Teaching Student with Moderate to Severe Disabilities

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This text gives well coordinated instructions on how teachers can incorporate applied curriculum strategies in classroom sessions to give all the students a chance to participate in learning activities. The text is all round and highlights all aspects of teaching from the use of learning aids to functional instructions. The book generally provides ample examples of how teaching should be carried out appropriately. This paper is a review of the book, 'teaching students with moderate to severe disabilities' authored by Lee B. Hamil and Caroline Everington.

The Book Preview

This text is structured into three divisions/sections. The first section discusses the general overview of the curriculum specifically for the students with disabilities. The second section is about the methods of assessment used, the curricular options available and the professional interactions which ought to be used in various learning environments. The third section is about how implementation of appropriate instruction is carried out at the entire environment at the various levels of learning. Throughout the text the authors are keen to include the three environments which they name as general education classroom, school, and community (Hamil & Everington 2002).

Section I: Foundations of Curriculum

This section is made up of four chapters. Some of the key terms and concepts which are used in this section are inclusion, associated needs, applied curriculum, authentic environments and community based instructions. These terms are explained below;

Inclusion: this term is used herein in the text to mean the provision of educational services with needed supplementary aids and support services. This ought to be provided in age appropriate general education classrooms.

Associated needs: this is a requirement that advocates for modifications and adaptations to be made for the general students. The argument is that when teachers make some modifications for the students with disabilities the same modifications should be applicable for the other students with similar needs.

Applied curriculum: this is used to mean a curriculum that relates in a direct way the course concepts and ideas to their real life application. This is quite significant as it shapes the student with disabilities to learn on dealing with real life situation.

Authentic environment: this is used to refer to those environments which are located outside the classroom or the school environment. These kinds of environment helps the student to learn more about application of skills learnt in the classroom to the real life situations.

Authentic activities: this refers to learning in real life situations which involves the use of real, materials. This again as explained above helps a leaner to experience the real life experiences and consequently learner how to apply the class skills learnt in real life situations.

Community based instruction: this term refers to "teaching skills in the community settings where those skills are actually used" (Hamil & Everington 2002 p. 101).

On page 101 the authors argue that the teachers are required to care enough and spend enough time with the students and their families. This should be done genuinely to show that they care for their students with disabilities. The teachers should have a belief that all students are capable of performing better if put in a conducive environment which will foster learning. This section, according to me, is about how teachers can create such an environment where all the students with disabilities will stand a chance of benefitting academically by using the environment as the place for learning and applying the concepts learnt in the classroom sessions. Next is a short review of the four chapters contained in this section (Hamil & Everington 2002).

Chapter Review

This section will review briefly the chapters contained in the first section with special attention paid to the important details of the chapters. The first chapter is titled 'establishing the context.' This chapter provides a framework and perspective of the text. This chapter sets the foundation for the framework and perspective of the book. This is done through the examination of the attitude and treatment of the students and people in general with disabilities. The various approaches to the curriculum development are also discussed (Hamil & Everington 2002).

The second chapter is about 'characteristics and strategies for support.' This chapter describes in details the educational requirements and features of students with disabilities. This chapter discusses into the details those characteristics which are relevant to the learning of students with disabilities. These characteristics affect the learners in following areas: cognitive, social development, physical and health. This chapter also discusses the supports and adaptations which are used in the facilitation of learning (Hamil & Everington 2002).

The third chapter basically picks up from the second chapter and elucidates more on the adaptations and support given to the disabled students. The chapter in particular discusses the communication and technology support. This chapter introduces the strategies which can be used to enhance communication among the student with disabilities. The use of assistive technology in enhancing personal independence is also looked at. At the beginning the chapter discusses the recent legislation on assistive technology. A model for consideration of assistive technology and selection of informed decisions is viewed. The topic further discusses the enhancement of performance through the assistive technology. The chapter closes by discussing the alternate and augmentative communication for persons with disabilities (Hamil & Everington 2002).

The fourth chapter is about 'the learning environment.' This chapter provides perspectives on applied curriculum models. At the beginning of the chapter, the authors begin by exploring the implementation of inclusive classrooms issues. The chapter moves next to examine the strategies which are used in the implementation of applied curricula for general education students (Hamil & Everington 2002).

Section II: Implementation of Curriculum

The second section is made up of just three chapters. This section shows how the implementation of the curriculum should be carried out. Some of the important concepts which are covered in this section are: authentic assessments, curriculum-based assessments, curriculum based assessment, curriculum based measure, ecological assessment, maps, norm referenced tests, path, performance based assessment, person-centered approaches, portfolios and task analysis (Hamil & Everington 2002). These concepts are explained as below:

Authentic assessment: these are assessments which are used to measure the individual performance and growth in learning through demonstration and products. This is important as it help to identify the progress of individuals on a personal basis.

Curriculum-based assessment: this concept advocates for assessment of a student performance in a course being taken in correlation to the student ability as far as grade level curriculum is concern.

A curriculum based measure: this is a measure which generates standardized scores on the present curriculum for a school, district, or even a classroom. It is significant as it helps the teachers in their evaluation of their students at what ever level it is used. It is a tool which alerts the teachers of an action which needs to be undertaken.

Ecological assessment: this is a measure which is environmentally referenced and focuses on an individual's functioning as pertains to the context of his or her culture and environment.

Maps: this is a set of feature which can be used by the teachers, parents or even peers in the identification of strengths, needs and supports.

Norm referenced tests: these are assessment measures which are standardized. The standardization is on a large scale population. These are used to shed some light on the students incase a personalized standard lacks.

Path: this is explained as a form of planning that is used by team in the provision of an in depth action plan. This is significant especially when there is a need of making an impact among the students as far as their education is concern.

