Thursday, April 21, 2016

5 Signs that a Classroom is Inclusive




Traditional classrooms and inclusive classrooms differ significantly in the way students receive their education. There are differences in overall educational philosophy, instructional strategies and resources to support learners. There are many myths and misunderstanding about inclusion, even at the school level. Thus, it’s helpful for parents and guardians of students with special needs to know the characteristics of inclusive classrooms; then they can advocate for truly inclusive education.

To begin, inclusive schools welcome students of all abilities. Classrooms are established by placing children together by age despite ability level. Years of research has proven that there are significant academic, social, emotional and physical benefits to teaching typically and non-typically developing students in the same classroom. In fact, teaching strategies such as Universal Design for Learning and Differentiation were derived from the intent to teach the different types of learners in one classroom. School supports such as specialized service providers (speech-language therapists, occupational therapists), flexible scheduling, and accessible spaces reinforce the premise that students learn better together. 

There are also numerous systems and supports that exist within the classrooms themselves. Some are as overt as a paraeducator assisting a student with a writing assignment and some as subtle as the teacher using a book with large print for a class story.  Knowing the “indicators of inclusion” can give families a sense of ease or a list of requests for the next IEP meeting. Inside inclusive classrooms, you will see:

Groups of desks are placed around the classroom. Grouping students allows for socialization as well as cooperative and peer learning, which research by Johnson & Johnson (1989) indicates that cooperation, compared with competitive and individualistic efforts, typically results in higher achievement and greater productivity, more caring, supportive, and committed relationships, and greater psychological, health, social competence, and self-esteem.

Visual learning aids such as a daily schedule, timers, posters, and flip charts assist in teaching students who are visual learners. It is commonly understood that approximately 65% of students are visual learners. In addition, executive functioning skills, structure and transitions can be supported through the use of visual aids. Moreover,  when teachers used visual tactics to teach middle aged students they found that students had more positive attitudes about the material they were learning (Farkas, 2003).

Developmentally appropriate learning materials such as leveled books, manipulatives, and centers with hands-on activities are placed around the room. These various materials are suited for learners at different levels of abilities as well as kinesthetic learners. Kinesthetic intelligence was identified by Howard Gardener in his book, Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences. In it, Gardener describes kinesthetic learners are those who succeed in learning through “doing” or “moving”.

A classroom social skills program is the cornerstone of a respectful and productive learning environment. By guiding students in the development of their social skills, teachers can support communication between students, the growth of confidence and encourage culturally-responsive behavior. Students learn to engage and interact with one another in socially appropriate manners, and adapt to the needs of others. All the while, students learn to become community and global citizens.

Assistive technology is available to students to support their individual interests, styles and educational needs. Items such as adaptive pencil grips, iPads, apps, augmentative communication and color overlays are examples used to make curriculum accessible. Whether simple or complex, assistive technology can be used in many ways to level the playing field for all learners.


What other traits would you look for?



References:

Johnson, D. W., & Johnson, R. T. (1989). Cooperation and competition: Theory and    research. Edina, Minn. : Interaction Book Company.


Farkas, R. “Effects of Traditional Versus Learning-Styles Instructional Methods on Middle School Students” The Journal of Educational Research. Vol. 97, No. 1 (Sep. - Oct., 2003), pp. 42-51

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Inclusive Education Online Course Now Available!



We are excited to announce that a new, online professional development course for K-12 educators, families and advocates is now available! Co-developed by The Inclusive Class and Kids Included Together (KIT), this course is practical, informative and based on current best practices in inclusive education.

Learn why inclusion works in an education setting, the research that supports inclusion and essential stakeholders in an inclusive school. Whether you are new to the idea of inclusive education or need a refresher, this course will give you everything you need to understand the concept and fundamentals of inclusion in the classroom!

Sign up to get started today @ www.kitonline.org/inclusiveclass

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Inclusion Tip: Give Students Choice




I haven't had much time for writing blog posts lately because......I am writing a BOOK!! So in the meantime, I am posting these quick inclusion tips and info.

Stay tuned for more details about that book.......:)

Friday, March 11, 2016

12 Incusion Supports for Success!



To create a culture of school inclusion, the right supports are needed to guarantee success. Here are a dozen that should be available! 

Can you think of any more?

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

***NEW!!! ONLINE INCLUSIVE EDUCATION COURSE***


In collaboration with Kids Included Together (KIT), The Inclusive Class is pleased to announce the launch of our first online course on inclusive education! This is the first is a series of five online courses that will teach you how to create inclusive environments in your school!
In Module 1, you will learn:
*Fundamental Principals of Inclusion
*Inclusive Environments Within the Educational Setting
*Misconceptions Surrounding Inclusion
Course is available beginning March 28. Register now and don't miss opportunity to learn about inclusive education from an inclusion teacher! Go to http://www.kitonline.org/inclusiveclass/ to sign up!

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