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Education Background: Teacher, Principal, Director of Curriculum and Instruction, Resource Coordinator, Gifted and Talented Advisor

Trauma in the Classroom 

Here’s an interesting article that helps to understand what some children are going through emotionally when they enter our classrooms. It also gives tips on what teachers, counselor or staff can do to support students. 

Take care and stay warm!


Memorial Day Ideas for the Classroom

Memorial Day Lesson Ideas

Here is a website that may help the classroom teacher with Memorial Day Lesson Idea Plans!

Memorial Day is a day of remembrance. Education World celebrates this special holiday with activities, music, and Web-based ideas to help the children in your classroom understand Memorial Day’s significance.

Remembering Those Who Gave Their Lives: Lessons for Memorial Day
What does Memorial Day mean to your students? Do they grasp the significance of the sacrifice that American men and women have made to preserve our freedom? Included: Five lessons help students understand the meaning of Memorial Day.

The Memory Shall Be Ours: Celebrating Memorial Day
Why is Memorial Day so important? Your students will learn the significance of this very special day with this exclusive Education World lesson plan.

Wall of Peace
Mary E. Noyes (with Barrie Citrowske), who teaches at Minneota (Minnesota) Public School, submitted this week’s lesson in which students’ essays are used to build a classroom Wall of Peace. (Grades 5-12)

Teaching Citizenships Five Themes
Memorial Day is a perfect opportunity to teach about citizenship. These activities, from the editors of Weekly Reader, will highlight each of the five citizenship themes.

Put the “Memory” Back in Memorial Day
Some teachers, concerned about students’ ignorance of the origin and meaning of Memorial Day, have created programs that stress the importance of remembering and honoring U.S. war veterans on that day.

Students Remember Vietnam War Heroes
Middle school students from Capt. Nathan Hale School in Coventry, Connecticut, pieced together biographies of the 612 state residents killed in the Vietnam War. They published the biographies so others will get to know the servicemen as well as they have.

Speakers, Projects Bring Veterans’ Stories to Classroom
Teachers use a variety of ways to educate students about the historic significance of Veterans Day, coming on November 11. Included: Classroom activities for teaching about Veterans Day.

Lessons in Life: Connecting Kids and Soldiers
While most teachers discuss the war in Iraq with their classes, many find that both they and their students also want to do something concrete to help U.S. troops abroad. Included: A list of organizations that link students or classes with deployed servicemen and women.

Make a Memorial Day Book
This work sheet offers an 8-page mini book for primary-grade students to cut and fold. The mini book tells of the origins and celebrations of Memorial Day.

Make a Memorial Day Windsock
This work sheet provides dirctions for designing and creating a red-white-and-blue windsock. Adapt this lesson for Memorial Day by having students reflect on the meaning of the day. Hang the windsocks in your classroom or at home.

Internet Scavenger Hunt: Honoring Our Veterans
What do you know about Veterans Day? Explore the Veterans Day Web site to learn about that national holiday.

Great Sites for Teaching About… World Wars I and II
This week’s sites are among the best on the Web for teaching about World Wars I and II.

Remembering D-Day: Great Sites on the Web
Education World looks at some interesting D-Day Web sites.

Great Sites for Teaching About… Hiroshima and Nagasaki
Education World recommends some of the best sites on the Wide Web for learning and teaching about these important historic events.

Raise the Flag Day (Awareness) in Your Class!
Education World salutes Flag Day with lesson activities, links to great sites, and more.




Student and Parent’s Perspective of PARCC


I found this interesting perspective on the Huffington Post- a letter that was written from a parent and student regarding the PARCC assessment.


We have something very important in common: daughters in the seventh grade. I’ve had a feeling that our younger daughters have a lot in common too. Like my daughter Eva, your daughter appears to be a funny, smart, loving girl, who has no problem speaking her mind, showing her feelings, or tormenting her older sister.

There is, however, one important difference between them: your daughter attends private school, while Eva goes to public school. Don’t get me wrong, I fully support your decision to send your children to private school, where it is easier to keep them safe and sheltered. I would have done the same. But because she is in private school, she does not have to take Washington’s standardized test, the D.C. CAS, which means you don’t get a parent’s-eye view of the annual high-stakes tests taken by most of America’s children.

I have been watching Eva take the Massachusetts MCAS since third grade. To tell you the truth, it hasn’t been a big deal. Eva is an excellent student and an avid reader. She goes to school in a suburban district with a strong curriculum and great teachers. She doesn’t worry about the tests, and she generally scores at the highest level.

So when I saw that practice tests had been released by the PARCC consortium (which is designing the new Common Core tests for 16 states, including Massachusetts, and the District of Columbia), I though Eva would be a great test case for the test.

