Tools for the Teacher’s Toolbox on Classroom Routines and Procedures

Authors:  LaShauna Britt, M.Ed., Daria Lorio-Barsten, M.Ed., BCBA, and Kara McCulloch, M.S.

At this time of the school year, you most likely have classroom routines and procedures in place. But is your classroom running as effectively and efficiently as you would wish, or do you find yourself saying the same things over and over? Are there students who still need frequent reminders about where to get a pencil or what to do once they have completed assignments? [Read more…]

Teacher & Parent Support for Student Engagement Resource Guide

Maximizing Instructional Time through Structured Conversations

Every school year teachers ask themselves, “How can I create a class where students collaborate with one another as well as with me?” The answer to this question is cooperative learning. [Read more…]

Buried by Content: Strategies to Support Student Success in Science and Social Studies Courses

All teachers face the challenge of completing their curriculum within a limited time frame, but in content-heavy secondary classrooms, this task can be particularly daunting.  Working with students with disabilities requires specific strategies for covering a large amount of information and numerous skills.  In many Math and English classes, special education teachers co-teach with general educators.  This approach can be very effective; however, in science and social studies classrooms, school resources often limit the availability of special education teachers.

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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…]

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…]

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…]

Cooperative Learning Techniques for Active Student Engagement

How can cooperative learning help your students? Cooperative learning is a successful teaching strategy whereby small teams of students with differing abilities engage in a variety of learning activities to improve their subject-matter understanding and skills. Each team member is responsible for learning what is taught as well as for helping teammates learn, thus creating an atmosphere of achievement (Balkcom, 1992). When structures are in place for this level of dialogue to occur, the comprehension process is accelerated (Bucalos & Ling, 2005). Positive effects of cooperative learning have been reported in all subject areas, grades, and types of schools and with students from different ethnic backgrounds and achievement levels (Slavin, 1994). Hattie (2012) described cooperative learning as “a powerful intervention” (p. 78). [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…]