Giving Students the Tools to Grow: Lifelong Learners and Productive Members of a Global Society

How would educators reply if asked why they originally entered and remain in their professional positions? Most likely, their answer would be that they care deeply about the success, happiness, and safety of their students in school and in life. A word cloud, like the one pictured below, prominently displays those words in a group that occur with the highest frequency. This word cloud was created by pasting mission statements of school divisions from across the Commonwealth of Virginia into a word cloud creator. As one might expect, the word “students” appears as the most important focus in schools.

[Read more…]

Laying the Foundation: Considerations for Scheduling Students With Disabilities

Master scheduling in an inclusive school is a student-centered and collaborative process. Before creating the final master schedule, administrators can minimize the otherwise daunting nature of this task by (a) actively engaging teachers, service providers, guidance counselors, and other support personnel in identifying students’ learning and behavioral needs; (b) creating balanced class rosters and individual student schedules; and (c) assigning appropriate staff to teach the general education curriculum and provide special education to students with disabilities (Florida Inclusion Network [FIN], n.d.; Friend, Hamby, & McAdams, 2014; Prewett et al., 2012). [Read more…]

Where Are We Now and Where Are We Headed? A Time for Reflection and Decision-Making

One half of the 2014-15 school year is over, and by now, educators possess data from multiple formal and informal sources that can help them to know and understand their students and to determine where they are performing in relation to mastery of the Standards of Learning (SOL).  When you analyze your students’ data, do they indicate that they are on track to meet the demands of the grade-level or course SOL? Do your instructional practices and the services for students with disabilities support movement toward reaching the state’s learning targets? In what ways could instructional practices be adjusted to more effectively meet the learning needs of your students? Do you know all you need to know about your students with disabilities and best practice to meet those needs? [Read more…]

Teacher Practices That Support Positive Academic and Behavioral Outcomes for Students

Teacher practices that increase students’ engagement in instruction are critical to improving their academic and behavioral performance (Harbour, Evanovich, Sweigart, & Hughes, 2015). Modeling, increasing opportunities to respond (OTR), and providing feedback are three simple, yet powerful, practices that teachers can incorporate into existing instructional routines (Harbour et al., 2015).  When applied consistently and effectively, these three techniques have been shown to strengthen teacher-student relationships, increase student participation in learning activities, and nurture student self-confidence and motivation to attempt and succeed at academic tasks (Harbour et al., 2015). [Read more…]

Planning for Effective Intervention Blocks

Many schools include in their master schedule time each day to provide instructional intervention, reteaching, or remediation for students who have difficulty mastering academic concepts and require additional support outside of the general education classroom (Canady & Rettig, 2008). When intervention blocks are carefully planned and continuously monitored for efficiency and effectiveness, they can benefit both students and teachers. For example, in a study of elementary students with learning disabilities who received small-group instruction outside of the general education classroom, researchers found that students made the most substantial academic gains when instruction was [Read more…]

Laying the Foundation for Teaching and Learning

foundationGareis and Grant (2008) define teaching as an “intentional creation and enactment of activities and experiences by one person that lead to changes in the knowledge, skills, and/or dispositions of another person” (p. 1). Teachers work hard to ensure that their students learn by carefully planning lessons and activities that meet the needs of all students and by continuously developing their own skills and knowledge about the teaching and learning process. However, until students actually learn what the teacher has taught, the instructional process is incomplete (Gareis & Grant, 2008). [Read more…]