Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Free Webinar!! Practical Strategies to Modify Your Curriculum for Students Working Below Grade Level

Be sure to mark your calendars! On Tuesday, March 27th at 3 PM Eastern, I will be giving a FREE webinar on making curriculum modifications. In conjunction with Brookes Publishing and,  this one hour presentation will cover topics useful for any teacher and/or parent who teaches students working below grade level. Below is a more detailed description of the webinar:

"Educators use a variety of strategies and learning accommodations to teach diverse learners. However, educators can struggle to make grade-level curriculum possible and achievable for students with intellectual disabilities. An educational process, known as modifying curriculum, can open doors to an inclusive, high quality education for students who work below grade level. In this edWebinar, Nicole Eredics, author of Inclusion in Action: Practical Strategies to Modify Your Curriculum, will give you step-by-step instruction on when and how to modify curriculum.

Nicole, a seasoned inclusion teacher, has the information, tools, and strategies you need to take grade-level curriculum and transform it into rigorous content that is intellectually and developmentally appropriate for students who work below grade level. Most importantly, you will learn:

   * The fundamentals of creating and maintaining truly inclusive classrooms
   * An overview of ways to support diverse learners through universal design for learning, social and emotional supports, and accommodations
   * The role of curriculum modifications in the education process
   * How to modify any curriculum for students with intellectual disabilities
   * Strategies that will quickly and easily modify curriculum in any classroom with  suggestions for interventions and extensions
   * Useful educational resources for modifying curriculum

Classroom and special education teachers across all grade levels as well as administrators will benefit from this session. There were be time to get your questions answered after the presentation. Join us to learn more about modifying curriculum to support all students."

Friday, January 26, 2018

10 Things You Can Do to Make Your Class Socially Inclusive

Inclusive schools are places where educational barriers are removed and students of all abilities are educated in general education classrooms. Many of my previous posts have focused on the removal of barriers to the academic curriculum. I've written about using learning accommodations, lesson modifications, universal design for learning, and assistive technology to facilitate inclusive education.

There is another area of the curriculum where barriers can exist to full inclusion.

It typically receives less attention, yet is just as important. I'm talking about the "hidden" or social curriculum that is the by-product of a school's education program. This social curriculum conveys the values, belief systems, and expectations of behavior in the school setting. 

This social curriculum is not "hidden" in an inclusive school. It's actually quite the opposite - with as much attention given to the social development of students as there is academic. Teachers give explicit instruction in social inclusion, model socially inclusive behavior, provide socially inclusive opportunities for students, and expect that all students will adhere to an inclusive belief system. 

So, if you or your school is on a journey towards inclusion or you are thinking about creating a more inclusive classroom, here are some strategies to intentionally facilitate social inclusion:

1. Switch up the seating plan - give students a change of scenery and someone new to work with by changing up your seating plan several times during the school year. 

2. Find common ground - class games such as "Find Someone Who", gives students a chance to get to know one another in a fun and informal manner.

3. Partner or small group work - set students up in partners and small groups to complete work. Giving students guidelines and expectations of group behavior beforehand can help set students up for a positive experience.

4. Offer structured recess activities - unstructured recess time can be very difficult for some students. It can be lonely, awkward, or even chaotic. Offer some structured and supervised games that are open to all students. 

5. Use socially inclusive language - socially inclusive language is essential to creating an atmosphere of respect. Schools should expect that students and staff use words that appropriate and culturally responsive.

6. Role-play situations where students can include one another - role-playing common social situations can give students the skills they need to successfully interact with one another. 

7. Set expectations for socially-inclusive behavior - clearly communicate your expectations of socially inclusive behavior. Ensure that all students understand the expectations.

8. Find ways to highlight student interests and strengths - encourage students to share their favorite things, celebrate student success in various areas of the curriculum, and demonstrate their talent and/or expertise (one year I had a student who brought her bagpipes to school and she played us a few songs).

9. Ensure that all students have an effective and appropriate way to communicate - make sure assistive devices are working properly and are set-up for students to effectively communicate with their peer group. 

10. Provide opportunities/places for students to meet and interact in your classroom - create spaces where students can work together, read together, have discussions, complete an activity, or just socialize with one another. Use different types of seating, tables, and materials to create welcoming spaces. 

Please share your ideas and strategies for creating a socially inclusive classroom in the comments below! 

Thursday, November 16, 2017

***NEW BOOK!!*** Inclusion in Action: Practical Strategies to Modify Your Curriculum

How can K—12 educators break down the barriers to full inclusion and teach all learners effectively? Curriculum modifications are the key! 

