Teach Plus @ LMU PD, Part 3!

Dear Readers,

For the first session, we learned a couple of strategies, called Opportunities to Respond (OTR). They include:

  • Response Cards
  • Hand Gestures
  • Take A Stand
  • Choral Response
  • White Boards
  • Think-Pair-Share

I’ve used all of these. We also learned a strategy I hadn’t heard of, the Round Table strategy. The teacher, Drew Otto, introduced it to us by giving a handout & explaining what we were going to do. So, we watched two videos with instructions to critique the video. First, we had to look for evidence of engagement. Then, we had to look for evidence of students not being engage. Once we were finished critiquing both videos, we passed our handouts around & others responded to what we’d previously written. Then, after that we passed that person’s paper around & someone responded to that person, until we did this for 3 rounds. For the last round, we basically summed up everything. Look at the templates below to get a better understanding just in case you didn’t understand my explanation.

Here are the templates I created using Drew’s template:                  equityequalityroundtable-1   equityvs-equalityroundtable-2


Please email me if you have any questions!

Putting the Onus on Them!

Dear Readers,

I’m training my students to be more independent. I have to be honest and say that some of it is my fault. When I first started working with them, I wanted them to know that they were loved, so I may have gone overboard on taking care of too much stuff for them. When they needed extra time on an assignment, I talked to the teachers for them. It’s a whole bunch of other stuff that I can’t remember doing for them, but suffice it to say that they became very dependent on me and I was very worn out the past two years. Fast forward to this year and I am recovering from being very worn out.

YOUR LIFE BEGINS TO CHANGE..Last year I was so burnt out, I very nearly quit; I was super stressed. Part of the problem is that if there’s a problem, I usually only have struggles with admin & the students are wonderful. Well, last year I had struggles with admin & students. I had at least five very strong personalities that gave me the blues. So this year I said no more coddling and no more putting up with bullshit from admin or unruly students. Firstly, I’m putting the onus on them. It is now their responsibility to know their assignments, not mine. When they come to me and ask if I can get their assignments from their teachers, I give them two choices- I tell them they can go and ask the teacher themselves or send an email to them or we can go to the teacher together. Usually they choose the second option. However, when we go together I let them do the talking. If they chose the option of going to speak (or email) to the teacher themselves, of course I follow up with the teacher.

So, that’s my plan for this year. I am weaning them off of me, helping them get to know themselves, letting them self-advocate, become more independent, and helping them transition to the young adults they are.

I’ll keep you apprised of their progress. Bye for now!!!


Graphing WJIV Scores

Dear Readers,

Are you looking for an easier way to explain the Woodcock-Johnson scores to your student’s parents?

Well, I was! That’s when I had a brilliant idea and decided to graph the scores. I’m not sure why I never graphed them before. It would have made my life so much easier when it’s time to explain the Woodcock-Johnson scores.

This was sorely needed because so many times, at the IEP meeting, parents are “talked at” and overloaded with so much information. I can’t speak for the parents and say that they don’t understand, but the blank look sometimes says it all. I like this graph because the parents can see and hear the information.

I got the idea while planning lessons for my students who need simultaneous auditory & visual input. By graphing the scores, parents are able to see and hear the information for themselves, at a glance. Not only that, the graph saves about 10 minutes of explanation.

Here’s a mock up of READING scores from the WJIV. I also graphed WRITING & MATH scores. The first & last score (90-110) are just an illustration to show the AVERAGE range.


You can use any color you’d like. These are the colors I used:

Standard Score Range WJ-IV


131 and above Very Superior
121 to 130 Superior
111 to 120 High Average (Black)
90 to 110 Average (Purple)
80 to 89 Low Average (Green)
70 to 79 Low (Borderline) (Blue)
69 and below Very Low     (Red)                                        (Significantly Below Average)

***I didn’t choose any colors for Superior & Very Superior because I have not yet had students score at this level.***

There are many sites where you can create graphs. Here’s the site I used: https://nces.ed.gov/nceskids/graphing/classic/ 

Let me know if this will work for you! Bye for now!

Piggy & The Emergency Packet!

Dear Readers,

I have a student that I call Piggy because she loves to eat. Don’t worry, she’s not offended; she actually thinks it’s cute. She is the cutest thing. I’m writing this post about her because how cute she is. All of her life she’s relied on how pretty she is. I sat down and talked to her one day and asked her if she ever thought that she could do “it!” I asked her if she was going to rely on her looks forever.

“Trust me when I say that looks fade, we gain weight, etc., etc.,” I told her.

She looked absolutely horrified when I told her that I wasn’t always a size 12. I took the time to tell her that she doesn’t have to rely only on her looks; that she could do “it.”

“You think I can?,” she asked.

“Yes, Piggy! I know you can!”

