QUEENS COLEGE (CUNY)
SPECIAL EDUCATION PROGRAM
ECPSE 700: Foundations of Special Education (3 Credits)
Fall 2012, Tuesdays 4:30PM – 7:20PM and 7:30PM – 10:20PM
Instructor: Belinda Amoako, M. Phil
Group email address: AmoakoFoundationsofSpEdFall2012@googlegroups.com
Education and psychology in special education are stressed with emphasis on developing a broad background of
knowledge about students with various disabilities and creating access to the general education curriculum. The
historical and sociological treatment of people with disabilities, special education law and programs, advocacy
and collaboration, and building classroom communities that support the full diversity of learners are also
addressed. Twenty hours of fieldwork focusing on special education is required.
1. Students will articulate their understanding of individuals with disabilities from their experiences and
readings by comparing the lives of characters portrayed in a movie, biography, and personal experiences,
and expressing their insights gained about people with disabilities from these three sources..
2. Students will demonstrate social and communication skills by working cooperatively in small groups to
research topics, solve problems, co-teach, and share experiences.
3. Students will increase knowledge of special education history, laws, practices, and students with disabilities.
4. Students will visit a special education program, and observe and interact with children with disabilities.
5. Students will demonstrate an awareness of teaching children with disabilities, and effective practices in
special education by recording their observations, reactions, and evaluation of the program and practices in
Turnbull, R., Turnbull, A. & Wehmeyer, M. (2010). Exceptional lives: Special education in today’s schools
(7th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Merrill Prentice Hall
Additional readings from selected journals.
Multiple methods for assessments
Attendance and Participation
All students are expected to be present, on time, and actively participate during each class. It is expected that
you will participate in whole-class discussions, small group work, and individual journaling. Additionally, you
are required to contribute to our Google discussion group each week. At the conclusion of each class, you will
complete an exit slip which serves as an opportunity to ask a question or provide suggestions to improve
learning in our class.
Assignments Due Date
The Education Unit of Queens College has identified a unified set of competencies
(knowledge, skills, and dispositions) associated with the Unit’s commitment to promoting
Equity, Excellence, and Ethics in urban schools and communities.
It is important for you to explore your own experiences and deeply reflect on how they may
impact your teaching. The questions below will serve as a guide in developing a typed essay
format (2-3) pages:
1. What events and experiences in your life and in school have influenced your interest
in becoming a special education teacher?
2. How is your race, class, and gender identity used to help shape your beliefs about
teaching in special education?
3. What are your goals as a teacher?
4. Pick an educational theory or theorist that exemplifies your teaching style and explain
While there are no inherently “right” or “wrong” answers, you should provide justification
(or an explanation) for the ideas within your statement. You will have two weeks to complete
this philosophy statement. Make sure that you specifically address the areas of equity,
excellence, and ethics as part of your philosophy statement. Please make sure that you keep a
copy for yourself.
Purpose of the Assignment:
This statement will provide a baseline assessment of your professional dispositions as you
begin your pre-service training program at Queens College. This initial philosophy statement
will be rated holistically in relation to the Education Unit’s Core Values.
Paper #1: Understanding of Persons with Disabilities Each student will write a paper (6-8
pages) based on personal experiences, viewing a video tape, and/or reading a biography of an
individual with a disability. This paper should be based on three sources (i.e. personal
experience and at least two articles from a scholarly journal); the three sources can all deal
with the same disability or can deal with different disabilities (your choice).
1. Personal Experiences. Think back to your earlier memories of an individual with a
disability, and write a description of this person, your memories of the person, and that
person's experiences in the community (school, family, neighborhood).
2. Video. View a video that involves a main character with a disability (such as Children of
a Lesser God, Lorenzo's Oil, My Left Foot, Rain Man, Mask, The Elephant Man, The
Miracle Worker, Charly, Nell, Shine, A Child is Waiting, The Other Sister, A Beautiful
Mind, I am Sam).
