TTAC Topics                                                                                               September 2015
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A new school year begins

Another school year is off to a fast start.  Whether you are a new or veteran teacher, having resources at your fingertips which can help with classroom management, lesson planning, or instructional strategies helps the school year begin fresh.  Here are a few resources that you might check into:

Resource toolkit for new teachers from Edutopia. This online blog provides information for designing the learning environment, lesson and curriculum planning, classroom management and more.


Teacher Direct is a VDOE communication tool through which teachers can access new instructional resources, the latest SOL news, and a library that contains lessons, presentations, and videos.


New and beginning teacher resources from VDOE contains information and resources for new teachers and mentors to address effective practices that teachers need to be successful in the classroom.

The Teaching Channel offers videos of effective teaching practices and instructional materials.


Teaching math using CRA
It's another exciting year for teaching math! As you sit down to plan math instruction this year, it's important to consider the   concrete-representational-abstract instructional approach (CRA) when teaching mathematics. CRA assists students to develop conceptual understanding of mathematical concepts by moving from the concrete stage (modeling of and practice with concrete materials), to the representational stage (using representations such as drawings or stamps to represent the concrete models), to the abstract stage (mathematical concepts represented by numbers, symbols, and equations). It is an instructional method that supports all students, and especially students with disabilities, to become successful math learners.
The T/TAC at VCU has a variety of resources available to support the CRA instructional method in your classroom. Here are three resources for you to consider.
  • Math manipulatives: We have a multitude of concrete materials in our instructional lab that you can borrow for use in your classroom. Visit the Library page of our T/TAC web site to search for math materials by mathematical strands (e.g., geometry, measurement), specific materials (e.g., counters, fraction circles), or mathematical concepts (e.g., multiplication, elapsed time).
  • Hands-on Standards Deluxe Edition math books: These books are an excellent resource for teachers because they provide step-by-step, photo-illustrated lessons featuring manipulative-based activities. All of the materials in the lessons are available in our instructional lab.
  • Strategic Math Series: The Strategic Math series uses the CRA instructional approach to teach struggling learners basic math facts (e.g., addition, subtraction, multiplication, division) and operations (e.g., addition with regrouping, subtraction with regrouping). Students are instructed through a series of explicitly taught lessons that are sequential and build upon each other. The series is an excellent math intervention for small groups or individual students. 
CRA, which is emphasized in the Virginia Math Standards of Learning, is an effective and engaging instructional approach for teaching mathematics. Check out the resources in our library and instructional lab to help you plan for and use in your classroom!

Strategy instruction for students with learning disabilites
How many times have you said to yourself in a frustrated moment, "This student should already know this; what is the problem?" When working with struggling learners, it can be difficult to maintain perspective and determine the most effective way to use instructional time. With the emphasis on research-based interventions and data collection, teachers can easily become overwhelmed. If you can relate to this feeling, it would be worth your time to investigate the components of strategy instruction.
Consider a student trying to write a persuasive essay. Has that student ever seen what successful prewriting and essay composition actually looks like? Not just the final product, but also the process. Does the student possess the cognitive and metacognitive strategies to complete the task? If the answer to these questions is "No," then strategy instruction could be the answer. Strategy instruction includes assessing student background knowledge in order to track their progress, helping students understand why they should learn a particular strategy, modeling the self-talk involved in completing a task, and planning instruction to support memorization and fluency. If you thoughtfully plan these components, your students will walk away with a self-regulated strategy they can use in any environment.
If you are interested in learning more about strategy instruction, Strategy Instruction for Students with Learning Disabilities, 2nd Edition by Reid, Linemann, and Hagaman is an excellent resource and is available in our library for checkout.

News from T/TAC
The T/TAC at VCU is excited to welcome two new Program Specialists.  Leslie Brown, M.S., joins the VCU/TTAC staff as a Program Specialist for secondary curriculum and instruction and mathematics. Leslie earned her undergraduate and graduate degrees in elementary and middle school education from Longwood University. She is a certified specialist in Curriculum and Instruction, Mathematics, and Gifted Education. Leslie joins our staff with 11 years of classroom experience in both mathematics and science in grades 6-9, including seven years as a collaborative teacher for students with disabilities. Returning to T/TAC is Mary Tobin, M.Ed. as a Program Specialist in the area of early childhood special education (ECSE). Mary received both her B.S. in sociology and M.Ed. from VCU. Her teaching experience includes working in Chesterfield County Public Schools as an ECSE teacher and at Sabot School at Stony Point as a Kindergarten teacher.

T/TAC at VCU offices closed

During the UCI Road World Championships,the T/TAC offices will be closed from September 21-28.  Our 
Program Specialists will continue to work in school divisions providing technical assistance.  However, our library materials will be inaccessible during this event. If you anticipate needing materials, please contact the office or a Program Specialist prior to September 21.
VDOE's Training and Technical Assistance Center at VCU
700 E Franklin Street, Suite 140
P.O. Box 843081
Richmond, VA 23284-3081