Response to Rebuttal to "The Gully in the Brain Glitch Theory" (See Blogs)

Educational Leadership
Willis, J.A. (March 2007). Toward Neuro-logical Reading Instruction. Educational Leadership, Journal of the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

Toward Neuro-logical Reading Theory
By Judy Willis, MD, M.Ed

     I appreciate the attention that Shaywitz and Shaywitz devoted to my article for Educational Leadership,
The Gully in the Brain-Glitch Theory. I will address some of the items they raised in their response, but my main concern is with the topics I wrote about that they did not respond to, especially the influence of engagement and motivation on successful learning and the conflict of interests when researchers and research financers are not independent of one another.

The Shaywitz article and research refers to neuroimaging and interventions for “dyslexic readers" and not all readers or even all delayed or impaired readers have a specific dyslexia. The research also focuses on a single area of the brain that is not the only region involved in reading or even phonological processing. There is as yet no neuroimaging evidence that can be interpreted to accurately distinguish brain changes as resulting from a specific intervention versus the significant developmental plasticity that children’s brains undergo during the years they are learning to read.

            In addition, gains in phonological processing are not generalizable to the other components of reading and reading comprehension. There is no supported comparison research that shows that what causes “normalization” of brain imaging and improvement in the post intervention phonics testing for dyslexic children is the best system for teaching all children or even all delayed readers. As a board certified neurologist with twenty years of clinical practice and experience in neuroscience research as well as a credentialed teacher with a Masters of Education degree with seven years of classroom teaching experience, I know, and I would hope the Shaywitz’s would know, that not all reading delays are due to a dyslexia any more than all delays in walking are due to a single neurological dysfunction.

     Five main problems inherent in using the brain glitch model as a basis for reading instruction, or even remediation have not been addressed by the Shaywitz article and will be described in this response. The brain glitch research is based on dyslexic readers and not all readers or even all delayed or impaired readers are dyslexic. The research focuses on a single area of the brain that is not the only region involved in reading or even phonological processing. There is as yet no neuroimaging evidence that can be interpreted to accurately distinguish brain changes and plasticity as resulting from a specific intervention versus the major developmental plasticity that children’s brains undergo during the years they are learning to read. In addition, gains in phonological processing are not generalizable to the other components of reading and reading comprehension.

     The Shaywitz and similar research interpretations support the finding of increased metabolic activity in the left posterior superior temporal cortex early in the course of reading acquisition and the modulation of developing phonological skills. However, the left posterior superior temporal cortex is not the single brain region associated with early reading. Neuroimaging also highlights an association of reading with disengagement of right inferotemporal cortex and engagement of left inferior frontal and middle temporal cortices supporting the importance of the left frontal and temporal semantic and phonological processing units as critical constituents in the neural basis of reading. (Turkeltaub, Gareau, Flowers, Zeffiro & Eden, 2003)
There are no specific regions of the brain dedicated
only to reading. The complexity of reading requires multiple areas of brain function to operate together through complex networks of neurons. This means there are many potential brain dysfunctions in structure and information transfer mechanisms that can interfere with reading. The investigations into the neural correlates of reading intervention in children have emphasized single-word reading as the measurable outcome. However, this is a limited measurement likely to measure only phonological processing gains and is not generalizable to the other complex components of reading and reading comprehension. (Eden, Jones, Cappell, Gareau, Wood, Zeffiro, Dietz, Agnew & Flowers, 2004)

     For example, even the dyslexic children who responded with increased accuracy following phonics-heavy intervention did not show improvement in reading rate on two year follow up. (Torgesen, Alexander, Wagner, Rashotte, Voeller & Conway, 2001) This underscores the need for research into alternative approaches to improving reading fluency and comprehension. Because these and other fMRI scans studies show variations in activation in more than one brain center as impacting phonological processing and early reading, it is not reasonable science to support one intervention model, such as the phonics-heavy program, just because it was the one tested and associated with “normalization” of the one part of the brain and the tests used that were weighted to assess predominantly phonics.

     The research of Eden, Turkeltaub, and others mentioned earlier follows the scientific method of not over-extrapolating from data. They acknowledge that developmental changes specific to lexical processing have not been isolated from those associated with general maturation of the brain. More importantly they assert that the relationship between the neural basis of reading and other important reading-related skills has not been adequately examined such that a gully remains that precludes a complete rendering of a developmental process for learning to read. (Turkeltaub, Gareau, Flowers, Zeffiro & Eden, 2003) These researcher are forthcoming that in children, because the processes of learning to read are taking place during such a dynamic stage of brain development and plasticity that brain changes cannot confidently be interpreted as treatment effects as opposed to the development of cognitive and sensorimotor systems coincidental with the time span of the treatment. (Eden, Jones, Cappell, Gareau, Wood, Zeffiro, Dietz, Agnew & Flowers, 2004)

     In adults, brain plasticity and maturation is not in the dynamic state of flux as is found in children. In studies of dyslexic adults Eden’s group did not find the underactivity in the left occipito-temporal region reported by the Shaywitz group. (Shaywitz, S., Shaywitz, B., Rugh, Fulbright, Constable, Mencl, Shankweiler, Liberman, Skudlarski, Fletcher, et al., 1998)

