January 14

Chapter 6-Reasearch-Based Curriculum Modifications For Inclusion

This chapter was quite short and I believe that it is really trying to set-up Chapter 7, where some strategies are outlined.

 

The one key topic that I took from this chapter is that students who require additional supports to access learning should not be limited to low-level thinking type questions. Their brains are also capable of, and should be encouraged to use, higher-order thinking. The revised curriculum is all about critical thinking, creativity and communicating our learning. Students with special needs are not excluded from this, nor should they be! They, too, need opportunities to show off their higher-order thinking skills. That is what sets us apart from other animals on this planet is it not? Let’s not limit the abilities of some of children just because they are not able to access the curriculum at the same level as their peers.

What are your thoughts on this chapter? What stood out for you?

 

Chapter 17 begins with an introduction, then moves into the strategies. I would like to go through the strategies looking at the first 20, showcasing our favourites and then the last 20 doing the same thing. Thoughts?? Should we look at 10 at a time and do them weekly?

December 31

Chapter 5-Making Curriculum Achievable Through Modifications

This chapter did an excellent job of outlining the difference between modifications and accomodations. I love, near the end of the chapter, where the author discussesthe progressions of an inclusive lesson format from most inclusive to least inclusive (although she does not get that far, only outlining 3 of the 5 levels in Fig. 5.5 on page 53).

 

When I look at my school and, more specifically, my students with the highest needs, I wonder how we are doing with the inclusion of these few students. Based on this chapter, I would probably give our school a failing grade. Our student with CP, although in the classroom for a majority of the day, is not working on the same curriculum. Sure she is doing language arts when the rest of the class does language arts, but she is not working on the same concepts/topics, even with modifications. Another student, who has just recently been diagnosed with FASD and a mild intellectual impairment, is now working solely in my classroom, with the exception of “special” classes in which she can participate fully, like gym, art, culture, library, etc. This is because her classroom teacher is not modifying the curriculum to a place where she can be included, except in Social Studies, when our First Nations Support Worker is teaching the lessons and having the Classroom Teacher sit with this student to support her during the lesson and activity.

 

How can we change this failing grade? Ideally, I would clone myself so that I would be able to sit down with the teachers of these two students and plan lessons together that would allow these two lovely girls to be fully included. But since this is not yet possible (and I’m not sure I would want another me!) I need to figure out another way to make this happen. Even if it is for just one subject and one unit!

 

I am looking forward to exploring the remaining chapters, and getting into the strategies to support this move for my students. I know that they deserve the best education, the same quality of education as their peers. It is my job to be their support to ensure that this happens!

 

When you look at your school/class,what grade would you give to the inclusivity of it? How could you improve it?

Do you have any suggestions for the rest of us that do not have a passing grade in this area?

December 17

Chapter 4- Making Curriculum Accessible Through Instructional Strategies and Accommodations

Wow! That was a long title!

UDL, RTI, Accommodations- this chapter gives a good overview of these three topics. I also loved the example given about a lesson that used UDL- the rock lesson. Oh how I wish every teacher taught in this way! It is so difficult to change the way teachers teach, especially when they typically do not attend Professional Development Sessionsto help improve their teaching techniques. Strictly paper/pencil tasks is just not supportive of all student needs.

 

In my district, we use the RTI model of 3-tiered instructional supports. It is how we structure the additional supports in our school. This year, we have a significant number of emotionally/behaviourally needy students in our primary classes- one student who is quite violent, one student who is a flight risk, another student who is both violent and a flight risk and a fourth student who is a risk to himself. Due to this, we have placed a large amount of support into these classrooms. Unfortunately, this leaves some of our other students in the intermediate wing less supported. How I wish our school and mostly, our district were funded adequately so that we were better able to meet the needs of our students.

 

Accommodations/adaptations is an area that is a real struggle for some of my colleagues to understand. They often get it and modifications mixed up. I really like the list that they have placed at the end of this chapter. Some of these I often forget to include on my IEPs, so it will be great to utilize this book when writing them next time.

 

Does your school/district use the RTI model of instructional support?

Is UDL being used effectively in your school? Do you, like me, have colleagues who are not utilizing this method for including all students, giving them all access to the curriculum?

Do you have any accommodations that are not on the list but might be helpful to others in the group?

December 3

Chapter 3-Supporting Inclusion in the Classroom

Supporting inclusion in the classroom is super important.  It can be done in numerous ways- with the support of other teachers, paraprofessionals, family volunteers and peers. Having the ability to collaborate with another teacher would be absolutely wonderful-seemingly a pipedream in my school. There are so many opportunities that are missed because we do not have ample time to collaborate with each other.

