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Teaching Literacy to Students with Significant Disabilities

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Table of Contents

Foreword - Douglas Fisher Acknowledgments Introduction About the Author 1. Literacy and a Free Appropriate Public Education Key Concepts What Is Literacy? Literacy and Federal Mandates in Education Barriers to Literacy Instruction for Students With Significant Disabilities Attitudinal Barrier Low Expectations Limited Opportunities Limited Means of Accessing Literacy Limited Time The Age Factor Literacy and Quality of Life Issues Self-Esteem Self-Determination Independence Information Gathering Organization Learning Entertainment Why Teach Reading to Students With Severe Disabilities? 2. Literacy and Communication Key Concepts The Relationship Between Communication and Literacy Building Relationships Reading Together The Benefits of Play Interactions Emergent Literacy for Students of All Ages Augmentative and Alternative Communication Devices Building Shared Experiences for Literacy Development Documentation of Shared Experiences Drawings Photograph Books Tactile Books Summary Frequently Asked Questions 3. Planning Literacy Activities Key Concepts General Considerations Literacy Rich Environments Benefits of Learning in a General Education Classroom Access to the Core Curriculum Not Just Physical Presence Identifying Literacy Goals What Are the Literacy Goals of the Individual and the Family? Determining Present Literacy Skills Analyzing the Environment and the Need for Literacy Skills Identifying When Literacy Skills Can be Taught Throughout the Day Creating Literacy-Learning Opportunities for All Ages Integrated Related Services Developing Literacy Materials for Individual Students Age Appropriateness Individual Consuderations Physical Considerations Visual Considerations Cultural Considerations Interesting Material High Quality Assistive Technology Computer Access Summary Frequently Asked Questions 4. Teaching Literacy Skills Key Concepts Concerns With Some Past Practices General Considerations When Teaching Literacy Skills Offering Choices Following Interest Level Providing Opportunities Make Accessible On the Spot Accommodations Meaningful Literacy Experiences The Use of a Daily Planner Within Task Directions Self-Monitoring Checklists Language Experience Stories Interactive and Fun Clear Literacy Goals in Mind Drawing Attention to Conventional Literacy Balanced Literacy Approach Specific Instructional Strategies Draw Attention to the Stimulus and Shape the Response Model the Behaviors of Reading and Writing Check for Comprehension Wait for a Response Provide Corrective Feedback and Praise Fade Instructional Support Teaching Generalization of Skills Summary Frequently Asked Questions 5. Evaluating Progress: Next Steps Key Concepts Alternative Assessments Interview Observations Review of Past Records The Link to IEP Goals and State Standards Adapting State Standards on Literacy Developing Appropriate IEP Goals and Objectives Passive Versus Active IEP Goals and Objectives Standard Linked IEP Objectives Procedures for Measuring Student Progress Data Collection Easy to Use Forms Portfolio Assessment Using Data for Instructional Purposed Determining Next Steps Review Literacy Goals Raise Expectations What Are the Logical Next Steps? Summary 6. The Future for Literacy Access and Instruction Key Concepts Improved Strategies to Support Literacy Goals Strengthening Early Intervention Services Future Advances in Technology Bridging the Research-to-Practice Gap Impact on Personnel Preparation Impact on Quality of Life Resources Glossary References List of Tables List of Figures Index

About the Author

June E. Downing is Professor Emerita of Special Education at California State University, Northridge, and prior to that was at the University of Arizona in Tucson, where she did research and prepared teachers to work in the area of moderate, severe, and multiple disabilities. She is a national leader in the field of special education that targets the needs of students with severe disabilities, especially with regard to inclusive education. She has published numerous articles, chapters, monographs, and seven books on students having severe and multiple disabilities. She served for six years on the Executive Board of TASH, an international advocacy organization for individuals with severe disabilities, and was a past president of the California Chapter of this organization-CalTASH as well as AZTASH. She has served as an associate editor of Research and Practices for Persons With Severe Disabilities and currently serves on this board as well as several other professional editorial boards. She is presently serving as an educational consultant, traveling extensively in the United States and abroad to do presentations on various subjects.


"Literacy is power-power to control your own life and influence the world around you. This book makes an important contribution. June Downing has challenged our assumptions about and expectations for students with significant disabilities." -- From the foreword by Douglas Fisher

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