Módulo 7: Atendiendo la diversidad dentro de un ambiente inclusivo

Author and work group leader:

Awilda Núñez

Co-Authors:

Myrna Vargas
Astrid Rivera

Self-Assessment

Read each of the following statements and answer either “Yes” or “No”.

Statement
Yes
No
I am aware of the laws and regulations that protect children with special needs.
I know that all children learn differently.
I organize different activities to meet the individual needs of each student.
I know assessment techniques that can be used with disabled children as part of the teaching-learning processes.
I conduct the assessment process in my classroom in an integrated and authentic manner.
I can define the term “assistive technology”.
I take into consideration reasonable accommodations to meet the children’s needs.
I know the meaning of “inclusion” and its implications.
I know how important it is to develop literacy during a disabled child’s school years.
I can recommend activities and accommodations to parents in order to promote literacy at home.

Introduction

Diversity involves variety in all forms. From a broader perspective, it includes the majority of human expressions. Exposure to diversity makes it easier for people to adapt and react appropriately to changes in their surroundings.

Cultural diversity is expressed through language, education, religious beliefs, art, music, social structure, food, and all the other elements that make up human society. Living with differences drives us to develop appreciation and respect for our fellow human beings, regardless of their origins, or socioeconomic status. The teacher’s role should focus on directing the student to the development and shaping of these values. This new vision regarding what education should be in the new millennium aims to educate all students as different, unique beings with varied talents, needs, interests, and ambitions (Santana, 2005). Therefore, it is advisable to promote differentiated education, which brings to individuals the opportunity to expose themselves to learning experiences in which their interests, abilities, and strengths are taken into consideration. The educator’s role will be to guide children in their development of values such as appreciation, respect, and tolerance towards diversity.

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This module aims to provide more information for people who work with young children on a daily basis, particularly for those who have the challenging job of helping children with special needs achieve success. Lynch and Hanson (1992) state that understanding and appreciating diversity among students with disabilities and their family members is the first step toward recognizing the important work to be done with this population.

Diversity, Inclusion

1. What is “diversity”?
The dictionary defines this term as: variety, dissimilarity, contrast, abundance, a great amount of varied things. In education, diversity involves providing educational services for everyone. An environment that welcomes and respects individuality—cultural and social variety, ethnic, religious, race, nationality, gender, special educational needs— and offers equal opportunities for everyone, and favors those most in need (Ziffer, 2003).

2. What should I understand by the term “inclusion”?
“Inclusion” is based on the assumption that all children should be integrated into the same programs they would have attended if they had no disability. It also emphasizes that everyone should be together (Salisbury, 1991).

3. Do all children have the ability to learn?
All children can progress if they have an adequate education. It is necessary to learn their strengths and value their progress.

4. What should I do to help my students improve in their educational process?Student progress in education will be successful if every teacher adjusts their intervention in such a manner that it responds to the diversity of abilities, interests, motivations, and styles of learning of each student.

5. How important is the student-teacher relationship?
The bond formed between the students, the teacher, and the learning process itself is of crucial importance. Furthermore, it determines, to a great extent, the student’s progress in education.

6. Who makes up the multidisciplinary team?
The team comprises parents, school personnel, therapists, and specialists who work as a group. All of them are encouraged to work together and make decisions, through consensus, from a social, emotional, and educational perspective to establish expectations and goals that are consistent with the child’s abilities.

Curricular Adaptation

7. What should I understand by “curriculum”?
It refers to the set of goals, objectives, content, and evaluation criteria that students must achieve and learn in a given time and particular educational level. In general, the curriculum answers the questions about what, how, and when to teach, and what, how, and when to evaluate.

8. What is curricular adaptation?
Curricular adaptation encompasses any change, adjustment or modification made to a curriculum in order to meet the needs, strengths, and interests of one or more students within a group. This adaptation should not aim to reduce or eliminate skills established in the curriculum and that are essential therein. Conversely, it is a strategy or educational resource that provides access and progress for children with special needs, so as to show improvement in their educational goals.

9. What kind of adjustments can I make to the curriculum in order to meet the needs of students?
The most common adjustments are related to content, sequence, time, and assessment. The starting point for these changes is knowledge of the curriculum and the philosophical approach in which they are framed, besides an understanding of the child’s strengths, needs, and interests. This information is obtained by analyzing the curriculum and evaluation results. All adjustments made should aim to effectively provide an authentic, relevant, and functional learning.

