Unit III: Functional Academics: Math, Language, Science and Social Science

1. Functional literacy - Reading of survival signs, Reading sign boards use of telephone numbers and public utility services

2. Functional literacy - Math in daily life: time, money, measurement

3. Functional community orientation – Banking, bills, shopping, use of community resources

4. Self information – own name, parents name, address, phone numbers, etc

5. General Knowledge & Awareness – current affairs, weather, national festivals, leaders, sports, etc



1. Functional literacy - Reading of survival signs, Reading sign boards use of telephone numbers and public utility services

Media Literacy is the ability to access, evaluate, and create messages through different types of media.  Its purpose is to turn people from mass consumers into thoughtful citizens who aren’t susceptible to propaganda or advertising.

Religious Literacy is the ability to interpret religious scriptures and communicate with different faiths.  Religious literacy is important for combating fundamentalism (e.g., religious fanaticism) and prejudice (e.g., Islamophobia).

Financial Literacy is the ability to manage finances and make decisions about money.  Whether you’re a consumer, a business owner, or a voter, understanding financial budgets, interest rates, and savings is an essential life skill.

Computer Literacy is the ability to use computers.  This skill set can range from basic competency (i.e., using applications like email and Microsoft Office) to advanced knowledge (e.g., programming and computer science).

Legal Literacy is the ability to comprehend laws so you are able to follow policies and legal procedures.

Scientific Literacy does not necessarily mean memorizing facts; rather, it’s knowing how to conduct experiments and identify evidence that supports or contradicts preconceived beliefs or hypotheses.

Health Literacy is the ability to understand healthcare information, particularly for making medical decisions or lifestyle choices about nutrition, exercise, sleep, and other factors that affect physical and mental well-being.

Civic Literacy (a.k.a. Civics) is awareness of how government works as well as your rights and responsibilities as a citizen and voter.

Functional Literacy and Technology

Now, because our society is so high-tech, I want to emphasize two key points about functional literacy by connecting it to technology.

First, functional literacy is primarily about skills or applied knowledge.

It’s only secondarily about facts or subject-matter knowledge.  For example, scientific literacy doesn’t mean you’ve memorized the intricacies of how quantum computers work.  Instead, it means you know how to ask questions and apply methods of verification or falsification that make such technologies possible.

Second, functional literacy keeps our high-tech society functioning.

The kinds of functional literacy mentioned are relative to today’s highly complex, technological society, but that doesn’t make them any less valid.  For instance, the ancient Greeks got by fine without media literacy or computer literacy, but that’s because they didn’t have digital networks.  If these examples of functional literacy are unique to our high-tech society, we evidently need them.

Road Safety 

Potential Challenges

Recommendations/ Resources

Safety at home

Potential Challenges

Recommendations/ Resources

o   Label items which could be hot (e.g. kettle, iron, oven)

o   Label cupboards and drawers which contain sharp items (e.g. knives, tools, scissors)

o   Label items which could be poisonous (e.g. household cleaners, medicines).


2. Functional literacy - Math in daily life: time, money, measurement

Strategies to teach time, money and measurement
Time, money and measurement are simply applications of mathematical concepts in daily living and hence very essential for students with ASD.

Instruction about money should follow a sequence throughout students education. Practical and real life experiences should be provided for the application of skills. Moreover, the instruction has to be planned in such a way that each student’s needs in terms of utility are met.

The sequence for teaching money is as follows:

Real money should be used to teach rupee notes and coin recognition and change making and to make use in simulated purchases of various items. For example, a student has Rs.5 and purchases an item for Rs.3, he determines how much change he has to receive. The teacher does not have to worry about transference of learning from play money to real money, if he uses real money in the first stage of learning. Teacher should also take them to nearby shops/supermarkets for purchasing items as a part of instruction. This would help in minimizing the problem of generalization of learned skills.

A workbook using pictures of real money provides interesting work for many students. The workbook should include activities on recognition of rupee notes and coins, relative value of rupee notes and coins, deriving correct change from purchases of various items and such other exercises.

For older children, the use of pay cheques, saving accounts and home budgets may be taught. Home budgeting may be taught using ditto sheets of bills and statements for utilities, rent, food and clothes. Basic book keeping skill also may be taught, to help them in keeping a home budget. During the process, the students to maintain home records, filing receipts and so on.

Banking skills also should be taught directly. The student should learn how to deposit and withdraw money, write and maintain a saving account.