Performance-based assessment: this is evaluating a student's ability to execute a particular skill in a generalization setting. This is done by using of authentic environment learnt in the first section. It helps to show the progress of a student and shows the weak areas as well which needs to be worked on.

Person-centered approaches: this is where family members are brought in to help in the creation of a vision for instructional and future planning. Friends can also be involved in this planning.

Portfolio assessment: this is an evaluation done on a collection of student products. This is done to help the student in gaining confidence and sharpening of their skills by helping them to refine their products.

Task analysis: this is a strategy used to break activities into individual steps. This makes working easy for both the students and the teachers. It also helps to save time and ensure that different activities are assigned time according to their significance. Next the chapters are reviewed (Hamil & Everington 2002).

Chapter Review

The next section briefly reviews the chapters under section two. In this review a special attention will be paid to the main concepts covered above. The first chapter in this section is chapter five. The chapter is titled, 'authentic assessment in inclusive environment.' This chapter presents in a detailed form the approaches to authentic assessment. It also presents the strategies used in the referencing of the standard curriculum and student's environment. The chapter also discusses the strategies used in the monitoring of the performance of the students (Hamil & Everington 2002).

Chapter six is about 'designing the instructional program.' This chapter presents the strategies which can be used to design and develop an individual educational plan. The strategies which can be used by the parents and students to participate in the identification of goals and services are discussed at length. This chapter also carries a discussion of how IEP document can be developed and implemented. Chapter seven is tilted, 'supporting inclusive environments through collaboration.' This chapter examines the strategies which are used by groups in the provision of instruction and support. The chapter discusses in a detailed manner the interaction of teachers from the special education section with the other teachers, parents, community, members and students (Hamil & Everington 2002).

Section III: Instructional Environments

This is the last section in this book and examines in details the instructional environments. This section addresses the implementation of suitable instruction for students. This is done with regard to the three environments encountered by students that is, community, classes and school. The main concepts which come out clearly in this section are discussed as follows:

A behavior plan: this is a written document specifically for those students who have shown inappropriate behaviors. These behaviors are specifically those which can interfere with the learning of a student. This document contains the description of the student's behaviors, behavioral expectations, the events that trigger the behaviors and the intervention strategies. An evaluation plan and the needed support are also inclusive in this document.

COACH: this stands for choosing options and accommodations for children. This is an approach used in the facilitation of the IEP process. This is done by identifying the family's desired student outcomes.

IEP: this stands for individualized education program. This program is structured in a manner that suits an individual student's education al needs.

An IEP meeting: this is a meeting held purposely for the development of a student IEP.

IEP team: this is group which consists of those individuals close to the students. This group is specifically use in the development of a student program.

IFSP: this stands for individualized family service plan. This is document which is family based and used for children with disabilities. This document focuses on the instructions and support for the disabled children and their families.

ITP: this stands for the individual transition plan. This is a document which contains the information which is required by a student as he/she enters adulthood. The information covered in his document include employment, personal management, living arrangement, post secondary education, leisure pursuits and other activities in the community.

LRE: this stands for least restrictive environment. This is the location where students with disabilities receive special education services.

MAPS: this is the McGill action planning system. This is a student based method used in planning for a student's instructional program.

PLP: this stands for present level of performance. This is a statement in the IEP used for the provision of a narrative description of students' present needs as well as skills.

Annual goals: these are the areas which are depicted by the IEP that a student is required to concentrate on.

Short term objectives: these are the action plans which are used in achieving the annual goals.

Supplementary aids: this are the additional learning aids provided to the students to help them in the participation of the general educational program.

Related services: these are the services which aid student special needs in education (Hamil & Everington 2002).

The above are the main concepts which clearly come out in the third section. Below are chapter reviews for the third section. The third section has got eight chapters.

Chapter Review

Chapter eight is titled, 'the positive behaviors supports in inclusive environment.' This chapter examines the classroom organization. It also looks at the proactive approaches to behavior management. This chapter further discusses the positive strategies which are used build new behaviors. These new behaviors meet the individual needs in a more effective way. Chapter nine discuses preschool classroom and looks at the strategies which are used to address the individual needs of students (Hamil & Everington 2002).

Chapter ten is about the elementary classroom. This chapter has information about the adaptation to the standard elementary school curriculum. Information about applied and parallel curricula is as well contained herein. Chapter eleven examines the secondary classroom. This chapter just as the previous one discusses the adaptations to the general education curricula. It also discusses the adaptation to the parallel as well as the applied curricula. In the chapter are discussed the instructional needs for students in the secondary section. These include the development of interpersonal skills in the behavior, communication and social adjustment (Hamil & Everington 2002).

Chapter twelve examines the environment in the elementary school. It presents a model of applied curricula. In this model all students can participate. The chapter also presents another model in which all the general objectives in communication, behavior and social adjustment are paid attention to in all setting. Chapter 13 recaps on chapter twelve. The chapter adds on the appropriate extracurricular activities for disabled students (Hamil & Everington 2002).

Chapter fourteen is instructions based on the community. This chapter examines these instructions for both cases of elementary and secondary disabled students. The chapter also examines how employment opportunities are developed. The last chapter for this section and the book is fifteen. The chapter examines educational transitions in which strategies of transiting to school and from elementary to secondary are examined in details. The chapter further examines the transition from school to work places and effectively discusses lifestyles options, employment options and adult services (Hamil & Everington 2002).


This book is quite comprehensive as it covers literary all the aspects which special education teachers will ever wish to know. The language used is simple and easy to understand with the main concepts of the book discussed at the end of each chapter. I highly recommend the book.