Including All Students in General Education Classrooms


Inclusion of special needs children into classrooms of general education students seems to be a difficult area for many teachers. Throughout my career, I was involved in many conversations about how to accomplish this very worthwhile task while meeting everyone’s needs. As a classroom teacher trained in special education, I also struggled with this issue from time to time. Overall, I found that integrating instruction through themes presented in a workshop format made inclusion much easier and usually more successful. Here are reasons why this would work:

  • Thematic instruction allows students to study a subject in-depth and from a variety of different approaches.
  • When language arts are the foundation of the unit, students are able to use their best communication channel to learn in the content areas.
  • Workshop style instruction offers¬†information to the group as a whole, and then provides choice to the students as they work with the new skill. For example, each student in a class studying historical fiction can be reading in a different novel. Each child can participate equally in all assignments regarding historical fiction even though they are reading different books. Children can be grouped together for discussion and analysis regardless of their reading levels. Writing, speaking, and listening, all work the same way. Students learn a new skill together and practice and apply it at their own level of achievement.
  • Concentrating instruction on a particular science or social studies theme means the students are learning science and/or social studies the entire day. Centers containing artifacts and manipulatives related to the theme make the information more concrete and comprehensible. If students are allowed to create artifacts to include at the center, as in a classroom museum, more learning channels are activated as they build and use these hands-on materials.

Previously posted on another website.

This entry was posted in Classroom Management, Instructional Planning, Integrated Instruction, Language Arts, Learning, Special Education, Workshop Style Teaching. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Including All Students in General Education Classrooms

  1. Jessie Mathisen says:

    I’d be interested in reading about specific lessons you have used that successfully integrated special needs children in a mainstream classroom. It’s something I’m thinking about a lot these days because I have some exceptionally heterogeneous classes.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sandie says:

      Thanks for the suggestion. I’ll carry on with this idea for a while. It’s a subject I’m pretty passionate about, and even though trained in special education (I have a degree in learning disabilities) I still struggled on occasion as a classroom teacher with integrating everyone all the time. Thanks for your interest! It’s very encouraging!



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