Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Q & A: Accommodations and Modifications

Not sure how to include students who work below grade level in your class? Wondering if it is fair that one student gets extra test-taking time while the rest of the class does not? Want to know if it really is your job to give students in your class accommodations?

I recently had the opportunity to answer these questions and more about education-related accommodations and modifications! In addition, I shared some of my favorite strategies to use in the classroom with examples!

Here is an excerpt with a link to the whole article.....

1. You’ve explained this on your excellent blog before, but for anyone who doesn’t know—can you briefly clarify the difference between accommodations and modifications?
Nicole Eredics of The Inclusive Class
Nicole Eredics of The Inclusive Class
Yes! Educators use a variety of teaching and assessment strategies to help students access the curriculum. In addition to research-based, quality instruction (such as Universal Design for Learning), some students require support in order to meet the learning expectations. For example, a student might need extra test-taking time, larger print materials, simplified material, or visual reminders. The alteration of the curriculum and learning environment, to help a student achieve educational success, is known as an adaptation. Accommodations and modifications are two types of adaptations that can remove barriers to learning.
Accommodations are adaptations that make curriculum accessible. They provide students with an equal opportunity to learn from the same material as his or her peers. Accommodations do not change learning outcomes. Rather, accommodations change the way students access learning. Accommodations are often referred to as, “pathways to learning.” Educators can create pathways for students to learn by.........CLICK HERE TO CONTINUE READING.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

10 Tips to Help You Advocate for Inclusive Education

Years of research and experience tells us that inclusive education, which is the practice of educating all children of all abilities in one classroom, is the gold standard. However, many schools still have classrooms where children with disabilities are removed and educated from the rest of the student population. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), originally enacted in 1975 and with many revisions since, provides guidance to educating children with disabilities. Though the word, “inclusion”, isn’t specifically used in the IDEA, it mandates that children with disabilities be educated in the Least Restrictive Environment.

The level of inclusive environment is subject to the needs of the student. If the school determines that a student's needs cannot be supported in the general education classroom, then a child can be placed in a “self-contained” or segregated classroom. The reality is, inclusive education is not yet a common practice in the education system. Therefore, the education of a child can look different across schools and school districts. Being well-informed about the philosophy and practice of inclusion is your first step in this journey. Here are some suggestions to help you successfully advocate for inclusive education:

1. To ensure your child receives a successful inclusive education, it's important to know the definition of inclusive education. There are many terms and definitions associated with inclusion. There are several reliable resources that describe inclusion, including this video on The Inclusive Schools Network site

2. Find out the federal laws that the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act has mandated to support the education of students with disabilities. Wrightslaw.com is a great place to get to know the law in easy-to-understand language. Understand the function of a 504 Plan and an Individual Education Plan and ways in which they can be used to promote inclusion.

3. Get familiar with the research that supports inclusive education. Inclusive education has been proven to be beneficial to the social, academic, physical and emotional growth for both students with and without disabilities. 

4. Learn your school district’s history with inclusive education. Have they been known to bus students with special needs to magnet schools miles away from your neighborhood? Or, do they provide supports in neighborhood schools? Are there schools that are very inclusive or schools that have segregated classrooms? A phone call to the school district office can often answer those questions and prepare you for future conversations.

5. Reach out to national organizations such as MCIE, TASH, and The ARC, who support the inclusion of people with disabilities in all areas of life, including school. 

6. While advocating for an inclusive setting for your child, you need to be willing to provide all relevant information about your child’s special needs to the appropriate school personnel.  Being honest and upfront about your child’s strengths and weaknesses will be helpful in deciding what types of supports are needed in and around the school. Parents can give schools comprehensive information to provide a greater understanding of the child’s needs and abilities. For example, parents can easily identify what will work and not work in certain situations such as transitions, large groups or recess time. If applicable, tell the school if your child is being included elsewhere or has prior experience with inclusive settings. You can offer to bring in videos and pictures as examples of how your child is included in the community.  By providing this information in an open and honest manner, either through conversation or a portfolio, the stage can be set for successful inclusion.

7. Have a few inclusive education resources on hand to share with school staff.  These resources can be in the form of hand-outs, books, videos or photos which can be easily found online or in a bookstore. Brookes Publishing has numerous professional books about inclusive education. First, these resources help inexperienced staff envision what inclusion looks like. Second, resources can offer guidance in how inclusive schools operate, how classwork is handled and ways in which students can be included. 

8. Look for resources in your community. Many communities have organizations that offer training and support for inclusion. Tapping into outside agencies can provide extra materials and expertise. 

9. Find others who have gone before you and ask for their ideas and suggestions. Learn from their experiences, take notes, and ask questions. Facebook and Twitter are great places to connect with others who are in similar situations or have advice.

10. Know that inclusive education is not a program that can be handled by one classroom teacher. It requires a system of support from the principal to the teacher, bus driver, lunch supervisor and recess monitor. Your child’s inclusion will also require your participation. You will need to be available for meetings, respond to correspondence, and regularly communicate with your child’s teacher. Don't forget to take notes of names, dates, and conversations you've had with district personnel.

Parents can face many challenges when seeking an education for their child with disabilities in the American public school system. For example, how do parents find the most appropriate education for their child’s specific needs? How do they know if it is the most ideal situation? Will their choices be supported by school personnel, and if they aren’t, how do parents advocate for a more suitable placement? Finally, what if the school's vision of education does not align with yours? 

It can be an uncertain time but can be made more bearable by doing some research and knowing a few key strategies for advocacy.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Downloads for the Inclusive Classroom!

Click to on picture to download.

Terms of Use:

Download and print these forms for your classroom! Please note that these pages are for classroom use for a single teacher. Please do not copy or modify. These documents provide information only and should not be construed as advice.Thank you!

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?


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