Thursday, September 24, 2015

Survey Time!

Please take this very quick survey to help us learn what interests you the most about inclusive education! 
Click on the picture to take the survey.  Thanks so much!!

Sunday, September 20, 2015

An Awesome Example of a Modified Spelling List!

Have a look at this example of a modifed Gr. 5 spelling list! It was created for a student with Down Syndrome who is in a Gr. 5 general education classroom. The student is currently working below grade level and needed a spelling list that was more appropriate for his developmental level. 

From a class list of 25 words, 10 words were chosen for the modified list. From there, several activites were created to reinforce the student's spelling skills. The student was asked to match the words. Then smaller words or specific letters within the big words, were singled out. The students was asked to re-write the smaller words using a cloze prompt. A cloze prompt is the ommission of several letters in the word.

This modified activity allowed the student to participate in the class spelling lesson, with alternate learning outcomes that were more suited to the student's specific needs.  So great to see!

Monday, September 14, 2015

10 Class Rules for the Teacher

I read an article for teachers on this past weekend called, 13 Common Sayings to Avoid.  It gave a run-down of some things teachers say to their students and makes me wonder why those teachers chose this profession in the first place. Teachers, by far, set the tone in a classroom and school. By using phrases such as, “You need to try harder.”, “What’s wrong with you?” and “Why can’t you listen to instructions?”, an air of disrespect, resentment and a drop in student motivation can occur. So, I thought it could be helpful to post a list of classroom rules for teachers instead of the students. Why not? Sometimes adults need reminders about their behavior as well! Here a few not-so-serious (but, they could be serious) rules teachers can follow:

1. Use an “indoor voice” when speaking to the class. Yelling, shouting and screaming inside is best used when watching your favorite football team play a game on tv.

2. Be kind to others. Use “Please” and “Thank-you” often. Be courteous and model kindness.

3. Walk in the Classroom. Move around and help kids with their work, monitor behavior or answer a question. Be available and mobile.

4. Be a good listener. Listen to your students. Listen if a student tells you he/she is being bullied, doesn’t understand, is having a bad day, or didn’t eat breakfast.

5. Clean up after yourself. Keep clutter and dirt to a minimum. Allow students spaces to move freely and safely. 

6. Come to class prepared. Have your lesson plans for the day done, materials prepared and resources ready.

7. Follow instructions. Refer to the IEP, remember the request to call a parent after school, follow through with staff responsibilities. 

8. Stay on task. Teach not text, mark homework, give students one-to-one support or prepare for the next lesson.

9. Hand in work on time. Mark your student’s assignments in a timely fashion and hand them back within a week or two of the due date! Kids learn through their mistakes. By providing students with immediate feedback, they are more likely to retain the information.

10. Do your best. Seek the advice from your seasoned colleagues, look for resources, collaborate and never stop learning how to be the best teacher you can be!

Friday, August 28, 2015

Adapting Curriculum on Demand with Renay Marquez (ParaEducate)

Live presentation will begin at 9 PM Eastern on August 30, 2015.

Monday, August 17, 2015

FREE PRESENTATION! -- Adapting Curriculum on Demand

Learn how to adapt and modify curriculum, for students with special needs, in your classrooms. Watch Renay Marquez, from ParaEducate, make activities accessible with a few simple tools. Join in for discussion, ideas, tips and strategies to level the playing field. This is an informative and interactive event for teachers, paraeducators and parents! Please RSVP @ The Inclusive Class on Google Plus!

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

10 Ways to Teach Social Skills in Your Classroom

Research and experience has told us that having social skills is essential for success in life. Inclusive teachers have always taught, provided and reinforced the use of good social skills in order to include and accommodate for the wide range of students in the classroom. Essentially, inclusive classrooms are representations of the real world where people of all backgrounds and abilities co-exsist.  In fact, there are school disctricts with curriculum specifically for social and emotional development. Here are some ways in which you can create a more inclusive classroom andsupport social skill development in your students: 

1.  Model Manners

If you expect your students to learn and display good social skills, then you need to lead by example. A teacher's welcoming and positive attitude sets the tone of behaivor between the students. They learn how to intereact with one another and value individuals.  For example, teachers who expect students to use "inside voices" shouldn't be yelling at the class to get their attention. In other words, practice what you preach. 

