctly and were, therefore, unable to participate in class activities.

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