Languages Department
Learning Differences Conference 2013


The descriptions of the Institutes taking place on May 6th, May 7th and May 8th, 2015.
(alphabetical by session name)
  • What if counseling was a collaborative practice?


Before we can intervene effectively with our ADHD students, we have to truly understand them.  Because of the frequency with which ADHD is diagnosed, too many school professionals and parents have a generic understanding of what an ADHD diagnosis means.  Many years of assessing and treating students with ADHD have led to the observation that there are many different and unique manifestations of ADHD.  This insight has led further to the realization that for these reasons, treatment strategies for ADHD should also not seem “generic,” and that similarly variable and adjustable treatment approaches are needed.  In this 2-day workshop, counselors/participants will learn: (1) how comprehensive assessments often reveal the specific nature of an individual’s attentional problem; (2) how to recognize the various manifestations of ADHD; and with this new understanding, (3) learn how to work more empathically, and therefore, more effectively, with their ADHD students who, undoubtedly, do NOT present in “generic” ways.

Workshop topics will include: thorough and detailed assessment strategies for ADHD; empathic individual and systemic interventions for students with ADHD; “normal” developmental and environmental factors to be considered in the determination of an ADHD diagnosis; analysis of numerous other conditions (depression, anxiety, learning disabilities, sleep disorders, substance abuse, poor school fit, etc.) that either mimic or overlap with features of ADHD, thereby making accurate assessment strategies even more imperative; and a review of specific tests that counselors/participants can use in their schools either to screen for students’ attentional problems, or to enhance data from existing Ed/Psych reports.

Since learning is often enhanced in the context of real case examples, this workshop will include frequent references to illustrative cases. Finally, workshop participants are strongly encouraged to bring existing Ed/Psych reports and/or relevant case examples for peer review and professional consultation.


  • What if educators across disciplines and grade levels collaborated to share their work, problem-solve and create?  Re-imagining professional development as collaborative research, response and reflection.  Critical Friends Group® New Coaches Training

Overview of the 3-Day Training Institute

Essential Question

“What do I need to know and be able to do to create, foster, and sustain an equitable Critical Friends Group® community as part of a collaborative professional learning community in our district and schools?”

Over-Arching Goal

Participants will learn several protocols for engaging group members in reflective conversations about teaching practices, adult and/or student work, with the goal of achieving higher and more equitable student outcomes.  These are the first three days of the five-day certification training

Day One

Today is an introduction to Critical Friends Group® work.  While being engaged in today’s protocols and activities, participants will learn to build trust, create a safe atmosphere and learn about protocols and why they work

Day Two

Participants will learn protocols designed to promote active listening, data analysis, and effective strategic planning.   Participants will also be introduced to another way to discuss professional texts

Day Three

Participants will learn several protocols for discussing texts and solving professional dilemmas.   Participants will all have an opportunity to facilitate and present work

More Information

For other details and information on how to make this a five-day training, please see here...


  • What if learning difference instruction was data-driven?


Students with disabilities often need more intensive instruction than can be provided within the typical general education classrooms.  Decisions to make instructional changes for these students must be data-driven.  One validated strategy for intensifying intervention is for teachers to begin with an evidence-based strategy/ or program but to implement them with longer sessions or smaller group size.  As the strategy/ or program is implemented, frequent progress monitoring on academic and behavior measures should be systematically conducted to quantify the effects of these.  When the progress-monitoring data indicate that the student is improving at an appropriate rate, the current instructional and/or behavioral plan should continued.  If the progress-monitoring data indicate the student is making little, or no, growth instructional modifications must be made.  When modifications are made teachers continue to use the progress-monitoring data to quantify the effects of the modifications and determine if further modifications are needed.  In this way, over weeks, the teacher inductively designs an effective, individualized intervention.  As a result, the purpose of this institute is to provide participants with an overview of the research that supports the use of progress monitoring to make instructional and behavioral decisions for students with disabilities. The institute will be hands-on and will focus on (a) using data to determine which students need more intensive interventions; (b) determining realistic growth rates for individual students; (c) determining aim lines as a measure of appropriate growth; (d) developing data collection systems that provide useful data; and (e) determining when a change in instructional or behavioral intervention is needed.  Participants will be given real-life scenarios of students who are making sufficient progress and those who are not.  Participants will then work in groups to determine if instruction should be changed, and if so how it should be changed.  Additionally, time will be given for participants to develop data-based forms for their own teaching situations and receive feedback from the presenters.

