High Expectations and Providing Intervention (RTI)

Some great techniques to establish high expectation from your students

From the literature that I researched on the web an article entitled Ten Strategies for Creating Classroom Culture of High Expectations brought up an extremely enticing point. If you are going to have high expectations for your students you must guide them on what this notion is and a great way to accomplish this goal is to provide a stellar example. I am currently teaching at the 4th grade level and for my math class a model that that provides an exemplary solution method is an excellent way to make this connection. Letting the students know what is expected of them and providing them with a structure that is understandable will get this class moving in the direction towards higher learning. Another great way to raise the bar with class expectations would be to involve the students in rubric creation. Have the premise of the project already determined and go into details with the students on what is expected specifically for each part. Bringing the students into this creative atmosphere will also make them feel more a part of the class as a whole knowing they are in control of some decisions.

The director, Greg Siering, of Indiana University also had an interesting technique about not easing into the semester. Right from the very first week of class you should have the bar raised very high with what is expected from your students. Have your assignments focus on higher level thinking, have a picture of Bloom’s taxonomy at the back of the room so you are constantly reminded to implement critical and analytical thinking. These types of assignments should be done using a scaffolding strategy. Make the assignment difficult but break them into manageable chunks where you can provide specific feedback to what is expected.

Defining your role from the beginning of the semester is also crucial for having high expectations. As a teacher you have to establish the fact that you will be holding them accountable for their work, you are there to guide but also as Greg mentions in his article, referenced below, we are the gatekeeper as well.

What is RTI and how do we help students that are not achieving the high level that is expected.

            RTI is a three tiered triangular shaped concept that provides a method for dealing with students that are having trouble. The first and largest portion of the triangle (80-85%) deals with high level differentiated instruction. This means students do not need extra attention and the differentiation that can be accomplished in class is sufficient. Student that are continuously having trouble completing the assignments in class and are lacking on tests will be then instructed outside of regular class time for around thirty minutes a day in a portion know as tier 2 (15% of the total students). They still go to regular class but will be provided with supplementary instruction. Tier three students (5%) will receive even more intensified supplementary instruction that may include special education teachers. These students do not have to be identified and will still be receiving tier one instruction.

The basis to this type of intervention is proper supplementary instruction. In order to recognize students that are having trouble you must as a teacher always be revolving your classes around some type of assessment. Having high expectations will cause some students to struggle with the material and being able to recognize these struggles quickly either formatively, summatively, diagnostically, or however you assess is key to a successful high level class.










Reflection on Standard and Curriculum Creation

Activity 4: Blog post summary

By: Chad Boudreau


Standards and backwards mapping

            I found this activity a good way to introduce the idea of what standards really are. This was my first time dealing with this notion and was somewhat shocked to see how little difference there was from state to state. Hearing about standardised tests and how much variance there is in respect to student aptitudes across the states I was sure that it was due to the different standards that were being used. Wrong, it is the way in which teachers or administrators unpacked these standards and implement strategies and assessment techniques. I found it interesting in this activity how logical and straight forward it was to be able to meet physical education standards. I think the problem with respect to aptitude variance is teachers deeming what is essential and sometimes ignoring the guidelines set forth by the standards which cause havoc with standardised testing methods.

Unpack a standard

This was a great example of scaffolding and induction style teaching; providing a foundation and familiarity with standards in the above activity then becoming more specific and adding a project based group learning element. This activity was something I thought was going to be a lot easier than it actually was. My standard, Understand decimal notation for fractions, and compare decimal fractions, seemed simple enough; on the contrary, I had to read up on information relating to this topic. It was almost iceberg in nature and after fully understanding all of the concepts that were buried within this standard was I able to begin the task of unpacking it. I think this is where teachers become problematic with their teaching curriculum. You really have to take the time and understand all the different variables that can coincide with the standard. I have not taught in the American system but I can see how unpacking improperly can cause issues that will be seen on ST scores.

