Sunday, September 8, 2013

Daily Assignment #135: Hiatus

To all my Faithful Followers and then some,

At last, I have decided to take a bit of a hiatus from writing my blog.  I thought the summer would be enough of a break, but I am finding I need more time.

I have posted over 100 effective teaching strategies and have published a book on effective teaching strategies.

Please continue to use both as a reference.  Also, if a question arises for you in teaching, please feel free to contact me.

Best Effort in the new school year,

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Daily Assignment #134: End of Year

I've been very lacks in writing my blog.  I feel like I am too late in offering ideas for the end of the year for a lot of you.  Even so, let me suggest a few ideas for those of you still plugging along:

  1. Portfolio day:  Daily Assignment #66
  2. Goodbye book:  Daily Assignment #67
  3. "What I Will Do This Summer" essay
  4. Students write and draw about their favorite experience during the school year. Tie them together to make a paper "Memory" quilt.
  5. Draw silhouettes of the students.  The students fill in the silhouettes with words cut out from magazines, newspapers, etc..., which describe them.
  6. Make a list of things they want to do or accomplish this summer--"Bucket List".
This will be my last blog for this school year.  I will begin again in August.  In the meantime, take a look at my book on for more effective teaching strategies.
Best Effort and thank you for your support,

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Daily Assignment #133: Common Core Standards

There is so much information out there on the Common Core Standards.  When asked a question in regard to the standards, I often cannot be specific enough.  I have a general knowledge but sometimes colleagues want more than that.  I would like to share an App I discovered:  Common Core Standards, MasteryConnect Education.  This App provides the standards in K-12 Math and Language Arts.  The standards are literally at your fingertips for quick reference.

Please share this blog with colleagues and friends.
I hope you will take an opportunity to check-out my book, on effective teaching strategies, on  Also, if you can write a review that would be great.

Best Effort,

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Daily Assignment #132: Creating a Partnership with Parents of Students with Special Needs

"When parents and teachers work together, children do better in school."                            Janet Vohs, Director of Publications, Mass PIRC

I think we all know this, it just doesn't always translate into the parent-teacher relationship.  During the best of times communication can be difficult.  It can be even more of a challenge when a child has special needs.

For me, recognizing that I am not an expert on how to address all learning issues was the most essential step in working with parents of special needs students.  I believe letting the parents know that you are open to learning, understanding and working together to support their child is the next step in opening lines of communication and developing a productive, supportive relationship.

Now, having said that, I understand for some teachers it is very hard to let parents know that you have deficiencies in your skills and knowledge, especially if you are a new to the profession.  So, educate yourself, i.e., read the I.E.P. and understand it, speak with the previous year teacher and any specialist that worked with the student, list effective strategies that worked for the student in the past.  (These recommendations apply to season teachers as well.)

Let the parents know that you are both in this together.  Keep the parents informed. You will need to figure out how best to communicate with each other, e.g. emails, phone, notes.  Most importantly, be honest with the parents.

Please share this blog with colleagues and friends.
Also, take a moment to check-out my book on effective teaching strategies on
Best Effort,

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Daily Assignment #131: Pygmalion Effect

A teacher asked me if I had written a blog on the Pygmalion Effect.  In checking my archives, I discovered this Daily Assignment in drafts.  I hope I'm not repeating myself. 

Often teachers have an expectation, and a belief, as to how students will perform or behave.  It is called the Pygmalion effect, named after a Cypriot sculptor from Greek mythology, who fell in love with a female statue he had carved out of ivory, also known as the Rosenthal effect, after  psychologist Robert Rosenthal who studied this phenomenon and published a report in the 1968.
The Pygmalion effect is a form of self-fulfilling believe/perception, by a teacher, whether negative or positive, which impacts student performance.  
In Rosenthal's study he predicted that when given information that certain students had higher IQs than others, teachers may unconsciously behave in ways that facilitate and encourage the students' success and the inverse for lower IQs.
In the study, a number of teachers were informed that certain students in their class had scored higher on academic and intelligence tests.  The teachers were asked to track the progress of those students through the school year.  Not surprisingly, those students performed at higher academic levels. 
There was one snag in the experiment: The students that Rosenthal had said were academically gifted actually weren't any different from the rest of the students in the class. 
James Rhem, executive editor for the online National Teaching and Learning Forum, commented:  "When teachers expect students to do well and show intellectual growth, they do; when teachers do not have such expectations, performance and growth are not so encouraged and may in fact be discouraged in a variety of ways." 

