Common Core State Standards explained

Dear Readers,

Here’s a link to explain the Common Core standards in a nutshell, in about 3 minutes. Enjoy!

Jokes that teach!

Hello Dear Readers,
When I received an email for Trevor regarding a site with jokes that teach, I didn’t know what to expect. I checked it out and was pleasantly surprised.
Here’s a sampling of some of the jokes on the site:

Why are chemists better at solving problems than physicists?

They have all of the solutions.

Why can’t you trust atoms?

They make up everything.

I thought the jokes were pretty cute. Here’s the website to check it out if you so desire:
Bye for now!

The Real Reason why children fidget! by Angela Hanscom

Dear Readers,

I found this excellent article that purports to explain why children fidget. Read this and see if you agree. Enjoy!

WHY CHILDREN FIDGET: And what we can do about it
Angela Hanscom – Thursday, June 05, 2014

A perfect stranger pours her heart out to me over the phone. She complains that her six-year-old son is unable to sit still in the classroom. The school wants to test him for ADHD (attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder). This sounds familiar, I think to myself. As a pediatric occupational therapist, I’ve noticed that this is a fairly common problem today.

The mother goes on to explain how her son comes home every day with a yellow smiley face. The rest of his class goes home with green smiley faces for good behavior. Every day this child is reminded that his behavior is unacceptable, simply because he can’t sit still for long periods of time.

The mother starts crying. “He is starting to say things like, ‘I hate myself’ and ‘I’m no good at anything.’” This young boy’s self-esteem is plummeting all because he needs to move more often. Continue reading

Free Summer Reading Rewards for Kids

Dear Readers,

I found this information on summer reading programs.

The Good, the Bad, & the Ugly!

Dear Readers,

I’ve been reading my last couple of posts and it feels as if I haven’t been completely honest with you. I’ve only written about the good part of working with children in an NPS (Seeing results). Well, if any of you know anything about working in an NPS, it is that it is not pretty. I hadn’t written about it because I didn’t want to throw a pity party of one for myself. So, what I’m going to do is get out what I think and try not to revisit it. I can’t make any promises though.

Here’s what’s good:

  • The food in the cafeteria is fantastic.
  • I see my hard work paying off with a couple of students.
  • Students leaving and returning to public school.
  • Keeping hope alive.
  • NPS almost always get out earlier than public school.
  • They have many enrichment activities.
  • Some kids do appreciate me.
  • Some kids do have my back.
  • I have and will do my best for those who want the help.
  • I make way more money here than I did at my other job.
  • It’s closer to my house.
  • I can sometimes pick up my son & daughter.
  • I don’t bring work home because of my prep periods.
  • I love the staff.

Here is the bad & the ugly: Continue reading

The Best Complaint Ever, Part 2

Dear Readers,

Do you remember last week when I wrote about one of my students who was upset and complained to the Director of the school because I was trying to teach them & reading to them? Well, today, as I was writing the agenda on the board, he asked about Story time.

“Miss, how come you don’t read to us any more?,” he asked.

I told him that the class is too rowdy and noisy and no one  can hear me read.

“Okay, so if we’re quiet, you’ll read to us?,” he asked.

I told him that I would, so he proceeded to shush the students. Now, let me make it clear. This “kid” is the tough guy of Middle School. For him to shush the kids so that I could read Lulu’s Hat by Susan Meddaugh was really saying something. So, although I wasn’t planning on reading it, he shushed the class and got them quiet, so I read two chapters to them. Guess what? They were actually quiet.

How’s that for progress?

Middle School Writing Prompts

Dear Readers,

Here’s a site where I’ve found 180 Middle School writing prompts.  (1-45) (46-90) (91-135) (136-180)

I’m going to look for more and post later. Bye for now!

Handwriting: What Is Normal?

Dear Readers,

I found this great article on Reading Rockets about handwriting, and how to know whether or not your child’s is normal. I thought  it was wonderful as it gave handwriting milestones from Pre-K–3rd grade. Also, it’s a little known fact that poor handwriting and learning disabilities sometimes go hand in hand.

I highly recommend this article. If you’d like to read, here it is:

Learn to Recognize Sensory Processing Disorder

Dear Readers,

I’ve always had a hard time with Sensory Processing Disorders. I’m not sure why, but I did. Since I didn’t understand it, I researched, researched it, then researched it some more. This site has a pretty simple explanation. Check it out @:

Learning Formula

Dear Readers, I was talking to my husband today about learning and if there’s a formula for it. That’s what jogged my memory regarding a formula I came up with. It’s pretty simple & straightforward.

Here it is: Learning the information + Making a connection with the information + Application of the information= Synthesis of information.

If you’re a teacher, have you found this to be true? Let me know what you think!

25 Things Successful Educators Do by Julie DeNeen (21-25)

Dear Readers,

Here are the last 5 parts:

21. Successful educators bring fun into the classroom

Don’t be too serious. Some days, “fun” should be the goal. When students feel and see your humanness, it builds a foundation of trust and respect. Fun and educational aren’t mutually exclusive either. Using humor can make even the most mundane topic more interesting.

