Writing Lesson Plans for Promoting Self-Determination

By Test, David W.; Browder, Diane M. et al. | Teaching Exceptional Children, September/October 2002 | Go to article overview

Writing Lesson Plans for Promoting Self-Determination


Test, David W., Browder, Diane M., Karvonen, Megan, Wood, Wendy, Algozzine, Bob, Teaching Exceptional Children


"What if I want to get married?"

"Can I have my own apartment?"

"Will they fire me if I'm late?"

"What does `self-advocacy' mean?"

"I don't like my boss. What can I do?"

"How do I vote? Who should I vote for?"

"What if I want children?"

These are questions that many caregivers-and educators-don't know how to answer or how to guide their kids or their students in finding answers. What are basic rights that all U.S. citizens take for granted, but that are difficult or almost impossible for people with disabilities to attain? How can parents, educators, and other professionals assist young people in finding answers to these questions-how can we successfully teach self-determination skills? (See box, "What Does the Literature Say?")

One way teachers can begin implementing self-determination lessons is to use one or more published curriculums to teach self-determination skills. We have provided a list of published selfdetermination curriculums, as well as a procedure teachers can use to choose a curriculum that best meets the needs of their students (Test, Karvonen, Wood, Browder, & Algozzine, 2000). A second way to teach these skills is to construct your own lesson plans, working together with other teachers and researchers to apply the research on promoting selfdetermination.

This article describes a process that you can use to translate information in research studies into practical lesson plans. We have drawn examples from the self-determination literature.

The Self-Determination Synthesis Project

The Self-Determination Synthesis Project (SDSP) was a program funded by the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs, to synthesize and disseminate available knowledge and best practices related to self-determination for students with disabilities. The purpose of the project was to improve, expand, and accelerate the adoption of researchbased strategies for promoting self-determination to teachers.

As part of the SDSP effort, we conducted a comprehensive literature review of self-determination intervention research. We identified 51 studies in which an intervention had been used to promote self-determination with people with disabilities (Algozzine, Browder, Karvonen, Test, & Wood, 2001). Of these 51 studies, 45 contained enough information for us to translate the research into "lesson plan starters" (see box, "Resources for Lesson Plans," for a list of sample articles, together with the self-determination skills they address).

Developing a Lesson Plan From a Research Article

In this article, we model the process we used to develop our lesson plans and provide suggestions for extending this information to more specific, direct instruction lesson plans and systematic instruction lesson plans. The lesson plans on our Web site (see http://www.uncc.edu/sdsp) could be called lesson plan "starters" because they summarize information that can be gathered from research articles. Each lesson plan includes five components: objective, setting and materials, content taught, teaching procedures, and method of evaluation. (See Figure 1 for an example of a self-determination lesson plan starter.) You may need to adapt this information for the learning needs of specific students, and you may need to rewrite lesson plans to conform to the format of a specific school system.

Objective

The objective for a research-article lesson plan is derived from the purpose or hypothesis of the study. You can find this information in one of two places. It is usually in the first or second sentence of the study's abstract, A better place to look, however, is the last paragraph of the introduction or literature review. In the lesson plan starter in Figure 1, based on the research study of Sievert et al. (1988), the objective comes from the purpose statement in the last paragraph of the introduction. …

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