Hunter College Department of Special Education

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Hunter College

Department of Special Education

Syllabus & Course Objectives/Spring 2009

SPED 700 Section 3/Issues and Practices in Educating Students with Disabilities (3 credits)

Professor: Dr. Vicki A. McGinley

Telephone: 215.696.1984)

Email: or

Office Hours: By appointment via office, telephone, or virtual

Course meeting times: This is a hybrid course, which meets in class, as well as, at times, online. Refer to class calendar below for in class time.

  1. Course Description

As an introductory course in the filed of special education, SPED 700 covers current issues and trends in the field, historical views of persons with disabilities as well as present definitions and classifications of disability, and effectives of disability on social, emotional, and psychological development. In addition, legal and educational perspectives are addresses. Recurrent and important themes in this course include a respect for diversity and the impact of culture on understanding disability in a multicultural society.

The goal of this course is to introduce you to the terms, issues, and laws in the field of Special Education, a necessary foundation for participation in professional discourse and activities. Specific objectives are described below in the sections on HC School of Education Conceptual Framework, Council for Exceptional Children Content Standards, and within individual sessions of the course itself.

  1. Course Objectives

The objectives of this course are derived from the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) Common Core of Knowledge and Skills Essential for Beginning Teachers. These standards are used by the National Council of Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) to accredit colleges and schools of education across the United States. The alphanumeric information following each objective allows cross-reference to CEC Knowledge and Skills Indicators.

Upon completion of this course, the student will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  1. Historical foundations of services for children and adults with disabilities. [1.K1]

  1. The laws and procedural safeguards governing services for children and adults with disabilities [1.K4]

  1. Characteristics of people with various disabilities, with particular reference to: definitions and etiologies, legal and educational classification systems, identification of disability and eligibility for special education services, and cultural variables. [1.K2, 1.K3, 2.K1, 2.K2, 2.K3, 2.K4, 2.K5]

  1. Needs of individuals with disabilities in particular reference to: educational implications, emotional development, medical interventions including psychotropic medication, and normalization goals. [1.S1, 2.K6, 2.K7]

  1. Ethical and legal implications regarding people with disabilities and related professionals and paraprofessionals. [1.S1]

  1. Social implications for people with disabilities relative to family and society. [1.K2, 1.K5]

  1. New developments and emerging trends in the field of special education. [1.K1]

  1. Use of professional publications and literature in the field of special education [All]

  1. Challenges encountered by teachers related to (a) assessment, diagnosis, and evaluation, (b) appropriate instructional content and practice, (c) planning and managing the teaching and learning environment, and (d) communication and collaborative partnerships [All]

Methods of Instruction:
Lecture, cooperative learning, presentations/debate, technology, contextual learning, demonstration, simulation, independent research.
Course Evaluation:
Class Attendance and Participation (+ or - points). Attendance will be taken at each class. Therefore, you are strongly encouraged to attend and actively participate in all classes. Your understanding of course material will be enhanced with your regular class attendance, discussion, and class contributions. However, students may miss up to one class session without penalty. Each additional absence will result in a 5-point deduction from the total points earned for the course.
Assignments. Following is a list of the assignments/requirements for this course. In some instances, further description will follow. Please note:

NO ASSIGNMENTS WILL BE ACCEPTED VIA E-MAIL. All assignments are to be completed during the course of the semester and handed in by on the date due via digital drop box in Rich Text Format.
1. Exams (200 points or 100 points each):
There will be two exams-one midterm and one final, which you will have one week to complete via Blackboard. The format for the exams will be multiple choice. Examinations will cover content from the text, lectures, presentations, videos, etc. Students are expected to master the material presented and are responsible for all material, particularly the textbook.
2. Field Observation Journal due on 4/20/09 (100 points):

All students will complete a field observation of 10 hours by visiting a school where children with disabilities are served. These hours will count towards the NYS teacher certification requirement of 10 hours of field experience. Visiting one site for an entire day or two sites for half days may do this. Your observation may be at a public or private school, an early intervention program or a vocational rehabilitation/community based program. The type of program selected is your choice but please make sure it is NOT they type of program or exceptionality that you have already had experience working with. ALL observation sites must be approved prior to your site visit(s). If you are having difficulty finding a site, please let me know.