22. Successful educators teach holistically

Learning does not happen in a vacuum. Depression, anxiety, and mental stress have a severe impact on the educational process. It’s crucial that educators (and the educational model) take the whole person into account. You can have the funniest and most innovative lesson on algebra, but if your student has just been told his parents are getting a divorce, you will not reach him.

23. Successful educators never stop learning

Good teachers find time in their schedule to learn themselves. Not only does it help bolster your knowledge in a certain subject matter, it also puts you in the position of student. This gives you a perspective about the learning process that you can easily forget when you’re always in teaching mode.

24. Successful educators break out of the box

It may be a self-made box. “Oh I could never do that,” you say to yourself. Perhaps you promised you’d never become the teacher who would let the students grade each other (maybe you had a bad experience as a kid). Sometimes the biggest obstacle to growth is us. Have you built a box around your teaching methods? Good teachers know when it’s time to break out of it.

25. Successful educators are masters of their subject

Good teachers need to know their craft. In addition to the methodology of “teaching”, you need to master your subject area. Learn, learn, and never stop learning. Successful educators stay curious.


Julie DeNeen has her bachelor’s degree in Clinical Psychology from the University of New Haven. She spent several years working for a local Connecticut school at the district level, implementing new technologies to help students and teachers in the classroom. She also taught workshops to teachers about the importance of digital student management software, designed to keep students, parents, and teachers connected to the learning process.

25 Things Successful Educators Do by Julie DeNeen (16-20)

Dear Readers,

Here are the next 5:

16. Successful educators welcome change in the classroom

This relates to the above tip, but in a slightly different way. Have you ever been so bored with your house or your bedroom, only to rearrange it and have it feel like a new room? Change ignites the brain with excitement and adventure. Change your classroom to keep your students on their toes. Simple changes like rearranging desks and routines can breathe new life in the middle of a long year.

17. Successful educators take time to explore new tools

With the advance of technology, there are fresh new resources and tools that can add great functionality to your classroom and curriculum. There is no doubt that the students you are teaching (far younger than you) probably already have a pulse on technologies you haven’t tapped into yet. Don’t be afraid to push for technology in the classroom. It is often an underfunded area but in this current world and climate, your students will be growing up in a world where technology is everywhere. Give them a headstart and use technology in your classroom.

18. Successful educators give their students emotional support

There are days when your students will need your emotional support more than a piece of information. Connecting to your students on an emotional level makes it more likely that they will listen to your counsel and take your advice to heart. Students need mentors as much as they need teachers.

19. Successful educators are comfortable with the unknown

It’s difficult to teach in an environment where you don’t know the future of your classroom budget, the involvement of your student’s parents, or the outcome of all your hard work. On a more philosophical level, educators who teach the higher grades are tasked with teaching students principles that have a lot of unknowns (i.e. physics). How comfortable are you with not having all the answers? Good teachers are able to function without everything tied up neatly in a bow.

20. Successful educators are not threatened by parent advocacy

Unfortunately, parents and teachers are sometimes threatened by one another. A teacher who is insecure will see parent advocacy as a threat. While there are plenty of over-involved helicopter parents waiting to point out a teacher’s mistakes, most parents just want what’s best for their child. Successful educators are confident in their abilities and not threatened when parents want to get into the classroom and make their opinions known. Good teachers also know they don’t have to follow what the parent recommends!

25 Things Successful Educators Do by Julie DeNeen (11-15)

Dear Readers,

Here are the next 5:

11. Successful educators are reflective

In order to avoid becoming the stuck and stubborn teacher, successful educators take time to reflect on their methods, their delivery, and the way they connect with their students. Reflection is necessary to uncover those weaknesses that can be strengthened with a bit of resolve and understanding.

12. Successful educators seek out a mentor for themselves

Reflective teachers can easily get disheartened if they don’t have someone a bit older and wiser offering support. You are never too old or wise for a mentor. Mentors can be that voice that says, “Yes your reflections are correct,” or “No, you are off because….” and provide you with a different perspective.

13. Successful educators communicate with parents

Collaboration between parents and teachers is absolutely crucial to a student’s success. Create an open path of communication so parents can come to you with concerns and you can do the same. When a teacher and parents present a united front, there is a lower chance that your student will fall through the cracks.

14. Successful educators enjoy their work

It is easy to spot a teacher who loves their work. They seem to emanate contagious energy. Even if it on a subject like advanced calculus, the subject comes alive. If you don’t love your work or your subject, it will come through in your teaching. Try to figure out why you feel so unmotivated and uninspired. It might have nothing to do with the subject, but your expectations. Adjust them a bit and you might find your love of teaching come flooding back.

