Post submitted by Nicole Eredics, an elementary educator who has spent more than 15 years working in inclusive classrooms. She is an advocate and has led community support groups. She currently hosts The Inclusive Class radio show on the Talking Special Needs Network on Blog Talk Radio (Friday mornings at 9 a.m. ET). Eredics has developed and discovered many valuable resources for parents, teachers, and schools that focus on the inclusion of special needs children in the classroom. More information can be found on her blog The Inclusive Class.
In recent years, there has been considerable thought and research given to how schools can create inclusive learning environments. Dozens of reference books have been written that recommend inclusive practice, strategies, and solutions. As a result, teachers are becoming more skilled at including children with special needs in the general education classroom.
We want our schools to be dynamic and exciting places where student learning takes front and center stage. We want to reduce the dropout and failure rate among students. We want to support students in exploring deeper understandings that can build the academic confidence that will help them succeed in school and life. We want to be better teachers.
Authors Persida and William Himmele believe that when you give students the opportunity to demonstrate higher-order thinking and to learn through individual processing followed by interaction, they will surprise you. Himmeles' new book, Total Participation Techniques: Making Every Student an Active Learner, presents dozens of ways to engage your students in active learning and allow them to demonstrate the depth of their knowledge and understanding. Each technique has step-by-step instructions and suggestions for how to adapt it to specific contexts and content areas.
Read excerpts from the book and join the discussion on ASCD EDge, a free social networking community for educators, linking teachers, administrators, authors, and experts online. The community currently has 27,000+ members.
The key to forming new memories and storing information is the brain's practice and experience recognizing and constructing patterns. The best glue to promote the consolidation of new information into short-term memory is activation of prior knowledge. In this interactive webinar you will take a journey through the brain and learn proven Neuro-LOGICAL strategies for building patterning skills, activating prior knowledge, and more.
It's a bright, sunny Tuesday morning, and students are entering Roosevelt Elementary school with excitement and energy. No backpacks. No luggage on wheels. Just lunch bags and handheld devices.
As they enter the renovated 75-year old building, students find places to settle in. No homerooms. No morning announcements. Everyone busily logs in to the network system using their personal devices, indicating they are present for the day, reading school announcements, and reviewing their individual schedules for the day.
Physical structures should match school cultures and learning modalities, not the other way around. Despite what some might say, physical structures communicate a lot about the learning environment and what to expect. Just like we set up seats for the first day of school to set a tone, the building communicates a tone as well. Throughout my visits, I’ve come across many innovative buildings that really set a tone for safe school culture and innovative learning. It's not about technology and bells and whistles; it's about the layout and ways that the walls talk.
What if teachers could help each student get a sense of his or her individual learning style, in terms of that student's preferred way to process information and seek energy? Imagine how much better we could support and engage each child!
Education consultant Jane A. G. Kise's article in the summer online issue of Educational Leadership discusses how to differentiate instruction in a math class. In this guest blog post, Kise describes a differentiated lesson on poetry. Her article includes a checklist teachers can use to help gauge each child's learning style.
As I work with teachers, we often teach students about their Jungian learning styles so they can better advocate for their needs. One teaching team decided to go further, creating a poetry lesson to help students understand every style.
The teachers and I created four stations, one for each learning style, collaborating to ensure that each station was engaging yet rigorous and presented a clear learning goal, so that students wouldn't judge stations as "easy/hard" or "fun/boring."
At the "Let Me Master It" station (learners with the introversion/sensing style), students received clear directions and examples so they could create haiga, illustrated haiku poems.
At the "Let Me Do Something" station (extraversion/sensing style), learners worked in groups to plan and perform a recitation.
At the "Let Me Think" station (introversion/intuition style), each student chose from several independent activities involving reading or writing poetry.
At the "Let Me Brainstorm" station (extraversion/intuition), they collaborated to write a parody of a nursery rhyme.
Then the students journaled about their experiences at each station. I watched one teacher debrief the lesson. She asked all of the students to move to the station they liked the most. Students grouped by every station. The teacher commented, "Look around. If you aren't excited about something we're doing in class, chances are that one of your friends is loving it. My promise is we'll change up what we do so you'll all learn in your own style during part of our time together."
Then she asked them to move to the station where they learned the most. A majority of the students shifted stations. "Aaaah," the teacher said, "so sometimes when you're really having to work at something, you're learning more? Let's all remember that, too."
