It’s an exciting time for inclusive schools in Florida! Often, I am asked to explain and demonstrate how schools are successfully implementing inclusive practices. Effective inclusive schools reveal many positive outcomes of educating students with disabilities in age-appropriate, general education classrooms: student achievement, attendance, discipline referrals, collaboration among education teams, and teacher efficacy.
Successful inclusion takes teamwork, shared decision making, and shared responsibility for all the students in a given school district, school, or classroom. Inclusion works when school leaders and teachers are committed to helping every student reach their highest potential. In Seminole County Florida, several schools stand out as having made such a commitment to their students. Lawton Chiles Middle is one such school. Under the leadership of Principal Britt Smith and Assistant Principal Patricia Bowman, the school was able to establish meaningful, systemic, and inclusive practices to meet the needs of all students on their campus.
As Lawton Chiles Middle begins year two of their collaborative relationship with the Florida Inclusion Network, their new principal, Mrs. Robin Dehlinger, continues to support shared decision-making and shared responsibility within the entire school community.
To see just how much this inclusive school community means to one student, click on the link below and read Linsey Shelton’s story from the Lawton Chiles Middle School News. You’ll learn how this young lady is no different than other students: she is Just Sitting Instead of Standing! As you read the article, consider the author’s tone… Linsey is definitely a part of the Lawton Chiles team!!!
Submitted by: Toby King, FIN Facilitator, UCF Daytona
Duval County Public Schools Celebrate National Inclusive Schools Week
Duval County Public Schools (DCPS) celebrated Inclusive Schools Week, December 3 – 7, 2007, by providing additional instructional and scheduling supports to its schools. Every school received an ESE Toolbox of resources designed to assist all teachers as they craft their work with students with disabilities. The DCPS, the Florida Inclusion Network/Duval, and the Council for Exceptional Children Chapter 75 collaborated to share how elementary and secondary schools have met the needs of students with disabilities through a flexible scheduling process. John Stockton Elementary School shared their challenges and successes as they moved along the road of scheduling. They have truly mastered the scheduling process and are meeting students’ needs in a variety of settings. Additionally, Sandalwood High School shared their successes with the process and how they are working to establish and increase inclusive classrooms and teams during the upcoming school year.
Heidi Ecklor and Jennifer Pike explain the scheduling process at John Stockton.
Yvonne Ferguson shares the successes Sandalwood High School has experienced.
Don Foster describes his position as the support facilitator at Sandalwood High School.
Submitted by: Beth Scanlan, FIN Facilitator, Duval County Public Schools
CAST (Core Area Support Teams) Continues to Provide Support for Inclusion!
In Hillsborough County, District CAST meets at least twice a year as an entire group (70-80 members) to develop district action plans, share successes and challenges, gather resources, receive mini-workshops, and develop additional ways to support schools more effectively.
CAST are district level teams that offer technical assistance to all schools to support inclusion and collaborative teaching. CAST members can facilitate and assist with flexible scheduling, develop and facilitate collaborative teaching teams, and/or provide faculty overviews on inclusive practices. There is a CAST team in each of the seven district areas. CAST members consist of general education and exceptional education teachers, general education and exceptional education supervisors, school based administrators, FDLRS, FIN, school psychologists, and reading coaches. Members provide support in addition to their current job responsibilities!
During the 2006-2007 school year, CAST impacted Hillsborough County’s Elementary, Middle, and High Schools by conducting 90 activities including scheduling, faculty overviews, and/or developing and facilitating collaborative teaching teams.
Submitted by: Rose Calco, FIN Facilitator, and
Denise Frenz, FIN Facilitator, Hillsborough County Public Schools
Meadowbrook Middle School Uses the Power of Peer Support
The leadership team at Meadowbrook Middle School developed an inclusion action plan to enhance student learning for the 2007-2008 school year. During the creation of this plan the decision was made to implement a peer support program with 7th and 8th grade student leaders at Meadowbrook. This program matches students with disabilities with peers who assist them with note-taking assistance, studying, and planning during content area class instructional activities.
Peer assistants report to Ms. Mizzell-Bullock each day for updates, student strategies, resolution of classroom situations, and sharing comments, suggestions and/or concerns related to students with disabilities and the classroom environment. Students get very involved because they have a sense of responsibility to the school, class, and other students. The peer assistants gain civility, accountability, and responsibility through helping others. Diversity and other valuable characteristics in the peer support program at Meadowbrook Middle School help all students experience success.
One peer assistant expressed her thoughts about the program: “It’s fun helping others”. Students are choosing to opt out of other electives to enroll in the program and help others, something very rare in middle school. But it’s happening daily at Meadowbrook Middle School: students helping students!
