Summer School Progress Reports


All summer school progress reports were mailed to student homes, Wednesday, August 4th.  These reports give a brief explanation of demonstrated growth over the 4 week session.  Please keep in mind that the GMS summer school program measures academic growth in addition to the final grade.

Feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns.

Embracing Mistakes with Positivity


Courtesy Sidney Harris, The New Yorker Magazine

In the past we discussed completing math problems in pen, marker, or crayon.  Why? Writing in pencil allows for erasing mistakes; moreover, pretending they did not occur.  Instead, we need to embrace our mistakes and learn from them.  Express to your students that it is okay to make mistakes and they are expected because they allow us to succeed.

Interested in reading more?

Cultivating a Culture of Failure

Video worth viewing…  click the following link.


All good things are worth practicing for learning (and teaching) “miracles” to occur.


Wayside Teaching to Kick Off the New Year

–Welcome Back–

We’ve squeezed in our last summer trips with friends and family while holding onto a few more hours without visiting our “Back-to-School” Pinterest Boards, favorite teaching and technology blogs, and logging into our Edmodo accounts.   Eventually, we revisit our hopeful lists that we scribbled for ourselves back in May to begin the new year with so many bright ideas.  What were we thinking making the list so long?!?

Before planning your classroom themes, station organization, or when to run first week copies; consider the following components as your first planning priority this school year.

  1.  Trust & Respect- How will you establish a trusting relationship with each or your students?

  2.  Sense of Community- How will you make each student feel an appreciated and accepted part of the classroom?

  3.  Student Engagement- What will your working classroom look like to your students, parents, or a passerby?

We, as educators, have the most amazing job in the world.  Our task is to empower a child and truly watch them blossom with our support.  This may entail direct teaching, facilitation, peer teaching, exploration through music or art, it may even require rote memorization.   When you teach the best way for the students, you will see amazing results.  However, it begins with a relationship (and consisent classroom procedures) each and every time.

Need a back up just in case things are not going as planned?  This is an incredible reference!  Being proactive is key to successful classroom management and student engagement.

For the daydreamers, the do-ers, and welcomed challenges.

Happy New Year, teachers!


Heart of the Matter at GMS

Goochland Middle School gets to the ”Heart of the Matter.”

The staff had that opportunity to collaborate in an engaging team setting to create a shared vision for the 2014-2015 school year.

Heart of the Matter Graphic Organizer

As you welcome your students into their new classrooms, consider introducing yourself (roots, schools, hobbies, family, favorites, etc.) through photos, multimedia presentation or even an iMovie trailer.  Enjoy learning about your students and going that extra mile to development those relationships.

Please let me know if you would like a customizable Heart of the Matter Graphic Organizer for use in your classroom .

Wayside Teaching Article

Novels to Read Aloud and Summer Learning Fun

Whether you are planning on reading to your children over the summer or planning for the 2014-2015 school year, everyone benefits!

Save this article for a later, less busy, date…

15 Novels to Read Aloud

Looking for resources and ideas to keep the kiddos busy?

Big List of Fun Summer Learning Resources (including Summer Reading Programs)


Have an incredible summer!


Stump the Teacher

Strategy #5

Stump the Teacher 


A variation of 20 Questions where students are challenged to create questions, hints, and lists with the purpose of trying to Stump the Teacher.


  1. Provide students with time to review materials, handouts, and books related to the content being studied/reviewed.
  2. Instruct each student to write 5-10 questions about the content being studied.  Students must provide both the question and the answer.
  3. Provide students with time to research, write, and answer their questions.  *Critical Thinking Component
  4. Place students in pairs or small groups and instruct them to review all the questions written by each group member.
  5. Let the groups to select the five most difficult questions that they believe will Stump the Teacher.


This game could be presented as classroom Jeopardy or in another game format!  Student questions can also be used for quizzes and exit tickets.  You may want to post the 5 W’s the first few times to assist in writing effective, complete questions.

Have fun involving the students while challenging them to Stump the Teacher!


Strategy #4


Objective:  A simple strategy that asks students to say aloud the words, ideas, or terms that a associated with a unit of study or review topic.


  1. Pause midway through the lesson and ask students to clear thier mind and take a deep breath.
  2. Remind students, in one sentence, of the topic and objective of the lesson.
  3. Tell students that on the count of three, they will say aloud the first word that comes to mind that is related to the content.  (It may be helpful to explain that Take -A-Breath is an association game.)
  4. Example- For students studying Earth Science:

“Student, I want everyone to place their pencils and materials down on         their desk.  Everyone take a deep breath.  In just a moment, when I count to 3, I want everyone to say aloud the first word that comes to mind that is related to plate tectonics.”



