Night Time To Do Lists

Do you need help getting out the door in the morning? I do! I created the following visual schedules/checklists to get me and my kids out the door in the morning this school year. GCPS employees, this includes remembering to charge your iPad and Mac Book and have your Goochland bag ready to roll.

Have a great year everyone!

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27 Things to Do with Students who are Not Paying Attention

Great tips here. I think the key takeaway is that we have to keep moving, listen, and be flexible. We’re here for the students, not the other way around. How can we best meet them where they’re at?


Read more: An Ethical Island

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I Did My Homework!

I’m working on a presentation to help parents develop Homework Plans with their children to increase homework completion and decrease familial stress that often surrounds homework time. In my quest for a fun way to wrap up the presentation, I came across the following video. What a great way to teach our kids about the self confidence gained by doing their homework!

Categories: Motivation to Teach | 4 Comments

Student Expectations

As we start a new school year, defining expectations is a critical part of a successful year. I just compiled the following list that I would like to share with you below…

How do you define student expectations? How do you hold students accountable? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

Have a wonderful school year!

student expectations image




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Case Study: Sellers v. The School Board of Manassas

This following is a screenr I developed to explain the case of the Sellers v. The School Board of Manassas (1998), in which Kristopher Seller (plaintiff) was identified by The School Board of Manassas, Virginia (defendant), as having a learning disability and emotional disturbance at age 18. The Sellers sued for compensatory and punitive damages.

Find out why the Sellers sued, the outcomes of the case, and (my opinion) of the impact of this case on education by clicking here on by clicking on the image below. Click to watch

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Student Engagement: Incompatible with Disrupution

When I worked at The Faison School for Autism, we utilized Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). One of our goals for students was to decrease inappropriate behaviors in order to prepare them for a world where they would not be acceptable. One of the ways we did this was to decrease their contact with these inappropriate, and often self-reinforcing, behaviors. Instead, we gave them access to something that was incompatible with their inappropriate behavior.

Here’s a personal (not very attractive) example: I pick at my nails. When I catch myself doing this, I will fold my hands together. Folding my hands together is incompatible with picking my nails. I simply can not engage in both behaviors at the same time.

Sometimes teachers express frustration with “problem students” who won’t participate and are not motivated to do their work. I would encourage these teachers to engage their students in behaviors that are incompatible with disruption or avoidance.

Here are some examples:

  • Ask your student to write the problem that you are explaining on the board (incompatible with talking to their friend in the seat next to him or her)
  • Have your student explain his or her answer to a friend (incompatible with talking about last night’s game)
  • Have your student hold materials or manipulate materials that will enhance your lesson (incompatible with playing with his or her smartphone)

Make students your allies! Students don’t want to be disruptive — they want to be engaged and valued. By asking your students for feedback and giving them choices, they are more likely to feel valued. This also takes the pressure off of you and teaches students to be invested decision makers.

How do you engage your students?

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Group Project: Calculating Surface Area of 3D Shapes

Objective: Students will recognize 3D shapes (sphere, cylinder, cone, rectangular prism, pyramid) and understand how to calculate surface area for each shape.

Materials needed:

  • Ball (sphere)
  • Stovetop box (cylinder)
  • Birthday hat (cone)
  • Tissue box (rectangular prism)
  • Chocolate candy wrapper (pyramid)

* Note: All 3D objects should be cut so we will be able to flatten them.

  • Video camera
  • pencils
  • paper


Part I

  1. Ask students to label objects and explain why it is the object they think it is.
  2. Tell students we’re going to make our own formula sheet.
  3. Ask the students which shape we should dissect and calculate first.
  4. When they decide which shape, show them how to take it apart and place it flat on the table.
  5. Ask: Will doing this help us define surface area or volume? Why?
  6. After it is established that we are looking for surface area, work with students to develop an equation. (Each student should record our formulas.)
  7. Repeat with each object.

Part II — The fun part! 

  1. Explain to students that we are going to document how to calculate surface area based on the observations we just made. We will be using to record our presentation.
  2. Each student will be responsible for explaining how to calculate surface area for one of the shapes we discussed in Part I. They will be video taped explaining how to calculate surface area for this particular shape.
  3. As a group, we will determine how to tie the whole project together. (For example, when you use, in addition to video, you can use text and images. What do the students think would be important information to include that would help others to learn?)

I just came up with this. We’ll see how it goes! Here’s the post that inspired me: I Want to Teach Forever

Supplemental materials that might be helpful: 

  • Surface Area (notes)
  • 3D Shapes (Have students cut these out, paste them down, and record their individualized surface area equations.)
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How do we motivate students?

Check out the following site for excellent resources to improve student motivation:

Click here —> Teaching Tolerance: Motivation

If you struggle to motivate certain students to learn, you are not alone. The video below is one teacher’s account of his greatest struggles with student motivation.

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Graduate School with a Two-Year-Old & Three-Year-Old

photo (1)It can be pretty stressful trying to put together a poster presentation with a two-year-old and three-year-old present. However, the pride I feel when I complete a project without peanut-butter, paint, or pee pees (sorry, it’s true) is immense.

My three-year-old can tell you that Emma Willard established the first school for women and they can both show you their own poster presentations that they made alongside me on green and pink fluorescent poster board.

It’s always a little nutty around here, and honestly, if it wasn’t, I’d be bored. 🙂


Categories: Motivation to Teach, Multicultural Perspectives in Education, Working Mothers | Leave a comment

What Do Right Triangles and Circles Have in Common?

To fully enjoy this lesson, you will need to: 

Last week, we worked on figuring out the lengths of the sides of right triangles using the Pythagorean Theorem. This week, when faced with trying to determine points on a circle given its center and radius, I was glad we had covered the Pythagorean Theorem first!

circlesTo help students recognize the how to use their prior knowledge of the Pythagorean Theorem to solve for points on a circle, I made a worksheet for students to fill in and label using a key (which you can view here or download for free at TeachersPayTeachers.)

We talked through the first half of the worksheet and filled it in as a group – (prior knowledge of right triangles and the Pythagorean Theorem). To complete the second half, we watched “Radius and Center for a Circle Equation in Standard Form,” pausing to discuss and highlight key points throughout.

CLICK TO WATCH:  Radius and center for a circle equation in standard form:

My favorite part of teaching this was when we spontaneously made up a rap to remember that the Pythagorean Theorem is used for right triangles. What job could possibly be more fun than teaching??

How do you enjoy teaching these topics? Please share links in the comments below!

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