SPED 503: Instructional Approaches for Diverse Learners Syllabus

Instructor: Candace Mulcahy, Ph.D.
Office: AB-235
Phone: (607) 777-4169
Cell: (301) 467-0545
E-mail: cmulcahy@binghamton.edu

We will use Google+ and Edmodo for online communication. Our Edmodo account code is fra6sd. Please register with Edmodo by November 23.

Required Texts:

  • Weekly readings will be available on Edmodo.
  • Brantlinger, E.A. (2006). Who benefits from special education? Remediating (fixing) other people's children. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc.
  • Valle, J.W., & Connor, D.J. (2011). Rethinking disability: A disability studies approach to inclusive practices. New York: McGraw-Hill.
  • (Recommended) American Psychological Association (6th ed). (2010). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association. Washington, DC: Author.

Web Sites

Course Description and Competencies

Instructional Approaches for Diverse Learners prepares educators to engage in reflective decision-making and research-validated professional practice that results in creation of effective instructional programs for diverse groups of children. Knowledge of educational goals and assessment strategies are essential components of reflective practice. The hybrid course will involve lecture, online and in-class discussions, required readings, and a variety of assignments completed in and out of class. After taking SPED 503, students will be able to:

  1. Discuss academic difficulties students may experience (CC2K5; CC2K6);
  2. Describe the National and State Standards for teaching math, reading, English, science and social studies (CC7K3; CC8K5);
  3. Review and apply progress monitoring methods (CC8K4; CC8S2; CC8S5);
  4. Discuss methods for monitoring student progress within the curriculum and apply the procedures in a classroom setting (CC8K4; CC8S2; CC8S5);
  5. Review components of effective instruction for students with diverse learning needs (CC4S2; CC4S3; CC4S4);
  6. Review planning and delivering instruction for students with learning difficulties (CC7K2; CC7S1; CC7S5; CC7S10; CC7S11; IGC, Standard 4 Instructional strategies; IGC, Standard 7 Instructional planning);
  7. Develop an instructional unit that includes differentiated instruction
  8. Teach a lesson using research-based instructional strategies, monitor student performance, and reflect on implementation (IGC, IGC, Standard 4 Instructional strategies; Standard 7 Instructional planning).

*Council for Exceptional Children (2003). What every special educator must know: The international standards for the preparation and certification of special education teachers (5th ed.).

CC= Common Core standards; IGC = Individualized General Curriculum Referenced Standards

Students who have a documented disability and wish to discuss academic accommodations should contact Dr. Mulcahy as soon as possible to explore alternative arrangements in completing assignments or taking exams for this class. Additional assistance also is available through the Office of Services for Students with Disabilities (SSD) at 607-777-2686. The SSD office makes formal recommendations regarding necessary and appropriate accommodations based on your specific diagnosed disability. Information about your disability will be treated in a confidential manner.

Binghamton University enforces a Code of Academic Honesty. All members of the University community have the responsibility to maintain and foster a condition and an atmosphere of academic integrity. Specifically, this requires that all classroom, laboratory, and written work for which a person claims credit, is in fact that person's own work. The University Student Handbook publication has detailed information on academic integrity.

Students assume responsibility for the content and integrity of the academic work they submit. Students are in violation of academic honesty if they incorporate into their written or oral reports any unacknowledged published or unpublished or oral material from the work of another (plagiarism); or if they use, request, or give unauthorized assistance in any academic work (cheating). (SOE Academic Honesty Policies)

Plagiarism and cheating will not be tolerated in this class. Incidents of either will result in a failing grade for the assignment in question. Please see me if you have questions concerning what constitutes cheating or plagiarism.

The faculty and staff in the School of Education are committed to serving all enrolled students. The intention is to create an intellectually stimulating, safe, respectful and enjoyable class atmosphere. In return, I expect that each of you will honor and respect the opinions and feelings of your fellow students.

Course Requirements:

  1. Homework: Homework will be assigned for most class sessions. For some homework, you will need to access documents or personnel at the school district in which you are working. Plan accordingly. Homework between on-site sessions will also consist of responding to guiding questions to prepare students for weekly online discussions.
  2. Guiding Questions: Pairs of students will be responsible for developing a set of guiding questions for weekly online discussions. Guiding questions should be shared with the group at least two days (by 4pm) before the upcoming online discussion.
  3. IEP Matrix: Each student will develop an IEP matrix of the goals, accommodations, and modifications of each student on his/her caseload. The format for the matrix will be discussed in class.
  4. Instructional Unit: Each student will develop an instructional unit based on one or more Common Core State Standard(s) and/or State Standards. The instructional unit should consist of 4-6 lessons with completed lesson plans, corresponding assessment tools, and utilize at least FIVE concepts covered in class (e.g., project-based learning, co-curricular instruction, technology, self-regulation).
  5. Webquest: Each student will create a webquest. The webquest should be a tool for teaching a concept based on strategies and concepts covered in class or another topic approved by the instructor. The webquest will be one of the lessons in the Instructional Unit.
  6. Lesson Plan and Implementation: Each student will develop a lesson plan and implement the lesson with their students. The instructor will observe implementation of the lesson. The lesson should incorporate at least THREE of the concepts covered in class. Following lesson implementation, the student will write a critical reflection on the implementation. The instructor will provide verbal and written feedback. The lesson plan development and implementation will be the "final exam" for the course.

