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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.

IRIS Resource Locator (IRL)

Explain that the purpose of IRIS is to provide educators with evidence-based practices (EBPs) and frameworks for teaching all students, especially struggling learners and those with disabilities. Be sure to emphasize that resources have been developed and reviewed by experts in the field. Also, inform students that IRIS materials can be used throughout their careers.

  • IRL screenshotNavigating the IRL: Teach educators to find IRIS resources by showing or assigning the “Navigating the IRIS Resource Locator” video.
    • To familiarize educators 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 (e.g., audios, videos, interactive activities).
    • Note that the number in parenthesis beside each header indicates how many resources are available for that category or resource type.

STAR Legacy Modules

The signature products of the IRIS Center, these resources offer in-depth looks at topics like classroom behavior management, Universal Design for Learning (UDL), 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 (EBPs) more accessible and easier to learn than would otherwise be possible for many busy educators.

Before Assigning a Module

  • Module Components: Explain the five-component cycle. Show the “Navigating an IRIS STAR Legacy Module” video or work through a module together.
  • Module Navigation: Acquaint educators with module navigation by viewing the “Navigating an IRIS STAR Legacy Module” video before working through an IRIS Module at a PD event.
  • forFacultyBeforeModulesnapCompletion 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 home page. Remind educators that modules can be completed in more than one sitting.
  • Module Outline: Located on the module’s home page 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: Challenge videos are great tools for sparking discussion. The associated Initial Thoughts questions can also be found on the Initial Thoughts page.
  • Perspectives and Resources: Ask educators to complete the Perspectives and Resources pages.

After Educators Complete a Module

  • Revisiting Initial Thoughts: Use these questions, located on the Wrap-Up page, to prompt educators 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
    • Adapt the Assessment questions to fit the needs of the school or district, add them to your learning management platform, or discuss them in large or small groups.
    • Alternately, have educators write reflections on what they learned and how they will apply that knowledge in their own classrooms.
  • Wraparound 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 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
    • Ask participants to review STAR Sheets in preparation for the PD training.
    • Assign partners to find three take-away ideas from the STAR Sheets.
    • Share STAR sheets with mentoring teachers or general educators.
  • 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 educators’ 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.
  • Wraparound Content Maps: Use these to identify and select supplemental resources to enhance the case study’s content.

Fundamental Skill Sheets, Activities, Interviews, & More

IRIS resources include so much more than STAR Legacy Modules. Whether fundamental skill sheets on foundational practices, 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.

  • Fundamental Skill Sheets: Use these resources to:
    • Onboard professionals and other school staff
    • Demonstrate implementation of EBPs for experienced teachers
  • Activities
    • Assign IRIS Activities so educators can practice new skills and concepts.
    • Select IRIS Activities to introduce a topic, as an ice breaker, or for independent work.
    • Use questions from the Media or Group activities for discussion.
  • Interviews: Use these to introduce educators to nationally recognized experts or to launch discussions.
  • Information Briefs: Use these resources to direct educators to information from other trusted sources.
  • 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
  • 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.

IRIS Online Tools

The IRIS comprehensive suite of online tools has something for almost everyone. Here are just a few:

  • HLP Alignment Tool: Demonstrate how to access the IRIS High-Leverage Practices Alignment Tool to identify the four HLP topic areas and find resources that address each of them.
  • IRIS Glossary: Encourage 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 can be used to infuse and integrate more information about evidence-based practices into professional development activities and trainings. A few of these include:

  • Wraparound Content Maps: Use these resources to extend and deepen the information included in our modules and case studies.
  • Planning Forms: Utilize this collection of forms to record IRIS resources you selected for PD activities.
  • Sample Professional Development Activity Collection: View these forms for examples of how to integrate IRIS resources about EBPs into PD activities. Use the PD Facilitator’s Guide Template and accompanying handouts as you develop training sessions.
  • 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, and InTASC.

Professional Development Options & Resources

The IRIS Center offers two distinct professional development opportunities: PD Certificates for Educators and our IRIS+ School & District Platform.

  • Explore the Learning Pathways page for examples of how districts have bundled IRIS resources to support their educators in high-need topics.
  • Connect with IRIS Staff to develop customized Learning Pathways that address your school or district’s specific needs.
  • Let educators know they can receive PD Certificates for completing modules. Make sure these are accepted by your district or state.
  • Connect with IRIS Staff to receive specialized training on IRIS resources.

Additional Tips

Technology is always changing and so is our website. The tips below can help you and the educators you work with to more effectively use IRIS resources.

  • Demonstrate website accessibility features.
  • Encourage educators to provide feedback using the Module Feedback Form link located throughout all modules.
  • Return often to New & Coming Soon to learn about revised and upcoming IRIS resources.
  • Join our e-newsletter to be notified of new and revised resources.
  • Still need a hand? Visit our informative Help & Support page.
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