This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This publication reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein

Editor: Jo Lebeer, University of Antwerp, Belgium,
INCENA,Study Centre for Inclusion & Enablement
Lay-out & webmaster: Matyas Negulescu,
Marconi Media (www.marconimedia.ro) Cluj-Napoca, Romania

Daffodil Project Newsletter November 2011

Daffodil: Dynamic Assessment of Functioning for Development Towards Inclusive Learning – Inclues: European Network for Inclusive and Cognitive Education

Editorial
Daffodil-project officially ends – beginning of a new era

-Jo Lebeer , coordinator Daffodil (BE)

The Daffodil project officially ended in April 2011. We started in November 2008 with an ambitious endeavour: to propose a functional assessment system of children who are particularly at risk of failing at school, which is more inclusive.

Current functional assessment is too much deficiency- oriented and tends to ‘blame’ the child.

If schools have to become ‘inclusive schools for all’, as is laid down in the UN Convention on the Rights of People with disabilities, then the assessment & coaching system needs a thorough reform.

The Daffodil project was a beautiful example of the utility of European collaboration. It was a real exchange of ideas, experiences, methods, materials. Each country had to offer something and to take something. E.g. in Portugal there was already experience with the implementation of ICF in education, one of the first countries in Europe. They also did a lot of research with the Das-Naglieri based reading programme PREP, which allows children with even severe reading difficulties to access literacy. The Portuguese partner also had experience with portfolio-based assessment of children with special needs. In Norway, where inclusive education has been generalized already since 30 years, the Norwegian partner brought in its expertise in Concept Teaching as well as with the Das-Naglieri PASS theory, applied in functional diagnostics and intervention of underlying learning processes. The partner from Sweden, where there is also no discussion on whether or not inclusion is good, brought his expertise in whole-school based consultation and its pilot experiences in dynamic assessment and cognitive activation. The Belgian partner introduced the Action- & Needs Based assessment approach, whereas Hungary, Romania & Belgium made their vast experience with dynamic assessment available. Taking together, the project arrived at a synthesis which is potentially powerful to innovate assessment of children with special needs. No partner could have arrived at such a synthesis on its own. We are well aware that this is only a beginning, even though some of the elected approaches are inventions of the 20th Century. They are still not well known and only marginally applied. But they represent a potential paradigmatic shift. If we want to take inclusive education serious, we cannot go on giving children just categorical labels of their deficiency. This sadly is still widespread practice. E.g. labels such as “autistic spectrum”, “dyslexia”, “mental retardation” tell nothing about the real needs of the child and teacher. That would need a thorough exploration. The Daffodil project brings a valid way to do this. The challenge now is to implement this new approach so that no child is excluded any more, or is just included for the sake of “being there”.

The problem is that education policy makers tend to believe that new ideas need only 2 years to take off, which is the average time Comenius projects are subsidized. History of education has shown that major educational innovations take about 100 years to become accepted. After a century of a dominant testing paradigm, it doesn’t look we are about to rest.

Thanks to all the partners who spent their time, energy and enthusiasm on realizing this beautiful cooperation. (JL)

"With a different glance" New release of Daffodil book & DVD

This “DAFFODIL” book has nothing to do with gardening, at least not literally. It is the result of three-year collaboration between 8 partners in 6 European countries and an overseas territory. The book wants to propose “a different glance” to assessing children with impairments and learning difficulties to prevent a drop out of the regular education system. Rather than merely testing the child and giving diagnostic labels, as so often still is current psychological or medical practice, the objective of assessment should be to understand a child’s difficulties, and from there to adequately plan and monitor a challenging educational intervention, allowing the child to be maximally included. It tries to answer the central question: “How to assess a child’s functioning in a way that does not harm its future, gives him optimal chances of learning, takes into account difficulties, while at the same time assessing and coaching the school towards accommodating and teaching all children, including the ones with difficulties?” Both the child and its context are the target of intervention.