Students then brainstormed times when their school work requires them to learn in each style. For the "Let Me Master It" style, students identified gathering foundational knowledge and tools for each content area. For "Let Me Do Something," it was science labs, band, using maps, and a robotics class. For "Let Me Think," independent reading and writing; and for the "Let Me Brainstorm" style, the style was tapped through collaborative teamwork and group discussions.
Learning styles aren't meant to set limits on what students can do, but instead to help students realize what comes naturally, what activities are a stretch, and when to seek extra support so they can succeed. The path to success lies in thinking, This activity is hard because it's not in my comfortable style, but I can ask my teacher for strategies, rather than thinking, This is too hard for me.
Project-based learning (PBL) by nature lends itself to authenticity and real-world relevancy. All well-designed projects connect learning to an authentic task, but some can really run with it. This is where project-based service learning comes in, where PBL is used to not only create authenticity, but also fulfill a community service and need.
I have a long term partnership with EagleRidge High School in Klamath Falls, Ore. PBL is becoming one of its core identities as the school moves forward. On a recent visit, teachers were collaborating to build a PBL project for a Community Studies course.
Join author Jonathan Erwin for a free webinar about gaining a compelling and research-based rationale for integrating social-emotional learning (SEL) into your academic curriculum. Erwin has more than a decade of experience as a middle and high school English teacher and is currently a senior faculty member at the William Glasser Institute. He is also an independent education consultant who has presented workshops around the world on inspiring and motivating students.
Ah, middle grades ... a complex, challenging, and confusing time in adolescence. Also a complex, challenging, and confusing age for adults to support and develop! In April we looked at the crucial importance of this childhood stage. Supporting students as they transition physically, cognitively, emotionally, and socially is key to ensuring that they are successful and healthy in high school and beyond.
Listen to the Whole Child Podcast with guests Al Arth, a professor of education at York College in Nebraska, and Caroline Bloxom, principal of Pocomoke Middle School in Maryland.
Watch how Pocomoke Middle School has created a safe and welcoming learning environment for students by combining a rigorous curriculum with strong emotional support for its student body.
Explore "The Transition Years" with ASCD's Educational Leadership, and learn what authors recommend as students move from early childhood into elementary school, through the middle grades, and then into 9th grade. Noted middle school educator Rick Wormeli shares five mind-sets that can help educators ease the middle school transition for their students.
Develop a "both/and" mentality to maintain an equal commitment to middle grades students' academic success and personal growth. Author Bob Sullo offers insight, experience, and resources to help educators guide students through the messy process of identity formation and create learning experiences that increase achievement and minimize disruptions to learning.
Equip students with skills for future success early. Guest blogger Jason Flom shares his school's two-part plan to ensure that students leave elementary school with some basic communication and leadership life-support systems.
Create a culture of caring for middle grades students and staff in your district like Hesston Middle School in Hesston, Kans., did through its Transition Buddy Program.
Build student capacity in the middle grades through project-based learning (PBL). Guest blogger Andrew K. Miller shares developmental stages in the PBL process that provide focused guidance and foster student growth emotionally, socially, and cognitively.
Understand the purpose of middle schools and the strategies that make them work. Louisiville, Ga., principal Samuel Dasher shares elements that can improve the success of any school.
Read what educators had to say about the middle grades 20 years ago in the December 1973 issue of Educational Leadership, "Middle School in the Making?"
Share what you love—and what challenges you—about teaching students who are transitioning from kid to adult.
Highlighted in Edutopia's Schools That Work series, Jefferson County Public Schools in Louisville, Ky., developed its CARE for Kids social and emotional learning program to help students become better learners while developing the skills necessary to become self-aware, caring, and connected to others. Find tips, resources, and how you can replicate it in your school. In this video, students start the day sharing feelings with their peers.
In late March, ASCD held its 2011 Annual Conference in San Francisco, where sessions engaged participants in dynamic, diverse dialogues addressing the challenges of learning, teaching, and leading, including:
Puberty, the final frontier. Er. Puberty, the inevitable and unavoidable frontier.
As a 5th grade teacher, I think of myself as a NASA flight coordinator, preparing students for their intergalactic journey from childhood to adulthood—a journey in which they abandon the laws of physics for the laws of adolescence. At the beginning of 5th grade they arrive as children; at the end they disembark, rocketing for the middle years. What happens in the months between can play a vital role in helping them navigate the strange and wondrous worlds they encounter in the 6th, 7th, and 8th grades.