What Successful Teachers Do in Inclusive Classrooms: 60 Research-Based Teaching Strategies That Help Special Learners Succeed
Publication Year: 2005
“An awesome collection of very current best practice suggestions!”
Co-Author, A Guide to Co-Teaching
“This is the way that flesh'n'blood teachers talk to each other.”
Millie Gore, Chair, Special Education Department
Midwestern State University
“The greatest strengths of this book are its practicality and the fact that there is a tremendous need for it out there for teachers with no background in special education who are teaching students with special needs.”
J. David Smith
Author, In Search of Better Angels
Test-drive these research-based strategies in your inclusive classroom!
Bridging the gap between theory and practice, this book focuses on extending academic research to classroom practices that address the problems faced by teachers working with special needs students in inclusive classrooms.
Providing a convenient format that teachers, trainers, and administrators will find appealing, What Successful ...
- Front Matter
- Back Matter
- Subject Index
- Chapter 1: Interacting with Students
- 1. Use a “Hypothesis and Frequent Reflection” Strategy When Working with Students Who Have Special Education Needs
- 2. Pre-Teach General Education Students with Instructional Strategies Prior to Forming Cooperative Groups
- 3. Use Creativity to Design Ways to Academically Support and Challenge Students with Severe Disabilities Who Are Included in General Education Classrooms
- 4. Reevaluate Homework: Is It Working?
- 5. Help Diverse Learners Reflect on Their Own Academic Successes and Failures
- 6. Become Knowledgeable About Youth Culture to Successfully Engage All Students
- 7. Remember That Students with Special Needs Benefit Most from One-on-One Contact
- 8. Explore Any Hidden Stereotypes and Perceptions About Included Students with Learning Disabilities
- 9. Learn How to Facilitate the Social Acceptance of Students with Special Needs in General Education Classes
- 10. Develop Specific Pedagogies, Behavioral Management Techniques, and Interventions to Assist in Working with Students with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
- 11. Practice Viewing Learning Disabilities Through the Cultural/Ethnic Eyes of the Parents/Families of the Students
- Chapter 2: Organizing Lesson Plans for an Effective Learning Environment
- 12. Develop Graphic Summaries of Student Objectives to Facilitate the Planning for Students with Special Needs
- 13. Use a “Strategy” Approach Rather Than “Drill and Practice” When Teaching Math Concepts
- 14. Incorporate the Nine Principles of Universal Design for Learning When Creating Instructional Plans
- 15. Tap the Strengths of Students with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) with Effective Instructional Strategies
- 16. Remember That Less = More and Streamline the Content of the Curriculum
- 17. Encourage Students to Take Advantage of Out-of-School Learning Opportunities
- 18. Implement Universal Design Principles When Teaching Science
- 19. Establish Scaffolds to Help Students as They Learn Complex Skills and Procedures
- 20. Fight Boredom by Using Classroom Strategies That Stimulate Student Interest
- 21. Increase the Effectiveness of Homework as a Learning Tool for Students with Disabilities by Using Research-Tested Strategies and Accommodations
- 22. Be Aware of the Common Problems and Changes in Instructional Strategies Associated with a Switch to Block Scheduling for All Students
- Chapter 3: Using Formal, Informal, and Alternative Student Assessment
- 23. When Grading Student Writing, Consider What the Student Is Able to Do Well Before Noting What Needs Improvement
- 24. Consider the Bias of the Student Study Team When Reviewing the Recommendations of the Team
- 25. Don't Wait for Formal Testing to Begin Interventions for Students with Reading Disabilities
- 26. Take the Time to Consider All Students When Referring Students for the Student Study Team or Special Education Assessment, Not Just the Students with Obvious Behavior Issues
- 27. Use Alternative Methods of Feedback Early in a Course to Communicate Student Progress
- 28. Consider Alternate Assessment Styles and Instruments When Teaching Students with Learning Issues
- 29. Positive Feedback Heightens Students' Confidence
- 30. When Evaluating Student Performance, Consider the Data Collection Methods Used and the Natural Decline of Ability Due to Late Transitions
- 31. Consider Alternative Grading Systems as an Adaptable Accommodation for Diverse Student Populations in General Education Classrooms
