SPED 520 Introduction to Exceptionalities
Fall 2015 Online
Instructor: Dr. Beth Jones
Office: Henderson 228
Telephone: (903) 886-5940
Fax: (903) 886-5510
Email: [email protected] (preferred method of contact)
Office Hours: by appointment; Please do not hesitate to contact me, preferably through
e-mail, if an appointment is needed.
Course Description:
The purpose of this course is to familiarize the participants with the characteristics and
learning differences of exceptional students. Legal mandates regarding special
education will be discussed. Course participants will develop an understanding of the
identification process and educational options for students with exceptionalities.
Accommodations and modifications that may be considered to assist students with
disabilities in general education setting will be explored.
Smith, D.D., & Tyler, N. C. (2010). Introduction to Special Education: Making a
Difference (7th Ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Merrell (ISBN # 13:978-0-205-60056-4 /
10: 0-205-60056-5)
Course Objectives:
The following are the standard course objectives: The student is expected to be able to
understand and will apply knowledge of:
 The philosophical, historical, and legal foundations of special education
 Special education terminology and definitions
 The characteristics and needs of students with disabilities
 Diversity in students with exceptionalities
 Procedures for managing the teaching and learning environment, including
procedures related to the use of assistive technology
 How to communicate and collaborate effectively in a variety of professional
settings including the fostering of home-school relationships
Contacting the Instructor
If you have a question that you feel others in the class would benefit from the answer to,
please post your question in the virtual office. For all other inquiries, email is my
preferred method of communication. Please give me 48 hours to respond to your
emails before resending. In addition, please be aware that I will not respond to emails
on Saturday or Sunday, and emails received on Friday could potentially be responded
to the following Monday.
A Note About the Virtual Office: The Virtual Office is a public forum. If you need to
contact me about something of a personal nature, feel free to e-mail me.
Three Before Me Rule: The 3 before me rule simply means, before you e-mail me with
a question, (when is an assignment due, how do I turn it in, how many points is it worth,
etc.), you are to attempt 3 times to answer your question. What are some suggested
ways you can do this? You could: read your syllabus, review Virtual Office to see if
someone else has asked this question, post a question for your peers in the Virtual
Office, or contact other members of your class.
As a student enrolled at Texas A&M University-Commerce, you have access to an
email account via MyLeo. ALL class emails from your instructor WILL GO TO
YOUR MyLeo ACCOUNT. Please be sure to check this email account frequently
and regularly.
Technology Requirements:
This is a totally online course that will be conducted within eCollege (the class will NOT
meet face-to-face). eCollege works best within a Microsoft Windows environment, and
requires a high speed internet connection (not dial-up). This means you should use a
Windows operating system (XP or newer) and a recent version of Microsoft Internet
Explorer (6.0, 7.0 or 8.0). The course will also work with Macintosh OS X along with a
recent version of Safari (2.0 or better). eCollege also supports the Firefox/Mozilla (3.0 or
better) on both Windows and Mac operating systems. It is strongly recommended that
you perform a “Browser Test” prior to the start of your course. To launch a browser test,
login to eCollege, click on the “myCourses” tab, and then select the “Browser Test” link
under Support Services. To get started with the course, go to:https://leo.tamucommerce.edu/login.aspx. You will need your CWID and password to login to the
course. If you do not know your CWID or have forgotten your password, contact
Technology Services at 903-468-6000 or [email protected] ***If you
have never utilized eCollege, you should take the eCollege tutorial accessed
through a link on the “My Courses” page when you enter eCollege.***
Contacting eCollege for Technical Support:
The following support options are available 24 hours a day / 7 days a week
 Help: Click on the “help” button on the toolbar for information regarding working
with eCollege (i.e., “How do I submit to dropbox?”, “How do I post to discussion
board?”, etc.
 Chat Support: Click on the “Live Support” on the toolbar within your course to
chat with an eCollege representative.
