What's Wrong With Timmy?

Presented by: Nancy Rand

Subject Area(s):

Grade Level(s):


Collaborating with the English Teacher in reading and signing (ASL) the book, What\'s Wrong With Timmy?, and using props in a role-play will not only create an awareness about people with differences, but will also create a further interest in learning about sign language. After the story, the students will write about any feelings, questions or concerns they might have regarding people with disabilities and submit to the teacher anonymously. Further discussion is prompted by specific questioning techniques.
NOTE - This lesson may be completed in 40 minutes and may also be used to launch the lesson entitled Understanding and Accepting Differences.

Goals & Objectives:

Instructional Goals: Students will gain an awareness and a better understanding of people with disabilities as well as an interest in sign language.

Learning Objectives - 7th grade students will be able to:
1. Demonstrate listening skills as they are being read a story about a boy with down syndrome.

2. Observe the LMS as she signs using American Sign Language (ASL).

3. Write about their feelings and/or any questions or concerns after listening to the story to be submitted.

4. Participate in/contribute to a discussion about people with differences.

Motivational Goals: To establish the importance of learning information skills and to generate an interest by asking questions that will trigger the students' need to know more.


1. Book, 2 copies - What\'s Wrong With Timmy?
2. Cotton Balls
3. Wheelchair
4. Handout (MS Word)
5. Someone to sign ASL


Shriver, Maria. What's Wrong With Timmy? New York: Little Brown and Co., 2001.


1. Students were told in advance to arrive at the LMC for this lesson.

2. As students arrive in the LMC, they see their English Teacher, Mrs. Buckley, sitting in a wheelchair and the LMS standing up with cotton balls in her ears. (The teacher will make it difficult to get around in her wheelchair and the LMS will not be able to hear the students.)

3. The two approach the class each holding the book entitled, What's Wrong With Timmy? (The LMS takes the cotton balls out of her ears at this point.)

4. Questioning techniques trigger discussion. (Questions like, What does tolerance mean?, What does it mean to be different?, What are visible and not visible disabilities?, How do people/students treat those people with a disability?, etc.)

5. After a little discussion, explain that while Mrs. Buckley is reading the book, the LMS will be signing using American Sign Language (ASL). (Practice reading the book together before lesson day to work out minor details.)

6. Show illustrations while book is being read, as they are very supportive of the text.

7. Explain to the students that they need to pay attention because the teacher and LMS will be stopping during the story to ask questions throughout the whole reading. (See handout for specific stopping points and example questions to ask.)

8. After the story has finished and discussion questions about the book have been exhausted, take a few minutes and have students write about their feelings and/or any questions or concerns that they want answers to, but are uncomfortable talking about. (These will be submitted to the teacher anonymously and discussed the following day.)

9. Next, create more relevant discussion by asking questions like, Does anyone in this class know someone with a disability?, Has anyone ever tried to speak to someone who didn't respond?, Have you ever seen someone out shopping who walks with a limp?, etc. (Explain that everyone has feelings and what can be easy for you to accomplish, might be very difficult for someone with a disability to accomplish.)

10. As the period is ending and students are packing up, explain what is on the agenda for the next day and ask for volunteers to offer something that they have just learned or if they have something to share with the class.

11. The LMS signs bye to the students as they leave.

Note: For this lesson, the LMS knows how to sign using American Sign Language (ASL). Options are to ask a student to sign that knows ASL or a volunteer from the community to come in and sign for the class. Arrange to have use of a wheelchair until all classes have completed the lesson. Also, ILL two copies of What's Wrong With Timmy?, if you don't have them in your collection.)


1. Observation and discussion before, during and after story using questioning techniques.

2. Feelings, questions or concerns written out and submitted to teacher anonymously.

3. Feedback.

4. Students asking questions about sign language.

Supporting Files: