RTI Data and Technology

This coming year, my new mate is split between two schools half time. Question: How do you share RTI information with team members who spend half of their day in another building? Answer: With a Google Site.
As I have shared earlier, I want my team to have there own chart with just the identified students and maybe the tiered students within those groups to track growth. Just like our general education teachers have for all their students.

So, I decided that instead of have a paper and chart that gets hung--I would create something that viewable anywhere and could we could build upon it as the year progress. I created a Google site. It seemed to be the one way we could put meeting notes, planning notes and SMART goals for all groups and our RTI charts. We can add our weekly meeting notes with updated data on goals. More closely monitor that students are making more than a years growth.

The home page has a staffing calender and reminders for SMART Goals.

 The Data Wall for Reading has the categories broken down with the data points and the student data embedded in a spreadsheet on the same page. No flipping through to find the data. The team can see the whole case load in one shot. The Fountas and Pinnell level expectations for the whole year as well. (Get your copy below.)


The second page has the math data. Like with reading-one side has the data points for the year.


Google is perfect because we can add the same charts for the middle and end of the year. Charts can also be added for progress monitoring too. This will become the perfect way to share data throughout the year with everyone on the team.

Pulling this site together was easy enough. Some trial and error finding a template that would work best but that the nice things about Google. Plus documents created in Google talk to Google sites.



It's hard to believe that school will be starting soon. I spent my morning unpacking my room. I'll share pictures of my new way to store my iPads later this week.  Have a great week. If your traveling--safe travels.







Preparing for the Year--Lesson Planning and a Freebie

Last year, my building moved to Backwards Planning all units. This takes time. Lots of time. So I decided to get ahead start. Maybe save myself a day or two of planning down the road. If you're not familiar with backwards planning, it comes from Jay McTighe and Grant Wiggins about ten years ago.

I have started by getting Step 1 complete: Desired Results. This is where I get my learning targets and essential questions. The key What should students know, understand, and be able to do? What is the ultimate transfer we seek as a result of this unit? What enduring understandings are desired? What essential questions will be explored in-depth and provide focus to all learning?

Step 2 is Determine Assessment Evidence. This changes unit to unit because I may need for assessment data or I may not. The key here is How will I know if students have achieved the desired results? What will we accept as evidence of student understanding and their ability to use (transfer) their learning in new situations? How will we evaluate student performance in fair and consistent ways?

Step 3 is daily planning. The key being How will I support learners as they come to understand important ideas and processes? How will I prepare them to autonomously transfer their learning? What enabling knowledge and skills will students need to perform effectively and achieve desired results? What activities, sequence, and resources are best suited to accomplish our goals?

The pros to planning this way--I hit all the standards by the end of the unit. I know that students are getting it because of either the progress monitoring or student self-assessment. What I dislike-is this takes time. Time is not something I have tons of in special education. But by spending the time I know that students will have the skills and knowledge to be stronger in class.

Freebie time--this is one unit for intermediate reading with Step 1 completed and a template you can print to complete Steps 2 and 3 based on your students and need. This will be the first unit that I will teach next month. It was planned using backwards planning. Have a great weekend! If you're traveling-safe travels.



Monitoring Mathematical Comprehension--Chapter 9



When I started reading this chapter, I was struck by how much this was like how I teach reading comprehension strategies. Laney Sammons, opens the chapter with a quote by Keene and Zimmerman, that they "describe proficient readers, these mathematicians "listen to inner voices, make ongoing connections, and adjustments, are are aware of how meaning evolves." Like so many students and more so those with exceptional needs need to have those strategies taught with precise precision and then retaught again and again. (Kenne and Zimmerman are the authors of Mosaic of Thought.)

She continues to layout in the chapter a sequence of teaching  the strategies to students. Her layout is a lot like "The Comprehension Toolkit." Starting with monitoring  thinking through metacognition. This is where students need to ask themselves "Does this make sense? Students who get math do this without thinking. Students that struggle in math-I think this is the hardest thing to get them to come to terms with. I think of my own students and if they aren't getting it-they just throw out answers and hope the right one comes out. (Any one else have students who do this?)

The first step in monitoring comprehension is monitoring conceptual understanding. Back when I learned math (which really wasn't that long ago) the focus was on the procedure needed to get the right answer not the understanding behind it. Now fast forward to Common Core and its ALL about the understanding and explaining your thinking. Its getting students to take responsibility for their own monitoring and know when they don't get it. Teachers can help by asking explicit questions like "How do you know whether or not you understand? What do you do if your confused?" Get them to identify where they stop getting it! One thing I do when I'm teaching math and a student tells me they don't get any of it is ask "Where are you not getting it? Which step don't you get?" I don't let them get away with telling me "all of it" any more. They HAVE to be specific.

