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Teaching Strategies for the Inclusive Classroom

written by: Keren Perles • edited by: Elizabeth Stannard Gromisch • updated: 1/17/2012

If you are running an inclusive classroom, the challenges can seem overwhelming. These teaching strategies for inclusive classroom settings can help you create an environment in which all of your students can thrive.

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    Giving Each Child a Chance to Shine

    One of the most important teaching strategies in inclusive classroom settings that you can use involves letting each student share an "island of competency" with the rest of the class. For example, if a student struggles academically but enjoys music, the student should be encouraged to make up or sing "review songs" to help the rest of the class study. A student with multiple disabilities who enjoys finger painting can create the background for a poster that the class will use at a party or fundraiser. Encourage students to compliment each other on their skills and talents. In an inclusive classroom setting, all students should know that they can learn from each other.

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    Teaching With "Big Questions"

    If you teach topics, you may cover plenty of material; if you teach questions, you can teach students how to think. Using "big questions," such as "What makes poetry, poetry?" or "How did the Civil War change the way we live today?" can help keep the class interesting for students at all levels of understanding. Students who understand the material on a more basic level can give a simpler answer to the big question, whereas students who understand the material on a deeper level can give a more complex answer. Concrete thinkers and abstract thinkers can both answer the big question and join in the discussion, even though they have comprehended the question in different ways.

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    Using Learning Centers

    Many teachers, when presented with an inclusion setting, find it difficult to meet all of the students' needs at once. Using learning centers helps to solve this problem. Learning centers enable groups of students to work on different tasks at the same time, leaving teachers to work with individuals or smaller groups of students as needed. At times when no students need additional instruction, the general education and the special educator can circulate the classroom, helping out the students at various centers and offering enrichment as necessary.

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    Incorporating Goals into the Lesson

    Students who enter an inclusion classroom with an IEP require close attention in an inclusion setting (as opposed to a mainstream arrangement). Teachers must be sure to meet the goals on the IEP and to help the student achieve much more than what the other students require in the classroom. Rather than pulling a child out of the classroom to work on IEP goals, try incorporating those goals into the lesson. For example, if a student is working on communicating more maturely with peers, the teacher can have that student work in a small group on a specific project. A student who is learning how to identify colors can work with a special educator on choosing colors for a group map or another art project.

    These teaching strategies in inclusive classroom settings can be helpful for general educators and special educators alike. If all members of the classroom work to include all students in classroom activities, the inclusive classroom can be a safe haven for everyone involved.

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    References

    Including Children With Autism in Inclusive Preschools: Strategies That Work, http://home.avvanta.com/~building/spneeds/inclusion/information/schwartz2.htm

    Differentiating Instruction: 5 Easy Strategies for Inclusive Classrooms, http://www.paulakluth.com/articles/diffstrategies.html

Special Needs Education

There are many controversies surrounding educating students with special needs. This series of article discusses different aspects of special needs education.
  1. Understanding Mainstreaming in Special Ed
  2. Teaching Strategies for the Inclusive Classroom