Classroom set of supplemental text to support teacher candidates for special needs students

Educator Name: Joseph Johnson
School Name: University of Wisconsin - La Crosse

Provide a classroom set of 30 supplemental texts to support teacher candidates in developing their ability to differentiate instruction for students with disabilities. As many school systems in Wisconsin, and around the nation, move to a Response to Intervention (RTI) model of instructional planning, teacher candidates need a solid foundation in understanding RTI. That means they also need an understanding of the progress monitoring and assessment options available for use in an RTI model, and the ability to differentiate instruction based on the assessment data they collect. A new course (EDS 463) offered at UW-L beginning in spring 2013 will address these critical skill areas, and a supplemental text has been identified that will support these skills. The benefit of teacher candidates better developing these skills is potentially exponential as these candidates will be better equipped to work with their future students.

There is an excellent and affordable new text by John J. Hoover of the University of Colorado at Boulder. The text, "Linking Assessment to Instruction in Multi-Tiered Models: A Teacher's Guide to Selecting Reading, Writing and Mathematics Interventions", covers several critical skills modern educators need in order to vary their classroom instruction based on their students' ability levels. The text itself would not serve as a course textbook, but rather as a supplement the teacher candidates could use to hone their skills at using assessment data from progress monitoring to select appropriate interventions for various academic skill areas. The students would then be able to incorporate various intervention techniques into their lesson planning practice as they prepare to go into the field during their education, and ultimately be able to appropriately apply these differentiation skills as classroom teachers.

Teacher candidates will be expected to incorporate differentiation strategies and interventions from the Hoover text in lesson and unit plans they create for EDS 463, field experience placements, and studen teaching. The evidence of the text's use will therefore be very obvious. The text includes 96 evidence-based strategies, meaning the students have an ample number from which to choose when designing lessons.

The outcomes are measurable using a lesson plan rubric for evaluating the differentiation practices incorporated into the teacher candidates' lesson plans. The rubric will allow for a direct evaluation of whether the teacher candidates differentiated their lessons appropriately, and also whether or not they selected proper interventions to meet the needs of their students. In the long term, teacher candidates will also be expected to practice differentiation during field experiences and student teaching. This skill will be assessed using an observation tool as well as being included in formative and summative documentation. Data from these formative and summative documents will be reviewed to assess teacher candidates' proficiency at differentiation.