According to the text, when students with disabilities are placed in the general education classroom, there are three widely used teaching approaches that provide a starting point for helping students participate in the general curriculum (Section 2.2 Chapter 2 of Textbook ). While there are many other approaches, the three most widely used teaching approaches are: explicit instruction, differentiation, and universal design for learning (UDL). For this post, you will provide support for one of these approaches outlined below and explain why it is a valuable approach and should be used in the teaching of students with disabilities. Find your assigned debate group below (by first letter of last name):A-H: Explicit Instruction (my designated debate)Develop a cohesive and research-based argument for the position you have been assigned. Be sure to include the principles that guide each approach and set it apart from the others. Support your argument with reference to the textbook and at least one scholarly resource (include theses references in your post).
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Almost all students with disabilities attend their local neighborhood school. And in these local s
chools, the majority of them will spend at leastpart of their school day in a general education cl
assroom (see Figure 2.1). Do you plan to be a special education teacher, or do you intend toteac
h in a “regular” (general education) classroom? Maybe you intend to become a school counselo
r or speech therapist. You may not beplanning to teach or work with students in special educati
on, but in all likelihood, you will be responsible for the education of these studentsfrom your ve
ry first teaching position.
Figure 2.1: Where do Special Education Students Receive Instruction?
Approximately 95% of students who receive special education services receive all or part of their instruction in thei
rregular neighborhood school. Less than 5% attend a school, institution, or facility that is not their regular school.
Source: U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs, Data Analysis System (DANS), OMB #1
B, Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, Implementation of FAPE Requirements” 2011. Data updated as of July
No matter what kind of classroom you teach in, you’ll find that it’s useful to learn about strategi
es for teaching students with disabilities, andthese approaches may help many other students t
o learn more effectively.
In this chapter, you’ll learn about different placement options for students with disabilities. You’
ll learn the difference betweenaccommodations and modifications, and you’ll gain better under
standing of teaching strategies for the instruction of students with disabilities,as well as related
classroom management strategies. You’ll also learn about the important role that parents or gu
ardians play in their children’seducation.
2.1 Placement of Students in Special Education
As discussed in Chapter 1, public schools must provide special education services to students in
what the Individualized Education Program (IEP)team determines to be the least restrictive envi
ronment (LRE) based on student progress each year. For most students with disabilities, thisme
ans receiving instruction in the general education classroom, a practice often referred to as incl
The IEP team has a variety of placement options, and the team makes decisions about placeme
nt based on the individual student, not based onthe student’s disability. The team considers the
student’s strengths and needs and places the student in the settings that can provide the bestp
ossible instruction. (See Figure 2.2).
The team may decide to place the student in his or her local public school, where the setting mi
ght be a general classroom, resourceclassroom, or selfcontained classroom. Some students are placed outside the local school, in a separate school, r
esidential facility, privateschool, correctional facility, or home or hospital.
Figure 2.2: Placement Options of Special Education Students
A student’s IEP team can choose from many placement options. The team, however, mustalways try to place the st
udent in the least restrictive environment (LRE).
The Concept of Inclusion
IDEA 2004 mandates that unless the IEP team decides that another placement would be more a
ppropriate, students with disabilities shouldreceive their education in the same school they wo
uld attend if they did not have a disability. The student’s educational program should be assimil
ar to the educational program of students without disabilities as is reasonable.
Special Education Perspectives: Working with the General Education Teacher
A special education teacher describes working with general education teachers.
Critical Thinking Questions
1. What is the importance of standards for the education of students with disabilities?
2. How do general education and special education teachers work together?
In an inclusion setting, students with disabilities are instructed alongside peers without disabiliti
es for some or all of the school day. In someclassrooms, a general education and special educati
on teacher teach together (i.e., they are coteaching). In other classrooms, a specialeducation teacher may “push in” at various points duri
ng the school day to help provide instruction with the general education teacher. This isoften re
ferred to as a pushin arrangement. Another option is to “pull out” the student with a disability to provide instructi
on in a resourcesetting. This is referred to as a pull-out model.