3. Biography. Read a biography or novel about a person with a disability (see Book List).
Discuss each of the sources in terms of:
a) Cultural and family expectations—How was the person with the disability viewed by
others? How did the disability affect the person’s self-image? In this section discuss the
impact of labels, bias, diversity, self-determination, integration or quality of life of the person
with a disability.
b) Social & educational environments and experiences—What positive and negative
experiences did this person encounter in school and community settings? What were the
effects of these experiences on the person’s development? What impact did teachers have on
the lives of these persons?
c) Abilities and strengths—What were the abilities and strengths of each person? Did others
recognize these abilities? How did the person utilize these abilities to become more
d) Self-reflection—summarize what insights and understandings you have learned from the
lives of 1-3 people you have discussed in the paper. What are the implications of these
insights for special education teacher? How can you apply this greater understanding in
working with children and adolescents with disabilities?
All papers should be typed, double spaced and paginated. Clearly identify each source in
your paper and use APA to site all sources While it is important to acknowledge that we
could never know another person's feelings or perceptions, the purpose of this paper is to
have you think clearly about the experiences of individuals with disabilities. Your paper
should focus on your understanding of the experiences of persons with disabilities.
Criteria for Evaluating Papers:
A. The extent to which you present a thorough and clear argument or statement
of understanding of concepts.
B. The use of examples from readings, observations, and personal experiences.
C. Language usage and style, clarity, standard usage, and syntax.
• See Scoring Rubric for more specific criteria.
(Resources will be posted on Blackboard and/or our Google group)
Paper #2: Special Education Program Report This paper is a summary of student’s log
(20 hours of field work requirement in an educational, recreational, residential, or vocational
program for individuals with disabilities). Fieldwork must occur in a setting where the
student can observe students/clients and staff; you can use your job, however, you cannot
use your classroom to satisfy this requirement. Students will observe program, interview
staff, interview/interact with clients (and client’s families if possible), and obtain literature or
information about the program’s goals and philosophy. Each student’s paper (8-10 pages)
should include a thorough description of: a) the program and practices used to implement the
program and b) the client’s abilities and disabilities. A detailed reaction and evaluation of the
program is essential to this paper (Does this program meet the needs of it’s clients? Is this
program’s philosophy consistent with your own philosophy? Are the program’s practices in
accord with special education laws?, etc.). Include a time sheet/letter signed by supervisor of
program stating total number of hours you observed there or contact information of your
direct supervisor so I can contact them. Professor Denise Ferrara or myself must approve the
program that is visited.
Discussion Leader/Group Project Each student will work with group members and/or
individually to research a specific type of disability that affects students in special education.
Students will use books, journals, and the Internet to learn about the disability. Each group
will present a 45 - 60 minutes lesson to class that includes: a) IDEA definition, b) causes, c)
assessments, d) diagnosis, e) prevalence, f) social-emotional characteristics, g) learning
characteristics, and g) educational strategies. Students will work together to develop a lesson
that demonstrates creative teaching methods and materials. Each lesson will include a brief
summary of two recent journal articles related to students with that disability.
Refer to class
Final Exam One exam will be given on the last class. The exam will consist of 15 short
answer questions related to course content and readings.
Date Topic Readings/ Assignments
8/30 Overview of course, student & staff background, assignments, and
overview of Special Education
9/6 Social Context of Special Education, UDL and Inclusion Chapters 2, 3
9/13 Assessments and evaluations, placements, IEPs, partnerships and
9/20 CEC Special Education Standards Functional assessments
9/27 Common Core Learning Standards, Alternate Assessment TBA
10/4 Group A (Learning Disabilities), Group B (Intellectual Disabilities)
Chapter 5, 9
10/11 Group C (Communication Disorders), Group D (Emotional or
Chapter 6, 7
10/18 Group E (Physical Disabilities & Other Health Impairments, Group F
Chapter 12, 11
10/25 Group G (Severe and Multiple Disabilities), Group H (Speech or
Chapter 8, 13
11/1 Group I (Visual Impairment) Chapter 10, 16
11/8 Therapeutic teachers, classroom climate, teaching & stress management Chapter 14, 15
11/15 Adolescent issues; transitional planning positive behavior support Paper #1
11/22 No Classes Scheduled None
11/29 Selected Topics TBA
12/6 Selected Topics /Review for Exam TBA
12/13 Reading Day Paper #2