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Table of Contents
 
Jossey-Bass Teacher
Title Page
Copyright Page
About This Book
About the Authors
Dedication
Acknowledgements
Foreword
 
Part One - Being Successful in the Inclusive Classroom
 
Chapter 1 - Collaborating Effectively
 
Collaborating for Intervention
Collaborating with the Child Study Team
Collaborating with Parents and Families
Tips for Talking with Parents
 
Chapter 2 - Preparing for Differentiated Learning
 
Working with Core Curriculum Standards
Assessing Learning Styles
Multiple Intelligences and Learning Strengths
Planning for Students with Special Needs
 
Chapter 3 - Effective Teaching Strategies for Differentiating Instruction
 
The Effective Inclusive Classroom
Measuring Success
 
Part Two - Science Activities for the Inclusive Middle School Classroom
Chapter 4 - Scientific Inquiry
 
Activity 1: Scientific Method
Activity 2: Famous Scientists
 
Chapter 5 - Physical Science
 
Activity 1: Force
Activity 2: Motion
Activity 3: Properties of Matter
Activity 4: Phases of Matter
Activity 5: Acids and Bases
Activity 6: Using the Periodic Table
Activity 7: Alternative Energy Sources
 
Chapter 6 - Earth and Space Science
 
Activity 1: Types of Rocks
Activity 2: Volcanoes
Activity 3: Minerals
Activity 4: Oceans and Seas
Activity 5: The Solar System
Activity 6: Stars and Galaxies
Activity 7: The Water Cycle
 
Chapter 7 - Life Science
 
Activity 1: Classification of Organisms
Activity 2: The Structure and Function of Cells
Activity 3: Cell Division—Mitosis
Activity 4: Cell Division—Meiosis
Activity 5: Heredity and Genetics
Activity 6: Plants
 
Chapter 8 - The Human Body
 
Activity 1: The Skeletal System, Joints, and Muscles
Activity 2: The Cardiovascular System
Activity 3: The Central Nervous System
Activity 4: The Digestive System
Activity 5: Blood
Activity 6: The Ear
Activity 7: The Eye
 
Answer Key
National Curriculum Standards
Glossary
Bibliography
Index

Jossey-Bass Teacher
Jossey-Bass Teacher provides educators with practical knowledge and tools to create a positive and lifelong impact on student learning. We offer classroom-tested and research-based teaching resources for a variety of grade levels and subject areas. Whether you are an aspiring, new, or veteran teacher, we want to help you make every teaching day your best. From ready-to-use classroom activities to the latest teaching framework, our value-packed books provide insightful, practical, and comprehensive materials on the topics that matter most to K-12 teachers. We hope to become your trusted source for the best ideas from the most experienced and respected experts in the field.