Whether the school uses co-teaching, push-in, or pullout models, all require strong communication and collaboration between the generaleducatio
n and special education teachers, as well as with any other teachers for the student. Constant p
rogress monitoring toward meeting thestudent’s IEP goals is also required.
From My Perspective: Teaching Special Education
Big Cheese Photo/Thinkstock
My name is Kat, and I want to share some of the success stories with you that explainwhy I stay
ed in the classroom for seven years as a special education teacher beforeleaving to pursue my d
octorate. Teaching students with disabilities is a challenge, butthese victories help me rememb
er why I love being in this field.
One student that comes to mind is “Robert.” At the time that I met Robert, I wasteaching third,
fourth, and fifth grades, and he was in first grade. He began displayingextreme behaviors on a d
aily basis, where he would destroy property and physically andverbally assault anyone that trie
d to help him. I “adopted” him (since he was not agrade that I taught) and began working with h
im that year, and then officially workedwith him in second and third grade. Once I began workin
g with him, I discovered thathe had significant levels of anxiety and did not know how to proces
s them or what todo when he was having emotional issues.
I worked closely with Robert and his family and with every month that passed, hisextreme beha
vior decreased. He grew to trust me and would come to me when he hada problem, which we
would talk about and solve, often calling his mother to helptroubleshoot. Robert is now in seve
nth grade and no longer has these outbursts inschool. I still keep in touch with his family and oc
casionally go to watch him play littleleague baseball.
Two students from a first grade reading group also stand out for the growth they wereable to m
ake in one year. Both students began the year at a low to midKindergartenlevel. “Jahiem” and “Jose” both started first grade unable to read, and not knowing
allof their letters or sounds. Jahiem knew about half of the letters and sounds and did not see
m to realize that you could use sounds todecode and spell words. Jose came to kindergarten an
d did not speak English, and although he could speak English well by first grade, hisreading lagg
ed behind his peers.
All year long they received two reading groups, one from me and one from a reading specialist,
where we focused on basic reading skills,fluency, and comprehension. By the end of the year, J
ose was reading on grade level and Jahiem was just about there (he caught up bythe middle of s
econd grade). Now they are both in third grade and are successful readers.
These are not hollow victories. They are lasting changes that not only help students in the short
-term, but will also result in positive longterm outcomes. Knowing that I played a part in these students’ success and the fact that I devel
oped positive relationships that continuedafter they were out of my class are all reasons why I e
Inclusion can provide valuable opportunities for students to access and benefit from being in a
general education environment (Florian, 2010).However, this arrangement is not appropriate fo
r all students with disabilities. Some students who would benefit from small group instructiona
nd intensive support may need to receive instruction outside the general classroom to be succe
The practice of inclusion, although mandated by law, is debated in education (Obiakor, Harris,
Mutua, Rotatori, & Algozzine, 2012). On onehand, inclusion produces schools that are respectfu
l and equitable to all students (Obiakor et al., 2012). Expectations for all students remainhigh as
all students are held to the same standards or expectations, and students in special education l
earn to be more independent (Sun,2007).
In an inclusion classroom, students with and without disabilitieslearn alongside one another, for the benefit of all.
Among thebenefits are that students learn empathy, understanding, and howto appreciate individual differences.
Inclusion can also help students with disabilities become friends with studentswithout disabiliti
es, and students without disabilities can learn to be moreaccepting of others (Copeland & Cosb
ey, 2008; Litvack, Ritchie, & Shore, 2011).Students with disabilities also learn from their peers, a
nd often the peers benefitfrom learning alongside the student with a disability (McMaster, Fuch
s, & Fuchs,2007). Additionally, general and special education teachers may benefit fromcollabor
ating and picking up on each other’s teaching strategies (Burstein, Sears,Wilcoxen, Cabello, & S
On the other hand, some argue that student expectations are lessened and higherperforming students learn less because teachers focus more on lowerperformingstudents (Litvack et al., 2011). Another view is that students with disabilities maybe
better served in specialized settings by specialized teachers. Many teachers,from both general a
nd special education, feel unprepared to teach in inclusionsettings (Smith & Tyler, 2011).
