Teacher's Guide to Including Students with Disabilities in General Physical Education / Edition 2

Teacher's Guide to Including Students with Disabilities in General Physical Education / Edition 2

by Martin E. Block
Pub. Date:
Brookes Publishing


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Teacher's Guide to Including Students with Disabilities in General Physical Education / Edition 2

This newly revised edition is packed with state-of-the-art strategies and ideas on how to include students of all ages with disabilities in general physical education classes.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781557664631
Publisher: Brookes Publishing
Publication date: 08/01/2000
Edition description: Older Edition
Pages: 397
Product dimensions: 7.06(w) x 9.88(h) x 0.86(d)

About the Author

Mel Horton, Ed.D., CAPE, is an Associate Professor in Physical Education, and Assistant Chair in Esteves School of Education, The Sage Colleges in Albany, NY. Her research focuses on physical education teacher education and adapted physical education.

Martin E. Block, Ph.D., Associate Professor with the Kinesiology Program in the Curry School of Education, has been the co-director of the Adapted Physical Education Program at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville since 1992. Previously, he was an adapted physical education specialist for Prince William County Public Schools in Virginia and the Ivymount School, a private school for children with disabilities, in Maryland. Dr. Block has conducted numerous workshops around the country for physical educators, special educators, therapists, and paraprofessionals on how to better include children with disabilities in general physical education, and he has co-authored more than 40 articles on adapted physical education. He also has served as Chair of the Adapted Physical Activity Council and Motor Development Academy for the American Alliance of Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance. Dr. Block's current research interests focus on improving in-service training to practicing physical educators as well as studying the perceptions of inclusive physical education by students with and without disabilities, general and adapted physical educators, parents, and administrators.

Dr. Steve Elliott, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor and the Associate Director in the School of Health and Applied Human Sciences at UNC Wilmington. The recipient of the 2012 Chancellors Teaching Award at UNCW, his research agenda is comprised of two major foci: 1) issues surrounding the inclusion of children with special needs into regular physical education classes; and 2) the application of instructional strategies, models, and theories to enhance student learning and assessment.

Phillip Conatser, Ph.D., CAPE, Assistant Professor, University of Texas at Brownsville, 80 Fort Brown, Brownsville, Texas 78520.

For more than 20 years, Dr. Conatser has dedicated his work to the advancement of adapted aquatics through coaching, teaching, publications, presentations, research, and an international web site. His undergraduate, master’s, and doctoral studies have focused on improving the health and wellness of individuals with disabilities. He is the 2006 recipient of the John Williams Jr. International Adapted Aquatics Award.

Ron French, Ed.D., Professor, Department of Kinesiology, Texas Woman’s University (TWU), Post Office Box 425647, Denton, Texas 76204.

Dr. French has spent the last 22 years at TWU and is Professor in the Department of Kinesiology. In 2005, he was recognized by TWU with the Cornaro Award for excellence in teaching, scholarship, and dedication to the University. This is also the most prestigious award TWU bestows upon faculty. He has also been honored as the Adapted Physical Activity Council Scholar. Dr. French is the Director of a U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, training grant supporting the TWU master’s degree program in adapted physical education. He has held this grant for the past 18 years. The current grant is for $1.3 million over a 5-year period.

Iva Obrusnikova, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor with the Department of Behavioral Health and Nutrition at the University of Delaware. Her research focuses on physical activity and social behavior of children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorders and the inclusion of children and adolescents with disabilities in physical activity settings.

Ana Palla-Kane, Ph.D., is a faculty member in the Department of Kinesiology at the University of Maryland. She works with teachers' training in the area of adapted physical activity and the development of strategies to have adapted physical activity programs accessible to individuals with disabilities. She has studied the impact of diversity in the delivery of quality physical education, and physical education teachers' perceptions and attitudes towards teaching students with disabilities. She is interested in studying pregnancy in women with disabilities, especially aspects of prenatal care related to accessibility and participation in physical activity prior to and during pregnancy.

Lisa Silliman-French, Ph.D., CAPE, Assistant Professor, Texas Woman’s University, Post Office Box 425647, Denton, Texas 76204

Dr. Silliman-French has taught adapted physical education (APE) for 17 years in the public schools in Texas and is an assistant professor at Texas Woman’s University. She has authored chapters in two different APE texts: this book and Adapted Physical Activity, Recreation, and Sport: Crossdisciplinary and Lifespan, Sixth Edition (Sherrill, McGraw-Hill, 2004). She is the Texas State Adapted Physical Activity Committee Chair for the Texas Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance (TAHPERD), and received the TAPHERD Scholar award in December 2005. She was also the recipient of the International Federation of Adapted Physical Activity Elly D. Friedmann Young Professional Award in 2003. She enjoys traveling and protecting the environment and animals.

