Featured Articles

Facilitating pARTicipation with Adapted Repurposed Tools

Facilitating pARTicipation with Adapted Repurposed Tools by Deborah B. Schwind, M.Ed., OTR/L and Judith Schoonover, M.Ed., OTR/L, ATP, FAOTA

Loudoun County Public Schools

Every student can create with the right tool for the job!  Universal Design for Learning principles stress multiple means of engagement, representation, action and expression.  With simple modifications, it is possible to ensure that all students can be engaged, and express themselves through art.  Adaptations, modifications, and (very) low tech assistive technology (AT) supports can be used and customized to improve access to art with easily found materials.  Based on their experience providing support in art classes, two occupational therapists designed simple Adapted Repurposed Tool (ART) kits that can be put to immediate use. Everyday materials and dollar store delights were used along with traditional resources to develop a workshop for educators, paraprofessionals, and related service providers to support inclusive environments and participatory experiences for all students during art instruction.

The art room is a unique setting for students with disabilities as they can be successful and can actively engage not only with the materials but also with their peers.  "Learning through the arts" and not just learning in art can be quite powerful.  In the general education classroom, there are right and wrong answers.  During art instruction in the classroom or the art room, there is not a right or wrong answer when completing a project, since it is designed around self-expression.  For students with disabilities, participating in a class where they can express themselves without being incorrect can build self-esteem and foster independence.

Inclusion with typical peers in the art room allows for socialization and active engagement. Read more

Special Music Education

Special Music Education by Alice-Ann Darrow

Special music educators are typically trained to teach music knowledge and skills to students with disabilities in the general school population. The primary purpose of music education programs for students with disabilities is to actively involve them in meaningful music experiences that develop music concepts and skills appropriate to the students’ individual functioning level. Music education may be provided through general music classes for elementary grades, music appreciation and music theory for upper grades and music performance classes such as band, orchestra and chorus. Special music educators typically have a background in special education or music therapy, and have expertise in instructional strategies for teaching students with a wide variety of disabilities. Students with disabilities are taught in their self-contained classrooms or in inclusive music classes offered in the school music curriculum.

Special music education goals follow the music standards set for all students. The standards emphasize conceptual understanding in areas that reflect the actual processes in which musicians engage. The standards cultivate a student’s ability to carry out the three artistic processes:

CreatingStudents need to have experience in creating, to be successful musicians and to be successful 21st century citizens.

Performing Students need to perform – as singers, as instrumentalists, and in their lives and careers.

Responding – Students need to respond to music, as well as to their culture, their community, and their colleagues.

Research in inclusive school settings supports music’s effectiveness with students who have a wide variety of disabilities. Special music educators may also address social and behavioral goals with their students, as well as use music to support the general education curriculum.To find out more information about special music education, please visit the National Association for Music Education (NAfME) and International Society for Music Education (ISME) websites shown in the right column of this page.

Although there are no degree programs in special music education, a number of universities, such as Florida State University, Wichita State University, and James Madison University offer certificate programs or specialized study programs in special music education. In addition, NAfME regularly offers pre-conferences on teaching music to students with disabilities that precede their annual National Inservice Conference.