- 32. Ensure That the Accommodations a Student Needs to Benefit from Instruction Are the Same Accommodations That Are Used During Assessment
- 33. Use Portfolios to Collect Evidence of Student Performance That Allows Teachers to Compare, Contrast, and Counteract Narrowly Defined Test Scores, Which May or May Not Accurately Reflect a Diverse Learner's Ability
- 34. Consider Using a Variety of Assessments That Accurately Reflect the Course Objectives and Standards
- 35. Make Sure Either the Expert Who Conducted the Student's Assessment or Another Person Who Is Trained to Interpret the Findings Is Present at the IEP Meeting
- Chapter 4: Classroom Management and Discipline
- 36. Consider Implementing a Self-Regulation Model of Behavior Management When Teaching a Student Diagnosed with ADHD
- 37. Actively Address Negative Behaviors in the Classroom by Considering All Aspects of the Environment Created for Students
- 38. Consider Using a Reflective Narrative Model to Facilitate Behavior Modification Decisions
- 39. Consider Increasing the Pace of Instruction Rather Than Reducing the Pace When Teaching Students with Special Needs
- 40. Use Ongoing Evaluation Techniques to Enhance Student Learning
- 41. Become a Classroom Manager Before Becoming a Content Specialist
- 42. Use Early Literacy Intervention Strategies to Facilitate Appropriate Student Behavior
- 43. If a Takedown Is Required, Restrain a Student Using a Seated-Position Restraint Rather Than a Face-Down-to-the-Floor Restraint to Reduce Injury and Negative Psychological Effects
- Chapter 5: Integrating Assistive Technology
- 44. Ensure Familiarity with Available Assistive Technology Devices That May Be Appropriate and Beneficial for Students
- 45. Spend the Time Needed to Train Students with Visual Impairments to Use a Variety of Computer Applications
- 46. Check Periodically to Ensure That Assistive Technology Continues to Be Useful to Students with Disabilities
- 47. Look for Opportunities to Increase Students' Communication and Computer Literacy Skills Through Online Assignments
- 48. Teach Students to Set Goals That Focus on the Process of Learning Technology
- 49. Optimize the Purchase and Use of Word Processing Spell Checker Programs to Better Serve the Needs of Students with Learning Disabilities
- 50. Consider All Aspects of Technology in Order to Meet the Accommodation Needs of Students with Disabilities
- Chapter 6: Collaborating with Colleagues and Parents
- 51. Set a Positive Tone for Parent Conferences and IEP Meetings by Beginning with the Student's Strengths
- 52. Take the Time to Discuss Everyday Examples of Teaming Issues Before They Arise in the Classroom
- 53. Ensure That Time Is Built into the Workday to Communicate with the Paraeducator
- 54. Take the Time to “Meet Parents Where They Are” to Form Meaningful Parent-School Partnerships
- 55. Consider Consulting with the Speech Pathologist to Create a Multifaceted Approach to Build Students' Vocabulary and Assist Them in Reading Comprehension
- 56. Consider the Level or Stage Parents Are at Regarding Their Child with a Disability Before Recommending Specific Services and Accommodations
- 57. Spend the Time It Takes to Ensure a Positive Team-Teaching Experience
- 58. Consider How Parents Might Be Reacting to Their Child with a Learning Disability and How That Might Affect the Student in Class
- 59. Reduce the Number of Special Education Referrals by Educating General Education Teachers About the Referral Process, Including What to Look for and How to Teach Using a Variety of Approaches
- 60. Consider Coteaching and Collaboration to Meet the Needs of Students with Disabilities
Copyright © 2005 by Corwin Press.
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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
McNary, Sarah J., 1967-
What successful teachers do in inclusive classrooms: 60 research-based teaching strategies that help special learners succeed / Sarah J. McNary, Neal A. Glasgow, and Cathy D. Hicks.
Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN 978-1-4129-0628-9 (cloth) — ISBN 978-1-4129-0629-6 (pbk.)
1. Inclusive education. 2. Effective teaching. 3. Classroom management.
I. Glasgow, Neal A. II. Hicks, Cathy D. III. Title.
This book is printed on acid-free paper.
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What is the magic formula to help special learners succeed? Where is the magic bag of tricks that every special education teacher seems to have in order to help “those” special kids learn? I know I would be a more effective general education teacher in teaching “those” special learners in my classroom if I knew the magic techniques and formula … if I had the magic bag of tricks!
