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).

This edition of Link Lines is focused on supporting teachers in building a strong foundation for student learning and professional growth. As such, the authors connect readers to instructional and professional development resources and highlight the importance of building relationships and communicating effectively with school and family partners.

The Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) provides a wealth of instructional resources for general and special educators. In their article, VDOE Instructional Resources That Support the Written, Taught, and Tested Curriculum in English and Math, Mary Stowe and Donni Davis-Perry link readers to mathematics and English/reading SOL and professional development resources. Screencasts embedded in the article include useful tips and directions for navigating the VDOE website.

One of these resources, Teacher Direct, provides teachers with the latest SOL news as well as upcoming professional development events. For example, registration is now open for the October English and Mathematics SOL Institutes in various regions of Virginia. Teacher Direct also includes a library of lessons, presentations, and videos. To stay current, teachers can register online to receive weekly email updates.

In the article Family Involvement: What Families Can Do to Get and Stay Involved, Debbie Grosser focuses on the roles of family in the learning process.  In particular, she discusses ways that families can take an active part in their child’s success by communicating openly and building relationships with their child’s teachers. Families can also become involved in both school- and home-based activities that support the school’s instructional program.

In addition to instructional resources, the VDOE provides news and announcements for parents of students with disabilities. On VDOE’s Special Education: For Parents page, families of students with disabilities can complete the Parent Involvement Survey. VDOE has also developed the Virginia Family Special Education website where families can learn tips for supporting their child’s education, attend webinars and training events, and take free classes.

In her article, Bridging the Gap: Access to the General Education Curriculum, Cathy Buyrn points special educators to an essential VDOE resource. The article discusses how this document can help special educators identify important knowledge and skills that students with disabilities need across multiple grade levels and that, therefore, should be considered when developing IEP goals. This document can also support the co-planning process. That is, the author highlights the critical need for both general and special educators to understand what the state standards intend that students know and be able to do as a result of instruction.

In Cue Cards: Hints to Help Your Students Succeed, Butler Knight describes the use of cue cards to support students with disabilities in learning both academic and social skills. She points out that the SOL Curriculum Framework outlines not only the intended academic learning outcomes, but also critical social/behavioral competencies that students must master in order to learn academic content. Thus, teachers must design activities and experiences to support students who have difficulties with both academics and behaviors needed for school success.

Teachers passionately work for the moment when an instructional activity or learning experience leads to the “light bulb” turning on for their students (Gareis & Grant, 2008, p. 2). The resources in this newsletter can help teachers add to their instructional toolbox and stay connected with ongoing supports, thereby increasing the likelihood that they will experience more of these enlightening moments.

References

Gareis, C., & Grant, L. (2008). Teacher-made assessments: How to connect curriculum, instruction, and student learning. Larchmont, NY: Eye on Education.