Lesson objectives

This is where this unit begins to shine in a sense, scaffolding towards the final goal of curriculum development. This was an interesting activity because it really gives you the feeling of freedom as an instructor. At my school there is little to no freedom when it comes to how standards are to be met. It is locked in and sad to say obsolete in a sense. I really enjoyed making the rubrics, although I’m not sure we were supposed to do that because you did say it was unnecessary in the VC, I saw everyone else was doing it so I followed suit out of fear. The interesting element was how specific you can become with what you want to asses. In reality you could make a rubric about five pages to cover all the possibilities. It was interesting to identify what skills were most necessary for the task at hand and provide a rubric accordingly. I really enjoyed have the power to create my lesson from scratch.

Reflection on Classroom Climate

In order to teach effectively there must be diligent effort put forth into creating a positive climate within the classroom. There is an enormous amount of research dedicated on how to create this type of positive environment that revolves around the same reoccurring themes. In the book The Art and Science of Teaching by Robert Marzano, he refers to multiple actions, supported by many other academics, that will aid in this endeavour.

The most important action is “know your students”. This provides the solid foundation on which everything is dependent upon. In the article, Four Ways Teachers Can Show They Care by Vicki Zakrzewski, Ph.D., she touches upon this very same fact as Marzano. Knowing your students interests can be a very valuable asset when it comes to designating group project topics. Profiles are a great way of obtaining this type of information and getting them to do this digitally on a platform that all the students in the class can see will also benefit with class cohesion as well as aiding in your student familiarization. This is something the teacher should participate in as well; create your profile so your students become familiar with you as well. There are many programs out there that are perfect for this exercise such as glog, and piktochart.

You also need to show some type of affection for your students. This can be done in many ways. In the videos previously viewed for this activity we watched how certain strategies such as “peace keepers” and “allies” can be a valuable way to show that not only do we care as teachers but as a class as a whole. (Smart Hearts – Social & Emotional Learning Overview, Change Attitudes Toward Bullying: Be an Ally) The ally strategy included both teacher and students in resolving classroom disputes. It went as far as creating contracts and check-ups to see if the allies were behaving accordingly. This is a strategy I have not used but am very interested in implementing within my classroom. Communication is such an important element in this process and the time being spent with these resolutions will not only show that you do care but provide a basis to create the team/family environment.

Marzano also talks about how a teacher’s physical behaviour can help aid in a positive climate. When talking to a student it is important to show them that you care, and this can be achieved by looking them in the eye when you speak, being enthusiastic about what they are talking about, show you are interested, and show them you have emotion. He also talks about how humour can play a big role in adding to a positive climate. One tip, I found interesting for those days you are not feeling great, Marzano stated was to, “keep a book of jokes or cartoons handy and read something funny at the beginning of class.” (p. 158) This is a great way to start the class and have that positive energy right from the beginning. Also, don’t be afraid to become animated within the class, with lower grade levels this can be an extremely valuable technique in creating a positive atmosphere.

One of Marzano’s most unique points that he offered was how to be “emotionally objective” (p.159). This was something I really took to heart because we have to, as teachers, take into consideration what other circumstances might be at play that are causing a student to behave in the manner that they are. We don’t know what happened the night before and we should not judge their behaviour solely on the environment in the classroom. This is a great way to show students that you do in fact care. He also talked about maintaining a “cool exterior” (p. 160) and this is a situation where I believe it is most applicable. Take a moment to ask a student if everything is ok, try to find the root on why this student is acting the way he is. Always maintain a concerned and cool exterior to provide the student with a safe and stable person in which he can truthfully express himself.

These are some great ways to show concern and caring within the classroom. It is a matter of using these techniques and strategies on an everyday basis to increase your effectiveness as a teacher. No class will be the same and neither will any student.



The Art and Science of Teaching by Robert Marzano

Four Ways Teachers Can Show They Care by Vicki Zakrzewski, Ph.D

Smart Hearts – Social & Emotional Learning Overview

Change Attitudes Toward Bullying: Be an Ally

Teacher Questionaire





  1. In your teaching career, what are the different softwares you had to work with? Which one did you find more apt and for teaching and why?