 Phone: 1-866-656-5511 (toll free) to speak with an eCollege Technical Support
 Email: [email protected] to initiate a support request with eCollege
Technical Support Representative
Class Requirements/Assignments/Activities/Expectations and Grading:
Misunderstood Minds (20 points):
For this assignment, you are required to watch several short video clips and react to
them. The video clips will serve as an introduction to special education for those
unfamiliar with some of the topics that we will be discussing during the remainder of the
You will be required to watch the 9 parts of the video, Misunderstood Minds. This series
of videos introduces you to 5 “exceptional” children and their families. The various parts
of this video will help you begin to think about aspects not generally thought of with
“exceptional” children. Few people would ever think about special education when first
introduced to Nathan VanHoy!
1. Access the videos at www.youtube.com. Search “Misunderstood Minds”
2. You will need to watch Chapters 1 through Chapter 8.1. All are approximately 9
minutes with the exception of 8.1 which is 4:39 minutes.
Written submission: Write a ½ to 1 page reaction to what you learned from
watching Misunderstood Minds. This is to be brief, but include enough detail to
show me that you watched the clips. Post your paper to the Misunderstood Minds
Dropbox. GRADING: 25 points
Discussion/Reflection (70 points):
Students are expected to participate actively in assigned discussions. For each
discussion, you are to contribute at least one original thought by posting your reflection
to a thought provoking question based on assigned readings / videos, etc. Discussions
will be posted to a discussion forum as specified in each assignment. For some
discussion forum posts, you will be required to respond to one or more postings of one
of your classmates (peer response).
 Due dates for each reflection will be included in each lesson but are will generally
be midnight Sunday. Reflections and peer responses will not be accepted after
the due date.
GRADING: 7 discussions @ 10 points each= TOTAL 60 points
These assignments are to encourage thoughtful reflection and expression of
your views. This is a college class so postings called “drive by” postings (such
as: “that’s great”, “yea I agree”, “good idea”, “You go girl!”) are not welcome and
will NOT receive a high grade.
 There are few “wrong” answers. As said, these assignments are to encourage
thought and reflection. I expect all students in this class have different education
and professional experiences and have different goals in life. New ideas and new
ways of looking at things are encouraged. For those of you with a “lifetime” in
special education, we can always learn from those less indoctrinated into our
system. More importantly, remember that your colleagues new to the field will
probably think more like our student’s families, so we need to listen to and learn
from their perspective. Be creative and have fun with it. Scoring will be based on
timeliness, correctness of any factual information, and your ability to justify your
There is no minimum length like you may have had in other classes. Conversely,
I don’t encourage really long answers – remember your peers have to read it (as
well as me) and they are just as cramped for time as you are. Generally, a few
sentences or a short paragraph is sufficient.
In responding to another person’s post, be considerate and respectful. You may
not agree – and do not have to. We all learn by being challenged to think deeper
and consider more alternatives. I encourage “talking” out new ideas and
perspectives. BUT, if you disagree, you are expected to express your
disagreement in a respectful way.
Typically, your grade will not be based on writing mechanics or correctness of
grammar and punctuation. Good writing mechanics shows a respect for your
reader, however, and allows me to score your response (and not your grammar).
If your writing and grammar compromises my reading and understanding, you
will not receive a high score. On this note – I don’t speak “text” very well, so don’t
use text abbreviations and expect me to understand. Just, play it safe and don’t
use these abbreviations.
APA 6th edition guidelines should be adhered to, when appropriate.
IRIS Modules (50 points):
 Students will complete a series of IRIS Modules on special education topics
pertinent to class lectures and discussions. Students are expected to work
through the entirety of all modules, complete the assessment questions at the
end, and upload written submissions to the Dropbox with the Module name.
GRADING: 3 modules @ 15 points each
Exceptionalities Handbook/Study Sheets: One of the crucial elements of this course
is for enrolled students to leave with mastery of basic information about each IDEA
eligibility category, especially the category definition and eligibility criteria. Each student
will create a handbook containing information from chapters 4-13 (separate pages for
each of the 13 disability categories). Information should be presented as headings with
bullets of information. There is a template posted in DocSharing that you may choose
to use (or you can do it in another format, such as a power point, that best matches you
learning preferences) to complete your handbook pages. There is an example posted
in DocSharing as well.