This is the sentiment described time and time again by almost every general education teacher, from the brand new teacher to the seasoned veteran. Most general education teachers are unfamiliar with effective strategies and techniques employed to teach special learners. In fact, the unfamiliarity can go beyond a lack of knowledge—a real sense of fear can set in. General education teachers often feel a sense of hopelessness and fear due to limited knowledge of special learner issues and needs, and they may not know how to even begin to approach the academic needs of the student.
Through my 10 years experience as the Director of Pupil Personnel Services in the San Dieguito Union High School District, 12 years experience as a college instructor, 16 years teaching experience in the K-12 public schools, and 8 years as a commissioner with the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing, I confidently state the fact, “teachers strive to teach all learners.”
The reader about to embark on this book is in for a real dose of magic! The 60 research-based strategies to help special learners succeed are presented in a clear, concise reference format including “real life” teaching application techniques for today's challenging classroom.
Real teachers use these strategies and techniques in their classrooms. Although the strategies are research based, the real testimony comes from the experienced teachers and authors of this book. Their knowledge and teaching experience is moving and compelling. Still not convinced of the magic? Head to North San Diego County to the San Dieguito Union High [Page xii]School District to see for yourself! Treat yourself to a visit to observe the authors Sarah McNary, Neal Glasgow, and Cathy Hicks in action in their classrooms. Believe me, you will not only be convinced, but you will want to thank me personally. We are grateful they elected to share their knowledge, teaching experiences, and promising practices with their readers.
This book is about all students learning. The strategies are designed to guide the teacher through the process of adapting the teaching practices and learning environment to address the needs of all learners. The instructional strategies presented are relevant for any student, any grade level.
Special learners deserve the chance to be taught in the general education classroom with effective strategies necessary for individual student success. General education teachers deserve the knowledge of the research-based instructional strategies paired with hands-on application techniques.
Yes, you deserve the magic in this book! So here it is—the magical techniques to help students. Keep it on your desk within reach at all times. Enjoy learning and teaching. Most of all, enjoy and celebrate your students' success!—
Sarah McNary recalls: My first full-time teaching contract began in October 1991. I was following a parade of substitute teachers into a highly unruly and disorganized home economics classroom. Gradually order returned and I was able to focus my energies on quality lesson planning.
Using district guidelines as well as the objectives developed by the local community college that partnered with my program, I created a broad meal plan overview course that focused on budget and nutrition. I was proud of my curriculum and the class seemed to be running smoothly with the exception of one group of students who was just not “getting it.”
In those days, special education students had most of their classes with special education teachers and then would “mainstream” for an elective and PE. My foods class was an obvious choice because “everyone needs to eat.” At my inner city high school with over 2,500 students, I had 11 to 13 students with special needs in every class—several with severe handicaps. I found myself questioning my “one size fits all” approach to instruction as I realized that some of my students simply could not complete the lessons as I had designed them.
More and more, my thoughts returned to those students and I began to experiment with alternative assignments that would still convey the objectives of the lesson while being achievable for these students.
I asked myself, “How can a student on crutches stand at the stove to make stir-fry?” In that low-income school there were no special stands, stools, or adaptive equipment, but the staff room did have a hotplate to lend.
As the year progressed, I found myself drawn more and more to this population. It became a challenge to puzzle out the possibilities to arrange everything so that learning could take place. I knew that I was making a difference and it was addictive. The following summer I accepted another full-time contract—this time teaching a special day class at the middle school. I was hooked!
[Page xiv]Later, I became a resource specialist, and although special education has changed substantially over the years, the one thing that hasn't is the concern that it brings out in general education teachers. Many teachers have expressed their worry, dismay, and sometimes anger at the number of students with special needs they find in their classes. Whether the students have difficulties with language, reading delays, or behavior, the teachers' concern continues. After listening to their complaints, I began to hear a common thread. These capable and concerned teachers were sharing a common emotion—fear. After priding themselves on being excellent and dedicated teachers, the fear of having students who might not learn was overwhelming. I believe that given the right tools and strategies, almost any teacher can provide a positive learning environment for almost every student.
As I began to work with these teachers, I realized that they needed validation (yes, it is more challenging to teach diverse learners), concrete suggestions for effective instruction (practical tips to use today, not theory and philosophy), and time to practice these ideas (support over a period of time using a reflective model that allows the students to give feedback in addition to the teachers' ongoing reflective practice).
