SPEG 626 Course Web

Math, Science, & Social Science Assessment & Instruction for Students with Moderate Disabilities, PreK-8


University of Massachusetts Boston
Graduate College of Education
Department of School Organization, Curriculum, and Instruction

SPEG 626
Math, Science, & Social Science Assessment & Instruction
 for Students with Moderate Disabilities, PreK-8

Spring, 2007

Instructor: Mark R. Albright, M.Ed.             

Telephone: 508.620.4963 x 1020
eMail: malbright@framingham.k12.ma.us

Office hours: Thursdays, 3-4 PM & by appointment.
Phone conferences are welcomed. Please make all appointments by email

Section time: 4-6:30 PM     Day: Thursday
Location: W-04-0122

Catalog descriptor:
This course explores the major causes of difficulties in math and the content areas (PreK-8). Topics include the description and evaluation of a variety of effective instructional approaches, methods, and materials used in teaching students with diverse special needs in these areas. Attention is also given to career education and social skills training and their infusions within an across-the-curriculum framework. The course includes a fieldwork component.  Fifteen (15) field-based hours.

Course relationship to the Professional Education Unit’s (PEU) conceptual framework: The topics and field-based assignments of this course have been designed to prepare thoughtful and responsive educators skilled in using differentiated curriculum and instructional practices for students with mild to moderate disabilities. The PEU outcomes of understanding content, pedagogy, assessment, and technology and practicing culturally responsive, respectful teaching, collegial collaboration, and self-evaluation are PEU-related goals of the course.

Described below are The Council of Exceptional Children’s Standards for Beginning Special Educators, which are addressed in this course.

CEC Standard 4: Instructional Strategies: Special educators posses a repertoire of evidence-based instructional strategies to individualize instruction for individuals with ELN. Special educators select, adapt, and use these instructional strategies to promote challenging learning results in general and special curricula3 and to appropriately modify learning environments for individuals with ELN. They enhance the learning of critical thinking, problem solving, and performance skills of individuals with ELN, and increase their self-awareness, self-management, self-control, self-reliance, and self-esteem. Moreover, special educators emphasize the development, maintenance, and generalization of knowledge and skills across environments, settings, and the lifespan.

CEC Standard 7: Instructional Planning: Individualized decision-making and instruction is at the center of special education practice. Special educators develop long-range individualized instructional plans anchored in both general and special curricula. In addition, special educators systematically translate these individualized plans into carefully selected shorter-range goals and objectives taking into consideration an individual’s abilities and needs, the learning environment, and a myriad of cultural and linguistic factors. Individualized instructional plans emphasize explicit modeling and efficient guided practice to assure acquisition and fluency through maintenance and generalization. Understanding of these factors as well as the implications of an individual’s exceptional condition, guides the special educator’s selection, adaptation, and creation of materials, and the use of powerful instructional variables. Instructional plans are modified based on ongoing analysis of the individual’s learning progress. Moreover, special educators facilitate this instructional planning in a collaborative context including the individuals with exceptionalities, families, professional colleagues, and personnel from other agencies as appropriate. Special educators also develop a variety of individualized transition plans, such as transitions from preschool to elementary school and from secondary settings to a variety of postsecondary work and learning contexts. Special educators are comfortable using appropriate technologies to support instructional planning and individualized instruction.

The following portions of CEC Standard 8: Assessment:  Assessment is integral to the decision-making and teaching of special educators and special educators use multiple types of assessment information for a variety of educational decisions. Special educators use the results of assessments to help identify exceptional learning needs and to develop and implement individualized instructional programs, as well as to adjust instruction in response to ongoing learning progress.

The following portions of CEC Standard 9: Professional and Ethical Practice: Special educators are guided by the profession’s ethical and professional practice standards…Special educators view themselves as lifelong learners and regularly reflect on and adjust their practice. Special educators are aware of how their own and others attitudes, behaviors, and ways of communicating can influence their practice. Special educators understand that culture and language can interact with exceptionalities, and are sensitive to the many aspects of diversity of individuals with ELN and their families. …Special educators know their own limits of practice and practice within them.

Objectives of course:
The following knowledge, skills, and dispositions associated with teaching PreK-8 culturally and linguistically diverse students with disabilities with be acquired by course participants through in-class activities, homework assignments, and/or projects.

1. Applied understanding of the principles of universal design and its relationship to instructional theory (e.g. Vygotsky’s zone of proximal development) and instructional methods (e.g. differentiated instruction, cooperative learning, anchored instruction.)

2. Demonstrated ability to adjust general education lesson plans aligned with MA Curriculum Framework content standards of math, science, and history/social studies that promote challenging learning results for culturally and linguistically diverse (CLD) students with mild to moderate disabilities.

3. Applied understanding of the kinds of conceptual and procedural mathematical, science, and social science difficulties that may be experienced by CLD students with mild to moderate disabilities, and the instructional implications for a student, based on a individual abilities and needs, the learning environment, and the myriad cultural and linguistic factors associated with the student’s exceptional condition.

