Considerations Packets

The following information packets provide a brief overview of current topics and best practices for serving students with mild/moderate disabilities.  A PDF version of the Considerations Packets are available by clicking on the link below and filling out a brief registration form. 

Download PDF version of Considerations Packets

Adolescent Literacy: Evidence-Based Instructional Strategies -  Why, What, and How

Reading achievement among adolescents has become a national concern highlighted by the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) results reported over the last 10 years (NAEP, 2009).   These data show little progress in fourth- and eighth-grade reading comprehension skills over the past decade, with 30% of students in eighth grade reading two or more grade levels below their enrolled grade (Alliance Fact Sheet, September 2010).  The most recent OECD Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA; 2009) results mirror these concerns, with the United States ranked 14th among all participating nations in reading skills.  Only two-thirds of Virginia students with disabilities in grades 4 through high school meet the required minimal level of mastery of grade-level standards.  How do we address the needs of struggling readers through the general education curriculum and through intense intervention?  This interactive consideration packet provides instructional strategies to address these needs and connects them to the research-based recommendations made through the  What Works Clearinghouse and the Center on Instruction.  Finally the strategies are connected to the skill area of reading acquisition that is being targeted.

Algebra Strategies for Middle School

This information packet addresses strategies that middle school teachers can implement in teaching algebraic thinking. Algebra is a strand found in each of the middle school grade levels in the Virginia Standards of Learning. It is also one of the areas addressed by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) in Principles and Standards for School Mathematics. The Algebra strategies included in this packet addresses the following topics: exploring patterns, graphs, symbolic manipulation, technology as an aid for understanding algebraic concepts, discourse in the algebra classroom, and writing about algebraic thinking.

Classroom Interventions for Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder

This packet focuses on classroom intervention strategies to enhance the learning environment for students with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).  An overview of ADHD is presented along with a brief description of the challenges students with ADHD typically demonstrate in the classroom.  Strategies for academic interventions, behavior management, and home-school collaboration and communication are also included.

Co-Planning for Student Success

This information packet is for co-teaching partners who wish to improve their planning practices. Collaborative planning, or co-planning, occurs when a special and general educator combine their expertise to plan instructional content, instructional delivery, and assessment of student learning (Friend, 2014).

Co-Teaching

This Considerations Packet provides basic information to professionals currently engaged in or considering a co-teaching model to support students with mild/moderate disabilities in general education classrooms. Topics include defining characteristics, getting acquainted with a co-teaching partner, developing a contract for co-teaching, variations of co-teaching, effective co-planning, communication issues, administrative issues, and advantages of co-teaching.

Designing Effective Professional Development

The information packet provides essential information to educators interested in improving professional development practices. Topics include standards for designing professional development activities and programs that lead to improved learning for all students. An overview of basic information about the major models of professional development and their effectiveness is followed by specific strategies for determining if a school or school division is a learning organization. Finally, key questions for identifying indicators of effective professional development are also offered.

Geometry Strategies for Middle School

This information packet describes strategies middle school mathematics teachers can incorporate into their teaching of geometry. An overview of the Van Hiele model is followed by a description of how to assess students' level. Strategies for teaching plane figures, perimeter and area, geometric solids, and transformations are also included.

Graphic Organizers: Guiding Principles and Effective Practices

This packet focuses on how to make the most out of visual displays and representations of information, commonly called graphic organizers. Research-based suggestions are offered for making graphic organizers straightforward and coherent and for teaching students how to use graphic organizers so that they begin to internalize the organizational skills of the graphic display. This packet will outline the primary categories and uses for graphic organizers as well as strategies to enhance their effectiveness.

Helping All Students Meet the Standards with Technology and Project-Based Learning

This packet focuses on the use of multimedia technology by students of all abilities to showcase or share information gained as a result of applied or project-based learning activities. An overview of project-based learning as an essential strategy for facilitating greater levels of student engagement and productivity, particularly within inclusive settings will be presented. Practical ideas and resources for implementing and evaluating multimedia based projects will also be shared.

The Heart of the IEP

Drafting Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) is one of the most challenging parts of a special educator's job. IEPs that are collaboratively developed and truly individualized require expertise, time, team spirit, and perseverance. The focus of this Considerations Packet is the heart of the IEP - the present level of academic achievement and functional performance, annual goals, and short-term objectives or benchmarks. Specifically, you will find information about, examples of, and checklists for creating these three critical elements of the IEP document.

Inclusive Grading and Progress-Monitoring Practices

This packet provides an overview of effective inclusive grading and progress-monitoring practices for educators teaching students with disabilities; specifically, grading practices focusing on alignment with content standards and progress-monitoring techniques both for students working on grade-level and modified standards. Finally, guidelines for reporting grades will be presented based on the relevant federal laws pertaining to students with disabilities.

Inferential Reading Comprehension

This packet focuses on strategies teachers may employ to improve students' inferential comprehension skills. Topics include a discussion of the meaning of the term inferential comprehension, the consideration of specific sub-skills necessary for making inferences, suggestions for ways to teach students to make inferences, and ideas designed to provide a variety of opportunities for students to practice the skill of inferential comprehension.

Instructional Assessment

This packet provides a description of an instructional assessment model that is used to help teachers match instruction to student needs. Instructional assessment (IA) is a form of curriculum based assessment (CBA) that is designed to determine the instructional needs of individual students in order to create the conditions necessary to optimize and maintain learning (Rosenfield, 1987). The purpose of IA is to ensure a match between what the student knows and what the teacher teaches (Gravois & Gickling, 2002). Although this consideration packet describes the assessment of reading skills, the method is applicable to all academic areas.

