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NJ TSA Inclusion Toolkit

NJ TSA Inclusion Toolkit


List of Resources and Webinars


Council for Exceptional Children (CEC)

CEC Policy on Inclusive Schools and Community

CEC Inclusion Resources

CEC YouTube Channel

The Future of Learning Disabilities: A Virtual Town Hall Meeting –

HLP #13: Make Adaptations (how to adapt curriculum tasks and materials for specific learning goals) –

CEC Quick Takes: Co-Teaching with Remote Learning –

CEC Online Learning Portal (webinars)


USDOE Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP)

OSEP Homepage

Questions and Answers on the National Instructional Materials Accessibility Standard (NIMAS)

Increasing Postsecondary Opportunities and Success for Students and Youth with Disabilities

Webinar Resources

MSIP’s Differentiated Monitoring Rollout –

Significant Disproportionality: Why this Topic is Important to All of Us –

2019: July OSEP Model Demonstration Project Joint Cohort Meeting – Sustainability –

IDEAs that Work Virtual Symposia Series (webinars)


New Jersey Coalition for Inclusive Education (NJCIE)

NJCIE Homepage

NJCIE YouTube Channel

Welcome to The Inclusion Think Tank Podcast –

NJIETA Intro Webinar –

NJCIE Webinars Archive


Universal Design for Learning (UDL)

UDL Guidelines


General Strategies (from NJ TSA webinars)


Strategy 1 – Simplify project steps

During engineering activities, break down complex problems for students with processing and comprehension issues. Engineering projects by their nature may have many facets that may be difficult for some students to understand. In this case the teacher may need to simplify steps of the design process, and/or simplify the criteria and constraints for a project. Also keep in mind that steps to actually create a project may need to be broken down into manageable steps for students.


Strategy 2 – Adapt written project resources

Using photos and pictures in addition to words can help all students, not only those with special needs, understand new concepts or terms. Whenever possible, try to reduce long or lengthy reading tasks for students that may have difficulty with comprehension and attention.


Strategy 3 – Adapt project materials

Some students may also greatly benefit from adapting the materials for constructing a project. For example, if there are certain materials that need to be put together a certain way, color-coding the materials may be helpful. For example, If toothpicks are used for something like a bridge engineering project, using colored toothpicks may help students be able to understand how they should be placed and glued into their structure.


Strategy 4 – Focus on social skills

Many times students with emotional or other social issues need a lot of structure when it comes to team projects. Stress the importance of teamwork and good communication by being very specific with group roles and very specific with who will need to communicate with whom, how, and when.


Strategy 5 – Simplify mathematics concepts

Engineering projects tend to have components in which the students will need to do or apply mathematics. Even with simple mathematics tasks such as measurements in drawings or project construction, it may also be necessary to simplify things. For example, the expectation might be for students to be able to measure and cut materials to an accuracy of ¼” or ½” rather than 1/16”.


Strategy 6 – Focus on “OK to fail” concept

One of the tenets of engineering is for students to learn that it is OK to fail, that all projects may not look the same, and/or that we can learn from failure or mistakes. For certain students, this may be a very difficult concept for them to understand and accept. Teachers should be aware that some students may have much more difficulty understanding this concept and provide extra supports to help students learn that it’s “OK to fail” or make mistakes and that it’s a part of how we learn.


Strategy 7 – Empower teacher assistants

Teachers that are working with aides or assistants should empower their assistants to help students with all of the strategies outlined in this section. If written plans are in place regarding these strategies, share them with all that may benefit.


Examples of Specific Strategies Applied to TSA Events


Middle School


Off the Grid

Key UDL Strategy:

UDL Checkpoint 8.3 – Foster collaboration and community

  • Create cooperative learning groups with clear goals, roles, and responsibilities.
  • Create expectations for group work (e.g., rubrics, norms, etc.).

Partial Event Background:

In this TSA event, student participants are to select a country and design a sustainable home based on that country’s climate conditions, raw materials available, construction methods, and

infrastructure. For the final event entry, students will include a description of the country’s environment, climate, natural resources, and economy.

