Including Students With Disabilities In Advanced Science Classes
by Lori A. Howard, Elizabeth A. Potts

Price at time of review: $25.95
131 pp.
NSTA Press
Arlington, VA
ISBN: 9781936959273

Grade Level: 9-12

Reviewed by Jean Worsley
Retired Biology Teacher

Due to increased emphasis on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) courses, more students with disabilities are encouraged to enroll in advanced science classes. This book provides background information, teaching strategies, and classroom management techniques for teachers who have limited or no experience with these students. These areas are covered in eight chapters with in–depth narratives, boxes called “Fostering Student Independence" and “Ideas to Get Started," tables, and figures. A conclusion and references are found at the end of each chapter.

First and foremost, it is suggested that teachers should become familiar with two basic laws: IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) and Section 504 of the Vocational Rehabilitation Act. Further, the terms and parts of the IEP (Individualized Education Program) need to be thoroughly understood. A description of a broad range of disabilities is provided and keen observation of characteristics of these students is needed in order to ensure success in these classes.

The role of each member of the IEP Team is vividly described and cooperative teaching comes into play. Information related to transition for post–secondary education is also included. It is normal for teachers in advanced science classes to have some anxiety about behavior when teaching students with disabilities. Information in the IEP will help teachers dispel some of their fears. The message is clear—do your homework while recognizing that the IEP is a legal document clearly delineating support and accommodations needed for each student. Further, ideas about handling behavior are listed. For behaviors not covered in the IEP, a request for assistance from members of the team should be made immediately. As teachers embrace students with disabilities, the author states that many of the techniques currently employed by teachers will only be enhanced.

The discussion on instruction in the classroom begins with seven principles of learning proposed by the National Research Council (NRC). This is a two–way street as teachers learn new terminology and adapt teaching techniques to meet these challenges. Instructional methods suggested include inquiry–based approaches, argument construction, and progress monitoring. Additional strategies and accommodations are outlined in tables and figures. The first priority for labs with students with disabilities is safety. Again, the first step the teacher must take is to review the IEP as they skillfully observe and assign students specific responsibilities. Teachers will be able to hone their procedures as they make needed alterations. A safety contract and partnering are recommended. In some cases, additional assistance may be needed. Other suggestions brought to the forefront are for field trips and independent study.

In the future, technology will play a greater role in the teaching/learning process. The authors explain how AT (Assistive Technology) can be utilized. In many instances, students with specific disabilities have exceptional technological skills and insight. Emphasis is placed on the importance of collaboration with the instructional technologist. End of year testing can be stressful for all students and especially for those with disabilities. It is suggested that students practice taking tests beginning early in the school year. Goals of the AP (Advanced Placement) and IB (International Baccalaureate) programs are listed. In each case, the teacher needs to know accommodations required and the IEP Team needs to be kept abreast of deadlines. A planning outline for the school year is presented. For successful end of year testing, thorough planning is again the key.

The final narrative focuses on methods to recruit students with disabilities and co- teaching. A new paradigm shift is needed as teachers begin to think of “our classroom” instead of “my classroom." The authors firmly believe that students with disabilities in advanced science classes will only improve teaching skills. Also, students without disabilities will learn to respect and accept differences as they strive to reach their full potential. Information about the authors and an index with bold type referring to figures and tables are included. This book is highly recommended not only for teachers with advanced science classes but for all science teachers.

Review posted on 6/13/2013

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