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Educ 7002, Human Diversity and Exceptionality

This course will stress the importance of diversity and social justice in educational settings, and its relevance to teaching and learning strategies, assessments, and professional community building. The concepts of privilege and power will be explored from the stand point of the educator, students, and their roles in the educational settings.

Required Texts/ Readings


  • Beane, J.A. (2005). A Reason to Teach: Creating Classrooms of Dignity and Hope. Portsmouth, NH: Heineman. ISBN 0-375-00834-5
  • Bigelow, B. Rethinking Our Classrooms: Volumes 1 & 2. (1994, 2002). Williston, VT; Rethinking Schools. ISBN 0-9429561-27-7
  • Bigelow, B. & Peterson, B. Rethinking Globalization: Teaching for Justice in an Unjust World.(2003). Williston, VT: Rethinking Schools. ISBN 0-94296-1-28-5
  • LeBlanc, A.N. (2003). Random Family: Love, Drugs, Trouble, and Coming of Age in the Bronx. New York: Scribner. ISBN 0-684-86387-1
  • Obidah, J.E. & Teel, K.M. (2001). Because of the Kids: Facing Racial and Cultural Differences in Schools. New York: Teachers College Press. ISBN 0-8077-4012-8
  • Fadiman, A. (1997).The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down. New York: Farrow, Strauss & Giroux. ISBN 0-374-52564-1
  • Haddon, M. (2003). The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime. New York: Doubleday. ISBN 0-385-5120-4
  • Hosseini, Khalad. (2003). The Kite Runner. New York: Berkley Publishing Group. ISBN 1-57322-45-3
  • DuFour,R., Eaker, R., Korhanek, G., & DuFour, R (ed). ( 2005). Whatever it Takes: How Professional Learning Communities Respond When Kids Don"t Learn. Bloomington, IN: National Education Service. ISBN 10932127-28-3
  • Kozol, J. (2005). The Shame of the Nation: The Restoration of Apartheid Schooling in America. New York: Random House. ISBN 978-4-4000-8
  • Price K.M., & Nelson, K.L. (2007). Planning Effective Instruction: Diversity Responsive Methods and Management. 3rd ed. Belmont, CA: Thompson-Wadsworth. ISBN 0-495-00757

Student Outcomes

This course will enable participants to:

  • Develop intercultural competence
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the concept of privilege and its significance in the role of the educator
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the importance of diversity and social justice and how different perspectives inform practice.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of exceptionality and knowledge of appropriate accommodations and instructional adaptations for students with disabilities in educational settings.
  • Design inclusive curriculum

Instructional Strategies

This course will be taught using the following instructional strategies and formats:

Face to Face Meetings:
Fourth weekend of fourth semester, UMD, in person: direct instruction, small and large group discussion, experiential activities and videos.
Online Discussions:
As Scheduled by Group

IMPORTANT: We invite any of you who have any disability, either permanent or temporary, or any other special circumstances which might affect your ability to perform in this class to inform me so that together we can adapt methods, materials, or assignments as needed to provide equitable participation.

Course Requirements and Expectations

As members of an online learning community, the expectation is that we all contribute to the learning of the group and each other, and share in creating a quality learning environment. Class members bring diverse and extraordinary experience to the process, and we will encourage and rely on that experience to deepen the learning of the group. Participation is expected in the online threaded discussions. Hybrid

This class is a combination of face to face class meetings and online discussions. Our face to face meetings are planned as a foundation and springboard for our online discussions. The date for our face to face meeting is: January 29, 2007. Additional online meetings may be added if the class agrees.

