Abstract 1, Volume 9, Number 2, Summer 2014

Selective Appropriation and Historical Documentary Making

in a Special Education Classroom

Bruce Fehn

The University of Iowa

James E. Schul

Winona State University

We describe a special education teacher and a history teacher who, together, gave specific learning disabled (SLD) and emotionally disabled (ED) students the opportunity to make historical documentaries in a self-contained special education classroom.  Students were diverse in race, gender and disability.  Findings indicated documentary making yielded positive outcomes for students as well as for the teachers.  By selectively appropriating desktop documentary making technology, teachers engaged students in a technology-based project. Documentary making also opened opportunities for teachers’ close interaction with students, while still managing a potentially disruptive classroom.  Students, who struggled with reading and writing, completed an engaging, lengthy, complex history project and exercised historical thinking skills. This study has implications for using documentary making technologies for engaging and refining students’ historical thinking skills.

Keywords:  Special education; historical thinking; documentary making; technology; middle school; learning disabilities

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