Teachers send expectations and their beliefs about student learning through their words, actions, lessons/assignments, body language, attitude and responses to students' answers and questions.  Teachers must be vigilant in regard in all these areas and some I haven't mentioned. Please refer to Daily Assignment #97.  
  1.  Rosenthal, Robert; Jacobson, Lenore (1992). Pygmalion in the classroom.
  2. ^ "Pygmalion In The Classroom". Retrieved 18-Oct-2010.
Please share this blog with colleagues and friends. You can purchase my book on  Daily Assignment:  Effective Teaching Strategies.  Don't forget to write a review.  Thanks. 
Best Effort,

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Daily Assignment #130: Setting and Communicating High Expectations

Recently, a teacher asked me how to establish and reinforce expectations for students.  First, I referred her to Daily Assignment # 1, 2, 3, 4...  When I began to number off each blog, the teacher realized that we are communicating our expectations in everything we do, from how we arrange the classroom environment to responding to students' answers.

Bottom line, after a semester break, begin by reviewing the expectations with the students, hopefully these are posted in the classroom.  It is important for you, as the teacher, to be firm, clear and consistent.  This applies to behaviors as well as performance.  Maintain your standards and expectations, especially on those days when it may feel like it is the first day of school.

Also, create Criteria for Success for assignments, (Daily Assignment #25).  Criteria for Success would be #3 on a rubric.  By posting the Criteria for Success and going over it with students, sends the message that this is bottom line and you will not accept less.  However, make it clear you will accept beyond this level.

Remember, everything a teachers does, during the course of a day, sends messages to your students as to your beliefs, standards and expectations.  When you respond to a child, react to a situation, give an assignment, interact with a colleague, a grade, feedback, and more, sends messages to your students.  So, be clear, consistent and firm.  They will get the message loud and clear.

Please share this blog with colleagues and friends.
If you haven't already, check out my book on effective teaching strategies on  I would appreciate a review as well.  Thanks.

Best Effort,

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Daily Assignment #129: Even More Do-Nows #3

As promised, here are some more Do-Now ideas:

  • Correct grammar of 2-3 silly sentences:  
  1.  the robot cow flew the huge whale under the small blue  bridge
  2.  look out for the train going up the building  
  3.  popsicles are good for painting the little wood house 
  • Jeopardy:  give students answers, they design questions:  
  1. On Sept. 1, 1715 Louis XIV died in this city, site of a fabulous palace he built.   (Versailles)  
  2. Around 1542 explorer Juan Rodriquez Cabrillo discovered this island off L.A. and it's believed he's buried there too.  (Catalina)  
  3. This number, one of the first 20, uses only one vowel 4 times.  (Seventeen) 
  4. The United States President lives in this building.  (White House)  
  • Draw a pictures of Idioms:
  1. a wolf in sheep's clothing
  2. killing time; pulling you leg
  3. kicked the bucket
  4. talk to the hand
  5. bite the dust       
  • Check-It:  2 spelling versions, math problems

  • Quick math facts

  • Journal writing

  • Quotes, explain meaning:  
  1. "Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened." Dr. Seuss 
  2. “Those who mind don't matter, and those who matter don't mind.”  Bernard M. Baruch 
  3. “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” ― Mahatma Gandhi  
  4. “If you tell the truth, you don't have to remember anything.” ― Mark Twain  
  5. “If you want to know what a man's like, take a good look at how he treats his inferiors, not his equals.” ― J.K. RowlingHarry Potter and the Goblet of Fire   
  6. “Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.”― Mahatma Gandhi   
  7. “I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” ― Maya Angelou
Please share this blog with colleagues and friends.
If you haven't already, take a moment to check-out my book on Amazon. com---
Best Effort,

