Saturday, November 22, 2014

MzTeachuh: What Is Up With That Kid?

MzTeachuh: What Is Up With That Kid?: Classroom problems are obvious: the student is not successful academically or has behavior issues. The solutions are not so obvious...

MzTeachuh: Check out Mind/Shift KQED

MzTeachuh: Check out Mind/Shift KQED: How We Will Learn.  Brought to us through KQED, San Francisco and NPR.   Mind/Shift has excellent writers who ferret out ...

Check out Mind/Shift KQED

How We Will Learn.

 Brought to us through KQED, San Francisco and NPR.


Mind/Shift has excellent writers who ferret out fascinating and helpful points of view. Here is some information about the site. They have broken their topics into Culture,  Teaching with Tech, Research and Learning Methods.
There is a thorough archive of articles.Under each topic are a wealth of subtopics with articles and recommendations.

I found thee especially interesting.

What Would a ‘Slow Education Movement’ Look Like? 

Unplugging Computer Science to Spark Curiosity For Root Concepts 

Can E-Readers Ease Reading for Dyslexics? 

Online Privacy: Parents Worry Advertisers Know Too Much 

Mind/Shift is an enriched source of opinion and research.

What Is Up With That Kid?

Classroom problems are obvious: the student is not successful academically or has behavior issues. The solutions are not so obvious. Here is how GenEd and SpecEd can work together for solutions for the student (and the classroom.) Honesty, transparency, clarity between colleagues will produce true solutions for students. Be ready for candid interaction, my GenEd and SpecEd colleagues! There will be questions!

Scenario #1: The student makes an effort, but remains well below standards despite effective interventions.

SpecEd will ask (or should) for documentation of the intervention. The parent should already know how many hours per day for how many weeks the student has been in the intervention--and have products of the work accomplished. The data of the student's further need should not be a mystery to anyone. Parent contact should be regular.  GenEd needs to be organized for this. Hopefully, the intervention classes at the school site are coordinating and use the same result templates so a parent or SpecEd teacher can readily identify the strengths and needs of the student during a specific time period. If there is other, more unusual input over a period of time about the student, GeEd needs to document this with type of behavior, date, and class activity.

An anecdotal report might go like this:

10/5/-- Margaret began classwork, but after 10 minutes was drawing rather than writing the assignment. The picture was of a child, but it was one big circle with a smile. She did this for 10 minutes, then sat still, not working, despite many prompts to write.

With accurate data, Admin, GenEd and SpecEd should meet with the parents and may then suggest Special Education testing to the parent, if the parent has not already requested it.

A situation once arose at a Middle School where I was RSP for Grade 6. The structure was four teachers on a team, and I worked in the classrooms of Math and ELA. A Soc. Science teacher clued me into two transfer students she noticed may be SpecEd but perhaps their paperwork hadn't arrived yet.

One student had created an illustration for an essay that struck the teacher as disturbing. She showed it to me, I was able to observe and speak to the student. I contacted the Ed. Psychologist, and the Grade 6 Counselor. After getting contact info from his previous school across country, we discovered the parent had not informed us the student had been identified as ED (Emotionally Disturbed) and had a serious incident the previous school year. We couldn't clarify why the parents did not inform us, but because the Social Science teacher actually checked and read her classes' assignments every day we could get him to the proper placement quickly.

Another student was not able to understand the work at all, but was very popular despite a stutter. Again, the team of Counselor, Ed. Psychologist, SpecEd and GenEd did a search of his records, spoke to the parents (who needed a translator, the Ed. Psychologist was fluent in Spanish) and we found that due to frequent school changes, he had never been tested for SpecEd, or Speech Therapy. I tested him from my end, the Speech Therapist from his end, the Ed. Psychologist from her end, and we were prepared for a meeting which resulted in a better placement.

Scenario #2: The student has shown grade level ability, but is too disorganized to function in the class.

Again, do we have a record of  this behavior?
An anecdotal report might go like this:

Luis does well when he has his supplies and brings his homework and outside reading book. But he is missing important items at least 3 times a week. Dates of missing work for March: 3/3, 3/5, 3/9, 3/10, 3/14 etc.

