Top Tips for PD Providers

group of young adults at tableIRIS open educational resources (OERs) are freely available for all of your professional development (PD) needs. On this page, you will find information about those resources, as well as tips for how to use them in your professional development activities and trainings.

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

STAR Legacy Modules

The signature products of the IRIS Center, these resources offer in-depth looks at topics like response to intervention, classroom behavior management, secondary transition, student diversity, and many others of importance to educators. 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 educators with IRIS Module navigation by viewing theNavigating an IRIS STAR Legacy Module” video before working through an IRIS Module at a PD event.
  • 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 educators 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 content of a module. Encourage educators to use the module outline for note-taking.
  • Closed Captions & Transcripts: Demonstrate these options for videos and audios.

When assigning a module:

  • Challenge Video: Show this video and then, as either whole or 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: Educators can complete the entire module or parts of it in one or several PD sessions, working in pairs or small groups. Make sure the entire module is eventually completed. If it is possible to assign work outside of a PD session, challenge educators to complete a module of their choice before a PD event. Using the module Outline, ask them to share the key ideas with a small group.
  • For Your Information

    Teachers can also earn PD credit by completing IRIS Micro-credentials.

    PD Certificates for Teachers: Inform educators that they can earn professional development hours that are recognized in some states. For a nominal fee, they can earn and print a certificate of completion for available modules. (Note: These same modules are located under the IRL for free; however, no certificate is earned.)

  • School and District Platform For a minimal fee, school and district administrators can use this tool to:
    • Assign modules to individual educators or groups of educators.
    • Track progress by school, module, or completion status.
    • Send reminder emails to individuals or schools to encourage completion.
    • Download data for accountability purposes.
  • Module Assignment: Assign specific modules to meet the needs of individual educators, schools, or Professional Learning Communities (PLC). For example, assign new educators our Classroom Management (Part 1) and Classroom Management (Part 2) modules. Assign more experienced educators our module Accommodations: Instructional and Testing Supports for Students with Disabilities.

After educators complete a module:

  • Revisiting Initial Thoughts: Use these questions located on the Wrap-Up page to allow educators to compare their thoughts on 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: Use these questions to review the module’s main content and to further assess what the participants have learned during the session. Remind educators 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.
  • Module Feedback Form: Encourage educators to give 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 as preparation for completing cases during the training.
    • Assign partners to find three take-away ideas from the STAR Sheets and share those ideas with the larger group.
    • Discuss how STAR sheets can be used in Professional Learning Communities and with teacher candidates who are in working in schools.
  • Cases:
    • Complete a Level A case with the whole group; assign Level B or C cases to small groups or as independent work
    • Assign Level B and C cases to individuals or small groups based on their experience and knowledge (and model cooperative learning and differentiated instruction by doing so).
    • Use case studies or STAR Sheets to problem-solve real-life school-based challenges presented by the attendees.
  • 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 for how to make the most of these resources in your PD activities.

  • IRIS Resource Locator (IRL): Teach educators to find IRIS resources by showing the “Navigating the IRIS Resource Locator” video.
    • To familiarize attendees 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. For example:
  • Interviews: Use these to introduce educators to nationally recognized experts or to launch discussions.
  • Information Briefs & Web Resource Directory: Use these resources to introduce educators to information from other trusted sources and use to complete an activity.
  • 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 classroom instruction

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 educators 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 educators can learn more in-depth information about a practice or program.
    • Have educators identify EBPs for use in their classrooms as an alternative to conducting broad Internet searches.
    • Have educators research an EBP and present their findings. Prior to this activity, review modules from the evidence-based practices series.
  • IRIS 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 educators to brainstorm ways children’s books can be incorporated into the classroom.
    • For ongoing PD, assign a selection from the Children’s Books tool to read throughout the year. Require educators to discuss the book or book chapters on a discussion board or during a PD activity.
  • IRIS Glossary: Teach educators 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 PD Providers

The resources under For PD Providers are designed to assist those who deliver PD to educators. A few of these include:

  • Planning Forms: Take advantage of these fillable planning forms to design personalized wrap-around content maps for your PD activities.
  • Sample Professional Development Planning Activity Collection: View examples of the ways in which information about EBPs, delivered through IRIS resources, can be integrated into PD activities.
  • Wrap-Around Content Maps: Use these resources to extend and deepen the information included in our modules and case studies.
  • Answer Keys: Use these resources to save time on 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.
  • CEEDAR Innovation Configurations: Use these to help make educators aware of evidence-based instructional practices.

Articles & Reports

See this section for research and practitioner-based articles referencing IRIS resources and evidence of their effectiveness.

Tech Tips

Technology is always changing and keeping us on our (digital) toes. Follow the tips below to make your visit to the IRIS Center just a little smoother.

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  • Still need a hand? Visit our informative Help & Support page.
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