We are really going to be focusing in on two subject areas in regards to inclusion this fall and those are Language Arts and Mathematics. For Language Arts we are part of another pilot project so I left that part of it alone in thinking about this action research project. I went, instead, with the Mathematics end of it. Before taking on this job, I taught Junior and Senior high school mathematics for 14 years so this also works for me as it is a bit more of my comfort area.
My project is not yet focused but I'm narrowing in a bit more. I'm looking at 3 or 4 of my students (dependent on the 4th one coming to our school as that has not yet been figured out) in 2 different classrooms. Two of them are in grade 6 and one or two of them are in grade 1 in a grade 1-2 split class. What I'm envisioning at this point is to take one unit in grade 6 and one unit in grade 1 and team teach the unit (with the classroom teachers that the students I oversee have) focusing in on what I learn about differentiation and neurology related to mathematics.
Resources (other than the program that is already being used and the Alberta Learning Mathematics Curriculum) that I'm currently exploring are:
Able Net's Equals Mathematics Curriculum (Canadian Edition): I got this program right at the end of the last school year and have not yet had a lot of time to go through it but I'm really excited to use it to help with making modifications so that my students can participate in general education classrooms. I really like that it doesn't restrict students to just "life skill" mathematics.
How the Brain Learns Mathematics, Brain-Compatible Activities for Mathematics 4-5 and Brain-Compatible Activities for Mathematics K-1: This will be my starting point to get the background for the Neurology link part of the project. From there I will have a better starting point for digging in to the Neurology research in the area of Mathematics learning
Other books that I'm looking at include Teaching Inclusive Mathematics to Special Learners K-6, Differentiating Math Instruction: Strategies that Work for K-8 Classroom, Teaching Student Centered Math K-3 and Teaching Student Centered Math 4-8.
Finally, I'm doing journal article searches related to differentiated instruction in mathematics, teaching mathematics to students with significant disabilities, peer assisted strategies for learning, and effective mathematics teaching, learning and assessment.
The project runs from September through to the beginning of December - at which point we will present what we have learned. I'm really hoping that it will give us a good grounding so that we can keep working on figuring out how to effectively include students with significant disabilities in general education classrooms (and hopefully make things work just a bit better for all students in the process). My intention is to use this blog as a place to plan and reflect through the process.
One last thing: Action Research Network in Alberta (ARNIA) has some great information about action research.