Assignments and Grading

This table contains a grading chart with assignments for SPED 503.
Product Points Date Due
Homework 30 Weekly
Guiding Questions 10 TBD
IEP Matrix 20 12/21
Lesson Plan Draft 10 12/21
Webquest 30 1/30
Final Exam 50 1/23-1/25
Instructional Unit 50 1/30

Total Points: 200

This table contains the letter to number grading chart for SPED 503.
A = 93% to 100% (186-200 pts) C+ = 78 - 79% (156-159 pts)
A- = 90% to 92% (180-185 pts) C = 73 - 77% (146 – 155 pts)
B+ = 88 - 89% (176-179 pts) C- = 70 - 72% (140 - 145 pts)
B = 83 - 87% (166-175 pts) F = 0 - 59% (139 pts or <)
B- = 80 - 82% (160-165 pts)  

* Note: Grades are based on performance, not effort. Everyone puts forth a great deal of effort during class experiences. Those who do not put forth a great deal of effort typically do not manage to complete the experience. Despite the great efforts that are put forth by all, not all performances are equal. Some students are exceptional in their performance while others are satisfactory. Your grade will be based on your performance, i.e., your performance in the classroom, your performance on written assignments, and your ability to display appropriate professional attributes.

Course Schedule
Note: This is a proposed schedule, which is subject to change as some lectures/activities may require more or less class time. Additional course readings may be provided in class or on Edmodo.

This table contains weekly topics and readings for SPED 503.






7-9 pm

Reading research
Research-Based Practice
Common Core State Standards/Critical Content

Brantlinger: Chaps. 1, 3
Readings: 1, 2
Websites: Common Core Standards; What Works Clearinghouse



7-9 pm

Characteristics of Striving Learners
Characteristics of Effective Special Educators

Brantlinger: Chaps. 4, 6
V&C: Chaps. 1-4, 10
Readings: 3, 4, 5, 6, 7



7-9 pm

Differentiated Instruction
Universal Design for Learning
IEP Goals; Accommodations & Modifications
Lesson Development and Alignment

V&C: Chaps. 5, 6
Readings: 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13
Websites: CAST


12/21 4 pm







5:30-8:30 pm
On Site

Project-Based Learning,
Anchored Instruction,
Context-Based Learning

V&C: Chap. 8
Readings: 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25

www.zunal.com; www.webquest.org


5:30-8:30 pm
On Site




9-3 pm
On Site

Metacognition and Strategy Instruction
Self-Regulation, Self-Monitoring,
Self-Management, Self-Evaluation
Peer Mediated Instruction




Report on Implementation/Troubleshooting



5:30-8:30 pm
On Site

Classroom Based Assessment (CBA)
Formative/Summative Assessment

Brantlinger: Chap. 9
V&C: Chap. 7


5:30-8:30 pm
On Site

Progress Monitoring



9-3 pm
On Site

Pulling it All Together
Peer Review; Work Session



1/23, 1/24, 1/25

On-site Lesson Observations


Note: This schedule is approximate. Activities and lecture topics are subject to change, depending on availability of resources and scheduling.


Class 1:

  • (1) Banda, D.R., & Therrien, W.J. (2008). A teacher's guide to meta-analysis. Teaching Exceptional Children, 41(2), 66-71.
  • (2) Edyburn, D.L. (2010). Understanding the quality of the science supporting the special education technology evidence base. Journal of Special Education Technology, 25(1), 63-68.

Class 2:

  • (3) Brownell, M.T., Bishop, A.G., Gersten, R., Klingner, J.K., Penfield, R.D., Dimino, J., Haager, D., Menon, S., Sindelar, P.T. (2009). The role of domain expertise in beginning special education teacher quality. Exceptional Children, 75(4), 391-411.
  • (4) Conroy, M. A., Sutherland, K. S., Snyder, A. L., & Marsh, S. (2008). Classwide interventions: Effective instruction makes a difference. Teaching Exceptional Children, 40(6), 24-30.
  • (5) Keller, C.L., & Duffy, M.L. (2005). "I Said That?" How to improve your instructional behavior in just five minutes per day through data-based self-evaluation. TEACHING Exceptional Children, 37(4), 36-39.
  • (6) Kortering, L.J., & Christenson, S. (2009). Engaging students in school and learning: The real deal for school completion. Exceptionality, 17, 5-15.
  • (7) Reschly, A.L. (2010). Reading and school completion: Critical connections and Matthew effects. Reading & Writing Quarterly, 26, 67-90.

