TThis is just a super fun idea I brought to my math stations the other day:
Building with Numbers
I know- I did not invent the activity and I am not the only teacher to add this activity to a math centre, but I just want to point how easy it can be to provide different access points to the same benchmark.
Lately, we have been focusing on operations- more specifically, addition with regrouping. However, you can imagine in a lower elementary class how different each kiddo is and how different their math background is. During math lessons, I find group work and stations to be the most effective way to support all my kiddos with their individual math learning. You see, I teach a short 'lesson' on addition to the whole class as an introduction and then break my class up into their math groups: based on levels & supports.
All students are given opportunities to practice earlier level skills, have direct instruction with me, and practice the new lesson. The direct instruction is shaped by the benchmark (curriculum- ughhh), but individualized through the use of different access points (ie, matching numbers or single objects, sequencing numbers, single digit addition, double digit addition, regrouping, and multiplication). Access points and small group instruction ensures all kiddos are receiving meaningful instruction for them.
keep reading to learn more about Building with Numbers
The aim of today's post is to share what works in setting up an inclusive classroom. We know everyone aims to be inclusive, and their hearts are in the right place- how many people have you met that say 'I don't want my student to succeed?'- probably not one person! The point is we all want to support and to teach all our students. We want to have inclusive environments that are open and welcoming to all kiddos. We want to value all our students as individuals and as members of our learning community.
Below is a list of 9 things you can do to continue to build your inclusive classroom. These 9 things help bridge what you think and want to do with actual actions that you can do.
A very common concern I hear from teachers is that 'inclusion does not work'. I cannot disagree more- inclusion completely works IF the systems and structures are put into place to support inclusive education systems. Oh, and our mindset or our professional (and personal) belief system is open and embraces the concept of difference is normal.
Most systems that call themselves inclusive education school systems are really still following an integration model or an inclusive special education system. In other words, all students are welcome to attend their neighbourhood school but very little changes were made to the systems and structures to ensure that all students are fully welcome and able to participate. Remember, changing a policy is a low lever change- in other words, when changing a policy very little actually changes or no major change happens. Switching from a special education vs mainstream model of schooling to an inclusive education system requires a lot more than a policy change.
So what is it that teachers are seeing in today's schools that is called inclusion.... but is not. Below I have compiled a list of a few of the common examples that teachers have provided me from their own experiences. Do any of these ring a bell for you?
Our actions are reflections of our thoughts- sometimes we can fool people and act in a way different from what we believe. Usually- this is not the case and our actions will showcase our thoughts, beliefs, and underlying assumptions.
Understanding this notion is important in education. If you believe that a child can do something, you will help them achieve that something. BUT the contrary is true to, if you believe a child cannot do something, they probably will not do that something for you. Take for example, when you learn that child is entering your class that has a reading learning disorder- many of us would directly go to all the areas in which the child might struggle. It becomes an additional weight on our shoulders. However, what if we flipped the thought to seeing 'learning disorder' as the child just being a unique reader or an individual. Instead of thinking what they cannot do, think about how they are good at seeing complex reading patterns and comprehending these patterns, despite requiring additional support with isolated words.
It is all about how we frame our thoughts. It is easy to think with us at the centre- how is this going to impact me? But in education, we have to think with the kiddos at the centre.
Today's Tip Tuesday focuses on adding choices and options into our lesson planning. I aim to keep my posts applicable to all ages and grades. However, with an elementary background I tend to focus a little more on the little monkeys. I do apologize in advance to all you middle school and high school teachers for not sharing as many ideas for your grades. In saying that, the more we connect, the more ideas I gain for the older monkeys!
Choices and options are IMPORTANT & ESSENTIAL components of lesson planning for today's classrooms. It is not uncommon to have a huge amount of diversity within one class- anything from students learning the English language to students who require significant physical support to students who are working from an individualized plan. Without providing variation in your lesson planning it is nearly impossible to teach all your students.
We need to make the leap from thinking about students as part of a grade level that is based on prescribed expectations (of behaviour, of actions, of academics) to thinking about students as individuals within a common learning community based simply on age. Once we start thinking about kiddos being clumped together in a grade level because of the year they are born & you start to think about how diverse that group really is the feeling of HOW AM I GOING TO DO THIS takes over... right?