Paraeducators' Tools for Supporting the Instructional Process

This information packet focuses on tools that paraeducators need to begin to offer instructional support to classroom teachers. These tools will assist paraeducators with understanding the basics and building effective communication and collaboration skills. This packet offers some suggestions and practical application tips to strengthen the paraeducators ability to effectively support classroom instruction.

Pillars of Support: Designing Positive Behavior Interventions for Students with Disabilities

This Considerations Packet provides evidence-based, proactive strategies for creating classroom and individual behavioral supports for students with disabilities in general education settings. It offers an array of effective interventions at school-wide, small-group, and individual levels. The packet also highlights practical strategies for teachers to utilize regularly in classroom and non-classroom settings.

Planning for Technology Integration to Meet the Needs of Diverse Learners

As the amount of technology increases in schools, the expectations for technology integration in the classroom also increases.  However, most professional development on technology focuses on the use of the technology tools rather than on the planning and integration with the curriculum.  Judi Harris and Mark Hofer at the College of William and Mary propose a planning approach for technology-based instruction that centers on learning goals and activities, while providing a framework for matching available technologies with specific learning activities.  This planning approach allows teachers to integrate the technologies that best meet the needs of the content and their students.

Practice and Homework - Effective Teaching Strategies

This information packet focuses on practice and homework as instructional strategies that teachers can utilize daily to increase and maintain retention of information for all learners. Strategies for practicing new learning are suggested, including visualization, mnemonics, quick writes, and effective questioning. Finally, tips for homework completion are provided for both teachers and parents.

Reasonable and Effective Accommodations

This information packet defines accommodations, differentiates them from modifications and adaptations, and addresses their specific purpose. Three processes for determining "reasonable" accommodations are presented, and examples of various types of accommodations are given. 

Science Strategies

This information packet focuses on strategies teachers can incorporate into their instruction to enhance student learning in science. This packet is divided into five strands focusing on: Organizing and Remembering Information in Science, Reading in Science, Writing and Reflecting in Science, Learning Together in Science, and Investigating in Science.

Strategies for Creating Effective School Leadership Teams

This Considerations Packet is designed to support school leadership teams as they guide school improvement efforts. Topics include the rationale for using a team approach, team composition, and necessary skills and responsibilities of the leadership team.  In addition, the characteristics of effective teacher leaders and strategies for conducting productive meetings are discussed.

Strategies for Creating Inclusive Schools

This Considerations Packet provides basic information for educational professionals currently engaged in or considering improving inclusive practices in a school. Topics include the following: (a) conducting a self-assessment to determine the school’s starting point for action related to inclusive practices; (b) following a change model to move from initiating to sustaining inclusive practices; (c) forming a guiding team to monitor progress; and (d) providing ongoing professional development directly related to educator needs.

Teachers' Tools for Building Productive Relationships with Paraeducators

This information packet focuses on tools that special education teachers need in order to build effective working relationships with paraprofessionals. The packet offers some suggestions and practical application tips to strengthen teacher-paraeducator relationships, including effective communication and collaboration.

Techniques for Active Learners

This information packet describes 18 techniques that teachers can easily implement to increase time on task for all learners. Techniques are grouped into the following categories: Motivation and Focus, During Instruction, Cooperative Group Work, and Evaluation. Specific of the techniques include Whip Around and Pass; I Have, Who Has?; Pinwheel; Paired Reading; and Outcome Sentences.

Transition Planning for a Brighter Future: Designing IEPs for Secondary Students with Disabilities-2nd Edition

To regard people with disabilities as a potentially valuable resource requires a belief in human potential and recognition that potential must be discovered, nurtured, and developed. It requires a willingness to invest time, effort, patience, and support until a satisfactory level of work and personal living skills can be achieved. To be certain that each student with a disability has a chance to discover his or her potential, belief must be backed up by educational programs that are realistically crafted to allow students to pursue options to reach their goals. (Sitlington, Clark, & Kolstoe, 2000, p. 1)

Twice Exceptional: Gifted Student with Learning Disabilities

This packet focuses on providing educators with basic information for recognizing and understanding gifted students with learning disabilities (LD). Characteristics of this population are discussed as well as strategies to engage students in the learning environment and models for special programming. Finally, tips for teachers and parents are provided to enhance instruction and interactions to meet the unique needs of gifted students with LD.

A "Word" About Vocabulary

This information packet provides strategies upper-elementary and secondary school teachers may use to teach vocabulary in a meaningful way. The word-learning instructional strategies are grounded in research and are applicable to all content areas. The packet includes games and other activities that enable students to use newly acquired words, as well as review groups of vocabulary words in an engaging manner.

The Write Tools Can Make a Difference

This information packet is designed to offer ideas to the classroom teacher who is looking for effective ways to support students who are struggling with one or more aspects of the writing process. The following topics are addressed:

  • How to identify students struggling with the mechanics of writing;
  • How to identify students struggling with various aspects of the writing process;
  • The continuum of support: "No" or "low-tech" solutions to more advanced technology supports for the mechanics of writing;
  • The continuum of support: "No" or "low-tech" solutions to more advanced technology supports for the process of writing;
  • The decision-making process: Determining a "best fit" from the myriad choices available; and
  • Facilitating success: Supporting student technology use, productivity, and independence.
The Writing Process: A Scaffolding Approach

This packet offers a systematic format to teaching essential writing skills to all students. The scaffolding approach allows for differentiated instruction in a diverse classroom. It gradually builds independence and confidence among young writers. This instructional technique can be easily adapted to many classrooms, disciplines, and age or grade levels.