Winner of the “Standout Tools for Professional Development” Teachers Choice Award

I am proud to announce that my co-authored book “Practical Ways to Engage All Struggling Learners” has won the “Standout Tools for Professional Development” Teachers Choice Award by from the Learning Magazine.

Here is the description of the book and you can even access a sample chapter. This professional guide was written to instantly address today’s challenging classrooms. Using educational data to identify each student’s strengths and weaknesses is critical to planning appropriate core instruction plus tier 2 and 3 strategic interventions. You will learn how to implement the multi-tiered system of support (MTSS) framework; how to pinpoint a student’s basic reading skills; and how to continuously monitor their progress so that you know when to use targeted curriculum materials(e.g., hi-lo books) that support reading success. http://www.sdlback.com/practical-ways-to-engage-all-struggling-readers

I feel excited and humbled that teachers reviewed and selected it. I hope more find it helpful as it will be publicized in their publications which reach over 75,000+ registered teachers.

Here is the official announcement link as well https://www.themailbox.com/learning/tca-professional-development

Top Eight Ways to Re-energize Your Teaching for Next School Year

Top Five Ways to Re-Energize Your Teaching for the Next School Year

Summertime is a great time to re-energize your teaching career by taking some action and being proactive for the next school year. Many teachers keep notes on what worked and what didn’t. Others promise to read an inspirational educational book like “Teaching Like Champion”, and others set to start a masters program in a new area of education.

As a leader in the teacher preparation arena and consultant for school districts, my recommendation is that teachers begin to think about summertime as an opportunity to review their credentials and dig deeper into their area of expertise. Teachers can begin this process by creating a plan ahead of time and perhaps even engage a peer group. Below find the 8 recommendations for a summer professional development plan:
1. Explore and seek licensure requirements and college/university level programs in your area of expertise.
a.If you are looking to change careers and you would like to find out how to obtain initial licensure look for universities with masters programs in the area you like (e.g. PreK-2, 1-6, moderate disabilities, ESL, etc.).
i. Ensure that they are program leading to initial licensure
ii. Ensure that they are state approved
iii. Ensure that they support you in taking the teacher licensure tests (e.g. MTEL, Praxis, etc.)
iv. Read the fine print for the details on completing your student teaching/full practicum required for licensure
b. If you already have an initial license but would like an additional initial licensure in a new area look for universities education programs that offer multiple types of programs. Your goal is to increase your training and make yourself more competitive when seeking a new position. For example, you have an elementary license but would like to add a license to work with students with moderate disabilities.
c. You already have initial license and you are between your 3 to 5 year of teaching, you need to seek out Professional licensure. Programs towards meeting professional licensure requirements can be found at the district level and university programs. Ensure that the program is approved by the state and that it meets the requirements in the same area as you initial license. For example you have an initial license in elementary education and now you need your professional licensure in elementary education to continue to be licensed. The courses are designed to take you more in depth in your area of licensure and experience and explore the latest innovations and pedagogy in the field.

2. Seek a professional organization in your field and read the latest white papers, position papers published that year, or perhaps read a few research-based articles on a topic of your interest from their educational journals. Share those articles with you peers and create a “book club” of sorts where you can all go deeper and do inquiry on what it would be like to implement this practice in your class next year (get really excited about a new research-based practice).
a. Make a plan of action and develop a few lessons that you can share with your peers
b. Identify ways to measure progress of students to ensure they learned what you intend for them to learn.
c. Plan to visit your peers classrooms once the school year begins so that you can give each other feedback
(Professional Organizations include: National Education Association (NEA), International Literacy Association (ILA), National Association of School Psychology (NASP), the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC), National Council for Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM), Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD) and there are many others.

3. Sign up for webinars via the professional organizations or non-for profit organizations. There are many of these that are pre-recorded and free access in many cases. For example the New England Regional Educational Library http://www.relnei.org/events/event-archive/mtss-developing-a-culturally-and-linguistically-appropriate-model-for-ells.html has many of supporting English learners with and without disabilities. Another is webinars from the RTI Action Network who has video webinars on many topics related to helping students with learning and attention issues in schools doing innovative school-wide methods http://www.rtinetwork.org/professional/videos/podcasts.
One last example are those published by the Institute of Education Science What Works Clearing house (http://www.rtinetwork.org/professional/videos/podcasts), Success at the Core (http://successatthecore.com/), and the IRIS Modules from Vanderbilt University who has more than 100 online modules on every area of instruction and socio emotional learning http://iris.peabody.vanderbilt.edu/news-events-category/press-releases/. Create a toolkit that you can start the year with.

4. Sign up for Education Week (www.edweek.org) and other education news outlets that let you keep abreast with changes in the field. You can do this via email or Facebook (my favorite). You can follow their recent articles, position papers, real stories from the classrooms, and upcoming conferences.

5. Develop a plan of materials and supplies that you will need this year and prepare a Donors Choose Grant that can launch the first week of class when your community and parents are excited to start the year on the right foot. The application is very short and the rewards are many and long term for your teacher materials toolkit. Last year, Google supported all DonorsChoose grants the first day of school in many district across MA (www.donorschoose.org).

