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Nimble Transitioning: Integrating Response to Intervention, Professional Learning Communities and Differentiating Instruction
Workshop #: CECO-31


Are you a teacher who is looking to rekindle their passion, are you new to the profession, or are you struggling to document your own proficiency in the context of a new mandated evaluation system? If you answered yes to any part of this question, this is the course for you!

One can argue the teaching profession is changing more rapidly than at any other time in United States educational history. Teacher evaluation, coupled with new standards and new high stakes testing systems have become the norm across the country and many teachers are experiencing the disequilibrium that comes with these significant shifts.

This course details how a teacher, required to teach differently to conform to this new and complex environment can thrive as a result of understanding the fundamental policy shifts that got us here. Moreover, the teacher taking this course will take away concrete methodologies and strategies she can immediately use in any teaching assignment. Through understanding policy shifts and exploring the best practices in Response to Intervention (RtI), Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) and gaining ideas on how to best deploy the rich learning and teaching strategies through Differentiated Instruction (DI), the teacher consuming this class will gain tools to make herself a powerful, effective educator. The online format allows for reflection, practice, observation and analysis and application of skills to current settings. Emphasis is upon intentional best practice, resulting in a classroom environment where all children have the ability to maximize their learning, and where the teacher deploys skills, methods and strategies to thrive in this challenging time in our profession. Teachers new to the profession, struggling with evaluation systems and teachers, simply wanting “a shot in the arm” are sure to benefit from this course.

Course Objectives: Participants will

  • Understand how to mesh the principles of Response to Intervention (RTI) and reforms to teacher evaluations so each initiative can support the other.
  • Demonstrate an understanding that tracking standardized test scores is not enough to measure teacher effectiveness
  • Understand the “Big Picture” of how states around the country are approaching the new teacher evaluation system.
  • Work within a Professional Learning Communities (PLC) to support both RTI and the new teacher evaluation.
  • Explain the reasoning behind the change trends and mandates creating our current educational atmosphere. 
  • Connect the origins of the Common Core State Standards and the trend toward new teacher evaluation systems.
  • Develop an introductory level understanding of value-added modeling as a component of teacher evaluation
  • Understand why each child needs access to a rigorous education through understanding the implications of our global economy. 
  • Understand the origin and key components of proactive and preventative practice and how those practices look at the system, teacher team and individual classroom level.
  • Understand the importance of ensuring children have access to readiness opportunities prior to formal schooling and identify their community’s response to these learners.  
  • Examine their current core instructional practice to ensure the critical evidence-based components are in place, and why these components lead to student success.
  • Identify what student academic and behavioral indicators predict success at the elementary, middle and high school levels.
  • Understand the shift in the profession from independence to interdependence
  • Access and implement best practices related to collaboration
  • Link the best practices of collaboration to a successful teacher evaluation
  • Understand the construction of 21st century skills and why it is critically important that EACH child receive a rigorous education.  Gain and use valuable tools for differentiation, specifically gaining strategies to deeply engage with above, at and below standard students in heterogeneous classrooms. 
  • Understand the basic action research cycle as it pertains to education and understand why it is essential to lead with assessment in front of instruction. 
  • Develop an understanding of the action research cycle and know why assessment is the foundation for planning and adjusting instruction.
  • Understand the power and the research base centering around Formative Assessment (FA). 
  • Understand and develop practical strategies to ensure the key principals of FA become the integral part of their teaching routine. 
  • Understand the “big picture” of how RTI, PLC’s, and DI fit together as a framework for improving student learning and meeting evaluative criteria within a framework-based evaluation system.
  • Apply the skills discussed within this course to their instruction in the classroom

Student Expectations:

Students will be required to:

  • Rehearse the skills and report on the results (submit to instructor).
  • Complete written self-reflection exercises (submit to instructor).
  • Complete all quizzes.
  • Collaborate with peers using the on-line forum.
  • Assignments submitted to the on-line instructor (self- reflections, results of skills practicing, creating a plan, evaluating techniques).  The course moderator/mentor will interact with the participant to ensure the participants mastery of the knowledge and skills taught in the course.  The moderator’s assessment assures the participant’s new level of expertise will enable the participant to understand and implement the new skills and strategies immediately into their personal working situation.  The combination of the all the interactive components of the courses and the one-on-one interactions with the moderator/ mentor will determine the participant’s mastery.
  • Complete all aspects of the online course.