15. Successful educators adapt to student needs

Classrooms are like an ever-evolving dynamic organism. Depending on the day, the attendance roster, and the phase of the moon, you might have to change up your plans or your schedule to accommodate your students. As they grow and change, your methods might have to as well. If your goal is to promote a curriculum or method, it will feel like a personal insult when you have to modify it. Make connecting with your student your goal and you’ll have no trouble changing it up as time moves on.

25 Things Successful Educators Do by Julie DeNeen (6-10)

Dear Readers,

Here are the next 5:

6. Successful educators expect their students to succeed

This concept is similar for parents as well. Students need someone to believe in them. They need a wiser and older person to put stock in their abilities. Set the bar high and then create an environment where it’s okay to fail. This will motivate your students to keep trying until they reach the expectation you’ve set for them.

7. Successful educators have a sense of humor

Humor and wit make a lasting impression. It reduces stress and frustration, and gives people a chance to look at their circumstances from another point of view. If you interviewed 1000 students about their favorite teacher, I’ll bet 95% of them were hysterical.

8. Successful educators use praise smartly

Students need encouragement yes, but real encouragement. It does no good to praise their work when you know it is only 50% of what they are capable of. You don’t want to create an environment where there is no praise or recognition; you want to create one where the praise that you offer is valuable BECAUSE you use it judiciously.

9. Successful educators know how to take risks

There is a wise saying that reads, “Those who go just a little bit too far are the ones who know just how far one can go.” Risk-taking is a part of the successful formula. Your students need to see you try new things in the classroom and they will watch closely how you handle failure in your risk-taking. This is as important as what you are teaching.

10. Successful educators are consistent

Consistency is not to be confused with “stuck”. Consistency means that you do what you say you will do, you don’t change your rules based on your mood, and your students can rely on you when they are in need. Teachers who are stuck in their outdated methods may boast consistency, when in fact it is cleverly masked stubbornness.

25 Things Successful Educators Do by Julie DeNeen (1-5)

Dear Readers,

Since I have the time in summer, I read, read, and read some more. That’s how I found this little gem by Julie DeNeen of inform(ED). To make it easier to digest, piece by piece, I will break it into five parts. Here are the first five:

1. Successful educators have clear objectives

How do you know if you are driving the right way when you are traveling somewhere new? You use the road signs and a map (although nowadays it might be SIRI or a GPS). In the world of education, your objectives for your students act as road signs to your destination. Your plan is the map. Making a plan does not suggest a lack of creativity in your curriculum but rather, gives creativity a framework in which to flourish. Continue reading

How to get students to follow directions the first time

Dear Readers,

I came across this very nice post, written by Angela Watson. It’s nine tips to get your students to follow directions the first time. I’m going to use them. Here’s her entire article. However, if you’d like a look-see, here’s the link:

How to get students to listen to and follow directions the FIRST time!

Since this is the beginning of the school year, I know you haven’t reached the point in the school year where you’re having some moments when you feel like you’ll lose your mind if you have to repeat yourself one. more. time. And that’s perfectly normal. A big part of a teacher’s job is teaching students to listen, follow directions, and be self-directed and independent in their work, and that means LOTS of repetition and reinforcement. It can be exhausting, for sure, so here are some tips to help kids listen to your directions and follow them the first time: Continue reading

Making a Better Classroom Store!

This post is in regard to striving to be better. I recently read an article about classroom jobs. More specifically, making the children apply for the jobs. I went on over to Beth Newingham’s blog + a couple of others in the blogosphere and am definitely making the process of buying from my classroom store better.

Some of the best advice on setting up a classroom store came from Beth Newingham’s Scholastic blog. I have to say that I never thought of my classroom store and monetary system as a classroom economy. I guess I never put a name to it. Additionally, I never thought to write a lesson plan for this. I simply implemented it through trial and error. However, I will now write a Unit Plan for it.

Next year I am going to “steal” Beth’s idea of having a grand opening. She made a good point when she said to make the “bank” look the way students are used to seeing them.

When I initially set up this system, I didn’t see how this system could work for older, more knowledgeable students. But, as I sat down and thought about it, this system could be made to fit a middle school or even high school classroom. If you have a middle school or high school classroom and would like to brainstorm on how this system could work for you, email me @

The most helpful piece of advice was when it came to stocking the classroom store. Here’s a breakdown:

How Cocoa Cola is Made?

Dear Parents,

Today in  class, we were discussing states of matter and the students wondered about soda. So, I found this link to show how Cocoa Cola is made.

Here’s the link to see how Cocoa Cola is made:

I Passed, Part II

As the title states, I passed the R.I.C.A. I am over the moon happy. I cut it very close. I just got the results last night. I just exhaled again. Now, all I need are my final grades. Once I see those, the rest of my vacation will be spent relaxing. Final grades come out tomorrow. I have much to write about, but will not write about it now because I am going to pick my little boy up from school in a little bit. I will keep you updated though. Bye for now!



