Friday, August 12, 2011

Friday Five: Five Must Read Inclusive Education Experts

This post will have two parts because as I got to deciding who should be on the list I realized there were more than five (which is exciting).  There is no particular order to this list as I feel each of these authors/researchers has impacted my views in their own unique way and none more than another as I learn different things from each.

Cheryl M. Jorgensen
“Cheryl never accepted the status quo—she instead challenged us to evaluate our roles and practices and consider ways to work effectively and efficiently to ensure that every student is presumed competent and supported to be successful in general education. As long as we continue to ask ‘What worked?’ ‘What didn’t?’ and ‘How can we do things differently?’ with our eye on the prize of full inclusion, Cheryl’s presence will carry on.” (Vision and Voice - IOD Newsletter Spring 2011)

Beliefs: high expectations of all students related to learning general education curriculum, assuming competence, quality supports, full time inclusion in general education classrooms for all students at all ages, collaboration and teaming, professional development, augmentative communication

What I've Read: The Beyond Access Model: Promoting Membership, Participation and Learning for Students with Significant Disabilities in the General Education Classroom by Cheryl M. Jorgensen, Michael McSheehan and Rae M. Sonnermeier, Restructuring High School for All Students: Taking Inclusion to the Next Level by Cheryl M. Jorgensen and The Facilitator's Guide by Cheryl M. Jorgensen, Mary C. Schuh and Jan Nisbet. 

What I've Learned: The biggest "ah-ha" moment for me was reading "The Beyond Access Model" and seeing the visual that had three boxes nested inside of each other.  The outermost box was "Membership" which represented something similar to what we have traditionally called integration.  Inside that box was "Participation".  The innermost box is "Learning".  The idea that learning is nested inside of membership and participation should not have been new to me but seeing the visual gave me better clarity around where our focus should be to achieve learning.  If we focus on finding ways to eliminate the barriers around social, academic and routine participation rather than focusing on modifying the learning material after the fact it seems we will be closer to what inclusion is all about.

Dr. David H. Rose
"Dr. David Rose is a developmental neuropsychologist and educator whose primary focus is on the development of new technologies for learning. In 1984, Dr. Rose co-founded CAST, a not-for-profit research and development organization whose mission is to improve education, for all learners, through innovative uses of modern multimedia technology and contemporary research in the cognitive neurosciences. That work has grown into a new field called Universal Design for Learning which now influences educational policy and practice throughout the United States and beyond. Dr. Rose also teaches at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education where he has been on the faculty for more than 25 years." (

Beliefs: Universal Design for Learning, disabled curriculum, eliminating barriers, technology for learning, digital texts, multiple means of representation, of action and expression and engagement, neurological understanding of learning, interplay of recognition, strategic and effective networks in the brain during learning 

What I've Read: A Practical Reader in Universal Design for Learning edited by David H. Rose and Anne Meyer and Teaching Every Student in the Digital Age: Universal Design for Learning by David Rose, Anne Meyer and Nicole Stagman 

What I've Learned: My biggest learning from reading Dr. David Rose is coming to a deeper understanding of starting the planning process from the point of eliminating barriers to learning and thinking in terms of a disabled curriculum rather than disabled people.  Using the UDL guidelines has the potential to create more diverse and robust learning opportunities and environments for every student.  The more I come to understand UDL, the more I feel that it provides a base for all of the other great teaching practices that exist.  The framework really takes the guesswork out of things and makes the planning for all learners explicit and effective.

Michael F. Giangreco
"Michael F. Giangreco, Ph.D., is a Professor in the Department of Education's Special Education Program at the University of Vermont in the College of Education and Social Services and is also assigned to the Center on Disability & Community Inclusion. Prior to joining the faculty at UVM in 1988 he spent 13 years serving a variety of capacities (e.g., community residence counselor with adults with disabilities, special education teacher, special education administrator). His work focuses on various aspects of education for students with disabilities within general education classrooms such as curriculum planning and adaptation, related services decision-making and coordination, and most recently paraprofessional issues. Dr. Giangreco is the author of numerous professional publications on a variety of special education topics and has published series of cartoons depicting educational issues and research findings." (

Beliefs: respectful paraprofessional support that encourages independence and participation, inclusion of all students in general education classrooms, creative problem solving to facilitate inclusion, multilevel curriculum and curriculum overlapping, effective and inclusive instructional strategies (UDL, DI, responsive curriculum, participatory curriculum...etc.)