Class 3:

  • (8) Ernest, J.M., Thompson, S.E., Heckaman, K.A., Hull, K., Yates, J. (2011). Effects and social validity of differentiated instruction on student outcomes for special educators. The Journal of International Association of Special Education, 12(1), 33-41.
  • (9) Landrum, T.J., & McDuffie, K.A. (2010). Learning styles in the age of differentiated instruction. Exceptionality, 18, 6-17.
  • (10) Lenz, K., Schumaker, J. (2003). Adapting language arts, social studies, and science materials for the inclusive classroom. ERIC/OSEP Digest ED480433. Washington, DC: Education Resources Information Center.
  • (11) Mastropieri, M.A., Scruggs, T.E., Norland, J.J., Berkeley, S., McDuffie, K., Halloran-Tornquist, E.,Connors, N. (2006). Differentiated curriculum enhancement in inclusive middle school science: Effects on classroom and high-stakes tests. The Journal of Special Education, 40(3), 130-137.
  • (12) Price, K.M., & Nelson, K.L. (2007). Lessons versus activities. In Planning Effective Instruction: Diversity Responsive Methods and Management (3rd ed.). Belmont, CA: Thomson Wadsworth.
  • (13) Willingham, D.T. (2005). Do visual, auditory, and kinesthetic learners need visual, auditory and kinesthetic instruction? American Educator, 29(2), 31-35 & 44.

Classes 4-6:
Anchored Instruction/Project-Based Learning

  • (14) Bottge, B.A., Rueda, E., Grant, T.S., Stephens, A.C., Laroque, P.T. (2010). Anchoring problem-solving and computation instruction in context-rich learning environments. Exceptional Children, 76(4), 417-437.
  • (15) Reith, H.J., Bryant, D.P., Kinzer, C.K., Colburn, L.K., Hur, S., Hartman, P., & Choi, H.S. (2003). An analysis of the impact of anchored instruction on teaching and learning activities in two ninth-grade language arts classes. Remedial and Special Education, 24(3), 173-184.


  • (16) Boon, R.T., Fore, C., Blankenship, T., Chalk, J. (2007). Technology-based practices in social studies instruction for students with high-incidence disabilities: A review of the literature. Journal of Special Education Technology, 22(4), 41-56.
  • (17) Bouck, E.C., Flanagan, S. (2009). Assistive technology and mathematics: What is there and where can we go in special education. Journal of Special Education Technology, 24(2), 17-28.
  • (18) Hernandez-Ramos, P., & De La Paz, S. (2009). Learning history in middle school by designing multimedia in a project-based learning experience. Journal of Research on Technology in Education, 42(2), 151-173.
  • (19) Horney, M.A., Anderson-Inman, L.A., Terrazas-Arellanes, F., Schulte, W., Mundorf, J., Wiseman, S., Smolkowski, K., Katz-Buonincontro, J.K., Frisbee, M.L. (2009). Exploring the effects of digital note taking on student comprehension of science texts. Journal of Special Education Technology, 24(3), 45-61.
  • (20) Kennedy, M.J., & Deschler, D.D. (2010). Literacy instruction, technology, and students with learning disabilities: Research we have, research we need. Learning Disability Quarterly, 33, 289-298.
  • (21) Skylar, A.A., Higgins, K., & Boone, R. (2007). Strategies for adapting webquests for students with learning disabilities. Intervention in School and Clinic, 43(1), 20-28.

Metacognition, Strategy Instruction, and Self-Regulation

  • (22) Santangelo, T., Harris, K.R., & Graham, S. (2008). Using self-regulated strategy development to support students who have "trubol giting thangs into werds." Remedial and Special Education, 29(2), 78-89.
  • (23) Stenhoff, D.M., & Lignugaris/Kraft, B. (2007). A review of the effects of peer tutoring on students with mild disabilities in secondary settings. Exceptional Children, 74(1), 8-30.
  • (24) Vaughn, S., Klingner, J.K., Swanson, E.A., Boardman, A.G., Roberts, G., Mohammed, S.S., Stillman-Spisak, S.J. (2011). Efficacy of collaborative strategic reading with middle school students. American Educational Research Journal, 48(4), 938-964.
  • (25) Zito, J.R., Adkins, M., Gavins, M., Harris, K.R., Graham, S. (2007). Self-regulated strategy development: Relationship to the social-cognitive perspective and the development of self-regulation. Reading & Writing Quarterly, 23, 77-95.

Classes 8-10:

** Other readings may be assigned at the discretion of the instructor.

Last Updated: 3/20/14