Becoming An Advocate For Exceptional Students

Program Standard 3

3. Differentiation – The teacher acquires and uses specific knowledge about students’ cultural, individual intellectual and social development and uses that knowledge to adjust their practice by employing strategies that advance student learning.

3.3 Element – Demonstrating flexibility and responsiveness in persisting to support students.

3.3 Example of Proficient – Teacher persists in seeking approaches for students who have difficulty learning, drawing on a broad repertoire of strategies.


For EDSP 6644 (Educating Exceptional Students) I researched the increasingly popular Response to Intervention (RtI) model and how it relates to twice-exceptional students (see linked paper below). Twice-exceptional students are distinctive because of their combination of high intelligence and specific learning disabilities. These combined traits can often make it difficult for standardized measures to detect these learners. Oftentimes their intelligence can offset their specific learning disability resulting in average achievement even though they are capable of so much more. According to Crepeau-Hobson and Bianco (2011) “This masking can make the twice-exceptional students appear to have average abilities and achievement. Because of these issues, gifted students with [learning disabilities] are less likely to be identified for either exceptionality” (p. 103). If these students are not detected within systems like the RtI model, they will not get the supports and enrichments needed.

Although it is not a perfect screening process, the RtI model can be adjusted to provide a first step in detecting twice-exceptional students. McCallum, Mee Bell, Coles, Miller, Hopkins, and Hilton-Prillhart (2013) suggest, “Scrutiny of more than one academic area for screening purposes will decrease the potentially negative effects of masking” (p. 219). The researchers believe that if students’ scores are vastly different between subjects, those discrepancies might indicate that they are suffering from learning disabilities despite testing within the normal range. The students who have large inconsistencies in their test scores across subjects would then qualify for further screening. While this is not a perfect solution, it does help to fill a gap in the RtI model that would otherwise leave twice-exceptional students undetected. It is important for administrators to take suggestions like this one under consideration so that students can get the interventions that they need.

Even with adjustments to screening systems, it is essential that teachers always advocate for their students. After doing research, I have learned that perceptive teachers are crucial to the success of their students. This is especially true for students with special needs. In inclusive classrooms, these students often fail to receive proper supports. McKenzie (2010) asserts, “Insightful teachers have always been, and must remain, the conduits of advocacy on behalf of students with exceptionalities” (p. 166). This knowledge will drive my teaching and make me a more thoughtful and dedicated educator. It will push me to learn more about the needs of exceptional learners so I can create a truly inclusive classroom. It is important for teachers to not exclusively rely on standardized testing to detect the needs of all students. All teachers must be informed about special education issues so that they can differentiate their teaching and provide students with the support needed. Vigilant teachers must ensure that these students are receiving proper interventions, are building strong social relationships, and are developing a sense of self-efficacy. It is crucial for all students, but especially those with disabilities, to develop a sense of agency so that they can advocate for themselves and understand their own learning needs. Teachers are such an important part of their students’ lives so it is imperative for them to champion for the needs of each and every learner in their classroom.

Click To Read My Paper On Twice-Exceptional Students And The RtI Model

Crepeau-Hobson, F., & Bianco, M. (2011). Identification of Gifted Students with Learning Disabilities in a Response-to-Intervention era. Psychology In The Schools48(2), 102-109. doi:10.1002/pits.20528
McCallum, S.R., Mee Bell, S., Coles, J.T., Miller, K.C., Hopkins, M.B., & Hilton-Prillhart, A. (2013). A Model for Screening Twice-Exceptional Students (Gifted With Learning Disabilities) Within a Response to Intervention Paradigm. Gifted Child Quarterly, 57(4), 209-222. doi:10.1177/0016986213500070
McKenzie, R. G. (2010). The Insufficiency of Response to Intervention in Identifying Gifted Students with Learning Disabilities. Learning Disabilities Research & Practice (Wiley-Blackwell)25(3), 161-168. doi:10.1111/j.1540-5826.2010.00312.x

Helping Students Understand Copyright and Fair Use

International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) Standard 4

4. Promote and model digital citizenship and responsibility – Teachers understand local and global societal issues and responsibilities in an evolving digital culture and exhibit legal and ethical behavior in their professional practices.

a. Advocate, model, and teach safe, legal, and ethical use of digital information and technology, including respect for copyright, intellectual property, and the appropriate documentation of sources.

