Showing posts with label strategies. Show all posts
Showing posts with label strategies. Show all posts

Evidence Based or Best Practice: The Beginning

Balanced literacy. Orton-Gilliamham. Think-Alouds. Graphic Organizers. Direct instruction. OMG!!! 

Have you ever sat staring at your plans and IEPs and wonder how the #@& am I going to move this kid? Simply because of where the student sits in relation to their grade-level peers. 

I have. 


I have so many with the same need but they didn’t make as much progress as I was hoping. (Or they needed to.)

Buildings don’t buy curriculum programs with special education students in mind. They might ask (if you're lucky) for your input. To be real, they buy with the larger in mind, which makes sense when you need to get the biggest bang for your buck. 

What to do?????

In my building, moving students more than a year's growth is VERY important to us. We strive to close those gaps before they move to middle school. 

I don’t have programs. Well, I have access to several but they can be (and most of the time) used by classroom teachers or worse the materials from the program were used but not the program itself. 

I know I’m not the only one. So, what do you do???  


Want to learn what I do to get data that looks like this? 



I had an Instructional Coach when I first started teaching, that showed me the value of putting time into learning and mastering both educational best practices and evidence-based practices. So even, if I was stuck with limited options, I could get tons of bang without a whole lot of stress. 

Take guided reading, (yes, I know but you have to work with what you got), I became an expert at guided reading. I worked in tiny groups of two and three but with best practices and a couple of evidence-based practices, I was able to move kids to within months of their peers. (This brings up a whole different conversation when you can do this--is core really happening in the classroom or are they special education. I’m not going to answer those questions, as those are part of the larger school system.)

The Elementary Secondary Education Act defines evidence-based practices as those “effective educational strategies supported by evidence and research”.  When teachers use evidence-based practices with fidelity, they can be confident their teaching is likely to support student learning. 


David Ardale defines best education practices as the wide range of individual activities, policies, and program approaches to achieving positive changes in student attitudes or academic behaviors. 

Think Hattie and Marzano. (We all have a love/hate relationship with them)

Join me as I walk through how I use these ideas to get the most bang for your buck and move kids to close gaps with my special education students. 

Send me your questions or if you're stuck and need help with. I’ll help you problem solve.

Chat soon,

Classroom Strategies to Increase Student Achivement

Last year at a PLC with our RTI Coordinator and a grade level team, we began a dive into John Hattie. If you don’t know his research it’s like Robert Marzano but (I think) way, way cooler. (You can find out more about him from his book Visible Learning; he does tons with student achievement.) The data is super cool and geared towards finding strategies that give teachers the most bang for their buck when it comes to academic achievement.

In fact, Hattie found that most teachers have some degree of impact on their students’ learning. His strategies can be used regardless of the classroom. The impact is real and the greater the degree of impact the larger the results. These ideas are meant to become part of your classroom and become embedded into your classroom. (aka these take time and in some cases a whole year or more to see the results--but they work!) The closer to 1.0 the stronger the strategies.



Here are 8 Strategies that BOTH John Hattie and Robert Marzano agree with.

Strategy 1: A Clear Focus for the Lesson

Both Hattie and Marzano highlight how important it is for you (and your students) to be clear about what you want them to learn in each lesson. According to Hattie, teacher clarity is one of the most potent influences on student achievement.

In your class, it looks like posted Learning Targets.



Strategy 2: Offer Overt Instruction

AKA Direct Instruction

Direct Instruction involves explicitly teaching a carefully sequenced curriculum, with built-in cumulative practice.

Examples: SRA Reading Mastery or Fisher & Frey's Gradual Release of Responsibility


Strategy 3: Get the Students to Engage With the Content
While it is essential to actively teach students what they need to know and be able to do, they also need to be actively engaged with the content.

Marzano and Hattie agree that this starts with students actively linking your newly provided information with their prior knowledge of the topic. Students need to engage with the content as soon as they hear it by:
  • Adding it to what they already know, or
  • Using it to clarify some of the faulty assumptions they currently hold

This is your lesson plan flow. Using Exit Tickets to determine what they know and what you need to reteach.


Strategy 4: Give Feedback
It is important that you give your students feedback after they engage with any new material. This:

  • Highlighting what is right and wrong, or good and bad about their work
  • Helping students to see how they can improve



Strategy 5: Multiple Exposures

If you want students to internalize new information, you need to expose them to it several times.
AKA: repeated readings, consistently review material, consistently practicing material

Strategy 6: Have Students Apply Their Knowledge

Robert Marzano found that helping students apply their knowledge deepens their understanding.
AKA: Project Based Learning, Student Voice & Choice on how they demonstrate their learning, Bloom's, Webb's Depth of Knowledge



Strategy 7: Get Students Working Together

Both agree that getting students to work with each other helps them to achieve better results. The use of cooperative learning groups adds value to whole-class instruction (d = 0.41) and to individual work (d = 0.59-0.78). (The closer to 1.0 the stronger the intervention)



Strategy 8: Build Students’ Self-Efficacy

Self-efficacy refers to a student’s belief about their ability to successfully complete a task. It is situation specific. For example, a student may feel confident that they can dance well on stage but be insecure about public speaking or something they can't do yet! Build and support a Growth Mindset. I use picture books throughout the year to support growth mindsets. I love "Giraffes Can't Dance."