Journals should contain summaries and reflections on what was observed in the field (focus on a specific event), in addition to infusing course content. Journals will be evaluated utilizing the rubric found on Blackboard. Although the journals are designed to be informal in their structure, students are expected to adhere to the rules of Standard English grammar, proofread journals for errors, etc. Poor writing skills, organization of content, errors, etc. will be counted against you. Journals must be submitted via the Digital Drop box in Rich Text Format.
Legal Issues Assignment: NCLB Asynchronous Chat/ (week of 2/2/09 to 2/9/09) and Legal Web quest Essay Due on 2/9/09 (100 points total):
3. Asynchronous Discussion or Chats due 2/2/09 to 2/9/09 and 4/27/09 to 5/4/09: (50 points each or 100 points total:
The first of 2 chats (or asynchronous discussions) is described here. The second one, further description will follow. Each chat is worth 50 points. For the first one since there is an essay attached (IDEA Essay) the total assignment is worth 100 points or 50 for the essay and 50 for the chat).

Below is the protocol for both chats, which you will want to follow in order to get full points on this assignment. In addition to following the rules, to do well on the chats, must read your textbook. Additionally, it is suggested that to do well in these chats you peruse thorough recommended readings, websites (i.e., NYS site, etc.) and/or participate in activities that will support your critical thinking of the topic such as suggested IRIS activities) to help you.

 DB/Chats conferences usually last 7 days before closing.

 Contributions should be written in clear Standard English.

 Conferences require two kinds of messages: primary and secondary.
1. Primary postings (or threads)
* One of these is required in this chat

* Length: between 75 and 150 words

* Primary postings are your messages, which fulfill the primary activity or address the primary issues of the chat. Primary postings are due prior to midnight of the third day before the close of the conference (or 1/28/09). No credit will be given for primary postings made after this deadline.
2. Secondary postings:

* At least two of these are required in this conference

* Must enlarge upon, evaluate, constructively criticize or otherwise intelligently add to the primary posting of at least two classmates

* Must do more than merely agree or disagree in order to receive credit

* May be posted for credit until the closing of the conference.


1. Before contributing to a conference be sure to read all messages posted since your last visit, then you are ready to post your own primary message.

2. If someone already posted on a topic you intended to use, you may NOT post it as a primary message but you can reply to it as a secondary message.

See Grading Rubric on Blackboard
4. Legal Web quest Essay Due 2/9/09 (50 points):
A web quest involves the learner in searching the web to complete, what I hope is an interesting, pack full of learning assignment. It helps the learner to become familiar with some resources on the Internet to help them in completing an assignment. I will be giving you some Internet resources to help you get started. You will need to add, at minimum, 2 more Internet references/resources if you wish to obtain full credit.

The purpose of this web quest is Analysis of Legislation. Specifically, how does IDEA relate to NCLB? How are they alike? How are they different?
Your task is to research and analyze information to form a report (a 3-5 page response) that clearly delineates Section 504, IDEA and NCLB.
Some Resources to help you with this task:
IRIS ( Go to Web directory links
Format of Report in 3-5 pages

  • Guiding Question

  • Report with citations (APA), should point reader (me) to Internet as well as other references in text. The report may refer reader (me) to diagrams, etc.

  • Conclusion that brings closure to web quest

  • References (APA)

