Special Education by Design

Article excerpt

"Design" has many meanings. As a noun, it can mean a pattern or a template. As a verb, it can be the process of creating a detailed plan. The phrase "by design" means to do something intentionally or on purpose. This issue looks at design of special education practice from many perspectives.

In "Inclusion by Design: Engineering Inclusive Practices in Secondary Schools," Charles Dukes and Pamela Lamar-Dukes ask us to think as engineers and to design inclusive practices into classrooms. They point out that successful inclusive classrooms don't happen by chance; they are the products of careful planning.

Spencer Salend, a frequent contributor to TEACHING Exceptional Children, addresses another design perspective when he considers the use of tools to design tests that are accessible to all students. In "Using Technology to Create and Administer Accessible Tests," he presents guidelines (and potential problems) when creating and administering tests that can be used by all students.

Fundamental principles of universal design (UD) can be applied to many activities. Mary Beth Doyle and Michael F. Giangreco consider a mechanism for assisting in the transition of students from inclusive middle schools to high schools using software-based presentations that have been developed using UD principles. In their article entitled "Making Presentation Software Accessible to High School Students With Intellectual Disabilities," they describe seven practical strategies for incorporating UD into Powerpoint» and other presentation packages that can then be used to assist in transitions.

In this era of standards and accountability, designing lessons that incorporate critical thinking skills can be a challenge for any special educator who works with elementary age students. In "To Find Yourself, Think for Yourself: Using Socratic Discussions in Inclusive Classrooms" Barbara Fink Chorzempa and Laurie Lapidus describe the use of Socratic seminars for critical thinking and writing skills.

Sharon M. KoIb and Amy C. Stevens Griffith discuss the design of assertiveness training in classes to empower students to advocate for themselves. In "I'll Repeat Myself, Again?! Empowering Students Through Assertive Communication Strategies" they present practical examples of how to teach students to say "No."

Finally, Stephen D. Kroeger, Cathy Burton, and Christopher Preston describe how two science teachers design lessons that support struggling middle school readers who use science textbooks. …