TTAC Topics                                                                                                    March/April 2016
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Implementing Activity Sequencing and Offering Choice to Enhance Student Motivation
Activity sequencing and offering choice are effective classroom practices that increase student motivation to complete academic tasks. Activity sequencing is altering the manner in which instructional tasks, activities or requests are ordered so that the sequence of tasks promotes learning and encourages appropriate behavior.  Offering choice is providing options to engage in or complete activities. 

Sequencing can be accomplished by mixing easy or brief problems with more complex or longer problems.  Another option is to address behavior momentum by beginning with simpler tasks and then increasing the level of difficulty. When offering choice, consider allowing students to choose the type or order of the task, to choose which materials to use, to choose their work partners, or to choose where the assignment is to be completed.  The  Choice Board Wiki offers examples of menus and tic-tac-toe boards that can assist teachers in implementing student choice across content areas and grade levels. 

Differentiating Instruction Benefits All Students
teacher-students-college.jpgAt the beginning of each school year, a new group of students eagerly enters your classroom, each different in some way. Many of them are different in how they learn and your goal is to understand how to teach them over the coming months.

Acknowledging the various ways students learn means you must consider the various ways you teach. These considerations embody the various components of differentiation. By definition, differentiation is "an approach to teaching that advocates active planning for and attention to student differences in classrooms, in the context of high quality curriculums" (Tomlinson, 2013). By doing so, you enable students to achieve at their highest level because you use teaching styles that incorporate the way they learn.

Differentiation includes exploring the three instructional aspects of content, process, and product. Content refers to the "what" of your instruction or the concepts to be taught. Process is the "how" of your instructional delivery and the way students will interact with the content being presented. Product is the "result" or how your students will demonstrate what they have learned. Decisions for each of these aspects can and should be based on a student's readiness, interest, and/or learning profile. 

As you begin your journey into differentiating instruction, the intent is not to differentiate every instructional aspect at once, but to determine and implement the aspect that will prove to be the most beneficial to your students at a given time. To learn more about differentiation and how you can begin on this journey towards establishing a differentiated classroom, consider the following resources available in the TTAC at VCU library .

Tomlinson, C. A. (1999). The differentiated classroom: Responding to the needs of all learners. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.
Tomlinson, C. A. (2001). How to differentiate instruction in mixed-ability classrooms. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.
Tomlinson, C. (2013).
Wormeli, R. (2007). Differentiation: From planning to practice, grades 6-12. Portland, Me.: Stenhouse.
Tomlinson, C. (2013). Retrieved March 03, 2016, from

Spotlight on Library Materials: The STAR Program for Students on the Autism Spectrum
Looking for an evidence-based resource for teaching students on the autism spectrum? The STAR Program (Strategies for Teaching Based on Autism Research)  is a curriculum designed for students on the autism spectrum at the preschool and elementary levels. The STAR is a research-validated curriculum that includes detailed lesson plans, teaching materials, data systems and a curriculum-based assessment for teaching in the six curricular areas of receptive language, expressive language, spontaneous language, functional routines, academics, and play & social skills. 
The STAR Program is organized into three leveled kits:

Level 1 is designed for students who show some difficulty understanding or following simple commands, have limited language, have moderate behavior issues when asked to follow a simple task, and limited social interactions.
Level 2 is designed for students who can follow simple commands but demonstrate difficulty with 2-step commands or complex requests. Level 2 is also appropriate for students who use only one word (or picture) to request desires, understand simple nouns, play in isolation, and follow simple routines.

Level 3 is designed for students who can use two or more words (or pictures) to communicate.  The students placed in this level should be able to label objects, identify numbers and letters, identify a few sight words and follow most classroom routines with verbal directions or a picture schedule.
The STAR Program is an effective way to get started in implementing evidence-based practices identified by the National Professional Development Center on Autism Spectrum Disorders.

The STAR Program is available for checkout from the TTAC at VCU library.

For additional information on evidence-based practices and the STAR Program visit:

The National Professional Development Center on Autism Spectrum Disorder: 
STAR Autism Program:

VDOE's Training and Technical Assistance Center at VCU
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Richmond, VA 23284-3081