Dear Readers,

The last three weeks have been a whirlwind of test taking and super business! Within the past three weeks I took and passed the C.S.E.T., took and passed the R.I.C.A., completed & submitted my final project, wrapped up my pilot program at work, & finally submitted my portfolio for the whole program at the very, very, very last minute. WHEW!!!!! I honestly didn’t think I could do it. I came so close to giving up on my literature review, but since failure was NOT an option, I persevered. So, the word of the day is PERSEVERANCE. That word means so much to me.

It didn’t matter what grade I got in classes; the most important thing was that I finished. I FINISHED!!! In the past, I started so many projects that I never finished. They were just left sitting on a backburner that never got lit! That, however, will be my post for tomorrow. Bye for now!

Six Asperberger Traits

Here’s a video detailing the six Asperberger traits:

How to Help Your Student with Auditory Processing Deficit/Disorder

Dear Readers,

I have a confession to make. Ever since I started in Special Education, I’ve had nagging questions about Auditory Processing that no one could seem to answer. Quite frankly for the longest time, I really did not understand it at all or how to help those who has the deficit/disorder. It was all so confusing. Well, here’s an article I read that explains how to help your student who has an auditory processing deficit.

How To: Help Your Student With an Auditory Processing Disorder

Kit Richert, Ph.D.

What in the world is an auditory processing disorder anyway?

Specific Learning Disabilities come in several varieties, but probably the most common is a disorder of auditory processing. Nearly all students with reading disabilities will have their delays rooted in an auditory processing disorder.

Auditory processing is not hearing, its what you do with what you hear.

Your student with an auditory processing disorder may exhibit some of the following processing problems: Continue reading

Different Types of Children with Aspergers!

Dear Readers

Here’s an excellent article I read regarding children with Aspergers. It’s pretty long but I think it’s worth it:

The Emotional Aspergers Child

Many children with Aspergers and High-Functioning Autism fall into one of the “emotional types” listed below. Their feelings control their actions. These kids have many more tantrums, are less available, easily disengage, and are more prone to defiant behavior.

This is the most difficult type of Aspergers child to deal with, because rules – and the reasons for rules – mean much less to him. The parents and teachers who have to deal with the emotional Aspie often find themselves in a state of frustration or crisis. Many of these children will end up on medications for their issues, because their coping skills are poorly developed and inadequate to meet the demands of home and school. But that’s o.k., because the right medication and an effective behavioral plan can do wonders.

Type 1: The Fearful Aspie— Continue reading

What are the Signs of Autism?

What are signs of Autism? (visual)

Technology in Education
Picture is worth 1000 words. Signs of autism nicely done as a visual.

Taken directly from:

Why People with Autism Mispronounce Pronouns

Dear Readers,

One of my students, Coaster, mispronounces pronouns all the time. I didn’t realize it was a thing. I found this on Pinterest. BTW, Pinterest is so addicting. You can spend hours on there. But, I digress. Here’s an article that explains it all:

Left-Brained or Right-Brained?

I know this is kinda small, so if you’d like to see a larger size version of this, here’s the link:

Take the test: Here’s a visual from the articles I posted earlier in the week:

The Power of Introversion by Susan Cain (TED talk)

Dear Readers,

Have you ever heard of TED? If you haven’t, you don’t know what you’re missing. It was created by . A topic is presented by an expert in a certain field. They have 18 minutes to present their topic. This particular topic was given by Susan Cain. She recently wrote a book called The Power of Introversion. I loved this TED talk because it seemed to be singing my life story. I am an introvert. When I announced that I was an introvert, one of my classmates said that I wasn’t. I can see what she was thinking. I would not have believed it either.

She thought I wasn’t an introvert because she was also. However, she is not a talker nor is she good at public speaking. She thought I was an extrovert because I am a talker, I speak to everyone, and I’m not shy about public speaking. I can be around people and talk and schmooze, but only for a limited amount of time.

If she knew anything about introverts, she would know that that is not what an introvert is all about-that not all introverts are like her. I always say that I live in my own head, that being around too many people drains me and I need to recuperate. That’s what an introvert is about. I do best when I can think through things or when I am reading or writing.

If you thought like my former classmate, then you should watch this TED talk with Susan Cain.

Are You Left-Brained or Right-Brained? Part II

Dear Readers,

Here’s Part II as promised.

tpt - right or left brain

So which side won the arm wrestling contest? Now that you know which side of your brain is dominant, it’s time for you to learn exactly what that means for you as a student of academics – and the world. How can you improve your academic learning/studying techniques?

First, take out the worksheet from our last post. We all use both sides of the brain when we need to, but when we’re stressed, it‘s difficult for the “weaker” brain hemisphere to take action efficiently. It can sort of ‘freeze up’. And what is one situation where you become stressed? Probably in school when learning something new, or when taking a dreaded test/quiz.