001

About This Book
The goal of this book is to help middle school science teachers effectively teach the wide range of students found in their classrooms. Science is a balance between the vast amount of content knowledge and the process of scientific investigation. Middle school science is an important foundation for students because there is an emphasis on different disciplines at each grade level. Teachers strive to provide students with the core concepts, principles, and theories of science. Students can then build upon and investigate these in more depth in high school. Teachers must deliver instruction in a variety of ways to ensure that there is a balance between procedures and creative problem solving. It can be tricky to accomplish this with a class filled with students of varying learning styles and skill levels. This book is the practical, easy-to-use answer to this problem. It approaches science concepts the way you do, as a middle school teacher, and helps you find an effective way to present the material to the whole class. Then it shows how to guide practice while also modifying the material to provide access to the same content standard for all your students. Just as important, it helps you find ways to involve students’ families and tie the science concepts into their everyday lives. Relevance is a powerful motivator. Through such methods as incorporating technology, science becomes relevant to the needs of the middle school student in the twenty-first century. The conversational style and thoroughness of this book make it easy to start using it right away.
Here’s what you will find in this book. In Part One, Chapter One focuses on successful collaboration with the school team and with parents and families. There are several checklists to help streamline the process. Chapter Two focuses on assessing students’ learning styles to differentiate instruction. There are several different ways to assess your students so that you can choose the learning styles that best fit you and your classroom. Finally, Chapter Three focuses on tips for successful instruction in the inclusive classroom, including alternative assessment techniques.
The activities in Part Two conform to national content standards, and they are specially designed to help you differentiate instruction for your inclusive classroom. The activities appeal to a wide range of learning styles and abilities, all within individual lessons. A list of supplies is given at the beginning of each activity. Then each activity walks you through a lesson for presenting a traditional lesson to the whole class. You have several options when it comes to making the notes accessible to all students: you can make transparencies to use on the overhead, scan them into your computer to project using an LCD or interactive whiteboard, or make copies for individual students.
Each lesson is followed by a worksheet designed to review and reinforce the concepts presented in the lesson. Students may complete the worksheet “as is,” or you may use it as a pretest to define various levels of student understanding. There is also an exciting, hands-on component included with each activity, the Whole Class Lab. These labs provide students with an opportunity to really see the scientific concepts in action. Because these are labs, they require more time and materials, so it is up to you whether or not to use any given one. The lessons can stand alone without the labs.
Understanding safe science practices is a key piece in understanding science itself, and safety must be taught. A science laboratory can and should be a safe place to perform experiments. Students can prevent accidents if they think about what they are doing at all times, use good judgment, observe safety rules, and follow directions. Here are some general laboratory safety procedures:
• Wear eye protection when working on experiments.
• Do not eat or drink while in the laboratory.
• Do not taste any chemical.
• Long hair must be tied back so it will not fall into chemicals or flames.
• Follow directions and wait for permission to begin.
• Wipe all counter surfaces and hands with soap and water.
• Never point the open end of a test tube at yourself or another person.
• If you want to smell a substance, do not hold it directly to your nose. Instead, hold the container a few centimeters away and use your hand to fan vapors toward you.
• Flush the sink with large quantities of water when disposing of liquid chemicals or solutions.
The Science Safety Handbook for California Public Schools was created to help science teachers understand and avoid situations in which accidents might occur in the science laboratories or on field trips and outdoor education experiences. It can be accessed through the California Department of Education at www.cde.ca.gov/pd/ca/sc/documents/scisafebk.pdf.
Each activity includes a section, “How to Adapt This Lesson for the Inclusive Classroom,” that offers a variety of teaching strategies, methods, and tools to use after you have separated the class into appropriate stations to differentiate instruction. These stations include a multitude of modalities offered to remediate, reinforce, or enrich the concepts presented.
Another section, titled “Home/School Connection,” can be used to invite parents to be a part of the learning process. Activities here are family based, and include life skills and practical learning.
At the end of each activity, we’ve given some suggestions for assessment of the skills presented. These activities can be used as an integral component of the science curriculum or as a supplement to the chosen textbook. The format can be adapted to the individual middle school teacher’s curriculum needs.

About the Authors
Joan D’Amico, M.A., is a learning disabilities teacher/consultant in the Garfield School District in New Jersey and has a private practice as a learning disabilities specialist. While teaching middle school for seven years in Wayne, New Jersey, she won the New Jersey Governor’s Teaching for Excellence Award. In addition, she has taught workshops in elementary and middle schools, as well as conducted seminars in the business sector for teachers and students teaching academic concepts using multisensory activities. She has appeared on CNN, TNN, and the Food Network. D’Amico is a member of the New Jersey Association of Learning Consultants and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT).
She is also a coauthor of a series of seven books published by John Wiley & Sons that focuses on teaching academic subjects using food and cooking, creative experiments, and multisensory activities. Among them are The Science Chef, The Math Chef, The Healthy Body Cookbook, and The Coming to America Cookbook. With Kate Gallaway, she has coauthored Differentiated Instruction for the Middle School Math Teacher, and Differentiated Instruction for the Middle School Language Arts Teacher. She is currently pursuing a doctorate in teacher leadership.
 
Kate Gallaway, M.A., is an instructor at Chapman University in Monterey, California, teaching science and math methods to beginning teachers and graduate students. She frequently makes public appearances across the country at conferences and to different parent groups. She also has a private practice in Carmel, California, specializing in math and study skills, and she has worked with children of all ages. She is an educational therapist with a B.A. in psychology from UCLA and a master’s in mild to moderate learning disabilities from San Francisco State University, where she also earned her educational therapist certification. She is a credentialed teacher and the coauthor of the book Managing the Mathematics Classroom. With Joan D’Amico, she has coauthored Differentiated Instruction for the Middle School Math Teacher, and Differentiated Instruction for the Middle School Language Arts Teacher.

This book is dedicated to our children,
Christi, Alexa, and Kyle D’Amico and Grant and Pierce Gallaway,
for making it “all worthwhile.”