The Magic of Timers

 Timed Gallery Walk

Consider a traditional gallery walk for your SOL review wherein each poster includes a different standard.  Rather then scheduling  20 minutes to visit, record, and illustrate for the activity.  Set your timer for a fast paced review session.

Timer Tell


Students often thrive when  given a specific time frame for completion of a task.  This strategy relies on the use of a timer in order to help students keep focused and engaged.


  1. Provide each student with a sheet of paper and a pencil.
  2. Instruct students that a timer will be and they will be asked to write about a prompt such as, “List and describe three major events that took place during the Revolutionary War.”  
  3. Set the timer for 60 seconds and allow student to write.
  4. When the timer goes off, place the students in small groups or pairs.
  5. Set the timer again for 30 seconds and tell students that they will tell their partners what they wrote on their papers.
  6.  Choose 1-3 pairs to share with the class.

The use of a timer can turn any lesson into an engaging activity.

Consider posting the timer on the Promethean Board for a visual reminder and student monitoring of task.

Online Stopwatch

Unique Idea Only

Strategy #2 

Unique Idea Only


Help student discover the ideas, thoughts, and examples of other student in the class.  By discovering and sharing ideas, students are able tot see the limitations of their own thinking and to expand upon examples form other students.


  1. Remind students of key objectives of the lesson.
  2. Ask students to brainstorm a written list of key ideas or examples that relate to the topic/lesson.
  3. Students will then be called upon one at a time to share one item on their list about the topic or question.
  4. The first student tells a term or idea that is on their list.  All the other students in the class then cross that idea (or one similar) off their list.
  5. The next student is then called upon to share something that has not already been shared (a Unique Idea Only).  Again, students cross off their lists the idea that was shared.
  6. This continues until all student have shared.


RES Times Newspaper Archive

Feel free to revisit this year’s RES Times on my blog!
You can use these to reinforce–
*main idea
*author’s purpose
*FUNdations markings scavenger hunts
*Grammar scavenger hunts
*editing practice
*QAR strategies
*classroom writing contest/challenges for the May Edition
All entries for the April edition  are due April 9th (typed preferred if possible and sent to me)!

Laughter in the Classroom

Brain Compatible Strategies:

Laugh and Learn

While catching up from snow days and preparing for end of the year assessments, things can get a little stressful for not just the teachers but the students.  Transitions are the perfect time to add some laughter to your daily routine.  Why make them laugh?

Research shows that “Laughter increases the flow of neurotransmitters that are required for alertness and memory, lowers stress and strengthens the immune system.  Laughter also provideds a break in the routine and relaxes students who may be stressed or anxious.” (Jensen, 65)

Strategies for a comical classroom break:

  • Keep funny anecdotes or joke to emphasize elements of a lesson
  • Keep a “funny file” of all the class jokes, videos, memories, etc. to share with the class in times of high stress
  • Add joke telling to your morning meeting, mid-day line up, or dismissal routine
  • Add a quick cartoon or joke at the end of an assignment
  • Be silly–laugh at the silly things you say or do, the students will appreciate it

Resource: Jenson, Eric. Brain Compatible Strategies, Second Edition

Meaningful Instruction Through Brain Based Strategies

  1.  Visuals

Photos, Anchor Charts, Movie Trailors, Clip Art, and Videos are your best friend when introducing an new concept and VOCABULARY!  Make a connection (#8) to words through visuals rather than just memorizing definitions.

  1.  Chunking & Talking

Present information in 5-7 minute intervals intertwined with Buddy Talk, Think- Pair-Write-Share, Whisper Friend opportunities.  The experiences allow for progressing of new material while hearing peer reactions and thoughts.

  1.  Movement

Combining movement and learning will result in deeper learning!   Add some kinestic motions to your everyday activities.

  1.  Change it Up- Attention Grabbers

Assuming we are returning to a normal daily schedule, shake up the daily routine!  Small things like switching a seat, having a “backwards” day, reading with flash lights, etc. can prompt a refresher change in routine to keep our brains interested.

  1.  The Brain Needs Oxygen

Take commercial breaks or participating in Brain Gym activties.