Program Standard 1

1. Expectations – The teacher communicates high expectations for student learning.

1.2 Element – Communicating with Students

1.2 Example of Proficient – Teacher’s explanation of content is appropriate and connects with students’ knowledge and experience.

Technology and online resources are an integral part of most classrooms today. Students actively participate in online research in the pursuit of new skills and knowledge. Schools are increasingly using educational web 2.0 platforms to create classroom blogs that students can create and add content to so it is important for them to understand how to responsibly use intellectual property that does not belong to them. The International Society for Technology in Education addresses this issue in their fourth standard by stating that educators need to demonstrate to students how to use digital information in a conscientious and legal manner. In order for students to use content ethically they first must understand copyright, fair use, and creative commons and how they all relate. For EDTC 6433 I researched how I could teach these complex issues to young students without confusing them on the subject matter.

Fortunately, many educators have previously dealt with teaching copyright and fair use in the classroom and shared their resources and lesson plans online. Borovoy (2015), in her article “Five-Minute Film Festival: Copyright and Fair Use For Educators,” complied a list of useful websites and created a YouTube playlist with helpful videos on copyright, fair use, and creative commons. The first video in the playlist is particularly helpful because it follows a teacher through her lesson plan on fair use and demonstrates how she engages her students in the subject matter. Borovoy (2015) even provided a link to a pdf of the worksheet that the teacher used in the video. This article provides teachers with a starting point on how to teach the subject of copyright, fair use, and creative commons and even presents links to external websites with helpful information. However, it does not provide a concise guideline for how to deal with issues of copyright, fair use, and creative commons. Burt (2012) did just that in his article “The Educator’s Guide to Copyright, Fair Use, and Creative Commons” and also provides many useful tips on where to find content that can be used and how to do so ethically and legally. However, even with all of the information available it can still be difficult to tell what content is safe to use even with proper citation or credit.

Another student in EDTC 6433 shared a resource from the American Library Association that helps individuals navigate copyright issues. On their website there is a page that provides copyright tools like their Public Domain Slider (which helps determine the copyright status of a work published in the United States), their Fair Use Evaluator (which helps determine is the use of copyrighted material is covered under fair use), and their Copyright Genie (which can be used to determine if a work is copyrighted and calculate its terms of protection). The ALA website even provides a tool that allows educators to determine educational exceptions to copyright law (Copyright, 2016). All of the resources described will help me grapple with these complicated but important issues with my students so they will be prepared to use all the content the web has to offer in a safe, legal, and ethical manner.

Borovoy, A. E. (2015) Five-Minute Film Festival: Copyright and Fair Use for Educators. Edutopia. Retrieved from
Burt, R. (2012). The Educator’s Guide To Copyright, Fair Use, and Creative Commons. The Edublogger. Retrieved from
Copyright Tools. (2016) ALA: American Library Association. Retrieved from

Using Technology To Create A Classroom Community And Effectively Communicate With Parents

International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) Standard 3

3. Model digital age work and learning – Teachers exhibit knowledge, skills, and work processes representative of an innovative professional in a global and digital society.

c. Communicate relevant information and ideas effectively to students, parents, and peers using a variety of digital age media and formats.

Program Standard 7

7. Families and Community – The teacher communicates and collaborates with students, families and all educational stakeholders in an ethical and professional manner to promote student learning.

7.1 Element – Communicating with Families

7.1 Example of Proficient – Teacher communicates with families about students’ progress on a regular basis, respecting cultural norms, and is available as needed to respond to family concerns.

