Our Dedication

Promoting Respect and Inclusion through Disability Studies Education

Some Notes on the Include Curriculum

This is the second edition of this curriculum. It was originally published in book form as PRIDE, Promoting Respect and Inclusion though Disability Studies Education. The first curriculum was developed by the Vermont Statewide Independent Council and written by Jill Allen Hurt as a separate stand-alone disability studies curriculum. The curriculum was created to “offer a new perspective in disability studies,” an approach that was endorsed by Vermont students with disabilities, family members, teachers and administrators, and individuals from Vermont’s disability advocacy community. Since its publication in 2005, PRIDE lessons have been used by dozens of teachers and several community ambassadors who brought this “homegrown” curriculum into their classrooms and schools.

This version of the curriculum has a new name — Include! — but has the same goals and includes many of the favorite lessons from the earlier version. There are some differences and new additions:

  • No longer a book, the material is now available online on its own website.
  • Unlike PRIDE, the new version is not intended to be used as a separate curriculum. Based on suggestions from teachers and administrators, we recreated the program as a resource for teachers to draw on, to incorporate disability studies into their existing lesson plans and classroom curricula. It is provided as a “grab bag” of lessons, resources and tools that teachers can and should adapt to their particular classroom, school and community.
  • We were not able to develop separate versions of the lessons for elementary, middle and high school classrooms. We have tried to reflect the age range that each lesson was written for. Many can be adapted for other grades.
  • Include! presents disability studies and disability rights as part of the growing interest in and need for lessons that acknowledge and celebrate the social and cultural diversity in our schools. Disability is presented in lessons that also address other aspects of social and cultural diversity, providing opportunities to include disability in discussions that also address other differences.
  • We’ve added activities and resources to address different learning styles and abilities. This work is very much in its beginning stages; we look forward to adding more activities and accommodations for diverse learning styles to this website. We welcome your suggestions, ideas and contributions.
  • We have added many websites and related links to this online version of Include! We know that websites and links sometimes change. Please let us know if a link does not work or you are unable to access one of these sites and we will make the necessary updates.

Organization of the Units

Though Include! is intended more as a resource collection than a sequential curriculum, the units do have an intentional order.

Unit 1, Identity and Belonging, offers lessons and activities for the kind of community building that many teachers do every day. Many of the lessons focus on creating shared communication, team-building and decision-making skills, as well as exploring and making room for all of our human diversity.

Unit 2, Disability Awareness, includes activities that help students explore disability issues and experiences that are part of everyday life at home, at school and in the broader communities we share. From accessibility to knowing our neighbors, disability is there.

Unit 3, Civil Rights and Social Change, provides language arts, civics and history, and math lessons that explore disability as a social justice and civil rights issue, both in the United States and around the world. It reminds us that disability has been part of our shared social history and a growing part of global human rights concerns.

Unit 4, Exploring Disability Experience through Literature, offers resources and activities for exploring disability and diversity through literature and related writing and discussion activities. We have expanded our booklist, collected some ELA worksheets and compiled a collection of reading, writing and discussion activities as examples of how to incorporate disability into the literary life of our schools.

Alignment with the National Common Core Standards: This new version of the curriculum aligns lessons to the Common Core Standards. It was challenging to know how best to start; most of the lessons are written for use at several grade levels, while many standards are assigned to particular grades. At the suggestion of a few advisers, we chose to highlight some of the most relevant standards and related learning competencies for each lesson, focusing less on specific skills for a particular grade level, and more on the underlying foundational and conceptual abilities and skills that are appropriate for several grade levels. We expect to continue to refine our alignment of these lessons with national standards and welcome ideas and suggestions from teachers and administrators.

Thanks and Appreciation: Our work on this edition of the curriculum was greatly influenced by the amazing students, educators and administrators we were fortunate enough to meet and work with during the last five years. Their work adapting PRIDE to their classrooms and bringing their own gifts and experiences of inclusion and disability studies was truly inspiring and helped show us what changes were needed in the curriculum. It was particularly striking to visit schools and see the work being done to create space for community and belonging in particular classrooms and to see the growing awareness of and space created for the growing cultural diversity in Vermont schools.

For example:

  • Champlain Elementary School teacher Matthew Hajdun and his colleagues created a Reading for Inclusion Day, bringing in community members with disabilities to talk about their lives and read a book about disability experience with the different classrooms. It has become an annual event.
  • Maureen Charron-Shea and Steve Rand from Harwood Union High School brought PRIDE activities to their school and created other innovative disability awareness programs. They helped students create the “Speak Out for Understanding” project, with advisers from the Vermont Folklife Center helping students create two documentary videos on what classmates with disabilities have to say about having disabilities and the need for respect and inclusion. High school teacher Steve Rand also had his English students interview younger children with disabilities and create picture books from their stories.
  • Stuart Strothman incorporated PRIDE activities into his own fourth and sixth-grade classrooms at Guilford Center School, and he and his students brought their favorite activities to the school district’s annual Diversity Day.
  • The Edmunds Middle School community — families, friends, students with and without disabilities, school teachers and other staff — created an elevator campaign that led to new and needed accessibility in the school. This campaign helped inspire updates to our Accessibility Scavenger Hunt lesson.
  • At one of the diversity days, a high school student mentioned a Brattleboro-area shop teacher who was inspired by the documentary film, “Among the Giants,” to incorporate designing adaptive cardboard furniture into his construction classes. (We would love to meet or hear from this teacher!)
  • Several University of Vermont undergraduate and graduate students and Vermont teachers used our lessons and selections from our evolving booklist in classrooms in Vermont and other states, telling stories and facilitating conversations about disability that were not often held in the past. Several teachers and student teachers created new materials to use in their own work in the classroom.
  • Hundreds of students read books, drew pictures, wrote and shared stories, interviewed neighbors and family members, wrote poems, performed dance and a play to celebrate disability awareness and inclusion.
  • Alice Leeds and students in her fifth/sixth-grade classroom at Lincoln Center School became interested in disability studies when a student with disabilities joined the class. They went beyond the PRIDE lessons, writing to the author of the book “Out of My Mind” and gaining permission to make her story into a play. In addition to producing the play, they wrote poems, created artwork and compared the history of the black civil rights movement with disability rights advocacy.
  • We met some wonderful people who are bringing diversity education to Vermont schools and local classrooms and who reached out to incorporate disability awareness into their work. Their example helped fuel our search for resources and approaches that also honored and integrated our shared work for social justice.

Our work on Include! was aided by many teachers; but Alice Leeds, Steve Rand, Rebecca Haslam and Lindsey Williams were early advisers, providing helpful guidance and suggestions on several lessons, offering suggestions on use of the Core National Standards, and suggesting the resources that would be most helpful to teachers. Kerrin McCadden allowed us to field test updates to the poetry activities in her class. Their wisdom, generosity and experience are much appreciated.

Finally, this curriculum and the current members and allies of the Vermont SILC pay tribute to the leaders who came before us — individuals and family members who spoke out for change, made it happen and inspired others to get involved. Some of the early advocates and spokespeople for this curriculum are no longer with us. Their vision continues to guide us, as do the vision and commitment of new generations of Vermonters working for social justice and disability rights.

The VT SILC wanted to create a resource that both students and teachers will adopt. We invite students, teachers and community members to bring your skills, ideas, and creativity to this living curriculum. Your stories, experience, expertise and vision can help bring disability studies and social justice work into more schools and communities and keep this curriculum dynamic and alive in every school and community that chooses to use it.

Welcome to Include