  1. Do you encourage your students for computer based activities and how do you guide them through it? 









  1. Is the time spent on the tool worth it?









  1. How does using the technology add to what the teacher or students can










  1. Is access to supported technology available at your school?









  1. Would you use professional development or instructional support to implement technology integration?








  1. Are there incentives in place at your school to ensure teachers receive appropriate training?









  1. What best describes your current practice of using technology in instruction?


 Please choose *only one* of the following:

a) seldom use technology to deliver instruction

b) almost exclusively use whole group presentation style either using an interactiveWhiteboard, PowerPoint or other instructional software to explain or demonstrate concepts or instruction

c) often use whole group presentation style, but sometimes facilitate students in their use of a variety of information resources and hands-on activities

d) almost exclusively facilitate student learning by encouraging students to use informationresources and hands-on activities.



  1. How can technology help us to meet goals, engage learners, and differentiate?















How to keep equal participation within a group project setting


Brief description of an engaging group project.

l  There will be a topic given with designated affirmative and negative teams. Each team will work in pairs that will be assigned by the group leader who will also be responsible for creating a list that will have each pair’s name along with corresponding point. Final product will be a presentation using prezi or ppt. (equal participation is a must when it comes to speaking time). Collaboration and feedback must also be used via the team group chat created on their mobile devices. Research may be done during class using set devices.

Techniques to ensure equal participation within a group project setting.

  • There must be suited roles for each student. This is the tough part; you must make the partners strengths equal within the group. This is where discussion and communication will be stressed at its highest point.
  •  Having the team work in pairs will make it more difficult for shirkers (unproductive students) to go unnoticed.  Small groups within the team help with equal participation.
  • Inform the team that shirkers will be up to the group to handle.
  • Have an internal check mechanism that allows the students to vote out shirkers. Once they have been voted out the must persuade the group to let them back in or find another group. If this does not work the will receive a failing grade.
  • Have an annonomys assessment on partner and team effort, and a regular peer assessment. These must be very carefully designed.

Some guidelines for effective assessment planning

  • Make sure that what is being assessed is solid and outcome-based. (e.g. timeliness of contribution, attendance at meetings, contributions were relevant and the student met their objectives)
  • It is not appropriate to assess things like how hard an individual worked.
  • Assessments should be guided by well thought out questions.
  • Assessments should include justification for the score given.


Having a well-designed rubric that emphasises equal participation is very important as well.

  • Proper care must also be taken in this area.











Instructional Goals for Selecting Digital Tools

Instructional Goals for Selecting Digital Tools


Everybody knows how technology has exploded over the past few decades and how it has become a part of our everyday lives. Technology is everywhere and more importantly it has become an option for teachers to use in their classrooms. This must be done effectively; this is the key to the future of teaching as we know it.

To select proper digital tools for effective teaching methods we must understand what is to be learned in that specific class and to do this we must use instructional objectives. Instructional objectives have a few different call signs and they go as follows: performance objectives, behavior objectives, and just plain objectives. Instructional objectives are precise and they leave no questions to be asked about what is expected during the class. They are outcome based which means they rely on what the student can perform after the set class and they are measurable, either through seen, heard, or written assessments.

Having proper objectives will guide the class so guess work is left out of the equation. Proper objective selection will be the basis for what types of digital tools will work and what ones will not.

This is the key to using digital tools properly; we must not use tools that are not parallel with the objectives. We have to first take into consideration the students themselves, how old are they and how proficient are they with using current technologies. Good judgment in this area will only come with experience, we must fail to succeed. We also have to take into consideration the condition of the classroom; what are the limitations. Finally, we need to decide on what degree of accuracy we want the class to obtain; this has to be carefully considered.

Objectives are crucial for using technology in the classroom. First we must become fluent with objective selection and creation before we can even consider using technology as an aid. We then must become familiar with the technology we wish to implement. This will take practice and familiarity is a must, time is crucial during class and students do not respond well to instructors that cannot demonstrate properly.