In today's world of IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) mandating the “Least Restrictive Environment” and No Child Left Behind which requires that highly qualified and credentialed teachers deliver instruction to students, more and more students with disabilities will be receiving instruction in general education classrooms. There is ample research out there, but where do we go to find out what works and what doesn't? Unlike many other professions, primary literature generated from educational research, experimentation, and investigation is usually a world away from the day-to-day grind of the classroom teacher. Rarely does that type of information filter into a teacher's professional life or development. Yet it is there. People conduct research on how teachers teach, how students with special needs learn, and how all stakeholders in the educational environment influence each other in the process. Yes, there are others out there concerned about the quality of the instructional experience for those students who don't fall into the average range.
For us, “research” is defined as the final product of a scientific investigation of measurable and observable phenomena. This concept of research differs from a person's anecdotal feeling, thoughts, opinions, and beliefs. Research results and conclusions supported by real data help define what works and what doesn't. This information can make us all better at what we do. Research literature is selected based on a journal's or article's validity and its ability to connect us, in new more useful ways, to authentic classroom situations and the common problems teachers routinely face in their professional environments. If it is good, we condense the knowledge contained in the literature and share it, much like all of us freely share our knowledge with our everyday colleagues. We write about the research in [Page xv]the same way we would verbally share it in the school lunch- or workroom. The book is not intended to be a review of all educational research literature on a single concept. Our applications filtered out the very best new ideas from the most relevant research articles coming from a large number of sources.
While experience is a great teacher, there are faster, more humane, and more efficient means of teaching and learning, which coupled with experience become empowering, effective, rewarding, and beneficial. The purpose of this book is to give a voice to the research and the researchers who create the questions about how special learners learn most effectively. Filtered through our own experiences in schools, we hope to make the valuable products of their inquiry available to all those involved in teaching students who need additional supports to facilitate their learning.
This book is not meant to be read as one would read a novel, but rather our objective is to focus on useful and practical educational research that translates into a range of choices and solutions to individual teaching and learning problems typically faced by teachers working with diverse learners. Within these chapters we present a large range of instructional strategies and suggestions based on educational, psychological, and sociological studies. The strategies are based on research conducted with teachers and students. Strategies within the chapters are structured in a user-friendly format:
- Strategy: A simple, concise, or crisp statement of an instructional strategy.
- What the Research Says: A brief discussion of the research that led to the strategy. This section should simply give the teacher some confidence in, and a deeper understanding of, the principle(s) being discussed as an instructional strategy.
- Application: A description of how this teaching strategy can be used in instructional settings.
- Precautions and Possible Pitfalls: Caveats intended to make possible reasonably flawless implementation of the teaching strategy. We try to help teachers avoid common difficulties before they occur.
- Sources: These are provided so that the reader may refer to the original research to discover in more detail the main points of the strategies, research, and classroom applications.
It is our hope that if those new to teaching students with disabilities accept some of these ideas, maybe they can avoid the “sink or swim” mentality that many of us experienced when we first started. We can make the “learning curve” less steep in those first few years. Veterans can also benefit from knowledge gained from the most recent research. Given the critical need for teachers now and in the future, we, as a profession, cannot afford to have potentially good teachers leaving the profession because [Page xvi]they don't feel supported, feel too overwhelmed, or suffer from early burnout or disillusionment.
For teachers reading this book for the first time, there may be strategies that apparently don't apply. As in many new endeavors, there may be a tendency to “not know what you don't know.” We ask that you come back and revisit this book from time to time throughout the year. What may not be applicable the first time you read it may be of help at a later date. Veterans can refresh their teaching toolbox by scanning the range of strategies presented in the book and applying these strategies to their own classroom environment.
Teaching, and education in general, have never been more exciting or more challenging. Expectations for teachers, students, and schools continue to rise. The more resources teachers have at their fingertips to assist their practice along their educational journey, the better the outcome for us all. We hope all teachers will find this book useful and practical in defining and enhancing their teaching skills.Acknowledgments
We are grateful to the people at Corwin Press, especially Faye Zucker, Stacy Wagner, and Cyndee Callan for their complete collaboration and support.