 

The EAs in my school are scheduled into classes and then either given information and a program by me or the classroom teacher. Again, we do not have much time to collaborate, as they are scheduled from 9-3 and very rarely do they stick around outside those hours. They also do not attend the staff meetings, making it even more difficult for them to get the needed information.

 

Social-emotional development seems to be a much needed piece in our system today. We are seeing huge numbers of students coming without manners or knowing how to interact with their peers.

 

Does your school have opportunities to collaborate with each other on a regular basis? How is this scheduled?

What do you notice about the social emotional development of your students- have they changed over the years?

 

 

 

November 19

Chapter 2-Supporting Inclusion Schoolwide

This chapter goes through the roles and responsibilities of all of the key players in an inclusive school. From administrators to custodians and bus drivers, we all have important roles in our schools.

 

Administrators have probably the most important job within an inclusive school. Obviously they are in charge of the every day functioning of the school, but they are also in charge of supporting the teachers and students through the inclusion model. Administrators need to ensure that everyone in the school are providing students with educational experiences that are equal and diverse in nature. These experiences need to be engaging for all students and ensure that all students are learning what they need to learn. Administrators also need to ensure that teachers and support staff have opportunities to collaborate with each other in order to provide the very best programs for all.

 

Specialized Support Staff, including speech and language pathologist, occupational therapists, counsellors, and others (I would put the Learning Support Teachers, Resource Teachers and Integration Support Teachers in this category as well), also have important jobs within the inclusive schools. They must work very closely with the classroom teachers to help create and provide the supports necessay to ensure all students have access to the curriculum in a meaningful way. These specialized support staff also work closely with the paraprofessionals in guiding them on how to work with  and supportthe students with higher needs.

 

The remaining staff members, the custodians, bus drivers, maintenance staff and those who do not have an active “teaching-type” role are alos important in the inclusive school. This year, I have one of our bus drivers as a partner on an IEP goal-she is to help remind one of our students about her daily agenda, ensure that it goes home at the end of the day and comes back in the mornings. Since the bus driver is the last person who sees my student in the evenings and the first person to see her in the morning, what better way to make sure that this small piece of information is brought everyday?

 

All of these people are serve the improtant roles of making the school community one of safety, full of caring individuals who all care about student learning. We all must ensure that our language is clear, that our schedules are supportive of all students and that we have regular events, which again, include all students.

 

Mission statements discuss the school’s values and beliefs. They should be very clear and embody the school culture within them. One thing I know about our school’s mission statement is that it is very long and, although it embodies our values and beliefs, I wonder if there is abetter way to say the same thing?

What is the culture of your school? Do you have a mission statement? Does it fit with your school?

November 5

Chapter 1-Preparing for Inclusion

This chapter begins with a history of inclusive education from its very beginning, the complete segregation of students to the way things are in current days. Although this is an American history, there was a similar sequence here in British Columbia. In fact, British Columbia was cited as ahead of the game in this book. Yay British Columbians for the forward thinking!

According to Hall, inclusion means “Full membership of an age-appropriate class in your local school doing the same lessons as other pupils and it mattering if you are not there. Plus you have friends who spend time with you outside of school.” (page 6) We all know that every child, regardless of their abilities, are capable of learning and everyone deserves to learn with their peers in the general education classroom, with the appropriate supports. Inclusion requires that everyone, regardless of their abilities, has access to an engaging, rich and supportive educational experience.

 

There are many examples of people with disabilities who have been very successful in their lives. People such as Albert Einstein, Stephen Hawking, Temple Grandin, and, more recently, Zack Anners have all done very well for themselves, and the rest of the world, through their accomplishments, in spite of their disabilities. This just goes to show, once again, that with equitable education, all children can do great things if given the opportunity to shine.

 

There are many benefits to inclusion. Emotional, academic, and social benefits occur for both children with disabilities and their peers. Inclusion allows children with disabilities to feel a sense of belonging, the ability to make and maintain friendships and the ability to increase their academic competence. It also allows children without disabilities to learn empathy, and increase their academic competence, among many other things.

 

“There is only one criterion required for being included: breathing.” (page 9)  Wow! That is powerful! Now, how do we do this effectively? I guess one response would be to continue reading through this book!

 

How does your idea of inclusion fit with the information given in this chapter?

October 13

Inclusion in Action

Welcome to another TIE-BC Book Study!

This year, I have chosen the book “Inclusion in Action” by Nicole Eredics. Although she is currently an American author, she is Canadian born (I think even from BC, although it wasn’t actually stated) and brings a lot of information and examples from BC. With thins in mind, it is also important to note that this book is not very “American” in it’s information. Everything is equally beneficial around the world and strategies are universal!

 

I am hopeful that you find this book easy to read and full of ideas to support your teaching or that of your colleagues!

 

Happy Reading!

Sarah