10. Which elements of the curriculum can be modified to adapt curricular content to a child’s needs and abilities in an effective manner?
Curricular adaptation involves adjusting the curriculum to the student, taking into consideration the following aspects:

    1. Content
      Curricular content comprises the skills, subjects, and units that will be taught during a period of time. The content must not be reduced or partially or completely eliminated. All curriculum areas should be developed within academic planning. However, the level of emphasis or depth can be adjusted according to the student’s level of performance.
    2. Sequence
      The order or sequence of the units, subjects, and skills presented in the curriculum can be altered to accommodate the needs and interests of the student. The logical order of skills and the child’s level of maturity and development should always be taken into consideration.
    3. Time
      The duration of a topic or unit should not be subjected to curricular determination. When working with young children’s diversity, this element can be modified at your convenience. Depending on the student’s responsiveness to the learning process, the duration period of the content can be extended or reduced as necessary.
    4. Assessment
      The procedures, as well as the criteria to assess the student’s learning, may be modified. These changes must coincide with the approach and the teaching strategies used in the learning process. There are several assessment techniques applicable to the evaluation of disabled children. Thus, they will have the opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge in spite of their diversity and will be able to perform their tasks successfully. Furthermore, parents will receive reports regarding their children’s positive achievements. (Read Module 5, Assessment of Early Childhood Development and Learning, for more information regarding this subject.)

Role of the School Personnel

11. What is the role of the school personnel?

    1. The educational administrator will plan, make decisions, use resources wisely, coordinate the teaching and administrative staff, exercise leadership, promote a stimulating and favorable organizational environment, and use appropriate techniques and strategies to achieve the goals of educational diversity and accommodation (Santana, 2005).
    2. Both parents and staff have the responsibility of understanding two important areas of special education services: accommodation and diversity.
    3. Teachers become facilitators of learning. Psychologists and therapists must work more closely with teachers and parents. Teams are formed to solve situations and work together to solve children’s problems at an individual level.
    4. All school personnel must work together and support one another through professional programs, team teaching, co-teaching, educator-student teams, other aid programs, and mutual collaboration (Torres, 2000).
    5. Students, parents, teachers, and educational administrators must work together towards the successful achievement of the established goals.

Other related terms can be found in the Glossary at the end of this module.

Current living conditions, as well as the wide range of environments and situations to which young children are exposed, motivate them to acquire experiences and conditions that could transform them into disabled children (Fallen & Umansky, 1985). Given that it is a very sensitive and vulnerable stage, it is also highly probable that, statistically, the number of minors with characteristics which could classify them as impaired, as defined by the law, could increase. Because of this, the possibility of teachers having to work with children who fit this profile is higher today.

As teachers, we must be alert to signs of possible development difficulties in student performance (Cintrón, López & Corujo, 2006). Some early indicators of special needs might be:

  • Chronic health conditions, such as headaches;
  • Difficulty in gross and fine motor skills, such as losing balance and falling easily;
  • Little interest in fun and relevant activities for a preschooler;
  • Short attention span for his/her age;
  • Limited vocabulary for his/her age;
  • Use of gestures, tears, and screams to communicate;
  • Intense and frequent level of activity;
  • Semblance of being off in their own little world, egocentric attitudes, and cries for attention;
  • Poor awareness of themselves and of their body;
  • Display of excessive shyness, anxiety with strangers or changes in routine;
  • No evidence of change within a period of six months.

Steps to Follow for Detecting Possible Impairments or Special Needs in Young Children

  • Acquaint yourself with the child’s progress at different developmental stages.
  • Use this progress as a guide to document what would be expected of the child at a certain age.
  • Know information related to the child’s background.
  • Familiarize yourself with the child’s home environment and experiences in the broadest way possible.
  • Make and document observations regarding those aspects that concern you.
  • Provide a reasonable time to exclude the possibility that the observation is due to a process of adjustment or adaptation to the school environment and the teacher.
  • Use a variety of resources or strategies, approaches, and incentives to observe the child’s response to them.
  • With the family, study the child’s responses to domestic situations that concern them (in order to rule out the possibility of lack of routines, home discipline problem, or family dynamics).
  • Identify the extent, frequency, and duration of a behavior or lack of said conduct.
  • Seek changes or approaches, even if they are only mild, within a reasonable period of time.
  • Refer to or consult with a professional: psychologist, speech pathologist, physical therapist, occupational therapist, nutritionist, audiologist, neurologist, ophthalmologist, dentist, orthopedist, geneticist, developmental pediatrician, ear, nose, and throat (ENT) specialist, as appropriate.
  • Take objective notes about the situation, be descriptive and specific, and use observable expressions without passing judgment or inserting an opinion.

When we offer inclusive educational experiences, we must take into consideration a variety of factors that make the child exceptional within human diversity. As we approach the term diversity, we have to picture the wide range of conditions a child could have, from a severe impairment to being exceptionally gifted and talented. Some students may have been diagnosed outside the classroom environment; the teacher will probably some students during the school year.

Children could exhibit signs of many conditions or impairments in different ways, which could have an adverse effect on their educational performance. What follows is a list of conditions which every teacher should be aware of, as defined by State Law #51.

Conditions or Impairments

Emotional Disturbances

Condition in which the person exhibits one or more of the following characteristics for a long period of time to a marked degree:

  • Learning difficulty that cannot be explained by socio-cultural, intellectual, sensory, or health factors.
  • Difficulty establishing or maintaining satisfactory interpersonal relationships with their peers and teachers.
  • Types of behavior or feelings that would be inappropriate under normal circumstances.
  • General state of sadness or depression.
  • Tendency to develop physical symptoms or fears associated with personal or school-related problems. The term includes people with schizophrenia, but not those who have social maladjustment, unless determined to be due to emotional disturbance.

