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Final Inquiry Research Plan

Mekayla Cook
mekaylacook@mail.usf.edu
Background, Purpose and Wondering
There is nothing more empowering than a room full of people clapping for a single scholar. A
community of educators, board members, professionals and support staff were brought to tears and
compelled to thunderous applause as we watched a Senior student with Autism learn that he was accepted
to the University of Central Florida. My attendance at the 2016 State Council for Exceptional Children
(CEC) Conference was an exceptional professional development experience and an inspirational weekend
that supported my passion for an equitable education for all students. The CECs mission is to improve,
through excellence and advocacy, the education and quality of life for children and youth with
exceptionalities and to enhance the engagement of their families (FCEC, 2016). The conference promoted
innovation, involvement and inclusion for the success of students with disabilities access to a legallymandated free and appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment (IDEA, 2004), the
general education classroom. New legislation, including the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA, 2015),
advances equity in education by maintaining protections for Americas high-need students through
holding all learners to high standards (Hall, 2016). The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA, 2015) adds
Universal Design for Learning (UDL) concepts, which originated from brain research and architecture, to
encourage course materials that are customized to ensure every student receives an adequate education.
The inclusion mindset promoted at the conference endorses that all students achieve expectations that will
further their academic, social and lifelong success, through innovations like UDL that result from legal
action to promote student success.
Dr. Monica Terra-Virado, the chief of the Florida Department of Educations Bureau of
Exceptional Student Education and Student Services, prescribes that educators make the least dangerous
assumption, in which decisions are made based on data that will have the least dangerous effect on a
students ability to function independently as adults (Verra-Tirado, 2016). Applying this idea, teachers
should assume student competence and that poor performance is due to instructional inadequacy between
the curriculum, instruction and student, not as a result of student deficits. In order to offer an equitable
access to the curriculum, educators should provide accommodations so students of all abilities will be
included in the lesson. In my opinion, every child is entitled to being part of a learning community with
opportunities to further their attainment of knowledge with consideration for individual needs, interests
and strengths. In the United States, about four of every five students with disabilities spend 40% or more
of the school day in a general education classroom (McLeskey, Rosenberg & Westling, 2013). Traditional
classroom instruction and materials may not make the general education curriculum accessible to students
with disabilities. As a preservice Elementary educator, I look forward to working in an inclusive
environment. In order to best meet the needs of learners with disabilities in the general education
classroom, I am seeking appropriate and effective accommodations and strategies to promote student
success and academic achievement.

Methods
Literature Connections

Article citation

Key quotes and ideas related


to your wondering

Ideas for taking action in


your classroom

Eggen, P., & Kauchak, D.


(2012). Strategies and models
for teachers: Teaching content
and thinking skills (6th ed.).
Upper Saddle River, NJ:
Pearson Education.

Direct Instruction is a model


that uses teacher demonstration
and explanation combined with
student practice and feedback
to help learners acquire welldefined knowledge and skills
needed for later learning
(Eggen & Kauchak, 2012, p.
266). The more opportunities
you provide for learners to be
actively taught, review, and
practice direct instruction
skills, the more information
students will retain
(McLeskey, Rosenberg &
Westling, 2013).

During lesson planning,


designate time for: direct
instruction, gradual release of
responsibility, and effective
feedback.

Universal Design for Learning


(UDL) is a framework to
improve and optimize teaching
and learning for all people
based on scientific insights
into how humans learn (CAST,
2015). Principles of UDL
include providing a variety of
ways to present material to
students, considering different
ways for them to show what
they have learned, and
incorporating unique ways to
motivate student engagement
(McLeskey, Rosenberg &
Westling, 2013). The
presenters introduced the 5
Finger Test, designing every
lesson for a student who cant
walk, see, hear, talk or behave

Add layers to lessons that


engage a variety of learners,
include accommodations for
students with disabilities.

McLeskey, J., Rosenberg,


M.S., & Westling, D. (2013).
Inclusion effective practices
for all students (2nd ed.).
Upper Saddle River, NJ:
Pearson Education.

Look into models of giving


effective feedback that involve
students and consider the
needs of students with
disabilities.
Create a feedback system for
consistent feedback that
students use to set goals.
Ensure adequate time for
review and practice:
homework, small groups, pretest review.

Vary presentation of content


area materials: text, video,
images, charts/graphs.
Offer choice in
assignments/how students
showcase their learning.
The 5 Finger Test to be
considered during lesson
planning.

(Dieker & Hines, 2016).


Willis, J. (2007). Brainfriendly strategies for the
inclusion classroom: Insights
from a neurologist and
classroom teacher. Alexandria,
VA: ASCD.

