Strategy of the Week

Helping Students with Autistim Pair Learning with Positive Reinforcement

Helping  students with autistism pair learning with positive reinforcement

It can be a source of seemingly endless frustration when a child with autism reacts negatively to their teachers and teaching environments. When a child associates learning with unenjoyable, tedious, or unpleasant activities, the simple presence of a teacher or learning materials can lead to difficult behavior. Conversely, children with autism who pair teaching and learning with fun, preferred activities come to understand that learning and being around others can be rewarding and valuable.

In this video, the first of a 3-part series, you will discover:

  • Why many children with autism dislike teachers and teaching environments.
  • ​Three benefits of pairing yourself with positive reinforcement.
  • ​The steps involved in becoming a conditioned reinforcer.

See the lesson in action

Watch this video segment above and listen to Thomas M. Caffrey, M.Ed., BCBA, as he shares examples of children with autism—both those who react negatively to their teacher and environment, and those who enjoy the interaction and see value in the learning experience.

**Can’t log in to Edivate or forgot your password? Contact Edivate Support at 855 337-7500 or

STEM Lesson: Teaching Slope, Distance, and Midpoint

STEM Lesson: Teaching Slope, Distance, and Midpoint

One of the most compelling ways to encourage math learning among students is to let them apply it to real-life situations. When it comes to calculating slope, distance, and midpoint, one such application involves something every student is familiar with: the school itself.

After this lesson, your students will be able to:

  • Identify the slope, distance, and midpoint of a line segment on a coordinate grid.
  • Successfully complete a graphic organizer.

This standards-based lesson teaches to the following standard:

  • Use trigonometric ratios and the Pythagorean theorem to solve right triangles in applied problems.

Five steps for an effective lesson

This lesson can be completed over the course of a single classroom period. Right from the start, students are engaged and motivated to work together to solve problems and share their solutions. (Click here for a more comprehensive outline of this lesson.)

  1. Warm up. Students begin class with a colored slip of paper that contains a number between one and four, as well as a question.
  2. Organize groups. Students organize themselves into groups of four. Each group will consist of four different colors and four different numbers.
  3. Pass out graphic organizer. Each group is given a graphic organizer to help in identifying slope, distance, and midpoint.
  4. Solve example problem. Once the equations for slope, distance, and midpoint are identified, students will then apply those equations to an example.
  5. Apply equations to the real world. Students solve authentic problems using a map of the school.

See the lesson in action

Watch this video segment on Edivate and see an example of this lesson with Ms. Kathy August’s honors geometry class at South Salem High School in Salem, Oregon. See her students review how the Pythagorean Theorem applies to the slope, distance, and midpoint of two points on a coordinate plane.

Watch the video above to see the lesson in action. The video also comes with a downloadable study guide and lesson plan  so you can recreate the learning experience in your own classroom.

**Can’t log in to Edivate or forgot your password? Contact Edivate Support at 855 337-7500 or

The Pythagorean Theorem: Six Steps to a Great Lesson

The Pythagorean Theorem: Six Steps to a Great Lesson

Looking for a fun, ready-to-teach math lesson? This one helps students understand some of the practical uses for the Pythagorean theorem by using subject matter that is both highly relevant to the math concepts and highly relatable to the students.

What’s more, this 90-minute lesson is aligned with the following math standards:

  • Apply the Pythagorean theorem to determine unknown side lengths in right triangles in real-world and mathematical problems in two and three dimensions
  • Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them.
  • Use appropriate tools strategically.
  • Attend to precision.

We should thank Pythagoras for finding our lost phones.

This lesson invites the students to question and analyze just exactly how the “find my phone” app works using triangulation, which utilizes the principles of the Pythagorean theorem. The lesson involves six interactive, hands-on segments.

  1. Activator (Prep for new learning): Pythagorean theorem warm-up with tower theme. Show the “find my phone” app and discuss how it works to introduce the process of triangulation.
  2. Direct Instruction: Introduce needed technology for the activity and walk through the example using the interactive whiteboard.
  3. Real World Tasks and Activities: Students find eight missing cell phones, given nine tower locations.
  4. Independent Work: At home, each child will be creating a similar question on their own and bringing it back to class the next day.
  5. Students Share Learning: Students will be recording where they think the cell phones are located and will share this information as a group at the end of the class period.
  6. Students Demonstrate Understanding: Naturally, the closer the students actually determine the cell phone location, the better those groups have done at incorporating the Pythagorean theorem into a mapping and proportion activity.