This will take effort, but the effort will be paid back with interest. Time and money will be saved when tools are used effectively, and most importantly students will become familiar with technologies that will be used in their futures. The main goal of using digital tools is to bring fairness and equality to the classroom. There are objective designs out there that have made incredible leaps in this area and Khans is a great example of this. The future of teaching has become very exciting.









Applying Brain-Based Learning Information to the Digital Classroom

Applying Brain-Based Learning Information to the Digital Classroom


Upon doing my research I have come across multiple sources that use the same concepts to describe what brain-based learning is and how it can be used. Light will be shone on these areas, then we will depict on how to apply these notions in the digital classroom.

Definition of brain-based learning:

Basically it is instruction based on research that has been done in the field of neuroscience that relates to how are brain learns naturally. This idea is in conjunction with what we know about brain structure and function during our development throughout life.

This way we can construct a biological framework that will explain behaviours that repeat. This type of learning focuses on making connections with real life experiences. There are some educational concepts that are reoccurring in the current research I have studied that encompass this type of learning and the go as follows:

  • mastery learning,
  • learning styles,
  • multiple intelligences,
  • cooperative learning,
  • practical simulations,
  • experiential learning,
  • problem-based learning,
  • movement education.


Also there are some corresponding principles that occur and they go as follows:

1. The brain is a parallel processor. It can perform several activities at once.

2. The brain perceives whole and parts simultaneously.

3. Information is stored in multiple areas of the brain and is retrieved through multiple

memory and neural pathways.

4. Learning engages the whole body. All learning is mind-body: movement, foods, attention

cycles, and chemicals modulate learning.

5. Humans’ search for meaning is innate.

6. The search for meaning comes through patterning.

7. Emotions are critical to patterning, and drive our attention, meaning and memory.

8. Meaning is more important than just information.

9. Learning involves focused attention and peripheral perception.

10. We have two types of memory: spatial and rote.

11. We understand best when facts are embedded in natural spatial memory.

12. The brain is social. It develops better in concert with other brains.

13. Complex learning is enhanced by challenge and inhibited by stress.

14. Every brain in uniquely organized.

15. Learning is developmental. (Caine)



There are also three established techniques involved with brain-based learning that have evolved from the above principles and they go as follows:

  • Orchestrated immersion: Learning environments are created that immerse students in

a learning experience. Primary teachers build a rainforest in the classroom complete with

stuffed animals and cardboard and paper trees that reach to the ceiling. Intermediate

teachers take students to a school forest to explore and identify animal tracks in the snow

and complete orienteering experiences with a compass. Junior high teachers take a field

trip to an insurance company to have students shadow an employee all day. High school

teachers of astronomy have students experience weightlessness by scuba diving in the

swimming pool.

  • Relaxed alertness: An effort is made to eliminate fear while maintaining a highly

challenging environment. Teachers play classical music when appropriate to set a

relaxed tone in the classroom. Bright lights are dimmed. Vanilla candles are used to calm

students and peppermint scents are used to stimulate the senses. All students are

accepted with their various learning styles, capabilities and disabilities. A relaxed

accepting environment pervades the room. Children are stretched to maximize their


  • Active processing: The learner consolidates and internalizes information by actively

processing it. Information is connected to prior learning. The stage is set before a unit of

study is begun by the teacher preparing the students to attach new information to prior

knowledge so the new information has something to “latch onto.” (Jensen, Caine)


Now we have the foundation on what the current research says about brain-based learning, it is now time to apply this knowledge to the digital classroom. Oddly enough there are 12 guiding lesson design principles that take all of the above information into account. I will use each step and relate it to how I would use it a digital class format.

Principle 1.

  • Rich, stimulating environments using student created materials and products are evident on bulletin boards and display areas.

Applying this principle to a digital classroom could be as simple as designing a web page for the class that was created with the help of the students in a group work scenario.

Principle 2 and 3

  • Places for group learning like tables and desks grouped together, to stimulate social skills and cooperative work groups.  Have comfortable furniture and couches available for casual discussion areas. Carpeted and areas with large pillows who prefer not the work at a desk or table.
  • Link indoor and outdoor spaces so students can move about using their motor cortex for more brain oxygenation.