Has GenEd contacted the parents about this lack of functioning? Is there something unusual at home that might be the cause of the disorganization? Now I'm going to get personal, only because I have had to ask myself this question. How organized is the class? How's your classroom management? Are enough cues and directives given to end one activity and start another? Is the class tidy and organized so this student has an appropriate amount of space to function? If the lack of function is not the result of parents or teacher--there could be a Special Ed. reason. Executive functions (ability to be organized) can be impaired by learning disabilities. But not always. If the student's previous teachers are available for comment, ask how little George did last year. So if previous answers to these questions show a need for testing, the SpecEd team will find out--is it ADHD? a learning disability? or just a future Absent Minded Professor who needs a personal assistant? (Kind of kidding about the last, but sometimes parents and teachers feel like they are in that role.)

In my experience as RSP (Resource Specialist) we tested many more students for learning disabilities than qualified for Special Education programs, particularly in Grade 6. That is due to the fact that the huge change in schedule created a perfect storm of confusion for awhile until the kids got their sea legs. But a lack of executive function could well show a need for Special Education support, so please document the need so the student can be fairly evaluated.

Scenario #3: The student is a behavior problem.

Now we are to the real issue to solve. Why do students act up? For attention, for control of the class, or to escape the class through disciplinary action that takes them to the office or maybe to the ramp outside the door (btw, that last strategy is an illegal move and should not happen. Students need supervision.) 
Again, do we have a record of  this behavior?
An anecdotal report might go like this, and not necessarily only in a referral:

Student (Kayleigh) got out of seat three times in fifteen minutes, and moved around the classroom. She then whacked Angelica on the back of the head, disrupting class.

For a behavior referral for Special Education, you record all instances, and contact with the parents. The team of professionals that is your school and includes you, will research everything about the student, test the student, while effectively managing a positive behavior contract. 

At the first, and I mean first, sign of defiance, contact the parent and document. The most effective teachers I worked with, and later emulated, did this simple thing, and ran a peaceful classroom. Also, document the conversation. Is this tedious? Yes, GenEd, it is. I know, I was GenEd, too. But a behavior issue is the most vital to document. If, deep in your heart, you feel this student has an emotional or serious behavioral issue--contact SpecEd, the Counselor, or the Ed. Psychologist. Maybe the student doesn't have serious problems that may lead to self injury or injuries to others. But maybe so, and you could save injuries and lives if the student gets help early.

In one high school class during a reading intervention, a student was doodling on his work one day. We discovered it was a rather graphic picture of  two young people, one threatening the other with a knife. Taking the picture to the Ed. Psychologist, and having a meeting with the parent led to counseling for the student who had been bullied and assaulted the previous year. His uncle had been murdered in a gang initiation 18 months before. The student was affected. He received counseling.

To be transparent, a positive behavior plan is the most challenging to coordinate with a team of teachers for effective implementation. Really hard. But we don't give up. Good results help everyone. 

When GenEd and SpecEd collaboration really works, there's nothing finer in the school system.

MzTeachuh: Teaching Is Differentiating Instruction

MzTeachuh: Teaching Is Differentiating Instruction: 1. Differentiating Instruction: Meeting Students Where They Are

Teaching Is Differentiating Instruction

1. Differentiating Instruction: Meeting Students Where They Are 

2. What Is Differentiated Instruction? 

3. Differentiated Instruction and Implications for UDL Implementation 

4. Differentiated Instruction 

5. Differentiation Teaching, Learning, Instruction and Response to Intervention

  (RtI ) 

6. Differentiating Instruction:
Rethinking Traditional Practices 

7. differentiating instruction is...



MzTeachuh: Educational Links 11/22/14

MzTeachuh: Educational Links 11/22/14:   Learning To Learn: 7 Critical Shifts   ...

Educational Links 11/22/14


Learning To Learn: 7 Critical Shifts 

The Next Hot Topic in Autism Research? Immune Cells 

Call of the Wild: Do Our Overprotected Kids Need to “Get Risky” on Playgrounds Like This? 

How early should autism treatment begin? 