Take a look at which side you marked as your dominant brain, and which parts of your body are your strongest. Now let’s look at figures “X”, “Y”, and “Z”. Continue reading

Are You Left-Brained or Right-Brained? Part I

Dear Readers,

I was just talking to my daughter, Phillise, the other day about this very subject. She was talking to her dad about this and they concluded that she is left-brained, while I am a combination of right-brained and left-brained. It is an extremely long read, but is so worth it.

Take the test:

Here’s the link just in case you’re interested: You Right-Brained or Left-Brained?

I will post Part II tomorrow!

tpt - right or left brain
(Click the image to get the printable version of the exercise!)

Are you right-brained or left-brained? That is the question…! Understanding which side of your brain you use most to learn can totally transform the way you feel about school and academics. This is exciting stuff – and we are here to help you transform!

Over the next several weeks, we are going to help you figure out your strongest learning styles.  How are we going to accomplish that?  Well, we’re going start by teaching you to analyze “what makes you tick?” You’ll be doing some fun exercises, and a little self-analysis, to figure out which side of your brain is the “strong side,” and what kind of learner you are.  Once you are armed with that information, you will be ready to embrace your learning style.

No more wondering, “How do I learn?” or “I don’t know how to study!”  We will give you suggestions for studying techniques that will make you an academic rock star! If you find yourself scratching your head wondering, “HUH?” in class – then these next few weeks will transform that to an, “A-HA!” May the academic force be with you.

Are You Right-Brained or Left-Brained? Continue reading

Ten Commandments for Interacting With Kids on the Autism Spectrum

I found this on another site and I just had to share. Here’s the link just in case you’re interested:

1. Thou shall not yell when speaking to me.
My disability does not impair my hearing and I am extremely bright. Perhaps even brighter than you are.

2. Thou shall not ignore me, talk negatively about me, speak unnaturally slow, or ask questions to others in the room that pertain to me.
I can comprehend what you are saying just fine.

3. Thou shall believe in me and help me believe in my skills and self worth.
Note the good in me and do not merely point out my negative behaviors. Believe in me and I will believe in myself.

4. Thou shall not perceive me as dumb.
I am extremely intelligent. I do not learn in the same way as you, and maybe not as quickly as you expect me to. Have patience with me. Once I recall information, I never forget.

5. Thou shall not judge my behavior.
I can get overstimulated in certain environments. I may be hypersensitive to sound and loud noises may hurt my ears. Fluorescent lights are distracting for me. They have a humming noise, and can pulsate. All the noises in a room can blur together. Please make accommodations to help me.

6. Thou shall not be so quick to scold me.
Do not tell me that “I know what I did”. I do not. Tell me what my infraction was in a simple, concise manner. I want to please you, but I have difficulties inferring meaning within a vague statement. For instance, do not say please clean up your bedroom. Tell me exactly what you want, such as ‘Please make your bed and pick up your toys”.

7. Thou shall not compare me to others.
Please remind me, and note the talents that I possess. This increases my confidence and positive self worth. Learning disabled or not, we ALL have talents to contribute within society. I need you to help me realize what mine is. Believe in me and I will believe in myself.

8. Thou shall not exclude me from activities.
Please do not mimic me, ignore me, or bully me.  Please invite me to play with you. It hurts my feelings when I am excluded. I like to run and jump in the playground, and be invited to birthday parties too. Grownups can help me make friends by encouraging other children to play with me. I can be a loyal friend if you get to know me.

9. Thou shall give me choices.
I do not like being ordered about any more than the other children. Give me choices so I know you value my capabilities and opinions. Make them simple and concise. Present two options or so. I get confused when too many questions or directions are given at one time due to my processing speed. For instance, ask me if I would like to wear my blue sweater or green one, rather than asking which sweater I would like to wear.

10. Thou shall not judge me by my diagnosis, but by my character.
I am an individual, just like other children. As my son used to say, “Mom my name is John (name changed for his anonymity) not Asperger’s”. A profound statement I would say. :-0)

Please join me in my utopian world where society perceives individuals as a whole, and does not judge them merely in character segments.

Thank you!

First Books Book Giveaway!

Dear Readers,

***Here is the information for free books. The shipping fee is only $0.45 /book to ship anywhere in the U.S.***

Give the gift of books – Apply for our last book distribution of the year!
A book is the gift that keeps on giving, and First Book is doing everything we can to make sure our programs can give the gift of reading to their kids this holiday season.  So, the First Book National Book Bank is having one last book distribution this calendar year, so you can get brand new books for free that your kids will love, just in time for winter break. With activity books, Christmas stories, and tons of awesome YA titles, we’ve got something for everyone!

Distribution names:

Season’s Readings: Books for Ages 0-9
Season’s Readings: Books for Ages 10-18

Cost of books:  Free!
Shipping & handling fee: $0.45 / book to be shipped anywhere in the US.
When will I get my books?: Books will arrive by mid December

As always, we encourage you to apply for as many distributions as you want, and spread the word to any programs that serve children in need – we have plenty of books to go around!

Happy reading!

First Book

Elkonin Boxes & Its Uses! (For Mary t.)

