Inclusion in the classroom

Child playing by himself and solving a puzzle alone.

You have a student who’s being left out.

Maybe it’s a new issue, maybe it’s been going on longer than you thought it ever could. You have a student who’s constantly being left out or bullied in class. You want to increase empathy for one another, especially those students with disabilities, and make sure everyone feels safe when they’re in class.

Building citizenship skills

If you want to increase citizenship in your class, students must learn to be inclusive of one another. This includes accepting differences, appreciating diversity, and going out of the way to be friendly to those who seem left out. If you are interested in building citizenship, this lesson plan is for you.

Reading activities and books

If you are looking for a quick lesson plan with all steps included, look no further! I have outlined the lesson objectives and procedures, materials, guiding questions and activities, and Florida Reading Standards. Additionally, there are modifications available for all three levels of support needed. They are listed towards the bottom of the page. If you use this lesson plan with your students, please let me know how it went. 🙂 Click here to send me a message.

Lesson plan for teaching inclusion in second-grade

Lesson objectives

  1. Students will recall a time they felt excluded from others.
  2. Students will identify examples of inclusivity throughout the reading.
  3. In a small group, students will brainstorm two ways to be more inclusive.
  4. Groups will “act out” two ways to include others in the class.
  5. Students will define inclusion in their own words.

Counselors must verbally reinforce and recognize when students respond to discussion prompts. Examples of validation include, “I could tell you all worked really hard to….” “That is an especially good example because…” “I think this could even be applied to…”.  Students will “act out” inclusion in their small groups – this may include shaking hands and introducing oneself, asking someone if they would like to be friends or other ways of being outwardly friendly and welcoming.

Reading about inclusion

“Waiting on Benjamin” by Alexandra Jessup Altman is a book about Benjamin and his brother Alexander. Benjamin gets called a “wacko” and gets bullied in school. When this happens, Alexander feels embarrassed and avoids his brother. Benjamin and his family learn that he has Autism Spectrum Disorder, and understand his differences more clearly. Throughout the rest of the story, Alexander learns to accommodate, play, and share with his brother. He learns to love Benjamin’s quirks because that’s what makes him unique. (Buy the book here).

Ask questions and explain before reading

Ask students to recall a time when they felt included, or if they are aware of the meaning of inclusion. This will help students to activate prior knowledge. Perhaps students may share a time when they were or were not included with their peers or siblings. Tell students to “listen carefully” for times when Alexander goes out of his way to include Benjamin with his friend group.

Provide guided practice during the story

While reading “Waiting on Benjamin”, be sure to take frequent stops to assess students’ comprehension. Call upon students to paraphrase times in the story where Alexander is being inclusive of Benjamin. 

Complete a think-pair-share activity after reading.

Pair students in small groups (3-4 students). Students will brainstorm two ways to be more inclusive. Each group will share their examples with the class by acting out a way a way of being inclusive.

Second-grade students smiling in a small group during class.

Exit Ticket

  1. What does inclusion mean to you?
  2. What is one way to be more inclusive?
  3. What is one question you still have about inclusion?

Florida Reading Standards (2nd Grade)

ELA.2.R.1.1: Identify plot structure and describe main story elements in a literary text. Students will describe the characters’ traits, feelings, and behaviors.

ELA.2.R.1.3: Identify different characters’ perspectives in a literary text.

ELA.2.R.3.2: Retell a text to enhance comprehension. a. Use main story elements in a logical sequence for a literary text. Students will compare and contrast story elements such as characters, illustrations, and sequence of events. 

Modifications & Accommodations

There are a variety of modalities in which we teach this lesson. We use reading and illustration, classroom discussions, physical movement (acting out), small groups, and writing. Students have several communication and learning opportunities to participate in the lesson.

An alternative way to complete the lesson is for kids to use picture cues to communicate and take plot cues. Kids may prefer to point out illustrations to respond rather than verbally recounting a situation. Additionally, students may use pictures as context clues for any unknown vocabulary.

Level 1: Provide 1-on-1 support. Point out illustrations and repeat key events in the story. Reread any important story events to improve comprehension.

Level 2: Use a worksheet with pictures. Ask students to identify which of the pictures is inclusion or exclusion. Inquire about a time when the student was in a similar situation. 

Level 3: Provide sentence starters, such as, “I feel included when….” “When I’m excluded, I feel…” or other phrases to help get them started.

Inclusion Illustration. Hands raised of every color.

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