Collaboration Corner – May/June 2015

NEWcollaborationcornerDear T/TAC,

I am a fourth-grade general education co-teacher. My grade level is departmentalized, and I teach four social studies classes each day. I use the same lesson plan for every class. My special education co-teaching partner receives a copy of my lesson plan each week, but we do not have scheduled co-planning time. Since we are not collaboratively planning, we most frequently fall into the one teach, one assist co-teaching structure. We are frustrated because we know that we could better meet the needs of our students if we could plan instruction together. Do you have any suggestions?

Frustrated in S.S.

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Creating an Environment of Inclusion

Have you ever created a Wordle?  Wordles provide a visual means of representing text through word clouds.  Words that appear more frequently in text appear larger in the cloud.  For example, I created the following Wordle using the principles of effective inclusion from a number of resources (Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth, 2014; Halvorsen & Neary, 2009; Peterson & Hittie, 2007; Salend, 2008): [Read more…]

Intensifying Instructional Delivery During Guided Reading

Authors Mary Murray Stowe, M.Ed., and Jan Rozzelle, Ed.D.
Elementary and middle schools across the Commonwealth are selecting guided reading as a means to address students’ comprehension issues.  Why are more and more schools adopting this practice? Guided reading may support struggling readers because it:

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Open-Ended Math Questions Reveal Student Thinking

Careful, intentional, and mindful questioning is one of the most powerful tools a skillful teacher possesses (Costa & Kallick, 2000).  Teachers can use open-ended questions during math instruction or assessments to learn how students are problem-solving. [Read more…]

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…]

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…]

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…]

Multi-Sensory Language Instruction Pilot Project

The Virginia Department of Education Offices of Special Education Instructional Services and Humanities and Early Childhood are seeking K-6 teachers to participate in a multi-sensory structured language instruction pilot project during the 2015-2016 school year.  Approximately 80 teachers will be selected through a competitive application process to participate in the August 3-7, 2015, regionally-based pilot project.  The participants will receive professional development in the Orton-Gillingham instructional approach.  This instructional approach is a direct, systematic approach to teaching language structure for reading remediation.  It is designed to address the needs of struggling readers who have difficulty with reading, spelling, and writing including those with a specific learning disability such as dyslexia.

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Math Co-teaching Academies: Algebraic Thinking and Reasoning in the Co-taught Secondary Mathematics Class

The Virginia Department of Education Office of Special Education Instructional Services in consultation with the Office of Mathematics and Governor’s Schools is sponsoring two Math Co-teaching Academies.  The academies are designed for school teams of mathematics and special education teachers working together to enhance all student outcomes, especially students with disabilities.  The focus will be utilizing co-teaching approaches to deliver specially designed instruction that includes the evidence-based practices of vocabulary instruction and the Concrete-Representational-Abstract (CRA) sequence.  Participants will also learn how to integrate formative assessment in their classrooms to develop data-driven tiered systems of support and design instruction to meet individual student needs.  The Academies will be held: [Read more…]

English Co-teaching Academy: Addressing Non-fiction and Writing in the Co-taught Classroom

The Virginia Department of Education’s Offices of Special Education Instructional Services and Humanities and Early Childhood are sponsoring an English Co-teaching Academy: Addressing Non-fiction and Writing in the Co-taught Classroom.  The Academy is designed for school teams of English and special education teachers working together to enhance all student outcomes, especially students with disabilities.  The focus will be on improving content understanding, pedagogical strategies, collaboration/co-teaching strategies, and networking.  The Academy will be held July 14-15, 2015, at Wyndham Virginia Crossings Hotel & Conference Center, 1000 Virginia Center Pkwy., Glen Allen, Virginia 23059. [Read more…]