Warren County Public Schools: Special Education Instruction
Goal: To provide meaningful, rigorous and differentiated instruction to all students in the least restrictive environment.
3 Ways to Success
1. Inclusive practices and collaboration.
Instruction is provided based on the idea that students with disabilities have the right to be members of classroom communities with nondisabled peers, whether or not they can meet the traditional expectations of those classrooms. (Friend, 2007).
Students with special needs benefit from the same high-quality schooling as all students, with the addition of extra supports to help them succeed. (U.S. Dept. of Ed., 1999).
Benefits of Effective Inclusive Practices for ALL Students:
* Exposure to review, clarity, and feedback from effective instruction
* Greater acceptance and valuing of human differences
* Development of warm and caring friendships
* Differentiation of instruction.
* Improved standardized tests scores
* Higher level of social acceptance in the general education setting.
* Achievement of IEP goals.
* Greater access to the core content curriculum
* Preparation of students for post-school experiences.
(Stepping Stones to Success II, VDOE 2007)
Myths vs. Reality
Myth: Inclusive practices only benefit students with disabilities.
Reality: All students benefit because inclusive practices
encourage collaboration among teachers. This
leads to better instruction for ALL students.
Myth: Teachers prefer to teach by themselves.
Reality: Most teachers value opportunities to learn from
each other. Research and personal experiences
have shown that job satisfaction is greatly improved
as a result of collaboration in the classroom.
Myth: Students with disabilities are more successful in self-contained classes.
Reality: ON THE CONTRARY, students who are included
in general education classes have access to the
curriculum and content area specialists, as well
as opportunities to develop positive peer
friendships. These experiences provide a richer
foundation for learning.
Myth: Special needs students will slow down the class.
Reality: Differentiated instructional strategies that will meet
individual student needs should be in every
teacher’s tool kit. Ability levels in all classrooms
vary on a continuum. Therefore, it is imperative that
all teachers develop skills that will effectively reach
all students on the continuum.
(Stepping Stones to Success II, VDOE, 2007)
2. Explicit instruction that incorporates active learning and student engagement.
Explicit instruction involves direct explanation. Concepts are clearly explained and skills are clearly modeled, without vagueness or ambiguity (Carnine, 2006). The teacher’s language is concise, specific, and related to the objective. Another characteristic of explicit instruction is a visible instructional approach which includes a high level of teacher/student interaction. Explicit instruction means that the actions of the teacher are clear, unambiguous, direct, and visible. This makes it clear what the students are to do and learn. Nothing is left to guess work.
The following is an example of an explicit instruction routine:
Connect To And Review Previous Learning
Teach New Concept/Skill (I Do)
Guide Practice (We Do)
Assess Student Application (You Do)
Return To Purpose
Provide Opportunity For Independent Practice
Any instructional strategy that engages students in the learning process by:
1. Requiring all students to be cognitively active during learning rather than passively receiving information.
2. Requiring students to do meaningful learning activities.
3. Requiring students to think about what they are doing.
3. Data analysis that guides instruction and provides effective interventions.
Checking for understanding is really the most important and useful of student data. Using exit tickets, brief quizzes, and thumbs up/thumbs down are a few easy ways to gather information on where students are and where they need to go next.
An end-of-unit exam can measure the growth of individual and whole-group learning. If a large number of students don't do well on such an assessment, we need to reflect back on the teaching and make necessary adjustments in the future.
Use standardized test data results along with other data (i.e. in-class assignments, observations) when making instructional decisions.
Ways in which standardized test data is useful::
* share test results with students individually and set attainable, realistic goals for them to work towards before the next test.
* reveal which students perform advanced, proficient,or below basic which can guide decisions regarding student groups and differentiating instruction.
* provide feedback to teachers, allowing them to review their teaching practices and make instructional adjustments.