Deaf-Blind
The combined presence of hearing and visual impairments cause difficulties in the areas of communication, development, and learning that cannot be met in special education programs designed for children that only have hearing or visual impairments.

Deaf
Severe hearing loss that hinders processing linguistic information with or without sound amplification.

Hard of Hearing
Partial hearing loss (permanent or fluctuating).

Specific Learning Difficulties
Disorders in one or more of the basic psychological processes employed in language comprehension and use, either spoken or written, which can present difficulties with listening, thinking, speaking, reading, writing, spelling, or carrying out mathematical calculations. These disorders include conditions such as perceptual impairments, brain damage, minimal brain dysfunction, dyslexia, or developmental aphasia. This term does not include children or teenagers who present learning difficulties as a result of visual, hearing, or motor impairments; mental retardation, emotional disturbances, or related to socio-cultural, environmental, or economic factors. Specific learning difficulties exist in the presence of average or superior intelligence, adequate sensory motor systems, and varied learning opportunities.

Mental Retardation
This involves an intellectual functioning that is significantly below average which exists concurrently with a deficit in adaptive behavior and manifests itself during childhood development.

Multiple and Severe Impairments
Concomitant impairments, such as mental retardation along with a physical impairment, can create educational needs that cannot be met in special education programs designed for children who present only one of these impairments. This term does not apply to deaf-blind children.

Orthopedic Impairments
Severe orthopedic disability. The term includes congenital abnormalities, problems that arise from diseases (such as polio and bone tuberculosis), and impairments caused by other situations (cerebral palsy, amputations, and burns that produce contractions).

Chronic Health Impairments
Limited strength, vitality, or alertness, which may include an excessive level of attention to environmental stimuli and result in limited attention in the school setting. It may be due to acute health problems, such as heart conditions, tuberculosis, rheumatic fever, hemophilia, sickle-cell anemia, asthma, attention deficit disorder (ADD), attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), nephritis, leukemia, or diabetes.

Speech or Language Problems
Communication disorder, such as stuttering, articulation errors, and language or voice disorders.

Visual Impairment
Visual deficit that, even after correction, adversely affects the child’s educational performance. The term applies both for partial sight and legal or total blindness.

Autism
A developmental impairment that significantly affects verbal and nonverbal communication, and social interaction. Children generally show signs of autism before they reach three years of age. Other characteristics that are usually associated with this condition are: stereotyped movements and repetitive actions, resistance to changes in the environment and the daily routine, and inappropriate responses to sensory experiences. The term does not apply to children with emotional disturbances according to the previous definition.

Traumatic Brain Injury
It is an injury suffered by the brain due to an external physical force, resulting in total or partial functional disability, psychosocial impairment, or both. The term applies to trauma (opened or closed wounds) that result in impairments to one or more areas, such as: cognition, language, memory, attention, reasoning, abstract thought, judgment, problem solving; motor, perceptual, and sensory skills, behavior (psychosocial), physical functions, processing information, and speech.

Suggestions for Handling Diversity

Children with disabilities are those who require special adjustments in their educational program. Although all students have educational needs, some of them require more specialized attention. Therefore, our goal must be to prepare ourselves to meet and understand their individual strengths and needs. With this objective in mind, this section provides a list of general suggestions regarding techniques or strategies that teachers may use when working with disabled children. The suggestions presented herein will enable educators to expand their knowledge and, thus, achieve the educational success that is expected.

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The following are some suggestions for working with special education children:

  • Assign the child a seat where they can best carry out classroom assignments; for example, sitting next to the teacher, somewhere they can work alone and isolated from noise (away from the door), or near a particular classmate.
  • Place the child between two students who can serve as positive role models. If there is any other student with behavioral problems in the classroom, they must be separated from a child that presents signs of hyperactivity.
  • Ensure that the classroom provides an environment that allows children to develop a sense of spatial definition.
  • Provide a quiet place within the classroom where students can calm down or take a short recess, watch nature, or listen to soft music.
  • Always write the daily schedule, homework, and tasks to be done in the same place. Also, place a copy on the desk of the child with hyperactive disorder.
  • Display the classroom rules in a visible place and follow them as agreed. Dialogue and clarify the rules with the children.
  • Use morning periods to give lessons that require greater concentration.
  • Announce any changes to the routines in advance, so that children can prepare and successfully finish their assignments.
  • Always address the child by their name.
  • Give instructions clearly and accurately.
  • Allow the child more time to finish assignments.
  • Provide regular positive reinforcements.

If the child has already been diagnosed with an impairment, we recommend the following strategies:

  • Promote reading habits. Use easy-to-follow books on topics in keeping with the child’s interests and which contain pictures and little text. The font must be large.
  • Use bright-colored pencils to highlight graphemes that could confuse the child.
  • Use music to practice expressive and receptive language.
  • Show the class images related to the main idea of the sentence or paragraph. By means of these illustrations, the student associates what they read, expediting reading comprehension.
  • Provide the student with more time to finish assignments.
  • Teach organizational and study skills.
  • Provide regular positive reinforcements.
  • Give instructions clearly and accurately.
  • Encourage students to better themselves every day.

The Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) offers the following recommendations for teachers who are beginning to work with children with learning limitations:

  • Modify and organize instructions.
  • Identify and teach basic structures and relate them to the curriculum.
  • Use instructional methods that build on strengths and compensate for weaknesses.
  • Identify and teach essential vocabulary and subject-matter concepts through the curriculum.
  • Use systematic instructions.

Some suggestions for working with deaf children include (see also Appendix 1):

  • Focus on the deaf or hard-of-hearing child’s strengths, instead of their limitations and strive to be a collaborator and facilitator of the learning process.
  • Never speak to the child if they cannot see your face. Wave and call for the student’s attention before speaking to them.
  • Ensure that the deaf or hard-of-hearing child sits in the first row during a class, conference, or any other activity.
  • Position yourself so that your face is in full light, and the child is able to see your lips and gestures.
  • Do not hold objects in your hands or cover your mouth when speaking to the child.
  • Always lower yourself to the child’s height.
  • Enunciate correctly, without exaggerating or screaming.
  • Speak slowly.
  • Involve the child in whatever is happening in their surroundings, since a deaf person could feel isolated among hearing people.

Teachers who have children with visual impairments in their classrooms can meet their needs and make the necessary adjustments in a variety of ways, including:

  • The educator should encourage the use of residual vision. This practice is not detrimental for children with visual impairments: the more it is used, the better their visual efficiency.
  • The child might see better by holding print materials close to their eyes. This does not harm the child’s sight.
  • Eyes tire after prolonged use. Children with limited vision may tire faster; in this case, it is beneficial to change the approach or task.
  • Completing written assignments may pose a problem for children with visual impairments; teachers must give them either shorter assignments or more time to finish their classwork.
  • Teachers should speak as much as possible when writing on the board or using an overhead projector.
  • Although some children with visual impairments use large-print books, many do not. After a child learns to read, their eyesight gets reading practice, allowing them read smaller letters.
  • One of the most important practices that visually impaired students must learn in class is to ask for help when needed, instead of waiting for someone to offer assistance.
  • Contrast, font style, and spacing can be more important than print size.
  • When assessing the quality of the school work and imposing disciplinary measures, the teacher’s best option is to apply the same rules to children with regular vision and to those that are visually impaired.

(Suggestions taken from the “Vision Team” of the 13 school districts in Hennepin County, Minnesota. Heward, 2000).

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Final Recommendations

Research suggests that early intervention helps children with disabilities learn faster and more effectively when they are young, aside from the possibility of having a favorable influence on brain development. Some strategies that can be applied to all children with or without disabilities are:

  • Have a positive attitude; be honest; encourage and motivate the child frequently.
  • Teach the child to listen.
  • Give clear instructions.
  • Let the children know ahead of time what is going to happen or will be done.
  • Use simple, clear, and concise language.
  • Use a clear tone of voice and expression.
  • Be aware of their feelings.
  • Avoid criticizing, reproaching, or threatening children.
  • Establish an effective communication with parents, specialists, and other support personnel who work with your students.
  • Observe what children do correctly; celebrate their positive achievements and use them as motivation. Conversely, incorrect actions should be corrected at the moment they happen, without embarrassing the child; scold the child in a loving, yet firm way.
  • Observe and make comments regarding the child’s good behavior to their family.
  • Help the child adjust and handle problems whenever they face a new situation and become agitated.
  • Modify the child’s negative behaviors one by one. Begin with those that are easier to correct.
  • Keep in mind that children mimic what they see; therefore, you must provide them with a calm environment, avoiding conflict, screaming, or harsh words in their presence. Good behavior and treatment among parents, children, and teachers is the best possible example and it is highly beneficial for their education.
  • Do not say “No” to everything children do. Give them freedom, tell them to be careful, warn them of possible dangers and give them explanations so that they will learn what they can and cannot do.
  • Keep the child occupied; make them help you. Combine recreation and education.
  • Provide timely positive reinforcements by rewarding children whenever the opportunity arises, without abusing this practice.

Cintrón, López and Corujo (2006) presented some strategies to handle diversity in the classroom, which include:

