Moving Toward Inclusion

Dr. Poonan Dev uniquely understands why today's teachers need to use more inclusive teaching techniques in diverse classrooms.

In her native India, year-end exams are an inflexible, national priority. Indian math teachers tend to focus on information covered in the tests, stressing fact memorization and number tables rather than addressing individual needs.

Few Indian schools screen for learning disabilities, and teachers haven't been equipped to accommodate widely different ability levels. Students who have trouble with mathematics are extremely disadvantaged in a country so focused on math and science.

Many years ago, working at her sister's high school in India, Dr. Dev began to wonder why some students learned using one method and some another. She wondered how to improve service for at-risk students. This experience inspired her to choose a career in teacher education.

She first discovered TouchMath in graduate school. Dr. Dev, along with research partner Beverly Doyle, conducted a study of at-risk kindergarten children who scored below average in basic mathematics during the 1993-94 school year. The children received TouchMath instruction for 25 to 55 minutes every day throughout first grade. After retesting the following year, the at-risk students no longer needed special help.

"TouchMath is such a useful teaching tool. Because it has been developed by teachers, it has a lot of credibility. Providing kids with hands-on learning opportunities is always helpful."

Dr. Dev is pleased to see the positive changes in India's current educational approach. Teachers in India today are realizing that hands-on teaching can be more effective. They are looking for ways to help the students who need extra attention.

"It's a huge help to have multisensory tools like TouchMath," says Dr. Dev with a smile.

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