Another way to help students monitor their comprehension in math is to draw pictures of the problem. If you can't visualizing the problem then you have a problem. I know from work my building has done to raise our standardized math scores, that being able to explain thinking two different ways--drawing a picture counts. And even better if students use numbers and a couple key words. Sammons's lays out several other strategies that include: identify unfamiliar vocabulary, rereading the problem, making connections to other math concepts, using manipulatives, and trying a different problem-solving approach.

Those in my mind are student actions. Strategies that I can teach  for my students to use. But what about teacher actions once these have been taught? Both in Guided Math and in the Gradual Release of Responsibility Model-you do modeled lessons and think-alouds. These are the perfect places to teach or reteach strategies on your thinking. Most of my math lessons start with a think-aloud and a modeled lesson. I get students to do think-alouds when I'm wondering if they are ready to do it on their own. One teacher I work with has his high students do think-alouds to the whole class. I think that the more students hear and see someone's thinking other than that of the teacher can only help. They may have a way of explaining it that helps the student get it.

I have created a set of Math Comprehension Strategy Posters with examples. Be sure to pick up your copy by clicking on the picture. Brenda's at Primary Inspired for more on Chapter 9.
I can't wait to use them with my students in the fall. I think that they will help students make the connection of the strategies I use in reading I can use to understand math. Stop by





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Early Childhood Special Education

The school year is fast approaching. This is a good time to review some great information to help parents and provides with the little guys. Catching these guys before they get the elementary helps them get off to the right start. I have some tips of choosing apps for early childhood.

Examining apps for accessibility prior to using them in the classroom and developmental appropriate learning experiences is a must. For example: an app may require extensive fine motor manipulation to gain any educational benefit or may only work on a device that doesn't provide tactile feedback. Such an app might not be a good choice for most young children, and may not especially difficult for a child who has cerebral palsy. This chart has several questions that are designed to help you think about what a great early childhood app should have and look like. (Click on the picture to get your copy.)
The other piece I wanted to share was a Receptive and Expressive Language Milestones from birth to five. It has guidelines of what children show be doing as they grow up. Its just a guide. Have a great weekend.



"Loving Wisdom for New Teachers" Linky Party!

It's hard to believe that the new school year is just around the corner for many of us. I'm linking up with Fabulously First to bring new teachers words of wisdom. Its hard being a new teacher. New building, new staff, new families--its hard work. The world of education has changed so much since I graduated from University of Colorado in Colorado Springs that each year I'm  also learning something new.

I want to welcome all of you as new teachers and say that as you enter this profession for the first time this year just be prepared.  You will learn quickly who will and will not help you and those that will help without asking.  It's tough work being a teacher. This year my state has moved towards pay of performance. This is no joke even for those who have taught for several years. You have to really love teaching to take that on everyday. But I wouldn't trade that work for anything-I love the students I work with and the challenges they bring. Each day is something different and no matter how prepared I think I am some days just get away from you.

You will find by keeping your door open others will feel welcome to visit your classroom. Be willing to accept their words of wisdom as you move through the year. It will help build friendships and teaming with your teammates. 

You learned many things will in school but none of it will help take on the real world of having your own room. Each building, each grade level, and each team have their own way of doing things. You will not have been trained in everything out there. Your first year is not a time to be shy. Ask questions and ask for help if you need it. Don't wait until your underwater and have limited ways out. You will find teachers in your building that are more helpful than others. If its not your teammate-find someone that you can plan with and trouble shoot with. 

As you start your year, you have come across new ideas and new thinking. Decide what makes sense to take one. If you don't have to take it all on-DON'T. Stick to what you HAVE to do and do it well! The rest will come and you master your day.

Lastly, love your students. There will be days you will remember and days that send you screaming through the halls. Kids remember even longer what is said to them. Watch your tone and the words you use. You have power to motivate and the power to crush. Be wise with what you say-you can't take it back.

P.S. Above else--love what your doing! Smile each day. Find something to laugh about. Be present and the day will come to you.

Check out other words of wisdom:


With warm wishes and the best of luck-

Power of Data & Freebies

 Data is a way of life in special education. It tells a unique story. It can be one of glows or one of grows. Several years ago, my building moved to using the three colored pocket charts (below) so classroom teachers could visual see where their class was using specific data points.

The data used varies depending on the grade. For primary (1-3): DIBELS, End of the Year DRA, BEAR (reading comprehension); Kindergarten: DIBELS; Intermediate (4-6): End of the Year DRA and Acuity Form C. These data points change around mid-year 3-6: for 3rd CSAP Reading/Writing and Form A Acuity; 4-6: Previous years CSAP Reading/Writing and Form A Acuity. As the year progresses, teachers up date the cards with progress monitoring data and Acuity data as it becomes available. The intervention team meets with teachers every 6 weeks and students are moved based on the progress monitoring. Up or Down--the point and hope is that classroom teachers are responsibility of the vast majority of this not the intervention team. This has helped move students through RTI and out of RTI.

