Ideas for Helping Your Inclusion Students–And Yourself!

Ideas for Helping Your Inclusion Students–And Yourself!

When I was in the classroom, I had Special Education Inclusion students in just about every class.

Sometimes I felt a little overwhelmed trying to meet the needs of these students as well as the general education students.

When Susan reached out to me to do a guest blog post about working with inclusion students, I jumped at the chance to have her here!

{From Susan} In an effort to provide the least restrictive learning environment for students with special needs, and to provide them with access to the grade level curriculum and to their typically developing peers, more and more of these students are spending at least some of their days in general education classes. As these students move from grade to grade, the demands upon them increase exponentially from year to year. The language of the classrooms changes dramatically from the beginning to the end of elementary school, and again significantly between elementary and middle schools. The amount of time and support teachers can give to each individual student decreases as classes become larger and the work products being evaluated become more complex. The need for students to work independently at more complex tasks – all of these factors can create stress in our special needs students.

So, what can a general education teacher do to help support these students while they are in your classroom?

Here are just a few tips that can help:

  1. Use visuals. Many students with special needs – particularly those with autism and language-based disabilities have stronger visual processing sills than auditory. Use of visual representations to illustrate vocabulary words is one of the known strategies for learning and reinforcing new vocabulary. Use of visual cues for steps of a task, sequences of actions, listing of story elements are just a few of the possibilities for incorporating visuals into classroom activities. It is legal to make a copy of a book that has been purchased for a student who has difficulty with accessing print. Copying illustrations, timelines, scientific cycles for student to refer to during discussions or to use on their own can be helpful.
  2. Provide word banks. Recalling words that they “know” can be difficult, especially under time constraints during classroom activities or tests. By providing word banks from which students find the needed word to answer the question, match to the definition, or complete a writing task, we alleviate that struggle to retrieve the word, and allow them to demonstrate knowledge by recognizing it and using it appropriately.
  3. Provide listening guides. Students can be unable to process what they are hearing while simultaneously determining what is key and writing those key words down. For students with any type of language processing difficulty – not to mention those with attentional disorders – this juggling act is overwhelming. By providing a copy of your outline or notes, they can following along with your lecture or discussion without the added burden of trying to sort and write. You may find these students participating more often.
  4. Offer alternatives to taking tests or writing reports. If demonstrating that they have learned the material is the issues – not whether they can write syntactically correct sentences or work in a time allotment – allow students to answer questions verbally, dictate their responses, record their report, or draw it. Look for other creative ways for students to demonstrate what they’ve learned that takes the pressure off of their weaknesses and allows them to demonstrate their strengths. I’ve had students with autism who have had a specific are of interest, about which they were focused almost to the exclusion of everything else, who were able to use that special interest area to demonstrate research and/or writing skills much more fully than if they had been made to write about any other topic. Think about what the purpose of the activity is – what are your learning objectives – and see if you can find a way for your student to demonstrate their learning in a unique way.

Susan Berkowitz, Speech-Language Pathologist

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Hi, I'm Lindsay!

I create ready to go resources for middle school math teachers, so they can get back what matters most – their time!

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