What I've Read: Quick Guides to Inclusion: Ideas for Education Students with Disabilities by Michael F. Giangreco and Mary Beth Doyle and various other articles, many of which are listed on the pages linked off of this page:

What I've Learned: I would say what is unique to my learning from reading articles by Michael F. Giangreco is primarily related to the appropriate use of paraprofessional support in a classroom.  This one is challenging because it is possible to set up barriers to independence and social inclusion by the way that paraprofessionals work in a classroom.  The flip side of this is that in order for paraprofessionals to work differently teachers need to plan differently and allow for more flexibility.  It's kind of a chicken on an egg issue when it comes to making changes and there is a child and his/her learning caught in the middle of the argument.  I agree with what Michael F. Girangreco writes about related to paraprofessional support but also recognize the potential danger of misinterpreting what he writes to mean that extra adult  hands are not needed in a classroom.  Bottom line is that what he has written has challenged me to start thinking in terms of expanding even more in regards to what other ways are there and I am starting read more and more about peer support strategies and cooperative learning (which has been around for a long time but sometimes it's good to step back and figure out what effective cooperative/collaborative learning is).

Kathy Snow
"Inclusion will happen when we believe it will happen.  Communities are "ready" to include people with disabilities right now, and children and adults with disabilities are ready to be included right now."  (Disability is Natural Website)

Beliefs: disability is natural, living real lives, dreaming real dreams, inclusive education, inclusive employment, inclusive communities, natural therapy supports, collaboration, people first language, self-advocacy, attitudes of others create disability, the way we interact with people with disabilities right now creates situations where they are more "disabled"

What I've Read: Disability is Natural by Kathie Snow and various articles from the Disability is Natural Website (there is a lot of great stuff to read there)

What I've Learned: There is much to learn from the articles on this website but my biggest take-away is related to the need for therapy "interventions" to be incorporated in to natural life and to not be driven by the medical model that tries to fix deficits in a person.  Kathie is a parent and when her son was very young he stated that he longer wanted to go to PT appointments. She listened to him and recognized that there were natural ways to address what was necessary related to PT.  She does not advocate for no therapists... just appropriate, natural approaches.  For me it ties in to so many of the other things that I'm starting to be a bit more clear about and I see it as therapists playing a role in facilitating participation at the planning stage by bringing in their area of expertise. 

Norman Kunc

Beliefs: belonging proceeds learning, inclusion, treat all with respect and dignity, helping as hindering, abusive therapeutic practices, self-advocacy (and many others addressed in the clip that I included above)

What I've Read: I've read many of the articles posted on Norm Kunc's website (  I've also seen him speak and watched several of the videos that he sells on his website.

What I've Learned: Norm Kunc is the first person beyond the people with disabilities that I have know that had a profound effect on making me stop and think about the preconceived notions that I have related to disability.  I saw him speak when my son Mikey was very little when I attended a Down syndrome conference in Vancouver.  He told a story of cooperative musical chairs and made me realize that we need to working to ensure that all people learn instead of setting up competitive environments that have winners and losers.  It redefined inclusion for me as it made it about the things we do that impact the way that people feel about themselves.  When we set up competitive environments we are teaching children that there are people that count and people that don't.  Norm also spoke (and writes) about Maslov's hierarchy of needs and how segregated classrooms create a pyramid that is going to fall over because achievement falls below acceptance when we think of segregated placements (i.e. a child has to able to x, y and z before he is accepted in to a "regular" classroom).  According to Maslov, a person must actually feel accepted/included before they can achieve.  Not rocket science... but comes down to the knowing-doing gap that is so prevalent in "special education".  We know better... but we don't always do better.

I also feel that reading what Norm has written about therapeutic practices is well worth anyone's time.  Here is a link worth checking out:

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