Administrators must provide support for inclusion and collaborative practices inorder for inclusi
on to be effective (Crockett, 2002; Tankersley, Niesz, Cook, & Woods, 2007). Schools also need t
o develop and maintain district-and schoolwide best practices and appropriate training for teachers. As highlighted in the following sectio
ns, inclusion issues may varydepending upon the grade level of the student.
Early Childhood Inclusion
Part B of IDEA 2004 requires that public school systems provide special education services to st
udents as young as 3 years old. Preschoolstudents should receive their education in the LRE to t
he maximum extent appropriate, as determined by the student’s IEP, and preschoolteachers sh
ould monitor the progress of students to determine whether students are on track to meet long
term goals (Raver, 2004).Instruction for preschool students focuses on both academics and beh
avior, and should be as “naturalistic” as possible (i.e., instruction shouldbe embedded within pl
ay or social activities and follow prompts from the child) (Wolery & Hemmeter, 2011).
The difficulty with early childhood inclusion, however, is that many districts operate preschools
exclusively for students with disabilities. Thesedistricts do not have programs in place for stude
nts without disabilities, so preschool students with disabilities cannot be placed in their LREalon
gside preschool students without disabilities. Thus, sometimes school districts place preschool s
tudents with disabilities in private preschoolprograms or programs offered by other school distr
icts, and the districts compensate the programs accordingly.
In order for a private preschool to participate, the preschool program must be licensed by a stat
e agency and be nonsectarian. The privatepreschool must ensure that the teachers and staff ca
n follow the student’s IEP and provide appropriate supplementary aids and services.
Inclusion can be very effective for elementary students identified with or without a disability (B
urstein et al., 2004). For students withdisabilities, inclusion provides greater access to the gener
al education curriculum and the learning opportunities that come from learningalongside a hete
rogeneous mix of students. The classroom expectations in an inclusion setting may be higher; t
herefore, students may makelarger strides toward meeting longterm goals if they receive proper instructional support.
In an inclusion model, the general education and special education teachers must collaborate o
n some level, so all students benefit fromreceiving the best instruction these teachers can offer.
Teachers who use coteaching will be able to better respond to student needs andbehaviors. This is particularly impo
rtant for early childhood and lower elementary classrooms, where social and behavior objective
s are anintegral part of class instruction.
Elementary students who need additional support may receive pullout services, which might consist of additional time with a special educationteacher or specialis
t in a small group or individualized setting. The ultimate purpose of such services is to help the s
tudent achieve grade levelexpectations and meet long-term IEP goals. If the pullout programming does not prove effective, the IEP team might recommend a studentreceive th
e majority of instruction outside of the general classroom.
Inclusion at the secondary level provides similar academic and behavioral benefits to those fou
nd at the elementary level. Additionally,adolescents are generally more aware of the social stig
ma that can accompany special education, so inclusion alleviates the need to pull outstudents a
nd can sometimes protect their anonymity. Teachers must employ proper accommodations and
modifications to ensure success forstudents with disabilities (Duvall, 2006).
The IEP team determines the LRE at the secondary level. Some high school students may be enr
olled in a “study skills” class taught by a specialeducation teacher. This class can help students
with learning essential skills for success, especially for classes that are more lecturebased orindependent study. The study skills class can also help students with homework or oth
er assignments. If students with disabilities demonstratesuccess with their courses, special educ
ation services may be pared back to prepare students for college and career transition.
The Role of the IEP Team in Placement
The placement of students with disabilities is determined by the student’s IEP team and is base
d on the student’s IEP goals. The placementshould be to the LRE in which the student can partic
ipate in the general curriculum to the maximum extent appropriate.
Special Education Perspectives: IEP Process
Ryan Giertych, a special education teacher, describes the process for reviewing IEPs.
