Thursday, October 6, 2016

Great Quote!

"Integration or mainstreaming implies a need to fit students previously excluded into an existing mainstream. In inclusive schooling, the responsibility is being placed on school personnel to arrange a mainstream that accommodates the needs of all students" (S. Stainback, W. Stainback, & Jackson, 1992, p. 4).

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

I Wanna Learn More about Inclusion: Now What?

In my experience, the best way to become more knowledgeable about inclusive practices is to read like a maniac. That being said, there's so much out there that it can become intimidating. My suggestion is to start small with these three newsletters. Sign up for them and you get a daily, weekly, or monthly update on strategies, research, and technology that matter for students. 

I highly recommend signing up for Swift's monthly newsletter (scroll down... it's on the righthand side of the page). Swift Schools is connected to several national universities that promote inclusion and is a favorite of mine because it combines practical suggestions with research based articles. When your done with your monthly newsletter, head over to their website. It is a goldmine. I check for updates on the SWIFT Shelf pretty regularly. 

Are you a teacher? Do you have students with print based disabilities? Do you believe all students should be able to access the texts provided to them? If you answered yes to the (very, very loaded) questions above then sign your students up for Bookshare. Afterwards, subscribe to their monthly blog. The Bookshare technology is great but it can be overwhelming. The blog does a wonderful job of giving tips and tricks for teachers to use Bookshare meaningfully in the classroom. 

The newsletter signup is located at the very top of the screen. Nicole sends daily articles and links about inclusion and inclusive topics. Some articles are better than others but the ones that are good are really good. I also recommend checking out her blog. 

Those are my top three. What inclusive blogs and newsletters do you subscribe to?

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Inclusive Videos, Articles, and Posts I'm Into Right Now

Let's do a top 5.

5. The Inclusive Class- 12 Resources that Teachers Need to Know About for the Inclusive Classroom
The Kurth book is on my Amazon wish list and I want to read it SOOO badly!

4. Accommodations and Modifications: A How-To Q&A with Nicole Eredics of the Inclusive Class
Here's one more from Nicole. Her examples around modifications are the best I've seen online! She has a book coming out soon and boy do I want it!

3. Shelley Moore tweets at @tweetsomemoore and every single thing she writes, links to, or creates is thoughtful and focused on inclusive practices. She just published a book. Books for days, people!

2. The Least Dangerous Assumption by Cheryl Jorgensen
This article isn't new (it was written in 2005) but it's new to me! Best quote: "If a student does not do well, the quality of education should be questioned before the student's ability to learn."

1. "Lift Off" Donovan Livingston's spoken-verse commencement speech. 


Saturday, June 18, 2016

Unique Week at Jahn: Year Two

Unique Week is five full days of celebrating every student in our school's community. Students, teachers, and families take time to discuss what makes us one of a kind! Ultimately, this brings us closer together! This year's Unique Week was even bigger, better, and smoother run than last year thanks to our committee that included a primary (Ivette), intermediate (Mahli), and middle school (Jenn) teacher.  If you want to check out what Unique Week looked like last year, click here and also click here!


Having a committee was incredible. The three teachers really ran the week and all of the major decisions and suggestions were from them. I just took (some of) the pictures. They did ALL of the heavy lifting and I couldn't have been happier or prouder!

Monday: We started Unique Week off with a book with a message connecting to celebrating uniqueness.

Primary teachers did a read aloud of David McKee's Elmer.

Intermediate students read Wendy Ewald's gorgeous book of photography and poetry called The Best Part of Me.

The middle schoolers read an excerpt from Jerry Spinelli's Stargirl

After the read aloud, each grade came up with their own definition of what UNIQUE means. Here are a few of my favorite anchor charts on the subject:
I like how this chart is differentiated. Some kindergarteners wrote a sentence that explained what it meant to be unique while others wrote one word or drew a picture. 


Tuesday and Wednesday: The committee wanted to place more of a focus on art integration this year and it turned out so well. Check out the amazing crafts, writing, and poetry that came from our students!

Thursday Morning: The committee suggested that we have parents help put up the bulletin boards and it was the best decision ever. I liked this because 1) I didn't have to put up the boards- HORRAY! and 2) This provided an opportunity for our community members to help promote Unique Week and support our classrooms. They did such an amazing job!


The finished bulletin boards:

Friday:  We had an amazing parent (he just happens to be a professional photographer- lucky us!) take an aerial picture from the third floor window. The Student Council Urban Initiatives wrote UNIQUE on the blacktop in chalk and helped the younger students find the right spot to stand.


Here are some great links if you want to start your own Unique Week:

Thursday, May 19, 2016

All the Small Things

The full title of this post is All the Small Things (That We Do to Include All) but first I want to bring it back to 1999 when Blink 182 was all over the radio, my flared jeans were essentially bell bottoms, and we were talking seriously about how the turn of the century could mean Armageddon for us all! So before we get into inclusive practices, brew yourself some coffee, put your baseball cap on backwards, and enjoy the smooth, pop punk stylings of Mark, Travis, and Matt.

Is the upbeat skater pop surging through your veins? Good, now you're ready. Read the list below!

Oftentimes when we talk about inclusive practices and environments we mention co-teaching, accessibility, communication, cooperative learning, etc., etc., etc.  While we see these as giant, involved tenants of an inclusive environment, there are a lot of small, subtle ways to show anyone walking through the hallways that we value and include all our community members.

1. Both co-teachers' names are on the classroom door.
Inclusion and inclusive practices don't just pertain to individuals with disabilities. Inclusion means that every member of our community is valued and welcomed- this includes both the general education and learning specialist. When both teachers' names are on the door, this shows everyone who walks by that there are two educators that instruct all students in that classroom.

One of the coolest things happened at a school the other week. Two parents were speaking in front of the entire staff. Both parents introduced themselves as the mom of a student in Ms. __________ and Ms. ___________'s room. Totally unprompted, the parents clearly saw both co-teachers as their child's teacher and acknowledged this fact in front of the staff. 

2. Work in the hallway shows the abilities and talents of ALL.
One way to show that your school values and supports all is by sharing the varied work of students. Below are some hallway displays that showcase differentiated and modified work that highlight students working at all levels. Inclusive schools don't shy away from showing that students in the same class CAN and WILL produce work that looks different from one another. In fact, it's celebrated!


 3. Work in the hallways shows cooperative learning.
Here are examples of student products that were done in collaboration with one another.

4. Every staff member is working with students when you walk into the classroom.
Without sound, context, or any extra details you can clearly see that the two (or more) adults in the room are all interacting and engaging with students. Every general ed, learning specialist, and paraprofessional has a role and is busy playing it.

5. Diversity and individuality is acknowledged... in the hallways! 
Schools have students (and staff members!) that speak different languages, practice different religions, are members of the LGBT community, are different races and ethnicities, come from different cultures and identify in different ways. One of my favorite things to do is to walk around a school building and take pictures of examples of diversity being acknowledged and embraced. Here are a few snapshots!



What small things does your school do to include all members of its community?