Currency based token economy
Alternative to workbooks or a simulated unit on money is a currency-based token economy in the classroom. Token economies are usually developed to motivate students to do their work or to control disruptive behaviour. A currency based economy may be used effectively to teach counting, tending exact change and the relative value of the money. It provides an environment that promotes decision making regarding the safe keeping of money, what can and cannot be purchased with money on hand, how to save money and other concepts. At the vocational level, students can be paid for coming to class on time, punching in and out, getting to work quickly without delay and doing accurate work.

The first instruction in time should be to develop an understanding on the concept of time as a unit and as a sequence of events. A pre-requisite to telling time is an understanding of time itself. Concepts of today, tomorrow, yesterday, next week and so on are basics to understanding time. Next, students need to understand that certain things happen at certain times, like lunch break and end of class. The schedule of events greatly aids in teaching time.

The sequence for teaching time

One way of teaching, how to tell time is to have the child count from 1 to 60 on a number line. The child then superimposes 1 to 12 on the 1 to 60 lines (the 1 to 12 number line should be the same actual length as the 1 to 60). Counts off every five minutes, and marks them in different colours. This number line is then placed on a large clock with the hands removed or on a teacher made clock face of the appropriate size without hands.

The 1 to 60 number line will correspond with the minute markings on a clock and the 1 to 12 number line will correspond to the hour making on a clock. This will help the child understand the function of the clock face. This will help the child understand the functions of the passage of time in minutes. When this concept is understood, the hour hand may be attached and used to indicate how may times the minute hand has gone around. Knowing multiplication table 5 is helpful here. Teacher may also use digital watches for teaching time.

The use of quarter, half and one litre and gallon containers will help in developing an understanding of volume. Initially students may be allowed to measure the water, sand, etc. with the measuring cups. The students may be given practical experience of measuring water for making hot drinks measuring milk etc.

The concept may be introduced first by finding out the weight of each student and maintaining a weekly record. Activities of various types, which involve measuring the weight of flour, sugar, dhal and other commodities will provide a first hand experience of using weights. These activities may be incorporated in teaching home skills (cooking) to students.

In the beginning students may be asked to measure the area of books, tables, doors, windows etc. with a stick. Also draw lines on the floor and ask students to measure with a scale or with feet. Most youngsters with ASD will find it difficult to learn the measurement vocabulary and its use in metres, centimeters, millimeters of yards, feet, inches. However, the potential students may be taught if there is any practical use of the skill in the working situation.


3. Functional community orientation – Banking, bills, shopping, use of community resources

Providing children with a thorough understanding of financial literacy at an early age, is vital to ensure proper money management skills later in life. Setting a realistic budget, responsibly managing credit and debt, saving for unexpected expenses, and learning how to invest will all be important life skills for every young adult to master. Unfortunately, there are many students who enter into adulthood without entirely understanding how to manage their finances properly. Financial literacy is defined as a “meaning-making process”, in which individuals use acquired skills, external resources, and contextual knowledge to accurately process information and make competent decisions in regards to potential consequences of their financial decisions. Although there are lessons to be learned from trial and error, financial literacy is about managing finances proactively and with intention. For adults or college-age students, improvements of financial literacy can be made by educating yourself through reading books about saving money and setting financial goals, asking for guidance from a financial counselor, taking classes within your local community, or finding online resources which provide tools and assistance to help make good financial decisions. Unfortunately for children and young students, financial literacy is often left out of the typical education system’s curriculum. Parents and guardians become the primary educators when it comes to teaching children the money management skills which will allow for a strong foundation of lasting financial competence.

4. Self information – own name, parents name, address, phone numbers, etc

Knowing and being able to share personal information is one of the most important life skills for our students to have. This might be achieved verbally for some of our students, whereas other students might work on handing over a personal identification or ID card. Some of our students might be working on filling out more detailed forms, and others working on writing their names.

No matter where your students are at, they can (and should be) working on their personal information!


Personal Information as IEP Goals
I love using personal information as an IEP goal, or an objective. It is an essential life skill and ties into language arts/speaking/writing standards as well.

(You will notice a lot of my objectives are separated by letters. I like to separate sections of the objectives by letters so that I can be even more specific on how a student is performing on a skill without making it two objectives, so for example, I can say "Student is currently at 70% accuracy for tracing his first and last name. A) Student traces his first name with 90% accuracy, about one in every ten times he will forget or skip a letter. B) Student traces his last name with 50% accuracy, usually getting the first couple letters correct.")

Here are some of the phrases I have used in my objectives (of course with the "By ____, Student will.... with __% accuracy, __ out of __ trials.")

·                Student will trace his a) first name and b) last name

·                Student will match his personal information (a. name, b. address - street name. c. city, d. state, e. zip code, f. birthdate, g. age) with the appropriate section of a form.

