Inclusion In A History Class

Project Based Education for the Inclusion Classroombold text

This 2002 article by Ferretti, MacArthur and Okolo documents the use of project based instruction in an inclusive history classroom.1

Inclusion in a History Classroom

“Two-thirds of the approximately five and one half million children in the country who receive special education are considered mildly disabled.” 2 The average urban elementary classroom contains a five year span in academic performance.3 Some learning disabled students are “pulled” or given special services during their social studies block in elementary school. As these special education students move on to middle and high school their knowledge of history and geography is underdeveloped. Project based instruction can help improve the knowledge of both learning disabled and regular education students. This study looks at an inclusion social studies classroom and the use of project based learning to improve historical understanding.

Benefits of Project Based Learning

Project Based Learning is learning on an in-depth level. Students and teachers are able to explore the rationale for why something happened and not just that it happened. In depth studies are important to all students but especially to learning disabled students because they often have trouble putting themselves in the place and time being studied. In depth studies give children the chance to understand and compare time periods and life styles.

This study showed that all students made gains in the following areas:
 Student Knowledge
 Historical Content and historical inquiry
 Sense of their self efficacy as learners

The study also contradicted a previous study that said that both regular education and learning disabled students gained from project based learning at the same pace. This study found that although both groups of students did have gains, the regular education students outpaced the learning disabled students.

What this means to Teachers in a Inclusion classroom

The teachers is this study found that they had to carefully scaffold questions and model the questioning process at the beginning of the project until the groups knew the process and could walk though it themselves. The teacher also found that they must constantly circulate among the groups to monitor and encourage participation.

The most important practice that teachers used to provide disabled students with the opportunity to participate was the clearly communicated expectations that everyone has something to offer and that all students were expected to treat each other accordingly. Teachers were responsible for creating the learning environment and making everyone feel as if they were a part of the environment. Learning Disabled students may be slow to participant but through the encouragement of the teacher all the students in the class can rise to meet expectations.

This is also important to teachers to prepare all students for the real life experiences. Project based learning prepares students to tackle real world like inquiries that require working with multiple people and using multiple sources.

1. Ferretti, R.P., MacArthur, C.D. and Okolu, C.M.(2001). Teaching for historical understanding in inclusive classrooms, Learning Disabilities Quarterly. 24(1), 59-71.
2.United States Department of Education. (1996). Eighteenth annual report to congress on the implementation of individuals with disabilities act. Washington, DC
3.United States Department of Education. (1996). Eighteenth annual report to congress on the implementation of individuals with disabilities act. Washington, DC

Angela Ramsey-Lockhart