SPLS scholarship and service activities during the 2020-21 academic year


Anderson, J., Anderson, A., & Teichert, L. (forthcoming). Family literacies: Differing perspectives. In D. Yaden & T. Rogers (Eds.), International encyclopaedia of education: Literacies & languages (volume 7). 

*Eidelsafy, A. H., LaLonde, K. B., *Scott, S. (2021). Systematic Review of Transition Assessments for Young Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder from Early Intervention to Special Education. The Hilltop Review, 13. 

(*Mr. Eidelsafy and Ms. Scott are Dr. LaLonde’s doctoral students). 

Isidro, E. (2021). Disciplinary literacies in K-2 classrooms: A curriculum exploration. The Reading Teacher, 74(6), 691-702.

Isidro, E. & Teichert, L. (2021). Towards socially just literacy teaching. Journal of Curriculum Studies Research, 3(1), 21-41.

LaLonde, K., *Dueñas, A. D., Neil, N., *Wawrzonek, A. & Plavnick, J. B. (2020). An evaluation of two tact training procedures on acquired tacts and tacts during play. The Analysis of Verbal Behavior, 36, 180-192. 

Piazza, S., Williams, C. T., Protacio, M. S., David, V., Tigchelaar, S. M., & Kuo, H. C. (2020). Improving instruction for English learners: A professional development study using SIOP. Journal of Teacher Education and Educators, 9(3), 383-405.

Protacio, M. S., Piazza, S. V., & David, V. (2020). Parent engagement in the middle: Reaching out to parents and families of English learners. Middle School Journal, 52(1), 30-39. https://doi.org/10.1080/00940771.2020.1840268 

Protacio, M.S., Piazza, S.V., David, V., & Tigchelaar, M. (2020). Engaging families of English learners. School Community Journal, 30(2), 211-227

Rotta, K., VanDerwall, R., Ehrhardt, K., Poling. A. Pharmacological interventions or individuals with autism. Handbook of Quality of Life for Individuals Diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Chapter under review. 

Schroeder-MacKay, C., VanDerwall, R., Summy, S., Ehrhardt, K., Ragotzy, S., Fonger, A., & Poling, A. (2021). Behavior analysts’ selection of research participants with emotional and behavioral disorders: Equity and social justice matter. Behavior Analysis: Research and Practice. https://doi.org/10.1037/bar0000210

Teichert, L., Anderson, A., Anderson, J., Hare, J., & McTavish, M. (forthcoming). Access and use of digital technologies in early childhood: A review of mixed messages in popular media. Language & Literacy.

Teichert, L. & Salman, M. (forthcoming). Digital technology in the early years: A reflection. McGill Journal of Education.

Teichert, L., & Isidro, E. (commissioned). Bringing Socially Just Literacy Pedagogy to the Four-Dimensional Model of Digital Literacy. In A. Cortez & J.R. Lizárraga (Eds.), Bloomsbury encyclopedia of social justice in education: Language, literacy, youth and culture.

VanDerwall, R., Rotta, K., Ehrhardt, K. & Poling, A. (2021). Using aripiprazole to benefit people with autism spectrum disorder: A critical appraisal. Advances in Neurodevelopmental Disorders, 5(1), 1-10. https://doi.org/10.1007/s41252-020-00190-7

VanDerwall, R. & Poling, A. (2020). Six Useful Websites for Practitioners Working in Schools. Behavior Analysis in Practice, 14(1), 264-271. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40617-020-00505-z

Federal grants

Drs. Kate LaLonde and Jiabei Zhang (Human Performance and Health Education) were awarded $1.24 million by the US Department of Education for an interdisciplinary preparation program titled: Preparing qualified personnel from two master’s degree programs in adapted physical education and positive behavioral interventions and supports. The first cohort started Jan 2021 and we are currently recruiting for the second cohort that will start Summer 2023. 

Drs. Ehrhardt, LaLonde, Summy, and VanDerwall run the Interdisciplinary Preparation in Autism Services (IPA) grant, funded by the US Department of Education. The IPA project graduated its first cohort of students, and selected the second cohort. Due to collaborations developed with KRESA and Ottawa ISD, we were able to increase the cohort from 12 to 17. IPA is a five-year project running from 2017-2022 with a total award of approximately $1.2 million. 

Drs. Selena Protacio, Virginia David, and Susan Piazza were awarded a $2.6 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education's Office of English Language Acquisition to address professional development of pre-service and in-service teachers for effective instruction for English learners. Through Project ELATE, which is on its final year, 173 in-service teachers have either gone through or are in the process of completing the ESL graduate certificate program, which qualifies teachers for Michigan's ESL endorsement. Twenty-two pre-service teachers have also completed nine credits for their ESL endorsement. Finally, the grant leadership team has also organized annual ESL conferences or webinars for additional professional development for Michigan educators.

Conference presentations

David, V. Eldemerdash, A. & Protacio, M.S. (2021, March). Integrating TBLT and ContentBased Instruction to promote classroom communication. Presented at TESOL Virtual Conference 2021.

David, V., Tigchelaar, S. M., Eldemerdash, A. & Protacio, M. S. (2020, November). Tasks that promote English learners’ oral language development. Paper presented at MITESOL Virtual Conference.