Sarah McNary is indebted to coauthors Cathy Hicks and Neal Glasgow for their ongoing confidence and unwavering support. Their dedication to educational practice based on research rather than fashion is an inspiration. Deepest appreciation is due to the students with and without disabilities that she has worked with over the years. Working with all of them has been an honor and a delight. She has learned more about teaching from them than from anything covered in her training coursework. Loving gratitude goes to her husband, Dave, and her children, Erica and Alex, for their confidence. Last, her deepest thanks go to her mum for her gentle support; and her sisters, Jacqueline and Caroline, who are always ready and willing to listen as well as offer their help and solutions.
Neal Glasgow gratefully acknowledges the many special education teachers he has worked with over his career. As a career mainstream teacher, which includes a short journey into “ESL” science, one of his roles in special education has been that of an educational consumer. Everything he has learned about learning disabilities, accommodations, and everything in between has come from very knowledgeable and dedicated special education teachers. Their dedication and professionalism stand out [Page xvii]among their educational peers. Further, and most important, he acknowledges and thanks his coauthors, Sarah McNary and Cathy Hicks, for their insightful and professional contributions to this book, personal touch on the world of special education, and their good humor. Because of them the messages in the book truly come from the trenches of real teaching. Their writing gives the academic research a real-world validity and usefulness. Finally, he acknowledges Tommy O., his first mainstreamed student with a learning disability. Tommy fostered a rewarding beginning to the world of individual learning styles and the accommodation of differences.
Cathy Hicks is grateful and in awe of the exceptional special education teachers she has been privileged to work with over the past 30 years. These teachers are “angels on earth.” The skill, passion, enthusiasm, patience, and love they possess are nothing short of incredible. A giant among these special teachers is Sarah McNary, someone she is proud to call friend and colleague. Sarah knows absolutely everything about special education. More important, she has never met a student she didn't like. Sarah is an invaluable resource to teachers of students with special needs. Cathy also acknowledges the expertise and dedication of coauthor Neal Glasgow. The writing team spent many hours engaged in meaningful and interesting dialogue, all the while proving that there is no “magic bullet” for teaching students with disabilities. A final thank you to Cathy's daughter Summer, for teaching her the unique challenges a child with special needs brings to a family. Having been Summer's mother has made her a better, more patient, and compassionate teacher. The experience brought home the truth that every child has special gifts and talents to share.
Corwin Press and the authors extend their thanks to the following reviewers for their contributions to this volume:
- Millie Gore, Ed.D.
- Midwestern State University
- Wichita Falls, TX
- Toby Karten
- Manalapan Englishtown Regional Schools
- Manalapan, NJ
- J. David Smith
- University of Virginia's College at Wise
- Wise, VA
- Jacqueline Thousand
- Cal State San Marcos
- San Marcos, CA
About the Authors
Afterword[Page 125]Helping Special Learners Succeed in Inclusive Classrooms
Fifty years ago, special education as we know it today didn't exist and students who fell outside the “average” range were enrolled in special schools, institutions, or simply kept at home. We've come a long way and we are proud of our progress, but more research still needs to be conducted and new findings need to be incorporated into the way we teach all students.
Universal Design for Instruction is a worthy goal. The idea of teachers considering all students and their individual needs before designing instruction and assessment practices has been a long time coming. What a difference this approach makes to teachers who no longer have to adjust and adapt their lessons and assessments to accommodate students because the needed flexibility is already built in. But most significantly, what a difference for each student who can come to school ready to learn knowing that his or her needs can be met!
Ultimately, all teachers are researchers, and we conduct daily studies into what is effective in our own classrooms with our own students. And while we may not always publish our findings, it is our professional obligation to share our “research” with our colleagues while learning from their “research” as well. It is our own ongoing learning that promotes the ongoing learning of our students. Life-long learning isn't just a catch phrase; it is the hallmark of excellence as we continue to work on our practice.
Formal research is readily available through journals and other publications in hard copy and online. With the demands of legislation like NCLB requiring research-based teaching practices, today more than ever teachers need to keep abreast of changes in the field. Good teachers know what works—they've discovered that through trial and error with a good measure of experience. Our intention with this book was to cut down on some of the time involved in locating and analyzing the research, allowing our readers to skip ahead to the part where research makes a difference in the lives of students. We hope that we've accomplished that goal.
Corwin Press[Page 132]
The Corwin Press logo—a raven striding across an open book—represents the union of courage and learning. Corwin Press is committed to improving education for all learners by publishing books and other professional development resources for those serving the field of K-12 education. By providing practical, hands-on materials, Corwin Press continues to carry out the promise of its motto: “Helping Educators Do Their Work Better.”