Inclusion in Mathematics

This blog was created to allow teachers, parents and administrators to view new information and helpful resources about inclusion.

Monday, July 10, 2006

What is Inclusion?

Inclusive education means that all students in a school, regardless of strengths or weakness in any area become part of the school. Inclusion is generally accepted to mean that primary instruction and provision of services for a child with disability is provided in an age-appropriate general education class in the school the child would have attended if not disable with appropriate additional supports for the student and the teacher (Lindsay, 2003). This does not mean that a child with a disability cannot move to other settings. It is possible for a child to remain in the segregated setting for some parts of the day and enter into general education setting for other specific time periods.

Legal Requirements

The most current language of the federal mandate concerning inclusive education comes from the 1997 Amendments to the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA). The IDEA requires that children with disabilities be educated in regular education classrooms unless “the nature and children with disabilities be educated in the regular classes with the use of supplementary aids and services cannot be achieved satisfactorily” (Department of Education and Skills, 2002). This means that schools have a duty to try to include students with disabilities in the regular education classes to succeed in a least restrictive environment.
The Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) is the educational setting that provides the greatest exposure to an interaction with the general education students and person without disabilities. It is important to remember that special education is not a place but rather a set of services. Learning in less restrictive environment benefits students with or without disabilities in so much as all children is more likely to improve their academic performance and increase their communication and socialization skills. The benefits of learning in the LRE for children with special needs can be great. It can increase motivation, higher self-esteem, and improve academic achievement.
General education teachers are part of the team that develops each child’s IEP (Individualized Education Program) that guides the child’s education enabling the child to be involved and make progress in the regular curriculum. The IEP must be an explanation of why and to what extent the child is included in activities within the school. This statement must include a description of the child’s present level of educational performance, which should indicate to what extent the student disability affects involvement and progress to the general curriculum. If this plan is rejected, the team moves up the continuum from least to more restrictive settings (Department of Education 2002).

The General and Special Education Teacher Role

General and special education teachers are responsible for helping students achieve their academic goals. Is there a difference between these two? Special education teachers work with children and youth with special needs. They design and modify instruction to meet students’ academic and behavioral needs. Emphasis on integrating students with special needs with their age peers requires a team approach. Special educators must be skilled at collaborating with other teachers, families and agencies; directing the work of instructional assistants; and organizing and implementing instructional experiences for several subjects with a wide age range of students. General Education teachers provide opportunities to experience diversity of society on a small scale in a classroom. They also develop empathetic skills that provide empowerment that challenges the student’s learning ability.
To work effectively in inclusive classroom, mathematics teachers can employ a number of strategies that address the needs of students with learning disabilities (Hartley, 2003). These implications can be used to help them learn more important concepts and skills in mathematics and science. Examples of strategies:
- Organize lesson units around big ideas and interdisciplinary themes to help establish connections between mathematics and the real world.

- Allow students more time to complete mathematics activities.
- Encourage collaboration and cooperation among peers so that students can improve their mathematical problem solving skills.
- Provide students with explicit instruction of multiple problem solving.
- Structure instruction around a variety of learning styles.
- Create a learning environment that is nurturing and supportive for al students.
- Involve parents so that teachers aware of the challenges in the family and work with them to develop to their fullest.
Regular educators and special educators can work together effectively by taking an equal share of responsibility. These responsibilities can be shared through good co-teaching or team teaching. There are combinations of all types of teaching that will help the teachers collaborate their instruction:
- Supportive Teaching – One teacher teaches while the other roams. To be effective both teachers must equally take the teaching role.
- Parallel Teaching – Each teacher teaches the same content or different content at the same time.
- Station Teaching – The room is set up with three or more stations. Two of the stations might be monitored by an adult while the others are independent stations.
- Alternative Teaching – One teacher pulls small, flexible, changing groups within the same classroom that the other teacher instructs the rest of the class.

