Top Tips for Faculty

IRIS open educational resources (OERs) are freely available for around-the-clock use in all course-delivery options, whether face-to-face, online, flipped, or hybrid. On this page, you will find information about those resources, as well as tips for how to use them in your college courses.

For an abbreviated, printable PDF version of these top tips, click the link below.

STAR Legacy Modules

The signature products of the IRIS Center, IRIS Modules are instructional units on topics like response to intervention, classroom behavior management, secondary transition, student diversity, and many other areas of importance to educators in today’s classrooms. Our modules offer their content in a variety of formats: text, video demonstrations, audio interviews with experts and practicing educators, and interactive activities. Based on a proven theory of adult learning, How People Learn (HPL), IRIS Modules make information on evidence-based practices more accessible and easier to learn than would otherwise be possible for many busy educators.

Before assigning a module:

  • Module Navigation: Acquaint students with module navigation by viewing the “Navigating an IRIS STAR Legacy Module” video (in-class or as a homework activity) or work through a module together as an in-class activity.
  • Completion Time: The estimated completion time for any given module can be found on the IRIS Resource Locator (IRL) as well as on the module’s homepage. Remind students that modules can be completed in more than one sitting.
  • Module Outline: Located on the module’s homepage as well as in the IRL, this downloadable document can be used to:
    • Preview the module’s main content
    • Facilitate note-taking
    • Share key ideas about the module in small groups
  • Closed Captions & Transcripts: Demonstrate these options for videos and audios.

When assigning a module:

  • Challenge Video: Designed to introduce users to classroom issues of particular importance to today’s educators, Challenge videos are also a great tool for sparking class discussion. Consider viewing this video in class and then, as either a whole group or in small groups, discuss the questions posed at the end to activate prior knowledge. These Initial Thoughts questions can also be found on the Initial Thoughts page.
  • Module Completion: Students can complete the entire module or parts of it in class, in pairs or small groups, or as homework. Make sure the entire module is eventually completed.

After students complete a module:

  • Revisiting Initial Thoughts: Use these questions, located on the Wrap-Up page, to prompt students to compare their thoughts about the topic after reviewing the module to what they thought they knew when they addressed the Initial Thoughts questions posed by the Challenge video.
  • Assessment Questions: Enter the questions from the end of the module into your course-management system. Remind students that their answers cannot be entered on the IRIS Website.
  • Wrap-Around Content Maps: Use these to identify and select supplemental resources that extend and deepen the module’s content by pairing it with other IRIS materials (e.g., assign a module for homework and complete a case study in a subsequent class).
  • Module Feedback Form: Encourage students to provide feedback using the form located in each module. The IRIS team reviews this feedback weekly.

Case Studies

These multi-part resources ask users to analyze and respond to a number of problem-based classroom issues and challenges—for example classroom norms and expectations, algebra instruction, or classroom arrangement—through increasing levels of complexity and detail.

  • STAR Sheets:
    • Assign STAR Sheets as homework in preparation for completing cases during class.
    • Assign partners to find three take-away ideas from the STAR Sheets.
  • Cases:
    • Complete a Level A case with the whole group; assign Level B or C cases to small groups or as independent work
    • Assign the cases based on students’ levels of experience or expertise (and model differentiated instruction by doing so).
    • Use case studies or STAR Sheets to problem-solve real-life challenges in field experiences.
  • Use case studies or STAR Sheets to problem-solve real-life challenges in field experiences.
  • Wrap-Around Content Maps: Use these to identify and select supplemental resources to enhance the case study’s content.

The IRIS Resource Locator, Activities, Interviews, & More

IRIS resources include so much more than STAR Legacy Modules. Whether audio interviews with nationally recognized education experts, ready-made activities, or information from or about other federally funded centers, visitors to our Website are sure to find something of interest. Below are some tips about how to make the most of these resources in your college courses.

  • IRIS Resource Locator (IRL): Teach students to find IRIS resources by showing or assigning the “Navigating the IRIS Resource Locator” video.
    • To familiarize students with various IRIS materials, consider engaging them in a scavenger hunt using the IRL.
    • Emphasize that the IRL allows you to search by Topic, Resource Type, or Module Element like audios, videos, and interactive activities.
    • The number in parenthesis beside each header indicates how many resources are available for that category or resource type.
  • Activities: Use these resources as attention-getters, to introduce a topic, or for group or independent work. Here are just a few ideas:
  • Interviews: Use these to introduce students to nationally recognized experts before they study their research, or to launch discussions.
  • Information Briefs & Web Resource Directory: Use these resources to introduce students to information from other trusted sources and encourage or assign them to use these for course projects.
  • Video Vignettes: Use these resources to:
    • Observe implementation of evidence-based practices
    • Promote awareness and greater understanding of individuals with disabilities and their families in their everyday lives
    • Improve performance in field experiences (i.e., coaching tool)
    • Support a discussion about the history of disabilities

IRIS Online Tools

Summaries of evidence-based practices, film and book tools documenting the portrayal of people with disabilities, video vignettes, and so much more, the IRIS comprehensive suite of online tools has something for almost everyone.

  • Evidence-Based Practice Summaries: Use this growing collection of annotations of research about the effectiveness of instructional strategies and interventions to:
    • Teach students how to become good consumers of research and introduce them to the What Works Clearinghouse database from which the information in this tool is derived.
    • Demonstrate how to use the Research Summary link found in each entry to access the related WWC Intervention Report so that students can learn more in-depth information about a practice or program.
    • Have students identify EBPs for use in their classrooms as an alternative to conducting broad Internet searches.
    • Have students research an EBP and present their findings in class. Prior to this activity, you might assign modules from the evidence-based practices series.
  • Alignment Tools: IRIS alignment tools are a user-friendly way to learn more about which of the IRIS resources align with high-leverage practices (HLPs), state-identified measurable results (SiMRs) topics, and the evidence-based practices highlighted in the CEEDAR innovation configurations (ICs).
  • Films & Children’s Books: Use these searchable tools to explore how disability is portrayed in popular media.
    • Ask students to brainstorm ways children’s books can be incorporated into the classroom.
    • Assign a selection from Children’s Books to read throughout the semester. Conduct online or in-class discussions to compare information from the book to course content.
  • IRIS Glossary: Teach students to use the glossary to learn about and understand educational and disability related terms and acronyms.
  • New & Coming Soon: Return often to this section to find the latest news about revised and upcoming IRIS Modules and resources.

Resources for Faculty

The resources under For Faculty can be used to infuse and integrate more information about evidence-based practices into courses and field-based activities. A few of these include:

Did You Know?

You can email for access to answer keys.

  • Curriculum Matrices: Use these resources for examples of ways in which IRIS resources about evidence-based practices can be embedded across teacher licensure programs.
  • Answer Keys: Use these resources to save time developing answers for modules, case studies, and select activities.
  • Standards: Use this searchable system to locate an array of resources that align with the licensure and content standards for CAEP, CEC, DEC Recommended Practices, InTASC, and NCATE.

Articles & Reports

See this section for research and practitioner-based articles referencing IRIS resources and evidence of their effectiveness. If you are aware of additional articles about the use of IRIS resources or their effectiveness, please let us know at

Tech Tips

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