Acknowledgments
We wish to thank the following individuals:
• Our parents, Joseph Lange and Mary and Richard Lind, for being a lifelong source of inspiration and motivation.
• Husband Ralph D’Amico, for his intellect, eternal fountain of knowledge, ideas, and support.
• Husband Wally Gallaway, for his confidence in me and unwavering support.
• Our editor, Kate Bradford, for believing in this project from the beginning.
• Friend Anthony Rufo, for his constant encouragement and willingness to help out at all times and without question.
• Ms. Dorothy Sherwood, for her wisdom, science expertise, and manuscript review.
• Ms. Fran D’Amico, for her science knowledge and support.
• The wonderful colleagues and friends at Garfield Middle School and the Garfield Child Study Team (Garfield, New Jersey), and Schuyler-Colfax Middle School (Wayne, New Jersey), who generously gave input and ideas when needed.
• To the students and their families who served as inspiration through their hard work and commitment to learning. You have greatly touched our lives.

Foreword
Teaching middle school children presents myriad challenges for every teacher. The children are experiencing rapid changes in their physical appearance, hormone-driven emotional responses to daily occurrences, and ever-changing relationships with their peers. Additionally, children mature at different rates, read at different grade levels, possibly possess disabilities, and have unique personalities. When you add to this list the push to excel in academics, sports, and the arts, it is readily apparent that the middle school child truly requires the very best teaching strategies specifically designed for this age group!
My own career in education has spanned three decades in New Jersey, in the roles of Verona Public Schools science teacher, Mountain Lakes district supervisor of curriculum and instruction for science and mathematics, and Wayne middle school principal. Throughout these years, I have always been an advocate of hands-on science activities that require the students to develop their higher-order thinking skills. Students need time to think about scientific concepts in inquiry-based laboratory experiments and time to share their ideas with a partner or in groups. The goal is to move the student’s thinking from a knowledge base of information to the application level, and beyond to the “What if . . . ?” questions and synthesis level of Bloom’s Taxonomy of the Cognitive Domain. Middle school students are definitely able to attain this goal when provided with such learning activities as those in Differentiated Instruction for the Middle School Science Teacher: Activities and Strategies for an Inclusive Classroom.
Within every middle school classroom are students with a wide array of developmental levels, disabilities, reading levels, and interests. As a science teacher, I always found it a daunting task to meet the needs of every child and provide the tools for each of them to attain his or her personal best. Having a resource book of suggested teaching activities that effectively address these varied needs would have helped a great deal, and it has now been written by Joan D’Amico and Kate Gallaway. Differentiated Instruction for the Middle School Science Teacher is a step-by-step resource book of lesson plans designed to fit into a typical forty-minute class period. The plans include suggested questions that “set the stage for learning” the specific topic of the day, detailed directions for setting up the planned activity, worksheets for the students, small-group activities, and specific ideas for the evaluation of the student’s knowledge and understanding. This book includes creative homework assignments that both reinforce the subject matter and extend the student’s comprehension. These “Home/School Connection” ideas truly serve as bridges between the science lesson and activity in the classroom and creating a positive working relationship with the student’s family.
The lesson plans in this valuable resource book span all the areas of middle school science: life science, physical science, and earth science. In each lesson, the authors include extended enrichment activities for the gifted students, and specific strategies for helping the learning disabled students, delayed readers, those with fine motor or perceptual difficulties, and those with cognitive impairments.
Differentiated Instruction for the Middle School Science Teacher is a resource that every middle school science teacher will appreciate. It is “user-friendly” for the teacher, because it meets the varied and challenging educational needs of our twenty-first-century students. This book should be part of every science teacher’s “toolbox of lesson plans”!
 
December 2009
 
Dorothy Lozauskas Sherwood
Principal
Schuyler-Colfax Middle School
Wayne, New Jersey

Part One
Being Successful in the Inclusive Classroom

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Chapter 1
Collaborating Effectively
Success in the inclusive classroom is due in large part to collaboration with others in the school. Teaching an inclusive classroom is difficult to do alone, and there are systems in place so that you don’t have to. In this chapter, we look at some general ways of making collaboration work for you.