  1.  Making Connections-

Teach through story telling.  If a concept is related to a favorite experience, funny story, certain scent, sound,  or memory the students will retain content!  It’s difficult to learn random facts and informtion without having a connection to making it relevant.  Try creating a timeline and then transfering the newly learned information into a comic.

  1.  Feedback/Reflection-

Make activities and learning stations meaningful.    Reflect on the stations and learning experiences to create a well rounded understanding of the learning process.  Make connections (#8) to emphasize the meaning behind the activity.  In addition, provide accurate feedback in a punctual time frame to ensure student accuracy on assignments and tasks.

  1.  The Magic of Music-

Music is your best friend in the classroom!  It can prompt a transition, act as an auditory cue to signal a clean up or break, or wake up a sleepy class on a Monday morning.  Music sparks emotions (#2)  which can create a positive atmosphere for all learners.

List adapted from Elementary Matters

Classroom Resolutions

Bing Images

Welcome Back!

 January  is the perfect time to make a classroom resolution.  Have students create personal resolutions as well as decide upon a classwide resolution.  These resolutions can be incorporated into a writing prompt or posted on a bulletin board.

Resolution Examples:

“I Can’t Find It!”

If you are experiencing frustration will cluttered desks, incorporate “clear and clean” as part of the pack up routine at the end of the day.  By instilling a consistent expectation and allowing time for students to organize his or her desks, you can take a proactive approach to ease the “I can’t find it” frustration.

“Is this Homework or Classwork?”

This is an ongoing concern every year!  Have student distinguish between homework and classwork by simply labeling the page at the top right corner:

  • H (homework)
  • C (classwork)
  • N (notes)

Post the cues somewhere easily accessible in the classroom.  Take the time as soon as you begin to label the task as a class.  In addition, all homework can be placed in the same place each day in order to set students up for organized success.

When making resolutions: 

Pinpoint the area of ongoing classroom concern and establish a procedure.  This procedure should be modeled, practiced, and incorportated into your daily schedule.  Make it fun by incorporating student helpers while modeling or including lots of praise or small rewards.



Looking for an Online Differentiation Tool?

As the New Year is upon us, let’s make an academic resolution to kick up our differentiation!  Zondle is a great tool to assist both within the classroom and for homework or study time.


Zondle’s pitch is simple:

  • Empowering teachers
  • Engaging students
  • Enhancing learning
Goochland teachers who have tried it are using it almost daily in their classrooms.  The best part, there are games and activities for ANY SUBJECT!!!

Interested in learning more?  Watch the Video!

Let’s Put That Candy To Good Use!

© StockFood Image

Many students will be heading out tonight in hopes of getting loads of candy.  However, parents and teachers can prevent the belly aches by turn the sugar into an educational masterpiece.  Give the kiddos a sugar challenge!

Kindergarten- Create patterns, counting, or glueing the letters in their names for a candy nametag to assist in writing names on homework.

1st grade- Have a candy spelling test, use a candy bar as a “tracker” for your nightly nighting. Group in 2 or 5 for skip counting practice.

2nd grade- Create a candy firework display, compass or kite like the Ancient Chinese.

3rd Grade-Use the candy to build a mosaic just like the Ancient Romans.

4th Grade- Make a candy map to add a 3D geographic region detail.

5th Grade- Create atoms or molecules.  Conduct a science exeriment using the steps of the scientific method.

Have fun being creative and putting that candy and mind

to great use this Halloween!

Good-bye, Round Robin. Hello Nutty Professor!

Last week, you received an email about a new strategy called…

Fluency Game

The Nutty Professor will:

  • Develop students’ reading fluency
  • Build student paraphrasing and summarization skills
  • Help students go deeper by questioning

Steps to the game.

“This strategy will work with any genre but offers amazing potential for helping students bring content area reading to life!” If you would like for your class to experience “The Nutty Professor Game,” please contact me.  All I will need from you is a time to visit your class and a universal reading passage for whole group practice.   (Yes, chapter books are applicable as well!)

Source:  Literacy-Builders

Now Offering Embedded Staff Development!!!

GIST is now offering Embedded Staff Development to all teachers at GES and RES!  Simply contact me with your classroom need and we can schedule a time for a modeled lesson, a series of collaborative lessons or interactive planning for instructional ideas.

Next week’s visits include:

  • Teaching Grammar- proper nouns and capitalization
  • Punctuation Station- review punctuation and sentence structure

Punctuation Interactive Notepage

  • Introducing Fluency
  • “Reading Toolbox” Strategies- What do Angry Birds and reading have in common???

