The main idea behind these assignment are to have you reflect, in your own time and space, about exceptionality and what it means to your teaching. All the assignments must be completed by Thursday August 2, 2007, and you can begin the assignments at any time. Specific information about each of the assignments will be added here shortly:
Book Talk Assignment: Critical Analyses Papers
The course will require you to read a series of text about exceptionality and reflect on them within the context of the course. This is the most traditional type of assignment that you must complete in the course. There are a total of six books that you will read, the first of which will serve as a "source text" for developing a set of thoughts related to teaching — principles of instruction. You will then read five novels, each about a person with an exceptionality. Based on the source text, you will write a reaction paper that describes the main character of the text, his or her learning opportunities and challenges, and how you would incorporate him or her into your own classroom. The texts for this summer include:
Bigelow, Bill. Rethinking Our Classrooms: Teaching for Equity and Justice. Rethinking Schools Ltd (August 1994)
Buck, Pearl S. The Child Who Never Grew. Woodbine House, 1992.
Cohen, Leah Hager. Train Go Sorry: Inside a Deaf World. Vintage, 1994.
Haddon, Mark. The Curious Incident of the Dog at Nighttime. Vintage, 2004.
Kettlewell, Caroline. Skin Game: A Memoir. St. Martin's Griffin, 2000.
Smith, Sally. No Easy Answers: The Learning Disabled Child at Home and at School. Bantam, 1995.
These are very straightforward. You need to participate in the six forums posted under the "discussion forum" link the right. Plan on participating in each forum at a minimum of two times. You may participate in any order. Please note that you should post within the forum "thread" to which you are assigned. Since there are so many of us, I tried to break us into more than one group.
I want to start off by giving you a little information on how we will use the discussion forum to achieve the goals of this course. Since we will not be meeting in person, I think its worth while to at least set out some sort of "ground rules" for how we will work together and how the forums can lead to a quality interaction.
First of all, the forums (and any other conversations or information you have or send to me) are "safe spaces". You may post comments, thoughts, opinions, or ideas without fear of prejudice. Any personal information you (or I) share in this space stays within this space — by participating in the discussion forum or accessing those forums in anyway, you are thereby recognizing that you agree to these terms and will not share any personal information of the participants in this course with anyone outside of this course. Any comments or postings that are percieved to "personally attack" any member of this course will be immediately deleted from the forum and further postings will be blocked. When talking about special education, people share personal information about themselves or their families, and this information is held in the highest confidence. Also, when talking about special education, sometimes students tend to self diagnose. For example, when we talk about the characteristics of ADHD, you might feel like YOU might be ADHD. Or you might read the information on depression and feel that you might be depressed. Please note that this is normal, and normal people often will have all of the characteristics of any particular condition, but these persons do not "have' the condition. We will talk about "frequency, intensity and duration" many times in this course — the individual who is highly involved with any particular condition is effected significantly, so much so that they cannot live a "normal" life.
Secondly, when you have any outside information you would like to share in the forum (such as links to outside web addresses, etc), please give not only the URL (the http://… stuff) but also the group that publishes the site or article and a short description of the information. This will facilitate our reading and our "talks".
Thirdly, I will check the discussion forums approximately every 24 hours (likely between the hours of 4 and 7 am EST). You are asked to check in with the forums at least once per week, ideally more often, to stay attended to our activities. In terms of your "grade" in the discussion forums, you will see that it is more likely that you will receive a higher rating on these activities when you post an average of 2-3 times a week. Less often posting likely means you are not fully participating, more often might mean that you are overdoing it a little :)
You will be adding content to the main wiki areas of the course with this final assignment. For each of the conditions listed there, you are to add in your own "content". For these assignments, you should select an article, scholarly or newsworthy, to add to the descriptions of the conditions to support your own thoughts on any of the information currently posted on the wiki. You will create a NEW Page with a unique title (such as “Thoughts on Inclusion for Students who are Blind”), discuss the reading or article you found, and then describe how you think this information contributed to the knowledge base about students with that condition. For example, you might find a newspaper article on ADHD that discusses a new drug or treatment, and you can add this to the wiki pages about emotional and behavioral disorders, and share how teachers might need to be aware of this new medication and its effect on children. Or you might read something about the achievements of a person with a visual impairment, and add this to the section about blindness by describing what we might keep in mind as we think about the self-esteem of children who are visually impaired. Or you might read a scholarly article about inclusion and mainstreaming, and add this to any of the sections and discuss the debate about inclusion of those children into regular classrooms. Once you have created your NEW Page, you then need to edit the main wiki page for that condition, and add a link to your article where you think it might be appropriate. My goal is for you to add content to the site where it's appropriate. You will post to each of the areas of the wiki under the exceptionalities section, so a total of 7 postings worth 30 points each.
*Do not forget to put your name on your wikipedian assignment to get credit for contributing*
sample page: literacy among students with visual impairments