5 Eclectic Book Recommendations for Winter Break 

How Libraries are Advancing and Inspiring Schools and Communities

Teaching Strategies for Parents to Help Struggling Students

IDEA and Expectations

IDEA and Expectations Part I – The Problem of Low Expectations - See more at:
IDEA and Expectations Part I – The Problem of Low Expectations - See more at:

 Digital Citizenship Curriculum Framework for Schools



MzTeachuh: Red Onions (Matisse) Now We Need A Recipe

MzTeachuh: Red Onions (Matisse) Now We Need A Recipe: The Red Onions Henri Matisse Roasted Red Onions with Butter, Honey, and Balsamic Vinegar

Red Onions (Matisse) Now We Need A Recipe

The Red Onions Henri Matisse

Chicken Breast sauteed in sweet red onion & lemon
Pickled Red Onions Recipe 

I have not tested these recipes, but they look pretty good.

And even music in the background while you cook: 


The Red Onions (Melbourne) Jazz Band  


Friday, November 21, 2014

MzTeachuh: Ed Tech Equity: Let All Students Learn in the 21st...

MzTeachuh: Ed Tech Equity: Let All Students Learn in the 21st...: Ye Olde Computer Room--an archeological dig for computers in a storage space down the hall from the classrooms. And the kids are happy t...

Ed Tech Equity: Let All Students Learn in the 21st Century

Ye Olde Computer Room--an archeological dig for computers in a storage space down the hall from the classrooms. And the kids are happy to visit it for CoolMath once a week.

Why is ed tech equity so hard to resolve? Is it only the lack of ed tech in disadvantaged districts? No, not really.

All teachers need to become master teachers right now to successfully develop classroom effectiveness in using ed tech if the demographic includes serious stressors such as poverty, diversity, and instability. Every quality of sound teaching is in play to create and maintain a positive, secure learning environment for kids in difficult situations. To briefly research what it is to be an effective teacher, you can check out my Mzteachuh's 'Teaching Is...' Collection of posts,
Have I always been the perfect teacher? Heavens, no, but I do always give it my best shot. What else can we expect of ourselves?

Why would students not bring devices to school?  

Teachers can expect a higher level of disruption in some demographics. Property damage and theft discourages students from exposing expensive tech at school. Admin and effective classroom management can create a safe place for students to use ed tech equipment. That means in every area of the school: the gym, lunchroom and classes in which the tech isn't used. Making a safe facility for personal property involves security, including all school staff as well as teachers and admin. Everyone needs to be at their best every day.

Why are teachers relunctant to use personal devices in class?

Many teachers really love direct instruction because it requires less classroom management. The students sit. They don't talk to each other, and there is no required teacher interaction. That doesn't work now. (Never did very well.) A teacher must be active to facilitate the students using devices in class, make the rules clear and implement the rules through interaction with the students. Get up out of that computer chair and participate in what's going on in class.

How to minimize digital classroom distractions 

• No smartphones are allowed when the teacher is conducting a lecture.
• Devices should be put on silent/airplane mode before the start of the class.
• Tablets should only be used during group exercises and note-taking sessions. 

Teachers mostly come from homes that encourage learning even if those homes were not affluent or privileged. Many students who are left out of the Tech Equity Circle do not have such advantages. Teachers need to work hard at developing personal relationships with each student and his/her family  to provide the positive stability in class and home for effective learning. 

How to Get the Most Out of Student-Owned Devices in Any Classroom 

“The kids who ‘have’ are going to keep having and the kids who ‘have-not’ are going to keep being over there,” Mills said. He suggests the best way to build equitable classroom technology use is to create a culture of trust. That takes time, but Mills said teachers need to give students a chance to prove themselves before displaying mistrust. “Instead of automatically saying, ‘I don’t trust you,’ why not create opportunities where you can trust them,” he said.

Can teachers cross the cultural divide in their own classrooms?

The United States will increase in cultural diversity. That includes economic diversity. The social and emotional learning task for teachers will be whether we can see the student instead of the demographic. 

How can we prepare teachers to work with culturally diverse students and their families?  

Diversity capital is intended to name the type of teaching enhancement that embraces emotion and drives teachers to seek new opportunities and ideas for building positive relationships with students and families from culturally diverse backgrounds. Diversity capital can in turn afford teachers the knowledge, skills, and dispositions needed for a sustainable commitment to, validation of, and exchange with culturally diverse students and families. 