Engendering a sense of community in classrooms is such an important part of student success and technology can be a great way to help busy parents become more connected with their child’s learning. The International Society for Technology in Education recognizes communication as an important part of teaching and in their third standard encourages educators to find meaningful ways to use technology in this endeavor. For EDTC 6433 (Teaching with Technology) I researched how to use technology to communicate relevant information and ideas to students, parents, and peers to engender a sense of community in the classroom and to seamlessly connect adults with their child’s learning environment. This will be an important aspect of my future teaching because I believe that home life greatly affects academic success and that bringing the two together can improve how students approach learning. Many parents would like to be more involved in their child’s education but simply do not have the time to physically participate in the classroom. Technology is a way to bridge the gap between a student’s school and home life in a meaningful way.

Graphic found on the Pearson Website.

Schools are starting to use web portals, social media platforms, blogs, and apps to keep parents constantly updated on their child’s learning. In fact, these kinds of web 2.0 tools have become so prevalent that they are becoming the standard in many schools. “They have become commonplace technologies that support social networking with peers, teachers, families, and friends” (McPherson & Blue, 2012, p. 2373). Teachers now have more resources like,, and which are specifically designed for use in the classroom. They can now set up websites and classroom blogs on platforms expressly intended as a safe space where students can create and post content. Parents can easily access classroom calendars, upcoming events, and student projects all in real time. This kind of networking has the potential to make parents more involved in their child’s education. While websites and blogs are a great way for parents to see what is happening in the classroom, apps can be a great way for them to receive individual notifications about their child. This can be especially helpful for parents who need to be able to quickly reference information on the go. Another student in EDTC 6433 shared an article describing several free apps that help teachers communicate with parents. All of the apps described in that article allow parents to receive updates from teachers directly to their mobile devices. Two of most interesting apps discussed are called BuzzMob and Collaborize Classroom because they integrate full classroom websites with a convenient companion app that can be accessed by teachers and parents on their phones or tablets (McCrea, 2013). All of these resources have the potential to connect parents to their child’s school and classroom in ways never previously conceivable.

However, it is important to remember that sole reliance on this kind of communication can alienate some families. Teachers must be mindful of that fact that some families do not have access to technology or the internet in their homes. So if technology becomes the dominant way that teachers communicate with parents it may create an even greater divide between home and school for some students. Technology should be used to help teachers offer parents a vast array of contact options and each family’s personal needs and preferences should be taken into account. Some school districts are trying to help parents by creating technology centers and by offering technology training to them. With the ever-increasing demand for technology skills to be taught in schools it can only benefit students if their parents have a level of fluency in the subject matter as well. Other school districts are not only training parents on how to use computers but also checking out laptops or tablets to families. These schools understand that along with the technology families also need to be able to access the internet and are helping them apply for it at reduced rates. One administrator is even trying to get free internet access for all of the community members in the district (Fleming, 2012). Nevertheless, many districts cannot afford to help provide families with these kinds of resources so it is important to take individual situations into account and use these resources as supplementary to more standard forms of communication. With the use of technology teachers can reach out to and connect more parents to their child’s education in a meaningful and interactive way.

McPherson, S. & Blue, E. (2012) Using Web 2.0 Tools to Develop New Literacies in Teacher Education. Proceedings of Society for Information Technology & Teacher Education International Conference 2012, pp. 2369-2382. Retrieved from
Fleming, N. (2012) Schools Are Using Social Networking to Involve Parents. Education Week, Vol. 32, Issue 11, pp. 16-17. Retrieved from
McCrea, B. (2013). 7 Free Apps for Keeping Parents and Teachers Connected. The Journal: Transforming Education Through Technology. Retrieved from
Image found on a Pearson website and the statistic is from a State of Parenting Poll found on the Parent Toolkit website.

Abstract Thinking Of Concrete Concepts

Program Standard 4

4. Content Knowledge – The teacher uses content area knowledge, learning standards, appropriate pedagogy and resources to design and deliver curricula and instruction to impact student learning. 

4.1 Element – Demonstrating Knowledge of Content and Pedagogy

2.1 Example of Proficient – Teacher’s plans and practice reflect familiarity with a wide range of effective pedagogical approaches in the discipline.