Amanda D. Stewart Stanec, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, St. Francis Xavier University, Department of Education, Post Office Box 5000, Antagonish, Nova Scotia, Canada B26 2W5

Dr. Stewart Stanec is Assistant Professor of Physical Education at St. Francis Xavier University and a recent graduate of The University of Virginia. Recently, Dr. Stewart Stanec was elected to represent Nova Scotia on the Board of Directors of the Canadian Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance. A lover of the outdoors, she models an active lifestyle through triathlons, snowboarding, kayaking, running, and hiking with her husband, Jim.

Read an Excerpt

Excerpted from Chapter 3 of A Teacher's Guide to Including Students with Disabilities in General Physical Education, Third Edition, by Martin E. Block, Ph.D.

Copyright & 2007 by Paul H. Brookes Publishing Co. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Shay's mother, Mrs. Beard, introduced herself to Mrs. Gilchrest, the special education teacher at Columbia Elementary School. Mrs. Beard was a pleasant woman who clearly loved her daughter and cared about her welfare. Not surprising, she also seemed to know a lot about Shay's condition. Shay was starting kindergarten at Columbia, but she was not like any kindergartner the staff and students at Columbia had ever seen. Shay was born 6 weeks prematurely and weighed only 1 pound, 15 ounces at birth. She was in the neonatal intensive care unit of Children's Hospital for 4 months before she was able to go home. While Shay's parents hoped that Shay would grow up to be a typical child, it was clear by her first birthday that Shay would have several permanent physical, cognitive, and health conditions, including severe but underdetermined cognitive impairment (intellectual disabilities), severe spastic (very stiff) quadriplegic (all four limbs involved) cerebral palsy, cortical blindness (eyes work, but optical nerve and optical receptors in the brain do not work), severe gastric problems along with oral problems that require feeding through a feeding tube, breathing difficulties requiring her to use oxygen, and fragile diabetes that requires taking a blood stick two to three times per day and taking glycogen paste orally or an injection of insulin as needed. Clearly, Shay's school attendance requires a tremendous amount of support.

Mrs. Gilchrest called a meeting with all school personnel who would work with Shay in the upcoming year. Mrs. France, the physical education teacher at Columbia, attended this meeting and turned white when she heard about Shay. How could Shay participate safely in general physical education? How could Mrs. France work with Shay while supervising and working with all of the other students in her class? What accommodations would be necessary to accommodate all of Shay's physical, cognitive, and health issues? Clearly, Mrs. France would need information and support from Shay's parents as well as a variety of special education professionals who have more experience and knowledge about children like Shay. But to which specialists should Mrs. France turn for help? How would this help be provided? Mrs. France knew she needed help, but she did not even know where to start.

A variety of professionals are routinely involved in the development and implementation of a student's IEP, especially for children with more severe disabilities (Orelove, Sobsey, & Silberman, 2004). Although some school districts may not employ all of the professionals described in the case study, all school districts should have access to these professionals at least on a consultative basis. Together, all of those who work with a student with disabilities (including the general physical educator) are members of the student's collaborative team (Rainforth & York-Barr, 1997). These professionals can be invaluable resources to general and adapted physical educators who are attempting to include students with disabilities into general physical education. The purpose of this chapter is to define a collaborative team and explain the key professionals who are members of this team. Specific references to how team members can facilitate inclusion into physical education are provided. In addition, the importance of communication in collaborative teaming is discussed.


All students receiving special education services are required to have an IEP, which specifies in writing all aspects of their educational program. The concept of an IEP was specifically developed to guarantee that students with disabilities would receive all of the necessary services and the best educational program possible (Bateman & Herr, 2003). Many professionals are involved in the development and implementation of a student's IEP. In fact, IDEA 2004 mandates that a student's IEP be developed by a team that includes the student (when appropriate), student's parents, student's teachers, student's therapists, and a representative from the local education agency. Although IEP teams are designed to encourage team work and interaction among team members, some team members choose to work in isolation from other professionals providing therapy or services that are unrelated to the general education environment (Craig, Haggart, & Hull, 1999). In noncollaborative models, children may be pulled out of class for therapy or for adapted physical education a few times per week. Unfortunately, a pull–out model does not allow the specialist to learn about the general education environment and makes it difficult for specialists to share their knowledge about how to support the child (Craig et al., 1999). To illustrate, an adapted physical education specialist might be helping a child who uses a wheelchair to roll up and down a curb. However, if she does not share this information with the general physical education teacher, parents, or other professionals who work with this child to learn that this child never really needs to go up or down curbs to access the school building, then this isolationist approach results in inappropriate programming and limits the carryover and generalization of important skills.