  • Use children with impairments as role models or support for other children.
  • Make adjustments to scheduled activities to ensure that children with impairments succeed in them and are even able to surpass, in some cases, regular children.
  • Use what the child knows as a starting point and breakdown a skill into shorter and simpler steps than what you would normally plan.
  • Use different tones of voice, depending on the message you want to convey. Modulate, emphasize, and make inflexions to stress or highlight a particular action.
  • Combine spoken expressions with gestures and body movements that provide more visual clues for understanding the message.
  • Vary your mode of intervention when the child demonstrates inappropriate behavior. This will make the student focus on a positive or socially accepted behavior.
  • Whenever the situation requires, encourage the student to finish an assignment, even if they need more time to complete it.
  • Make observations focusing on one element at a time. This allows you to make a more accurate analysis of the focus of observation and to draw comparisons among the different observations performed.
  • Use formal sign language to complement oral methods. In the case of students with limited oral language, consider as an alternative for communication short messages and simple commands.
  • Acknowledge students whenever their behaviors near desired types of conduct, this will encourage them to continue improving that skill.
  • Provide a place for children to calm down or reduce their exposure to excessive stimuli. Use classical music or nature sounds, dim the lights, or include mild and pleasant scents.
  • Use different strategies to lead the child during educational activities or to comply with the classroom rules.
  • Sing or give verbal cues to help the child change activities, move from one place to another, follow instructions, or complete a task.
  • Use colors, shapes, or patterns to help the child move around the classroom environment by identifying areas, spaces, and materials.
  • Use physical contact to help the child make a connection between the message and the action.
  • Support children with a light pat or minor contact to help them self-direct themselves.
  • Lead the child with your hands towards a particular activity or action.
  • Use your actions to show children the activity they must perform. Serve as an example when writing, reading, singing, or speaking.
  • Put students in time-out whenever they exhibit inappropriate behavior. Separate them from the rest of the group for a short amount of time and keep them away from any sort of distraction. Explain to them why they were given a time-out and allow them time to reflect upon their actions.
  • Establish routines and rules that prepare the child to finish one activity and begin another. Try to facilitate this transition.
  • Plan, for each day, alternate and varied activities that can be used in situations in which the students with impairments cannot adjust to the activities you selected for that particular day.

Let’s Review What We’ve Learned So Far:

Exercise I: Match

  1. Diversity
  2. Curriculum
  3. Curricular adaptation
  4. Inclusion

Select:

  1. _____ It is a strategy and educational resource to facilitate access and progress for children with special needs, so that they can reach their educational goals.
  2. _____ It is a variation in culture, social standing, ethnicity, religion, race, nationality, gender, and special education needs which gives everyone the same opportunities and favors those who need it the most.
  3. _____ It is based on the premise that all children must be included in the same programs they would have attended if they had no disability.
  4. _____ It refers to the set of goals, objectives, content, and evaluation criteria that students must accomplish in a given time and particular educational level.

Exercise II

To help my students achieve educational goals, I can adapt the curriculum in the following ways:

1. ________________________________________________________________
2. ________________________________________________________________
3. ________________________________________________________________
4. ________________________________________________________________
5. ________________________________________________________________

Literacy: Teachers and Parents

How is Language Acquired?

Since birth, humans constantly explore the world around them. As beings that are able of thinking symbolically, language is of crucial importance. It begins as a form of communication among members of a group. From a biological standpoint, language is considered an inborn feature (Chomsky, 1972). According to Goodman (1996), we acquire language by applying this inborn linguistic ability to the particular language of the place in which we are born. Thus, it supports the view that language is developed through its use, by participating in linguistic and literacy events at home.

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What is Literacy?

LLiteracy develops through the child’s interaction with written language and the world that surrounds them. The constructivist view defines it as the social and creative processes that occur within a given context; thus, providing interaction that allows communication between the reader and the writer through the written word. These daily interactions reflect values, past experiences, social and historical contexts, and the culture of each individual (Clavijo, 2002).

Many researchers have stated that humans are active beings, who build knowledge by interacting in social contexts with physical objects and people. Therefore, as teachers, we must plan significant, relevant, and fun activities in which children can engage in literacy activities to explore language.

What Should I Keep in Mind when Planning Activities?

When planning activities, we must remember that everyone learns differently and that some students have particular needs. Thus, we must focus on children’s strengths in order to lead them to expand their knowledge and build meaning in a natural way, with the help of the teacher or another competent peer (classmate).

How Do I Adjust Literacy Activities for Children Who Have Different Abilities?

Some adjustments can be as simple as providing the child with more time to finish their assignments or letting the student complete said tasks with the assistance of either a classmate or the teacher. For those students with learning difficulties, we can make their assignments shorter and simpler. In the case of visual impairments, we may enlarge the font size; use a different color paper or typography; provide a recording of the assigned reading, so that the child may listen to it as many times as necessary; use an audio recorder during the lesson; acquire copies of the book to lend to the child, so they may take it home; use raised lettering (including sandpaper, play dough, seeds, and strings), as well as wide-ruled paper and notebooks. Likewise, we must expose deaf children to reading in the same way as hearing students. We can also use sign language, images, and any other visual aids to help us convey the message (See Appendix 1).

Recommendations for Parents

The natural process of literacy begins before formal instruction in school. Children learn to read and write naturally at an early age, when they have parents who provide them with environments that are rich in opportunities and can participate in written language activities, without being forced. The home environment will significantly influence the development of the four language processes: listening, speaking, reading, and writing.

Which Suggestions Can I Give Parents to Promote Literacy?