6. Create a class webpage or blog via a school district learning management system or a free blog page.
a. Google Sites can help you create a free one or visit other places such as: Weebly for Education (http://education.weebly.com/), School Rack, Kafafa among many others.
b. Blogs can be another options that is free as well. Visit WordPress at wordpress.com or Blogger at http://www.blogger.com.
c. Learn one technology tool that can improve your teaching. For example you can explore mybrainshark.com to spruce up their teaching presentations.

7. Explore national and local conferences coming to your area and have a plan to share with your principal to get support. For example, one coming to Boston soon is The Building Learning Communities Educatoin Conference 2015 in July (http://novemberlearning.com/blc-education-conference-2015/)

8. Identify new resources for parents for your welcome back packet/information. For example share information from Understood, a new website supported by 15 organizations and foundation whose goal is to help millions of parents of children and young adults struggling with learning and attention issues. This website has a new Parent Toolkit that teacher may find helpful to send home (www.understood.org)

I hope you find these helpful to keep you engaged and ready for new students who need you next year!

Great new Website for English Learners- Level 1, 2, & 3

Finding a great new resource for ELLs is always exciting. Brain Pop is a website with online games for kids. It has been around for a long time but it has changed greatly. The webpage also has great tools for teachers as well. It allows teachers to create quizzes and puzzles that are printable.
My favorite new section is one for English learners. I have been asked many times by principals and teacher what they can do with newcomer English learners the first few weeks of school. This is a great tool for them to begin getting some English, feel engaged, and practice new necessary words. Yon can select by Enlgish language proficiency level 1, 2 or 3. It includes a list of words at that level and games to practice.

If you have other websites please post them here.

Response to Intervention (RTI) in Bilingual Schools– Position Paper

I wanted to share a 2010 document A FOCUS ON ENGLISH LANGUAGE LEARNERS (ELLs) AND THEIR ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENT: A POSITION STATEMENT 2RTI FINAL [5_5_10v2] on considerations of using RTI in bilingual language programs.

The position papers summarizes why a 2RTI Model is better than a regular RTI model in bilingual language programs. It also speaks to the importance of language learning and how the 2RTI can serve as a framework for planning and developing of you program.

Spanish Chat for Parents: Helping your child read even if you don’t know English

These post is a link to a live chat for Understood.Org, a division of the National Center for Learning Disabilities. Understood.org is a website for parents who have questions about their children who have learning and attention issues. The website conducts daily webinars and chats in Spanish and English on critical topics for parents. It is a great resource for parents and the link to their main page.

This post is sharing the live Spanish chat I conducted for Understood.org on the How Reading in Spanish can help English. Here is the link ¿Cómo leer en español ayuda a los niños con el inglés?

Spanish Chat Para Padres Que Quieran Saber Sobre el Proceso de Educacion Especial

These post is a link to a live chat for Understood.Org, a division of the National Center for Learning Disabilities. Understood.org is a website for parents who have questions about their children who have learning and attention issues. The website conducts daily webinars and chats in Spanish and English on critical topics for parents. It is a great resource for parents and the link to their main page.

This post is sharing the live Spanish chat I conducted for Understood.org on the special education process for parents and how to know whether a bilingual child is having difficulties in schools due to the English language learning process or because of a potential disability in both languages. The chat is in Spanish and parents can access it at any time. Click here to access the recorded live chat.

Spanish Chat: Bajas calificaciones en lenguaje: dominio limitado de un segundo idioma o discapacidad del lenguaje

Description on Chat in Spanish

I have been doing a series of Web Chats for Understood.Org, a division of the National Center for Learning Disabilities . Understood.org is a website for parents who have questions about their children who have learning and attention issues. The website conduct daily webinars and chats in Spanish and English on critical topics for parents. It is a great resource for parents and the link to their main page is

Below is the link to the latest one I did on helping parents know the difference between typical English language development and a potential disability. The chat is in Spanish and it is focused for parents.
Title: The latest Spanish Chat: Bajas calificaciones en lenguaje: dominio limitado de un segundo idioma o discapacidad del lenguaje

A Quick Guide to Know How to Support Your Child’s Education

By Claudia Rinaldi, Ph.D.
January 30, 2014
Are you getting ready to prepare for next school year? Is your child a second language learner? Does your child struggle with school? Do you want to know what questions to ask when you meet with your child’s teacher?

Parents are often trying to prepare their children for the demands of school but often times they get conflicting messages about what children should know to be successful in schools. Below are some guidelines that might be helpful for parents wanted to prepare their children for school.
Children are expected to master many skills over their preschool years through adulthood. The main areas that are typically presented to parents iare social skills development and academic skills in reading and math.

Although these guidelines by grade they represent more of a continuum of skills that develop and increase over time. It is important to talk to your child’s teacher multiple times in the year. As a parent you would like to ask the following:

How is your child making progress towards grade level expectations?
What else is he or she receiving to help them accomplish those goals?
What you can do to support the learning process at home?
What are websites or other sources of information that can help me help my child?

