In 1975 a law was passed called Public Law 94-142, which mandates inclusive education in the United States. It’s now the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and it’s become more than a set of strategies, it’s a belief — a belief that no one should to be excluded.
Together We Learn
Teachers & Students Working Together
“It is a mindset for teachers and they have to feel it is not a burden. To this end it really takes whole-team collaborating to make it work. I co-taught in some inclusive classrooms and do a lot of teacher training for kids who use AAC (Augmented and Alternative Communication), and are in everything from special day classes to fully included. When I do assistive technology assessments, I look at what tasks the rest of the class is doing, and what makes them inaccessible to this student. Then I got about thinking about how to change that. What scaffolds — high tech or no tech — will give this student access to what (s)he needs to learn?” says susan berkowitz. Consider her Language Fun with Stone Soup resource; an adapted book packed with fun games and activities.
Students Working Together
Miss DeCarbo says, “We do a lot of peer coaching and peer teaching in my classroom to reinforce key concepts and ideas. My Read and Retell Intervention Pack for Comprehension and Fluency has been popular with special education teachers and classroom teachers who have students who struggle with fluency and retelling skills. It has boosted the confidence of my inclusion students because the passages are short and manageable, and of course fun to complete with a reading partner!”
Teachers Working Together
And for new-to-inclusive teaching classrooms, Learning Lab suggests, “One of the biggest things in an inclusive/co-taught classroom is a positive relationship between the two teachers. Once that relationship is there, everything else can easily fall into place. I put together a co-teaching start-up kit to help teachers begin the conversations needed to develop a relationship, discuss the students, and plan for how the class will be run. It also includes some information for parents.”
TpT in The Inclusive Classroom
“Inclusion is more a mindset than a set of strategies. Think ‘time equity.’ Every student deserves the right to the same amount of time every day working on things that are appropriately challenging. You know you’ve done a good job differentiating the work, if all your students spend about the same amount of time doing completely different tasks, because they’re all being equally challenged. In order to accomplish ‘time equity,’ think about removing barriers and extending paths. For instance, a gifted student in your class might need an extended path while an ESL student will find vocabulary to be the barrier in their path. Removing barriers and extending paths creates time equity” suggests Utah Roots. Try her Cell Organelles resource that is written “especially for students who need secondary biology content but who can’t read grade level text.”
Sasha Hallagan says, “I teach in an inclusive classroom and provide resources & consultation for many teachers who teach in inclusive settings. Getting behaviors and structure down is key for all students and these products will really benefit the whole room!” Try her Visuals for Common Classroom Routines resource.
Teachers in inclusive classrooms are constantly asking themselves, “How do I successfully include all students?” Sandra Naufal says, “I have been blessed to have an inclusive classroom almost every year of my teaching career. I find that using a visual aid is always useful in the classroom. I often use the traffic light to assist students in understanding various degrees of language. Take for example, my Probability Continuum activity. The students had difficulty understanding the terms certain, likely, and impossible. By using everyday situations and the traffic light to anchor their understanding of probability, we achieved success. The red light represented an impossible outcome, the yellow one became a possible outcome and the green light was the anchor for all things certain. Using what students are familiar with and relating it to an abstract concept is often the key to creating an inclusive environment.”
Inclusion or Not Inclusion: It’s Not a Question
Inclusion is not just about accommodation, it’s about attitude and a decision by the school and district to commit to providing each and every student the inalienable right to belong.
Brandi Wayment was given an opportunity to be an inclusive teacher this year and says, “When I found out I would be having a student with Down Syndrome, I read everything I could about including students with disabilities and about Down Syndrome in particular. It shocked me to know that the percentage of children born with Down Syndrome should have meant that I had encountered this before. With 16 years of teaching experience, I had never seen a child with Down Syndrome at my school. I couldn’t understand where they were — statistically there should have been more students. After lots and lots of study on it, I realized it was the right thing for the student and her regular education peers but I was still a little nervous. Now at the end of the year, I can’t help but feel grateful for the experience. The student herself made so much progress, and my regular education students learned so much about empathy, helping others and most importantly they are not afraid of differences. What a wonderful experience this has been for everyone.” She found that using hands-on activities kept everyone engaged and participating. Here’s a link to her Hands-on Measurement activities.
Special Education – Peggy Simpson’s TpT tag line is “Everyone is able to learn!” and she has a Rescue Dog character series of PowerPoint resources that get lots of great feedback. She says, “In a full inclusion room there are many opportunities for encouraging ‘social concern.’ One of the best ways is to start every class with a 10 minute social skill refresher. We often expect students to know the steps for following instructions or using an appropriate tone of voice, but many have no idea of how to successfully navigate through their school day. Explicitly taught social skills definitely helps with this issue.”
And Ms Fullers Teaching Adventures says, “I have taught mostly in inclusive classes or 100% special ed with a wide range of abilities (and I am not a special education teacher). Due to this personal experience I try to think of more than one way to present information. Some of my poetry assignments have been built with this in mind. I have sheets that have a guided, line-by-line examination of the text with questions at the end, and I have sheets that require the students to do the annotating on their own. One thing I’ve found from teaching in these environments is that many students can benefit from teachers who rethink how they can teach a lesson to reach students in IEPs and 504 plans. There are often other students struggling or who have different learning styles who also benefit from these resources!” Try her Common Core High School: Poetry Practice with Keats and Shelly.
Or try Astute Hoot’s Reading Intervention Essentials Bundle. They say, “Designed for K-3 students, these fluency, comprehension, sight words, and phonics activities are perfect for small groups and centers. These resources allow for easy differentiation; we used these with struggling readers in special education classrooms as well as with accelerated students in the general education class.”
We hope you’ve gathered some resources for your inclusive classroom or have learned more about what it means to teach in an inclusive classroom. Together we learn, and TpT Teacher Authors exemplify that every day.