Enriching the Inclusive


Learning Environment:
A variety of approaches and
activities geared to diverse
learning styles.
A variety of culminating projects
(art, writing, or model-building,
for example).
Student-centered, open-ended
discussions and explorations.
Opportunities for individual,
peer, and group learning
experiences.
Active learning or discovery
opportunities.
Multisensory stimulation.
Alternating activities at work
stations throughout the room.
Changing classroom displays
and posters.
Lesson-appropriate
manipulatives.
Varied seating configurations
(for example, chairs arranged in a
horseshoe, in rows, or in groups,
or floor activities with no desks or
chairs).
Developmentally and
academically appropriate
challenges to suit the needs, gifts,
and goals of each student.
Structure and planning to
support students increasing
responsibility for their own
learning and goal achievement.
(Willis, 2007, pp. 109-110)

Students should receive


individualized opportunities to
verbalize, write, or otherwise
create something using the
lessons material, (Willis,
2007, pp. 110).
In inclusion classes where

Discover my students learning


styles and appeal to them
during lessons.
Include discussions, UDL, and
vary grouping for learning
experiences.

Involve students in setting and


keeping track of their own
goals.

Principles of UDL.

intelligences, learning-style
preferences,
and developmental levels span
a wide spectrum, lessons that
engage multiple senses could
Engage multiple senses in
offer the greatest access to
lessons.
knowledge for the most
students, (Willis, 2007, pp.
110).
Multisensory input travels to
memory storage along
more than one pathway,
resulting in enriched,
reinforced information transit,
(Willis, 2007, pp. 111).
Data Collection Strategies

Data I plan to collect:

How this data relates to my wondering

Teacher reflective blog/field notes

Reflections on the effectiveness of strategies


and accommodations will provide insight into
my own teaching practice.

Interviews

Through structured interviews with


professionals in the field, (teachers, ESE
specialists, support staff, professors) I will find
practice-based strategies that work for
individual students, as well as what is
recommended for accommodations/strategies
in general.
Also, interviews with students will reveal their
reflections, opinions and ideas of what
accommodations and strategies work best for
them. Additionally, student content area
learning can be assessed through interviewing.

Students learning styles (determined by an


inventory)

In order to apply principles of Universal


Design for Learning, it is important to bear in
mind how my students learn best.

Student work examples

Will demonstrate the effectiveness of lessons


and instruction, when considered for accuracy.
When considering completion, engagement

could be implied.
Recorded lessons

Videos and audio recordings will indicate


student participation and engagement, as well
as my own comfort and professional
development.

Surveys

Will assess students opinions, ideas and


reflections on the effectiveness of my practice.

Test scores

By considering students test scores, I can track


students learning progress.

Exit tickets

Quick questions or reflections at the end of a


lesson will allow students to demonstrate their
understand/if strategies were effective for
content area learning.

Professional journals/literature/practitioner
articles

Consulting research- and practice-based


literature will introduce me to effective
strategies that could be applied in my
classroom.

Professional development and research

Through attendance or participation at


workshops, conferences and professional
development opportunities, I will have access
to modern advances in the field concerning
effective inclusion practices.

Timeline
Week One: To better understand the needs of my students with disabilities, I will conduct
research including considering the students cumulative files and progress so far this year. Also, I
will interview the ESE Specialist that supports the students learning to better understand my
learners, as well as her professional knowledge of effective strategies.
Week Two: I will conduct a Learning Style inventory to understand the ways all the students in
my classroom learn best. I will begin researching to find effective feedback methods to engage
students with disabilities in setting and accomplishing their own goals, based on the students
current level of achievement.
Week Three: I will plan my first observed lesson, which will include principles of UDL, with
consideration for students learning styles. I will begin small group interventions with the
students with disabilities by setting goals with the learners.
References

Dieker, L.A. & Hines, R. (2016, October). Creating differentiation in inclusive classrooms using current
strategies, udl & technology. Presentation at annual conference for the Council for Exceptional
Children, Lido Beach, FL.

Willis, J. (2007). Brain-friendly strategies for the inclusion classroom: Insights from a neurologist and
classroom teacher. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015, Pub. L. No. 114-95 114 Stat. 1177 (2015-2016).

FCEC. (2016). Council for exceptional children florida. Retrieved October 30, 2016 from
http://www.floridacec.org/

Hall, R. (2016, October). Town hall meeting. Presentation at annual conference for the Council for
Exceptional Children, Lido Beach, FL.

Individuals With Disabilities Education Act, 20 U.S.C. 1400 (2004).

McLeskey, J., Rosenberg, M.S., & Westling, D. (2013). Inclusion effective practices for all students (2nd
ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education.

Verra-Tirado, M. (2016, October). FCEC fall meeting. Presentation at annual conference for the Council
for Exceptional Children, Lido Beach, FL.

Willis, J. (2007). Brain-friendly strategies for the inclusion classroom: Insights from a neurologist and
classroom teacher. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.