The Special Education team doesn't have one for just the identified students and those within their groups. We have created informal ones to help with making sure that the most intensive students (i.e., that spend 3 plus hours out of the classroom a day) are making progress but not formal. One of my hopes for the coming year (with a new team mate) is to have 3 charts. Why 3? I think the team needs to directly monitor reading, writing, and math. Students create date for all three why not use it. Many identified students have goals in more than reading. The team can also see who is not making progress before meeting and make changes to IEPs so the student gets back on track.

The colors would stay the same but have additional meaning. Red would be our most intensive students. Those that are more than 3 years behind, made no progress the year before, and spend most of their day outside of the classroom. Yellow: made 6 months of growth the year before, between two and three years behind and seen for only one subject. Green: made a year or more growth the year before, less than two years behind, and seen for only one subject or at grade level (think artic only kidoos). This could be used to track all students in that group--the RTI students as well.

This move would hold the team accountable plus classroom teachers can see is students are making more specific gains. They have the big picture on their own charts but really have no clue if they are really making gains at the end of the day. I think with the addition of SMART goals on ours, we can hold the team to progress monitoring and student growth. Since, as a building we are not great at getting together every 6 weeks to make changes this would at least provide a conversation starter with classroom teachers about what they are seeing and move students out of intervention groups faster (instead of having them for the whole year).

Students are moved on the classroom charts twice a year. Once at mid-year and after Spring Break. We don't move them offend enough. In creating one for intervention groups, the intervention team can move students at the end of each SMART goal. I have created cards (editable) that allow me to change the color of the card depending on the outcome of the SMART Goal. Having this data visible makes it easy for anyone to walk in and see what is going on during interventions and if its working or not.

My students love, love knowing where they are at and set many of their on goals. They would love this as they could see where they are--the cards would have to be turned around to show just names and not the data. My know that their data belongs to only them and no one else. (They know I share with teachers and parents but no other students.)

I'm sure there are many other ways to track students in the RTI process to ensure that they are making gains, I'd love to hear about them. I have attached freebies to help you to use this thinking. Have a great weekend and if your traveling "Safe Travels."



My Summer Plan-

Summer is half over. My piles still abound. All I want is for them is to go away. Is that asking to much? I didn't realize that I brought that MUCH home with me.



I have decided that I need a list. This will help me focus as I'm short on focus and long on enjoying my summer. Here it goes-
1. Guided math lesson plan format using Math Comprehension
2. Data/RTI forms for reading, writing, and math-These need to include WADE, WRS Charting, Acuity, DRA, DIBELS, and Building/Class writing samples; plus anything else
3. Create a working format to use RTI Colored Charts for identified students (maybe with their unidentified group peers). The cards need to be of different colors too. My building uses the three colored pocket charts to identify students across the tiers in reading. I want something for this but for reading, writing, and math.
4. As part of Building Leadership: reread Guided Math and finish Lesson Plan (pink book from Scholastic) This I have to do before our retreat next month.
5. Investigations Math “I Can” Statements and Common Core Checklists for first and third (high needs grades first--then everyone else)
6. Writing “I Can” Statements and Common Core Checklists for second and third (high needs grades first--then everyone else first)
7. Finish CBB plans for reading and math journals to use as examples

Anyone else have a list going of things that need to be done before going back? I hope to get this all done before I have to report but if I spend a little time each day I should be able to get to all of it. Have a great week. Safe travels.

Math and Technology

I'm linking up with iTeach 1:1 to share what apps my students use during math. In many cases they have a wide selection to chose from. The ones I have decided to highlight here are the ones that they used the most and ones that they will be using in the fall.

Others like iMovie are part of a group of choices that also include PuppetPals, StoryMaker, and Toontastic. They all give students creative license while illustrating a story problem that will later be shared with the whole group. These apps fall into what you could call "Surprisingly Educational Apps."

Towards the end of the year, I started playing with a portfolio type setup for their work but didn't have a way to 1) email it off the iPad and 2) some place to put it. In May, I solved one problem by creating a classroom email account in which students just send me work. They don't have access to it. I have just recently solved my second problem. I needed a place to collect student work that I could easily share with classroom teachers and parents without it being a process or nightmare. All work will either go to Evernote or 3 Ring in the fall. I love that students can email me their work.

Also new for them in the fall, will be CBB or Creative Book Builder. I talk in a previous post how I will get rid of notebooks and students will do that work in CBB instead.

Have a great day blog hoppin'. Happy 4th of July.



About Me

Welcome to my all thing special education blog. I'm Ms. Whiteley. I teach in the beautiful Mile High state--Colorado. This is my 13th year teaching in an rural K-6 Elementary school as a Exceptional Needs Teachers. As Exceptional Needs National Board Certified Teacher, I believe that ALL students can learn and be successful. When I'm not in school, I love to take my two Italian Greyhounds hiking 14ers and reaching for the stars. Thanks for Hopping By.
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