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Collection: Early Childhood

purple arrowThe Macomb Projects

REFERENCE: Macomb Projects. (1994). About Macomb Projects [brochure]. Macomb, IL: Western Illinois University, College of Education.

The following is a description of the work done by the Macomb Projects, a group of projects whose work focuses on young children with disabilities. It is reprinted with the permission of the Macomb Projects.

Macomb Projects under the direction of Patricia Hutinger, Ed.D., professor of Early Childhood in the Department of Elementary Education/Reading at Western Illinois University, was begun in 1975. Because of Dr. Hutinger's background, interests, and experience, all Macomb Projects' work has centered on young children, ages 0-8. "Macomb Projects" today is an umbrella title for a group of one state and six federally funded grant projects that deal with young children with disabilities.

Project ACTT (Activating Children Through Technology) was begun in 1983 to demonstrate that young children with disabilities could benefit from using computers and adaptive devices to help them play, learn, communicate, and interact with their environment. Since 1986, Project ACTT has trained teachers, program assistants, therapists, and parents to implement technology in the classrooms and homes with their students and youngsters with disabilities. Training is held on the Western Illinois University campus three times a year, and our trainers are available to do workshops throughout the United States. We are proud that in 1990 the State of Hawaii adopted our computer curriculum and philosophy for the entire state's Birth to Three programs. One of ACTT's outreach efforts is an assistive technology conference held in March in Macomb, IL. Project ACTT is funded through the U.S. Department of Education's Early Education Program for Children with Disabilities, PR#H024D20044.

Beginning in the fall of 1994, Project TTAP (Technology Team Assessment Process), a former Macomb Projects' model demonstration project, began its outreach work. TTAP provides replication training on our technology assessment model to teams of early childhood personnel, service providers, and families. TTAP's team assessment training provides teams the ability to determine the most effective hardware, software, and adaptive devices for an individual child and to avoid the "hit and miss" approach of making assistive technology recommendations. Three-day traning sessions are conducted in Macomb several times throughout the year, and TTAP trainers are available to provide workshops anywhere in the United States. A manual describing the TTAP process, as well as an observation instrument developed by the Project, is available. TTAP is funded by the U.S. Department of Education's Early Education Program for Children with Disabilities.

Access to activities in the arts that are an accepted part of regular early childhood programs in typical settings are equally, if not more, important for young children with disabilities. Our Expressive Arts Project, which began in the fall of 1992, will design a developmentally appropriate activity-based expressive arts curriculum model for young children with disabilities. The curriculum will contain components for the visual arts, music, and creative dramatics. Computers and other assistive technologies are part of the curriculum activities. Staff works with teachers, children with disabilities, and families at four model development sites (two are birth to three sites and two are preschools). Findings indicate that children with disabilities progress through the developmental stages of children's art as detailed by Rhoda Kellogg. The Expressive Arts Project is funded by the U.S. Department of Education's Early Education Program for Children with Disabilities, PR#H024B20010.

"Something's Fishy!," a Macintosh CD-ROM under development by our Technology Assessment Software Project, will feature developmentally appropriate software designed to be used during technology assessments of children 18 months through 8 years of age who have moderate to severe disabilities. Part 1 of "Something's Fishy!" is called "Splish! Splash!" and features as series of activities to assess levels of alternative input, beginning with the single switch. Part 2, "Anchors Aweigh!" is a series of activities to assess complexity of task, ranging from direct select to scanning. Part 3, "Oh Buoy!" contains activities designed to determine the child's preferences for color, size, sounds, volume, movement, image types, and nature of stimuli (visual, auditory, combination). The Project, which is funded by the U.S. Department of Education's National Institute on Disabilities and Rehabilitation Research, PR#H133G40141, began in the fall of 1994.

Our Early Childhood Emergent Literacy Technology Project is developing and studying the effects of an interactive technology literacy curriculum on the emergent knowledge and abilities of 3, 4, and 5 year old children who demonstrate mild to moderate disabilities. The Project's curriculum is implemented in four different types of classrooms, ranging from those having no experience with technology to those having a great deal of technology experience. The interactive technology literacy curriculum is based on an emergent literacy approach and includes software selected via an analysis of the quality and interactive levels of the programs, their appropriateness, and their appeal to children. The curriculum includes on-computer and off-computer activities which contain important elements of emerging literacy. This Project began in the summer of 1994 and is funded by the U.S. Department of Education's Technology, Educational Media, and Materials Program for Individuals with Disabilities, PR#H180G40078.

Our state-funded project, Project APPLES (Assistance for Preschool Personnel in Learning Environments)/R*TAS Regions I and III, is funded through the Illinois State Board of Education's Regional Technical Assistance System (R*TAS). APPLES provides inservice opportunities for early childhood special education personnel through numerous conferences, workshops, and training sessons. The Project hosts APPLES Magazine, an interactive satellite program aired each month of the school year. Each program features a guest who covers a timely topic of interest to those in the early childhood field. The program is extremely popular not only in Illinois but also in many other states as well. Videotapes of each program are available. APPLES also offers mini-grants in an effort to provide opportunities for early childhood special education professionals to implement creative ideas, explore innovative concepts, or develop unique curricular practices that benefit children, families, and professionals.

A catalog of products (software, instructional materials, curriculum guides and videotapes) developed by Macomb Projects is available.

CONTACT(S): Macomb Projects, 27 Horrabin Hall, WIU Macomb, IL 61455; (309) 298-1634. Carol Schneider, a Child Developmental Computer Specialist for Macomb Projects is a registered user of NCIPnet.

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This material was developed by the National Center to Improve Practice (NCIP), located at Education Development Center, Inc. in Newton, Massachusetts.  NCIP was funded by the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs from October 1, 1992 - September 30, 1998, Grant #H180N20013.  Permission is granted to copy and disseminate this information.  If you do so, please cite NCIP.   Contents do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the Department of Education, nor does mention of trade names, commercial products, or organizations imply endorsement by NCIP, EDC, or the U.S. Government.  This site was last updated in September 1998. 

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