Handbook pages are designed to help you pull out the essential information on each
disability, and, when completed, they will help you prepare for the quizzes. Thus, it is
advised that you complete each page as we discuss that topic (don’t wait to do it as one
big project when it is due).
You may only turn in two pages for each of the 13 disability categories. Also, note that
when you submit your assignment, you are submitting all chapters together (chapters 4-13).
Make sure to delete any blank pages. ALL PAGES SHOULD BE TURNED IN IN ONE
Info to Include on Each Page:
1. IDEA Definition, including types as appropriate. Please include your study
technique for remembering the definition, such as the example in DocSharing of
the 5 components of the ED definition illustrated as fingers on a hand. (You can
use this one for ED if you choose, but you will need to come up with the
remainder on your own.)
2. Causes
3. Prevalence (provide percentages/numbers as much as possible)
4. Characteristics
5. Prevention
6. Teaching strategies/Accommodations
You will have ONE handbook page for each of the following topics:
Section 2 of
Speech or Language Impairments
Learning Disabilities
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorders
Emotional or Behavioral Disorders
Intellectual Disabilities or Mental Retardation
Section 3 of Orthopedic Impairments (Physical Disabilities)
Other Health Impairments (Health Disabilities)
Traumatic Brain Injury
Deaf and Hard of Hearing
Low Vision and Blindness
Autistic Spectrum Disorders
Multiple Disabilities
GRADING: 13 pages @ 10 points each
**Note: The other disabilities that fall within these categories can be listed as
part of the definition. For example, on the sheet for orthopedic impairments,
cerebral palsy can be listed as part of the definition as types of disorders in
this category.
Chapter Quizzes (130 points):
For each section, you will have a quiz that will cover all information on the chapters
covered in that section. These quizzes are intended to test your knowledge of
information from the chapters. Quizzes will be timed and will ONLY be available on the
dates listed below in the tentative calendar. Quizzes are open book, open notes, but
closed to your peers (it must be your own work). As the quizzes will be timed you will
need to have a good, general understanding of all the material in advance of taking the
quiz in order to complete it accurately and timely.
GRADING: 3 quizzes; Quiz 1 @ 30 points, Quizzes 2 and 3 @ 50 points each
each=TOTAL 130 points
Course Evaluation & Grading:
Misunderstood Minds
7 @ 10 points each
IRIS Modules
3 @15 points each
Exceptionalities Handbook 13 pages @ 10 pts each
3; [email protected] 30 pts. 2 @ 50 pts
25 points
70 points
45 points
130 points
130 points
400 points
Grading Criteria:
A = 90%; B = 80%; C = 70%; D = 60%; F = < 60%
Other Important Notes:
 The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a federal anti-discrimination statute
that provides comprehensive civil rights protection for persons with disabilities.
Among other things, this legislation requires that all students with disabilities be
guaranteed a learning environment that provides for reasonable accommodation
of their disabilities. If you have a disability requiring an accommodation, please
Office of Student Disability Resources and Services
Texas A&M University-Commerce
Gee Library, Room 132
Phone (903) 886-5150 or (903) 886-5835
Fax (903) 468-8148
[email protected]
 All students enrolled at the University shall follow the tenets of common decency
and acceptable behavior conducive to a positive learning environment. (See
Code of Student Conduct from Student Guide Handbook)
o All students are expected to display professional behaviors (dispositions)
expected of educators and to demonstrate these behaviors in their
interactions with K-12 students, families, your colleagues, the professor,
and communities at all times. These professional behaviors consist of
such behaviors as professional responsibility, professional and personal
integrity, collegiality, and commitment to learning. Failure to display
professional behaviors can result in counseling by the professor and result
in lowering of the course grade.
o Academic Dishonesty. To be successful in this class, you must invest time
for study. Honesty is expected. Academic dishonesty (cheating,
plagiarism, collusion) will NOT be tolerated and will result in a grade
of zero (0) for the assignment. A second infraction will result in
automatic failure of the class. Dishonesty is defined as (i) the use of
unauthorized materials, (ii) any communication with peers during quizzes,
(iii) representing another’s work as one’s own (i.e. plagiarism) or (iv)
fabricating information. The professor reserves the right to determine
occurrences of cheating.
o Plagiarism occurs at any time that another’s ideas or words are used as
your own without attribution. Direct quotations must be cited and set off
from other text by quotation marks (“ ..”). Paraphrasing of another’s ideas
must also be cited (although this does not require quotation marks).
