Activities to Enhance Learning in the Differentiated Classroom - Guest Blog by Mari Nosal M.Ed.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012 No comments
By Guest blogger, Mari Nosal

1) I Caught You Raffle
For behavior management I use a “catch them when they are good” system.
During the day give the children a ticket for various positive behaviors that are noted. Have them write their name on the ticket and put it in the box.
At the end of the week, pull out a determined amount of tickets from the box. They then can earn small tokens like a pencil, homework slip, chart, book, etc. this is a great positive reinforcement technique. By recognizing positive behavior, negative behavior does not get reinforced. With a tangible object to look forward to at the end of the week, the majority of the children love to join this “game”.
A math lesson on percentages is a secondary outcome of this game. The odds of having one’s name drawn in the raffle according to how many tickets are earned during the week can be calculated. Middle level elementary age students and older can keep graphs from week to week to chart the correlation between these factors. When the children realize that the more tickets they earn, the better their chance of having their name picked in the drawing, they exhibit positive behavior to get their name in the raffle.
I have used this with great success. Parents are wonderful about donating to this project.
As we all know, one of the most important parts of the D.I. recipe is a positive classroom climate.
There must be a feeling of camaraderie between the children.  In order to instill this, the children must know each other’s strengths and weaknesses. The following activities assist the children in getting to know each other. One activity increases positive behavior, which is also important in keeping the integrated classroom running smoothly. Behavior issues can take away a considerable amount of valuable learning time from other students.
2) The Toilet Paper Game
Throw a roll of toilet paper and tell students to take sheets from the role. Do not place a limit on how many sheets they can use.
Tell them what the sheets are for AFTER they all take sheets off the role.
For each toilet paper sheet they take, they have to tell the class one fact about themselves.
3) The Index Card Game
Each child takes an index card.  They have to write three questions on each card. Some examples would be: do you have a pet? do you have a brother or sister? do you like to play sports?
Have the kids walk around the room as you say, “mingle, mingle, mingle”. When the teacher says stop, the children switch cards with the child closest to them.
The intent of this game is to get children to speak and socialize with each other.
Whatever card a child was given when the cards were switched is kept, and the game starts again.
4) When children enter kindergarten some can already identify sounds of letters, some can actually spell words, and some are not readers. Some learn through auditory modalities, some through visual modalities, and some are tactile. This letter and sound recognition activity incorporates everyone’s different readiness levels.
Using concrete learning materials, everyone has fun while learning.
Take plastic letters, fill a bucket with macaroni and mix the letters into the bucket. Let the kids dig their hands into the bucket and pull out a letter.
If a child is a pre-reader, have them try to identify the letter. For the slightly more advanced child, have them identify the letter and the sound it makes. For the extremely advanced child, have them do all of the above. Ask them to think of a word that begins with that letter.
Have a great day and most of all have fun :-0)
Mari Nosal, M.Ed

Mari Nosal, M. Ed., CECE is a school coordinator, blogger and author.  She is certified by the Department of Early Childhood Education as a lead preschool teacher, an infant and toddler teacher, and site coordinator qualified to manage school age programs.  She is certified in Community Crisis Intervention by the Community Crisis Intervention Team of Bristol County. As a parent of a son with Asperger's, she and her son show others how it is possible to overcome obstacles and achieve your goals. You can read more of Mari's articles at

10 Reasons for Inclusive Schools

Wednesday, February 15, 2012 10 comments

1.  All children have equal access to education.

2.  All children learn alongside their same-age peers.

3.  The focus of education is on the child's abilities, not disabilities.

4.  Children become accepting and understanding of one another's abilities, talents, personalities and needs.

5.  Meaningful relationships and friendships develop as students spend quality time with one another.

6.  Students develop confidence in their ability to interact with one another and the world around them.

7.  Teachers in inclusive schools are highly trained and skilled at delivering appropriate, student-centered curriculum through differentiated activities according to ability level.

8.  In addition to the classroom teacher, children with special needs are supported by special education teachers, paraprofessionals, and specialists such as Speech/Language Therapists.

9.  Various resources and assistive technologies are available to students in inclusive schools in an effort to reach and teach all learners.

10.  Inclusive schools value input and participation from the whole community, not just students. Everyone is welcome!

Do you have any other reasons to add to this list?

About Me

Thursday, February 9, 2012 4 comments

Nicole is an Elementary Educator who spent over 15 years working in an inclusive school system in British Columbia, Canada. Together with parents, administrators, co-teachers and paraprofessionals, Nicole taught children with various moderate to severe abilities in her fully inclusive classrooms. 

In addition to her work experience in the school system, Nicole held the position of Chairperson for a local member group of the Gifted Children's Association of British Columbia for 4 years. During her time as Chairperson, her group successfully advocated for more appropriate education for the gifted children in her community. 

Since moving to the U.S., Nicole uses her wealth of experience to support and raise awareness for the inclusive education of children with special needs. Nicole's belief that ALL children should have equal access to the curriculum drives her desire to share her knowledge with parents and colleagues in order to improve learning conditions for children with various abilities. 

In early 2011, Nicole established her blog, The Inclusive Class, where she regularly writes her own content on the topic of  inclusive education. She also hosts a Facebook Page, has assembled a LiveBinder of inclusive resources on the internet, curates an online newspaper and tweets regularly as @Inclusive_Class about issues, tips and strategies concerning inclusive education. Pinterest has become her latest venture!

In addition to sharing knowledge and material through her own internet sites, Nicole has written dozens of articles on the topic of inclusion for organizations such as The National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities, Special Education Advisor, and The Whole Child.  In addition, she appeared in a HuffPost Live interview titled, When Special Ed is Not the Answer.

Finally, in her continuing effort to reach out to the parents, teachers, and advocates of children with special needs, Nicole currently cohosts a podcast called "The Inclusive Class Podcast", which airs live on Friday mornings at 12 PM EST via She has had the opportunity to interview experts, authors, teachers and researchers in the field of inclusive education such as Temple Grandin, Dan Habib, Paula Kluth, Cheryl Jorgensen, and Wayne Sailor. 

When not spending time in front of her computer, Nicole immensely enjoys traveling, reading, hiking, hanging out with her family, friends and two mischievious Viszlas!

Sample Work

11 Different Definitions of Inclusion: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Top 10 Things the Classroom Teacher Needs to Know About Your Child with Special Needs

Why Would We Want Inclusive Education?

Designing a Classroom for Inclusive Learning

As Seen In