     Unfortunately, the conclusions drawn from the narrow perspective of brain glitch study interpretations were used to lump the diverse reading differences and learning style diversities under a dyslexia based model emphasizing phonics and phonemic awareness. The interventions used by this group of investigators has been used to promote the one- size-fits-all phonics-heavy reading instruction in the
Reading First part of NCLB

     I reiterate the important point raised by education scientist, Gerald Coles, that other entry points into learning to read, be they whole language or combinations of instruction, could just as easily be brain pathways that lead into a complex integrated reading system that includes dendritic circuits through every lobe of the brain. Says Coles (2004), “Not only are explanations about ‘Brain Glitches,’ …now being applied more forcefully to ‘dyslexics,’ but they have also been reworked to explain how all children learn to read, what single method of instruction must be used to teach them, and why the single method mandated in Bush's
Reading First, part of the NCLB legislation, is a wise, scientifically based choice.”

Just because the reading strategy favored by the brain glitch researchers enters through phonics strategy, it does not mean that other strategies could not be more efficient in disseminating reading and comprehension skills to the complex, brainwide circuitry that represents the multicentric, dynamic process of reading.

     With regard to the influence of stress, comfort, engagement, motivation, and emotion on all types of learning and memory, there was minimal response from the Shaywitz’s. Their article mentioned my reference to animal studies. Animal research is appropriate as a first avenue of investigation, especially before children are test subjects. Now the supporting evidence is also available through neuroimaging research on humans. Comprehensible sensory input, transport, and memory are disrupted and neural processing is impacted by subjects’ emotional states. (Wang, Rao, Wetmore, Furlan, Korczykowski, Dinges & Detre, 2005) (Perlstein, Elbert & Stenger, 2002)

     Superior learning taking place when classroom experiences are enjoyable and relevant to students’ lives, interests, and experiences. Unfortunately, enjoyable reading materials that induce pleasurable states in the brain, pacing of lessons at comfortable speeds, and giving students opportunities for self-satisfaction are
not intrinsic priorities of most phonics-heavy reading curriculum. For example, in the Put Reading First parent guide, parents are told that “If your child is just beginning to read at school you should see teachers systematically teaching phonics and giving children the opportunity to practice the letter-sound relationships they are learning. Children have the chance to practice sounds and letters by reading easy books that use words with the letter-sound relationships they are learning.” In other words put phonics first, and hope that children remain interested enough after all the drill and forced, unnatural style and unengaging or irrelevant topics of many phonics- heavy, unmotivating decodables, to even want to be readers. While I concur that phonics instruction (alphabetic principle and phonemic awareness) is a critical part of learning to ready, my concern is about the over-emphasis on the phonics-heavy drills without a simultaneous balanced program of engaging reading activities.

     The stated goal of much education legislation is for all students to learn to read. The goal of most educators extends beyond that – for students to learn not only the mechanics of reading and reading comprehension, but to also to develop a love of reading. The achievement of these goals begins when students receive instruction in the process of reading in a non-threatening, engaging, and effective way.

     Most teachers are highly motivated to empower their students to become successful readers who take pleasure from the printed word. Some of the standardized curriculum that has resulted from partisan NCLB politization of education has made it more of a challenge for teachers to use differentiated techniques to best reach students with varied learning styles.

     It is critical in this pioneering age of opportunity for the collaboration of neuroimaging research scientists with educators for the benefit of all students that valid research remains pure and without even the potential for bias. It is discouraging, but a call to action I cannot ignore when I see that a vested interest group that stands to gain when a curriculum is purchased or implemented can similarly misrepresent data. Over generalization of the reading difficulties of dyslexic children to prescribe reading interventions and curriculum for all children has been one of the toxic flaws in the NCLB program.

     In the Shaywitz response article there was no mention from Sally Shaywitz about the potential compromise resulting from the fact that her reading research received federal funding yet she served on the panel that promoted government funding of the NCLB legislation and as a reviewer of
Reading First grants.

     As I said in my original article, neuroimaging for education and learning research is still largely suggestive, rather than completely empirical, in establishing a solid link between how the brain learns and how it metabolizes oxygen or glucose. Strategies can be evaluated as being
compatible with objectively evaluated, double-blind research studies, but it would be premature and against my training as a medical doctor to claim that any strategies are as yet firmly validated by the complete meshing of simultaneous cognitive studies, neuroimaging, and educational classroom research. It is for now a combination of the art of teaching and the science of how the brain responds metabolically and electrically to stimuli that should best guide educators in finding the best neuro-logical ways to present information in such ways as to potentiate learning.

