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Inclusive Study Groups

By: Cathy Gibbs (2003)

Dear Ms. Gibbs,

I read about your study groups for LD students. If your LD students participated in regular ed. classes, did you invite the regular ed students to the study groups too? How many attended and how often did you meet?

It sounds like a great idea.

Leesa Macomb

Hi Leesa, What a good question, particularly for a school such as mine with high needs students, not just the LD ones.

As I'm sure you know, stereotyping and marginalization are big problems for students who have difficulty learning, even if they are average or above average intelligence as LD students are. My students are all integrated into regular classes, with one class a day with me for one semester only. It is not enough, hence the study group. If they come to the study group with a friend who is not part of the program, they are more than welcome, but I make sure the friend has work to do as well. It sends a clear message that the time is for school work, not socializing. I provide help for that student too, if they need it. Even if they don't need help, I ask to see their work so that everyone is being treated the same way. All students can use a pat on the back. Everyone has access to the computers. It then becomes a real study group rather than support for Special Education students.

We meet at least three times a week at lunch during the school year, but when we hit the crunch of deadlines, Special Education students are known to throw in the towel because it seems so overwhelming. That is when we meet everyday and do the Midnight Club. Sunday afternoons work well too. These are the times when their friends come. If they know support is available, their stress level goes down, and assignments get done. We have been known to have up to 10 students but that is almost unmanageable for one teacher. One night I brought my husband in to help! Usually there are 5-6 students which is ideal.

None of this would be possible without my principal who must be present whenever students are in the building. The teachers are also the key to success because they provide me with all the assignments in advance so I can break them down into doable components.

How are your classes designed? Do your students respond well to support?

Thanks for being interested in the students. From my experience, many of them are successful because of that interest.

Cathy

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