Fortunately, most professionals are interested in working cooperatively and collaboratively with other professionals during the development and implementation of a student's IEP. Sharing expertise and resources among many professionals provides greater problem-solving abilities and enables all individuals involved in the student's educational program to utilize best teaching practices (Craig et al., 1999; Orelove et al., 2004; Rainforth & York-Barr, 1997). Collaborative teams meet on a regular basis to continually interact, plan, and modify a student's educational program. To illustrate, a collaborative team that meets twice per month is stumped on how to help a student who has severe autistic behaviors communicate with parents, friends, and teachers. In a monthly meeting, the speech therapist shares with team members how she uses a picture board to help this student communicate. At future meetings, the team discusses whether the new picture board program should be continued, changed, or dropped.

It should be noted that the formation of collaborative teams usually is not required by administrators. Thus, a team approach will only work if team members have a strong commitment to work together and to share information and ideas. Auxter, Pyfer, and Huettig (2005) noted that the collaborative model is a foreign concept to most general physical educators who are used to working very independently. Such an autonomous approach may work for children without disabilities, but it will not work for children with disabilities. Fortunately, most general physical educators quickly realize they need the expertise of others to safely and successfully develop and implement individualized physical education programs for their students with disabilities.

Collaborative Team Defined

Rainforth, York, and MacDonald (1992) coined the term collaborative teamwork to refer to the interaction and sharing of information and responsibilities among team members. As Snell and Janney clearly stated, "Collaborative teaming is two or more people working together toward a common goal (Rainforth & York-Barr, 1997). Working together can mean setting goals, identifying problems, assessing students' needs and skills, exchanging information, brainstorming, problem-solving, making plans, and implementing and evaluating plans" (2005, p. 6). Rainforth and her colleagues noted that the term was developed as a hybrid of the transdisciplinary model and the integrated therapy model. In the transdisciplinary model, parents and professionals share information and techniques. Professional boundaries are removed so that each team member is committed to promote the overall student's functional independence and participation in age-appropriate activities and routines (Craig et al., 1999). For example, physical therapists share information on positioning, while speech therapists show how to work on language development. Unfortunately, the transdisciplinary model often results in teachers' or paraprofessionals' conducting therapy in isolated, nonfunctional ways. For example, a paraprofessional may have learned how to perform range of motion activities on a student with cerebral palsy, but she may conduct the program away from the child's peers. In the integrated therapy model, therapy is conducted within functional contexts (Craig et al., 1999). Taken together, the collaborative model focuses on team members' sharing information and working together to provide students with disabilities necessary educational and therapeutic services within functional activities (Craig et al., 1999). Thus, the paraprofessional who has learned how to perform range-of-motion activities might perform these activities during warm-ups in general physical education, and the student remains with the group while the program is performed. Thus, specialists (including the adapted physical educator) spend more time in general education (including general physical education) settings rather than pulling children out in isolated settings. Characteristics of collaborative teamwork as outlined by Rainforth and York–Barr (1997) can be found in Table 3.1. Note how equal participation, shared responsibility, interdependence, and the utilization of functional settings are critical aspects of collaborative teamwork.

The collaborative model allows team members to integrate their programs into a student's daily life routines (Craig et al., 1999). In addition, team members are encouraged to work together to help students in various settings. For example, a speech teacher along with a student's parents may accompany a student to a local YMCA to work on that student's communication skills. Parents and family members are particularly important as they can practice physical education skills at home or take their child to local recreation facilities to follow up on community–based recreation training (Horton, Wilson, & Gagnon, 2003; Kozub, 2001).