     Research interpretations pertaining to teaching children to read and enjoy the wisdom and pleasure of the printed word is too important to be left unscrutinized. I have been privileged to spend the past seven years as a professional classroom teacher and am awed by the resilience of children. I cannot stand by and watch the joy of learning extinguished in any of these children. I have repeatedly seen children break down in tears or scribble over their books and papers in frustration during prescribed lessons using phonics-heavy curriculum with minimal opportunity for creative teacher input that could motivate the negative emotional impact of this curriculum and engage these discouraged children. Those tears may not be visible on fMRI scans, but it is a great disservice to our children to have researchers with political ties to these phonics-heavy programs, over interpret neuroimaging studies beyond the honorable scientific standards of the medical profession of which I am proud to be a part.


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Note: Over a year after the article above, a government investigative study supports the validity of my concerns.

Failure and Corruption Reading First now confirmed by 5/1/08 Department of Education Research Department Study Questions 'No Child' Act's Reading Plan

Lauded Program Fails To Improve Test Scores

By Maria Glod
Washington Post Staff WriterFriday, May 2, 2008; A01

Students enrolled in a $6 billion federal reading program that is at the heart of the No Child Left Behind law are not reading any better than those who don't participate, according to a U.S. government report.

The study released yesterday (5/1/08) by the
Department of Education's research arm found that students in schools that use Reading First, which provides grants to improve elementary school reading, scored about the same on comprehension tests as their peers who attended schools that did not receive program money.

The conclusion is likely to reignite the longstanding "reading wars." Critics say that Reading First places too much emphasis on explicit phonics instruction and doesn't do enough to foster understanding.

Among Democrats on
Capitol Hill, the report also revived allegations of conflicts of interest and mismanagement. Federal investigators have found that some people who helped oversee the program had financial ties to publishers of Reading First materials.

House Appropriations Committee Chairman David R. Obey (D-Wis.) yesterday called Reading First a "failure." Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.), chairman of the Senate education committee, said the administration "put cronyism first and the reading skills of our children last."

Education Department officials said the study will help them better implement Reading First and said the program has the support of many educators across the country. Education Secretary
Margaret Spellings recently likened the effort, aimed at improving instruction in schools with children from low-income families, to "the cure for cancer."
About 1.5 million children in about 5,200 schools, including more than 140 schools in Maryland, Virginia and the District, participate in Reading First.

Teachers in Reading First classrooms spent about 10 minutes more each day on instruction in the five areas emphasized by the program -- awareness of individual sounds, phonics, vocabulary, reading fluency and comprehension -- than colleagues in schools that didn't receive program grants, the study concluded. There was no difference when children were tested on how well they could read and understand material on a widely used exam.
"There was no statistically significant impact on reading comprehension scores in grades one, two or three," Grover J. "Russ" Whitehurst, director of the Institute of Education Sciences, the Education Department's research arm, said in a briefing with reporters. He said students in both groups made gains.

"It's possible that, in implementing Reading First, there is a greater emphasis on decoding skills and not enough emphasis, or maybe not correctly structured emphasis, on reading comprehension," he said. "It's one possibility."

Whitehurst said there are other possible explanations. One, he said, is that the program "doesn't end up helping children read." He said the program's approach could be effective in helping students learn building-block skills yet not "take children far enough along to have a significant impact on comprehension."

Yesterday's report focused on Reading First instruction and didn't address controversy over management of the program. A 2006 report from the Education Department's inspector general, John P. Higgins Jr., found that some program officials steered states to certain tests and textbooks.
Congressional testimony last year revealed that some of those officials benefited financially because of ties to companies that produced those products. Higgins said last year that he had referred his findings to the Justice Department. A spokesman for federal prosecutors said yesterday that an inquiry is pending.

Late last year, Congress, citing concerns about mismanagement, cut Reading First's funding for fiscal 2008 to $393 million. Researchers are continuing their work, and a final report is expected to be released in the fall.


Neuroscience supports individualized instruction
Studies show every child learns differently
By Meris Stansbury, Assistant Editor, eSchool News

Primary Topic Channel: ASCD
Distinguished Lecture by Dr. Judy Willis

Greeted with Dr. Willis’s projected visual images that inspired questions, like a giant egg broken in half to reveal a sunrise on a beach, attendees of a neuroscience session at the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development’s annual conference March 15 realized their brains were in for some stimulation.

“I’m going to talk about the brain and what we are learning about how the mind learns information. This isn’t a handout-type session, it’s one where your brain can wander and be inspired!” said presenter Judy Willis, M.D., an author and researcher who has a medical degree and a master’s degree in education.

To help attendees stay refreshed, and keep their brains in “RAD” mode—or in a continued state of attention with the help of visuals and different types of media—Willis showed a clip of The Graduate with the classic scene of Dustin Hoffman, alienated and adrift from the values of the day, receiving the advice that “plastics” was the future. Willis explained, “Like Dustin Hoffman, today’s students feel alienated from the values of society they’re about to enter. Also, educators are adrift in new technologies being discovered every day, with structure being replaced by creativity and open walls.” She then segued from “plastics” into the hot topic of “neuroplasticity” and the learning potentials we are missing in many children’s brains.

Willis said educators must consider neurological strategies in their teaching to help students become more engaged in the classroom, and she stressed the importance and explained the practicality of individualization of instruction to best suit the strengths and challenges of each student.

