Chapters 5 and 6

Chapter 5

Melody explains what life is like at Spaulding Street Elementary School. She has been at the school for five years, and in that time she has watched, and been ignored by, most of the children at the school. Although she sees the general education students every day and watches them play, they never invite her or any of the other students with disabilities. Melody feels invisible.

Melody is in a special program called a “learning community,” with other students her age with disabilities. Melody feels that many of her school activities are too easy for her. She often feels that she has learned more television documentaries than from her teachers.

Melody has a communication board, a Plexiglas tray that has words written on it that attaches to her wheelchair. By pointing to certain words and phrases, she can communicate basic thoughts. She jokes that she can understand why people think she is stupid, because she does not have the ability to say very much at all. She also explains that some people think she is “retarded”, but clarifies that she hates that word. She is not dumb; she is trapped inside of her own mind.


Chapter 6

Mrs. V is Melody’s next-door neighbor, and has essentially become a member of the family. Mrs. V became her babysitter when she was two. Unlike Melody’s parents, Mrs. V is willing to challenge her and make her struggle in order to teach her. This makes Melody stronger both physically and mentally. Mrs. V isn’t afraid to let Melody experience the world in full. She doesn’t assume Melody is fragile just because she has a disability, and this gives Melody a newfound sense of freedom and possibility.

Mrs. V demonstrates in this chapter that it’s crucial that Melody be respected and held accountable to her potential. Mrs. V sees no reason that Melody should not learn to read – learning to read is essential to Melody’s happiness and future success.

–Jecel Goyala


7 thoughts on “Chapters 5 and 6

  1. Laura Woodring says:

    Melody suffers from the low expectation that can happen to our self contained students. Communication systems should be constantly evolving for our kids with communication potential, because new skills can occur with maturity or a novel strategy.

  2. Karen Reynolds says:

    After reading about Melody’s entrance into school, it was interesting to hear about it from a student’s perspective. It’s the first time we hear of a primitive, simple communication board. It was also great to learn of Mrs. V., her neighbor, who encouraged Melody and gave her language. She recognized her potential and Melody thrived under her care.

  3. Aimee Burton says:

    I think these chapters should remind us to always assume that a child can understand everything we say and to always have high expectations for what a child can achieve. We all know that realistically there are sometimes limits but I think making sure that we try to see a child and their abilities from all angles will help us at the very least, provide that child with more than what they need to allow them room for the growth that we all hope for.

  4. Amanda Piekarski says:

    I totally agree with the evolving communication systems! I really paused when Melody talks about how her teachers have changed (for the good and bad), but her classroom has not.
    Sometimes we all need a change of scenery…how can we help make this happen?

  5. Lindsey Ludwig says:

    These chapters really helped reinforce the idea that despite the fact that students like Melody have differences and disabilities, it it crucial that they still have expectations and goals. True, not all children may have the cognitive abilities that Melody does ,but we still need to push them to be the best that they can be in all facets of life, not just communication. Teaching them early on that they need to follow rules, give their best effort, and some general social skills goes such a long way.

  6. The revolving door of SpEd teachers… and the variety of skills they had really struck me as being so true to life. In some of my schools it has been a real struggle to get and keep good SpEd teachers. I did find it very interesting to see the outlook from a student’s perspective, but also very frustrating to see a student’s needs not being met!

  7. Sarah Crady says:

    What struck me most about this chapter was the relationship and love shown by Ms. V. How lucky and valuable was it for Melody to have someone who saw her potential and pushed her further than others had pushed her. I love when Ms. V takes Melody out in the rain and lets her experience it.

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