Does this English Learner have a Disability or a Language Difference?

How many times do teachers ask you how you differentiate between a learning disability and a language difference? Check out the most recent toolkit from the RTI Action Network and the National Center for Learning Disabilities. Proud to have co-authored this guide for all teachers working with struggling English language learners.
http://www.rtinetwork.org/getstarted/sld-identification-toolkit/ld-identification-toolkit-considerations-for-ell

Implementing MTSS– A How to Book

Announcing “Practical Ways to Engage All Struggling Readers: A Multi-tiered Instructional Approach Using Hi-lo Books” by Claudia Rinaldi, Ph.D. and Orla Higgins Averill, Ph.D.

After working with districts and schools for the last 6 years helping them to implement response to intervention (RTI) and multi-tiered system of support (MTSS), I am happy share the publication of our first book “Practical Ways to Engage All Struggling Readers: A Multi-tiered Instructional Approach Using Hi-lo Books“. The book provides guidance on how RTI and MTSS works, how to structure it in your classrooms and school, how to use data for instructional planning and how to implement six research-based reading strategies as Tier 2 and Tier 3 interventions. The book can now be purchased directly from the publisher Saddleback Publishing or directly from Amazon by clicking here.

The book is broken down into five chapters:

Chapter 1: What Is a Multi-Tiered System of Support?
Chapter 2: How Can I Teach the Variety of Learners in My Classroom When It’s Just Me?
Chapter 3: Instructional Interventions That Work
Chapter 4: Using Hi-Lo Books as Intervention Tools
Chapter 5: Common Pitfalls of a Multi-Tiered System of Support

My goal in writing this book was that any teacher can pick it up, know how to work with his or her peers to implement tiered instructional practices. We devote a whole chapter to explaining what to do with data you collect from students (reading comprehension scores, curriculum-based measurement, lexile scores, etc.) so that you can use it consistently to plan instruction. In another chapter, we help teachers think about which tier 2 and tier 3 interventions help students who are struggling in different areas of the reading process. Finally, we address throughout the book how to support English language learners and students with disabilities in this process, how fidelity of implementation can truly change the academic outcomes of students, and how progress monitoring can tell you how to be become a highly effective teacher. I would appreciate some reviews after you are read it and use it.

I would also like to thank my co-author and friend Orla Higgins Averill. She is a great professional, educator, writer, and leader. It has been my honor to work with her and I look forward to writing to more upcoming books and publications in this area with her as our professional trajectories continue.

How Do You get Your District Started with Multi-tier System of Supports (RTi & PBIS)?

Here is a great small collection of readings and websites that district leaders can explore and disseminate to the district and school staff as they get ready to role out MTSS (RTI and PBIS).
Getting the Vision of the MTSS model in your district is key! Think about an internal and external presence and engage parents from the start. Here are a few links to the parent guide for RTI from the National Center for Learning Disabilities and the Florida MTSS homepage for parents and ideas on developing the message.

http://www.ncld.org/learning-disability-resources/ebooks-guides-toolkits/parent-guide-response-intervention ( please note it can be downloaded into PDF if you prefer to read it this way).

Video for parents about MTSS in Florida http://www.florida-rti.org/parentResources/videos.htm (may help in drafting MPS’s preview video in addition to the one we sent from Boston Public Schools)

Get your district reading and building a common understanding of MTSS with these articles and websites:
1. Common Core State Standards and Diverse Urban Students: Using Multi-tiered Systems of Support (2012) a report by the Council for Great City Schools.
2. Introduction to Response to Intervention: What, Why, and How valid is it (2009) by Fuchs and Fuchs, New Directions in Education Journal.
3. Multi-tiered System of Supports by Rinaldi and Higgins (2011) article published in District Administrator magazine
4. The Campus Principal and RTI Implementation (2010) by Hamilton for the National Forum of Educational Administration and Supervision Journal

Websites and Links for staff: FREE Professional Development
1. Getting started: http://rtinetwork.org/getstarted/develop
2. Here is the link to the Florida MTSS State webpage with resources for educators and parents- http://www.florida-rti.org/floridaMTSS/index.htm
3. Tools and Interventions Summary Charts http://www.rti4success.org/resources/tools-charts
4. Free online professional development module for teachers and administrators on RTI implementation http://iris.peabody.vanderbilt.edu/module/rti01-overview/