***This post is for Mary t. (sorry about the transposed letters). I hope this answers your questions. If not, don’t hesitate to e-mail me.***

Recently I posted about Elkonin boxes and how I have been having much success with them. I also linked to some other posts of mine regarding their usage. Click here and here. Now let me further explain how I use them.

Here’s a picture of an Elkonin box with three boxes. You can print this or you can make your own. To make your own, just draw 2,3,4, or 5 boxes side by side. Either way will work.
Elkonin boxes are used to teach phonemic and phonological awareness and syllabication.
Elkonin boxes are great because the students are using multiple modalities- tactile, visual, oral, & kinesthetic.

Lesson Plan
Title: Push it Good! Continue reading

I Won!!!

Dear Readers,
I am so excited. I wrote a book grant back in August for my school and was recently notified that my school won to the tune of 489 books. This is such great news. Especially since the school librarian won a book grant earlier in the year for which we are having an assembly in November.
It was my wish to give the books to the parents during the ceremony. Now that wish has become a reality. I’ll speak with my Principal and see if I can pick them up sometime this week.
I am really excited about this. I’ll keep you updated. Bye for now!

I’ve Never Encountered This Before, Part 2

So, to continue with the story of Paul, the student who could not consistently identify all of his alphabets, yet read fluently and on grade level with 100% accuracy. That was so puzzling to me. I still can’t figure it out, so I will move on.

Here’s a little update on his progress. He’s making amazing progress. Judging by his progress, I would say that his problem was more than likely lack of instruction & being an Englis Language Learner (ELL). I believe most of his problem stems from lack of instruction because he “gets it” when I explain something to him. Not only that, but he remembers and applies the information.

He’s made progrss with the letters he couldn’t consistently identify & with the identification & application of short vowels. The week after next I will do his monthly progress monitoring. So far, so good though. I’m really excited about his progress. As always I will keep you posted.

Presented with Some Interesting Problems…

Dear Readers,

I will officially begin pulling students out on Monday. My first student (period) and of the day is Sito. He was referred by his teacher because he has a problem retaining information. It’s not just him though. Four other students are having similar problems, as well. From my research and personal experience, I can only think of a couple of things it could be. One possible problem is ADD- the student can’t focus long enough to assimilate the information into their store of knowledge and make connections to it.

Or it could be, according to a hand-out I received, dyslexia. With my mind set on conquering this problem, my interest was piqued. So I conducted further research and discovered that the two (ADD & dyslexia, just in case you weren’t paying attention) usually work hand in hand. Surprised? If you weren’t, I was. I know that further research is warranted because knowing the problem is only the first step. I am on the lookout for methods & strategies to help these students who’ve been struggling with this for years. I will post on my findings & ways to combat it. Stay tuned!

Bye for now!

Common Signs of Dyslexia by Reading Rockets


Here’s a great checklist for common warning signs of dyslexia. Again, it’s a bit of a read, but worth it.

Common Signs of Dyslexia

By: International Dyslexia Association

Dyslexia is a language-based disability that affects both oral and written language. With help, children with dyslexia can become successful readers. Find out the warning signs for dyslexia that preschool and elementary school children might display.

Facts about dyslexia

Startling facts about dyslexia and related language-based learning disabilities:

  • Fifteen to twenty percent of the population has a reading disability.
  • Of students with specific learning disabilities who receive special education services, seventy to eighty percent have deficits in reading. Dyslexia is the most common cause of reading, writing and spelling difficulties.
  • If children who are dyslexic get effective phonological training in kindergarten and first grade, they will have significantly fewer problems in learning to read at grade level than do children who are not identified or helped until third grade.
  • Seventy four percent of the children who were poor readers in the third grade remained poor readers in the ninth grade. This means that they couldn’t read well when they became adults.
  • Individuals inherit the genetic links for dyslexia.
  • Dyslexia affects males and females nearly equally, and people from different ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds as well.

Common signs: Preschool Continue reading

Defeat Dyslexia by Catching It Early by Mindy Toran

Hello Dear Readers,

I found this great article on dyslexia. It’s a little bit of a read but worth it; especially if you suspect your child or someone you know has dyslexia. (Taken directly from: 

“Awareness is the key to addressing dyslexia and other language-based learning differences,” says Julia Sadtler, president of the Pennsylvania Branch of the International Dyslexia Association. Recognizing a learning disability earlier rather than later is important.

According to the National Institutes of Health, it’s estimated that 15 to 20 percent of the population, or one out of every five students, has a language-based learning disability. The most common of these disabilities is dyslexia, a neurological disorder that results in difficulties with language skills such as reading, writing, spelling or word pronunciation. Continue reading

Getting It Together, Part Whatever!!!

Dear Readers,

I am slowly but surely getting it together. As you may know, I got a promotion (with no bump in pay) to Inclusion Specialist at my school. Once I thought about the enormity of the situation, I, of course, became overwhelmed as I sometimes do. I then stopped and thought about it. I became The Little Engine That Could. I slowly went from I Think I Can Do This to I Can Do This to I Not Only Can do This, But I Can Do It Well!

