Getting From Here to There Using Evidence-Based Strategies

By Sue Land, M.Ed.

November/December 2012


"Cheshire Puss … would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?"
  "That depends a good deal on where you want to get to," said the Cat. "I don't much care where --" said Alice.
 "Then it doesn't matter which way you go," said the Cat.
"-- so long as I get SOMEWHERE," Alice added as an explanation.
 "Oh, you're sure to do that," said the Cat, "if you only walk long enough."
- Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carrolla

Unlike Alice, Virginia teachers know their destination -- successful student learning! Besides, they do not have to wander aimlessly to find the content and skills to teach and the resources to do so. The Standards of Learning (SOL) describe the Commonwealth's expectations for student learning and achievement in grades K-12 in English, mathematics, science, history/social science, technology, the fine arts, foreign language, health and physical education, and driver education. Many resources are available to reach those goals, such as the curriculum frameworks, enhanced scope and sequence guides and differentiated lesson plans, test blueprints, and released tests and test items may be accessed at

In addition to the VDOE website, the November-December 2012 Link Lines provides useful information to keep teachers on track for meeting the needs of their students.  A NOTE Worthy Strategy for Student Success: Becoming Effective Listeners and Note-Takers describes an approach to note-taking that will help students organize and remember critical content within the general education classroom. Another article, Who I Want to Be When I Grow Up: Coming out of the Starting Blocks!, focuses on career awareness, the initial phase in the career development process, to assist students in creating a vision for their future. Both of these articles provide essential tools for students as they travel their educational path.

Many students with disabilities struggle to learn to read and write in their early school years and continue to struggle in their secondary-level content classes because they lack content literacy skills. Content literacy includes the speaking, reading, writing, and listening skills required to be successful in a specific content area such as English or science. Content Literacy: A Key That Opens the Door to a Successful Future presents research-validated practices that teachers can use to improve their students’ content literacy skills. A checklist helps teachers identify areas of strength and focus for content-literacy instruction in their classes. One Teacher’s Story: Results-Oriented Writing Instruction for Struggling Students shares how one teacher led her students on a  journey to success by implementing a writing plan that included modeling and think-alouds, graphic organizers, group writing, writing conferences, and a Strategic Instruction Model® (SIM®) Learning Strategy:  Fundamentals of Sentence Writing Strategy. Students gained confidence in writing and the teacher gained confidence in teaching writing. A win-win situation!

Unlike Alice, effective teachers care where they are going with their students and develop appropriate IEPs to help guide the way. Designing Meaningful IEPs – Selecting and Writing Annual Goals and Objectives describes a process for designing annual goals and objectives that guide students to mastery of academic standards and critical functional competencies. Examples of appropriate goals and objectives are provided, in addition to a helpful checklist for goal development.

Finally, two more articles present additional tips and techniques for effective instruction and management. Better Behavior Through Precorrection, Prompts, and Specific Praise provides evidence-based behavior interventions that are highly successful and  can be implemented in less than one minute. Finally, Featured Apps: Tools for Intensifying and Individualizing Instruction suggests that “amazing technology tools can provide the next best thing” to an extra person in the classroom. The apps highlighted in this article are designed to help teachers maximize instructional time and individualize support in order to meet student needs.

Avoid those rabbit holes and stay on the path of success with your students by trying the techniques offered in this issue of Link Lines.