The work of Hattie and Marzano have changed the way I create interventions. They are considered by many to have unique insights into what it takes to have a huge impact on student learning and best practices. Want more high yield strategies--check out this.

Like with all interventions, their ideas take time to see results in the classroom and need data to support putting them in place. Let me know what whole class interventions you have put in place to get big changes.
8 Strategies Robert Marzano & John Hattie Agree On and how to you can recreate them in your class

Chat Soon,

6 Things to Help Early Readers

Three key research conclusions that support seeking help early are:
  • 90 percent of children with reading difficulties will achieve grade level in reading if they receive help by the first grade.
  • 75 percent of children whose help is delayed to age nine or later continue to struggle throughout their school careers.
  • If help is given in fourth grade, rather than in late kindergarten, it takes four times as long to improve the same skills by the same amount.

Yet identification is only the beginning. Effective and intense intervention must be offered immediately. Students who lag behind their peers must be given extra help. These groups should be fluid with students moving in and out as they master skills.

Early signs of difficulty should not be based on immaturity but data. When a kindergarten child confuses letters, associates the wrong sound with a letter, or cannot tell you a rhyme, it usually has nothing to do with social maturity. These warning signs do not necessarily mean a reading disability; these signs may indicate poor preschool preparation. They may not been exposed to letters and letter sounds, they usually catch on quickly once exposed. It is only after instruction has been provided and the child is still struggling that one can conclude there may be a more serious problem.

Key Six Pre-Reading Skills
(for children from birth through 5 years)

Print Motivation

  • Being excited about and interested in books
  • What can you do?
  • Make sure book sharing time is fun.
  • For children with short attention spans, keep it short, but read more often.
  • Don’t get upset when they put books in their mouths.
  • Read books you enjoy.
  • Choose books about things that interest the child.
  • Read with a natural, but cheerful voice.

Print Awareness

  • Understanding that print on a page represents words that are spoken, knowing how to follow words on a page, and knowing how to hold a book.
  • What can you do?
  • Allow children to handle the book and turn pages.
  • Use your finger to point out words as you move across the page.
  • Pointing out signs in your environment.
  • Read books with large bold print.
  • Introduce the cover and talk about the author and illustrator.

Phonological Awareness

  • Understanding that words are made up of smaller sounds. Hearing and playing with smaller sounds in words. Phonological Awareness comes before phonics.
  • What can you do?
  • Encourage your baby to babble, changing the beginning sounds.
  • Sing songs. Clap along with the song. Use rhythm sticks and shakers.
  • Do action rhymes.
  • Learn nursery rhymes. For older children, substitute a non-rhyming word in place of the rhyming word and see if they notice the difference.
  • Read books with rhyming texts.
  • Play “Say it fast; say it slow.” Butterfly Butt er fly Turtle Tur tle


  • Knowing the names of things, feelings, concepts, and ideas. Knowing the meaning of words and connecting words to objects, events, or concepts in the world.
  • What can you do?
  • Any book will help with this, but choosing ones with words not used in daily conversation and nonfiction books are especially helpful.
  • Label things.

Narrative Skills

  • Being able to describe things and events. Being able to tell and understand stories.
  • What can you do?
  • Talk with children about what you are doing. Ask them “What?” or other open-ended questions that cannot be answered with a simple “Yes” or “No.”
  • Ask, “What happens next?”
  • Allow young children time to respond. Be patient.
  • Tell stories.
  • Encourage pretend play.
  • Let them help you tell flannel board stories.
  • Read stories with a beginning, middle, and end.

Letter Knowledge

  • Understanding that letters are different from each other. Recognizing letters and knowing that they have different names and sounds.
  • What can you do?
  • Let babies play with shapes.
  • Allow children to handle letter shapes.
  • Learn the alphabet song.
  • Read alphabet books and books about shapes.
  • Books where you have to find things.
  • Help your child identify the first letter in his/her name. Then find that letter in books, on signs, and other things in the environment.

About Me

Welcome to my all thing special education blog. I empower busy elementary special education teachers to use best practice strategies to achieve a data and evidence driven classroom community by sharing easy to use, engaging, unique approaches to small group reading and math. Thanks for Hopping By.
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