You'll start with a big-picture guide to creating an inclusive culture in your classroom and school, with invaluable guidance on key topics like team collaboration, universal design for learning, co-teaching, social-emotional supports, and accommodations. Then you'll get 40 specific, teacher-tested strategies to modify your curriculum for students who work below grade level. Ready to use in your classroom right away, each strategy comes with student goals, simple step-by-step directions and implementation tips, suggested interventions and extensions, and samples of authentic student work that illustrate the strategy in action. 

Equally useful as a beginner's guide to inclusion and a goldmine of practical ideas for experienced teachers, this must-have book will help make your curriculum “possible and achievable” for every learner, with and without disabilities. 

PRACTICAL MATERIALS: More than a dozen reproducible forms for use with specific modifications; lists of helpful inclusion-themed websites, blogs, books, and videos. 
40 modifications that help students: 

  • Learn new vocabulary words
  • Understand story structure
  • Sequence materials, concepts, and numbers
  • Develop recall ability
  • Demonstrate relationships among ideas
  • Organize information
  • Make a representation of a concept
  • Identify similarities and differences
  • Make decisions based on evidence
  • Learn to recognize and correct errors
  • and more!

Pre-order today Paul H. Brookes PublishingUse code, EREDICS, for a 10% discount!

Monday, September 11, 2017

You Don't Think You Are an Inclusion Teacher? Think Again.

If you think that the beginning of a school year is something that only students get anxious about - think again. 

Teachers also worry about what their class will be like, how they will get up and get to school on time, and what they will eat for lunch! 

One of the biggest worries a teacher has is having to try something new. Whether it is a new grade level, a new reading program, a new grading software, or even a new school wide initiative, teachers have a myriad of concerns. Will it benefit my students? Will there be enough time? Will I be able to teach it?

Teachers can also worry about teaching students who are perceived as "different" from the general education population. They aren't sure how to include the student in their classroom activities and routines. They wonder how they will teach the student according to his or her learning needs. They are stressed about potential disruptions to the classroom curriculum and other students. When asked to teach a student with disabilities in their classroom those teachers respond with, "But, I'm not an inclusion teacher!"

If you are one of those teachers or know of a teacher who claims that they are not an inclusion teacher then my response is, "***NEWSFLASH*** YOU ALREADY ARE!

Whether you realize it or not, you are already including and teaching students with:

- various levels of abilities. Not every child in your class reads at the exact same level. Nor do they compute math, write, or act at the same developmental level. Not every child can write a complex sentence or identify all the states on a map. The fact is, your class is not a homogenous mix and every student has varying strengths.

- various learning challenges. Some students can be strong readers yet find it difficult to solve complex word problems in math. Other students demonstrate a talent for drawing and creating but struggle to understand a science concept. It is common for students to find certain subject areas more challenging than others. As teachers, we find ways to support the learning needs of those students. We provide extra instruction or time to re-do an assignment. We use visual aides and tools that enhance understanding to help students overcome their challenges. Teachers look for different ways to reach and engage learners.

- diverse learning styles. Some children in your class prefer to read text in order to learn, others like to listen to music, or even tap their pencil. You are already catering to the different learning styles in your classroom by providing students with different opportunities for learning new material. You ask them to write, read, color, draw, and create.

- different modes of communication. Not every child in your class communicates in the same manner.  Some of your students speak more than one language. English might not be their first language and they are still learning the meaning english metaphors. Some students communicate with hand gestures or body movements. Others are more in tune with the tone in which language is used. As humans, we communicate in many different ways with one another.

- different levels of social and emotional development. Just as with academics, students in our classrooms demonstrate different levels of social and emotional maturity. In our classes, students can respond differently to the same situation. For example, a student may not be willing to share colored pencils with another student. Or, a student may not show respect and respond with laughter when another student answers a question incorrectly. For others, physical aggression is the only way they know how to react to a frustrating situation. Age is never an indicator of a student's ability to handle excitement, stress, anger, or disappointment.

- various physical needs. Again, we already have students with varying types of physical needs in our classrooms. We have students with allergies, students who need to wear eye glasses, students who  are on medication, and students who don't get enough sleep. Teachers make accommodations every day in the classroom to support a student's physical development and health. 

As you can see, your class is a mixed bag of abilities and needs that you already address with your teaching style, teaching tools, and teaching supports. You are capable of using all your knowledge and resources to successfully instruct all types of students. So, when you are beginning a new school year and are asked to teach a student with disabilities, don't worry! You don't think you are inclusion teacher? Guess what? You already are!