During my weekly grade check I told her that I wanted her to actually try in Biology & Math class. She agreed that she would. I told her that I was going to stay on her to make sure she did. She smiled and thanked me.

Well, I had to tell you the story of Piggy to finally get around to the Emergency Packets I made for my students.


Obviously that’s not my hand in the picture, but I digress. This is what was in the packets I made them. It took me a couple of days to assemble the packets, so I didn’t want the students to waste them. I told them to take out the chocolate Kiss if they didn’t want it and return the bag of items to me because others wanted them.

When I got to Piggy, I asked her if she wanted the packet. To my surprise she said that she did. After she ate the Kiss, she read the note and thanked me. This shocked me because at the beginning of the year she would have simply thrown the bag away without a second thought. It said a lot that she actually cared and is starting to believe in herself.

This warmed my heart so much. I really enjoy making a difference in their lives!

Almost Totally Paperless!

Dear Readers,

I have a problem. Not a big problem but a problem nonetheless. It’s a small problem, actually a good one. You see, I’m almost totally paperless in my classroom. So, when the 9th grade chapter chair requested work to put on the board, I didn’t have any.

When I first decided to become paperless I didn’t think about this ‘problem’. I was just thinking about how inconvenient making copies was. I didn’t think about not having anything on hand to put on the board.

I printed out one of their power point presentation in color and put them on the board. Problem solved!

Go Ahead, Call My Boss!

Dear Readers,

Bad teacher:parentThe title was too long to finish writing how I feel, so I’ll write it here. “Go ahead, call my boss. I have nothing to hide,” is what I thought as I gave this mom my number to call the head of the SpEd department. She’s one of those “shoot first and ask questions later” kind of people.

There’s such a big backstory on her and the situation I’m currently experiencing. My first meeting with her started off friendly enough. However, my thoughts about her changed once I saw how she attacked the 9th grade English teacher over her son’s grades which he earned. Little did I know that I would be the next one.

During our meeting, she was cordial enough. She then took me totally by surprise when, out of the blue, she began launching accusatory questions at me about a “C” grade. Even when I showed her his grades, she was still not satisfied. It was at this point that she stomped out of the room and apparently went straight to the Assistant Principal’s office. She told the AP that I attacked her, was unfriendly, and that she didn’t want to deal with me. I could tell by the AP’s voice and intonation that she believed the parent. I was insulted for a hot second until I realized that I didn’t care. I went to speak to the AP in charge of SpEd and let him know her M.O. He let me know that he had my back and that he would defuse the situation if it came down to it. I thanked him and went on my merry little way.

Did it end there? Of course it didn’t. That would have been too easy. The REAL problem began when the 311 report was run and the SpEd Director noticed that two students were assigned behavior intervention services. Wouldn’t you know that he was one of them? I sent home notices that she would not return. I called her and she would not answer. I even tried to schedule meetings with her that she would agree to and not show up. She began insisting that he receive the services even though she didn’t even know what they were. She began to try to bombard me with e-mails. That’s when I promptly told her that she could speak with my boss or one of the SpEd coaches if she would feel more at ease. I gave her both their numbers and wished her well. You know what, she never even gave them a call. In fact, she hasn’t even shown up for any parent conferences since then. It was not a surprise to me. I knew that she was one of the those people who try to bulldoze their way through to get their way when they know that simply asking will work. Those types of people puzzle me. I just don’t understand it. Has she never heard, “You can catch more flies with honey than vinegar.”

I have not had to deal with her since then but his IEP is coming up in May. I’ll keep you updated on that. Bye for now!

The Little Engine That Could!

Dear Readers,

little-engine 2I am pleasantly surprised with my students! I’m seeing leaders emerge with strengths they, or I, in some cases, didn’t even know they had. What am I talking about? I’m talking about my students coming alive and developing their life skills.

One of the activities I introduced to them when we came back from break was jigsawing. In one of my last post I stated how I put the onus on my students for asking for extra time and getting their missed work from when they were absent. I know they are only in the 9th & 10th grade but within the next 3-4 years they will be young adults in charge of their own lives. So, they need to have certain skills. Two skills they really need and that are very important to have are self-advocacy & self-reliance. They are beginning to do well with self-advocacy skills, so now I’m training them in self-reliance. Many times during the last semester, the work would be right in front of them but they would not take to time to try to uncover it. I thought and thought about how to help the overcome their learned helplessness but it was tough. Let me tell you that learned helplessness runs deep. They were so used to believing they couldn’t do it that they stopped trying.

Well, by lecturing them, supporting them, and helping them realize that they can do it, they have begun to advocate for themselves and to rely on themselves. It’s one of the best feeling in the world to see that light bulb go on and have someone realize they can do it. I always think of The Little Engine That Could when this happens. I should read it to them. They’re so young they probably haven’t heard of it. I’ll see. Back to the lecture at hand. I’m happy to see them blossoming. I’ll keep you updated.