Copying from other students and two or more students who work together
and turning in the exact same work (unless it’s an assigned group project)
also constitute plagiarism.
 For many assignments, students are encouraged to work together.
However, if individual submission of the assignment is required, the
final product must be your own work.
All assignments must be turned in on the assigned due date. Unexcused
assignments turned in after the due date will be returned ungraded.
o Please note: Late postings to the discussion board will not be graded,
regardless of the circumstance. The purpose of discussion items is to
stimulate thought and discussion, which is compromised if postings are
not timely.
o A note about timeliness: The timelines for this course are not
negotiable. I realize that on occasion “life happens” – children get
sick, cars break down, and thunderstorms occur. For these reasons
and many more, it is highly advised that you DO NOT wait until the
deadline for turning in an assignment. If you wait until 11:00 pm on
Sunday to turn in an assignment due at midnight and the electricity
goes out, you have missed the deadline and will NOT get credit for
the assignment.
Ensure that the assignment guidelines presented in the syllabus are followed. It
is important that all assignments are organized according to headings and
subheadings delineated in the guidelines. Failure to do so will result in an
ungraded assignment or a lower evaluation.
Make/Up Quizzes. There will be NO make-up quizzes for this course unless a
true emergency exists. Students are expected to submit relevant documentation (
e.g. doctor’s note, funeral notice, etc.) when requesting a make/up examination.
Written Assignments. Written assignments MUST be typed using double
spaced lines, include your name, and have page numbers. In addition, work
submitted should reflect a professional quality in terms of scope, depth, writing
mechanics, and appearance that would be expected of students at a prestigious
university. Proofread all assignments as only materials with minimal or no errors
will receive high scores.
Person First Language: Our language is a reflection of our attitudes. Always
refer to persons with disabilities with respect. Degrading terminology will not
be tolerated. In this class we will strive to use “people first” language at all times.
“People First” language always refers to the person first and not as a label or a
category. For example, refer to “a student with autism” and not “an autistic” or
“students with disabilities” and not “disabled students”. In addition, avoid such
stigmatizing terminology as “confined to a wheelchair” (say “uses a wheelchair”
If you have suggestions, comments, questions, or concerns about the class or
the assignments, please call or see the instructor. Please do not save your
suggestions for the evaluation at the end of the term when it is too late to
implement your suggestions.
Tentative Course Schedule
Section and
Assignments and Due Date
Read Chapters 1-3
Getting to Know You Discussion PostDUE 9/2/15
Section 1
August 31September 18
Disabilities and Special
Education: Making a Difference
Individualized Special Education
Cultural and Linguistic Diversity
Misunderstood Minds Response-DUE
Chapter 3 (Cultural Perceptions)
Discussion DUE 9/13/15
IRIS Module 1 DUE 9/20/15
Section 2
September 21October 23
Speech or Language
Learning Disabilities
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity
Emotional or Behavioral
Intellectual Disabilities or Mental
Chapters 1-3 Quiz-AVAILABLE 9/189/20
Read Chapters 4-8
IRIS Module 2 DUE 10/4/15
Chapters 6-8 (ADHD, ID, and Discipline)
Discussions DUE 10/11/15
Chapters 4-8 Quiz-AVAILABLE 10/2310/25
Read Chapters 9-14
Section 3
October 26December 4
Physical or Health
Disabilities/Traumatic Brain
Deaf and Hard of Hearing
Low Vision and Blindness
Autistic Spectrum Disorders
Very Low-Incidence Disabilities
Giftedness and Talents
IRIS Module 3 DUE 11/22/15
Exceptionalities Handbook DUE
Chapter 11and 14 (VI and TwiceExceptional) Discussion DUE 12/6/15
Chapters 9-14 Quiz-AVAILABLE 12/612/9
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