The first part reports a critical analysis of current assessment & testing practice. The second part presents models of dynamic and functional assessment (Feuerstein’s LPAD, Das-Naglieri Cognitive Assessment System, International Classification of Function and its experience in Portuguese education). Part III presents models of “good practice” of contextual assessment and inclusive coaching (Action & Needs-based approach, consultation approach, conceptual changes in analysing behaviour problems). Part IV introduces methods to assess learning within the curriculum (portfolio, PASS reading enhancement; analysis of mathematical learning). Part V finally contains guidelines for a dynamic, contextual and functional assessment.

The accompanying DVD features sample videos of dynamic assessment, inclusive education, counselling for inclusive education, as well as all articles and presentations. The book wants to make school psychologists and other assessors of special needs, aware of the need and possibility to look at children with a different glance: in a more inclusion-oriented and development- oriented way.

With a different glance. Dynamic Assessment and Functioning of Children Oriented at Development & Inclusive Learning. Jo Lebeer, Adelinda Candeias & Maria Luísa Grácio (Editors). Order at Garant Publishers www.garant.be Antwerpen – Apeldoorn 2011. 288 p. – 24 cm – + DVD containing 5 videos and 110 texts & presentations 34 € ISBN 978-90-441-2802-4

Whitebook "Good practices of dynamic and inclusive assessment" published.

We called it a “whitebook” – as opposed to the ”blackbook” of current assessment practice which described the rather gruesome testing practices as they are still dominant in many countries and often leading to mere classification based on deficiencies. A whitebook is also has the connotation of “a new, yet to write book”, a sense of beginning, incompleteness. The Whitebook collects theories and methods of assessment which are potentially oriented towards inclusive education, assessing a child’s functioning in a comprehensive way. Based on a bio-psycho-social model of disability, these methods take into account the child’s context, the child’s potential, talents, strengths and needs, as well as functional difficulties and difficulties in participation, in a time perspective: the WHO-ICF International Classification of Functioning, the Dutch-Belgian system of Action- & Needs-based Assessment, Feuerstein’s paradigm of Dynamic Assessment of Learning Propensity, Das-Naglieri’s Cognitive Assessment System, portfolio assessment and consultee-centred consultation at school. These methods have a purpose to go beyond diagnosis of a disturbance, to understand a child’s difficulties and strengths, in order to give better advice as to educational programming. The Whitebook gives a summary of methods and their implementation. It can be downloaded from www.daffodilproject.org (the "e;documents"e;d section has a search function). The full texts of the various components are to be found in the book.

Daffodil Guidelines presented at EACD Conference in Rome

In June the Daffodil “Guidelines” for a dynamic, functional and contextual assessment, in function of inclusive education, were presented in a poster format during the Annual Meeting of the European Academy of Childhood Disability in Rome. This is one of the largest and most prestigious international conferences in the field of childhood rehabilitation. The guidelines have been developed throughout the 3-year project duration, first commonly by the core partnership, then further elaborated, discussed in focus group in the partners’ countries, modified, according to a Delphi-method, until satisfaction was reached for all experts involved. The idea is that assessment centres (school psychological services, child guidance centres, etc.) will base their assessment approach on these guidelines. The guidelines are a set of principles. The choice of concrete assessment methods is variable, and depends on needs. We made a few suggestions, but there is of course room for a lot more. Now guidelines should be implemented, and that will be a very long cultural transformation process, after more than a century of a dominant testing paradigm; we realize this will not be absorbed easily. The presentation at the EACD conference might perhaps make a bridge to the medical world, to make medical and rehabilitation staff more aware of the idea of inclusion, context and modifiability. Guidelines and poster are freely downloadable on www.daffodilproject.org. The partners presented the Daffodil project in many other national and international conferences.