See the triangulation lesson in action.

In this segment on Edivate, Mr. Robert Oswald, a math teacher at Piney Grove Middle School in Cumming, Georgia, engages his students in a math task that requires them to locate lost cell phones using the Pythagorean theorem and principles of triangulation. Mr. Oswald facilitates whole-group instruction and discussion, as well as partner work, to engage students in the math task.

Watch the video above to see the lesson in action.

This video also comes with a downloadable guidebook so you can recreate the learning experience in your own classroom.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

**Can’t log in to Edivate or forgot your password? Contact Edivate Support at 855 337-7500 or


STEM Lesson – Real Benefits of Hands-on Science Learning

Real Benefits of Hands-on Science Learning

It’s been said that science that isn’t hands-on isn’t science at all.

Every educator understands the importance of providing children with direct experiences with materials, objects, and phenomena to encourage personal understanding of a lesson subject. Nowhere is this more apparent—and crucial—than in science lessons.

While scientific information can be remembered when taught through books and lectures, when children study the same concepts through hands-on learning, they build a functional understanding and develop the ability to become independent learners.

Real benefits of hands-on science learning

  • Students have an even playing field on which to participate. Every individual relies on a similar set of experiences regardless of their socio-economic status.
  • Students are forced to think by requiring interpretation of the observed events, rather than memorization of correct responses.
  • Students learn that they can interpret data, often with various and differing interpretations.
  • Students are encouraged to question observed events and the resulting data.
  • Students practice cause-and-effect thinking.
  • Students rely less on authority and more on practical experience. With practical experience in generating hypotheses and planning experiments, students will be better able to make independent decisions later in life. (Robert C. Knott, Ed.D. Science Curriculum Improvement Study 3, University of California, Berkeley)

Source: Perspectives of Hands-On Science Teaching

See hands-on elementary science learning in action

In this video segment above, teachers demonstrate hands-on activities in science lessons. Hands-on learning involves the child in a total learning experience, which enhances the child’s ability to think critically. The child must plan a process to test a hypothesis, put the process into motion using various hands-on materials, see the process to completion, and then be able to explain the attained results.

This video comes with a downloadable guidebook.

**Can’t log in to Edivate or forgot your password? Contact Edivate Support at 855 337-7500 or

Effective Chemistry Mini-Lesson in Action

How Mini-Lessons Can Create Maximum Classroom Learning Experiences

Mini-lessons can and should be so much more than time-fillers. In fact, often a mini-lesson is all you need to help your students fully grasp a concept. Depending on the class and the subject matter, mini lessons can take as little as 15 minutes—but they can be worth their weight in gold when presented effectively.

Eight Components of Effective Mini-Lessons

1.    Topic

  • What is the lesson about? What does it focus on? This where you name the teaching point.

2.    Materials

  • Gather the materials you will need in order to teach the concept to the students.

3.    Connections

  • Activate prior knowledge. This is where you talk about what you taught in the previous lesson. For example, “Yesterday we learned about…” and “Today we will learn about…”

4.    Direct Instruction

  • Demonstrate your teaching points to the students. Act as if you are a student working independently. For example, “Let me show you how I…” and “One way I can do that is by…”
  • Explain teaching points and give examples.
  • Model
  • Guided practice

5.    Active Engagement (Guided Practice)

  • During this phase of the mini lesson you act as coach and assess the students. For example, “Now you are going to turn to your partner and…”

6.    Link

  • This is where you will review key points and clarify if needed. For example, “Today I taught you…” and “Every time you read you are going to…”

7.    Independent Work

  • Students practice working independently using the information they just learned from your teaching points.

8.    Sharing

  • Can be individual, partner or group.
  • Students share what they have learned. Ask students, “Did you use what you learned? Did it work? How will you use it next time?”
  • Tie up any loose ends and use this time to further instruct.

Source: Mini-Lesson Plans: A Printable Template for Writer’s Workshop by Janelle Cox, Elementary Education Expert

See an effectively chemistry mini-lesson in action

Even though a mini-lesson doesn’t take up much time, it can still address highly complex subject matter. At the Center for Design and Technology at Lanier High School in Buford, Georgia, students learn new content through mini-lessons and later incorporate this knowledge into project-based learning tasks.