  • Allow the child to explore using books, notebooks, crayons, markers, and other materials.
  • Encourage your child to interact daily with readers and reading materials, since this is the only way to facilitate the acquisition of this skill. Teach language concepts to your child through participation in relevant reading and writing activities.
  • Prepare an area in your home with reading and writing materials for children. Set an example by letting the child see you reading and writing on a daily basis.
  • Get involved in your child’s life.
  • Be supportive of their attempts to read and write.
  • Answer questions and encourage conversations with your children.
  • Follow the text with your finger while reading aloud. Modulate your tone of voice depending on the story and characters. Place books and materials within the child’s reach. Read books related to the child’s interests; let them choose what to read.
  • Sing, recite, and speak out loud to demonstrate the use and importance of language.
  • Support the child, as it is essential for the development of literacy.
  • Play with words and language in real contexts because it makes language meaningful for the child.
  • Read, sing, and talk to children from a very young age since this will greatly influence the early development of emerging literacy.
  • Be a guide and facilitator, allow children to explore both by themselves and with assistance.
  • Listen and celebrate the child’s attempts to read and write.
  • Ask questions and explanations about what the child is reading or writing.
  • Encourage children to create their own books (written and illustrated).
  • Accept the use of unconventional ways of writing.
  • Refer to letters by their names and sounds.
  • Involve the child in social situations that actually require writing.
  • Provide feedback about the child’s writing.

Let’s Review What We’ve Learned So Far:

I. When planning literacy activities, I must consider:

  1. _________________________________
  2. _________________________________
  3. _________________________________

II. To encourage literacy, I can:

At home
At school

Accommodation

Rights and Obligations

What must we do to comply with the laws that protect children with impairments? (See Appendix 2).

  • Provide the materials or services in an integrated and inclusive environment.
  • Eliminate unnecessary eligibility criteria that exclude children with impairments from having equal opportunities.
  • Make reasonable modifications in terms of policies and procedures that deny equal access to people with impairments.
  • Provide assistance to ensure effective communication, whenever necessary.

What is assistive technology?

  • Assistive technology is any equipment or service that can be used to increase, maintain, or improve the functional abilities of people with impairments.

What is assistive technology equipment?

  • Any object, device, system, or product purchased, adapted, or built in order to increase, maintain, or improve the functional abilities of people with impairments.

What are assistive technology services?

  • Any service that directly helps the person with a disability to select, acquire, or use assistive technology equipment.

Assistive technology has an impact on:

  • All environments,
  • All ages,
  • All impairments,
  • All levels of impairments.

Let’s Review What We’ve Learned So Far:

Which strategies or activities can I use in my classroom to create an inclusive environment? Mention at least three (3) for each area.

Parents:

  1. _________________________
  2. _________________________
  3. _________________________

Personnel:

  1. ________________________
  2. ________________________
  3. ________________________

Students:

  1. __________________________
  2. __________________________
  3. __________________________

Administrative staff:

  1. ___________________________
  2. ___________________________
  3. ___________________________

Assessment

¿Qué es assessment?

  • It is the collection and organization of evidence about student learning, so that it can be interpreted and used to improve the education of the child with impairment.
  • It is the process of analyzing the existing evidence on the basis of logical coherence between the mission, goals, objectives, and products that exist in academic programs and activities in order to improve teaching and learning.
  • It is the multidimensional act of observing and judging the student’s individual performance at different periods of time (Alverno College, 1986).
  • It is the difference in evaluation of the student’s characteristics after they complete an educational process. The changes that occur during, before, and after an educational process as a result of participating in the process are considered to be production assessment (Astin, 1993).

Characteristics of Assessment

  • A way to consider where I am and where I am headed.
  • A way to observe the systematic progress of learning.
  • A way to make a fair and effective evaluation.
  • The act of collecting, interpreting, and organizing information about the student’s learning.
  • A strategy for observing children’s learning during different periods of times and contexts.
  • A way to make decisions regarding the effectiveness of the teaching-learning processes.
  • A record that helps prove the development of children’s talents.
  • A way to observe student learning through various means.
  • A resource for making valid judgments about authentic education.

Developmentally Appropriate Strategies: Strategies for Teachers

 

05

Handling Diversity within an Inclusive Environment

&How do I work with children with different abilities in my classroom?

  • Establish a routine for children and announce changes ahead of time.
  • Work with the child individually.
  • Be in constant communication with parents regarding their children’s progress.
  • Explore different strategies, materials, and alternatives to see which ones will best help the child.
  • Seek the necessary help to obtain the equipment that the child needs, if any. Adjust the materials.
  • Talk with parents so that they can search for options to practice at home the skills that are taught in the school.
  • Observe and document student learning to identify the strengths and needs of children.
  • Be tolerant.
  • Accept and promote diversity.
  • Assign clear tasks that are appropriate to the child’s level of competence.
  • Model respectful and tolerant behavior to your peers.
  • Provide parents with information to help them understand the child’s needs.
  • Learn about different conditions and their impact on education, taking into consideration the child’s age.
  • Explain to other teachers and school personnel how they can assist you, as a teacher and the child.
  • Talk with the other children about individual differences and explain why some students sometimes show inappropriate behavior.