Top 15 Reasons Why You Should Use Peer Mediated Learning in All Classes

In the past I have posted about one of my favorite education strategies to increase fluency and comprehension. Peer Assisted Learning Strategies (PALS) developed by researchers at Vanderbilt University (http://kc.vanderbilt.edu/pals/index.html) is an educational strategy that was developed to support fluency and comprehension in grades K-12th (of course, it looks different across the grades). I have been supporting schools in the implementation of PALS and I know from the data and observation that is one of the most effective strategies with the most versatility to adopt and embed in regular education classrooms, dual language two way programs, and special education programs. Reading Rockets is non-profit organization that disseminates strategies in reading has just posted a great summary of one of the aspects of PALS and I wanted to share it with my readers. Here is the link to their summary and resources surrounding it. So click here http://www.readingrockets.org/strategies/paragraph_shrinking. If you are curious of the whole approach Vanderbilt university also has online professional development modules that are wonderful and provide you with all the research, how-to, resources and student handouts to adopt this strategy in English and Spanish.

Fro K and 1st grade click here
For 2nd to 6th grade click here
For Secondary grades click here

Here are the top 15 reasons as to why I feel is so highly effective!!!
1. It engages students in ACTIVE LEARNING vs passive learning.
2. It enriches your core or basic reading instruction.
3. It embeds differentiate instruction as a default of how the strategy is implemented.
4. It is a strategy that uses real books!
5. It is a strategy that can be used in dual language programs because the students can use the strategy in English and Spanish (or any another language).
6. It addresses the 6th area of effective literacy instruction – oral language development!! (August and Shannahan, 2006).
7. It can be used as a Tier 2 or Tier 3 intervention if you are doing Response to Intervention (RTI) or Multi-tier System of Support (MTSS)
8. It is easy to monitor progress and complexity as the students use the strategy.
9. It can use fiction and non-fiction texts so that you can address Common Core State Standards in your classroom.
10. It requires students to use multiple modalities- oral, visual, tactile, kinesthetic,
11. It encourages students to work as teams!
12. It encourages social interaction for English language learners in the use of interpersonal and academic language.
13. Students Love it!!!
14. It encourages the teachers to facilitate learning rather than stand in the front of the classroom and lecture.
15. Allows teachers to capitalize on time and work with students who may need extra help while others are actively engaged in learning!!!
.
16. It uses principles of Universal Design for Learning (UDL)

Its a win-win for teachers and students!

Free webinar April 30 at 2 pm of Learning in Two Languages in Early Childhood

My colleague Mileidis Gort will be presenting a free webinar on Learning in two languages and what every educator should know. Below find a description
“In this webinar, you will learn about the language development process of young bilinguals, or dual language learners, including different types of dual language learners and pathways to bilingualism, stages of dual language learning for simultaneous and sequential bilinguals, oral language acquisition strategies used by dual language learners, contextual and individual factors influencing the dual language development process, and typical and atypical markers of dual language development”.
To sign up click here http://www.earlychildhoodwebinars.com/presentations/learning-in-two-languages-in-early-childhood-what-every-early-childhood-educator-needs-to-know-by-mileidis-gort/

Being Leaders versus Managers in Education

In reading a short article on the differences between leaders and managers, it made me think that the story is not so different in education. Principal leaders versus principal managers or even teacher leaders versus teacher managers . In my opinion the difference lies in engagement, purpose, individualization, and passion/enthusiasm.

So here is a summary of the list of how leaders are different than managers:

Leaders are:
1. Visionary – principals know where they need to support every teacher so that every teacher knows where they are taking every student;
2. Inspirational – principals build expectations for teachers and students;
3. Purposeful – principals know what to use to move forward whether that may be instructional strategies or professional development and coaching support;
4. Innovative – principals keep up with latest research and evidenced-based practices and how implementation can occur based on the teacher and student population in your school and classrooms;
5. Long-range thinkers – principals focus on where teachers need to grow for capacity building and sustainability; focus on where we want our students to be when they leave us for their next journey versus focus on the results of one test or one number;
6. Risk takers – principals try out new strategies and practices; the status quo is not enough to support the learners we have in front of us today;
7. Passionate/Enthusiastic – principals instill a feeling that you can move mountains!!!
8. Focused on individuals and their growth – principals invest on all of the above for each teacher; not only do you make a happy employee that will stay long-term, but they will model this for their students – happy people don’t leave! (of course unless they have to move!)

Managers focus on:
1. Maximizing efficiency – although needed, do our students get what they need? This is what happens when we take money away from successful (level 1) schools and ask them to get the same results with less;
2. Delegating authority – as principals you are the instructional leaders and as teachers you are the giver and facilitator of knowledge aren’t you?
3. Maintaining order – is it about classroom management or is it about academic and social engagement and learning? Teachers and students who are happy, work hard – really hard!