In this video segment above, students in Dr. Margaret Rohrbaugh’s chemistry class complete a mini-lesson in which they review prior knowledge about acids and bases, and use logarithmic functions to calculate pH and pOH.

This video comes with a downloadable guidebook.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

**Can’t log in to Edivate or forgot your password? Contact Edivate Support at 855 337-7500 or

Effective ELD: Using Cornell Notes to Summarize Content

Summarizing Content Using Cornell Notes

To successfully master today’s core content, English language learners require additional literacy and fluency support. One of the challenges of English language development (ELD) is grasping the skill of summarization. This abstract activity not only requires a good understanding of written and spoken English, but also calls for adequate comprehension of ideas.

One simple yet powerful tool for English language learners to learn to summarize content is called Cornell Notes. It enables them to synthesize content knowledge and organize their understanding into complete sentences. The technique incorporates six simple steps that help students to take notes, prioritize information, and restate key points with supporting details.

Using Cornell Notes in Six Steps

Use these steps to teach your students how to prepare and take Cornell Notes.

  1. Divide the paper into three sections.
  • Draw a dark horizontal line about 5 or 6 lines from the bottom. Use a heavy magic marker so that it is clear.
  • Draw a dark vertical line, about 2 inches from the left side of the paper, from the top to the horizontal line.
  1. Document
  • Write course name, date, and topic at the top of each page.
  1. Write Notes
  • The large box to the right is for writing notes.
  • Skip a line between ideas and topics.
  • Don’t use complete sentences. Use abbreviations, whenever possible. Develop a shorthand of your own, such as using “&” for the word, “and.”
  1. Review and clarify
  • Review the notes as soon as possible after class.
  • Pull out main ideas, key points, dates, and people, and write them in the left column.
  1. Summarize
  • Write a summary of the main ideas in the bottom section.
  1. Study your notes
  • Reread your notes in the right column.
  • Spend most of your time studying the ideas in the left column and the summary at the bottom. These are the most important ideas and will probably include most of the information that will be tested.

Source: Learning Toolbox. Steppingstone Technology Grant, James Madison University

Here’s an example of what Cornell Notes would look like when complete.Cornell Notes Example of Writing Summeries

Source: James Madison University

Watch third graders use Cornell Notes to summarize content

One particular classroom is a great example of using Cornell Notes in ELD instruction. At Agua Caliente Elementary School in Cathedral City, California, Mr. Chuck Murfitt’s 3rd grade students take notes about the geological effects of running water, identify the key ideas, and summarize the content using supporting details. This particular classroom is a great example of using Cornell Notes in ELD instruction.

Watch the video above to see the lesson. This video also comes with a downloadable study guide that summarizes these principles and provides links to additional related resources.

**Can’t log in to Edivate or forgot your password? Contact Edivate Support at 855 337-7500 or

8 Simple Ways to Promote Natural Language Acquisition in Your Classroom

8 Simple Ways to Promote Natural Language Acquisition in Your Classroom

Creating an atmosphere of language learning is easy!

Many teachers have noticed that today’s increasingly diverse classrooms present some real challenges in providing ELL (English Language Learning) students with the attention they need to successfully acquire vocabulary and become fluent in English.

The good news is that children are naturally wired to learn languages—and some simple ELD (English Language Development) strategies can help you create a classroom atmosphere that will encourage that learning.

8 Simple Ways to Promote Natural Language Acquisition

  1. Use visuals that reinforce spoken or written words.
  2. Employ gestures for added emphasis.
  3. Adjust your speech: Speak slowly; enunciate; use longer natural pauses; repeat words or phrases; include shorter sentences, fewer pronouns, and simpler syntax.
  4. Exaggerate intonation at times.
  5. Stress high-frequency vocabulary words.
  6. Use fewer idioms and clarify the meaning of words or phrases in context.
  7. Stress participatory learning.
  8. Maintain a low anxiety level and be enthusiastic.


Making Academic Vocabulary Acquisition Happen

Beyond the general principles for creating an atmosphere of language learning, lessons can follow a specific sequence to further promote the learning of English vocabulary in the classroom. A six-stage lesson sequence, such as the one outlined below, is an effective model for achieving this.