Learning Objectives

Participants will: (1) understand the effectiveness of using progress monitoring to make instructional and behavioral decisions; (2) calculate appropriate growth rates for students with disabilities; (3) develop data collection sheets; (4) make instructional and behavioral decisions based on real-life scenarios; (5) develop plans for using data-based instruction with students in their classrooms; and (6) become familiar with the IRIS Center resources.


This institute will be hands-on.  Our tentative agenda includes:


  • 9:45 – 10:45 - Overview of the research in data-based instruction and progress monitoring
  • 10:45 - 13:15 - Lecture on developing data collection forms Provide examples of forms. Participants will develop forms that can be used in their individual teaching situations
  • 14:15 – 15:00 - Determining appropriate growth rates
  • 15:00 - 16:00 - Introduce participants to the IRIS Center Resources


  • 9:10 - 9:30 - Review of Thursday – answer questions, if any
  • 9:30 - 13:15 - Presenters will facilitate group work using real-life scenarios
  • 14:15 - 15:45 - Participants will work in groups with presenters to discuss and develop plans for using data-based instruction in their own teaching situations
  • 15:45 - 16:00 - Wrap up and answer questions


  • What if?  Re-imagining our approaches to and uses of diagnostic testing


Day One: Demystifying The Assessment Process

There is enormous confusion regarding standardized tests and test results.   Questions as to what tests to administer, how to interpret test performance, how to connect test scores to school placement or more relevant instruction practices, different teaching strategies, etc. It's not about the test score a child obtains on a test, it's about how he performed in acquiring his score.   This is what this two-day course is all out —understanding the relevance of client-performance on diagnostic tests— and how to figure out what to do.

Too many people, including educators and parents, believe that a standardized or group-administered test score is a finite indicator of school performance.   While sometimes this is true, it is also the case that specific 'scores' may not yield the data to answer the diagnostic questions teachers and parents have about a complex learner.   It is particularly true in the cases of 'different' types of learners, second language learners, or learners with undiagnosed language deficiencies, etc., that 'test performance' rendered in standard scores and percentile may not tell you very much about how much a child has learned and they may actually confuse parents and teachers who are monitoring academic performance.  Unless you know where to look for those answers!

The first day of the workshop seeks to take some of the 'mystery' out of testing, clarifying test (and subtest) purposes, and 'demystifying' the testing process so as to gain a more precise understanding of the levels at which a child performs and patterns related to academic strengths and weaknesses that can guide program instruction and facilitate academic success.   There are no magic answers in this arena!!  There is only a deeper understanding of what tests can —and cannot— reveal and how collaboration between the diagnostician and teachers is a critical variable in the process.

The presentation will be in a workshop format, looking at and using various tests, and allowing for questions and discussion between and among seminar participants during the two-hour time frame.

Day Two: Testing to Teach

The end result of having and individualized assessment completed on a client is to further teacher understandings of how the child learns, at what levels he is currently functioning, and the relevance of his test levels and abilities vis a vis content demands.  This focused on
(a) understanding the nature of the learning issues and
(b) beginning to plan for what you would do to support learning.  This could include recommendations to the classroom teacher, to the parent re home strategies that will aid areas of weakness, or to aide a tutor or outside support person who works with the child.  But it is the teacher who must be able to interpret diagnostic results so that they inform instruction for a particular child.   If the child isn't benefiting from current instructional programming, and if adequate and accurate test data if obtained, then what needs to be done differently for that child is the challenge for the teacher(s) and school support team.

This two-day seminar will explore this topic through case studies, e.g. reviewing summaries of test results and, building on Session 1, determine what the data actually 'mean' (since test reports don't always tell you such data!) and ideas and strategies on what to do.   This is a participatory discussion and will build on concepts and content presented in the earlier session.   Participants will review summaries of test results, interpret score sheets to guide recommendations for instructional practice, and evaluate ways to perform on-going informal assessment to assure that the child is making gains.