Master Scheduling for Student Success

A school’s master schedule provides valuable information about teacher schedules, course offerings, and class locations. At the same time, a master schedule also reveals much about a school’s culture, priorities, and beliefs. The National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP, 2011) noted that a school’s master schedule “is like looking at an MRI of the inner workings of a school. It is the window to the soul of the school” (para. 3). Similarly, Crawford (2008) observed that “if you want to get a window into a school’s core values and identify competing goals, look at how schools allocate and use time” (p. 252). How can a school create a master schedule that reflects its inclusive values and priorities?

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I’m Determined Tools: Web Apps Now Available!

I’m Determined, a state directed project funded by the Virginia Department of Education, focuses on providing direct instruction, models, and opportunities for students to learn and practice skills associated with self-determined behavior. Many students have used the One Pager, Good Day Plan, and Goal Setting tools to support self-determined behaviors such as choice-making, self-awareness, and self-advocacy (Wehmeyer & Field, 2007). The IMD3 app has a dashboard that allows teachers to keep track of individual student progress on all three tools. [Read more…]

Creating Synergy: Lesson Design in a Co-Taught Classroom

In recent years, co-teaching has become a popular service delivery model for meeting the needs of students with disabilities. Co-taught lessons must be carefully planned with the curriculum and student needs in mind. As such, co-teachers are accountable for designing and delivering specially designed instruction and providing opportunities for students to reach their Individualized Education Program (IEP) goals within the general education classroom. When designing instruction, partners collaboratively make decisions about grouping students for instructional activities, the co-teaching approaches to use within a lesson, teacher roles and responsibilities during instruction,and methods for student progress monitoring (Friend, 2014).

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Short and Snappy Summarizing Strategies

“Make sure you put the information in your own words!” Countless students have heard teachers use these words to remind them to summarize. The ability to summarize important information is critical. Thus, summarizing is a research-based strategy that can increase student achievement (Dean, Hubbell, Pitler, & Stone, 2012), and teaching students explicit strategies for summarizing written material is one of the 11 elements of effective writing instruction for students in 4th through 12th grade (Graham & Perin, 2007). The Rule-Based Summarizing Strategy and the Three-Column Journal described in this article will help students summarize effectively. [Read more…]

Professional Learning Never Stops: Making the Most of Professional Development During the Summer

Educators have known for many years the importance of continuous learning for staying current in terms of professional skills and knowledge (Guskey, 2000).  “The purpose of professional learning is for educators to develop the knowledge, skills, practices, and dispositions they need to help students perform at higher levels” (Learning Forward, 2015, para. 1). Learning Forward (n.d.) describes the relationship between professional learning and improved student results as a cycle in which educators change skills and beliefs and later use their new knowledge to better meet student needs. As teacher practices improve, students are more likely to meet performance expectations, and the cycle begins again with a new improvement focus. [Read more…]

Quality Indicators for Inclusive Practices: How Are We Doing?

Spring is an ideal time for educators to pause and reflect.  Routines and practices are established, but enough of the year remains to make adjustments.  It is also not too early to start planning for next year.  Reflection can occur in three different ways (Knight, 2011): [Read more…]

The Power of Engagement: Connecting Students, Families, and Learning

It is essential to provide students with disabilities “rigorous and relevant instruction to better engage students in learning and provide the skills needed to graduate and to serve them after they leave school” (Wilkins & Huckabee, 2014, p. 45). This statement, in turn, leads to the question: How do students want to be engaged in their learning? When a middle school teacher asked her eighth graders that question, one student responded, “I believe that it all boils down to relationships.  Not relationships from teacher to student or relationships from student to student, but rather relations between the text and the outside world” (Wolpert-Gawron, 2012, “Connecting the Real World,” para. 1).  Another student observed, “When a student is active they learn in a deeper way than sitting” (Wolpert-Gawron, 2012, “Get Me Out of My Seat!” para. 1). [Read more…]