  1. Introduction: The warm-up or anticipatory set. Teachers help activate students’ prior knowledge and prepare them for new learning.
  2. Input: The teacher-led direct instruction.
  3. Focus: A quick check for understanding. This can be in the form of a thumbs-up/down or fist-to-five questioning.
  4. Transfer: Students apply their new learning by working on activities or answering questions independently or in groups.
  5. Evaluation: Students report on their learning through teacher check for understanding, whole-class share-out, or presentations.
  6. Extension: Students take part in engaging, often hands-on activities that provide additional reinforcement of new knowledge.

Watch a teacher incorporate the six-stage sequence

At Agua Caliente Elementary School in Cathedral City, California, Ms. Rebecca Santana’s 3rd grade students use a circle map to record their new content vocabulary knowledge of forces and motion. This particular classroom is a great example of putting the six-stage sequence into action.

This video also comes with a downloadable guidebook that summarizes those principles and provides links to additional related resources.

**Can’t log in to Edivate or forgot your password? Contact Edivate Support at 855 337-7500 or

EDP: An Easy Way to Introduce STEM Into Non-STEM Classes

STEM and the Engineering Design Process – A Lesson Plan

How STEM Can Help You Teach Problem Solving

There’s no doubt that the principles learned in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math)-based subjects can lead to valuable life skills. Engineering in particular offers students an outstanding medium for hypothesizing, brainstorming, and testing solutions to real-world problems—something they will be doing the rest of their lives.

Thankfully, there are ample resources for teaching problem solving using science and engineering-based subject matter. One particularly useful—and effective—model is called the Engineering Design Process (EDP).

What is the Engineering Design Process?

The Engineering Design Process, developed by the Museum of Science in Boston, is a simple outline that guides students through engineering design challenges. It includes five steps that are easy for children to remember and understand.

The Five Steps of the EDP

Engineering Design Process

Engineering Design Process

  1. Ask—What is the problem? How have others approached it? What are your constraints?
  1. Imagine—What are some solutions? Brainstorm ideas. Choose the best one.
  1. Plan—Draw a diagram. Make lists of materials you will need.
  1. Create—Follow your plan and create something. Test it out!
  1. Improve—What works? What doesn’t? What could work better? Modify your designs to make it better. Test it out!


The Advantage of Teaching EDP in the Classroom

Teaching the EDP is an especially effective way of adding STEM learning to the classroom, with many learning advantages for students, including:

  • Hands-on problem-solving activities that have real-world relevance
  • Integration of STEM into non-STEM subjects, especially art and design
  • Use of industry-standard software, tools, and procedures
  • Increased awareness of STEM fields and occupations, especially among underrepresented populations
  • Enthusiasm about further STEM-related learning
  • Connections between in-school and out-of-school learning opportunities
  • Industry and higher-ed partnerships that encourage hands-on student exploration of STEM-related careers
  • Teachers who are demonstrating and proactively building deep STEM-related content knowledge

See the Engineering Design Process in Action

One fun classroom lesson that fully explores the potential of the EDP involves building maglev trains. In this activity, students follow the EDP outline to design and build levitating magnet vehicles.

This video is one of many professional learning videos on Edivate that showcase some of the best STEM-related practices in education today. For more videos like this, log in to Edivate and type “STEM” in the search box.

This video comes with a downloadable study guidebook that includes a complete plan for teaching the maglev train lesson in your own classroom.

**Can’t log in to Edivate or forgot your password? Contact Edivate Support at 855 337-7500 or

How A PBIS Club Can Support Positive Student Behavior

How A PBIS Club Can Support Positive Student Behavior

Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) cover a sweeping set of principles that can help schools guide students toward positive behavior and improved discipline. Rather than focusing on changing the student, PBIS encourages students to change themselves by guiding them with environmental change and teaching consequences.

There are dozens—if not hundreds—of evidence-based strategies and techniques for implementing PBIS. We’ve chosen to focus on one that is novel in its simplicity and highly effective in supporting improvements in student behavior: the PBIS club.

What’s a PBIS Club?

