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Improved Outcomes for Students with Disabilities

This month our Bright Spot comes from teachers in Irvington, Tuckahoe, Nyack and Greenburgh/North Castle. It provides a few more examples of Specially Designed Instructional (SDI) strategies teachers are implementing to improve their students’ outcomes.

What were students able to achieve as a result of specially designed instructional practices?

  • Kesha Carra at Greenburgh/North Castle reports that every student in her 8:1:1 class improved time-on-task and focus and attention in lessons.
  • Barbara Schoeller from Irvington reported that all students in her class are able to accurately state lesson objectives in their own words.
  • Ms. Serra in Tuckahoe shared that 80% of students in her class were able to explain how to solve multiple probability problems with 100% accuracy after one lesson.
  • Kenneth Schoeller from Nyack High School reported that 90% of his students solved exponential equations after one lesson, and every student he called on was able to correctly explain the work.

What practices or systems made this possible?

  • Ms. Carra taught her students a simple visual cue, a hand signal, that she would use when she needed their attention or for them to focus.   Students responded and used the signal themselves.
  • Ms. Schoeller taught her students how to “Track-With-Me”, and used the strategy to engage students in choral reading of lesson objectives at the start of each lesson.
  • Ms. Serra taught students a process, “A-B Partners”, through which students practiced explaining their work to each other.
  • Mr. Schoeller provided explicit feedback by echoing student responses and taught students a Think-Pair-Share strategy that increased their opportunities to practice new concepts to mastery.

What can we learn from this Bright Spot?

Students become more focused, productive and independent in their learning when consistent processes and cues are taught, practiced and used consistently in classrooms.

This month our Bright Spots come from teachers in Carmel, Summit School, North Rockland, Mount Vernon, and Hallen School who attended a training on Specially Designed Instruction (SDI).

What were students able to achieve?
  • I taught the rhyme/chant strategy to  a student who was struggling to memorize math facts.  After one week, the student had memorized and was able to apply multiplication facts for the 3 times tables.
  • After I modeled how to use a checklist with “Ask yourself” questions, 3 of the 5 students were able to independently and accurately edit spelling and punctuation in their penpal letters.
  • My students were not comprehending and retaining information from texts.  I taught them to annotate passages; using this strategy my students correctly answered Macbeth study guide questions 4/5 times.
  • Using a highlighting strategy I taught them, 5/5 students were able to accurately solve multi-step math equations with negative numbers.
  • Using written sentence starters 2/3 students were able to increase time on-task and independently write a literacy analysis.
  • Using chunking, text features and graphic organizers, 12/12 of my students were able to synthesize information and identify the main idea and important details

What instructional practice had such a positive impact on students?

Teachers in the SDI training learned about Strategy Instruction, where the teacher explicitly teaches students self-directed  strategies to engage in a step-by-step process to complete a learning task. The teachers here explicitly taught students the steps for a variety of learning tasks, including a rehearsal strategy to enhance recall, a proof-reading strategy to edit and revise written work, an annotation strategy to enhance reading comprehension, a highlighting strategy to identify critical details solving a problem, and text analysis strategies to synthesize and analyze critical information in text.

What can we learn from this?

Students with a variety of learning challenges can learn self-directed step-by-step strategies to successfully overcome those challenges when teachers use explicit Strategy Instruction.




Class/Grade Level*


What did your student(s) achieve?

What instructional practice or systemic change supported this student success?

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