Critical Thinking Questions
1. When does an IEP team meet to review a student’s services and a student’s disability status?
2. Why is reviewing the IEP important?
The IEP team must make placement decisions based on the needs of each individual student. In
other words, the school cannot have a plan forhow all students with a given disability receive th
eir education. For example, a school cannot say that all students with Autism SpectrumDisorder
(ASD) must go to a special school; for some students with ASD, that would not be an appropriat
e placement and would be in violationof the LRE for an individual student.
Members of the IEP team, which include the general educationteacher, special education teacher, parent or guardi
an, and otherspecialists who may work with the student, meet to approve thestudent’s IEP. During the meeting, th
e team discusses placementoptions (i.e., the settings where the student receives instruction).Placement must be in
the student’s LRE.
The IEP team also needs to consider the students without disabilities in thegeneral classroom. If
a student with a disability would disrupt the generalclassroom to the extent that the behavior
would significantly affect the learning ofall the other students, the IEP team might decide upon
an alternate placement forthe student. The alternative placement must still allow the student t
o participatein the general curriculum to the maximum extent appropriate.
General Classroom Placement
A general classroom is the typical classroom setting for all students, and it iswhere most receiv
e their instruction. (Please note that in this book, “generalclassroom” describes the student pop
ulation in the classroom and not the actuallayout of the school building.) Most general classroo
ms are divided by grade level(e.g., fifthgrade classroom), but some classrooms may include students frommultiple grades (e.g., Chemis
The teachers in general classrooms, the “general” or “regular” teachers, follow theschool, distri
ct, or state’s general curriculum. General curriculum includes anyinstruction or activity that ta
kes place during the school day. The general curriculum is not limited to teaching from textbook
s but includes allassessments, additional classes (e.g., art, music, and physical education), lunch,
recess, assemblies, field trips, any materials (e.g., textbooks),media (e.g., films), and almost any
other activity that students without disabilities participate in during school hours.
In this general education classroom, the students with disabilities areindistinguishable from students without disab
ilities. The general educationteacher teaches the general curriculum to all students withaccommodations or modifi
cations for students with disabilities.
Most students with disabilities who participate in general classroominstruction are diagnosed w
ith the “mild” or “highincidence” disabilities.These categories include specific learning disabilities, emotional or behav
ioraldisorders, AttentionDeficit/ Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), and speech andlanguage impairments. Students with ot
her disabilities (e.g., ASD, intellectualdisabilities, visual impairments, and hearing impairments)
may also spend aconsiderable amount of time in the general classroom.
Students with disabilities who spend time in the general classroom may usesupplementary aid
s and services as outlined by IDEA 2004 to participate inthe general curriculum. These aids and
services might include a specialeducation teacher or aide, special education training for a gener
al educationteacher (see the discussion of collaboration and coteaching later in thechapter), behavior intervention plans (see the later discussion of classroom
management), and assistive technology.
Students who receive instruction in the general classroom are oftenpresented with accommoda
tions and/or modifications of the generalcurriculum.
If a student participates in the general classroom with only slight changes or variations from the
classroom program, the changes are referredto as accommodations. An accommodation affect
s how a student accesses classroom material and is an alteration that enables a student toperfo
rm or participate in activities similar to those of students without disabilities. It may be a chang
e in the way a student interacts withclassroom material, participates in the classroom, or respo
nds to classroom content, but an accommodation does not change the contenttaught in the ge
neral classroom. Accommodations may be decided by the IEP team; the student’s teachers may
also choose appropriateaccommodations for specific classes or assignments.
Table 2.1 provides examples of common accommodations for students with disabilities.
Table 2.1: Examples of Common Accommodations
A student is given a break during lengthy assignments or activities. A student may a
A student may use a calculator to perform complex calculations.
A study carrel (either purchased or homemade) can help eliminate distractions.
A student sits at a desk close to the front of the room to be near the teacher and th
Using different colors for specific categories or purposes can help organize class ma
Students are given extra time to complete assignments or activities. If the student i
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