5. Multicultural and Bilingual Perspectives Assignment (IRIS) and Overrepresentation Web quest/Essay due on 4/6/09 (50 points):
It has been widely researched and documented that there is overrepresentation of minorities in special education. In this assignment you will be asked to analyze the complex issue of Overrepresentation of Minorities/Culturally Diverse Learners in Special Education and to make decisions based on your analysis.
What is your position on overrepresentation of culturally diverse learners in special education classes? What is your solution? What can you do to address responsibly the overrepresentation issue when you become teachers?
According to M. Suzanne Donovan and Christopher T. Cross, believe that eliminating overrepresentation is beyond the scope of public schools. Daniel J. Losen and Gary Orfield believe that eliminating overrepresentation is not beyond the scope of public schools. What is your position? Why?
Crucially analyze and report your findings in a 3-5-page paper.
Resources to Use:
Support your views with documentation, including, but not limited to, NCLB act, IDEA and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and their implementing Regulations.
National Center for Culturally Responsive Education Systems
6. Two Synchronous Online Discussion Board Conferences/Debates (200 points or 100 points each):
In the Synchronous Discussion sections, you will have the opportunity to discuss and deliberate controversial issues in special education, that is, issues on which express disagree, and reasonable, strong arguments can be made on both sides. Thus there is no one “correct” answer for any of these issues, although they are all important and, I hope, interesting.
You will be assigned to one of four groups and Issue/Topic either Pro or Con. As such, on the date, time of the Online Discussion you will lead the Synchronous Discussion. Participation in online discussions is required and graded. For these discussions/debates you will need audio and video access. The discussion board conferences are synchronous and as such and have definite dates (falls on days that class would be held if we were in a brick and mortar classroom) and time indicated in the instructions for each conference. The purpose of the discussions is to stimulate study and discussion of the weekly reading assignments.
This discussion sections will adopt a panel format. The panel members are to clearly present the arguments on their side of the issue. After the panel members have presented their arguments, the discussion will be opened up for questions, comments, and criticisms from the other members of the class.
Discussion board conferences are time sensitive and, if missed, may not be made up. However, there are more conference points available than can be used if you earned them all.
Further description will follow.
7. Group Research/Resource Booklet & Project Fair due on Final Exam Day (150 points):
Each student/group will be assigned a disability to research in depth and present to the class. Your disability is will be assigned at a later date.
a. Research/Resource Document (100 points):
Each student will create a Research/Resource document, which exhaustively covers your assigned disability. In other words, your topic should be researched as if you were writing a research paper. This booklet should be completed in a professional, attractive manner (typed, graphics, orderly format and organization, etc.) and written in parent friendly language (do not use first person pronouns when writing your paper.)

Your document should contain the following:

- Name of the disability (and any alternative names)

- Disability defined

- Why this disability occurs (causes/etiology)

- Frequency of occurrence (prevalence)

- Symptoms and characteristics

- How diagnosed

- Typical medical problems and treatments encountered with disability

- Special medical assistance available (insurance, special funding?)

- Life expectancy

- Legal issues (covered under IDEA? —What category?)

- Educational considerations/methodologies/specialized curriculums

-Exceptional Internet sites—annotated bibliography

- Support groups available for family/student (at least one)

(Groups may be local, state or national organizations, support groups or religiously affiliated).

Include the following information for each agency:



-Phone number

-Web address/e-mail address

-Hours of operation

-Services provided and for whom

-Fees (if applicable

-ALL references of sources used should be on the last page of your document.
The rubric for the document is posted on Blackboard.

b. Project Fair (50 points):
1. Students are expected to present their disability and findings during the Project Fair. On the day of the Fair, you must provide the following:

-A summary sheet of your resource document for each member of the class and 2 for me

-Utilize a standard “science fair” tri-fold presentation board to present your Disability information

-You may include anything you like on your display; however, ensure that the major topics as noted on the rubric are addressed on your display

2. Presentations are expected to be professional, parent friendly, and easy to read—BE


3. Students should be prepared to answer any questions.

4. Students will evaluate presentations, which will determine the final presentation grade.

The rubric for the presentation will be posted on Blackboard.
Final grades will be determined using the Hunter College grading scale and will be evaluated based upon the following:



