Wrapping up 2014: Instructional Lessons Learned

First post.

What can you expect from my blog?  Pictures, templates, and strategies.

Short phrases, simplistic language (free of jargon), bullet points, basics and funny anecdotes…after all I am in the Education Sector, and time is always of the essence.

Lets get started!

From Boston to China, there were many instructional lessons learned, many instructional lessons to share, and many instructional strategies that help us improve the education of ALL students.


I traveled to Boston to work with Supt. Riley as a Master Teacher and alumni Sontag Prize Winner.  My class of 7th graders were excited and I used the following literacy strategies to help them become effective readers (all are attached) .

1. Effective strategies bookmark- Reading Strategy Bookmark.

2. RACE mnemonic to cite textual evidence- RACE citing textual evidence template.

3. Blooms Ball as a summarizing strategy.

4. Newsela.com ( a free web tool with nonfiction text that can be tiered at the click of a button, ranges from 3rd-12th gr).

5. Learnzillion.com (after I explain a concept, this multimedia tutorial provides a ton of other ways to reach my learners).

April/ May-

After presenting at the Council for Exceptional Children Convention, I was provided the wonderful opportunity to be apart of the Teach For Change & DC Speak Easy Teacher Appreciation Event “sharing stories from teachers about teaching.” Key take-aways-

1. High expectations push all students to be their best.

2. Bias and stereotypes are real and can affect students mindsets; teachers hold the key to teaching students how to acquire a “Growth Mindset”  See Carol Dweck’s mindsetworks.com and check out Brainology Interactives (we have to have honest conversations).

3. Story telling is a great medium for supporting verbal expression and it is a lot harder than it looks…oh yes!



Paris, France- Solar Decathlon; a collegiate competition- designing modular homes that are ergonomic, green, and sustainable.

1. Forget the controversy – Europe is surpassing the US in critical thinking, sustainable design, and creative solutions- how do we reverse the trend of our drill and kill and repetitive practice for standardized test? Add the A into STEM making it STEAM- see  & use Blooms throughout the entire lesson.


Cortez, Colorado- As a National Endowment for the Humanities scholar, I was privileged to travel and study the many contributions of the Pueblo Indians around the Mesa Verde Region.

1. I implore you to take advantage of the many Institutes the NEH offers for teachers, many of which include stipends to supplement the trip.  The historical benefits, collaboration with other teachers, and cultural gems outweigh the fear of trying something new.  The picture below is from Cliff Palace, one of the many archeological sites we visited. What are you waiting for? Apply- applications are due March 1, 2015.



Beijing China- I traveled with the College Board Delegation to share, learn and connect the cultures of our US & China.

1. China has an amazing culture, family hospitality, and rich history for education.

2. We have many lessons to learn from each other in terms of educational advancement- We share art and creativeness & China shares rigor and competition.

3. Traditional lecture doesn’t actively engage any learner- Check out Marzano’s High Yield Engagement Strategies for student success- Marzano highyieldstategies.

4. College Board has more to offer that SAT prep! Check them out!




Washington DC, Presenting at the TASH conference.

1. Helpful resources to make sure we are meaningfully including students with moderate to severe disabilities- check out the Center for Universal Design for Learning for helpful teacher worksheets CASTupdateguidelines2_0.

2. Universal Design for Learning provides a framework for addressing learners and their variability in interest, readiness, and learning style (see cast.org).


Honolulu, Hawaii- Presenting at the International Conference on Education

1. The literacy gap is our “achievement gap,” if we support students with metacognitive strategies we can empower them to be effective readers.

2. See attachment on an effective reading strategy, also named SQP2RS- SQP2RS.


Well folks- That was 2014 in a “instructional wrap!”  Lessons learned & and a few lessons shared.

Please contact me with questions, follow-up thoughts, or specific strategies you would like to see me address in my January Blog.

Happy resource sharing:)


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