Collaborating for Intervention

All teachers are eager to communicate information to all of their students. If a student is struggling with classroom performance or cannot understand the material presented in class, then you need to assist and monitor this student to try to help him or her. This chapter focuses on what to do when this approach fails: how to help students when the work continues to be difficult, even after extra assistance has taken place, and there has to be an intervention.
Often a teacher will ask, “What do I do with a student who is having difficulties learning in my class? How can I get him or her help? Do I need to request an evaluation to see if special education is necessary?”
Teachers often bring this topic of discussion to a member of the Child Study Team for advice. A Child Study Team is a group of specialists who are trained to determine if a child has a learning disability. The team is primarily made up of a psychologist, a learning specialist, and a social worker. The first question that the Child Study Team should pose is, “What prereferral intervention strategies have been implemented, and what was the student outcome?”
Prereferral intervention strategies are generally determined by a committee of general education teachers before any specialists are included in the plan. The committee’s job is to try to assist students who are failing subjects within the confines of the general education setting. The student’s main subject teachers, along with the guidance counselor, meet to discuss what can be changed in the classroom setting to enhance student progress. Typical prereferral intervention strategies at the middle school level can include these:
• Changing the student’s seat
• Calling parents for a conference
• Talking with the student
• Assigning the student to a “study buddy”
• Changing the student’s teacher
• Placing the student on a weekly behavioral progress sheet, signed by parents and teachers
• Placing the student on a weekly homework modification sheet, signed by parents and teachers
• Suggesting after-school assistance or tutoring
• Deciding if the student should attend basic skills classes
• Retention
The teachers then agree to implement specific modifications, deciding on a meeting date to monitor the child’s progress and determine if the outcome was positive. If progress is not being made, a referral to the Child Study Team may be warranted.
A checklist can be a helpful aid in determining a clear plan of action. This information can be stored in the student’s permanent record folder (see next page).

Collaborating with the Child Study Team

Establishing positive relationships with all members of the school is important. In an inclusive classroom, open lines of communication between the general and special education teachers, as well as with support personnel, are essential for a thorough understanding of all students’ learning needs. Discussions with past and present teachers, as well as a complete record review, can give the middle school teacher insight into planning for students in the inclusive classroom. The Child Study Team can be an excellent resource for further information on a particular student’s special needs. The members of the team can also offer assistance in implementing modifications and learning strategies set forth by an Individual Education Program (IEP). An IEP is a document that explains a plan of action and program tailored to a student’s specific learning and behavioral needs. This is a legal document. It’s contents must be agreed on by the child’s parents or guardians and implemented in school by the teachers.
Checklist for Prereferral Interventions
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Members of the Child Study Team

The core specialists on the Child Study Team are a psychologist, an education therapist, and a social worker. (A speech and language specialist is also part of the core team, but only for preschool students.) These individuals are trained in the diagnosis and remediation of learning disabilities. The team may also include additional professionals who can offer classroom strategies and home suggestions, such as special and general education teachers, school nurses and other staff, speech and motor therapists, paraprofessionals, and the child’s parents.

School Psychologist

In many states, the school psychologist is the main support person responsible for assessing the learning levels of students who are referred to the Child Study Team. He or she can do this through standardized and nonstandardized assessments that measure learning strengths and weaknesses. The most popular tool used by the school psychologist is an individual Intelligence Quotient (IQ) test. The IQ test, an accepted measure of intellectual functioning nationwide, offers one way to assess students’ verbal and nonverbal abilities. The assessment is administered individually and is completed in approximately one two-hour session.
The school psychologist may also assess the student’s academic levels in mathematics, reading, written language, and oral language, as well as learning styles and strengths and weaknesses, through specific diagnostic standardized testing instruments, functional assessments, report card grades, teacher interviews, classroom observations, and past standardized test performance.
Finally, the school psychologist assesses any emotional and behavioral concerns that may impede the learning process. This evaluation can be accomplished through interviews with the student, teachers, and parents, as well as using scales and instruments designed to measure these adaptive functions.

The Learning Disabilities Teacher/Consultant or Educational Therapist (LDT/C or Educational Diagnostician)

Not all states have an LDT/C or educational therapist as part of their school teams. The main roles of this person as a team member are to complete psychoeducational testing to determine the student’s academic strengths and weaknesses and develop remedial modifications to aid in therapeutically teaching the student with disabilities. The LDT/C can also do what a psychologist does as part of the Child Study Team. He or she measures specific levels in mathematics, reading, and written and oral language, and then develops skills and strategies to be used in the classroom for remediation.

School Social Worker

The school social worker is responsible for obtaining student and family background information and determining if the child’s home life now or in the past is having an impact on his or her educational performance. Family, birth, and developmental history are obtained through an interview with the parents. School social workers also can help students during times of impending or actual individual or school crisis.

Speech and Language Therapists

The job of the speech and language therapist on the Child Study Team is to determine if a student’s articulation and language abilities are standing in the way of the child’s learning success in school. Through standardized and functional assessment tools, these therapists can determine if the child has weaknesses in phonology, syntax, articulation, or written language. If they diagnose a communication disorder, the Child Study Team can prescribe individual, group, or collaborative therapy.