A PBIS club is pretty much just what it sounds like: a teacher and a group of students who have been invited to identify, talk through, and role play specific behaviors that need improvement. Typically a PBIS club will meet during recess a couple times a week. The club isn’t seen as punishment, but rather a friendly sit-down with peers and the teacher.

Watch a PBIS Club in Action

To learn more about implementing PBIS in your schools and classrooms, check out this week’s feature resource above—a new video on Edivate that shows how one teacher uses a PBIS club to provide additional targeted support around appropriate behavior.

To learn more, and get more resources for learning about and implementing PBIS in your schools and classrooms, download the video’s guidebook.

This video is one part of a 12-part program on Edivate that can help you and your colleagues become familiar with real-world ways to implement PBIS in your own classes and schools and see improved student discipline across the board.

Watch video on Edivate

**Can’t log in to Edivate or forgot your password? Contact Edivate Support at 855 337-7500 or

Sign up for a free, 30-day trial of Edivate

Common Core still a challenge?

See how the most successful Common Core state is implementing the standards.

As debate over the Common Core rages across the U.S., school systems in Kentucky are quietly logging success after success, proving that achievement with these new standards is well within reach for any school.

If you’re interested in learning the secret to Kentucky’s success—and how to replicate that success in your own school or district—the American School Board Journal (ASBJ) has published a feature article detailing Kentucky’s Common Core implementation strategies.

Click here to read the article, titled “A Field Guide to Success”.

7 keys to understanding Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS)

Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS)

There’s little need to discuss the fact that student discipline can often require the constant attention of teachers and can unfortunately detract from learning in the classroom. However, learning and adopting Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) can go a long way toward ensuring classroom discipline while enhancing learning outcomes for all students.

What is PBIS?

PBIS is a prevention-oriented way for school personnel to (a) organize evidence-based practices, (b) improve their implementation of those practices, and (c) maximize academic and social behavior outcomes for all students.

It is not a packaged curriculum, scripted intervention, or rote strategy.

Seven Important Concepts for Understanding PBIS

As you learn how to implement PBIS in your own schools and classrooms, these seven core principles will help you ensure success and ease the transition. (Credit:

  1. Know you can effectively teach appropriate behavior to all children. All PBIS practices assume that all children can exhibit appropriate behavior. Thus, it is our responsibility as educators to identify the events and conditions that enable this appropriate behavior. We then must determine how to provide those resources.
  2. Intervene early. It’s best to intervene before targeted behaviors occur, as this makes interventions much more manageable. Highly effective interventions are informed by time sensitive continuous progress monitoring and enjoy strong empirical support for their effectiveness with at-risk students.
  3. Use a multi-tier model of service delivery. Behavioral instruction must be differentiated in both nature and intensity. PBIS uses tiered models of service delivery to facilitate this.
  4. Use research-based, scientifically validated interventions to the extent available.  This ensures that students are exposed to teaching that has demonstrated effectiveness for the type of student and the setting. This offers the best opportunity for implementing strategies that will be effective for a large majority of students.
  5. Monitor student progress to inform interventions. This is the only method to determine if a student is improving. Assessments that can be collected frequently and that are sensitive to small changes in student behavior is recommended. Determining the effectiveness of an intervention early is important for maximizing the impact of that intervention for the student.
  6. Use data to make decisions.  Decisions in PBIS practices are based on professional judgment informed directly by student office discipline referral data and performance data. This requires that ongoing data collection systems are in place and the resulting data is used to make informed behavioral intervention planning decisions.
  7. Use assessment for three different purposes. In PBIS, three types of assessments are used: 1) screening of data comparison per day per month for total office discipline referrals, 2) diagnostic determination of data by time of day, problem behavior, and location and 3) progress monitoring to determine if the behavioral interventions are producing the desired effects.

Music: Just One Strategy for Implementing PBIS

There are  a multitude of ways to make PBIS fun and engaging for all students. These can include nonverbal cues, promptings, and even music.

To see how one class uses songs to reinforce expected behavior and prevent discipline problems, watch the video above.

This video is just one of a 12-part program on Edivate that can help you and your colleagues become familiar with real-world ways to implement PBIS in your own classes and schools, and see improved student discipline across the board.

To learn more, check out the video’s downloadable guidebook that offers additional resources as well as reflection questions.

**Can’t log in to Edivate or forgot your password? Contact Edivate Support at 855 337-7500 or