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Inclusion in Practice. Meeting diverse student needs: Solomon Schechter Day School of Bergen County Middle School, 1997-2005. Presented by Benjamin Mann Head, Middle School and Jewish Studies Coordinator- Solomon Schechter School of Manhattan

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Inclusion in Practice

Meeting diverse student needs: Solomon Schechter Day School of

Bergen County Middle School, 1997-2005

Presented by Benjamin Mann

Head, Middle School and Jewish Studies Coordinator-

Solomon Schechter School of Manhattan

Solomon Schechter Day School Association Conference

December 10, 2006

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  • 1988-1998: school doubles in size bringing in a more diverse student body (600 students preK-8)

  • Students labeled LD, ADD, or ADHD. Students struggling academically.

  • School opens resource room for elementary school students.

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Language Arts




History – Middle School

  • Middle School: 8 classes

    General- Language Arts, Social Studies, Math, Science

    Judaic- Hebrew, Humash, Navi, Rabbinics

  • Small group instruction in (1997-2001)

    Math & Language Arts

  • Applied small group model to

    Judaic Studies: Humash & Hebrew

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Small Group - Challenges

  • Overlap between low achieving students and students with behavior problems - learning was compromised

  • Students were often brought down by their peers as opposed to lifted up

  • Groups too large to work one on one

  • Stigma- students often referred to themselves as the “stupid class” and many students felt isolated from the mainstream classes

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Move to Inclusion (2001-2004)

  • April 2001- committee of middle school faculty reviewed special education services model

  • Recommendations

    • Phasing out the Small Group Model

    • Creating Inclusion Model of services

    • Moving special educators into regular classrooms

    • Employing collaborative teaching approach

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Educational Philosophy: Inclusion

  • Heterogeneous groups – All students are valued members of the learning community.

  • Differentiation – One size does not fit all.

  • Collaboration – Together we can do what we could never do alone.

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Students With Special Needs


  • Specific Learning Disability

  • Attention Deficit Disorder / Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

  • Emotional Issues


  • Developmentally Disabled

  • Cerebral Palsy

  • Down Syndrome

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Inclusion Model

  • Phased in

    • 2001-2002, Grade 6

    • 2002-2003, Grades 6 & 7

    • 2003-2004, Grades 6, 7, & 8

  • Heterogeneous groups – social and academic factors. No Tracking

  • Co-teaching – two teachers in half of the classes.

    Math, Language Arts, Hebrew, Humash

  • Differentiated Instruction- professional development for all teachers

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    Inclusion Model

    • All aspects of school life:

      • Student Council

      • School Play

      • Basketball

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    Students With Special NeedsHow?

    • Co-teaching – two teachers in half of the classes.

      Math, Language Arts, Hebrew, Humash

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    Defining Co-teaching

    Coteaching has been described in a variety of ways, but here we define it as the collaboration between general and special education teachers for all of the teaching responsibilities of all students assigned to a classroom. In a cotaught classroom, two teachers, general and special educators, work togetherto develop a differentiated curriculumthat meets the needs ofa diverse population of students. In a cotaught classroom, teachers share the planning, presentation, evaluation, and classroom management in an effort to enhance the learning environment for all students. In this way, the teachers can provide more integrated services for all students, regardless of learning needs.

    Gately, S. E. & Gately Jr., F. J. (2001) Understanding coteaching components. Teaching exceptional children, 33(4), pp.40-47.

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    Co-teaching Roles

    • Content Area Teacher: curricular goals, standards, expertise in content

    • Special Education Teacher: modification, enrichment, support

    • In ideal co-teaching teams the roles are blurred

    Regular meetings with Coordinator of Special Services to discuss progress of collaboration and meeting co-teaching goals.

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    Students With Special NeedsDifferentiated Instruction


    • Diverse group of students- strengths and weaknesses, interests, experiences, cultural backgrounds, language spoken at home, etc.

    • Requires diverse instruction- different students cannot all be expected to learn the same.

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    Differentiated Instruction:Overview

    • In one classroom, different students doing different things according to their individual learning needs.

    • Teachers adjust content, process, and product in response to student’s readiness, interests, and learning profile.

    • ALL students working at an appropriate level of challenge.

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    Differentiated Instruction:Professional Development for All Teachers

    • In 2002-2003 school year 6 teachers participated in webcast through National Middle School Association and developed their own differentiated curricular units.

    • Summer 2003 all middle school faculty read How to Differentiate Instruction in Mixed Ability Classrooms, by Carol Ann Tomlinson.

    • 2003-2004, ongoing professional development workshops based on the Tomlinson book during middle school faculty meetings.

    • Two educational consultants worked with individual teachers and teacher teams to help them develop differentiated lesson plans and instructional units.

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    Students With Special NeedsModifications

    • Supports and instructional changes that promote the academic success of students with special learning needs

    • No direct services in Social Studies, Science, Rabbinics, Navi

      • Regular consultation with Special Educators and Coordinator of Special Services to make modifications

    • Background information by grade level

    • Modifications Lists by class

    • Report on Modifications Checklist

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    Students With Special NeedsOther Support Systems

    • Advisory System- each teacher tracked the progress of 8-10 students, communicated with parents, and supported students’ in school efforts to complete assignments.

    • Student Review- weekly grade level meetings to discuss students’ progress, share information, and strategize to better meet students’ needs.

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    Students With Special NeedsOther Support Systems

    • Administrative Coordination of Services- weekly meeting of Middle School Principal, School Psychologist, Coordinator of Student Services, and Coordinator of Special Services to discuss students suffering academic failure, plan interventions, and strategize ways to support student success.

    • Parent Conferences- parents were regularly asked to become partners in the process of helping students find success. Meetings involved sharing information, strategizing approaches to students’ difficulties, and planning interventions.

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    Students With Special NeedsOther Support Systems

    • Formal Evaluations- students were referred for psycho-educational evaluations in order to provide a more clinical analysis of students’ strengths and weaknesses as learners. Parents consent to either a private evaluation or a state funded evaluation through Bergen County Special Services. Bergen County evaluations took place in school and were scheduled through the Middle School Coordinator of Special Services.

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    Students With Special NeedsOther Support Systems

    • Documentation- files were kept by the Middle School Coordinator of Special Services that include any testing results, anecdotal information, or communications between faculty or the school and parents regarding students’ receiving special services. These records were confidential and were used only by students’ teachers in order to tailor instruction to meet students’ needs.

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    Para-Professional (2004-2005)

    • One on one and small group work with students in need of academic support.

    • Students pulled out of non-academic periods (specials, PE, lunch/recess, tefliot)

    • Met with 10 to 15 students 1,2 or 3 times a week.

    • Students received support in any of these areas

      • work completion

      • test preparation

      • organization- materials, time

      • remediation of Hebrew language skills

      • remediation of English language skills (Israeli students)

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    • No more “Stupid Class”.

    • Fewer students falling through the cracks. Inclusion raised the consciousness of the entire faculty- We are responsible for the education of ALL STUDENTS!

    • Many students were getting the supports and instruction that they needed to succeed.

    • Culture of Collaboration- teachers working together to improve instruction

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    • Hiring Special Educators

      • Hard to come by

      • Classroom experience- usually pull out / resource room

      • Content knowledge- effective collaboration with content area teachers

    • Personality conflicts- hard to overcome

    • Professional development

      • never enough time

      • Co-teaching strategies

      • Differentiated Instruction

      • Incorporating remediation

    • Costly- two teachers per class = high salary costs

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    In education, fair is not when everyone gets the same thing.

    Fair is when everyone gets what they need in order to learn.