“What we’re learning about the brain is that everyone learns differently, and just because one way of learning works for this half of the class, doesn’t mean that it works for the other half; just because most children learn one way, doesn’t mean this girl or that boy learns like the rest of the class,” she explained.

In more technical terms, Willis said that as brain imaging studies continue to give a clearer picture of how individuals respond to sensory stimuli and perform cognitive tasks, knowledge has been accumulating about the brain’s neural systems. Researchers have proposed teaching strategies to correlate with interpretations about how the scanned brain responds to interventions. As more cognitive and classroom testing evaluates these interventions and strategies outside the scanners, Willis asks the question: What can we bring to students to enhance their educational experiences?

She explained that when the brain is going through cognitive learning, it has peaks and plateaus—meaning that at peaks, the brain is learning something new, but at plateaus it puts the new learning into practice. Just because the brain is in a plateau doesn’t mean it can’t learn new things, it just means it might take a bit longer. Plateaus are opportunities to mentally manipulate new learning through exploration, in-depth projects, and multisensory practice so the learning becomes permanent.

Said Willis, “It’s just like the quote by William James in 1892: ‘We learn to swim in winter and skate in summer.’”

Other new studies have shown that the brain is not fully “pruned” to its mature state until around 25 years of age, meaning that the brain, through young adulthood, gets rid of unused networks and increases the myelination (or strength) of used networks. Therefore, in order for students to learn well, repeated practice of newly learned skills and thought is imperative.

Another fascinating study shows that a dopamine-7 allele, an allele (a genetic coding sequence) that is linked to the cause of ADHD in children, is more sensitive to high- or low-quality parenting.

Explained Willis, “…This is not to say that all children with this allele have ADHD. But many ADHD children have this allele. Those who do have this gene variation exhibit increased or diminished signs of ADHD as related to the quality of parenting and support more than those children who do not have this allele.”

She continued: “Eventually, we will be able to identify the predispositions and strengths of all children based on brain activity, and we as educators must understand what this implies for the future—that the future will require us to teach to the individual, not using a single approach to teach the whole class.”

Willis recommends giving students information about how their brains work, so they can better advance their own learning style; practicing multisensory teaching to aid in individualization; and using formative assessments to provide corrective feedback.

“Every brain is unique, and every brain knows what it wants to do and what it can do best. Since every brain is different, we must teach to the individual learner so that every student can master 21st century skills,” concluded Willis.

Publication: The National Science Digital Library
Sunday, March 16th, 2008 12:49 pm
Written by: Robert Payo

Brain Games: Neuroscience and Active Participation Teaching Methods at the ASCD Conference

Dr. Judy Willis is a neuroscientist who also happens to be a middle school algebra teacher. After years in the lab, Dr. Willis decided to apply her knowledge on brain research to the classroom. At the Association of Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD) Annual Conference in New Orleans, Dr. Willis was a featured speaker sharing her expertise in neuroscience research and how teachers can benefit from greater awareness of neuroscience and apply strategies that are (as she puts it) “neuro-logical”.

The brain possesses a greater plasticity than was originally thought. For example, through cognitive therapy, stroke patients have the potential to relearn functions by creating and developing new pathways in the brain to take the place of damaged neural pathways. Willis recounted a case study of an individual with no measurable brain activity until a more sensitive fMRI test was done indicating near normal activity in the patient’s language centers of the cortex. Through deep electrical stimulation of the thalamus, “the patient’s speech improved, his movement became more fluid, and he was able to chew again—despite having survived brain damage for six months”. When they stopped deep brain stimulation, his abilities degraded over time and when stimulation was resumed, the patient’s abilities improved and sustained with therapy.

Another study points to changes in blood flow in the inner brain in an area known as the amygdala, related to the forming and storing of emotional memories. Studies indicate that decreases in cerebral blood flow can be found in this area when a person is in a stressful or negative emotional state, affecting their ability to retain information.

What implications does this have for teaching? Given that the brain has versatile neuroplasticity, developing student strategies to strengthen their abilities to create new pathways, connecting new knowledge to previously learned concepts and patterns, teaching students to look at problems from multiple perspectives or providing periodical shifts in attention when teaching through the use of word puzzles or discrepant events—what Willis calls “syn-naps”—can aid student understanding and capitalize on the innate processes of each individual. Such strategies are the hallmark of good teaching, but having a better understanding and intentional focus on brain-based strategies is a useful tool for any teacher.

Sharon Gieselmann, Assistant Professor of Education

Sharon Gieselmann is assistant professor of education at the University of Evansville. Students in her Strategies for Special Needs Students in Schools, K-12 are using Brain-Friendly Strategies for the Inclusion Classroom this semester. She wrote, “I selected the book because it provided practical strategies for the aspiring classroom teachers I teach in a user-friendly manner. From my experience as an elementary school principal, district staff developer, and classroom teacher, I know the importance of preparing teachers for the classroom. They needed a variety of strategies, more than what is offered in a traditional textbook. My students and I love this book! It has great ideas for classroom use.

