The JJs List Blog

Innovation In The Special Education Classroom

Posted by on April 12, 2013 - 3 Comments

Teaching students with disabilities the importance of self-advocacy can be challenging. Here’s how two special ed teachers are using our free tool in their classrooms.


picture of theresa buckman from SEDOLTheresa Buckman,
Special Education District of Lake County

“What I love best about my students? Watching them become mature in their ability to make responsible and safe decisions.”

Q: Describe how your students use

I work as a Social Worker with transition students (18-22) participating in our Community Life Skills Program at SEDOL.  These students come from various communities throughout Lake County.  I have been using the Safe and Productive Internet Life & Literacy Skills Curriculum in my weekly social groups over the course of the school year.  My student’s enjoyed the unit on self-advocacy and  They worked collaboratively to complete reviews of businesses they had experiences with.

Q: Why is self-advocacy important to students like yours?

All of my students have disabilities and are entering adulthood after spending years in an educational system where others made decisions for them (parents, teachers etc).  As an adult they will need to become their own decision makers and begin to advocate for their own needs.

Q: How do your students feel about self-advocating on

Let’s hear what they had to say:

Daniel:  “It helps to get our voice out so we can make a big
difference despite how small our actions are”

Cathy: “I hope all the businesses that we go to get  good reviews”

Rose:  “It was enjoyable and a new experience for me”

Mel:  “I think was a good experience for a journal posting

Christine:  “ was a super website for self-advocacy”

Cynthia: “I think helps people”

Vanessa:  “Posting on was a good experience and we learned a

Amanda: “It was fun to learn about and write a review”

Becky: “I think it was good to review a business so they’ll know how
to treat people with disabilities”

Anonymous: “ It was a good cause and it supports people with

Stephanie: “ I like that people with disabilities can advocate for
themselves on”

headshot of Mary Beth DeFauw of NSSED

Mary Beth DeFauw,

Northern Suburban Special Education District

“What I love about working with my students? Their enthusiasm for new skills in REAL settings!”

Q: Tell Me About Your Students.

My students are 18-22 years old and part of a self-determination group that was formed at the Glenbrook South Transition Program.  My goal for them is to learn about the importance of being self-determined and practice these skills in real life.

Q: Your students have been contributing reviews on a regular basis. How do you work to incorporate the review-writing process into your class, and why?

Writing reviews on JJ’s List incorporates self advocacy skills, writing skills, and internet skills. We take time to read updated reviews, and students check on their favorite places in the community to determine if there is a review.  As a group, we decide on a few community places to visit and do a review.  We identify the key points to be observed and then we write a review after we have visited.  It’s a great community activity!!  We have even found new places to support! We have even found places where the students would like to work because the review indicates that the business is “disability friendly.”

Q: How have your students enjoyed posting reviews and self-advocating on

Student’s enjoy collaborating on the rating scale and having a part in critiquing disaiblity awareness.  Some students have even set up their own account and now write reviews outside of the group.  One student’s review made an impact at a local bank where the handicapped accessible entrance was updated to accommodate wheelchair customers.

Q: Why is self-advocacy important to students like yours?

Students need to be able to address their personal concerns, their likes, their dislikes, and advocate for themselves in a way that is productive.  JJ’s List helps the students practice the process of being a good self-advocate.


young adults with disabilities at the computerWe at JJ’s List have found it such a wonderful experience having dedicated teachers like Theresa and Mary Beth using in their classrooms, and seeing the ways it has helped benefit both them and their students. We hope that hearing their stories will serve as a good resource, and inspire you to build self-advocacy with your students/loved ones with disabilities on too. It’s easy. It all starts with writing a review.


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Buc Williams says:
May 05, 2013

I have written a song that teaches inclusion, understanding and acceptance for children/people with disabilities called “The Little Bus”. My seven year old son Thomas who suffers from severe Epilepsy inspired it. It is available on iTunes and I am donating the proceeds to several special needs organizations including the Miracle Baseball League for handicapped Children. Any help you can give spreading the word would be greatly appreciated!

Mark “Buc” Williams

Story sheet and mp3 available

Dr Rob says:
May 13, 2013

Hello Dr Rob here. I am writing to you because I find your blog facinating and your help with indviduals with special needs. My name is Dr Rob I am a Neuro Developmentalist who works with all causes of developmental disabilities. I am writing for you to listen and spread the word around because this week Wednesday at 5 in the afternoon on WEI INTERNET RADIO I am having a very special guest to speak about a new center in south florida that has over sixty thousand square feet of space You can contact me at 561-676-2075 and call in at 561-791-6375 Have a nice day Rob

yongshuling says:
May 13, 2013

Hi Dr. Rob,

Thank you for reaching out to us. We’ll be happy to let our networks know about your upcoming radio show. Please let us know which time zone you are referring to when you say 5pm, and the best way for people to tune in.


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