When There Are Additional Needs

As I may have mentioned in blog posts before, I usually struggle with Staff Meetings. I find it hard to sit and listen well at the end of the day (and think as I’m doing so). I appreciate the efforts of admin to make Staff Meetings exciting, but I really have to work at staying focused.

Today was different though. Our Staff Meeting after school involved some hands-on activities, and I love getting involved. As a staff, we looked at student voice, student choice, and inquiry learning: what do we already know? What questions do we still have? Where do we go from here?

I’m focusing on inquiry learning this year as part of my Annual Learning Plan, so reflecting on this topic was definitely exciting! There’s one area in particular that I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about lately: how do I get my students with autism more involved in the inquiry process?

  • I know that I can get all students included in a group (even just for the purpose of social interaction), but I don’t just want a student to be in a group. I want the student to contribute to that group.
  • I can use social stories and task analysis to outline the steps in the process. I’ve tried that — providing more scaffolding, examples of questions, and a greater opportunity to look at real objects and more visuals to understand the topic better. This has been beneficial, but I worry that this is not true inquiry. Am I directing too much?
  • I try to sit with the students, and model more in a 1:1 and small group environment. This helps somewhat, but I find myself really guiding the process. Is this the best option for students?

Maybe the true inquiry model is not best for all students. Possibly my modified version is a good way to go for now, and then over time, I can change my approach as student needs change. I just think that there might be more that I can do, and if there are different suggestions, I’m open to trying them.

So how do you use inquiry for your students with special needs? What approaches work best? I’d love to hear your ideas!


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