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Raver-Lampman's Draws on Teacher Experiences for New Book

It was a daunting task to combine 39 years of professional experience and the first eight years of a child's life into one textbook, but Old Dominion University professor Sharon Raver-Lampman said she loves a challenge. Her new textbook, "Early Childhood Special Education-0 to 8 years: Strategies for Positive Outcomes" (Merrill/Pearson), does just that, providing strategies for intervention and aiding the development of children with special needs.

Applying her professional knowledge and experience to 12 case studies of special education students, Raver-Lampman presents a great amount of information in a manageable and interesting way.

"Before I came to ODU I taught in public schools for 17 years, so I have a very practical view about what teachers in training need," said Raver-Lampman.

Applied strategies, family case studies and end-of-chapter application exercises are some of the features she built into her textbook to aid these future teachers. It is designed to be an introduction and strategies text for preservice teachers who want to teach children with special needs from birth to age 8.

For two years, the book was all Raver-Lampman thought about. "I actually turned it in early, which very few ever do," she said. "In the summers, I'd do nothing but get up, write and go to bed."

She characterizes her book as more "applied" than many others on the subject matter that focus primarily on theory. "I saw what was out there and thought I could do better," she said.

Currently, nearly 40 universities are reviewing the book for possible adoption. "I'm optimistic. I'm hoping it will be well received. My last book, 'Intervention Strategies for Infants and Toddlers with Special Needs: A Team Approach,' was used by Eastern Virginia Medical School, Johns Hopkins University and Vanderbilt University, and so I think this book has a good chance of adoption," she said.

Once teachers adopt and use a textbook once, they are more likely stick with it because that is the text they feel comfortable teaching from and the one they have their lessons and class activities coordinated with, Raver-Lampman said.

Although it is too soon to know how many universities will adopt the book and whether teachers in the field find it useful, Raver-Lampman said she already knows that some of the extended family members of the children featured in the case studies will be getting copies of the book this Christmas.

"In general, the families were really excited that they were playing a part in shaping the training of future teachers," she said. Most of the families said they were pleased with the services they received and thought their children were more independent and successful because of them, she added.

A professor of special education in ODU's Darden College of Education, Raver-Lampman has been a faculty member at the university since 1985. In 2006, she received an Outstanding Faculty Award from the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia. She has been the recipient of four Fulbright Scholar Awards, which have allowed her to share her expertise in the Czech Republic, Japan, India and Ukraine, where she was able to help faculty at University Ukrania set up a disability services program as well as establish a special education master's program. She continues her collaborative research with universities in these countries today.

Throughout her career, Raver-Lampman has produced more than 120 publications, including two other textbooks, "Strategies for Teaching At-Risk and Handicapped Infants and Toddlers" (1991) and "Intervention Strategies for Infants and Toddlers with Special Needs: A Team Approach" (1998).

Recently, she has been working with her doctoral students on a new research program aimed at helping special-needs adults adjust to community work placements. She is also collaborating with the Fulbright program and Robert Gable, professor and eminent scholar of early childhood, speech-language pathology and special education at ODU, to develop the first master's program in special education in Vietnam.

This article was posted on: November 24, 2008

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