Monday, 17 November 2014

Professional Development

On Thursday and Friday Naomi, Steve and Glen attended a District-wide Response to Intervention (RTI) workshop. Basically, RTI is a tiered, systematic approach to identifying and meeting students' needs. After speaking with each of them, they were pretty excited about all that they had learned and how it will help their students and our school. They will be sharing what they learned with all YouLearn staff at our next staff meeting. Some of RTI's big ideas, organized by Naomi, can be seen below. You're not alone students! Even teachers and principals work to learn and grow throughout the year . . . and look as if they know the importance of having fun doing it, too!

~ Will

Some of RTI's Big Ideas
(Courtesy of Naomi)

  • Defining/Comparing Terms - Inclusion, Integration, Segregation, Exclusion - We looked at these terms to be clear on what Inclusion means and should look like. Shelley’s premise is that Integration, Segregation and Exclusion tend to be institutionalized. Inclusion is an actual philosophy that can look like a variety of things in practice. Also, Inclusion needs to be voluntary and be about choice or it doesn’t work in philosophy or practice.
  • Aim for the Outside Pins - Shelley used a bowling analogy where she discussed how professional bowlers aim for the outside pins in order to hit somewhere just off center so that the pins then help to know the rest down. Her premise is that if we aim to teach to the “outside pins” in our classes - those who need the most modifications/adaptations and those who need the most challenge - then we will reach the middle as a consequence.
  • Do some grouping and categorizing to make your classroom manageable for planning - Shelley had us look at a system of 3’s on a pyramid. Tier 1 is the group that needs the least support, Tier 2 is the group that needs more support and Tier 3 is the group that needs the most support. Actually looking at any given class composition and seeing where the individuals fall in the pyramid is the first step to planning, keeping in mind that kids may move to different tiers for different subjects and even on different days.
  • Planning for the All - Once categorized, then we looked at a planning pyramid. For any given unit or even behaviour concept we should be able to identify a goal that every student in the class can achieve that matches learning outcomes or objectives. Then moving up the pyramid, a goal can be set that most students can achieve. The last level is where a few students can achieve. If you plan for the all goal, you reach the whole class with activities and even modified students then become included in the classroom and its learning environment. They may stay right at that goal, but you have given them something meaningful to work on (and this may have to be modified further to match actual grade level literacy and comprehension). So you are planning a whole unit that is separate material for just a few students alongside your “regular”material, but are instead taking a section that may or may not need some modifications. This level will benefit all students as they will need to start with these lower level questions (ex. Who are the Vikings? Where did they live?) before being able to move onto the next levels of inquiry (ex. Compare Viking civilization to our civilization.)
  • IEP’s as Documents - Shelley gave us ideas and practices on how to make these documents more practical, accessible and inclusive of all parties involved. Using a student profile that the student fills out can be used as a way for the student to have input into their own IEP. Involving classroom teachers in helping make one or 2 concrete curricular goals makes planning for this student for the teacher and the EA more concrete and value added. This in turn give the student a functioning role in the classroom and thus makes the classroom inclusive. She also showed us a template to take IEP goals and translate them into a useable format for assessment and reporting that is more valuable to the student, the teacher, the resource team and the parent.
  • Supports - Shelley likes to use the word supports instead of adaptations or modifications. She says that supports that are available for the few in the class should be available for the all in the class (ex. modified text on a unit is valuable for all students and they should all have the choice to use if they wish).

What do we think about all this?:
All 3 of us found this workshop to be valuable and thought provoking. There were definitely some “light bulb” moments where we got to experience a shift in thinking. We were given lots of time for discussion in our group and some practice on how the planning concepts can be applied. There are definite “take aways” for Portage. The most interesting discussions seemed to revolve around whether or not there were useful applications for DL.

Shelley’s Web Resources:
This is Shelley’s blog. She has a lot of stuff on here, including handouts, etc. At the very bottom is are the powerpoint presentations for her SD 53 workshop that she took us through.

This is where Shelley has various unit plans and modified materials that she or others have been involved in developing. They are organized by grade levels and topics.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing, Naomi. I can't wait to see how this grows to help your students.