Looking back over my years of teaching, a first school I taught in had one special education classroom of about 5 students. Eight years later, there could have been almost an entire wing of the school. Either more students’s disabilities were being identified or school systems were taken these issues more seriously. From numerous Autism workshops through the years, just the ratio of children being diagnosed with Autism has changed. Teachers and caregivers are seeking sources at a speedy rate on ways to help all students in their care succeed. One source should be Modifying Schoolwork by Rachel Janney and Martha E. Snell.
Is your school is fully inclusive, partially or not at all inclusive? What are your opinions about an inclusive teaching? Is it for everyone? Your fears? Do you feel it will benefit the all students involved? These are questions teachers are asking.
Modifying Schoolwork is a book that provides practical explanations of how to prepare, implement and evaluate inclusion in your classrooms. Inclusion, through this book focuses on creating an effect experience and allowing students with disabilities’s needs to be met as a member of their class, not just a name on the class roster.
The first chapter looks at inclusion as a whole, research supported along with characteristics and how a positive culture is important in implementing this idea. It’s important that teachers, administrators, parents and students collectively are working towards to meet the successes in the classrooms and school as a whole. During an informal discussion, a teacher in Virginia said her school does have modified inclusion in grades k-4. It frustrates her and her team that while they work hard to co teach, there is one co worker that is sometimes negative in his way of doing his part to help the team. He see the child as a label. He thinks it waste a waste of time to take extra effort to adjust all his lessons for one student. With his lack of respect, he puts a hole in the culture for the rest of the grade and what they are trying to achieve. On page 13 of the text, several questions are asked in order to help gear thinking into a positive prepared culture.
Chapter 2 discusses the curriculum and accommodations. A framework called UDL, is based on research and offers an organized guideline to build strategies for your curriculum. Several good examples are given throughout the chapter like peer learning structures, differential instruction, cooperative learning, peer tutoring, guided notes, and graphic organizers. These terms are nothing new to an educator, we use them in our classes everyday. On page 60, an example of a lesson using some of the terms above appear in the accommodations made for a student. Teachers find that many of the everyday strategies one uses can easily be adapted to students with disabilities in a variety of situations.
The best part of Chapter 3 are the numerous examples in the “student snapshots”. They provide a situation, and then question to how it could have been better for the student. Sometimes making the smallest adaption in a lesson can help all students feel involved. While in Chapter 4, the authors discuss how to prepare and plan for individual students. Throughout this chapter, there are lots of great examples of student assessments, student examples, handy adaptions, and a great source of blank forms in the Appendix.
Overall, the book is filled with hands on resources to use as modifications as you plan for an inclusive classroom. Inclusive education, if done correctly can be an effective with a culture that supports the achievements. If your school is moving towards this philosophy, this book is a good starting point to help.