Thursday, December 13, 2012

Cooperative Learning Warmups

Cooperative Learning Warmups are excellent ways to start the day or transition to a new lesson. Follow the link to download sample warmups.

Everyone is welcome to join our LinkedIn Cooperative Learning Group.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Progress Reports and IEPs

This link has excellent ideas to consider before attending the first parent conference of the year.

Changing Schools Mid-Year

My grandson was recently moved to a new school for very good reasons. However, changing schools is not always the best option. Walking through this very complex decision-making process is difficult. The following link is an excellent resource for "Thinking through" issues and finding the most positive solution.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Guest Post by Alexandra Berube

Alexandra shares an excellent activity that can be used by parents and teachers alike.

My name is Alexandra Berube, I am a former Kindergarten teacher and continue to tutor students in K-8th grade, in all subject areas and test preparation. 

Comic Strips
When children are beginning to understand that letters carry meaning, they will use one or two letters to convey an idea--usually the first letter and/or the last. It is very tiring for children to try to write long ideas if this is their current skill capacity.
Children love to draw, whether it’s representational (“That’s a tree with a rainbow”), or symbolic/action-based (“That’s how I run around and that’s where I jump from...”). If you give them a comic book template (blank squares side by side, large enough that they can draw in each one), they can ‘write’ out their story.
Once they’ve drawn in each square, they can narrate what’s happening. Depending on their ability, you can either write for them, sounding it out as you go (modeling); you can help them sound out key words and then write the other words yourself; or you can help them sound out all the words to their best ability of invented spelling.
This builds meaning into the process of writing, because it serves the purpose of narrating their story. Young children often forget what they are trying to write about as they go, because they are so focused on the letters. This gives them the chance to first put down their story in pictures, and then write the best they can without losing their idea.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

A "Shout Out" for Rhoades to Reading

I am particularly impressed with the fact that the Rhoades to Reading program can be used successfully by any number of students at any level of learning. The students in these classes are extremely motivated; they personally see their level of performance and proficiency rising and are obviously enjoying their successful learning experience.

 Supervisor of Teacher Education 


Saturday, October 6, 2012

A Book for Parents to Ponder

Thank you to Belle shared this chapter by chapter book available at the link below. What makes this very interesting is the author is inspired by her mother's diary. The topic is a 15 year old girl falling in love with her coach. Take a look and see what you think of the treatment of the topic! You can vote.

Sweetest Taboo

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Panther News

This is a student project. Let's help build an audience. 

PANTHER NEWS premiere ... September 10, 2012 (8:05-8:10am) Central Time

Our first broadcast for the College Prep Academy, Raul Yzaguirre School for Success (Houston, Texas) airs "live" via USTREAM this coming Monday. Please go to the above link (web page) to view. PANTHER NEWS will be broadcast twice a week ... Mondays and Thursdays.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Is the world flat?

Ten geographers who think the world is flat will tend to reinforce each other’s errors….Only a sailor can set them straight.

John Ralston Saul

Thursday, August 23, 2012

CEC Yes I Can! Awards

The Yes I Can! Awards recognize the accomplishments of children and youth with exceptionalities. Thousands of children and youth have been recognized since the program’s inception in 1982.
Please click to nominate.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Madeline Hunter

To say that you have taught when students haven't learned is to say you have sold when no one has bought. But how can you know that students have learned without spending hours correcting tests and papers? . . . check students understanding while you are teaching (not at 10 o'clock at night when you're correcting papers) so you don't move on with unlearned material that can accumulate like a snowball and eventually engulf the student in confusion and despair.
Madeline Hunter

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Josie Whitehead:

Don’t grumble when the rain comes down -
     Don’t wear a gloomy frown -
When little raindrops patter down
     On villages and town.
Remember that the trees, the birds,
     The flowers and yes, we too -
Would die without those drops of rain
     And only skies of blue.
The rain breathes life into our world
     And without it we would die -
So don’t grumble when the rain comes down
     But look up at the sky -
For behind those black and murky clouds
     You’ll find a blue sky shining -
And we’re told “Behind each dark black cloud
      You’ll find a silver lining.”
Copyright 2012

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Excellent Writing Resource!