4. Proficiency in using multiple types of assessment information (e.g. classroom observations; semi-structured math interview techniques; math error analysis of work products; performance assessments of science content knowledge, inquiry procedures, and science processes; diagnostic assessments of social science concepts) to determine a student’s mathematical, science, and social science knowledge and skills and to identify exceptional learning needs of a student.

5. Proficiency in using assessment results to develop and implement individualized instructional plans anchored within a thematic, interdisciplinary, math-science curriculum unit aligned with MA Curriculum Framework Standards

6. Applied understanding of evidence-based instructional strategies in math, science, and social science that enhance learning of critical thinking, problem solving, and performance.

7. Applied understanding of instructional strategies that include explicit modeling and efficient guided practice to assure acquisition and fluency of knowledge and skills through maintenance and generalizations across environments and setting.

8. Applied understanding of instructional activities that increase the self-awareness, self-management, self-control, self-reliance, and self-esteem.

9.  Demonstrated ability to select, adapt, and create materials that individualize instruction for students with disabilities.

10. Demonstrated ability to develop learning activities that use databases for summarizing and analyzing information.

11. Knowledge of the elements of effective individualized transition plans (e.g. a transition from preschool to elementary school, a transition from elementary to middle school, or a transition from middle to high school.)

12. Demonstrated ability to evaluate one’s own perceived strengths and needed growth areas in curriculum design and instructional practices and to formulate a reasonable action plan for improvement.


Prerequisites: SPE G 607, SPE G 621, SPE G 624, SPE G 625 or permission of the Department Chair.

Required texts:
                Tucker, Benny F., Singleton, Ann H., & Weaver, Terry L. (2006). Teaching Mathematics to ALL Children: Designing and Adapting Instruction to Meet the Needs of Diverse Learners. Columbus, OH: Merrill Prentice Hall.
                Massachusetts Department of Education. (2001). Mathematics Curriculum Framework: Achieving Mathematical Power. (www.doe.mass.edu).
                Massachusetts Department of Education.  (May, 2004). Supplement to the Massachusetts Mathematics Curriculum Framework. (www.doe.mass.edu)
                Massachusetts Department of Education. (2003). Massachusetts History and Social Studies Curriculum Framework. (www.doe.mass.edu).
                Massachusetts Department of Education. (May, 2001). Massachusetts Science & Technology/Engineering  Curriculum Framework. (www.doe.mass.edu).
                Tomlinson, Carol Ann. (1999). The Differentiated Classroom: Responding to the Needs of All Learners. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

Additional required readings will include articles, reports, and website information accessible through the WebCT course website.

Recommended Texts:
                Burris, Anita C. (2005). Understanding the Math You Teach: Content and Methods for Prekindergarten Through Grade 4. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Educational Ltd.


General Expectations:

1. Prompt class arrival and regular attendance.
2. Active, collegial participation in class discussions and activities that includes respect for peers’ opinions and constructive peer feedback.
3. Completion of readings and assignments by due dates.
4. Preparedness to critically and reflectively link concepts/practices examined in the session’s required readings to one’s personal and professional field experiences.
5. Abidance by Council of Exceptional Children’s professional ethical standards when implementing and documenting field-based experiences.  Refer to them at  www.cec.sped.org .
6. By the last class session, return to instructor the Educator Dispositions and Understanding Assessment Form -which must be completed and signed by a school practitioner who has observed most of your field-based experience work associated with this course. Your final grade will be withheld until this form is returned.
7. Logging onto the WebCT portal for the course before the second session, using your UMass Boston email address.
8. Maintaining a 3-ring binder of all course-related readings, handouts, assessment and teaching materials, and student work products. Binder to be brought to all class sessions.



Requirements for written assignments:

1. Assignments must be typed, double-spaced, and use 12 pt. font size.

2. Timely submissions. Unforeseen circumstances that may validly prevent a timely submission should be discussed beforehand with instructor. A pattern of late submissions that have not had instructor pre-approval will result in at least a half letter grade reduction for the course.

3.Writing proficiency is expected.  Please proofread your work for conventional English spelling,                 grammar, punctuation, and coherence. Products that do not meet expectations of graduate level writing proficiency will be returned for revisions. Grades for assignments resubmitted for such purposes will earn a reduced grade.

4. Assignments that do not provide evidence of earning at least a B grade will be returned for the opportunity of a resubmission that addresses missing and/or non-satisfactory responses.  If the resubmitted assignment sufficiently addresses those elements, a grade of B can be earned.


Course Assignments:

1. Classroom Observation - A 3-4 page description and analysis of a math lesson conducted in a general education classroom.  Guidelines provided by the instructor will be used to focus the observation.  The lesson will be analyzed in terms of accommodations / adaptations used (or not used) for students exhibiting learning difficulties and for those on IEP’s. The paper must specify alternate ways that these students could have conducted the lesson’s activities in order to promote higher levels of engagement and achievement.  Your analysis and recommendations must be linked to the concepts and practices examined in course readings.

