A Lesson for Life: Accepting Others
Photo by Donald Tetto
by Adriane Forgey and Jennie Lewin
The purpose of our project was to increase the available resources for ensuring that each child in the school system receives an education in an environment that is most conducive to learning. Classrooms of today emphasize inclusive settings so that children with diverse needs learn together. In order to meet this goal, we wanted to increase the materials available to help teachers facilitate inclusiveness in the classroom. In an inclusion classroom, children with special needs are incorporated into a general education classroom. With this project, we wished to fill the void in resources for implementing the progressive movement towards inclusion at the elementary level. We also wanted to use bibliotherapy as a way of opening up doors in children’s classrooms. Bibliotherapy is uses children’s literature to facilitate discussion. Given the current emphasis in education on building community through inclusive settings, it is essential for the teachers to have curricular materials that help them include all children in the classroom.
To begin our research, we traveled to the National Education for Young Children Conference in New York City, the largest conference of its type in the world. There, we attended many sessions related to our research on this area, and began networking with professors, teachers, and publishers, to help us when we began developing our curriculum. This experience was where most of the grant was used. We both feel, however, that this eye-opening experience and research opportunity was what allowed us to begin to develop an activity guide for promoting inclusion in the classroom. We both see, even more than before, the importance for inclusion in the classroom.
We have been working on this very detailed activity book, and have divided up the activity book into sections based on research presented at the NAEYC conference. We have also included our philosophies about the importance of inclusion in the classroom, and helpful activities so that teachers can have a step-by-step guide on how to create a truly inclusive classroom for children with disabilities. While following this curriculum would never guarantee the ideal inclusive classroom, it is our hope that it helps give teachers a good basis for beginning the process. We have been exposed to excellent children’s literature that addresses sensitive topics that must be addressed when looking at inclusion issues. The product that we have for this year is by no means our final product, as we plan to make this project something that we will work on until we graduate from Southwestern. We greatly appreciate receiving the grant that has allowed us to do the research necessary to take on a project of this magnitude.