meet our expert


Unlocking Language

Special Day Deaf and Hard of Hearing

palms elementary school, lausd

Cal Lutheran M. Ed

“Because the systems maps provide such strong visuals, students’ oral participation has improved so much.”

Brittany’S Special Day CLASSROOM

The systems approach works in a Special Day classroom because it invites every style and level of experience. Because kids are leading the conversation, inclusivity is automatic. And as the teacher, it feels natural because this is how our brains tend to work; connections flow.  And for me, it also worked in teaching multiple grades, because peer to peer learning is invaluable with special day students.


My deaf and hard of hearing students lack a lot of background knowledge, and they don’t pick up on a lot of contextual clues. That’s because people who don’t hear, don’t overhear.  So they often just don’t have the same level of prior knowledge as their peers.  But asking questions through a systems lens shows them that in fact they do have prior knowledge, there is a place to start, even if it is limited or selective prior knowledge.

systems builds confidence

Systems is ideal for my kids because of the mapping. They can SEE what they know, and connections that can be made. It’s graphic, it’s documented, it’s validated. The maps help them understand that their knowledge is counted. They are not afraid to speak in class, or with other people.  Systems really builds confidence.

Brittany’S Experience


From my first experience in a classroom with special needs students who are deaf or hard of hearing, I loved it. The magic of language learning, seeing that these children are so smart they and just didn’t have enough language to express themselves was incredible. I worked with a little girl who had just received two cochlear implants, so she was starting to listen at 3 years old. She had no receptive or expressive language, and then suddenly she was able to express some needs. Language unlocked her, and it was clear how her behavior shifted when she could express herself. Spoken language is invisible, but it is a system they learn about later and with more purpose than their peers.

brittany’s lesson plans

coming soon!

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Systems Thinking Schools is a program of the Wildwood Outreach Center
at Wildwood School
Elementary Campus / 12201 Washington Place / Los Angeles, CA 90066
Middle-Upper Campus / 11811 Olympic Blvd. / Los Angeles, CA 90064

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