Self-Assessment

Read each of the following statements and answer either “Yes” or “No.”

At home
At school

References

Alverno College, (1986). Teaching critical thinking in the arts and humanities. Cromwell, L. Editor.

Astin, A.W. (1993). Assessment for excellence. Phoenix: Oryx Press.

Chomsky, C. (1972). Stages in language development and reading exposure. Harvard Educational Review, 42, 1-33.

Cintrón, C., López, M. & Corujo, G. (2006). Preescolares, principios e ideas que fortalecen un currículo integrado e inclusivo. Colombia: Formas e Impresos.

Clavijo, A. (2002). Formación de docentes, historia y vida. Colombia: Editores Colombia, S.A.

Fallen, N. & Umansky, W. (1985). Young children with special needs. Ohio: Bell & Howell Company.

Fuenzalida, V. Socialización y television, Estudios Sociales CPU,82,187-219,1994.

Goodman, K. (1996). On reading. New York: Scholastic, Inc.

Hallahan, D. P., Kauffman, J. M., & Pullen, P. C. (2003). Exceptional learners: Introduction to special education (9th ed.). Boston: Allyn & Bacon.

Hanson, M. J. & Lynch, E. W. (1995). Early intervention: Implementing child and family services for infants and toddlers who are at risk or disabled (2nd ed.). Austin, TX: PRO-ED.

Heward, W. L. (2000). Exceptional children, an introduction to special education (6th ed). Ohio: Prentice.

Ivelic, R. (1990). TV infantil y valores de vida. Revista de Pedagogía FIDE, 40, 326, 45-53.

Lart, M. & Lestina, J. (1993). Strategies deaf mothers use when reading to their young Deaf or Hard of Hearing children. American Annals of the Deaf.

Lynch, E. W. & Hanson, M. J. (1992). Early intervention: Implementing child and family services for infants and toddlers who are at risk or disabled (2nd ed.). Austin, TX: PRO-ED.

Narvate, M. E. (2004). Diversidad en el aula. Necesidades educativas especiales. Argentina: MMV Landeira Ediciones S.A.

National Dissemination Center for Chilren with Disabilities. (2004). Impedimentos visuales. Washington, D.C: NICHCY

National Dissemination Center for Chilren with Disabilities. (2003). Información general sobre discapacidades. Washington, D.C: NICHCY

Nuin, S. El impacto de la imagen. Buenos Aires: Ediciones Humanitas.

Núñez, A. (2006). Naturaleza y necesidades del niño preescolar con discapacidad. San Juan: Publicaciones Puertorriqueñas.

Orozco, G. (1996). Televisión y audiencias: un enfoque cualitativo. Madrid: Ediciones de la Torre.

Rodríguez, A. (1983). Cuentos al amor de la lumbre. Madrid: Editorial Anaya.

Rodríguez A. (2002). Cuentos populares españoles (2ª ed.). Madrid: Editorial Anaya.

Salisbury, C.L. (1991). Mainstreaming during the early childhood years. Exceptional Children. Pp. 146-55 in Wolery, M., and Wilbers, J. (eds). Including children with special needs in early childhood programs. Washington, DC: NAEYC.

Santana, J. (2005). Administración educativa inclusiva: retos para los sistemas educativos en el nuevo milenio. San Juan: Publicaciones Puertorriqueñas, Inc.

Torres, L. (2000). Estrategias de intervención para la inclusión. San Juan, PR: Isla Negra Editores.

Uribe, P., Schoefeldt, A., Benavides, S. & Muñoz, P. (1996). La televisión y el aprendizaje en preescolares. Revista de pedagogía FIDE, 387, 246-250.

Ziffer, A. (2003). Cuadernos de Educación para todos. Escuela e inclusión. República Dominicana: Secretaría de Estado de Educación.

Links:

Special Education

Council for Exceptional Children

National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities
Puede visitar la página en español de esta organización, Centro Nacional de Diseminación de Información para Niños con Discapacidades.

Children and Adults with Attention Deficits/Hyperactivity Disorder

Autism Society of America

American Society for Deaf Children

American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities

Gifted Children

Learning Disabilities Association of America

National Federation of the Blind

The National  Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center

Literacy

Catálogo de la narración oral – Centro del Cuento

Aprender con Barrio Sésamo
La famosa serie de TV, es el programa infantil educativo con más prestigio en el mundo con el que se han educado y divertido más de 120 millones de niños a lo largo de tres generaciones. Inicia a los niños en los conocimientos básicos, estimula su capacidad de comprensión, enseña a explorar, observar y respetar el entorno, y desarrolla el uso del lenguaje.

Centro Nacional de Información y Comunicación Educativa

Appendix I
Read Aloud to Deaf Children? IMPOSSIBLE!

This is the usual reaction of many parents and teachers of deaf children, who believe that their children or students cannot learn to read “aloud” or that they cannot do so because of their deafness. But the reality is quite different: deaf children can learn to read “aloud” and understand what is being said, using sign language, mimicry, and pantomime. Some teachers and parents still believe that deaf children should learn to read in the same way as hearing students and, thus, continue to use phonetic primers and teach the mechanics of reading. These strategies follow the wrong line of thinking, because they exclusively use phonetic methods and do not consider the special needs of the deaf child.

