National Inclusive Schools Week

Celebrate the 10th Annual Inclusive Schools Week December 6-10, 2010

“Awareness to Action: 10 Years of Celebrating Inclusive Schools”

Inclusive Schools Week highlights the accomplishments of families, schools, and communities who promote inclusive education for all children across the world. The Week celebrates the progress that schools have made in implementing inclusive practices to ensure a quality education for an increasingly diverse student population, including students with disabilities, those from culturally, linguistically diverse backgrounds and those who are economically disadvantaged. The Week is also a wonderful opportunity for educators, students, and parents to discuss what else needs to be done in order to ensure that their schools continue to improve their ability to successfully educate all children. Go to to learn more about how your school and community can celebrate this exciting event and to take action throughout the year!

As a former Special Education Teacher who worked as an inclusion teacher, and as a current principal of a school that has had an extensive inclusion program for nearly 20 years, I couldn't let this week pass and not mention it on the blog.  Though we should be living lives that are welcoming to all children and adults despite their individual needs, it is important to constantly raise awareness of the issues and concerns related to individuals with disabilities. 

In anticipation of National Inclusive Schools Week, I began reading Sharon M. Draper's OUT OF MY MIND with my fourth graders about a month ago.  This is a class that has several students fully included full-time.  The students have been familiar with making adjustments for children with autism who might have some quirky behaviors or for a student with Down Syndrome, who requires more support to keep up.  However, they have had limited contact with children with severe physical disabilities.  When I come across this book back in July, I knew it had to be a read aloud.

Sure enough, this has been a very powerful book and the students have been asking some really tough questions as they seek to understand Melody and her disability.  As a result, we are progressing slowly through the story. 

By the way, if there are any awards committees out there listening - there are several staff and 34 children who would vote "two-thumbs up" for this book.  If you are interested, I reviewed Out of My Mind over on Young Adult Literature Review back in July (click here for my review).

Over the course of this week, my teachers and students will be engaging in disability awareness discussions, reading stories which positively feature characters with disabilities, and engaging in activities to better understand what life might be like for a child with a disability.  I do have to say that I am very proud of my students.  Since the school has had such a prominent focus on inclusion, most of our students just see this as a regular part of life.  Yet, it is still good to have these discussions.

On the blog this week, I will be reviewing a variety of books which feature characters with disabilities.  Remember to check daily because I will be giving readers a chance to win one of the books I feature this week.

In the comment section, please share what is your favorite book that features a character with a disability?