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Donna Kirkendoll at a PBS Training.


Student Engagement

This initiative focuses on improving instruction for all students so that students are engaging in meaningful learning experiences and the achievement gap is closed. 

Makes Sense Strategies

One of the key goals of the Alabama State Improvement Grant (SIG) and  the State Personnel Development Grant (SPDG) has been to increase the quality of instruction so that all students (i.e., typical achieving, learning disabled, English-language Learners, etc.) are more engaged in meaningful learning to produce substantial improvements in performance.  At the heart of this initiative has been state-wide staff development in the Makes Sense Strategies (MSS) developed by Edwin Ellis at the University of Alabama.  The MSS model is an approach to teaching based on three fundamental instructional principles:

  1.  Students learn better when they are actively engaged in processing new information in meaningful ways.
  2.  Increasing the learn-ability of information or skills is preferable to dumbing down what students are expected to learn. 
  3.  Students should not waste time learning trivia.

In part, the Makes Sense approach is a collection of powerful techniques and tools for differentiating curriculum, planning and implementing instruction, and assessing student learning.  In part, it's a curriculum because students learn new strategies and thinking skills when teachers employ the MSS strategies.  In part, the Makes Sense approach is teaching philosophy about what students should learn and how it should be taught.  MSS also includes strategies and tools for planning, implementing and assessing innovative school reform efforts.  For more information please
click here.

Standards-Based Instruction

SPDG's Standards-based Instruction initiative provides training and technical assistance to facilitate access to general curriculum and reduce the achievement gap.  Standards-based instruction focuses on an aligned system of instruction and assessment.  Teachers plan instruction based on individual and classroom data and target skills that are prerequisite to grade-level academic content standards.  Through monitoring student progress and differentiating instruction, all students can be engaged in effective and efficient instruction.  For more information please click here.

Contact Us

Theresa Farmer

     ALSPDG Director
     (334) 694-4782

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"This project is supported by the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP). Opinions expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the position of the U.S. Department of Education."

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