Communicating Cross-Culturally: What Teachers Should Know 

In the United States, with so much cultural mixing, teachers no longer have a choice as to whether they want to interact with diversity or not. 

Classroom management requires a teacher to daily analyze how things are going, how things went, and how will we do better tomorrow. Classroom management involves the whole team of teachers the students see each day--so communicate! Classroom management involves admin to discipline fairly and consistently. Quite a task for all.

Top Ten Strategies for Classroom Management and Discipline: Proximity and Mobility 

Goofing off in the classroom is inevitable in every classroom regardless of how much experience a teacher has.  However, there are specific strategies that teachers use to maintain off-task behavior and that is the use of Proximity and Mobility. 

Just goofing off would be a relief for some classrooms, but the basics are the same. Clarify the rules, enforce the rules, and present effective activities.

The following is an article from one educator who addressed the lack of tech for her students. We all really need to keep working on this: access for all students to appropriate ed tech and internet service at home and school. Let all students learn in the 21st century. I believe it is a student's civil right to enjoy a free and appropriate education which now includes fluency in educational technology as a part of becoming literate.

Innovative Strategies for Ensuring Device Equity 

School officials wondering what to do for students who lack their own notebook computers, smartphones or tablets can acquire extra devices with a little bit of ingenuity.



MzTeachuh: When GenEd and SpecEd Collaboration Really Works: ...

MzTeachuh: When GenEd and SpecEd Collaboration Really Works: ...: Differentiation can raise academic success as well as enhance the learning environment. Where to start? Get to know your students...

When GenEd and SpecEd Collaboration Really Works: Differentiating Instruction

Differentiation can raise academic success as well as enhance the learning environment.

Where to start? Get to know your students.

Both GenEd and SpecEd have valuable data useful in differentiating the learning experience. The teachers can combine that data to generate a dynamic learning environment.

Frequently, districts use data summaries so that at one glance a student's info from annual testing is broken down in ELA and Math very specifically by the student's achievement on each standard. If your school uses Accelerated Reader, again, there is specific info on reading levels as well as interests. Accelerated math does the same. What a wonderful resource for GenEd to drive instruction. There are also benchmark tests and class results.

SpecEd has data resources, also. Information from the IEP testing reveals learning style preferences. Yes, there are styles of learning that are preferred. Actually, for just about everybody. But a student with a learning disability in auditory processing will learn more efficiently with visual content. A student with a visual processing disability will learn more effectively with auditory instruction. Makes sense, right? And the goals and objectives in the IEP give specific direction to academic instruction, not unlike what the lower 20% of each class may normally need to succeed. The students that don't qualify for Special Education can definitely benefit from instruction differentiated for Special Education students mainstreamed in the GenEd setting. You may not grade on a curve, but a bell-shaped curve exists in your classrooms. Differentiation benefits all students; even when you are concentrating on just one standard.


1. Power Lessons
Rotate subgroups of students through a rotation in your classroom while one teacher interacts with the other students during independant practice. Have the Power Lesson group near the white board so the second teacher can elaborate on questions about the work. Use 10 minutes, then rotate to the next group. Be sure to deviate the levels--this works for enhancement as well as reteaching. Power lessons are useful even on-the-spot when teachers discern the group didn't get the lesson, or planned regularly so the students expect more close instruction, maybe before a quiz or test. The teachers could ask the students what focus they want the Power Lesson to have depending on the content and need.   The specific students can be swapped between group to group depending on the needs of the lesson. This is not a Special Education pull-out within the classroom. This is a very fluid and dynamic form of differentiation with Special Education and GenEd students learning together.

I love Power Lessons--they add academic as well as personal input.

2. Activities and Games
Learning continues during activities and games related to the content. Direct Instruction or involvement with technology are not the only opportunities to lock-in learning. Teachers can modify activities such as classroom Jeopardy games to include all students without humiliating or excluding anyone. Got any classroom artists? Get a Pictionary game going. Math teachers can use math vocabulary as topics. Group presentations create camaraderie between students and enhance ELA standards while reinforcing the lessons. Students take turns presenting. A nice break from the norm of input/output learning.