Advisor Implementation:

Completing thorough and comprehensive research in multiple areas is key to this project and the complexity of the background information to be researched can be overwhelming to an individual student.

In creating and selecting teams to enter this event, establish clear group work norms, roles, and responsibilities for the research stage of the project and then reset them for the project construction phase. A group discussion may guide the selection of a specific country of interest. Then, each individual student can be assigned one background aspect to research: environment, climate, natural resources, raw materials available, construction methods, infrastructure, and economy. After each student has completed his or her research, they should report back to the group with a five minute presentation.



Medical Technology

Key UDL Strategy:

UDL Checkpoint 8.1 – Heighten salience of goals and objectives

Prompt or require learners to explicitly formulate or restate goal

Display the goal in multiple ways

Partial Event Background:

As part of this TSA event, participants must understand the fundamental concepts and principles of the contemporary medical technology issue they select. Research should focus on significant impacts (opportunities and risks) on the environment, economy, and society, as well as any important ethical considerations. Then, students must create a model or prototype of the medical technology solution chosen.

Advisor Implementation:

The advisor should stress the importance of maintaining focus on the goals of the project early on, since medical technologies and problems can be complex. Encourage the team to formulate the goal for what their prototype will do, then create a display of a “goal poster” to be placed somewhere in the classroom as a reminder throughout the project. The poster should contain the written goal, simply stated as well as one key image that is connected to the goal. As the students conduct research and create a model/prototype, refer back to the visual frequently.


High School


Flight Endurance

Key UDL Strategy:

UDL Checkpoint 2.1 – Clarify vocabulary and symbols

Pre-teach vocabulary and symbols, especially in ways that promote connection to the learners’ experience and prior knowledge.

Strategies from NJTSA Webinars:

Adapt or simplify choice of project materials

Partial Event Background:

As parts of the documentation required for this project, students must identify and describe technical attributes of the design, complete an analysis of the modifications they made to their design, and conduct a technical review of the flight log.

In constructing flight endurance models, the models are to be made of any materials that are typically found in model construction including, but not limited to wood, foam, foam board, and plastics. A fixed-pitch propeller must be used. There are also limits regarding the size of the model.

Advisor Implementation:

Advisors could pre-teach a lesson on what is meant by “technical attributes, modifications, and technical review” as key areas of focus of the student’s experience.

Provide pre-made rulers (e.g. made of card stock or poster board) of the specific lengths noted in the document (e.g. 315mm, 45cm) so that students can easily check and construct their models against them. This will also give the students an idea of the size and scale of the model early in the project’s development.

Consider providing a starting propeller that can be used for success in an early prototype, then encourage students to find their own propeller that would be optimal for their design. Also consider encouraging the students to use one or two specific materials for their first prototypes, then have them consider use of alternatives. These approaches will hopefully help students feel some success early in the project, then set students up for continuous, iterative improvement of flight endurance models.



Architectural Design

Key UDL Strategy:

UDL Checkpoint 8.3 – Foster collaboration and community

  • Create cooperative learning groups with clear goals, roles, and responsibilities.
  • Construct communities of learners engaged in common interests or activities.

Strategies from NJTSA Webinars:

Simplify project steps

Partial Event Background:

Students and teams that participate in the Architectural Design event undertake a long term, complex project. Parts of the event include a presentation and interview and the project submissions include a long list of complex components including several drawings, 3D renderings, and physical models.

Advisor Implementation:

Advisors could provide an example of a prior team’s documentation portfolio, and rather than simply give it to the team, illustrate how the portfolio reflects the process of architectural design. Also, provide concrete examples of construction system design drawings including wiring, plumbing, HVAC, and site requirements.

When the students are in early stages of project work, assign students specific responsibilities for aspects of the design drawings. Specifically, define who will work on site plan, floor plans, etc. and ensure division of tasks is fair and equitable. Do the same when it comes to the 3D rendering and physical model.

For the live presentation and interview, appoint a “lead speaker” and “supporter” for Q&A from judges.