Academic journal article Journal of Technology and Teacher Education

Multimedia Environments in Mathematics Teacher Education: Preparing Regular and Special Educators for Inclusive Classrooms

Academic journal article Journal of Technology and Teacher Education

Multimedia Environments in Mathematics Teacher Education: Preparing Regular and Special Educators for Inclusive Classrooms

Article excerpt

A multimedia CD-ROM program, Mathematics Teaching and Learning in Inclusive Classrooms, was produced to help preservice teachers learn mathematics teaching methods in the context of inclusive classrooms. The contents include text resources, video segments of experts and of classroom lessons, images of student work, an electronic notebook, and a tool to select content for visual presentations. Experiences using the program in undergraduate and graduate courses are reported. Overall, students liked using the CD-ROM and saw it as a valuable resource to gain exposure to expert opinions and inclusive classroom situations that would be otherwise inaccessible. A reflection on pedagogical issues surrounding the use of multimedia CD-ROMs in the teacher preparation context suggests that careful integration of high-quality resources such as this CD-ROM with "traditional" resources such as journal articles may offer the best experience for preservice students.

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Faculty involved in teacher preparation programs take on many multidimensional goals. They must help preservice teachers master the art and science of teaching in general, become subject-matter experts in each content area (e.g., mathematics, science, language arts, and so on), and assist them in learning to differentiate instruction for increasingly diverse groups of students--including those with special educational needs. Because the number of courses preservice teachers take as well as the opportunity for exemplary field placements are limited, leveraging technology as much as possible to accomplish these goals is a priority.

Beginning teachers must develop solid understandings about mathematics and learn developmentally appropriate approaches for teaching mathematics to children with and without special educational needs. They are called to create reform-based classrooms (e.g., by teaching for understanding and developing children's mathematical power) as proposed by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM; 2000) and expected to meet national, state and/or district mathematics standards. In addition, because the Individuals with Disabilities Educational Act (IDEA) of 1997 now stresses meaningful access to the curriculum, children with special needs must have access to instruction that includes the same standards as their normally achieving peers (IDEA, 1997).

To accomplish these goals, Mercer, Jordan, and Miller (1996) suggested that general education teachers learn to consider both student and content factors when designing instructional strategies for diverse learners. In addition, special education teachers must know about mathematics curriculum and how to support children's conceptual development of ideas (Shriner, Dong-Il, Thurlow, & Ysseldyke, 1992). Instruction for students with disabilities must also go beyond the acquisition of knowledge of discrete topics to a comprehensive understanding of the discipline of mathematics (Woodward & Montague, 2002). Finally, for both general and special education students to be successful, teachers in each field must learn to collaborate using a variety of teaching approaches as well as technology (Sandholtz, Ringstaff, & Dwyer, 1997).

It was a desire to meet this combination of needs for students in two curriculum methods courses that provided the impetus for developing Mathematics Teaching and Learning in Inclusive Classrooms, a multimedia CD-ROM-based program. This resource was designed to help prepare regular and special education teachers include students with disabilities in regular education mathematics settings. The remainder of this article focuses on this CD-ROM application. First, we describe the contents of the CD-ROM program in detail. Next, we report on its initial use in one undergraduate and one graduate course, as well as a more recent implementation. We end by addressing issues of pedagogy for both the K-12 inclusive classrooms and the university preservice teacher preparation classroom. …

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