TTAC Topics                                                                                                 October 2014
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Solve IT! 
A Practical Approach to Teaching Mathematical Problem Solving Skills

Are you avoiding math word problems in your class? Are you scared you are going to frustrate and discourage your struggling math students with lengthy word problems? If so, SOLVE IT! is your solution.


SOLVE IT! is a research-based problem solving strategy developed to provide explicit instruction on how to solve math word problems for all students in grades 7 through 12. SOLVE IT! provides students with the cognitive strategies necessary to tackle math problems they would normally avoid. Teachers report that the implementation of SOLVE IT! is practical and manageable and that their students experience immediate success. SOLVE ITincludes the following steps: reading the problem, paraphrasing, visualizing, hypothesizing about problem solutions, estimating the answer, computing, and checking. The process emphasizes the importance of student reflection and understanding (Montague, 2007).


For more information regarding the SOLVE IT! strategy, contact Christine Young:


Montague, M. (2007). Solve It! A practical approach to teaching mathematical problem solving skills. Reston, VAExceptional Innovations. 

I'm Determined

How can you empower your students to set goals and advocate for themselves? I'm Determined, a state directed project funded by the Virginia Department of Education, incorporates tools to improve school performance and post transition outcomes. The I'm Determined project's website,, provides resources to assist in the implementation of I'm Determined materials with lesson plans and videos differentiated for elementary and secondary students. These tools and resources enable teachers and staff to guide students to a greater understanding of their personal strengths as a way to set and achieve goals while building positive relationships. By developing their individual One Pager, their Good Day Plan, and their Goal Setting and Attainment documents, students learn skills to better advocate for themselves and make decisions about their future.



Self-determined youth can....

* Learn to make decisions about things that affect them and their life;

* Talk to the people involved in their life about the things they want to do;

* Decide who can help them reach their goals;

* Realize it is important to take part in their IEP meeting; 

* Determine their preferences and interests, so they can help make decisions;

* Determine what accommodations make it easier for them to learn; and,

* Learn and practice problem solving.

iPad Apps for the One Pager, My Good Day Plan, and Goal Setting can also be found on iTunes.

For more information regarding I'm Determined, contact
Jackie Neidle:            
Phonological Awareness Literacy Screening (PALS)

The PALS 1-3 and PALS Plus literacy screening tools are the latest additions to our library.  The PALS can be used with children in grades 1-3 to identify students at risk for reading difficulties.  This assessment measures a student's knowledge of important literacy fundamentals and provides teachers with explicit information to guide their teaching.

The PALS Plus is an empirically-developed assessment that can be used in grades 4-8 to determine students' optimal instructional levels in oral reading and written spelling.  PALS Plus, while measuring students' knowledge of literacy fundamentals, identifies students who need additional help with their reading and spelling and provides teachers with actionable information to guide their instruction. 


Stop by our library to check out these assessments, as well as other instructional resources. Our office is open Monday-Friday from 8:30am-4:30pm. If you want to meet with one of our Program Specialists, please call and make an appointment so someone will be available to spend time with you. Can't make it into the office? Some library items can be placed in the mail or delivered to your school.  Call us for more information.


Visit our on-line library catalog 



VDOE's Training and Technical Assistance Center at VCU
700 E Franklin Street, Suite 140
P.O. Box 843081
Richmond, VA 23284-3081


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