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Michael F. Giangreco
"Convey[s] a hopeful perspective and genuine excitement about our opportunities to improve the quality of life for students with disabilities."
Peer supports really work: they're a great, efficient way to help all students learn, make the most of teacher/ paraprofessional time, and increase the achievement level of challenging students. This is the concise, practical guide every middle and high school needs to implement peer support strategies—including cooperative learning and peer tutoring—to benefit students with moderate to severe disabilities and their peers.
With this reader-friendly, step-by-step planning guide from the foremost authorities on peer supports, educators, paraprofessionals, and other school staff will
A complete, start-to-finish guide to peer supports, this book is packed with photocopiable planning, implementation, and evaluation tools; evidence-based strategies; and vignettes that illustrate successful peer supports.
With this must-have book on one of the hottest topics in inclusive education, educators and paraprofessionals will create schools where all students—with and without disabilities—help each other reach their academic goals, make new friends, and live full and meaningful lives.
Excerpted from Peer Support Strategies for Improving All Students' Social Lives and Learning
By Erik W. Carter, Ph.D., Lisa S. Cushing, Ph.D., & Craig H. Kennedy, Ph.D.
©2009. Brookes Publishing. All rights reserved.
WHAT ARE PEER SUPPORT ARRANGEMENTS?
Peer support arrangements are a promising approach for promoting access to rigorous, relevant learning experiences; expanding opportunities for students to establish new relationships with their peers; and helping educators and paraprofessionals to support inclusive education more effectively. Put simply, these intervention strategies involve arranging for one or more peers without disabilities to provide ongoing social and academic support to their classmates with severe disabilities while receiving guidance and support from paraprofessionals, special educators, and/or general educators (Carter, Cushing, & Kennedy, 2008; Carter & Kennedy, 2006; Cushing & Kennedy, 1997). Recognizing that peers are an underutilized—but widely availabl&emdash; source of natural support in every school, peer support arrangements draw upon the involvement of other classmates to assist in helping students with disabilities participate more fully in the social and learning opportunities existing in inclusive classrooms, extracurricular clubs, and other school activities.
Peer-mediated approaches—in which students assume instructional or other support roles with their classmates—have been a staple intervention strategy in classrooms for as long as there have been schools (Harper & Maheady, 2007). Indeed, countless variations on these approaches exist—ranging from informal, casual pairings of students to more structured, intentional systems (Gillies, 2007). As these strategies have been tested in the classroom and refined through research, a powerful and effective set of techniques have emerged for use with students with disabilities (e.g., Goldstein, Schneider, & Thiemann, 2007; Heron, Villareal, Ma, Christianson, & Heron, 2006; Maheady, Harper, & Mallette, 2001). Although peer support arrangements share the strong theoretical and empirical support of other peer-mediated strategies, they also differ in important ways. First, in peer support arrangements, somewhat greater emphasis typically is placed on exchanging social support, encouraging peer interactions, and promoting social connections. Social goals are often prominent in the IEPs of students with severe disabilities, and general education participation frequently is advocated for as an avenue for meeting these goals. Second, unlike other peer-mediated interventions in which all participating students assume very structured or static roles (e.g., Classwide Peer Tutoring [Greenwood, Arreaga-Mayer, Utley, Gavin, & Terry, 2001], Peer Assisted Learning Strategies [McMaster, Fuchs, & Fuchs, 2006]), educators are encouraged to individually tailor peer support interventions so that they reflect the unique support needs, strengths, and characteristics of participating students with disabilities and their peers. Third, peer support arrangements usually are not implemented as classwide interventions and thus involve a smaller number of peers. Fourth, most peer-mediated interventions were developed primarily for students with highincidence disabilities such as learning disabilities or emotional or behavior disorders (Gardner, Nobel, Hessler, Yawn, & Heron, 2007). Recognizing that the academic and social support needs of students with severe disabilities may be more intensive, peer support arrangements typically offer a more sustained and focused source of support. Finally, peer support interventions are designed to be implemented in inclusive contexts. Self-contained classrooms or segregated school activities simply do not offer the same depth of natural support available in inclusive environments.
Because peer support interventi
About the Authors
Appendix: Photocopiable Forms