Professor Gieselmann attached responses to a Discussion Board question she had posted on Blackboard. Students write a response to a question for each chapter. The students came up with some great ideas, and with Sharon’s permission, I share their answers with you. - Judy

Discussion Board Question.
Think about the strategies that Dr. Judy Willis describes in chapter one (begins on page 21). Select a strategy that will help you meet the needs of inclusion students. Provide an example of how you can use this strategy in your classroom

As a future
Spanish teacher, the most important strategy forme in my inclusive classroom would be making my lessons relevant andmeaningful. Already students, inclusive or not, have preconceived attitudes towards learning a secondlanguage. By making my lessonsrelevant, students will not only be more receptive to learning, but thematerial will also stay longer in their memory.   
To find out what my students find relevant, the first few
activities in my classroom will involve me getting to learn each students’pets, goals, interests, jobs, favorite subjects, favorite color, sports, andschool activities. From there Iwould design my lessons and activities around their interests because wheninformation is embedded with personal relevance from prior knowledge they wantto pay attention and can connect new information with prior knowledge whichmakes learning things faster. Iwould also give students my rubric for a project but let them free to choosetheir topic and way in which they would complete the project. Inclusion students with LDs wouldappreciate things that are relevant to them because they will be able torealize that they can do it, that learning new things is only a matter ofconnecting them with things already learned.  
Relevance will also come from activities that allow students
to practice “real-world” Spanish communication in role-plays, in areas outsidethe classroom, or with a native speaker. These will show students why Spanish is important in the United Statesand they themselves may develop their own reasons for wanting to learn Spanish.
I want kids the enjoy Spanish the way I do, and I enjoy it
because it is relevant to my life and our world. 

The strategy that stuck out to me was "Make It Relevant and Meaningful". I think that I could utilize this strategy in my class to make the day-to-day activities more interesting for the students, as well as for myself. As a future social studies teacher, I think it is important to create dialogue on the various events that pop up over the course of a school year. I would like to set aside 30 minutes per week to discuss issues related to contemporary government policies, business ventures, and other miscellaneous issues in which my students might have extra interest. I would set up this time in a discussion format in which I would require everyone to engage and contribute. I always enjoyed talking about issues that were directly related to the world that I was currently living in, so by developing effective questions and being a resourceful mediator, I hope I will be able to get my students to feel the same way and think through current issues in the context of lessons we have learned at another point in the class. 

One of Judy Willis' strategies that will help me meet the needs of inclusion students is setting goals. Setting goals in the classroom is one of the best ways to incorporate every student in a way that will help them be more encouraged and motivated to learn. Setting goals is essential to teaching inclusion students because you can use personal and classroom oriental goals, as well as short and long-term goals. Utilizing goals in the classroom can also bring a sense of unity among students as they all strive to meet common goals as well as their own. Therefore, I believe setting goals is one of the best strategies used to teach inclusion students.
An example I could use with setting goals in my future
fourth grade classroom would be to have my students first, write down their own goals for each subject that they would like to achieve over the course of the school year. I would ask them to write both short and long term goals in each subject, a task I would help them with. Then I would ask my students to make their goals into a chart. Next, I would ask students to put their goal chart in a folder I had marked for them in the classroom. Every couple of weeks, I would then have my students take out their goal charts and see if they had accomplished any of their goals in any subject. If they felt they had, then I would give them a sticker to put next to their accomplish goal. I would continue this until the end of the year. At the end of the year, my class would then have a goal party, in which every student had the opportunity to express to the class the goals they had achieved. If students did not want to share that was okay for it was their own choice. I feel like this would allow my students to discover how far they had progressed over the year, as well as experience a sense of accomplishment. Therefore, setting and achieving personal goals would play a major role in my fourth grade classroom.
Since we've been talking about Multiple Intelligences in class, I have really gotten interested in the idea of implementing the use of those in my class in the future. In my Education 200 practicum I had a 7th grade social studies class that was about 25% special needs students. I think one of the biggest setbacks for them was that they were physically taken from the class during tests and other times and it made it awkward and obvious to the other children that they were different but it was never actually discussed in class what was going on. I really want to have my whole class take a test like this and take the time to discuss all our strengths and weaknesses. I think it would be interesting and eye opening for the kids to take notice of the other kids differences, especially to see that even the gifted kids have weak spots. I believe if we put these things out in the open and discuss our differences, then maybe Middle School doesn’t' have to be so traumatic and stressful for our kids. This activity would fall under the strategy of "Watch Your Kids". By not only testing them and taking the results into consideration myself, but also making it a class issue we can increase class, community, and individual growth
Each and every one of these strategies can help with the needs of inclusion students, but the one I want to focus on is setting goals. A reward is something that can put a smile on every student’s face no matter what level of ability or what age he or she may be. When I have my own classroom I want there to be a sense of love and encouragement that fills the air. One of the best ways to do this is with a reward system.
Individually I want to have some sort of monthly behavioral chart that starts off full (example: a heart shape for Valentine's Day) but can have pieces cut off if behavior is not where it should be. For all those who keep their entire "heart" they will have a special treat (to be determined each month). An example of this treat is lunch with the teacher (ME!!). 