3. Student Choices with Homework and Projects
Differentiation can lean toward the student's interests, talents, and inclinations. We do need to conform to succeed in academia, but maybe not all the time. How will students recognize their strengths if not given choices? Keep the content, let the student occasionally choose the method of us demonstrating mastery of  the content. Be creative in offering choices, teachers. Put your heads together--can the student create graphic organizers of the subject? Use cartoon frames? Write a dramatic interpretation? A commercial? Build a three dimensional representation? Order of Operations Rap? Break the monotony with the students using their strengths demonstrating the content in an interesting manner.

MzTeachuh: Monet and Vivaldi: Autumn

MzTeachuh: Monet and Vivaldi: Autumn: Autumn Poplars-Monet And to my Australian friends who are in Spring, please forgive me. Vivaldi Autumn The Four Seaso...

Monet and Vivaldi: Autumn

Autumn Poplars-Monet

And to my Australian friends who are in Spring, please forgive me.

Vivaldi Autumn The Four Seasons High Quality

MzTeachuh: Teaching Is Giving Kids The Confidence To Try

MzTeachuh: Teaching Is Giving Kids The Confidence To Try: 1. Study Skills & Test Preparation    2. Prepari...

Teaching Is Giving Kids The Confidence To Try

1. Study Skills & Test Preparation 

 2. Preparing Your Child for Testing

How Early Should You Prepare for the SAT?
Read more: Preparing Your Students for Final Exams2. How to prepare for final exams

3. Test Prep & Review Strategies for Grades 6-8

Help Students Prepare For and Take Tests of All Kinds 

4. Test Preparation

5.  Standardized Test Preparation

Prepare Your Students for "That Time of Year Again"

GED® Test Prep Handbook Lesson Plans and Strategies

 6. How to Prepare Your Elementary Student for Standardized Tests

MzTeachuh: MzTeachuh's Top Posts of the Week 11/21/14

MzTeachuh: MzTeachuh's Top Posts of the Week 11/21/14: Thanksgiving Quotes   Teaching Is Writing Your Lesson Plans In Pencil...

MzTeachuh's Top Posts of the Week 11/21/14

Thanksgiving Quotes 

Teaching Is Writing Your Lesson Plans In Pencil 

MzTeachuh's Top Posts of the Week 11/15/14 

Teaching Is Trying Everything To Get Through 

Cheesy Jokes and Serious Thoughts About Thanksgiving 

Deep Topics, Very Deep Topics, For Educators 

Helpful Hints for When Teacher Is Overwhelmed 

A Book, a Physical Book... 

Ed Tech and STEM Monday Review 11/17/14 

Educational Links 11/20/14 


  Much appreciation to our international audience: USA, India, France, Germany, Ukraine, Poland, China, Canada, Bulgaria, UK.






Thursday, November 20, 2014

MzTeachuh: Educational Links 11/20/14

MzTeachuh: Educational Links 11/20/14: 8 special education communication apps How Much Performanc...

Educational Links 11/20/14

8 special education communication apps

How Much Performance Pizzazz Does a Teacher Need to be Effective?

Igniting Student Writer Voice With Writing Process Strategies

News in Levels - News Articles to Match Your Students' Reading Abilities 

Google Drive For Education Now Free, Offers Unlimited Storage 

7 Ways to Deal With Digital Distractions in the Classroom

Interactive LD Checklist 





MzTeachuh: Teaching Is Being Organized (Within Reason)

MzTeachuh: Teaching Is Being Organized (Within Reason): 1. CLASSROOM ORGANIZATION   2. 100 Classroo...

Teaching Is Being Organized (Within Reason)


2. 100 Classroom Organizing Tricks 

3.  How to Organize a Teacher's Grade Book 

4.  Cool Classroom Libraries 

5.  Teacher Roles - Organizing 

6.  Age-Appropriate Games and Activities:

7. The Ultimate Organized Classroom 

Having the ultimate organized classroom can sure tucker you out!

MzTeachuh: Taking Care of Teacher

MzTeachuh: Taking Care of Teacher: No one wants to get sick for the holidays! Here is some information and health strategies to stay well and effective. The...