I should mention that my interest in PARCC is professional as well as parental. I am a literacy consultant in urban high schools, where many of my students struggle to pass the 10th grade MCAS, which is a graduation requirement in Massachusetts. I support the Common Core State Standards, which hold teachers and students across the country to high expectations for deep reading and writing. As Massachusetts moves to the new standards, I am already seeing tangible improvement in my students’ skills, as well as in the quality and rigor of Eva’s schoolwork. So I was anxious to see what these new tests would be like, and Eva was eager to try one out.

Here are a few of the things Eva said as she took the seventh grade ELA test: “These are such weird questions.” “This test is crazy.” “This is a stupid, impossible test.” “This question just is a stupid awful question. It makes no sense.”

Wouldn’t you be concerned if you heard these reactions from your daughter?

I’m sure one thing you’d wonder is whether the questions really are “weird,” “stupid,” and “awful.” We both know that seventh graders can be a tad melodramatic and slightly prone to exaggeration.

So here’s one essay prompt:

You have learned about electricity by reading two articles, “Energy Story” and “Conducting Solutions,” and viewing a video clip titled “Hands-On Science with Squishy Circuits.”In an essay, compare the purpose of the three sources. Then analyze how each source uses explanations, demonstrations, or descriptions of experiments to help accomplish its purpose. Be sure to discuss important differences and similarities between the information gained from the video and the information provided in the articles. Support your response with evidence from each source.

Eva’s comment on this question: “It’s impossible, and there’s like 15 parts.” Just as I feared, she exaggerated. There are only four parts. But take a close look at those parts. Can you figure out what you’re supposed to be doing here? And could you have done it in seventh grade?

I know a lot of seventh graders. They know how to compare and contrast, and they know how to provide evidence, but I’m quite sure that unpacking this prompt, let alone accomplishing it, would feel pretty “impossible” to most of them.

Overall, Eva felt the test was “really complicated, hard, and unclear.” And her score bears out her impression: she got ten of 45 multiple choice questions wrong. Here’s what she had to say about that: “Something is wrong. I should not be getting in the C range in this test.”

Just to be clear, Eva was not complaining about doing badly on the test; she was concerned that if the test was so difficult for her, it would be even more difficult for many of her peers, and thus would not provide an accurate picture of what seventh graders really can (and should) do.

Like your daughter, I’m sure, Eva is empathetic. She spends a lot of time helping her classmates with their work, and she was worried about them: “Doing multiple choice and a few open responses one day and an essay the other day [as in the MCAS] is totally different from doing really hard multiple choice and then doing an essay. This is hard. For me it’s faster because I’m typing [the PARCC tests are on computer, while the MCAS is paper], but for some kids it’s going to take more than a day, because writing essays is hard, and typing is hard for some of them.”

You may wonder whether a seventh grader is the best person to assess a seventh grade test. I actually think seventh graders are great people to assess the tests: they’ve been taking them for years, and they generally know what’s what,. But if you want a professional opinion, I can provide that too.

I have a Ph.D. in English, I’ve been in college and high school classrooms for over 20 years, and for much of that time I’ve trained and coached high school English teachers. I was shocked that the ninth grade test included an excerpt from Bleak House, a Dickens novel that is usually taught in college. I got seven out of 36 multiple choice questions wrong on the eleventh grade test. And I had no idea what to do with this essay prompt on the third grade test:

Old Mother West Wind and the Sandwitch both try to teach important lessons to characters in the stories. Write an essay that explains how Old Mother West Wind’s and the Sandwitch’s words and actions are important to the plots of the stories. Use what you learned about the characters to support your essay.

Would your daughter have been able to figure this out in third grade? And, more importantly, is there any reason a third grader should have to figure out an essay prompt this broad and abstract?

Just as you do, I want America’s children to learn and succeed. I want every classroom in the United States to have great teaching and a rigorous, challenging, engaging curriculum. I believe the Common Core State Standards could help make this happen.

But the standards won’t succeed if the tests used to assess them are confusing, developmentally inappropriate, and so hard that even good students can’t do well on them. Setting high standards and effectively teaching them is a fine route to success; setting children up to fail because of ineffective tests is not.

All of America’s children deserve better.






Voice of Technology

by Gwen Pimentel


we aren’t mute
we aren’t shy
we aren’t strangers

yet we remain with not a word escaping our mouths, staring into little rectangles of light.

Compliments of Hellopoetry.com

What’s in store for future classrooms?

What future technology will be introduced to classrooms?

Check out these sites…



And this is why we need to embrace it…


Are you ready?