The Arc Maryland, in partnership with the Maryland State Department of Education, Maryland Department of Disabilities, and the Maryland Developmental Disabilities Council, is pleased to announce its 2019-2020 “Together We’re Better” Inclusive Education Awareness Campaign and Artwork Contest in celebration and honor of National Inclusive Schools week (December 2 – 6). National Inclusive Schools Week highlights and celebrates the progress schools have made in providing a supportive and quality education to all students, including students with disabilities. This year’s theme for National Inclusive Schools Week is CHARTING THE COURSE FOR INCLUSIVE SCHOOLS because inclusion results in improved outcomes for all students and provides an important opportunity for educators, student and families to support all children to have meaningful friendships with each other. Inclusive Schools are characterized as inclusive schools when they:
- Make every student feel welcome and provide the supports they need to learn.
- Embrace the understanding that every student is unique, and therefore, learns differently.
- Understand that all children learn better if teaching is tailored to their abilities and interests.
- Collaborate with families.
- Hold high expectations for student success.
Improving Education: The Promise of Inclusive Schooling booklet includes a laundry list of more than two dozen practical ways educators can make their classrooms more inclusive. Those inclusive practices include:
- LESS whole-class, teacher-directed instruction.
- LESS classroom time devoted to fill-in-the-blank worksheets.
- LESS tracking or leveling of students into “ability groups.”
- MORE active learning in the classroom.
- MORE emphasis on higher-order thinking and learning of key concepts and principles.
- MORE responsibility transferred to students for their work.
- MORE attention to affective needs and the varying cognitive styles for individual students.
- MORE delivery of aid and help to students in general education classrooms.
The Arc Maryland and its partners are pleased to provide you with an extensive Diversity Celebration Toolkit and activities that align with Maryland State Curriculum Indicators for teachers, counselors, volunteers and other staff in preparing lesson plans and activities for students in grades K-5 and 6-8 to celebrate inclusive schools and diverse abilities of all students. Also, this year’s Diversity Celebration Toolkit contains resources to plan activities and tools aimed to guide your students in participating in our Artwork contest.