Mrs. Mizzell-Bullock and her peer assistants.
“I get it!”
Submitted by: Dawn Kirkpatrick, FIN Facilitator, Orange County Public Schools
“Jumpstart for Inclusion Workshop”
Florida International University’s Fall 2007 Interns
About 136 student teachers at Florida International University participated in a one-day workshop on inclusive education prior to starting their intern experience. The student teachers represented ALL education majors including Elementary Education, Secondary Education, Special Education, Art, Music, Physical Education, and Early Childhood Education. After the morning’s whole group session, the student teachers rotated through five breakout sessions during the remainder of the day, exposing them to five topics related to inclusive practices. Those topics included Inclusion 101, Differentiated Instruction, Access Through Accommodations, Cooperative Learning, and Classroom Structures & Routines.
What a perfect start to a teaching career! Take a look…
Discussion topic in Inclusion 101.
Dr. Manten explains low-prep DI strategies.
Interns quickwrite how they plan to provide access for ALL students.
Submitted by: Deidre Marshall, FIN Facilitator, Miami-Dade Public Schools
Enter at Your Own Risk, Differentiation is Taking Place!
Enter at Your Own Risk, Differentiation is Taking Place! This was the message that greeted me as I approached the art room at Hilltop Elementary in Hardee County on August 14, 2007. I was soon joined by nearly 40 general education teachers, special education teachers, special area teachers, tutors, and administrators for our second day of training on differentiated instruction.
Although Hilltop Elementary was a new school in 2006-07, that didn’t stop them from achieving great things. In their first year, Hilltop earned a school grade of “B” under Florida’s A++ Plan. (They were just 11 points from receiving an “A”!) For some schools, this year would have been a year to sit back and enjoy their success. But not for Hilltop! Under the leadership of Principal Tracey Nix and Assistant Principal Willie Gilliard the staff, students and families of Hilltop Elementary have high expectations for the 2007-08 school year.
While speaking to her staff, Nix said that “The principles of differentiated instruction are consistent with the philosophy of education that we have at Hilltop.” That philosophy says that all students have the right to an engaging, challenging (at their level), high quality curriculum and that all students have the right to receive the support they need in order to be successful in school. With that kind of attitude, the staff and students at Hilltop Elementary will certainly go far!
Submitted by: Mike Muldoon, FIN Faciltator, USF St. Petersburg
Beginning the Seventh Year as an Inclusive School !
Conway Elementary School developed an Action Plan for Inclusion in June 2001. This school has continuously monitored and revised their plan since the original date. The Principal, Ms. Karen Babb, is an integral part of the team when attending seminars and sharing information with other schools in the district. She has been a featured speaker during Administrative Presentations for FIN/Orange.
Co-teaching is the service delivery model used for Third, Fourth and Fifth grade classrooms. School data indicate that the students in the co-taught classes have made gains in academic achievement. One of the General Education co-teachers was selected as the school’s Teacher of the Year and looped with his third grade class for the 06-07 school year.
Key Points from the Principal:
* Fexibility is the key to the success of the program, as much as the trust level level among those involved.
* Each of these teachers chose to be a part of the co-teach model, knowing that I support them.
* We didn’t get it perfect the first go-round. We continue to evaluate the program and talk with each other about what is working and what is not working.
* The training provided for the General Education and ESE teachers is important.
* I am not in control of the program. I see myself as the facilitator in helping these teachers do what they know is the right thing to do for their students. ”
With the support of Ms. Babb, Conway Elementary is moving ahead with its Action Plan and looking forward to another great year in which ALL students succeed!
5th grade co-taught class
5th grade co-taught class, enjoying reading on a Spring day
Submitted by: Lillian Sigler, FIN Facilitator, Orange County Public Schools
FIN “Summer HEAT” Institute 2007
At the 3rd Annual FIN “Summer HEAT” Institute 2007, 43 special and general educators gained valuable tools to assist them in “Achieving Positive Outcomes for ALL Learners”. Our theme for the institute was “At the Beach”. During the weeklong session, participants applied problem-based learning to identify strategies for developing collaborative partnerships, demonstrate evidence-based instructional strategies, and utilize resources to support all teachers and all students. In addition, participants gained an awareness of the key principles of differentiating instruction including practice with tiering lessons. Teachers were able to learn creatively within a collegial environment, build a network of colleagues for future support, and have tons of FUN! Take a look…
Teachers mimic a cooking show to demonstrate collaboration skills.
Judges rate teacher strategies used by participants to crown the next “Inclusion Idol”.
Giant “beach” brochure created to visually represent group learning throughout the week.
Submitted by: Deidre Marshall, FIN Facilitator, Miami-Dade County Schools