2.  Assign Classroom Jobs

Assigning classroom jobs to students provides opportunties to demonstrate responsibility, teamwork and leadership. Jobs such as handing out papers, taking attendance, and being a line-leader can highlight a student's strengths and in turn, build confidence. It also helps alleviate your workload! Teachers often rotate class jobs on a weekly or monthly basis, ensuring that every student has an opportunity to participate. Check out this list of classroom jobs for some ideas!

3.  Role-Play Social Situations

As any teacher knows, it's important to not only teach the students a concept or lesson but then give them a chance to practice what they have learned.  For example, if we teach students how to multiply, then we often provide a worksheet or activity for the students to show us their understanding of mulitiplication. The same holds true for teaching social skills. We need to provide students with opportunities to learn and practice their social skills. An effective method of practice is through role-playing. Teachers can provide structured scenarios in which the students can act out and offer immediate feedback. For more information on how to set-up and support effective role-playing in your classroom have a look at this resource from Learn Alberta.

4.  Pen-Pals

For years, I arranged for my students to become pen-pals with kids from another school. This activity was a favorite of mine on many different academic levels; most importantly it taught students how to demonstrate social skills through written communication. Particularly valuable for introverted personalities, writing letters gave students time to collect their thoughts. It levelled the playing field for students who had special needs or were non-verbal.  I was also able to provide structured sentence frames in which the kids held polite conversation with their pen-pal. Setting up a pen-pal program in your classroom takes some preparation before the letter writing begins. You want to ensure that students have guidelines for content and personal safety. This article on Edutopia will give you some ideas!

6. Large and Small Group Activities

In addition to the academic benefits, large and small group activities can give students an opportunity to develop social skills such as teamwork, goal-setting and responsibility. Students are often assigned roles to uphold within the group such as Reporter, Scribe, or Time-Keeper. Sometimes these groups are self-determined and sometimes they are pre-arranged. Used selectively, group work can also help quieter students connect with others, appeals to extroverts, and reinforces respectful behavior. Examples of large group activities are group discussions, group projects and games. Smaller group activities can be used for more detailed assignments or activities. For suggestions on how to use grouping within your classroom, check out this awesome link.

7.  Big Buddies

We know that learning to interact with peers is a very important social skill. It is just as important to learn how to interact with others who may be younger or older. The Big Buddy system is a great way for students to learn how to communicate with and respect different age groups. Often an older class will pair up with a younger class for an art project, reading time or games.  Again, this type of activity needs to be pre-planned and carefully designed with student's strengths and interests in mind. Usually, classroom teachers meet ahead of time to create pairings of students and to prepare a structured activity. There is also time set aside for the teacher to set guidelines for interaction and ideas for conversation topics. Entire schools have also implemented buddy programs to enrich their student's lives. Here is an article that describes how to start a reading buddy program.

8.  Class Stories

There are dozens of stories for kids that teach social skills in direct or inadvertant ways. Find strategies to incoporate these stories in your class programs. You can set aside some time each day to read-aloud a story to the entire class or use a story to teach a lesson. Better yet, have your class write their own stories with characters who display certain character traits. 

9.  Class Meeting

Class Meetings are a wonderful way to teach students how to be diplomatic, show leadership, solve problems and take responsibility. They are usually held weekly and are a time for students to discuss current classroom events and issues. Successful and productive meetings involve discussions centered around classroom concerns and not individual problems. In addition, it reinforces the value that each person brings to the class. Before a class meeting, teachers can provide the students with group guidelines for behavior, prompts, and sentence frames to facilitate meaningful conversation. Here is a great article on Education World that describes the purpose and attributes of a Class Meeting.

10. Explicit Instruction

Finally, teachers can carve out a time in their curriculum to directly teach social skills to their students. Research-based programs such as Second Step provide teachers and schools with explicit lessons for social development. These programs can provide schools and classrooms with a common language, set of behavior expectations, and goals for the future. I have used programs such as Second Step in my classrooms with much success!