Thank you Barry Morse for sharing this resource on Linkedin! It is an excellent tool for teaching writing to students of all ages.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Phonics, Sight Words, and Student Success

Approximately 70 to 85 percent of English words are phonetically regular. With the present emphasis on phonics, students will sometimes struggle in vain to sound out a particular word. As parents and teachers, we need to consider the possibility that the word is not phonetically regular or the student has not mastered the phonetic rule(s) that apply to the particular word. Students can be successful learners if we either teach the word as a sight word (until we have the opportunity to teach the skill), OR grab that teachable moment and teach the skill.
When we eliminate the fear of failure, we increase the joy of reading.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Students of any Age Learn to Read

Whether you are coming from behind, or you want to stay on track or move ahead, Rhoades to Reading will work for you because:
1.students of any age learn to read - geared for all ages
2. no training necessary to use the program - user friendly

3. teach only the skills the student needs to learn - geared to addressed specific needs

4. students experience immediate success - immediate gratification for students

Monday, June 18, 2012

Thought for the Day

"If you want to feel secure, do what you already know how to do. If you want to be a true professional and continue to grow. . . go to the cutting-edge of your competence, which means a temporary loss of security. So whenever you don't quite know what you're doing, know you are growing." Madeline Hunter

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Mastery is like Riding a Bike

I was chatting with a group of teachers yesterday when one of the group mentioned she was feeling pressure to move through the curriculum within a certain time frame. Students were “putting in their time” yet simply not learning. After a “lively”discussion the group decided it was necessary to insert mastery criteria into each lesson. We shared The Reading Company’s approach to mastery for their consideration.
We believe that achieving mastery of each skill before moving to the next is essential, regardless of the curriculum being used.

Mastery has been achieved when a student can read 90% of word cards, word lists, and/or stories fluently, two days in a row.

If a student reads words correctly but is decoding the words slowly, mastery has not been achieved.

The minimum goal for reading sentences is 50 words per minute. Students should reach 140 words per minute as soon as possible.

When a standard is taught to mastery, the retention rate is 80% - 90%.

Learning is like riding a bike- if you haven’t ridden for awhile you may be “rusty” but you will never forget.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Reading Development

When teaching Reading it is important to recognize that students learn in different ways and in synchronization with their own personal growth and development. Reading development, as with all human development, is at an individual’s own pace. The stages of reading development can be used as general reference guidelines. In no instance should guidelines become reasons to judge a student’s ability to learn nor should they be a reason to hold a student to curriculum that is no longer challenging.

As part of the normal growth process, children pass through stages of reading development. Advancement through these stages may differ from child to child. For example, a family may have one child who begins reading at age four while another does not begin to read until age six. Parents may be surprised to notice that both children are reading quite well at age eight. In other words, a slow beginning simply may indicate the child is not yet ready to read and nothing more.

The quality of reading is not measured by how soon a child begins to read but how well he or she reads when ready.

Reading development is enhanced when parents, family members, and friends read to children. It also helps if children observe their parents and other important adults reading and discussing the written word. Having books of all types around the house tells children that reading is important. It is always a good idea to make sure that each student has a vision and physical examination before beginning instruction. Most doctors have a list of resources on hand to assist parents and caregivers in connecting with community specialists and school agencies if glasses or other support is required.

Pre-reading: Birth to Kindergarten
Children learn to understand the spoken word, enjoy having books read to them, recognize letters, and perhaps write their name. They may also pretend to read books aloud and talk about the pictures.

Kindergarten and Grade One
Children learn the names of the letters and the concept of sound/symbol and symbol/sound relationships. They learn linguistic patterning, the blending of sounds, and recognize certain sight words.

Grades Two and Three Children enhance and expand decoding skills, learn advanced skills for obtaining meaning from texts, and increase reading fluency.

Grades Four through Eight Children learn information that goes beyond their life experiences, they increase their basic vocabulary, and they apply that vocabulary to new reading and writing experiences.

Grades Nine through Twelve Students develop complex language structures, interpret multiple points of view, learn advanced vocabulary, and construct their own meanings through analysis and synthesis.

Excerpt from: How to Use Rhoades to Reading 2nd Edition (2011)

ISBN: 9781453625583Available on,, or your local book store.