I’m aware that I’m undertaking a huge task, but I am honestly up for it. My school is very small. I only have 8 students with I.E.P.s with one upcoming in November. There’s a student who I’m going to work with in 1st grade who I’m very concerned about. I’m not sure if the issue is language or comprehension, but I will watch him to see. I’m also going to work with a couple of the Kindergarten students on behavior and becoming more independent.
I met with the Inclusion Specialist at a local school and was able to secure some very useful information. I will post at a later date all of the information she gave me. I was very happy with how giving & open she was. I hope when I doing this job for a couple of years and someone comes to me for help and advice that I’m as helpful and giving as she was.

So, I’m researching some of the sites she gave me. One, in particular, is Susan Barton, a dyslexia expert based in Northern California. Just in case you’re interested, here’s the website: www.BrightSolutions.US &

I’m about to watch the videos on the second site. I’ll let you know how I liked them.

Bye for now!

Pizza Hut Reading Certificates Are Here!!!

Dear Parents,

The Pizza Hut Reading Certificates are here. Your child will be receiving them on a bi-weekly basis.

Thank you

I didn’t want to take this post down, but I mistakenly posted this on my personal blog thinking it was my classroom blog. What I will do is post the information is you’re a public or private school teacher or homeschooler and would like to sign up to receive them. Here is the link to sign up:

Once you’re there, click on Enroll Now, then click on your school type, search for your school by city and state or zip code, and follow the directions from there.


Praying for Your Enemies…

PRAYER: Lord, I realize today that when I pray for my enemy and love my enemy, he or she is no longer my enemy. Help me to always respond this way.

Piccolo Books

Hello Dear Readers,

I really love books. I, especially love getting books for a really, really good price. That’s why I love Piccolo Books in Westchester/LAX’s Howard Hughes Promenade. . The books are $1 each. If you’re interested in going, the address is:

The old Borders in the Howard Hughes Promenade

6081 Center Dr.

Los Angeles, CA 90045

(310) 410-0317

Forgetting What Works…

Dear Readers,

I am so silly. I always forget what works for me. A couple of my students have been struggling. I’ve worked in Education for 10 years now. I should have pulled from my store of knowledge. But, sometimes we can become so overwhelmed that we forget (as I did) what works for us. Once I came to my senses, I quickly made fluency folders from pages I copied from Practicing Basic Skills in Reading & Practicing Basic Skills in Language Arts by Ray Beck, Peggy Anderson, & A. Denise Conrad.

At first I only made fluency folders for the struggling readers. Then I realized that almost every student needs help in some capacity. So, although there are 7/15 students working on fluency, there are 8 students that are at or above grade level in English. However, they still have deficits. I have 4 students who need to work on appositional phrases, commas in a series, and commas for parenthetical phrases. Yes, all of that is in the book. It’s not cheap though. I looked on ebay, Amazon, & a couple of other sites for inexpensive copies, but did not find it. These books are $100. Pretty steep, but worth it. You could run a whole language arts intervention program for lower to upper elementary with this book.

So that I won’t forget this for next year, I am going to keep a FORGETFUL folder where I record my ideas that work for me. Hopefully I won’t forget where I put it! : D!!!  It’s a fantastic book. Check it out!

Talbots Later-in-Life Scholarship

Since I’ve been a shopping fool at Talbots lately, I was emailed information regarding Talbots Charitable Foundation for women pursuing a scholarship later in life. I sure wish I would have seen this when I returned to school: (This is not the address of the link, I simply put this one because it’s easier on the eye than the actual link)

In keeping with our tradition of serving the community, the Talbots Charitable Foundation is proud to offer the 2012 Talbots Scholarship Program for women pursuing a college degree later in life.

Here’s information straight from the website:

Since its inception in 1997, the program has awarded more than $1 million dollars in scholarships. This year, the Talbots Scholarship Program will award $200,000 in scholarships for the 2012 academic year, including seventeen $10,000 scholarships. It will also present the $30,000 Nancy Talbot Scholarship Award, named in honor of the founder of Talbots and granted to one extraordinary finalist who demonstrates courage, conviction and an insatiable entrepreneurial spirit.

“The secret in education lies in respecting the student.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

10 Simple Truths I’ve Learned About Education

Working in education makes you one tough mutha’, shut yo’ mouth! Although I may get off track and temporarily want to smack someone (as with MFH), I’ve learned many simple truths that will help save your sanity. They are in no particular order. Enjoy!