Now something I would absolutely love to do if I had say a
first grade classroom is have a banking system. Each day the student would get paid a penny if they did not have to move their name or if they did extremely well on a paper and also would get a penny if he/she had a special job that week (ex: line leader). At the end of the week they could come to the "bank" and cash in their money. They could trade five pennies for a nickel and two nickels for a dime and so on. Also at the end of the week, students could have the opportunity to buy an item from the store or save up their money for a more expensive item. 
I feel like this whole process would be a good way for students to set goals as well as see the outcome of being a good student with good behavior. It also gives every student a chance to feel proud of him/herself despite his/her level of ability.

Strategy:  Offer Choice
As a high school
English teacher, I will be assigning different works of literature for my kids to read. Some of these works we will read together as a class, but others will be assigned as independent reading and homework. With these independent reading assignments, I can allow students the freedom to choose something from a preapproved list that will best suit their interests and reading ability.
In an American Literature class, for example, I may want them to learn a little more about slavery. They could choose to read excerpts from Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe, part of The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass by Frederick Douglass, or Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl by Harriet Jacobs.

Strategy:  Make Adaptations for Participation
As a
future elementary school teacher, I like the idea of offering many levels of participation. Expecting all students, regardless of level or disability, to learn and respond in the same way is unreasonable. It is possible to strive for a specific learning goal with all students while giving a little extra support to those who may need it.
In a previous internship, I had several students who needed extra help. One student had speech problems and was very shy. Because of this, she would not participate in discussions. I found that by telling her ahead of time that I would be asking a specific question during a lesson and giving her time to plan her answer, I received much better results from her. She also felt more comfortable participating.
I also had a student who experienced trouble in math. Each day, I gave him a copy of the outline I would follow the next day. He and his grandmother previewed the outline and material every night. During the lesson, he followed along much better when he could see where we were on the outline and connect it to what he had seen the night before. Both of these strategies were successful, and I plan to use them in my own classroom in the future.

Strategy:  Make it Relevant and Meaningful
As a P.E. teacher, I know from personal experiences that it will be hard to get all students to participate and enjoy the activities that I plan for them; many students either feel like it is not important or that they aren't and will never be good enough to succeed in the subject of physical education. If my lessons are relevant and meaningful, I will have a much higher percentage of students that both enjoy the activity and learn from the lesson. One example of making an activity/lesson relevant and meaningful is to focus a little less attention on athletic skills in sports, and to focus more on physical activities that the students who don't consider themselves athletes will participate in outside of the class. Things such as Dance Revolution, Yoga, Swimming, and Cycling are all activities that are fun, beneficial to health, and more likely to be used by students. These activities are meaningful and relevant because students know that everyone, not just athletes, participate in activities like this.

I feel that this is particularly important for all teachers to do. By simply watching your kids working in the classroom you will be able to see where particular students may need additional help or simply what they are struggling with. From this you will then be able to use several of the other strategies including: making physical accommodations, providing realistic challenge, set goals, offering choice, making adaptations for participation, teaching organizational skills, providing feedback, and planning developmentally appropriate lessons.

One example of how I would use this strategy is say I have a student who is new to the school. There is no information about the student provided prior to that student entering my classroom. By simply watching the student interact with the other students in the classroom I will be able to determine what I need to do to make the transition of being in a new school easiest for that child. I will also be able to determine what other accommodations may need to be made. Until other testing or other information from previous schools is available, simply watching the student will provide me with the information I need to make sure that things go as smoothly as possible.

In elementary school, I always enjoyed the hands on activities and projects we performed together as a class. The projects made the information more real for me and definitely more interesting. For example, in second grade while studying plants, one assignment was to pick ten different leaves, research what kind of plant it was from, and then present it to the class. To do this homework, I got to go outside and be creative instead of sitting at the kitchen table filling in a worksheet.
Also, in fourth grade, my teacher hatched chicken and goose eggs from an incubator as part of a class science project. As students, we were active in the process and helped decide which eggs were duds, and were responsible for feeding the babies when they finally hatched. Some of us even got to take one home (with a parent's permission) and continue to care for them at home!
As a teacher, I hope to perform these same types of projects with my kids to make the topics more interesting and applicable to them!
As an elementary teacher, I would use the start slowly and build for the younger elementary classrooms. By building on past knowledge, students can improve their vocabulary, phonic skills, math skills, etc. Slowly building also allows each student to work at their own pace to meet the class goals.
    In my special education internship this semester, the five kindergarteners work on handwriting and phonics. Each week we add a word or two to the list of sight words and slowly work to say and understand them. In addition to learning new words, we review over the past words in order to build their vocabulary. In handwriting, we use the basic shapes of big curve, little curve, and big line, little line to create each letter and number. The students see before their eyes the creation of numbers and letters from simple shapes. I would most likely use a similar strategy for my elementary classroom, because the students seem to be grasping the ideas and using them for the new material.