Your Points

Legal Web quest Chat and Essay


Second Chat


Midterm Exam


Field Journal


Overrepresentation Essay


Final Exam


Research/Resource Booklet


Class Presentation


Two Synchronous Discussions/Debates




Relevant Course Policies:
Academic Dishonesty
Hunter College regards acts of academic dishonesty (e.g., plagiarism, cheating on examinations, obtaining unfair advantage, and falsification of records and official documents) as serious offenses against the values of intellectual honesty. The College is committed to enforcing the CUNY Policy on Academic Integrity and will pursue cases of academic dishonesty according to the Hunter College Academic Integrity Procedures.
Expectations for Writing Proficiency
Students must demonstrate consistently satisfactory written English in their coursework. The Hunter College Writing center provides tutoring to students across the curriculum and at all academic levels. For more information, see In addition, the Teacher Placement Office in the School of Education offers a writing workshop during the semester, and a series of free writing classes are offered to students who are in need of additional support in honing their writing skills.
Access and Accommodations for Students with Disabilities
The instructor in this course is committed to social justice and expects to maintain a positive learning environment based upon open communication, mutual respect and nondiscrimination. Our university does not discriminate on the basis of race, sex, age, disability, veteran status, religion, color, or national origin. Any suggestions as to how to further such a positive and open environment in this class will be appreciated and given serious consideration. A part of this class relies on recognition of both diversity and cultural backgrounds of students. You should also expect to discuss this aspect of this course in class and with your peers, as well as demonstrate the same in your own teaching. Completed course assignments and class activities should reflect the variety of backgrounds in this class and your future students.
It is recommended that HC students with disabilities explore the support services and register with the OFFICE FOR ACCESS AND ACCOMMODATIONS. The American with Disabilities Act (ADA), which requires that they be provided equal access to education and reasonable accommodations, protects HC students with disabilities. In compliance with the ADA and with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, Hunter is committed to ensuring the educational access and accommodations. For information and assistance, contact the OFFICE FOR ACCESS AND ACCOMDIATON S in Room E1124 or call (212) 772-4857 or TTY (212) 650-3230. If you have learning or other disabilities that require special classroom accommodation, please discuss this with your instructor.
Extra Credit
Students are expected to demonstrate competencies through the assignments given in class and invest sufficient effort to complete those assignments to the best of their ability. Extra credit will not be offered.
Class Cancellation
In the case of inclement weather, please refer to the student handbook under “Storm Closings” for details as to how classes are cancelled by the University. If class needs to be cancelled by the instructor an announcement will be made via snow chain, e-mail and Blackboard.
**Note-Please note that all assignments need to be turned in by the deadlines provided. Late submission will incur a penalty of 5 points/day
Required Textbook
Friend, M. (2008). Special Education: Contemporary Perspectives for School Professionals. Boston: Pearson Education
American Psychological Association. (2001). Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (5th Ed.). Washington, D.C: American Psychological Association.
Course Calendar/SPED 700/Spring 2009
Note: Dates in bold indicated in class time.



Readings Due on this Date

Assignments Due on this Date


Overview of Course; Review of Syllabi; Overview of Blackboard; Introduction Activity; Group Assignments

Contemporary Issues Card


Legislation-IDEA, NCLB, Section 504

Text, Chapter 1

Legal Issues Assignment: NCLB Asynchronous Chat begins


Historical Perspectives, Personnel and Procedures

Text, Chapter 2

Legal Web quest Essay Due

Obtain forms:


Hunter Closed


Contemporary Issues in Special Education

Synchronous Discussion-Log into no later than 4:30 p.m.


Children with High Incidence Disabilities/LD and SLI

Text, Chapters 5 and 9


Children with ADD/ADHD

Text, Chapter 6

Synchronous Discussion-Group Debate Log into no later than 4:30 p.m.


Children with High Incidence Disabilities/BD

Text Chapter 7



Midterm Exam on Blackboard covers Text, Chapters 1, 2, 5, 6, 7, 9


Children with Low Incidence Disabilities/MR, and Autism

Text, Chapters 8, 12, 14


Multicultural and Bilingual Perspectives

Text, Chapter 3

IRIS/Overrepresentation of Minorities Web quest Essay Due


Hunter Closed


Children with Sensory and Physical Impairments

Text, Chapters 10, 11, 13




Asynchronous Chat begins


Children with Gifts and Talents; Co Teaching

Text, Chapters 4 & 15


Final Exam

Synchronous Discussion-Group Debate Log into no later than 4:30 p.m.

Final Exam on Blackboard covers Text, Chapters 8, 10, 12, 13, 14


Final Day

Final Exam Day Paper and Poster Fair


The Conceptual Framework of the Hunter College School of Education
Within the larger sphere of New York City’s urban context, “four spheres of endeavors that overlap and influence each other guide Hunter’s School of Education. Ideally these spheres merge at the core and result in the empowerment of children and youth; teacher candidates; allied professionals; school, community, and parent partners; and Hunter College faculty. The four spheres serve to focus the diverse specializations of our many programs and provide increase coherence within this diversity.” While learning and leading in an urban context (UC), the School of Education at Hunter College commits itself to:
Developing knowledge, skills and dispositions (KSD)

Engendering professionalism (P)

Building a caring learning community and culture (CLC)

Advocating for social justice (SJ)

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