·                Student will be able to produce an ID card with his personal information in response to a personal information question such as “Can I see your ID” or “What is your address?” 

·                Given the following personal information: name, birthday, and age, student will a) trace personal information b) copy personal information c) write personal information without a model.

·                Student will complete a form using her personal information (a. name, b. birth date, c. address, d. phone number)

Practicing Personal Information Daily
One of the times we practice personal information is during our morning work or binder time. Each of my students have a form in their binders that they use to practice the personal information that relates to their IEP goal or what they need to work on. 

Ways to Fade Prompts and Teach Independence

When a student is working on memorizing their personal information, I usually start with them writing the information they know without a model (such as their name), and then the information they are learning with a light tracing font. I will then physically fade the tracing font to a lighter shade of gray as the student gets more practice.


5. General Knowledge & Awareness – current affairs, weather, national festivals, leaders, sports, etc

Exploring weather with children and building on their prior experiences helps them understand the different kinds of weather phenomena they experience every day.

Weather is an important part of our lives on Earth. People often look outside to see what the weather is before they begin their day. Observing weather can give us clues that help us dress for the day, plan activities, or prepare for a storm. In this media-rich lesson plan, children will observe, identify, and describe different types of local weather. They will investigate the four factors that describe weather—state of sky, temperature, wind, and precipitation—as they engage with interactive media and hands-on activities.

Learning objectives

Having grown up with this festive spirit over the years, we adults enjoy and appreciate the meaning of each of these cultural traditions in our lives, or we even consider these days to be auspicious to begin something new, or make a purchase, but do you think children these days really know and understand the significance of festivals and traditions? In fact, one can even put it to test – ask your child what is the significance of the nine-day Navratri celebration and which deity is worshipped during this time, or why is Durga puja celebrated or even why do we celebrate Diwali with lights? Likely responses will range from it being a time to play dress up, to being a time for indulgences for the entire family!

Why should we make an effort to teach our child about the several festivals that India celebrates? The reasons can vary from person to person, but here are a few reasons on why one could start.

· Fostering life-long bonds: Festivals are one time when families visit each other, go for holidays together, or even simply drop in to greet each other. It is a great time for the child to meet his cousins, grandparents and other family relatives, who otherwise may live far away. Meeting like this, will help your child bond better with the family over the long run as they grow up.

· Better understanding of the Indian culture: Celebrating festivals is a great way to teach your child about the Indian culture. Knowing more about why a festival is celebrated, what its significance is, and why we started celebrating it in the first place, can help a child understand the importance and significance of each festival, and it can be a great way to impart values to the child as well.

· Tolerance for tradition: Explaining the importance of each ritual and how it welcomes good fortune for the entire family, may not register with him/her just yet, but over the long run, once the child becomes an adult, these are the very same rituals he/she will follow, thanks to you taking the time out to explain their significance (and it won’t be because you said it should be done).

So, how can you teach your child about the importance of these festivals and not make it seem like an extra class that he has to attend besides his school? Here are some fun tips to get you started during the festive season:

· Make a game out of it: Make the festivities hard to get! Create a mock contest that your child has to win, in order to get his/her precious crackers, or the dandiya sticks for example. Pose questions and urge him/her to read up and be prepared on the eve of Diwali/Navratri night. This not only infuses fun in the learning process, but also helps him/her value the celebration that much more!

· Play dress up: Get fun costumes for your child to wear for different occasions, traditional outfits for Navratri, a Ravan mask for Dusshera, etc. This way he/she gets the opportunity to play around with the props and it becomes easier for him/her to understand the reason behind Ravan’s ten heads or why people play Dandiya during navratri.

· Festive Project: Involve your child in the home decoration process. Involve him/her right from the diya selection, to the rangoli decoration, to making the special festive food. Even if you don’t indulge in decorating the house yourself, make it a project for your children, they will not only enjoy decorating the house, but will also proudly show it off to family that comes to visit you.

· Dinner table conversations: Make festival or occasions a dinner table conversation as the date approaches, this shows your child, that you think it’s important, and he/she will automatically start showing interest in learning more about the festival/occasion.

While you may already be celebrating the festival in your own special way, the whole idea is to make a concerted effort with your child, to teach him/her the traditions and values that you as a family hold dear, and hope that these values will be passed on to the next generation, just as they were passed on to you from your parents and grandparents. In the end, make it fun, and make it festive! After all isn’t that what these festivals are for? Let’s together with our family spend Holidays as Holy-Days!