The Massachusetts FOCUS Academy (MFA) is offering eleven (11) graduate level online or hybrid courses for Fall Semester 2016.

Courses begin the week of  November 9, 2016 and end the week of February 29, 2017.

Introduction

The Massachusetts FOCUS Academy (MFA) offers courses to educators that provide the skills, knowledge and instructional strategies to improve the outcomes for all students including those with disabilities in safe and supportive inclusive environments.

General Course Information

The MFA is offering eleven (11) courses for the Fall 2016 semester, beginning the week of October 24, 2016. If a course includes a face-to-face meeting in addition to the online discussion forum, it is noted in the course description below. Participants will be notified by the course instructor of face-to-face meeting dates and locations prior to the beginning of the course.

Participants will receive 67.5 PDPs upon course completion and will also have the option to purchase graduate credits at a discounted rate through each of the partnering institutions of higher education. Information regarding registration for course credit will be covered by the course instructor at the beginning of the course.

Courses will be taught using the BlackBoard online learning platform. Some technical assistance will be provided, but participants are expected to have basic understanding of the Internet and basic computer knowledge and skills. Participants must also have regular access to the Internet. The courses are asynchronous, and content is delivered through assignments, weekly readings and an online discussion board. This does not mean that these are self-paced courses. Participants are expected to regularly attend class by logging into BlackBoard and interacting with the course instructor and their peers (posting questions, sharing reflections, discussing assignments, etc.).

Educators should plan on spending 8-10 hours each week on coursework and may only be enrolled in one course per semester.

Eligibility

Teams of at least three but no more than six educators who are currently working in a Massachusetts Public School District or school are eligible to apply.

Criteria for Selection and Application Deadline

Teams from priority districts have until week ending September 23, 2016 to submit their completed applications.  Teams from  ALL districts have until week ending September 30, 2016 to submit their completed applications. to fill the limited available seats in the courses.

All teams will be notified of their acceptance by October 7, 2016 via email. Please note that space is limited and courses may be filled before the deadline. 

Requirement

The ESE requires each educator to provide a statement of support from their supervisor/principal declaring that the course is aligned with the educator’s and school’s professional development plan. This statement of support should be included with the educator’s application and sent to mtss@doe.mass.edu. Failure to provide such confirmation will result in a processing delay and possible non-acceptance into the course.

Assessment of Students with Disabilities who are English Language Learners
This course will provide educators the knowledge of linguistic and cultural factors and their impact on educational assessments for students with disabilities who are English language learners. Participants will learn strategies for addressing the over identification and disproportionality of students who are ELL in special education. Course syllabus will be available soon. Click here to apply for this course.

Collaborative Co-teaching: Meeting the Needs of All Students
This course will provide educators with competencies that enable them to work effectively to design and implement collaborative, co-teaching approaches, and to facilitate the delivery of research-based instruction to all students in the inclusive classroom. Participants will review appropriate assessments for both instructional and non-academic needs of students. Course syllabus will be available soon. Click here to apply for this course.

Creating and Sustaining Positive School-Wide Learning Environments
This course is designed to provide educators with the skills and knowledge to design and sustain positive, school-wide learning environments within a tiered system of supports. Participants will review the research regarding the interaction between behavior and learning, and learn successful models of primary, secondary and tertiary supports and interventions. Course syllabus will be available soon. Click here to apply for this course.

Differentiated Instruction
This course is designed to provide educators the skills to design learning environments that meet the needs of diverse learners including those with disabilities and those who are English language learners within a tiered system of support. Participants will review theories of learning and instruction and the learning characteristics of students with high-incidence disabilities. Course syllabus will be available soon. Click here to apply for this course.

Partnering with Families of Middle and High School Students with Disabilities
This course will provide educators with the knowledge and skills required to develop and strengthen collaborative partnerships with families of middle and high school students with disabilities, in order to assist students to successfully transition to adulthood. Participants will learn conceptual frameworks for family engagement; how to build optimal conditions of communication and trust; requirements of the law; asset mapping; and strategies specific to adolescence, family systems, and cultural competence. Course syllabus will be available soon. Click here to apply for this course.

Partnering with Families of Preschool and Elementary School Students with Disabilities
This course is designed to provide the knowledge and skills required to develop and strengthen collaborative partnerships with families of children with disabilities in preschool and elementary school. Participants will learn models of partnership, the requirements of federal and state laws, research findings, effective communication, family systems, and community resources for students with disabilities and their families. Course syllabus will be available soon. Click here to apply for this course.

Universal Design for Learning: Addressing Learner Variability
This course reviews the principles, applications, and research background of UDL including the convergence of assistive technologies and UDL. Participants will learn how to design and implement lessons that address the variability of all learners in inclusive classrooms within a tiered system of support. Course syllabus will be available soon. Click here to apply for this course.

Universal Design for Learning: Addressing Learner Variability in Mathematics Instruction
This course reviews the principles, applications, and research background of UDL including the convergence of assistive technologies and UDL as they apply to teaching and learning mathematics. Participants will learn how to design and implement math lessons that address the variability of all learners in inclusive classrooms within a tiered system of support. Course syllabus will be available soon. Click here to apply for this course.

Universal Design for Learning: Student Affect and Engagement
This course examines how motivation and emotions interact with learning. Predicated on the principles of UDL, participants will learn how to design and implement lesson plans that ensure the engagement and participation of all learners in inclusive classrooms within a tiered system of support. Course syllabus will be available soon. Click here to apply for this course.

If you have any questions, please send an email to mtss@doe.mass.edu.