Welcome to the Alberta Council for Exceptional Children

CEC_Alberta_CMYK (Small)

Dear Colleagues,

The Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) is the largest international professional organization dedicated to improving the educational success of individuals with inclusive/exceptional needs. CEC advocates for appropriate governmental policies, provides professional development, advocates for individuals with exceptionalities, and helps professionals obtain conditions and resources necessary for effective professional practice.

CEC is the leading voice for diversity and inclusive education. Through the vision and dedication of its nearly 35,000 members, CEC ensures the needs of children and youth with exceptionalities are met in educational legislation, establishes professional standards for the field, and develops initiatives to improve inclusive education practice. And, CEC is known as THE source for information, resources, and professional development for inclusive educators.

At Alberta CEC we are committed to providing our members in Alberta with quality services which extend the benefits of belonging to the international organization. At ACEC we partner with other organizations (such as Dynamic Development) to offer quality training at a reduced cost for members. Members receive significant cost benefits for all workshops and training provided by ACEC. Newsletters provide valued and valuable information on current events within Alberta and insights on working with students with exceptional learning profiles. We are responsive to the thoughts, ideas and suggestions of the Alberta members!

Services Provided by the CEC

  • Professional development opportunities and resources
  • 17 divisions for inclusive education information
  • Journals and newsletters with information on new research findings, classroom practices that           work, federal legislation, and policies
  • Conventions and conferences
  • Inclusive education publications


Click on image to visit CEC website

Happy New Year from ACEC

Happy New Year to all ACEC members!  We hope you had a restful winter break with family and friends and are energized to return to your important work with students.  We wanted to take this opportunity to inform you of some upcoming events with ACEC.

As you know, on November 29, 2014, we held our AGM and elections.  We are very pleased that the following individuals were elected by acclamation into their new positions.

President                        Shawn Crawford

Secretary                        Kathy Howery (CEC representative assembly)

Treasurer                       Dwaine Souveny

Member at large            Jan Palmer

Member at large            Teresa Fowler


Contact information for our executive will be available for members on our website, which we are in the process of updating.  I would like to personally thank each of our executive for their commitment to the ACEC and to students with exceptional needs.

On February 4 and 5 the ACEC, in partnership with the Calgary Regional Consortium (CRC) is providing workshops for educators entitled “Level B Testing – What Now: from Interpretation to Implementation”  These workshops, facilitated by Dwaine Souveny (registered psychologist and ACEC treasurer) are designed to explore how we move from assessment results to practical strategies in the classroom.  More information and registration can be accessed through the CRC website.

The CEC National Convention will take place in San Diego on April 7 to 11, 2015.  As always, there will be a wealth of information, presentations and workshops.  In addition, the Canadian units will have the traditional Canadian Coffee Party, this year hosted by our own Alberta unit!  Hope to see you all there.

As always, the ACEC welcomes your feedback and questions.  Please feel free to contact us.  Have a great start to 2015!!

Shawn Crawford, ACEC President

President’s Message Fall 2012

President’s Message

Hello ACEC members and welcome to the start of the 2012/2013 year!  We hope that you had a relaxing summer and are rested and ready for a new school year.  The fall always brings with it the promise of excitement and new beginnings!  As students, parents and teachers settle into their new routines, many of us are setting goals regarding our learning and professional growth.

As our province continues to move toward more inclusive education practices, more educators and other professionals are requesting learning opportunities related to working with diverse learners and in inclusive classrooms.  At the international level, the CEC continues to offer professional learning opportunities, such as a webinar on Tuesday, September 24, (4-5pm EDT) entitled The promise and practice of peer supports, Meaningful inclusion for students with moderate and severe disabilities.  The CEC also has several resources available, including Collaborate Smart: Practical Strategies and Tools for Educators, a “how-to” guide for improving co-teaching and collaborative communication for every educator.  Post-secondary students are also returning to classes and are already heavily into their studies.   Students save $10.00 off CEC student membership when they join or renew by Oct. 31.  They can pay their dues in three easy payments, too!  Visit www.cec.sped.org/backtoschool for the special membership application and other campaign materials.

At the Alberta level, we are busy planning events and activities for your professional development.  As you may recall, our spring workshop on Models of Coaching for Educators workshop was cancelled  We are pleased, however, to announce a new Models of Coaching for Educators workshop will take place in Calgary, at Mount Royal University, on November 3, 2012.  Registrations are available through the Calgary Regional Consortium at http://www.crcpd.ab.ca/programs/category/25#programs.  For this event, we will have some very distinguished speakers, including Jim Knight (Instructional Coaching), John Clarke (Cognitive Coaching) and Dwaine Souveny (Solution Enhanced Coaching).  Mark your calendars, as this event promises to be informative and inspirational.  This workshop is offered at a substantial discount for CEC members!

As always, we welcome communication and feedback from our membership regarding the ACEC, our website, workshops, or other CEC activities.  In addition, if you are interested in becoming more involved in the ACEC, please contact us!

Have a great fall and we look forward to seeing you soon.

Shawn Crawford


Alberta Council for Exceptional Children (ACEC)

2013 CEC Student Awards and Scholarships

Please share this with CEC student members!