  1. You will have parents (more than likely a mom) from hell who complain about everything.
  2. There will be parents who will question your methods.
  3. There will be parents who will have your back. Especially regarding the parents from hell.
  4. Administrators may turn on you. You’ve got to learn how to have your own back. What I mean by this is that you have to learn to stick up for yourself.
  5. Some years will be terrible.
  6. Some years will be fantastic.
  7. You may not like all of your students. Over the years (since we are human) we may have a personality clash or two with a student or two.
  8. You will not get paid what you are worth. Deal with it.
  9. Children need to learn:
  • Independence &
  • Struggle.
  • to be told no

10. All of your hard work will one day pay off!!!

My Recommended Summer Reading List

Children’s Picture books (ages 3-8)

  • Snuggle Mountain by Lindsey Lane
  • Maxi’s Bed Magician by Werner Blaebst
  • Fenwick’s Suit by David Small
  • Mr. George Baker
  • I Like Myself By Karen Beaumont
  • Stand Tall Molly Lou Melon by Patty Lovell
  • Douglass Frederick and the House of They by Joe Kelly and Ben Roman (ages 9-10)

Beginning chapter books (ages 7-9)

  • A-Z Mysteries by Ron Roy
  • Wayside School by Louis Sachar  & Adam Mccauley
  • The Sixty-Eight Rooms by Marianne Malone

Chapter books (grades 5-8)

  • The View From Saturday by E.L. Konisburg (grades 5-7)
  • Lulu Atlantis AND THE QUEST FOR TRUE BLUE LOVE by Patricia Martin

The 39 Clues by various artists, Books 1-9 (grades 4-8) Continue reading


Just the other day, I posted about the summer slide and how to avoid it. Well, I discovered a great way to help combat it. Here’s the latest website that I signing Phillise up for. It’s called I’m also requiring my students to sign up for it for the summer. That way, I can keep track of them and will know approximately where they are (academically) when they return to school. It’s a cool site and it’s free. Check it out!


San Juan Capistrano Came Alive!

It’s Alive! I wanted to say to my students as we walked into the San Juan Capistrano mission today. My students could not contain themselves as they excitedly looked around. For those of you who’ve never been to San Juan Capistrano, I have to tell you that it’s breathtaking. So much so that it almost made me cry. I felt like I’d stepped back in time as I imagined what it felt like to live there more than two hundred years ago. How hard life was for the People (Indians). I felt a real connection to the place. I loved it and want to visit it again with Phillise in the summer. So, let’s get back to my students.

“Wow, Miss,” they said, “We read about this!

“Ok, then, tell me a little bit about it,” I said.

We talked about the cowhides, tallow (which is fat that’s used to make soap & candles), the buildings, the pueblos, & most importantly, El Camino Real (The Royal Road). They were a little disheartened to see El Camino Real.

“This is El Camino Real?” they asked, with a shocked look on their faces.

“Yep,” I said. They weren’t too happy with it.

I have pictures of my own, but here’s some I found on the internet. The one below is a picture of the Koi pond in the central plaza. Can I just say that I loved this koi pond? The fish were absolutely beautiful. The courtyard is so relaxing.

It was so humbling to be at this historic place. I could not help but be in awe of this mission. I went to the mission at San Gabriel and was not as awed as I was with this one. This one was absolutely breathtaking. The only thing that spoiled the image I’d created in my head was the Starbucks directly across the street. That’s progress for ya! I don’t like it, but what can ya’ do?

Great Assessment Article

I was just over @ and found a pretty nice article. The article, about assessment, was entitled, “What You Can Do in 5 minutes, 5 Weeks, and 5 Months”. It was pretty informative. I’m going to take a few of those suggestions and run with them. If you would like to read it, here’s the link:

African-American Firsts!

For Black History month, I assigned my students projects on trailblazers- the first in their field. I definitely wanted them to do a project for Black History month, but was just tired of students wanting to report on Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, or some other well-known figure that’s been done to death. Don’t get me wrong. I want my current & future students to know about these people, but I also want them to know about the less well known contributors who don’t get as much credit. So, my challenge to them was to find a trailblazer who contributed to all mankind, not just Blacks. Of course they proffered up Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Mike Tyson, The Rock or Dwayne Johnson as he’s known now. My question to them was, “What have they done besides be great at their chosen profession & have brown skin or black heritage?”

They gave me blank stares, but they finally started to get it. Once they got it, they chose well. So, here is the list of people my students chose:

Jack Johnson, Marian Anderson, Shirley Chisholm, Barack Obama, Oprah Winfrey, Carter Woodson, & a couple I can’t remember right now that I will update once I find my list. I am excited about this assignment. I am going to put on a show for the Principal complete with faces stapled to giant tongue depressors.

How’s that for putting on a show?

P.S.- I have a great link to a wikipedia for African-American firsts that take you back to the 1800s & the first known black man to publish a book by the name of Jupiter Hamon. Like to see it, here it goes: Wikipedia link-

HERE’S TO 2011!


I subscribe to Reading Rockets and so should you. They have such great articles. Well, since I’m about to do Report Cards for the 2nd quarter, I thought I’d post this. It’s an article by Reading Rockets about how (You guessed it) to read a report card.

Here’s the link for Spanish version of the article:


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