Reading is an essential element in education, because of its importance in language acquisition. Much research has been done on how to develop the reading skills of deaf children, but little is known about reading stories “aloud” to them and how this affects their education. This technique is highly recommended by specialists in deaf education as an effective means for the development of literacy. But how? We know how to read stories to hearing children, but, what about deaf students?

Some researchers have conducted studies on how deaf parents read to their deaf children and have found several recurring elements in storytelling sessions. For example, in a study by Lartz and Lestina in 1993, they discovered that deaf mothers followed a repetitive pattern when reading to their children who are also deaf. These patterns were identified and presented as strategies and were recommend to hearing teachers and parents as options for reading to hearing-impaired children.

Some authors suggest that if we follow the strategies used by deaf parents, we can develop the literacy skills of our hearing-impaired children, both in the classroom and at home. These strategies are:

  • Use sign language, mimicry, body movements, and facial gestures at all times.
  • Keep both languages (sign language and the text) visible.
  • Do not limit yourself to what the written text says; add elements that are implied in the narration.
  • Read the story often: the more times it is read, the transition from narration to reading the text will be easier. Shorten explanations and give more importance to the text, not the images.
  • Follow the child’s verbal cues: do not isolate them, instead take into consideration their suggestions.
  • Adjust signs and vary their size to keep the child interested.
  • Establish a connection between the story and the child’s life.
  • Take into account the location of signs inside and outside the book.
  • Demonstrate which character is speaking by variating body movement, mimicry, and the use of space.
  • Ask questions through facial expressions.

These strategies are used by deaf parents in the United States to read to their children who are also deaf and can serve as examples to teach literacy. Keep in mind that reading a story is the best activity any adult can carry out with a child. By: Reinaldo Saliva González, M.A. in Special Education, Specialist in Deaf Education.

Appendix II
Which Laws Are Important to Know?

The Education Reform Act of Puerto Rico states that the fundamental educational principle established by our Constitution is that every person has the right to an education directed to the full development of their personality. Based on this principle, the following objectives were identified: education will strengthen respect towards human rights and fundamental freedoms; the establishment of a non-sectarian free public education system, accessible to any person who wants to study; free education, both at primary and secondary schools; the State’s duty is to provide all students with services that complement their education for their protection and well-being.

As educators, we must be aware of the principles that guide our profession and the laws that govern them. This knowledge gives us the necessary information and confidence to serve students and properly guide their family members.

Laws that have had an impact on services for children and teenagers with disabilities in early intervention and preschool to age 21:

  • 1975 – Public Law-142, Education for All Handicapped Children Act. Established services for preschoolers with impairments from ages 3-5.
  • 1986 – Public Law 99-457, amendment of P.L. 94-142, mandated that all children with impairments between the ages 3-5 receive a free and appropriate education. This law also established incentives and a framework for educational services for infants and preschoolers.
  • 1990 – Public Law 101-476, reauthorized the Education for All Handicapped Children Act (P.L. 94-142) and changed its name to Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).
  • 1990 – Public Law 102-119, reauthorized and expanded on Part H (regarding infants) of Public Law 99-457 and made amendments regarding which services must be provided to this population.
  • 1997 – Amended IDEA.
  • 1998 – Public Law 105-394, Assistive Technology Act. Assistive technology services and equipment should be provided to children in accordance with the needs identified in the different educational environments where they study.
  • 2004 – Reauthorized IDEA. On December 3, 2004, the President of the United States, George W. Bush, made it official with his signature. This new law was given the name Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004 (IDEIA).

State laws

In Puerto Rico, many laws have been established, in accordance with the changes and regulations of federal laws:

  • Law 21, adopted on July 22, 1977, known as the Special Education Program Act. It was designed in keeping with the provisions of federal laws, most notably Public Law 94-142, and it was signed in 1975.
  • Law 51, adopted on June 7, 1996, known as the law that created the Department of Integrated Services for People with Impairments Act. This law repealed Law 21 of Puerto Rico, signed in 1977, and was drafted in accordance with the provisions of the IDEA Federal Law.

Law 51, adopted on June 6, 1996, ensures comprehensive educational services for people with disabilities. This law created the position of Auxiliary Secretary of Comprehensive Educational Services for People with Impairments and granted power and authority to coordinate the provision of these services in agencies. Furthermore, it reauthorized the Advisory Committee and redefined its mission, functions, and duties to assign funds and repeal Law 21 of July 22, 1977, known as the Special Education Program Act. The law established that government agencies in Puerto Rico must provide comprehensive educational services for people with disabilities.

The government agencies involved are:

  • Department of Education
  • Department of Health
  • Department of Family Affairs
  • Department of Correction and Rehabilitation
  • Vocational Rehabilitation
  • Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services
  • Administration Department of Labor
  • University of Puerto Rico Department of Sports and Recreation

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