Webx Discussions
Asynchronous threaded discussions (WebX) constitute a large portion of interaction in the course after the each monthly in-person meeting.. Discussion topics and questions will be posted usually in one to two week units. The minimum expectation is that you will complete the assigned reading, and participate in each threaded discussion assignment by posting initial input, engaging in web dialogue, and providing feedback/responses to group members. I expect that you will make at least two substantial posts each week. We suggest you allow yourselves 3-4 hours per week to engage in threaded discussions.
Writing your insights, thoughts, and responses to others in a way that's relatively public and semi permanent (at least for the duration of the semester) can be a little unnerving at first and can stifle creativity or thoughtful discussion. Always remember this rule of thumb when learning a new online process, If its worth doing, it's worth doing badly! So not one of us will be worrying about misspellings, incomplete sentences, or questionable grammar. Remember to maintain a tone of civility and respect when discussing potentially controversial topics.
As to the kind of posts
Productive, satisfying discussions are often the result of risk-taking, feedback, questioning, and occasional disagreements, as well as affirming, supportive interaction. With each unit's discussion topic, we will ask you for thoughtful input that reflects the reading, your own experience, and your thoughts or insights. We will also ask you to reflect on other´s posts, do you agree or disagree, do you have questions, and does this lead you to think about something else?
Asynchronous online discussions
With asynchronous online discussions, it is also important to simply "be present" to find ways to describe in writing what you might be doing non-verbally, e.g., nodding your head, smiling, or looking quizzically at someone. Imagine making a statement in person in a class, and having no response from the audience doesn't help a conversation to flow... So...let people know you´re there, that you´ve read their posts, even if you don´t have something content related to contribute at the moment. Also, let others in your small group know when you might be out of town or away from your computer, and when you´ll return.

Grading and Assessment

Your grade will be based on:

  • Web Crossing 75%
  • Includes reading, synthesis, and your posts in the Web Crossing Final Project folder.
  • Participation in Web Crossing is a strong expectation in this course. You will be expected to post two times or more per Web Crossing assignment.
  • Final Project 25%
  • Final Project due by May 7, 2007.

Webx Discussion Rubric

Webx Discussion Rubric

Casual, Friendly, Engaged



Initial posts
  • Restate ideas or issues from the reading.
  • Identify similar experiences in your own practice.
  • Add personal examples or anecdotes
  • Accurately reflect reading content.
  • Identify your own experience relevant to readings.
  • Describe insights based on integration of experience and readings.
  • Analyze and evaluate the reading and defend your evaluation.
  • Project what your experiences mean for you in your professional life.
  • Identify insights and project how this could validate or change your professional or personal practices.
  • Identify assumptions you hold that have been clarified, challenged, or affirmed
Subsequent and Response posts
  • Praise or criticism, e.g.,"I love what you said about X, Y, Z."
  • Show a presence, e.g., "I've read this and am thinking about it; not sure I agree with you, but need to give it more thought.
  • Acknowledge agreement or disagreement; validate and explain or defend underlying reasoning or assumptions.
  • Demonstrate further analysis.
  • Demonstrate further insight.
  • Coherently and eloquently validate and explain underlying reasoning and assumptions.
  • Seek to fully understand differences or similarities.
  • Construct new meaning and application to professional or personal context.
  • Contribute to an environment where understanding and synthesis can happen, along with the expansion of perspectives

National Board of Professional Teaching Standards Core Propositions:

  • Teachers know the subjects they teach and how to teach those subjects.
  • Teachers are committed to students and their learning.
  • Teachers manage and monitor student learning.
  • Teachers think systematically about their practice and learn from experience.
  • Teachers are members of learning communities.
Course Objectives and Their Relationship to NBPTS Core Propositions
Course Content Objectives Core Propositions
Evaluation of human diversity and exceptionality theories, strategies, and beliefs 1, 4
Understanding and developing intercultural competence 4
Demonstrate parent involvement/mentoring/referral strategies 4, 5


  • Unit One: Setting the stage, seeing our lenses, expanding our vision Readings: Random Family
  • Unit Two: White privilege Readings: Because of the Kids, class handouts
  • Unit Three: Ableism Readings: On-line
  • Unit Four: Seeing a place to begin Readings: Rethinking Classrooms, Vol 1 and 2, Rethinking Globalization
  • Unit Five: Dealing With it Readings: Democratic Classrooms
  • Ongoing Unit: Choice Books