  • Writing Workshop- combining POWER Writing & 4 Square

  • Assistance in planning the Language Arts Block and lesson ideas
  • Brain Breaks and Transitions- preventing classroom disruptions

Do any of these appeal to your specific classroom?  Have other ideas?   If so, email me to set up a lesson or time to plan.   I look forward to working with you.  

Don’t forget– The GIST window opens September 16th.

Forms can be located on the GIST Bulletin Board or here.

“Request early, request often!”  

SOL Online Activities, Games & Review

With SOL Testing only 1 week away, our goal is for students to have multiple exposures to vocabulary and content.  By actively preparing our students with various, hands-on activities, material is truly understood and mastered.    Here are some excellent sites created by Suffolk County and Rockingham County that can be used both in the classroom and at home for student review.

***JLab and Study Island are wonderful and effective resources for your students!!!

Happy reviewing!

Thinking About Flipping…

The Flipped Classroom

Educational Focus:

√ Increase use of technology

√ Increase student acheivement

√ Focus on student skills

What conclusions can you draw from the diagram?

Could  the flipped classroom be an answer?

Interested in learning more?

 “Flipped classrooms”: You keep using that word …


Pyramid and many other “flipped” sources:

SOL Review with “Edcanvas”

While we are reflecting on your classroom environment, try incorporating “edcanvas” to integrate technology into the SOL Review season!  This canvas opens your classroom for a entirely new way to teach, practice, review, and challenge.

 Assessment Suggestion:  

After  analyzing MP data, create a canvas for study groups, home practice, and classroom challenges.  Involve your students in the process by dropping in favorite sites, review games, songs or video clips.  You can even include TestNav sites!  Have fun exploring & reviewing.

Convience Feature–

See something worth edcanvasing while browsing online?

 Add it to your edcanvas it! button:

How Can GIST Assist You?
GIST is now scheduling Winter/Spring Embedded Staff Development in your classrooms. Please read below for a variety of lessons and options.  If you don’t see anything of  interest, feel free  to let me know your needs. I am happy to work with you and your students.   
Classroom Modeling/Co-teaching Opportunities: 
HIGHLY REQUESTED: TestNav classroom lessons-(3-5)
~Familiarize students with online testing features that will be used during SOLS
~Hands on experience and practice using TestNav tools focusing on multiple choice as well as TEI questions
Writing- Using POWER and 4 Square to write (K-5)
~Opportunity for a sequential writing experience
SOL Review in the Classroom- (K-5)
~Introduce engaging review activities, lessons, and games
Sight Word/Spelling Games for the Classroom (K-5)
~Introduce engaging review activities, lessons, and games
Math- Question/Compliment Multistep Activity (1-5)
~Encouraging students to explore multiple responses in problem solving
Teacher Assistance:
~Using Schoolnet as an everyday assessment tool in your classroom
Sumdog Math-
~Perfect for online enrichment, intervention, and daily practice
Study Skills-
~Watch for K-2/3-5 Study Skills- coming soon on my blog to share with parents!
Math Stations-
~Setting up stations, station ideas, managing your stations

***Please submit any new GIST requests to me by February 15th *** 

Image Sources:

Brain Based Learning- High Expectations

Brain Based Learning in Your Classroom

Set Expectations High

VCTM-Math Beauty Contest

Are you looking for an opportunity to differentiate and challenge your mathematicians?  Or consider assigning the Math Beauty Contest as part of a winter break extra credit contest.    

Problems for the  VCTM 2013 Math Beauty Contest

K – 2     SOLs: K15, K 16, 1.16, 1.17, 2.20

Please create a pattern that is either a growing or repeating pattern or both.  Please be sure to tell what your thinking was by writing a paragraph explaining your thoughts about your creation of the pattern.  Students who are not able to write the paragraph may dictate it to an adult who can write exactly what the student says.

3rd – 5th    SOLs: 3.4, 3.6, 4.4, 5.4, 5.18

At the local sandwich shop they made sandwiches that people could come in and get quickly because they were already prepared and in a package.  They made 100 sandwiches early in the morning.  They made turkey sandwiches, ham sandwiches and cheese sandwiches.  They made the same number of ham sandwiches as cheese sandwiches.  They made twice as many ham sandwiches as turkey sandwiches.  How many turkey sandwiches did they make?  How many ham sandwiches did they make?  How many cheese sandwiches did they make?

Check the site for detailed information: