Caitlin: Introduction to Inclusion; What is it?/Conclusion
Richelle: Benefits of Inclusion
Brittany: General Strategies for Inclusion (Teaching and Behavior Strategies)
Tiffany: Inclusion Strategies in Math and Science Classrooms

Tiffany Haning
Caitlin Rebenack
Brittany Cramer
Richelle Davis



When choosing a career such as teaching, it is important to consider the role that students with special needs will play in your classroom. Will you have special needs students? To what extent do they require additional assistance? Inclusion creates a setting in which disabled students are given specially designed instruction in the least restrictive environment (Inclusive). There is a great chance that inclusion will be applied to your classroom to some degree. Many times, the LRE can be the general education classroom. Students with special needs may spend all or most of their time there. Amounts of inclusion vary in different school systems and different countries and are often based on the severity of disabilities. Inclusion can be divided into two subgroups: regular/partial inclusion and full inclusion. During regular or partial inclusion, students may spend most of their day in the classroom, only leaving to receive certain specialized services. Full inclusion educates all students in one classroom, regardless of disability severity. Full inclusion is not a popular practice. When deciding what each student’s LRE may be, criteria may include regular attendance, lack of behavior problems, lack of disruptive behaviors, and the ability to learn effectively in the general classroom (Inclusion). There are varying ideas about inclusion. Some who argue for inclusion consider it an important topic in educational and social values. Arguments for inclusion include morality, social development of all students, and diversity education (Special).

Inclusion is a noble practice in education for both the traditional student and the nontraditional alike. The nontraditional students benefit especially due to the level of what some might call "normalcy" of the general education classroom. This is not to mention the inherent inequality of having separate educational facilities for the traditional and nontraditional students as stated on and in the case of "Brown v. Board of Education." Disabled children should have a right to be educated as much as possible in the general education classroom, without being disruptive or unproductive. That is the general goal of inclusion, and it is an honorable yet challenging one to accomplish.

There are many benefits to having a classroom with inclusion. These benefits can be seen in the traditional student's educational structure. It is possible that due to a disabled child in the classroom that a lesson may need to be taught several different ways in order to convey the message in the teaching to that child. Traditional students will be lucky to have heard the same lesson taught in two or more different ways and will likely have a much better understanding of the course material. This is obviously a huge benefit to the student in any situation, and especially when the student is not fully grasping a subject as well as they should. Inclusion also provides traditional students with the opportunity to work with nontraditional students, which could allow them to become more well-rounded and could provide a higher understanding of course material and diversity. In the real world there are people with many differences, whether they be disabilities, ethnicities, or cultures. Children who are exposed to diversity and those who are different from them will benefit tremendously.

There are many different ways to deal with inclusion in your classroom. With an inclusive classroom, the teacher needs to make sure he or she meets the needs of all students without leaving anyone out. With any type of student a teacher will need to employ many different teaching and behavioral strategies. In an inclusive classroom, there will be students on all academic levels, some who are advanced, and others who are below average. To meet these needs for all students a teacher will need to use a variety of lessons and differentiating instruction (Kluth). This differentiating instruction includes anything that can be modified to reach any student, yet still be challenging. Some activities include different brainstorming webs, KWL charts, graphic organizers, think-pair-share activities, Venn diagrams, and more. Group work can also be used to place students with differing abilities together so that they can help each other and learn from each other's strengths. Activities that focus on interaction and communication are a great tool in an inclusive classroom. For behavior strategies the first thing to teach is tolerance and respect. The students in the classroom must respect each other and their differences. No one is perfect and everyone has their own differences. This will cut back on teasing and taunting toward the student(s) with special needs (Kliewer). The students will feel comfortable in an atmosphere where they are not judged or criticized. When behavior problems arise in the inclusive classroom the teacher must ask a series of questions: Is the room too crowded? Is the arrangement of the room causing the problem? Has the student had enough sleep/eat? Has the student taken his/her medicine? All of these factors, and more, could affect whether or not there will be behavioral problems in the classroom. If the teacher finds that a child is acting out because of a separate reason, then he or she can fix the problem to end the negative behavior. Communication is key in figuring out what is bothering the child and what is ultimately causing the poor behavior. Within any classroom it is better to stay away from punishment, focusing on rewarding positive behaviors. To a teacher, having an inclusive classroom may be a bit frightening and overwhelming. It will be a lot of work and responsibility, but overall a great experience. These strategies will make that experience go smoother.

Inclusion can be practiced in all subject areas. By allowing students of all types in the areas of math and science, you as a teacher are practicing inclusion and giving your students a better opportunity to succeed. In order to make inclusion work, several steps must be taken to include all students in these curricula. In 1996, the Consortium on Inclusive Schooling Practices developed a framework to help the process, including: use of curricula that allows for the maximum development of individual students; implementation of measurable, alternative, and appropriate assessment practices; accountability for all members of the education community; commitment to professional development; sufficient and responsible funding for educational programs; and governance that allows central support of local control (Sherman McCann, 2001). Another variable that must be considered applies to writing IEP’s. “According to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 1991 (IDEA), IEPs must include (1) a description of the student's present level of performance; (2) short-term and annual goals for student progress; and (3) the educational services to be provided to the student in support of these performance goals” (Sherman McCann, 2001). Some modifications must be made,as in science: labs must be able to be completed by all the students and this may mean using different equipment than other students are using or even using “lab buddies” (Sherman McCann, 2001). In math special needs students should, again, work with partners and also use technology such as calculators or computers. By placing these students in the regular classroom we as teachers are trying to better all students. The special education teacher may not have the certification that the science or math teacher has and therefore may not be able to fully educate the student.

In conclusion, the practice of inclusion is one to be carefully thought about when beginning to work in the classroom. It is a current issue in education with many benefits and applications available. Although the concept of inclusion, to any degree, may seem challenging, there is benefit for all. It is applicable in all curricula and can teach students more than core subjects. Think about what you would want for your children, disabled or not. There are many options for future teachers to consider. What kind of environment will your classroom be?

Special thanks to our editors Lindsey Wyatt, Tori Insley, Genna Gorman, and Krista Burns.

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