2013 CEC Student Awards and Scholarships

CEC’s Student Committee is seeking nominations/applications for its 2013 awards and scholarships.

Students – nominate someone today for the following awards:

  • The Susan Phillips Gorin Awardhonors a CEC professional member, especially a CEC student chapter advisor, who demonstrates exemplary personal and professional qualities and has made outstanding contributions to CEC and to children with exceptionalities.
  • The Outstanding CEC Student Member of the Year Awards recognize both an undergraduate and a graduate student who have made outstanding contributions to CEC and to children with exceptionalities.

Students – apply today for these scholarships:

  • The CEC Undergraduate and Graduate Student Scholarships present two $1,000stipends, one to an undergraduate and one to a graduate CEC student member.
  • The Kayte M. Fearn CEC Ethnic Diversity Scholarship presents $1,000 to a CEC student member from a culturally diverse background who has made outstanding contributions to CEC and children with exceptionalities.

More information, including the nomination/application packets, is available on CEC’s Web site.

Deadline: Oct. 19, 2012.

Apply or nominate someone today.

Council for Exceptional Children | 2900 Crystal Drive, Suite 1000, Arlington, VA 22202 | 888-232-7733

President’s Message Spring 2012

President’s Message

Welcome to the Alberta Council for Exceptional Children (ACEC) and to the launch of our new website!  We are very pleased to be able to provide information to our membership and others through this medium!  Across Alberta, we continue to see changes in education, as the principles and strategies of Alberta Education’s Action on Inclusion initiative are operationalized and implemented.  We hope our information provides a source of information, renewal and encouragement as we head towards the busy end of the school year.

At the ACEC, regular communication with membership continues to be important, and through our website we hope to keep you updated on news and events from around our province.  We encourage feedback and comments on our site, as well as suggestions regarding other information you may find valuable.  At the national level, the Canadian Caucus met at the CEC Convention and Expo in Denver, CO in April and discussed ways for Canadian CEC colleagues to share ideas and discuss issues that are specific and relevant to our unique needs.  We will post more information on how to connect with our Canadian colleagues as it becomes available.

The ACEC continues to grow and develop ways to provide professional development for our colleagues throughout the province.  Our Models of Coaching for Educators workshop, presented last year in Red Deer, was a great success!  It was so great, in fact, that we are providing a similar workshop this year!  The Models of Coaching for Educators workshop will take place in Calgary, at Mount Royal University, on May 29, 2012.  Registrations are available through the Calgary Regional Consortium at http://www.crcpd.ab.ca/programs/category/34#programs.  Mark your calendars, as this event promises to be informative and inspirational.  This workshop is offered at a substantial discount for CEC members.  Please note that the ACEC is also offering a $10 membership discount to anyone who joins CEC within the month of May!  Please see the membership registration section of our website for more details.

We welcome communication and feedback from our membership regarding the ACEC, our website, workshops, or other CEC activities.  In addition, if you are interested in becoming more involved in the ACEC, please contact us!

Have a great spring and we hope to see you soon.

Shawn Crawford


Alberta Council for Exceptional Children (ACEC)

What Does Inclusion and Differentiation Mean in a Classroom?

What Does Inclusion and Differentiation Mean in a Classroom?

by Dr. Noella Piquette

By its very nature public school systems are inclusionary of diversity within academic, intellectual, social, behavioral and cultural domains. Yet, when inclusion as a practice is examined it is typically through a narrow lens – one focused on students with exceptional needs and how to differentiate instructional material in order to include these students with their same grade peers. The understanding of what it means to be involved as an educator on a pragmatic level is often overlooked. The term inclusion specifically refers to the process and practice educating “students identified as having exceptional needs” (SEN) in general classrooms in their neighborhood school. Inclusive education has developed from the belief that education is a basic human right and that it provides the foundation for a more just and accepting society.

In taking a human rights approach or human justice perspective, it is critical to foster equity for diverse learners. The United Nations created a universal framework to assist school divisions and educators to develop best practice for all learners, including all SEN (UNESCO, 1994; 2001; 2003). The foundational belief for differentiation is that all students learn in a variety of ways and have differing learning profiles. Central to the idea of differentiation are three of UNESCO’s (1994) statements: (1) developing a school ethos of trustworthiness and human reciprocity, based on the human rights of all, teachers and learners; (2) setting high expectations for the behavior and work of all members of the school community; and (3) accepting the goal of the development of the full intellectual, emotional, physical, spiritual and moral potential of all learners. Hence, to embrace the idea of inclusion and diversity is to understand that all students are different and all must be supported.