As a high school
U.S. history teacher, it is always vital to teach certain lesson plans that will require students to be knowledgeable to certain time periods, dates, and people. With this knowledge, students are more prepared to enter the college level with a strong background in America’s early foundation and its progression throughout time.
One strategy that I found very helpful in my classroom was, “Lower the barrier, not the bar.” This strategy will allow my students to work to their potential without getting discouraged with the material. I gave the example in class, if I asked my students to memorize all 43 presidents of the United States for the next school day; most would shrug the assignment off as “unobtainable.” Therefore, if I asked my students to memorize only the first five presidents for the next school day, and continued this pattern until all 43 presidents had been memorized, I have lowered the barriers to learning all of the U.S. presidents but not the bar.
As a
physical education and health major, I feel that lowering the barriers and not the bar will apply to the area that will teach. For athletic children, gym class is usually an enjoyable time where these kids feel in their element. However, for those kids that are not as athletic, showing no effort in gym class may be a reasonable alternative to trying and failing where other kids succeed. As a gym teacher, I could lower the barrier and not the bar for all children by basing their grade more on the effort that they show then their natural athletic ability. By doing this, gym class will focus more on participation, which will in help improve the quality of health for all students.

Strategy: Teach Organizational Skills
As an
elementary school teacher, I believe that organizational skills are extremely important. If students are not organized it can cause a lack of focus. When students are organized, they can focus on the task at hand rather than their messy desk. Organizational skills are important life skills as well. When people are organized it creates less stress and promotes a better work environment.
In elementary school, our teacher would make us clean out our desks every Friday and organize our
books and school supplies, so that on Monday everything was ready to go and we could dive straight into the lesson. I remember that it made everything go smoother on Monday and the rest of the week because things were neat and organized.
As a teacher, it is also good to be organized. Teachers have so much paperwork that needs to be kept track of, so it is imperative to have everything organized. I believe that an organized teacher will be a prepared teacher. I hope I will be able to teach these important organizational skills to my students when I become a teacher.

Community (math book?)
Each and every one of these strategies can help with the needs of inclusion students, but the one I want to focus on is setting goals. A reward is something that can put a smile on every student’s face no matter what level of ability or what age he or she may be. When I have my own classroom I want there to be a sense of love and encouragement that fills the air. One of the best ways to do this is with a reward system.
Individually I want to have some sort of monthly behavioral chart that starts off full (example: a heart shape for Valentine's Day) but can have pieces cut off if behavior is not where it should be. For all those who keep their entire "heart" they will have a special treat (to be determined each month). An example of this treat is lunch with the teacher (ME!!). 
Now something I would absolutely love to do if I had say a first grade classroom is have a banking system. Each day the student would get paid a penny if they did not have to move their name or if they did extremely well on a paper and also would get a penny if he/she had a special job that week (ex: line leader). At the end of the week they could come to the "bank" and cash in their money. They could trade five pennies for a nickel and two nickels for a dime and so on. Also at the end of the week, students could have the opportunity to buy an item from the store or save up their money for a more expensive item. 
I feel like this whole process would be a good way for students to set goals as well as see the outcome of being a good student with good behavior. It also gives every student a chance to feel proud of him/herself despite his/her level of ability.

Each and every one of these strategies can help with the needs of inclusion students, but the one I want to focus on is setting goals. A reward is something that can put a smile on every student’s face no matter what level of ability or what age he or she may be. When I have my own classroom I want there to be a sense of love and encouragement that fills the air. One of the best ways to do this is with a reward system.
Individually I want to have some sort of monthly behavioral chart that starts off full (example: a heart shape for Valentine's Day) but can have pieces cut off if behavior is not where it should be. For all those who keep their entire "heart" they will have a special treat (to be determined each month). An example of this treat is lunch with the teacher (ME!!). 
Now something I would absolutely love to do if I had say a first grade classroom is have a banking system. Each day the student would get paid a penny if they did not have to move their name or if they did extremely well on a paper and also would get a penny if he/she had a special job that week (ex: line leader). At the end of the week they could come to the "bank" and cash in their money. They could trade five pennies for a nickel and two nickels for a dime and so on. Also at the end of the week, students could have the opportunity to buy an item from the store or save up their money for a more expensive item. 
I feel like this whole process would be a good way for students to set goals as well as see the outcome of being a good student with good behavior. It also gives every student a chance to feel proud of him/herself despite his/her level of ability.

Offer Choice:
I will be teaching
high school biology and by offering choice I believe it will help keep kids' interests peaked. Some of the material I will be covering during class will allow me to form multiple choices for students to choose from. For example, if we were covering diffusion and osmosis I could offer the kids a choice of doing a lab designed to help the students better understand what actually occurs or just do a worksheet and save the lab for another time when we are covering something a little more interesting. Either way we would end up doing a lab but by giving them a choice it may help keep them a little more focused and hopefully they would end up with a better grade.

As a future
elementary school teacher, I think it is very important to offer my students the opportunity to choose certain activities that they would like to do. Judy Willis' idea about offering choice to the students really resonated with me, because I think it would give the students the motivation to continue to work on a project.
For example in a first grade classroom, if we were working on an addition lesson, I would offer the students the opportunity to do a hands-on activity, to do a partner activity, or to use technology equipment to complete the assignment. I believe that by allowing the students to choose how they will accomplish a task, they will be more likely to retain much more from the lesson. 