Educators are charged with the complex task of helping students learn new concepts. However, this does not mean that teachers should merely present students with facts to study and memorize. Instead, they must find ways to present information through meaningful learning experiences that will equip students with the ability to transfer their learned skills from the classroom to real world situations. Bruner (1971) called for “an approach to learning that allows the child not only to learn the material that is presented in a school setting, but to learn it in such a way that [he or she] can use the information in problem solving” (p. 70). For students to be able to engage in complex reasoning they first must be able to look at straightforward concepts abstractly. One way that teachers can get students involved in this kind of thinking is through the synectics teaching model.

This strategy employs the use of metaphors and analogies to deepen students’ examination of topics. Educators use it to develop students’ thinking by having them investigate concrete notions in abstract ways. There are two manners in which to use synectics in the classroom: to produce a new idea out of something familiar or to make unfamiliar knowledge relatable (Joyce, Weil, & Calhoun, 2015, p. 160). Both of these approaches lead students to think more critically about any given topic and incite them to view concept exploration as a highly involved process. This type of learning also invites students to examine their own thought development. Joyce, Weil, and Calhoun (2015) stated in reference to synectics that, “students learn to think about their problem solving processes and gain a measure of metacognitive control over how they solve problems” (p. 149). This type of intentional cognitive exploration can help students develop better critical thinking skills that will transfer more readily to a variety of situations and extend beyond the classroom.

Bruner, J. S. (1971). The Relevance of Education. New York: Norton. [Kindle DX version]. Retrieved from
Joyce, B.R., Weil, M., & Calhoun, E. (2015) Models of Teaching (9th ed.). New York, NY: Pearson. [Kindle DX version]. Retrieved from

Characteristics of an Effective Educator

Program Standards 1–5

1. ExpectationsThe teacher communicates high expectations for student learning.

2. InstructionThe teacher uses research-based instructional practices to meet the needs of all students.

3. Differentiation The teacher acquires and uses specific knowledge about students’ cultural, individual intellectual and social development and uses that knowledge to adjust their practice by employing strategies that advance student learning.

4. Content KnowledgeThe teacher uses content area knowledge, learning standards, appropriate pedagogy and resources to design and deliver curricula and instruction to impact student learning.

5. Learning Environment The teacher fosters and manages a safe and inclusive learning environment that takes into account: physical, emotional and intellectual well-being.

An effective teacher must be competent, dedicated, adaptable, and most importantly skilled at maintaining order in the classroom. Learning cannot take place in a classroom that is not productively managed and controlled. There are a great many techniques available for teachers to employ when maintaining and retaining structure in the class. A competent teacher must be a keen observer and amend his or her strategy for each new set of students and always be evaluating if adjustments need to be made. Once a teacher has created a stable environment conducive to learning they can use their competence, dedication, and adaptability to become a successful educator.

When a teacher is competent in and dedicated to their subject matter they can not only seamlessly answer student questions and create valuable lessons but they can also inspire student to want to know more about the material being taught. Educators who are passionate about what they are teaching create students who are more likely to be enthusiastic about learning. Another aspect of being competent and dedicated as an instructor is staying current with up-to-date teaching methods and available technology. Teachers today have more resources available than ever before and it is important for them to understand how to find and effectively use them to the benefit of their students. Teachers are now empowered to use software and hardware to individualize the training each students needs.

deskTo become particularly competent educators must be adaptable in the planning and execution of their instruction. Recent and ongoing research has caused administrators and instructors to understand the necessity of differentiating lessons for a variety of students (Marzano, 2007). Teachers must be able to create exercises on a single subject for several different learning styles in order to expertly educate each one of their students. Beyond differentiating direction, teachers must also be able to adapt on the spot when they see that an activity is ineffective. If a teacher can see that their plan is not having the desired effect and then modify it immediately they provide their students with the best chance of learning the subject matter. Educators who are competent and dedicated tend to be naturally adaptable and able to observe each of their students’ needs giving them the best chance at success.

Marzano, R. (2007). The Art and Science of Teaching a Comprehensive Framework for Effective Instruction. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. [Kindle DX version] Retrieved from
 The photo in this post has been unedited and was found on Flickr following creative commons licensing.