Disabilities, Teaching Strategies, and Resources

In this site presents accommodation and inclusive strategies for Mathematics students with disabilities. Topics include teaching strategies, learning environments, and assistive/adaptive technologies. All of the strategies have been found to assist students with disabilities in their academic pursuits. The strategies herein have been collected over the last 40 years primarily from science teachers, special educators, and by teachers in schools for the deaf and blind. This collection of strategies are not based on rigorous statistical experiments but rather on the craft of teachers knowledge about "what works" with students who are different even when the same disabilities. What works well for one student may or may not work for another, even though they have the same disability.
Please recognize that all strategies have "worked" for students with disabilities. Utilizing these strategies as a common sense solution to more effectively teach many of those with disabilities.
Eight general types of disabilities are presented across four Mathematics teaching methods, viz., teacher presentation, recitation, reading, and discussion (24 subsets). Over 600 teaching strategies are presented.
It is the purpose of this web site to assist the Mathematics teachers in the public school and college systems in mitigating such discrepant outcomes by the use of some of the appropriate strategies and assistive devices presented herein. Information is presented about facilitating the students with disabilities to be assist in making the "Mathematics learning field level" between those students who are disabled and those who are not.

Instructional Websites for Inclusion in Math

Inclusion program can also allow students to sharpen their basic math skills by going over the concept at a slower pace. This is relevant and vital for student to succeed academically. Using the website:

These websites enhances the motivation level of all students. It encourages students to work at their own pace and learn how to work real-world problems. The benefit of this website is that the concept of teaching is real and challenging for the students. Our students need higher-orderthinking skills and this website definitely provides it.

How can Technology help Inclusive schools?

One way of accessing curriculum is the use of assistive technology. Assistive technology may be virtually any devices that increases, maintains or improves a functional capability of a student with a disability (Lindsay, 2003). Students feel encouraged or motivated as they are supported with a device that can make them engaged and self-aware learner. One of the biggest issues for the general education students in the inclusion program is being stigmatized as “dumb”, stupid or etc. from peers.

Special education is defined as classroom or private instruction involving unconventional techniques, materials, exercises, facilities and subject matter designed for students whose learning needs cannot be met by a standard school curriculum. Thanks to modern assistive technology, special education inclusion and various legislative acts, more students who exhibit different intellectual capacities, physical handicaps, behavioral disorders and learning disabilities are able to stay in regular primary and secondary schools. Listed below is variety of educational resources for teachers and parents of students with various learning disabilities that focus on assistive technology and inclusion in special education.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

About Me

Cicely Dixon, Phenix City, AL

I am a mathematics teacher at a local junior high school and work as an Adult Education Teacher at the community college. Although, I went to school to be a computer engineer but things happen for a reason. I have been teaching since 2002 and I love it. My students are my motivation to teach. It's a wonderful feeling to know that you've made a difference in someone's life. I have a beautiful daughter, M’kiyah that is four. I love to go to church, because God is the source of my strength. MATH IS FUN!!!!

