INTRODUCTION ◦ As children with disabilities entered the public schools in the 1970s, they were taught in separate classrooms with their own teachers. Over the past 25 years, these students have slowly moved into the flow of the regular classroom, thus the use of the term "mainstreaming." However, students were mainstreamed for selected subjects or parts of the day; they were not considered part of the typical class. Now the philosophy is to include all students in the same class, which has brought about teams of general education and special education teachers working collaboratively or cooperatively to combine their professional knowledge, perspectives, and skills.
The biggest change for educators is in deciding to share the role that has traditionally been individual: to share the goals, decisions, classroom instruction, responsibility for students, assessment of student learning, problem solving, and classroom management. The teachers must begin to think of it as "our" class.
Cooperative teaching was described in the late 1980s as "an educational approach in which general and special educators work in co-active and coordinated fashion to jointly teach heterogeneous groups of students in educationally integrated settings....In cooperative teaching both general and special educators are simultaneously present in the general classroom, maintaining joint responsibilities for specified education instruction that is to occur within that setting
General educators bring content specialization, special education teachers bring assessment and adaptation specializations. Both bring training and experience in teaching techniques and learning processes. Their collaborative goal is that all students in their class are provided with appropriate classroom and homework assignments so that each is learning, is challenged, and is participating in the classroom process.
Student attitudes and behavior stand at the center of the figure and the theory that underliesit. As the figure indicates, it is hypothesized that student attitudes and behavior (1) contributeto mathematics and reading achievement among high school students, and (2) resultfrom key factors in the school context: support from teachers; clear, high, and consistent expectations;and high-quality instruction. That is, the positive influence of school context on improvedachievement is mediated by students’ attitudes about themselves as learners and by behaviorthat is correlated with academic success.
If your student needs help reading and comprehending… Shorten or edit student reading materials, or select a portion for the student to read. Allow students to read in pairs, a weaker reader and a stronger one. Highlight the main ideas that are important for the student not to miss. Record the reading and allow the student to listen to it being read to him/her.
If your student needs help understanding and following directions… Create a short instruction sheet of routine directions. Give directions to the class one at a time. (Once one task is completed, give the next step.) Have the student or a group of students repeat directions back to you to check for understanding. Use signals or symbols to indicate kinds of directions (a pencil for writing work, a book for reading, turning lights on and off to indicate a role play or moving activity). Show samples of what the completed work will look like to better communicate expectations.
If your student needs help writing… Modify the writing tool to make it more comfortable, such as pencil grips, felt tip markers, or larger pencils. Allow the student to compose on a word processor. Allow the student to audio-record his/her responses. Provide lined paper rather than blank paper, or draw lines on workbook pages.If your student needs help understanding vocabulary… Teach difficult or new words at the beginning of the lesson. Create a simple glossary of terms for the student to keep on his/her desk. When you say or read a difficult word, stop and explain it again.
Whether at home, school, or in the workplace, transitions naturally occur frequently and require individuals to stop an activity, move from one location to another, and begin something new.When transition strategies are used, individuals with ASD: Reduce the amount of transition time; Increase appropriate behavior during transitions; Rely less on adult prompting; and Participate more successfully in school and community outings.
Transition strategies are techniques used to support individuals with ASD during changes in or disruptions to activities, settings, or routines. The techniques can be used before a transition occurs, during a transition, and/or after a transition, and can be presented verbally, auditorily or visually. The strategies attempt to increase predictability for individuals on the autism spectrum and to create positive routines around transitions. They are utilized across settings to support individuals with ASD.
Cueing individuals with ASD before a transition is going to take place is also a beneficial strategy. In many settings a simple verbal cue is used to signal an upcoming transition (i.e. “Time for a bath now”, “Put your math away”, or “Come to the break room for birthday cake”). This may not be the most effective way to signal a transition to individuals with ASD, as verbal information may not be quickly processed or understood. In addition, providing the cue just before the transition is to occur may not be enough time for an individual with ASD to shift attention from one task to the next. Allowing time for the individual with ASD to prepare for the transitions, and providing more salient cues that individuals can refer to as they are getting ready to transition may be more effective. Several visual strategies used to support individuals with ASD in preparation for a transition have been researched and will be discussed.
Instructional planning begins at the end of the prior school year and begins anew in August of the current school year. Long-range planning is a continuous preparation that involves commitment and expertise when school ends, when it begins and during the school year. Both experienced and inexperienced teachers must engage in long-range instructional planning
instructional planning that includes the following preparations: Portfolio - teachers should include curriculum resources, lesson guides and assessments relative to the subject content area in a planning portfolio. In long- range planning, the school calendar year should incorporate District expectations and subject curriculum expectations addressing student academic goals and grade level expectations. The portfolio should also include the summaries of special education student IEPs (Individualized Education Plans), student behavioral contracts, emergency fire drill schedules and emergency contacts (Administrative and Security).
Resource materials - tucked within the portfolio of long-range planning inclusions should be a thick copy of lesson plans and month to month curriculum guides and supplementary materials that supplement the course content materials. Included in the lesson plans would be a list containing daily agendas, expected assignments, book resources, computer links, library supplies and visual aids. Syllabus for students and parents - at the beginning of each school year, teachers should provide a syllabus of the expected academic outcome for students. The syllabus lists homework assignments, course grading, and an open invitation for parents to visit the classroom and provide support for their students.