Texts, Reading, Instructional Resources:

Totally online- no additional textbooks required.

Participant assignments:

Quizzes (2)

Reflective Journal Exercises (34)

Activity (22)

On-Line Forum Assignments (8)

Videos (18)


Upon completion of the course, students can decide if they would like to receive credit and from which university they would like to receive credit. Please see University Affiliations under the Information Center for the cost per credit.

Class Outline:

Lesson 1:  Finding our professional equilibrium

1a. Making transitions in a time of change

1b. Teacher effectiveness is more than a test score

1c. Trends around the country

1d. How does an instructional framework impact the evaluation process?

1e. What is evidence and what is just an artifact?             

1f.  What is quality evidence?

1g. How to collect evidence?

1h. Review of chapter one enduring understandings

Lesson 2:  What does “all students” mean and who is responsible for them?

2a.Where did all this stuff come from anyway?

2b.What does this new evaluation system mean to me?

2c.What are some differences between the “new” standards and the previous version of my state standards?

2d.Why are we ratcheting up the rigor?

2e. Putting it all together and a preview of next chapter

Lesson 3:   An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure

3a.What is Response to Intervention (RtI) and where did it come from?

3b.Where they start is where they finish

3c.How do we set targets for our students in our systems?

3d.What do academic prevention and intervention look like in K-12?

3e.What do behavioral prevention and intervention look like in K-12?

3f.What happens if my school or district does not have a proactive, preventative framework?

             Lesson 4:  Assessment precedes instruction and more minds are better than one mind

4a.From a culture of independence to a culture of interdependence (opening teacher practice)               

4b. How teacher evaluations and PLCs are “joined at the hip”

4c. Operationalizing PLCs

4d. The relationship between RtI and PLCs

4e. Data to drive individual student achievement improvements

4f. Again, what happens if my school or district does not provide this formal supportive framework?

Lesson 5:  Instructional ferocity entails DI

5a. Key principles

5b. DI allows us to

5c. Hallmarks of a good DI classroom

5d. Instructional Strategies Seen in a DI Classroom

Chapter 6: Formative Assessment How Do I manage it?

6a. Assessment is the backbone of all we do and the most important assessment is what we use to drive student learning at the classroom level

6b. Relentless timely effective feedback- what would John Hattie say?

6c. FA Techniques- strategies for checking for understanding     

Chapter 7: Putting it all together

7a.The terror that is the total system

7b. Graphic organizers

7c. RTI + PLC + DI = improved student learning

Midterm and Final:

Midterm-Assess your current school. On a Likert Scale of 1 (low evidence) to 5 (high evidence), rate your school in each of the following categories:

  1. There is a system wide process in place in my school to assess how students are achieving in order to provide the appropriate level of instructional support.
  2. There is a system wide process in place in my school to examine student behavior in order to provide the appropriate level of behavioral support.
  3. I believe that my school appropriately intervenes when a student is not learning.
  4. I believe that my school appropriately intervenes when a student is not behaving.

For each (a) – (d) above, provided that you didn’t give the highest score, list one thing that your school could do to move positively up the Likert Scale (for example, if you gave a score of “2”, what could be done to move to a “3”?).

The Final Exam is in two parts:

Part 1- A multiple choice test.

Part 2- If you have had access to students while taking this course, describe, using data and/or providing examples or descriptions of their work, how a particular skill or approach you learned in this course, impacted your student outcomes? Give examples that reference at least two students.

If you did not have access to students while taking this course, describe a skill or process you learned about in this course that you will implement in your classroom. Explain what assessment you will design and what data you will collect. Describe how you expect student outcomes will change and why.

Contact Information:  or 425-788-7275 Ext 104


Graduate credit is available after course completion for an additional fee from various universities.

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