A subset of the collaborative team is needed to form a physical education inclusion team (PEIT). Generally speaking, the PEIT is comprised of all collaborative team members who can contribute to the successful development and implementation of the physical education portion of the student's IEP. It is important to note that the PEIT does not have to meet at a special time. Rather, meetings can take place during a regular collaborative team meeting or during IEP meetings. In many cases, the special education teacher who is in charge of the general collaborative team meeting will allow the general physical educator to voice his or her concerns first to allow the GPE to quickly get back to class. In addition to the formal PEIT meeting, ongoing discussion between PEIT members should continue on a regular basis via e–mail, telephone calls, and shared notes. For example, during a collaborative team meeting, the general physical educator notes that Caleb's class will be working on a gymnastics unit and that the teacher is not sure if it is appropriate to include Caleb in gymnastics activities. The team reviews Caleb's IEP and notes that gymnastic activities are not a prioritized goal for Caleb. Through discussion among team members, it is decided that Caleb can participate with his peers during warm–ups. After warm-ups, on Tuesdays and Thursdays Caleb will work on setting up a tent provided by his parents (one of Caleb's goals is hiking/camping) in a corner of the gym with selected peers; on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, he goes hiking with the orientation and mobility specialist around the school perimeter with selected peers.

Meeting with the Physical Education Integration Team

The PEIT portion of the collaborative team meeting should be organized and run by a team leader (usually the adapted and/or general physical educator). This team solicits information from key members, documents decisions that were made during the meeting, and keeps all team members informed of pertinent information. Although it may be difficult to get all team members together for ongoing team meetings, it is imperative that all key team members, particularly the general physical educator, attend at least one preplanning meeting before the student with disabilities is included in the general physical education class.

It is important during PEIT meetings that team members introduce themselves and offer their assistance to the general physical educator. Most general physical educators are not part of the special education loop and might not be familiar with the roles of various specialists. One way of introducing team members is to utilize the concept of role release (Woodruff & McGonigel, 1988). Role release is a systematic way for team members to share ideas about their discipline and begin to work collaboratively to develop and implement the best possible program for a student with disabilities. Team members basically train one another to use their expertise from their various disciplines (Craig et al., 1999; Snell & Janney, 2005). Role release in introductory meetings should include the following: role extension, in which all team members begin to acquire knowledge about each other's disciplines (e.g., team members describe their role in the educational program of the student); role enrichment, in which team members begin to share information about basic practices (team members share their best teaching practices related to a particular student); and role expansion, in which team members exchange best teaching practices across disciplines (team members explain how other team members can utilize these best teaching practices in their setting). By the end of the first meeting, the general physical educator should feel that he or she has real resources to go to in order to get answers to answer specific questions about the student's physical education program. In addition, the general physical educator should have a greater understanding of the student's overall educational program (not just physical education) and how he or she can assist other team members in meeting other educational goals. Role release in future meetings should include role exchange, in which team members begin to implement teaching techniques from other disciplines, and role support, in which team members back each other up as team members assume the roles of other disciplines.

A great deal of information should be presented at this initial meeting so that team members can make informed decisions regarding the development of the student's individualized physical education program and strategies for inclusion. Various team members will be able to provide different aspects of the information. For example, vision teachers can provide information about a student's visual abilities, physical therapists can provide information about a student's motor abilities and physical fitness, the general physical educator can provide information about the general physical education curriculum and class format, and the student and his or her parents can provide information about a student's likes and dislikes. Key information and team members most likely to provide this information are presented in Figure 3.1.

While future team meetings are important and should be planned, some members may not be able to attend meetings on a regular basis. In such cases, the team leader should share information from team members with the team. For example, if the general physical educator cannot attend a meeting, he or she can provide information to the team leader regarding how well the student is doing, what modifications and teaching approaches have been effective or ineffective, and what the next physical education unit will include. Similarly, the student's physical therapist can provide information regarding any physical changes in the student that may affect his physical education program. Team members also should feel comfortable contacting each other with specific questions about the student's physical education program. Although formal team meetings provide the best means for discussing the student's program, team members must feel comfortable communicating with each other whenever the need arises.

Table of Contents

  1. What Is Physical Education?
    Martin E. Block, Steven Elliott, and Amanda D. Stewart Stanec
  2. What Is Inclusion?
  3. A Team Approach to Inclusion in Physical Education
  4. Planning for Inclusion in Physical Education
  5. Assessment to Facilitate Successful Inclusion
  6. Instructional Modifications
  7. Curricular Modifications
  8. Modifying Group Games and Team Sports
  9. Facilitating the Social Acceptance and Inclusion
    Martin E. Block and Iva Obrusnikova
  10. Making Inclusive Physical Education Safe
    Martin E. Block and Mel L. Horton
  11. Accommodating Students with Behavior Challenges
    Martin E. Block, Ron French, and Lisa Silliman-French
  12. Including Students with Disabilities in General Aquatics Programs
    Martin E. Block and Philip Conaster

  13. Including Students in General Community Recreation Programs

  14. Multicultural Education and Diversity Issues
    Ana Palla-Kane and Martin E. Block


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