For many children and young adults, school does not come easy. It is important for parents/guardians to be advocates for their child. If you suspect that your child or young adult is having difficulty in school in reading or in math, you can request weekly check-ups with the teacher. You may also want to consider an educational evaluation if you feel your child may have learning disabilities, behavioral disabilities or other challenges that keep him or her from learning grade level material in school. If you request an evaluation, the school has a process that they must follow with the conclusion of a meeting that determines if your child has 1 of the 13 areas of disabilities identified by the US Department of Education that impair their learning in school.

If you child does meet eligibility for special education supports and a specialized education plan, a team that includes you develops an Individualized Education Plan or IEP for your child. If your child is found to not be eligible, you can request that they school provide with him/her with interventions outside of the Reading/Literacy or English language Arts time or Math depending on the area of difficulty. This intervention is additional support that can help him/her prepare to access the content in class in more effective ways as part of their school day. In many states this process is called Response to Intervention or Tiered Intervention and Support. Visit your school district website, the district’s website or even the state for more information or visit a leading research center- the RTI Action Network for more information (www.rtinetwork.org).

If you child is also learning a new language, consider requesting that the teacher and the ESL or the teacher for students learning English as a Second Language be present at your meeting so that you can see the progress in their English language as well as academics. Learning a language takes 5-7 years so it is important that teachers and parents are aware of the progress and that they child gets the support along the way even when the child sounds like a fluent English speaker (i.e year 3 or 4).

For parents from different cultures, it is important to know that parents in the US are very involved in the children’s school particularly at the pre-school and elementary level. It is ok to ask for clarification of how teaching is happening in the classroom and how your children are learning. It is also common for parents to volunteer, if possible, in the school. As a bilingual parent you can provide many skills that schools are in desperate need such as translating materials for other parents, helping new families, helping introduced groups of students in their primary language.

If you need this information to share with other parents in other languages (available in 11 other languages) consider visiting Colorin Colorado http://www.colorincolorado.org/ for Reading Tips by grade http://www.colorincolorado.org/guides/readingtips/

If you are interested in a website that focuses on families with children that have learning and attention issues visit http://www.understood.org . This great website is a community of parents and experts that work together answering parents questions. The website is available in English and Spanish.

If you need more information about the educational evaluation process because you think your child may have a learning disability please visit the National Center of Learning Disabilities (www.ncld.org) and their parent guide to the evaluation process http://www.ncld.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/IDEA-Parent-Guide1.pdf

Sources for these article came from:
Reading Rockets http://www.readingrockets.org/
Colorin Colorado http://www.colorincolorado.org/
Vaughn Gross Center for Reading and Language Arts http://www.meadowscenter.org/vgc/

Recent Open Access Article- How RTI Can Address the Needs of English Language Learners (ELLs)

This recent article just appeared on Google Alerts and I wanted to share it here. The article provides a good summary of what is Response to Intervention (RTI) and culturally and linguistical diverse pedagogies. Aside from providing a good definition of all terms, they summarized the research on how culturally responsive pedagogy can impact the effectiveness and success of RTI. The focus is on Tier 1 Core instruction as a vehicle to ensure that culturally and linguistically diverse students (CLD) are taught using culturally responsive practices thereby increasing access to the regular curriculum and fidelity of implementation of the model. The article also addresses how the universal screening and progress monitoring practices within RTI can look for this population and how teachers can collaborate and problem solve which evidenced-based interventions and which differentiated instructional practices would be best for CLD students. The article summarizes research on how using the students primary language is imperative while also monitoring English proficiency. The authors did a nice job of bringing together the research on RTI, CLD pedagogy, and fidelity of implementation features.
http://www.subr.edu/assets/COEEJournal/Fall-2014/IJTL-Vol.4,No.3,Fall2014-(pp.143-221)-12.22.2014.pdf#page=62

Read Conmigo a Great Website of Bilingual Reading Materials

Looking for bilingual reading options? Visit Read Conmigo
The website has resources for parents, children, and teachers. You can even submit your story for potential publication.
Teacher can also print out resources and worksheets.
Signing up is free and you get access to 26 books and a report on a study they did on the use of tablets for reading bilingual books in the classroom.

You can also share with other bilingual families and educators via their social media outlets including Facebook, Twitter, etc.

One book I just downloaded is called ” A Resolution for Maria La Mariposa”. When I clicked on the download it gave me the option to downloaded it to desktop/laptop, tablet, kindle, or you can view it as an e-book. The book was written in English and Spanish, the graphics were beautiful, and it was appropriate for younger readers through 3rd grade. Parents can read it to their child or if the child is an independent reader he or she can read it themselves. The book has activities that include a word search and en extensive list of comprehension questions. Remember parents– read it once your self, encourage co-reading, and encourage your child to read the last time — this will help build fluency in reading!

The kids portion of the website has several online and printable activities as well. They even have a “Community Events” option of resources for schools that want to have a literacy night at school. It LOOKS LIKE TEACHERS CAN REGISTER THEIR CLASS, although you will problably need to contact the directly for more specific instructions. I love it!

Visit them and promote them.