Makes Sense Strategies

 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. 

Makes Sense Strategies (MSS) videos series explores the MSS Toolkit, provides directions to access and use the software, features instruction routines, and provides samples created by teachers to address specific learning standards.    

Addressing Disproportionality in Alabama Schools

MSS professional development training must be conducted annually for all newly hired teachers, administrators, evaluators and others, as appropriate; in Alabama Public Schools.      

MSS professional development is organized into four parts.  Complete the training in the order in which it is presented, starting with Part I:  Introduction, Part II: Specific Discipline, Part III:  Big Bang Graphic Organizer Instructional Routines, and ending with Part IV:  Teacher Assessment. 

Handouts for the MSS professional development video series are located in each training section part.  To view and print handouts for each part of MSS professional development, click on the title of each clip. If you have problems with the handout or teacher assessment, try downloading the document to your desktop.  Then open it from your saved file

Part 1. Introduction
Click the link to view all three videos and download handouts:
Makes Sense Strategies Introduction
    What If Introduction
    Whats the Big Deal about Graphic Organizers?
    MSS software tour
    MSS SPE Teachers Instructions

Part 2.  Specific Discipline
Select from the menu below the area that best matches the type of position for which you have been hired.

1.  If you are a special education teacher, then select the  option that best aligns with the curriculum area that you spend the majority
     of your time supporting (e.g. if you will be co-teaching math courses in grade 9, then select “MATH, grades 6-12”).
2.  We recommend that physical education teachers select one of the science options.
3.  We recommend that ROTC teachers select the Social Studies (grades 9-12) option.

  Administrators & Instructional Leaders
    Why Bother?Watch Video
    MSS Critical FeaturesWatch Video
    Project Based – Learning Smart SheetsWatch Video
  (e.g., curriculum Coordinator, Professional Developer, Reading Coach)
  School Counselors
    MSS Application for School Counselors Part 1Watch Video
    MSS Application for School Counselors Part II – Watch Video
  Early Childhood (K-3) Teacher
    Part 1 Using Smart Sheets to teach K-3 ReadingWatch Video
    Part 2 Using Smart Sheets to teach K-3 VocabularyWatch Video
    Part 3 Using Smart Sheets to teach K-3 WritingWatch Video
  Intermediate (4-5) Teacher
    Part 1 Using Smart Sheets to Teach ReadingWatch Video
    Part 2 Using Smart Sheets to Teach VocabularyWatch Video
    Part 3 Using Smart Sheets to Teach WritingWatch Video
    Part 4 Project-based Learning Smart SheetsWatch Video
  Language Arts (grades 6-8) Teacher
    Part 1 Common Core READING Standards & MSSWatch Video
    Part 2 Common Core VOCABULARY Standards & MSSWatch Video
    Part 3 Common Core WRITING Standards & MSSWatch Video
    Part 4 Project-based Learning Standards & MSSWatch Video
  Social Studies (grades 6-8) Teacher
    Part 1 Smart Sheets for Social Studies ContentWatch Video
    Part 2 Vocabulary Smart SheetsWatch Video
    Part 3 Project-based Learning Smart SheetsWatch Video
  Science (grades 6-8) Teacher 
    
 Part 1 Smart Sheets for Science ContentWatch Video
     Part 2 Vocabulary Smart SheetsWatch Video
   Language Arts (grades 9-12) Teacher
    Part 1 Common Core READING Standards & MSSWatch Video
    Part 2 Common Core WRITING Standards & MSSWatch Video
  Science (grades 9-12) Teacher
    Part 1 9-12 Smart Sheets for Science ContentWatch Video
    Part 2 9-12 Vocabulary Smart SheetsWatch Video
  Social Studies (grades 9-12) Teacher
    Part 1 Smart Sheets for Social Studies Content Watch Video
    Part 2 Vocabulary Smart SheetsWatch Video
    Part 3 Project -based Learning Smart SheetsWatch Video
  Math (grades 6-12) Teacher
    Part 16-12 Math MSS applications.- Watch Video

Part 3.  “Big Bang Graphic Organizer Instructional Routines”
Click the link to view all five videos and download handouts: 
     Part 1 GO Instruction Big IdeasWatch Video
     Part 2 BEFORE Lesson GO RoutinesWatch Video
     Part 3 DURING Lesson Reading GO Routines – Watch Video
     Part 4 DURING Lesson Writing GO RoutinesWatch Video
     Part 5 AFTER Lesson GO RoutinesWatch Video

Part 4:  Teacher Assessment
Click the link to open the teacher assessment.  Answer each question, then save and print. 
  Teacher Assessment

 Assessment for Administrators and Instructional Leaders

Note: If you have problems with the handouts or teacher assessment, try downloading documents to your desktop first, then open from there.

Contact Us

Celeste Minor
(334) 694-4803
cminor@alsde.edu

ALSDE Contact

Celeste Minor
cminor@alsde.edu

“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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