4. Supporting existing structures – some of the structures may be good and you should keep, but do you have the same teachers and students you had 1, 5, 10 years ago? We have been sitting students in rows for how long? Yes, way too long, thinking outside the box is KEY!
5. Avoiding risk – so, is it ok for your teachers and students to feel like failure? Do you want them to continue to have low expectations because you are not willing to grow and try innovative strategies – the world doesn’t sit still and neither should our schools or classrooms; is it ok to have the excuse of poverty, race, etc. rather than ACT NOW!
6. Short-term thinking and solutions – this is the manager that is solely focused on the state testing results;
7. Focused on the bottom line – public education is not about saving money, it is about getting students ready to be the future (college and career ready)!
8. Objective – not all teachers are made the same, not all your students come with the same skills, its about fairness, “fairness” that is defined by what each individual needs to move forward, not the “fairness” that means everyone gets the same thing because otherwise someone might say something…
9. Attention to detail – stop micromanaging teachers or students! That doesn’t increase productivity or engagement. Trust that your hiring practices and the rest of the skills you have as a leader (described above) will pay off;
10. Egotistical – (this one I added) it is not about you and how important you are, it is about each and every student you have and will encounter in your professional career;

Although their is merit on all of these leading descriptors, or at minimum a combination, I can’t help but think that the leadership list will get every teacher and every students moving and help you be a true success!

Can we also substitute here Principals for District leaders– my gut feeling says yes!

Original article came from the following site: http://www.newenglandcollegeonline.com/resources/management/management-vs-leadership/?mcguid=19fce843-f8d0-4cb4-bedc-5914065f6e41&mcid=26665

MTSS/RTI: Towards a Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Appropriate Model for ELLs

Here is the link to my most recent webinar on how to implement Multi-Tiered Systems of Support (MTSS) and components of a Response to Intervention Model (RTI). My colleague Julie and I provide a background on the research methodologies and how to being implementation. The website has the option to listen to the webinar, download the presentation, and download materials. Here is the official summary from the webinar website.

Multi-Tiered Systems of Support that deliver high-quality, research-based instruction and interventions can support the growing English language learner population in general and in special education. On this Bridge Webinar, Claudia Rinaldi, Assistant Director of the Urban Special Education Leadership Collaborative at EDC, and Julie Esparza-Brown, Assistant Professor and Project Director for Portland State University’s Bilingual/Special Education Program, present research on a culturally and linguistically appropriate model for MTSS and provide examples of instructional planning, assessment, and intervention across the tiers. Rinaldi and Esparza-Brown present concrete examples of preventive assessment measures, collaboration structures, data-informed problem solving, and instruction and intervention planning and delivery to support ELLs. The presenters highlight the importance of collaboration and joint responsibility among ELL, special education, and general education educators in meeting the needs of all English language learners, including those with disabilities.

Click here to access the webinar and materials http://www.relnei.org/events/event-archive/mtss-developing-a-culturally-and-linguistically-appropriate-model-for-ells.html

Free Webinar- Multi-tiered System of Support (MTSS) and English Learners

Are you curious about the link between Response to Intervention (RTI) and MTSS? Do you want to know how to do it when you have large numbers of English learners. Join Julie and I at our next webinar:

Bridge Webinar
Multi-Tiered Systems of Support: Toward a Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Model for English Learners

Multi-Tiered Systems of Support that deliver high-quality, research-based instruction and interventions can support the growing English language learner population in general and in special education. On this Bridge Webinar, Claudia Rinaldi, Assistant Director of the Urban Special Education Leadership Collaborative at EDC, and Julie Esparza-Brown, Assistant Professor and Project Director for Portland State University’s Bilingual/Special Education Program, present research on a culturally and linguistically appropriate model for MTSS and provide examples of instructional planning, assessment, and intervention across the tiers. Rinaldi and Esparza-Brown will present concrete examples of preventive assessment measures, collaboration structures, data-informed problem solving, and instruction and intervention planning and delivery to support ELLs. The presenters will highlight the importance of collaboration and joint responsibility among ELL, special education, and general education educators in meeting the needs of all English language learners, including those with disabilities. Practical application and identifying first steps will be presented.

Who Should Attend?

District-level ELL, special education, and response to intervention (RTI) directors and coordinators, as well as teachers with English language learners in their classrooms.
For more information go to http://www.relnei.org/events/mtss-developing-a-culturally-and-linguistically-appropriate-model-for-ells.html