Perhaps one of the greatest strategies that I can use in an English classroom to foster a learning opportunity for an inclusion student is that of setting realistic goals. By setting said goals, especially in areas of reading comprehension, my students and I will be able to collaborate on where they need to be and where they would like to see themselves throughout the course of the year. Ultimately, by setting benchmarks--either as one focused one or a series of smaller ones--my students will be a part of their learning process and be able to make choices concerning it. Ultimately, of course, the main point is the goal itself. Once we know where we want to end up, we can start focusing on effective strategies to get there.

I think that it is vital to offer choice within the classroom. I would apply this to my middle school English class. One example in which I would offer choice would be with reading. It is important to get students interested, and offering choice is one way to do so. I would have my students right down their favorite genres, and then split them into groups accordingly. I would allow students to within their groups to pick a novel from a set list of books of their favorite genre. This is providing choice, but keeping structure. Students would read the novels independently, but discuss and work on activities as a group. All groups would be doing the same activities, but read different books.

One strategy that is highly important for student learning in inclusion classes (and all classes) is for the teacher to watch his/her kids. By watching, I would like to emphasize knowledge, monitoring, and the observing aspects.
If you are to teach someone, you must first know about that person: his/her background (past education, treatment), his/her strengths/weaknesses, and his/her learning styles/multiple intelligences. In order to find this information, I plan to access my students' records, analyze what they have the least/most problems with, and give them the appropriate assessments.
It is also crucial to actually monitor the students' progress in class, understanding of the material, and overall well-being. Once, I know what levels my students are on, it is very important to keep track of their progress in order to help them reach the next level. Just as important, if not more, than paying attention to a student's academic well-being, is to look out for signs of physical/mental/sexual abuse.
Lastly, watching the students insinuates that a teacher actually observe the students. Students need to be watched in order to ensure that they stay on task, do not get into fights and other disruptive behavior. More simply, students get a sense that the teacher cares when he/she just looks at them.
With these elements combined, I can figure out where my students are academically as they enter my classroom, construct appropriate lesson plans and set goals according to their level, monitor their progress and help them along, and simply observe to make sure that the classroom is a safe and productive place. These aspects will help meet the individual needs of each student and will therefore; better the class on a whole.
One of the strategies that I find extremely important in inclusion classrooms is “Start Slowly and Build”. I believe that this strategy alongside setting goals for the students provides a strong foundation for learning.

 As a future
Spanish teacher, I know how extremely difficult it can be when trying to learn a foreign language. When student take there very first Spanish class, in either high school or middle school, most come into the class knowing virtually nothing about the language. Students will react to this with a variety of emotions; they may be scared, nervous, or even excited. 
 In my future classroom, I plan to slowly adjust my students to the language. For example, I will start with small amounts of information that is easy for the students to pick up on and remember, such as the alphabet, numbers, days, months, etc. Then, I will incorporate the things that they have learned into more difficult tasks such as asking and answering questions and keep building on what they know. 
 Also, I believe that it is really important for a teacher to set goals for not only the entire class but also for the individual students. These goals can be as simple as a B for the class average on a test, or something more complex like each student knowing a certain amount on information by a certain time. Setting up a reward system can also reinforce these goals for the students who do achieve their goals.     
Starting slowly and building while also setting goals for students will inspire the student to want to learn. Also, each student has a different level of learning, and these strategies will help make all students feel comfortable in the classroom. 

As an
elementary and middle school social studies teacher, I believe that making the material I teach relevant and meaningful to the students is very important.
 There are several ways to implement this idea when working with the students. When working with younger students, it is easier to relate material to their surroundings. For example, if I was teaching at a school located in rural, southern Indiana, near the corn fields, I would probably teach a science lesson on seeds, teaching the students the parts of a corn kernel. The students would probably be excited about the familiar material and would therefore be more likely to remember it than if it were a type of seed that was not found around southern Indiana. This teaching method would allow the students to apply the lesson to their lives and remember the information more easily because it would pertain to them personally.
 Making new material relevant to the real world is another way to carry out this teaching strategy. Social Studies is an excellent subject to relate material to the real world. For example, you can always pull current events from the newspaper in order to start a discussion about current world issues. Discussing disasters, such as an earthquake in Japan or fires in Greece, would be beneficial in teaching a lesson because the locations of these international news stories would be a great transition into geography.

high school English, I would use the method of offering choice often. I would do this because my students will most likely not like English in the way I do. Offering choice would allow them to express themselves in the way they are most comfortable and in a way I can easily assess.
For example, I am teaching a unit on Shakespeare. What student does not love Shakespeare? Since there are students like this, and it's a shame, I would allow them to read the play in a variety of ways.
I would give the option of reading an act in the textbook then writing a summary followed by the movie. OR I would allow my students to read the "No Fear Shakespeare" version of the text in which the students would be tested on both texts.