Taking Care of Teacher

No one wants to get sick for the holidays! Here is some information and health strategies to stay well and effective.

There has been a reappearance of whooping cough and measles, so be sure these immunizations, as well as the current flu shot, are updated for the new school year.  I'm serious--better be safe than really sick for a long time!

Staying Healthy and Managing Stress While Teaching 

Taking care of teacher is not as much fun as taking care of your kids-- but we aren't superheroes, so get your shots.

Adult Immunizations: What You Need 

Information for Schools & Childcare Providers 

Why air purifiers are important in schools

Teaching takes an inordinate amount of mental focus and emotional output. But what happens when teachers are stressed or deal with emotional or mental issues?

Being There for Students When You're Emotionally Unavailable

When the Teacher Is Depressed 

Are you in shape? What's that you say, its none of my business? Well, its your business--and your future. So get up out of that computer chair and get moving! You'll be very glad you did.

Benefits of Being Fit & Eating Well - The President's Challenge 

Exercise: 7 benefits of regular physical activity 

That's what I'm talking about!

MzTeachuh: GenEd and SpecEd Communication

MzTeachuh: GenEd and SpecEd Communication: Collaborative Teaching: Bridging the Gap Between General and Special Education Instruction

GenEd and SpecEd Communication

Collaborative Teaching: Bridging the Gap Between General and Special Education Instruction

Communication during busy schools days is vital and tricky. As GenEd and SpecEd collaborate in a class, both experts are gleaning information from their specific perspectives. These two views can reap a bountiful harvest of success for all the students. The expertise combines, forming a living, thriving academic experience. 

GenEd Keeping records--so valuable! Every classroom teacher keeps attendance, grades, and discipline records, which are communicated to the office and to the parents. But when do the Special Education teachers become aware of this important information? The office and the teachers together need to formulate a system so the Special Education teacher, who is a prime liason to the parents, has timely information about the students. Discipline, in particular, needs to be communicated to the SecEd teacher immediately. Your records will be important input at IEP meetings when discussing current academic performance. Have a hard copy for the SpecEd teacher's file and the parents.

SpecEd Keeping records--so valuable! No matter the grade, there frequently are students that may have an unidentified learning disability, emotional disability, or physical ailment that a SpecEd teacher may help pinpoint. That could lead to the Special Education process, or the School Nurse. The expectation is for all students to succeed, and when there are bumps in the learning road, having other experts in the class can help smooth things out. 

When parents contact the teacher--whether GenEd or SpecEd--let the other teacher know what's up. Have each other's back. Be supportive of parents together. If it seems serious, include the administration or District level SpecEd staff in on it. The IEP team is called a team for a reason. We all play for the same side, our goal being success for the student.

Schedules--SpecEd needs to develop an efficient system of scheduling so all members of the IEP team have a heads up when the meetings will be. Special Education is very fluid, and this scheduling information can change quickly. Flexibility is the name of the game. But most SELPAs and Districts give a general list to each teacher, so there are initial expectations of annual and triennual IEPs. There can be addendums and behavior plans added any time. The communication to parents is formulated, but communication to teachers, other professionals involved with the student, and admin needs to be most likely more than one method. I suggest email as well as hard copy in schoolsite teacher/admin boxes, ponied to the district, or mailed to other support staff. Don't make them guess. If meetings are cancelled, the same process or a phone call. all of our time is so very valuable, it is important to be sensitive to that.

Be nice, be thoughtful. You don't have to be best friends to collaborate, but you do really need to be professional. Teaching is very demanding, and teaching Special Education in any scenario is somewhat more complicated. So, SpecEd teacher, remember that GenEd teacher's work just got a lot more complicated with your students on their classlist and you in their class collaborating. And GenEd teacher, understand the SpecEd teacher's job is very complex, and he/she now needs to handle you, too. Be courteous, the kids are glad to see that. Be flexible, it takes time to find a rhythm. Be honest. Take time to communicate what can be better, or just different. If you feel like a Grumpy Cat some days, tell each other, be a support. You're only human, even if you're being asked to perform as a Superhuman every day.