                DUE DATE:    Session 4                                                              5 % of grade

2. Co-Teaching Presentation:  With a partner, participants will conduct a 20-30 minute simulation of a math or math/science lesson appropriate for Prek-8 students with and without disabilities. Presentations must include a hands-on interactive activity and a ‘writing to learn’ activity with class members. Pairs will select from instructor provided topics (i.e. place value, addition and subtraction; multiplying and dividing whole numbers; rational numbers – fractions and decimals.) The teaching presentation will be followed by a 5-10 minute question and answer period with class members.  Handouts must include a 1 – 1-½-page summary of the kinds of challenges that students with disabilities may encounter with the particular math skill; evidence-based instructional strategies that promote learning of the skill; and an annotated list of web-based teacher and student resources.  Participants will be asked to provide thoughtful, constructive written responses to the presentation. At the next session, each presenter will submit a 1- 1 1/2 page written reflection on the strengths and areas needing improvement of the simulation.

                DUE DATE: To be scheduled for Sessions 5-8                         10 % of grade

3. Math error analysis report. A 3-5-page error analysis report based on a set of work products produced by a student exhibiting math difficulties.  The report will include a set of detailed evidence-based instructional recommendations drawn from the course readings that an inclusion teacher could adopt to remediate two (2) skill areas of need identified in the error analysis.  The instructor will provide error analysis procedures and report format.

                DUE DATE:    Session 9                                                              15 % of grade

4. Design and implementation of an interdisciplinary math and science unit, that includes five (5) implemented lessons aligned with MA Curriculum Frameworks Learning Standards. The unit must incorporate Universal Design for Learning (UDL) principles and differentiated classroom strategies.
Required Unit elements: a) rationale for unit; b) overview of class composition, including a profile of the target student; c) a brief description of the context of the unit within the larger math and science curriculum, d) unit goals and objectives for the group of students; e) a brief description of how ‘writing to learn’ activities are used in the unit; h) a brief description of how computer-based technology is used in the unit  (e.g. a web-quest; a virtual field trip, a computer simulation, a spreadsheet to organize and analyze data, a microcomputer-based laboratory, a  calculator-based laboratory), f) brief narrative summary of target student’s progress in unit, along with a table that summarizes the student’s performance assessment data on two of the unit’s objectives.
Required elements for each lesson plan: a) infused math and science concepts or skills, b) student writing about their math/science learning; c) use of teacher and/or student-applied rubric for assessing student performance and/or work products; and d) a lesson reflection that briefly summarizes which of the planned lesson activities were actually implemented; environmental and/or circumstantial variables that affected the lesson’s implementation; progress made by target student (supported by evidence) on the lesson’s objectives; instructional adjustments made in response to ongoing learning progress of the target student, and future adjustments deemed necessary to accelerate the target student’s achievement. Instructor will supply lesson plan format.

NOTE: Participants in this course will have access to a newly created UMass database tutorial for assisting in the design of a Prek-12 activity that uses spreadsheets to analyze data.  The instructor will provide its web link. 

DUE DATE:    Last Class Session                                      50 % of grade


5. Homework and Classroom participation.
                Homework will be assigned periodically. Types of assignments may include adaptations of commercially published lesson plans, IEP transition plans, written responses to mini-case studies or in-class video clips, etc.  The purpose of these homework assignments is to give you the opportunity to demonstrate your applied understanding of concepts / skills examined in course readings and lectures.

                 Classroom participation includes constructive involvement in classroom activities and in class discussions in which your contributions are informed by critical reflections on session-based readings. Relevant discussion contributions include asking good questions (ones that seek to make meaningful connections between theory and practice) and sharing field-based examples that are relevant to the topic under discussion and that ‘add value’ to the class’s ability to link your examples to their own prek-8 teaching experiences. Class participation also includes arriving promptly, listening respectfully to class peers, reflecting honestly and analytically upon one’s teaching performance, and being receptive to suggestions of peers and the instructor for professional growth.

                DUE DATE: Ongoing                                                                   20 % of grade

Methods of evaluation:
Students are evaluated by the following methods, weighted accordingly.
Domain/Assignment          Relevant Objective                               Percent of Grade

1. Math observation                1,3,4,6-8                                                  5 %

2. Co-teaching                      6-9, 12                                                     10%

3. Math error analysis 3, 4, 5-8                                                   15 %

4. Math-science unit         1-3,5-7,9                                 50 %

5. Homework, class
    Participation                      1-4,6-8,10,11                                    20 %

Accommodations: Section 504 and the American with Disabilities Act of 1990 offer guidelines for curriculum modifications and adaptations for students with documented disabilities. If applicable, students may obtain adaptation recommendations from the Ross Center (287.7430) or contact them at www.rosscenter.umb.edu the student must present and discuss these recommendations to each professor within a reasonable period, preferably by the end of the Drop/Add period.

Students are required to adhere to the Code of Student Conduct, including requirements for academic honesty, delineated in the University of Massachusetts Boston Graduate Studies Bulletin, Undergraduate Catalog, and relevant program student handbook(s).

Students are advised to retain a copy of this syllabus in personal files for use when applying for certification, licensure, or transfer credit.

This syllabus is subject to change.

Papers will be available for students to pick up until two weeks into the semester following completion of the course.






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