Final Research Project Due: May 7th

Choose one of the following: Final Project Options for Educ 7002

Your Own Paper:
In this option, you may choose an aspect of diversity that you personally find challenging. The goal of this option is to push your own comfort zone. Perhaps you may be very comfortable with working with people with physical disabilities, but not so with gay or lesbian individuals. Maybe the dynamics of white privilege push your buttons. You know yourself best and you know what would be a topic worth your time researching. Expectations are that you find one book on your subject, and I would be happy to help you choose if you are unsure, and find at least five additional academic resources such as websites, films, journals, etc. If you choose this option, please e-mail me a paragraph describing what you wish to do by November 10th.
Policy Positions:
In this option, you will spend some time investigating policies in your own positions. Seek out policies in your own organization that govern hiring, firing, employee relations, implementation of Affirmative Action legislation, harassment, equity and advocacy. What policies are unique to your organization? How is your organization addressing social justice? What is the effect of the policies? Are there those that oppose aspects of your organization"s policies? How are they enforced? Who makes these policies? Would you see them as compliant or activist? What do you find in your organization"s policies that makes you proud or less than proud? What would you like to see happen as far as policy changes that could make the playing field more level? Expectations for this option include the reading of policy manuals or postings, an interview with a human resources director or directors, an analysis of the demographics of employees and clients served, and an interview with any personnel development professionals in your district who may be able to inform your research as to training provided in diversity and responsiveness. You would also be expected to research similar policies on-line and compare what you find to what is the reality in your situation.
Doing a Karen/Jennifer:
If you choose this option, you will commit to seeking the help of a colleague with expertise to help you better serve a population you feel you are under-serving. For example, if you are in a school, you may ask for assistance with the students in your classes who are learning disabled from a special educator, or, if you are coaching hockey you may ask an English Language Learner specialist to watch practice and other interactions with the goal of better communication with your athletes that do not share English as a first language. Expectations for this option include your own research on the subgroup you seek to better serve in the form of journal articles or professional publications, an interview with your chosen mentor that establishes your own attitudes and perceptions and those of your mentor, and a series of at least three observations and feedback experiences that will be documented in your own journal. Completion of this project will include an analysis of your experiences and the effect of this process on your practice. If you wish to pursue this option, please e-mail me with your paragraph-long proposal by November 10th.
Curriculum Choice:
This option provides an opportunity to write a unit for your own classroom, Sunday School room, your own children, 4H kids, or others that teaches a concept identified in this course all the way up Banks" levels to empowering activism and intervention by your learners. Of course, this unit would utilize backwards design with assessment (I won"t evaluate your assessment, though – I know they will be exemplary!). In other words begin with your goals and work through to you assessments and then to your curriculum and finally your delivery. Feel free to use portions of Rethinking Classrooms, and/or Rethinking Globalization as part of your curriculum or delivery options (with citations, of course!). I would probably look for the equivalent of two weeks as a rough guide. This curriculum option should also include a rationale for your choices.
Media Analysis:
This option requires that you research media for two weeks. To engage in this option, read at least three newspapers, (on-line), including the Duluth News-Tribune ( ), or your own hometown or nearest daily, and two newspapers from two separate and very different from one another other countries ( or
Be sure to choose papers that come from countries different from one another, examples may be: The Guardian (UK), or a South African paper from, Japan Times at, The Daily Star – Lebanon at, or The Hindustan Times at, or The Jerusalem Post at and The Dawn (Pakistan)

As you read, examine the role of the media in the development and maintenance of social norms. As you read, consider these questions:

  • Who is in the news in each of these papers
  • How are the same stories reported from different perspectives
  • How often are different groups included? Look at proportion of time spent
  • How are groups portrayed?
  • From whose perspectives are the stories written?
  • Who is not in the news? Given the demographics of the publication are there under–represented groups?
  • What grammar is used to portray sub-groups – what pronouns, what verbs. What levels of respect?

In your analysis, describe your findings and support your arguments regarding the effect of the media on maintaining or creating social norms, and how we, as educators and parents and citizens, can work to illuminate our colleagues and our students to the effects of media in our culture.

Additional Readings Option:
You may choose to read the two optional books that you did not read as part of class discussions. If you choose this option, you will need to write a comparison paper, identifying issues in the books that are similar, and those that are not similar. The resulting paper should be about seven or so pages of discussion and analysis.