Professional Learning Series to Orient Elementary Education Classroom Teachers to Concepts and Tools for Differentiating Instruction in Inclusive Classrooms

This project explores the importance of differentiating instruction to enable all students to access and succeed the general education curriculum within inclusive classrooms. The United States has a highly diverse school-age student population, whose rights to equal access is protected by federal laws such as the 2001 No Child Left Behind (NCLB) and the 2004 Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEIA). IDEIA identifies the general education environment as the placement of first choice for students with identified disabilities. With mandates come the need for the development of teacher skills so that they are better equipped to differentiate instruction, co-teach, and use emerging technologies to effectively educate and include all children. Given this context, this project is a six-session professional development series for general educators consisting of a book study of the Thousand, Villa, and Nevin 2015 Differentiating Instruction: Planning for universal designed design and teaching for college and career readiness (2nd ed.) text. Participants examine retrofit and Universal Design for Learning (UDL) approaches to lesson planning and four approaches for co-teaching. Over the course of the sessions, participants assemble a handbook of reading, tools, and exercises to which they can refer as they design instruction for their diverse student body.