Daffodil ends – Distinc starts

The Daffodil project officially ended, in the sense that its financing from the EU stopped, but that doesn’t mean the project stopped. Every partner is continuing with the objective of implementation in other ways. The University of Evora and the University of Antwerp joined a new Comenius project called “DISTINC” (Developing in-service training for Inclusive Education) coordinated by the Bogacizi University of Istanbul. The aim of this project is to make teachers understand the principles of inclusive education, to increase their inclusive practices and self-efficacy, to make them more competent in dealing with a variety of needs, particularly in dealing with children with behaviour problems (or challenging behaviours) and children experiencing difficulties with learning, in particular with reading acquisition & comprehension. DISTINC is now designing and testing a 30h professional development program for primary school regular classroom teachers, based on a European-wide needs analysis. Although conditions vary widely, it is amazing how similar the teachers’ experiences and needs are. The project wants to train the teachers to go beyond labelling children, based on a biopsychosocial approach to learning and behaviour difficulties and their modifiability. Participating countries are Turkey, Poland, Belgium, Portugal and the UK. More info at www.distinc.eu

Daffodil survives in oncoming training courses in courses in Dynamic & Functional Assessment 2012

If you want to be more thoroughly trained in the different approaches constituting the “Daffodil approach”, there are a few options to take more in-depth courses:

- Evaluating Learning Potential (Feuerstein LPAD), Activating Learning processes (Instrumental Enrichment), based on Feuerstein’s theory of Mediated Learning & Structural Cognitive Modifiability 8-19/7/2012, Paris. More info www.icelp.org

- The Daffodil-model: Evora, Portugal, 29/10-4/11/2012. The successful course which had its premiere in September 2010 will now be repeated in the magnificent location of UNESCO world heritage town of Evora.

- Das-Naglieri Cognitive Assessment System, Nyborg Concept Teaching Model & Carol Lidz’ Dynamic Assessment, Norway, www.pedverket.no

All these courses have a possibility to be financed via a European Comenius or Grundtvig grant, for those professionals working in school or adult education, and are citizens of a European country, including the access candidates, but excluding the residents of the country where the course is taking place. Deadline for applying for a grant for the summer 2012 is January 15th 2012. The deadline for application for a EU grant for the Daffodil course in November is April 10th 2012. More info as from November 2011 on www.europa.eu/education/trainingdatabase/


Book review - Dorothy Howie,
Teaching students thinking skills and strategies, London: Jessica Kingsley 2011. 240 pp.
ISBN 978-1-84310-950-1

-Jo Lebeer, Belgium

Book review - Dorothy Howie, Teaching students thinking skills and strategies, London: Jessica Kingsley 2011. 240 pp.ISBN 978-1-84310-950-1 This book brings together the teaching of thinking skills with the concept of inclusion. Teaching general, transversal thinking skills is more than ever a key need of all learners, including teachers. This is because it has become almost impossible to transfer the ever expanding knowledge. Technological innovation is so rapid that by the time children are taught new techniques, it is already obsolete when they will be grown-ups. Good thinking skills are required in almost every domain of learning, not only basic academic skills such as literacy and numeracy, but also social learning, technology, creativity, daily life skills. All pupils need to acquire good thinking skills, whatever their initial and diverse acquired levels of knowledge and skills. This is what makes teaching thinking skills of primordial importance and especially suitable for inclusive education, where learning to deal with diversity is a teacher’s big challenge. New Zealand based Dr. Dorothy Howie, who was a Programme Director of Inclusive Education at Hull University in the U.K., managed to create an insightful overview of thinking skills programmes and teaching ways, which is both theoretically grounded and practical. After explaining 14 rationales of teaching thinking, she describes 15 basic principles: a belief that all children can learn, the creation of an open & challenging learning environment where all children indeed can learn (excluding no one); the need for all teachers to acquire the skills of mediation (giving meaning, transferring skills to daily life, mediating feeling of competence, etc. – principles drawn from Feuerstein’s concept of Mediated Learning Experience) and the principles of task differentiation. Then she elaborates on a three-tier strategy model to implement teaching thinking: a whole classroom approach, a small group approach and an individual approach. This is linked to existing transversal thinking skills programmes such as Feuerstein’s Instrumental Enrichment Programme, De Bono’s CORT, Lipman’s Philosophy for children, Adey & Shyer’s Cognitive Acceleration for Science Education Programme CASE, emotional intelligence, Gardner’s multiple intelligence-based programmes. The whole is largely illustrated with examples from classroom practice. This book should be obligatory reading for all undergraduate students of Teacher Training Colleges, as well as practising teachers and teacher trainers
(review by Jo Lebeer, University of Antwerp)