Sunday, April 29, 2012

Top 10 Websites for the Inclusive Classroom

Teachers love a great resource! Especially a resource that is free and at their fingertips - literally.  That's why I put together a list of 10 outstanding websites that teachers can use in the inclusive classroom (or any classroom, for that matter!). 

It was difficult to narrow the list down to 10, given all the websites that are available on the internet! However each site listed was chosen for content that I feel is unique or more substantial than what others had to offer. 

And, finally, these sites are in no particular order. They are all excellent and will provide teachers (and parents) with the resources to provide the best possible education for learners in the inclusive classroom.

1. BCTF - Teaching to Diversity - this website has both American and Canadian content. It offers resources that cover all aspects of the inclusive classroom. The resources vary from articles to checklists to worksheets. It also covers children who are gifted or have a second language. This site stands out in its effort to provide support for parents. There are numerous links to information, advocacy, and support groups!


2. Government of Alberta Special Education Resources  - here is a website that offers very thorough and comprehensive information on ways in which teachers can support different types of behavior and/or medical conditions in the classroom. It also has a digital resource that provides strategies to support students in social situations while in school. Other online documents include information about transitions, individual education plans and ways to include indigenous populations in the classroom. 


5. Do 2 Learn - you can spend hours looking at this site! It provides thousands of pages of social skills, songs, behavior support, cue cards, academic material and transition guides for employment and life skills. It is easy to navigate and free. Resources are designed by educational and clinical experts that are evidence-based and proven to work!


6. Inclusive Schools Network - not only is this site useful for educators and parents, but for schools as well! It has a unique self-assesment tool that allows schools to identify the success of their inclusive practice. In addition, the organization sponsors a national Inclusive Schools Week in December and provides ideas and materials (Celebration Kit) for schools to use. 


7. National Center for Learning Disabilities -  This site has become a leading resource for parents, students and teachers wanting to know more about learning disabilities.
 It  features articles, assessments, podcasts and more that provide up to date information about learning and related disabilities with best practices for support. 


8. CAST (Center for Applied Special Technology) - this website is home to information and tools to implement Universal Design for Learning in the classroom. In particular, the Learning Tools section has an interactive feature that allows users to create their own books and lessons that meet the needs of various types of learners. An extremely helpful resource for differentiating your instruction.


9. The Organized Special Education Teacher  - there are not many websites that I have seen that are this organized! An American-based site, it is home to a plethora of resources for teachers. In addition to an excellent section on accommodations and modifications, it also has links to American Special Education laws and the Department of Special Education. 


10. EdTech Associates - where can you find the latest and greatest information on assistive technology? On the EdTech Associates website there are links to education web tools, research and digital text books. Also, you can sign up for a newsletter that announces the "Best of the Web" where teachers can get information on how to provide their students with applications that can enhance learning and "level the playing field". 


Do you have any to add to this list?

                                            

Saturday, April 28, 2012

The Inclusive Class Podcast


The Inclusive Class Podcast is hosted by Nicole Eredics & Terri Mauro on Fridays at 9 AM EST on Blog Talk Radio



Nicole is parent, special education advocate, and an elementary educator who has spent over 15 years teaching in an inclusive classroom setting. Through her experience, she has solutions and strategies for supporting the inclusion of special needs children in the classroom. Look for more resources and information here on her website,  www.theinclusiveclass.com! Nicole also has a page on Facebook called The Inclusive Class and you can follow her on Twitter @Inclusive_Class.






Terri Mauro is a parent and one of the most recognized experts on special education and special needs parenting on the net. She is the author of 50 Ways to Support Your Child’s Special Education and The Everything Parent’s Guide to Sensory Integration Disorder. She is also the About.com guide to Parenting Children with Special Needs on the net. You can also follow Terri on her website, www.mamatude.blogspot.com and on Twitter @mamatude.



Together, Nicole and Terri will explore the issues around the promise and practice of inclusion with recognized experts in the field of inclusive education.  Educators and parents to gain a better understanding of what inclusion means, strategies for successful inclusion and the role of parents in inclusive education. The Inclusive Class Radio Show will give listeners the information they need to help provide the best possible education for their child with special needs.


Saturday, April 14, 2012

Preparing Students with Special Needs for the Inclusive Classroom




When I first started teaching more than 15 years ago, I used to spend my entire summer vacation preparing my inclusive classroom for the new school year. A hefty amount of time and money would be spent creating an effective classroom program that would welcome the variety of learners that were coming my way. 

Like most teachers however, the more experienced I became, the more efficient I was at getting prepared for September. Now, instead of 8 weeks preparing for new classes, I have it down to 2!

The point is, that it does take preparation and planning to effectively teach in an inclusive classroom. And, as I have also learned over time, that the preparation not only rests in the hands of the teachers but the parents as well.

Here is an overview of the role of teachers and parents in preparing a student with special needs for the inclusive classroom. (Actually, I do this for ALL my students!)


Teachers:

1. Gather Student files and Individual Education Plans.

2. Meet with previous teachers/paraprofessionals/co-teachers to discuss student's strengths, weaknesses and health. Create a profile of student and place in a Student Information Binder. See http://www.intime.uni.edu/model/teacher/teac1.html for examples of questions to ask and http://www.teachhub.com/organized-teacher-binders for samples of student binders.

3. Meet with parents to gather information about child. Together, work through an interest inventory that allows the parents to identify their child's strengths, weaknesses, areas for development and what works at home. These two links will show examples of interest inventories for lower and upper grades: http://www.sanchezclass.com/docs/student-interest-inventory.pdf  and http://www.scribd.com/doc/19480425/Get-to-Know-You-Survey

4. Start collecting resources and materials to support student's IEP and inclusion in the classroom i.e., assistive technology, lesson plans, social programs. SET BC is an excellent site for suggestions and ideas.

5. Create a classroom environment to include students with special needs. See my article, Arranging a Classroom to Create an Inclusive Learning Environment for ideas. 


Parents:

1. Attend all end of school year meetings. Take notes, names and contact numbers. 

2. Create an Information Binder about your child's strengths, weakness & health information. Check out How to Assemble a Teacher Information Package.

3. Use social stories to help your child transition into the new classroom. For resources, suggestions and ideas go to http://www.thegraycenter.org/social-stories.

4. Try to arrange a meeting with next year's teacher before end of the school year. Give the teacher a copy of information about your child that will help the teacher plan for the upcoming school year. 

5. Look for summer learning activities for your child to reinforce skills that have been learned and prepare for new ones.