Differentiation: Planning For All Students

Inclusion in the classroom requires an educator to consider the entire student body and individual students simultaneously to plan for their learning needs and to address the curriculum (Hutchinson, 2007; Mitchell, 2005). An educator’s first priority is to ensure a coherent and thoughtful curriculum that incorporates the developmental and cognitive level of the student body. The long-term planning and unit development must be based on the curriculum standards set out by the educational ministry, incorporating what important elements are necessary for the students. Thus, an educator plans “for all” as the foundation. The planning “for some” or “for one”, which is a critical component of inclusion or a supportive educational environment, occurs when breaking down the “for all” long-term planning information. This second phase of curriculum planning is guided by the considerations for increasing the learning opportunities for the diverse learners. For example, an educator may take into consideration: For (student’s name) to learn, practice or demonstrate knowledge—what must be added, enhanced, scaffolded, or altered? It should be appreciated that every student ought to have academic instruction that is focused on the knowledge, understanding, and skill development targeted for the long term curricular, unit or individual lesson. The adaptations and accommodations put into place for some students is intended to support their instruction in a general class, not to create a separate instructional goal (see Figure 1).

Accommodation: Specialized support and services that are provided to enable students with diverse needs to achieve learning expectations. This may include technological equipment, support staff, and informal supports.

Adaptation: Adjustments to curriculum content, instructional practices, materials or technology, assessment strategies, and the learning environment made in accordance to the strengths, needs and interests of the learner.

Modification: Changes in policy that will support students with exceptionalities in their learning (e.g., altering school attendance policy or curriculum).

Figure 1. Terminology for differentiated education.

There are three overarching philosophical component necessary for all students in a classroom, but in particular for those who are the most vulnerable, namely the SEN population. First, students who require curricular, content, or instructional, or resource adaptations should be considered in the planning stages rather than reacting to their differences once they have demonstrated that they are not able to learn with their peers. From a human rights perspective, this is a means in which the student can retain one’s dignity while engaging. From a teaching perspective, including this differentiation will benefit all students. Second, learning about the individual’s special needs etiology will benefit in the planning of the instruction, goals, and materials to be selected. This background information includes the unique learning profile consisting of developmental, intellectual, and socio/emotional data relevant to supporting their learning needs. From a human rights perspective this means that each student’s unique experiences will be taken into account and appreciated. Third, ensuring that all students feel welcomed in the classroom and that any type of negative interactions, or willful absence of interactions between peers are not tolerated. For educators this translates to teaching all students to treat each other with respect and dignity. This also requires action plans to be put into place to ensure that all students understand that teasing and insulting behavior will not be tolerated. In sum, these three philosophical positions simply denote that educators should plan for each student, know each student, and protect each student.

Planning Through a Differentiation Approach

 Addressing the needs of all students through a differentiation approach consists of multiple pathways to teach, use materials or resources, and provision of alternate evaluation methods. Identifying and building upon all students’ individual strengths, talents, skills, and prior knowledge allows teachers to engage students in appropriately challenging classroom activities. The goal of differentiation is to create learning environments, content, process, and products that enable all students to succeed with meaningful curriculum. Differentiating incorporates implementing many instructional routines and strategies that are not only beneficial to most students but also enables successful inclusion of all students, including SEN (refer to Figure 2). Inclusion is differentiation; requiring teachers, parents, administrators and support personnel to develop creative, effective programming for all students. The long-term effect of this enabling environment will allow the school and larger community to embrace every student as having unique strengths and needs; exemplifying that diversity is valued.

(Figure 2: Planning for Differentiation)

Plan long-term units/concepts for each subject: Consider the learning environment, content, process and knowledge products in planning.    

Plan “for all”

Plan “for some”

Plan for learning opportunities for learners

For all: What is the learning goal? How will this learning be accomplished (instructional strategies, materials, resources)? How will this learning be demonstrated?

For some: What adaptations and accommodations can be put in place to support learning? What must be added, enhanced, scaffolded or altered to support students in their learning progress?

Plan for students with exceptionalities (SEN)

            Learn about the student – learning profile and interests

Involve the student in planning and decision-making

Collaborate and plan with learning team members

Identify and teach pre-requisite skills


Hutchinson, N. (2007). Inclusion of exceptional learners in Canadian schools. Toronto, Ontario, Canada: Pearson.

Mitchell , J. (2005). Contextualizing inclusive education: Evaluating old and new international paradigms. London, UK: Routledge Farmer.

Mittler, P. (2005). Building bridges between special and mainstream services. Asian Pacific Disability Rehabilitation Journal, 16(1), 3-15.

Tomlinson, C. A. (2001). How to differentiate instruction in mixed-ability classrooms (2nd ed.). Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

Tomlinson, C. A. (2004). The mobius effect: Addressing learner variance in schools. Journal of Learning Disabilities. 37(6), 516-524.

United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization: UNESCO. (1994). Special needs education and community-based programmes. Paris: UNESCO.

United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization: UNESCO. (2001). World education forum: Education for all. Inclusion in education: The Participation of disabled learners. Paris, France: UNESCO.

United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization: UNESCO. (2003). Open file on inclusive education. Paris, France: UNESCO.

Author Bio:

Dr. Noella Piquette is an Associate Professor and Registered Psychologist at the University of Lethbridge. The focus of her work within the Faculty of Education focuses on the knowledge, skills and behaviors that are required of teachers in order to effectively respond to students with diverse and exceptional needs. Differentiated instruction, development of professional learning communities, student assessment and individual program planning (IPP) are some of applied research interests.

Her previous background as an educator included the roles of guidance counselling, special education, and adapting instruction to meet the needs of diverse learners in inclusive classrooms.