Effective Instructional Strategies for the Inclusive Classroom

by Louise Smith, M.S., & Tina Spencer, M.S.

Consideration Packets are information packets prepared by T/TAC William and Mary staff that provide researched-based best practices for serving students with mild to moderate disabilities. The packets described below are considered particularly helpful to educators teaching in inclusive classes, but the suggestions also apply to special education classes.
T/TAC William and Mary Considerations Packets may be found at www.wm.edu/ttac.

Unlocking Reading Comprehension: Writing Is the Key

This T/TAC William and Mary Considerations Packet begins with a brief review of research supporting the inclusion of writing in a program designed to enhance reading comprehension. Directly and explicitly teaching comprehension strategies is essential for special education students who have reading comprehension difficulties. An instructional tool of greater value in this process is the use of mnemonic strategies (Forness, 2001; Mastropieri & Scruggs, 1999). When applied to answering a reading comprehension question in writing, a mnemonic can provide a visual prompt for recalling a formula, which, if acted upon by the student, will produce a well-developed response. An example of such a mnemonic strategy is R.A.R.E., which stands for:

  • Restate the question

  • Answer the question

  • Reasons given

  • Examples from the text

(Adapted from Howard County [MD] Public School System [HCPSS], 1997)

Using the R.A.R.E. strategy, students at both the elementary and secondary levels learn how to respond accurately in writing to specific comprehension questions in all content areas. The Unlocking Reading Comprehension: Writing Is the Key Considerations Packet also describes how to develop questions that teach and assess comprehension in all the purposes for reading.


Forness, S. R. (2001). Special education and related services: What have we learned from
meta-analysis? Exceptionality, 9, 185-197.

Howard County (MD) Public School System. (1997). Language Arts, Science, & Social Studies Curricula. Ellicott City, MD.

Mastropieri, M. A., & Scruggs, T. E. (1999). Teaching students ways to remember:
Strategies for learning mnemonically.
Cambridge, MA: Brookline.

Other Considerations Packets to consider to enhance teaching and learning in inclusive classes include the following titles.

Inferential Reading Comprehension

This packet focuses on strategies teachers may employ to improve students' inferential comprehension skills. (2002)

Differentiating for Success in Inclusive Classrooms

This packet provides examples of management and instructional strategies that respond to learners' needs. It was prepared for general and special education teachers who work with students with mild to moderate disabilities in general education classrooms. (2001)

Graphic Organizers: Guiding Principles and Effective Practices

This packet focuses on how to make the most out of visual displays and representations of information, commonly called graphic organizers. (2003)

Science Strategies

This packet focuses on science strategies teachers can incorporate into their instruction. It is divided into five strands: Organizing and Remembering Information in Science, Reading in Science, Writing and Reflecting in Science, Learning Together in Science, and Investigating in Science. (2003)

Techniques for Active Learners

This packet describes 18 techniques that teachers can easily implement to increase time on task and student engagement for all learners. (2000)

A "Word" About Vocabulary

This packet provides strategies that upper-elementary and secondary school teachers may use to teach vocabulary. The word-learning instructional strategies are grounded in research and applicable to all content areas. (2001)

The Writing Process: A Scaffolding Approach

This packet offers a systematic format for teaching essential writing skills to all students. The scaffolding approach allows for differentiated instruction in diverse classrooms. (2001)

The Write Tools Can Make a Difference! - Technology Supports for Students Who Struggle with the Task of Writing

This information packet offers ideas for the classroom teacher who is looking for effective ways to support students with mild to moderate disabilities having difficulty with one or more aspects of the writing process. (2000)

Date: September/October 2004