With a digital class you could make use of laptops or any mobile device and continue with group learning in a comfortable environment. You could use this opportunity to maybe go on a field trip. Each student having a mobile device (smart phone, table, and laptop) would make the project very feasible. This would be great for a museum trip, have a specific task for the students and have them actually work together and do the project in the museum via the mobile devices in the comfortable areas provided. You could make it like a scavenger hunt of sorts using clues within and outside the museum.

Principle 4:

  • Safe places for students to be where threat is reduced, particularly in large urban settings.

In the digital classroom this just comes down to providing a classroom environment where safety is the first priority. Establishing rules where bullying in either physical or cyber form will not be tolerated in any shape or form. Create a family environment.

Principle 5:

  • Variety of places that provide different lighting, and nooks and crannies.  Many elementary children prefer the floor and under tables to work with a partner.

Make use of your school grounds, have your students utilize every area that is permissible by administration. Having portable devices will make your classroom be one of your choice. Good weather, go outside!

Principle 6:

  • Change displays in the classroom regularly to provide a stimulating situations for brain development.  Have students create stage sets where they can act out scenes from their readings or demonstrate a science principle or act out a dialogue between historical figures.

For the digital classroom this can go back to the class web page (schoology/blackboard). Have the boys be able to create the background, choosing their favourite sports teams could be an example. The next week have the girls change it again; you could use groups as well.

Principle 7:

  • Have multiple resources available.  Provide educational, physical and a variety of setting within the classroom so that learning activities can be integrated easily.  Computers areas, wet areas, experimental science areas should be in close proximity to one another.  Multiple functions of learning is our goal.

This can be related to using different types of programs for your student’s projects. Do not only use Microsoft word; use a multiple of different resource like piktochart, moviemaker, or different mind mapping tools. There are countless choices available.

Principle 8:

  • Flexibility: This common principle of the past is relevant.  The teachable moment must be recognized and capitalized upon. Dimensions of flexibility are evident in other principles.

In the digital classroom flexibility can be just as simple as being open minded to what students really want to learn. This is an essential focal point of brain-based learning; a student’s input and experience is a necessary element for this approach.

Principle 9:

  • Active and passive places: Students need quiet areas for reflection and retreat from others to use intrapersonal intelligences.

In the digital classroom for a group project this would be a time for self and peer evaluation. Have the students go to a quiet area with their mobile devices and have them self-evaluate their performance as well as the others in their group. As a teacher you would need to create the proper digital forms necessary. Also, make sure every student has a portfolio in which to put these evals digitally.

Principle 10:

  • Personal space: Students need a home base, a desk, a locker area.  All this allows learners to express their unique identity.

In a digital class room that provides tablets or laptops make sure they have their own. Or when using the class software make it so they can personalize their own avatar.

Principle 11:

  • The community at large as an optimal learning environment: Teachers need to find ways to fully use city space and natural space to use as a primary learning setting.  Technology, distance learning, community and business partnerships, all need to be explored by educational institutions.

Have your class collaborate with another digital class for a group work project. This should be done more than once because of the ease at which this can be achieved.

Principle 12:

  • Enrichment: The brain can grow new connections at any age.  Challenging, complex experiences with appropriate feedback are best. Cognitive skills develop better with music and motor skills. (D’Arcangelo)

Have a chess tournament going with in the class when spare time is available. After a game have them evaluate their and each others performance. There are a multitude of sites that can provide this platform.


The digital class is one that is opening the world to the students. Combining brain-based learning with digital capabilities is an exciting frontier. I really enjoyed applying brain-based learning techniques to the digital classroom. There are so many possibilities.



  1. http://www.talkingpage.org/artic011.html
  2. http://education.jhu.edu/PD/newhorizons/Journals/spring2010/thebraintargetedteachingmodel/index.html
  3. http://thesecondprinciple.com/optimal-learning/brainbased-education-an-overview/
  4. http://www.edutopia.org/neuroscience-brain-based-learning-myth-busting
  5. http://www.funderstanding.com/theory/brain-based-learning/brain-based-learning/