Special Education Teachers

Special education teachers are trained to teach skills and strategies for remediation purposes and are in part responsible for implementing the educational modifications designated in IEPs. They are knowledgeable in working with students with learning disabilities and can be essential as support teachers, along with paraprofessionals, in the inclusive classroom.

General Education Teachers

General education teachers in the middle school environment are teachers who specialize in one area of the curriculum, such as English, history, math, reading, or science. They collaborate with special education teachers and paraprofessionals to communicate their subject matter effectively to all students in an inclusive classroom. This is accomplished by cooperative planning and development of pretests, worksheets, learning strategies, study guides, modifications, and reviews.

School Nurse

The school nurse is required to complete vision and hearing screenings and check attendance, as well as offer specific nursing services to special and general education students. These services can include administering medications, changing catheters, checking hearing devices, storing wheelchairs, and monitoring blood pressure and sugar levels.

Guidance Counselors

Guidance counselors work as liaisons with the teachers, students, parents, administration, and school team. They arrange prereferral meetings with the teachers to identify and determine intervention strategies for students who are struggling in the general education environment. They also make sure that prereferral interventions are executed and outcomes are monitored. Guidance counselors are responsible for administering standardized tests, recording grades, and monitoring all students. In a middle school environment, it is not unusual to have a guidance counselor assigned to each grade level.

School Administration

Principals, vice principals, and deans of students are part of the school administration. An ongoing relationship between classroom teachers and the school administration is essential when identifying students with learning disabilities or emotional and behavioral difficulties, because these professionals are often the first people to address consequences stemming from the manifestations of student problems in the classroom. The principals and student deans are usually responsible for assigning detentions, suspensions, and expulsions from school.

Physical Therapists

Physical therapists evaluate and provide therapies to strengthen gross motor skills. They provide these services in an individual, small-group, or natural setting according to their own and the Child Study Team’s recommendations. Recently there has been an increase in administering therapies in a natural setting, such as the school hallway. For a student who needs strength walking in a natural setting, the therapist walks with the student during passing time. A natural setting does not change or contrive the environment for therapy.

Occupational Therapists

Occupational therapists evaluate and provide therapies to strengthen fine motor and organizational skills. In a younger child, individual therapy often seeks to strengthen hand and finger muscles, correct pencil grip, and help the child gain motor control while writing. For older students, occupational therapists are brought in to help enhance students’ written expression and organizational skills. These services are provided in an individual, small-group, or natural setting.

Paraprofessionals

Paraprofessionals, part of the school team in an inclusive classroom, assist the teacher in implementing both group and individual lesson plans. They collaborate with the teacher on strategies and ideas, mark papers, teach small-group lessons, reinforce and review information presented in class, and arrange materials for small-station instruction. They also perform many routine classroom duties, such as collecting and organizing class assignments, homework, and projects.

Personal Aides

Personal aides can be part of a special education student’s IEP. The personal aide’s role is to assist assigned students with specific personal needs related to the school environment, such as those who may need additional assistance navigating a building with a wheelchair or with a walker, or using an elevator. The checklist on the next page will help teachers determine with whom to confer first.

Referral Interventions

Sometimes teachers can have great success with minimal modifications within the general education classroom setting. At other times, the learning or behavioral difficulties are too severe, and students continue to do poorly in spite of prereferral intervention strategies. If this is determined, a follow-up meeting may be scheduled to discuss the possibilities of a referral to the Child Study Team. If possible Child Study Team services have been decided on at this meeting, a referral form is then filled out by one or more teachers to be addressed by the Intervention and Referral Services Committee (I&RS).
The IRS includes at least one general and one special education teacher, the guidance counselor, and one member of the Child Study Team. The referring teacher brings information on current classroom performance, grades, and results of the prereferral intervention strategies that were implemented for the child in question. The committee, with the help of the Child Study Team representative, decides if a team evaluation is warranted at this time.
Prereferral Collaboration with School Personnel Checklist
004

The Case Manager

If the I&RS decides that a Child Study Team evaluation might be warranted, a person on the team who is designated to be the case manager contacts the parents. Throughout the evaluation process, the case manager has these responsibilities:
• Facilitating communication between the parents and the school staff
• Communicating with the guidance counselor and teachers
• Understanding the student’s learning strengths and weaknesses in the classroom
• Becoming knowledgeable of the student’s abilities, home circumstances, and ongoing progress in school throughout the evaluation
• Understanding and implementing time lines for prompt completion of evaluations and for program eligibility as mandated by state and federal law
At this point, the case manager sends a formal written letter to the student’s parents stating that a meeting has been scheduled to discuss their child’s progress and a possible Child Study Team evaluation.