Saturday, July 08, 2006


What curriculum modifications would you make for a student with special needs in language arts, particularly for a child who has difficulty reading?
One suggestion would be to have the parent and child pre-read a passage the night before it is going to be discussed in the class. You can also have the other students audio-tape the books, and then have the student with special needs listen to it. You can find a different level of the book like the Step Up Into Classics book. They give a parallel text that covers the same basic curriculum, but with fewer words.
Another good idea is to have a reading group, which is a small group of students who discuss a particular text. That could mean discussing the vocabulary or answering questions. For instance, we have a student here with autism, and her peers draw up the questions for her, which is a nice way to involve the kids.
What curriculum modifications would you make to the math curriculum for a student with autism?
We've modified math using touch pads, which is a formalized system for teaching math in which the students put dots on the numbers. It is a way to make the math more concrete and visual. So instead of using counters, the students would actually put the dots on the numbers, and then count the dots. You can also use calculators to modify the curriculum.
How would you modify science for a student with autism?
The science curriculum works really well if it's hands-on. The difficulty tends to come in film strips, lectures, and in other things where they're totally uninvolved. The more hands-on you make it the easier it is for the student with special needs.
How would you modify the social studies curriculum for a student with special needs?
Social studies tends to be one of the most difficult areas to modify for a student with special needs. For instance, when you're studying the history of Colorado and the gold miners, that is so far removed from their life that it's really difficult for many of them to grasp. So we've tried some things like getting them to read a novel based on that period of time, and then we would talk about it in terms of what that character would think. We might also watch a video about a related subject. The key is to build a common base, so they understand what it is you're trying to say.
What kinds of modifications would you make for a class like health?
I've found kids are fairly interested in health because it's about their body. It's also very much hands-on subject. We would just core down the amount of information that the student with special needs would have to know. They don't have to learn the intricacies of the digestive system. They just need to know that the purpose of the digestive system is to digest food, and that it enters through your mouth and then waste exits the body.
What modifications would you make for a class like physical education?
Peer partners are a really strong key in modifying the physical education curriculum. We do a lot of circle of friends work, and P.E. is an area that comes up a lot. And when the kids are allowed to, they come up with some really great modifications.
For instance, we had one child who was having great difficulty jumping rope. The kids realized that he just didn't know what to do, and where to go while he was jumping. So they put a mat down where he was jumping, and they taped a square to it. They told him that he had to stay in the box while he was jumping, and pretty soon, he was able to do it. Peer support is very critical in physical education because the movement is so quick. Another modification we make is that instead of playing basketball, the kids will be the referees. Some of the kids might also prefer to play catch in the back of the gym as opposed to playing the big dodge ball game.
What behaviour management strategies do you use with the students with special needs?
We have a really strong behaviour intervention program here for all the students. For some of the students, we write behaviour plans where we look at factual analysis of behaviour, and we then build our strategies on that. We also have a crisis response team that we call the STAT team for the Student Teacher Assistants Team. It's in place so that anytime a teacher feels that either they or the student needs a break, they can contact the office. We will then have people who are fairly well trained in de-escalating situations respond, and get the student back to class quickly and functionally.
We also do a lot of proactive teaching around appropriate behaviour, and a little over half of the school is involved in Circle of Friends. We go into the classroom and conduct class meetings. We work on appropriate teaching skills, and appropriate learning skills. The students learn how they can teach each other as well as how they can learn from each other. They would also learn about eye messages and peer mediation. I think that eliminates a lot of the problems, because the kids have a chance to discuss it before it becomes a crisis.
Do you recommend any sort of seating arrangement when there are students with special needs in the classroom?
Yes, but I think that you have to experiment with that. I don't think that front and centre is always the best place. I have two children with special needs at home, and I've found that my son prefers to sit in the front row left side, so that he can have his back to the wall. Some kids with special needs might need to be in the back of the class, so that there's nothing going on behind them. Other kids meanwhile might have to be in front of the class, so that they can really focus on the teacher. I think that it's really important to have peer support around them.
Do you have support teams in place in the school to assist teachers who have students with special needs?
It depends on the individual child, and who's working with that child. For instance, we meet on an every-other-week basis for the student we have with autism. We have three para-professionals, two special education teachers, a behavioural specialist, the principal and the classroom teacher, who meet with the parents every other week. With the other students it's once a month, or as needed. When a student has particularly severe behavioural needs, I try to meet with their teachers at least once or twice a week. I just drop in to see how they're doing.
Do the parents attend all of the support team meetings?
If it's a formal support team meeting, then yes. For instance, when we have the meetings about the behavioural intervention plans, the parents are always invited. It depends on the importance of the meeting, and its function, but they're never excluded.
You have a very active parent volunteer program. Do the parents of students with special needs volunteer to work with their own children?
No, not necessarily. I think it would be really difficult to deal with because watching their own child, they might see a hundred things that they do wrong. So I think it tends to be more difficult for them.
Do you ever have to do anything to get the other students on side about inclusion?
Typically, if we're going to do parallel curriculum, we'll start off with, "What does it mean to be fair?" Fair means equal opportunity, not "same". We always have that discussion before the year even begins. We'll often go through the "who is". For example, who is Tim? What are his gifts? What are his challenges? What should he do? What shouldn't he do?
The biggest problems tend to occur around behavioural expectations. You can't fight every battle, so sometimes you have to let a few things slide. For instance, a child might be using their mouth instead of their fist, but you might let that go sometimes because your goal is to eliminate physical aggression.