*Eidelsafy, A. H., LaLonde, K. B., *Scott, S. (2021, Feb.) Systematic Review of Transition Assessments for Young Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder from Early Intervention to Special Education. Oral presentation at the annual Behavior Analysis Association of Michigan (BAAM) Conference, Ypsilanti, MI. 

Isidro, E. (2020, December). Explorations in Literacy and Engineering Among K-2 Students: A Case Study. Paper presented at the 70th Literacy Research Association Virtual Annual Conference.

Piazza, S. V., Williams, C. T., Protacio, M. S., & David, V. (2020, December). Examining the quality of evidence: Teacher observation research for English learners. Paper presented at Literacy Research Association Virtual Conference. 

Protacio, M.S. & David, V. (2021, March). K-12 teachers’ growth in implementing the SIOP model. Presented at TESOL Virtual Conference 2021. 

Protacio, M.S., David, V., Piazza, S.V., & Williams, C. (2020, October). K-12 teachers’ growth in implementing the SIOP model. Poster presented at the National Professional Development Director’s Meeting. 

Protacio, M.S., Frantz, L., & Szafranski, A. (2020, November). Providing adaptations to English learners during the COVID-19 pandemic. Paper presented at MITESOL Virtual Conference.

Teichert L., & Isidro, E. (2021, May). Literacy tutoring in a virtual world. Paper presented at Mount Royal University Teaching and Learning Virtual conference.

Teichert, L. (2021, April). A five-year old’s unsanctioned digital literacies in the home. A roundtable presentation at the annual American Education Researcj Association (AERA) conference. Virtual conference.

Professional developments and workshops

Ehrhardt, K.E., (February 2021). Elements of Effective Special Education Programs, Midland County ESA Advisory Committee.

VanDerwall, R. Special Education Panel: Diversity and Inclusion Western Michigan University Signature Program, December 2020 

VanDerwall, R. & Schroeder-MacKay, C. (January 2019 – December 2020). Paraprofessional Behavioral Skills Training, Valley Center School- Kalamazoo RESA 

Noteworthy service

Drs. LaLonde and Whitten are partnering with Indian Lake Elementary in Vicksburg Community Schools during fall semester 2021. WMU Special Education undergraduates will provide literacy assessment and intervention to at-risk students.

Drs. LaLonde and Summy served as a competition reviewers for the US Department of Education (US DOE), Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) Personnel Development Leadership Competition in June 2021.

Dr. Ehrhardt served as a reviewer of the research preparation coursework of the US DOE OSEP leadership awardees in May 2021. 

Dr. Ehrhardt served as a program reviewer for the National Association of School Psychologists in November 2020 and May 2021. 

Dr. Summy served as the Vice President of the WMU Faculty Senate during the 2020-2021 academic year and summer terms.


An interdisciplinary CEHD team comprised of Angel Gullon-Rivera, Melinda Holohan, and Suzan Ayers (FCS); Lori Farrer, Ariel Anderson, Andrea Smith, and Regena Nelson, (TLES); Kate LaLonde, Elizabeth Isidro, Laura Teichert & Kristal Ehrhardt, (SPLS); and Laura Ciccantell and Marcia Fetters (CEHD) worked tirelessly over 2 years to develop a new interdisciplinary undergraduate major entitled Early Learning & Intervention: Birth through Kindergarten. This major will prepare students to work with young children in their families in inclusive settings. Majors will have the option to pursue the new PK-3 early elementary endorsement, to add a special education endorsement or to pursue a concentration in family sciences. The program was approved by the Michigan Department of Education in August 2021. 

Dr. Elizabeth Whitten continued a 4-year consulting relationship with Wantagh School District focused on establishing and maintaining a strong multi-tiered system of support (MTSS). The consultant team consists of Dr. Whitten, Dr. Alice Hoekstra-Woodrow, and Dr. Mackenzie Sheahan.

Dr. Whitten has worked with local school districts to identify special education interns who are qualified to serve as long-term substitutes to address the critical shortage of special educators. 

Dr. Whitten continues to maintain strong relationships with special education directors in southwest Michigan by meeting with them individually to discuss their staffing needs and their views of preparation of special education teachers. 

Project ELATE, led by Drs. Selena Protacio, Virginia David, and Susan Piazza, sponsored a series of webinars on English as a second language instruction, which was free for all interested educators in Michigan. Speakers included internationally recognized scholars in the field of TESOL such as Dr. Jim Cummins, Dr. Luciana de Oliveira, Dr. Maria Dove, and Dr. Maneka Brooks. Practitioner-oriented sessions were provided for ELATE cohort members on topics such as writing instruction for multilingual learners, working with newcomers, and vocabulary instruction. 

Drs. Teichert and Isidro are now facilitating a series of classes with the Kalamazoo Literacy Council that focus on families’ digital literacy skills from an intergenerational lens. This project is supported by a CEHD Development Grant.


The latest issue of Reading Horizons: A Journal of Literacy and Language Arts was recently published online.

Drs. Isidro and Teichert facilitated virtual tutoring between CEHD teacher candidates and K-8 students through the McGinnis Reading Center from Summer II 2020 through Summer II 2021. The virtual tutoring program enabled teacher candidates to acquire literacy teaching experience during the pandemic while also providing community service through literacy support and enrichment for K-8 children. This project is supported by a CEHD Development Grant.