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Adapting Classroom Structure
Some students in an inclusion classroom will require an adapted classroom structure. This may entail inclusion strategies such as changing certain physical structures in the classroom (such as desks) to accommodate students with physical disabilities, adjusting the seating chart so that a student with auditory problems can lipread more easily, or structuring the classroom time so that students with behavioral or learning disabilities feel more secure.
The most important adaptation you can make to classroom structure, however, is to foster a feeling of inclusion and diversity as a positive ideal in your classroom. Never condone put-downs or discriminatory remarks, encourage students to work together in diverse groups, and allow each student to shine in his or her own way.
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Adapting Teaching Methods
In addition to changing the classroom structure, you will need to adapt your teaching methods depending on which students are included in your classroom. For example, it may be important for you to incorporate cultural experiences of ELL students into your curriculum, providing tactile manipulatives whenever possible, and practice concepts frequently while making sure to provide enrichment for students who have already mastered those concepts.
When you give students material to read, you may need to pre-teach difficult vocabulary before reading or teaching about a topic. You should encourage students to preview text before reading it (and provide instruction in how to do so). Write assignments or important points on the board, and provide extension activities for gifted students who finish reading earlier than their peers. You also may want to have different students read different amounts of the text, based on their abilities.
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Adapting Classwork and Homework
Students with varying disabilities may need adaptations to their classwork or homework. Possible strategies for adapting these types of work include pairing or grouping students with various disabilities with other students who can compensate, allowing students extra time to complete classwork if possible, reducing the length of the assignment for students who cannot complete the entire task, and allowing some students to demonstrate their mastery through verbal responses rather than written ones.
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Adapting Quizzes and Exams
If students’ reading or writing skills are weak due to their disabilities, you may want to record classes as much as possible in order to allow students to study using auditory techniques. You can also consider allowing these students to dictate their responses (especially those students with visual disabilities). In addition, you can give some students additional time to complete quizzes and exams, hold some students responsible for less material, and provide notes or outlines for those students who have difficulty taking their own notes.
One of the greatest resources for innovative inclusion strategies will be your specialist teachers. Spend time consulting with specialists daily, weekly or monthly - depending on the level of modifications needed in the classroom.
Strategies for Using Inclusion in the Classroom
Today's school systems are continuously moving towards inclusion, rather than homogeneous grouping. This series includes several articles on inclusion, including inclusion strategies, benefits of inclusion, and reverse inclusion.