The Planning Meeting

During the planning meeting, the core team of specialists must be present, along with the referring teacher and parent. If the child shows apparent weaknesses in speech and language or is receiving English as a Second Language (ESL) services, the speech and language therapist may also be invited. (Speech and language specialists must be present for younger students; this is optional at the middle school level.) At this meeting, the parent and referring teacher voice their concerns, and an evaluation plan is determined based on the scope of the problem.
At least two evaluations, to be completed by core team members, must be recommended to set the process in motion. The specialists may recommend some of these evaluations:
Educational evaluation. Administered by the educational therapist, LDT/C, or psychologist, this evaluation assesses the student’s learning strengths and weaknesses, assesses the student’s academic level, and identifies his or her learning styles.
Psychological evaluation. Administered by the school psychologist, this evaluation primarily assesses basic aptitude and abilities as related to school performance. Adaptive behavior can be evaluated using a variety of scales to determine the child’s emotional and behavioral states.
Developmental history. This is completed by the school social worker in an interview with the parent to determine the child’s birth and developmental history, as well as address pertinent family concerns.
Speech and language evaluation. Administered by the speech and language therapist, this evaluation assesses the child’s articulation and oral and written language.
These evaluations are generally completed by a core member of the Child Study Team. At the planning meeting, the members may determine that other evaluations are warranted—for example:
Physical therapy evaluation. This is completed by a physical therapist, usually hired by the school system to assess the child’s gross motor skills.
Occupational therapy evaluation. Completed by an occupational therapist, usually hired by the school system, this evaluation assesses hand strength, fine motor abilities, self-help skills, written expression, and organizational skills.
Psychiatric evaluation. Usually completed by an outside psychiatrist, this evaluation is recommended for students with severe behavioral or emotional concerns.
Vision and hearing screening. The initial screening is completed by the school nurse. If a problem is detected, the nurse then refers the student to an ophthalmologist or audiologist.
Neurological evaluation. An evaluation of the neurological system is usually completed by an outside neurologist. Students with severe attention or focusing concerns may be referred by the team to a neurologist to determine the root cause of this difficulty.
Audiological evaluation. This is an outside evaluation, usually recommended for students with symptoms of severe language processing disorders.
Technology evaluation. This evaluation, completed by an outside specialist, determines if any technological equipment, such as an augmentative device for speaking or an FM system for hearing, may be necessary to aid in an appropriate education for the student.

The Evaluation Process

Once the evaluation has begun, the team collaborates and collects and interprets results from the evaluations. The case manager is the facilitator in coordinating all information necessary to determine the child’s eligibility for a special education program. Guidelines and time lines for the evaluation process are mandated by state laws.
When all the reports are collected, the team decides whether the student is eligible for special services and if a learning disability exists. An eligibility meeting is held with the parents to determine classification. Once the parent signs the eligibility document, an IEP is designed to address the student’s learning strengths and weaknesses through placement, skills, strategies, subject levels, and classroom modifications. The program is measured yearly through the development of goals and objectives. The case manager monitors the program.
All students with disabilities are entitled to a free and appropriate education according to the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA), a federal law passed in 1975. A free and appropriate education must take place in the least restrictive environment (LRE) and be designed to address each student’s unique and special needs. These provisions for special education and related services including parental and student rights, are valid from ages three to twenty-one. This evaluation process is illustrated in Figure 1.1, and page 12 provides teachers with a step-by-step checklist to guide them in the referral process.
Figure 1.1
005
Checklist for Referring a Student to the School Team
006

Collaborating with Parents and Families

Part of a teacher’s professional success relies on building a strong, open communication line between the home and school. A positive connection between home and school increases the overall success of a child’s learning.
It is imperative to empower all parents by helping them realize that they are an integral part of their child’s education. Parents can offer important insights into their child’s study habits, behaviors, past homework history, health, sleep patterns, and general personality characteristics. These factors, which may not be readily apparent in the classroom environment, can have an impact on achievement for both general education and special needs students.
Research on student success in school found that participation in educational activities at home had a positive influence on school success. Results suggest that enhancing parental involvement in a child’s schooling relates to overall improved school performance. One reason may be that parents of higher-achieving students set higher standards for their children’s educational activities than do parents of low-achieving students.

Encouraging Parental Involvement