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Daily Assignment #128: Even More Do-Nows

Here are few more Do-Nows to add to your repertoire:

  • Write antonyms for...            (ex. wet-dry)
  •           synonyms for...           (ex. difficult-hard, heavy, tough)
  •           homophone for...        (ex. sun-son)
  • Write  another word that could belong in this group...    (ex. road, lane, avenue, ______)
  • Write a declarative sentence.
  •             exclamatory 
  •             interrogative
  •             command
  • What is the root word for....            (ex. totally)
  • What is the prefix for ...                  (ex. reestablished)
  • What is the suffix for...                   (unemployed)
  • Write a list of compound words.
  • Fact or Opinion              (ex. Drinking alcohol can be a cause for a car accident.)   (ex. The drinking age should be raised.)
  • Fact or Fantasy              (ex. an octopus can change color to match its surroundings.)                (ex. Suddenly the red carpet flies off into the sky.)
  • Simile or Not Simile     (ex. Riding a bike without a helmet is like diving into an empty pool.)         (ex. Do not play along the train tracks.)
  • Simile or Metaphor      (ex.The judge's robe was black as ink.)  (ex. The car jetted out of the parking lot.}
  • Analogies   (ex. traffic cone: orange    as   ___________ : red)
  • Cause and Effect  (ex. Otis had a wreck because he was eating a hot fudge sundae while driving.  What is the cause and what is the effect?)
I hope you will experiment with some of these Do-Nows.  I will add more Do Nows in my next blog, on March 10th.  I will not have internet access until then.  Sorry.  Take this time to look through past blogs for more strategies to experiment.  Or better yet, buy my book on   (I had to get a plug-in.)
In the meantime, please share this blogsite with colleagues and friends.
Best Effort,

Monday, January 28, 2013

Daily Assignment #127: More Do-Nows

Do Now activities are used at the beginning of the school day, or class, to get students engaged.  They are usually a quick activity, 6-8 minutes.   I recommend using a timer.  It helps to keep students on task and creates an urgency to finish.

Do Now activities should be something all students can do, without teacher assistance. They need to be engaging activities, so students want to do them and will meet with success.  Consider giving extra credit for students who finish them.

In Daily Assignment #44, I listed 8 suggestions for Do-Nows.  I have discovered a few more, which I would like to share with you.

  • Math--Word problems
  • Science quote: "All the water that will ever be is, right now."  National Geographics, Oct.'93  What does this quote mean?
  • You are shipwrecked on an island.  What are 3 things you would want to have to ensure your survival and why?
  • "If you were..."    Fill in the blank with a scientist, leader, etc...
For the next few weeks I will be sharing more Do-Nows with you.  So, keep checking in.

Please share this blog with colleagues and friends.  If you haven't already take a look at my book on effective teaching strategies.  It can be found on
Best Effort,

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Daily Assignment #126: Handwriting

Recently, there was an article in "The Boston Globe," titled,  "Mom, what is handwriting?" by Eugenia Williamson.  Williamson interviewed British novelist, Philip Hensher, author of "The Missing Ink:  The Lost Art of Handwriting".  After reading this article, and several others on handwriting in schools, I became saddened by the fact that handwriting, particularly cursive, is no longer part of the required instruction in some schools.  Handwriting is being left up to the teacher's discretion.   Needless to say, if something needs to go to make room for content for high stake testing it will be the 20 minute handwriting lesson.

Cursive, for my 2nd grade students, was a much anticipated skill.  They felt so grown-up to be able to write in cursive.  I would say, "Today, we are going to write the letter "t" and then you will be able to write..."  They would wiggle in their seats, sit up straight, pencils ready to go.  It was magical.  The last 2 lessons would always focus on students writing their first names in cursive.  How awesome is that!!!

You can well imagine my chagrin over this paradigm shift, even though I have been well aware of its impending arrival.  Do I think printing and cursive should continue to be taught? Yes.  There will come a day when we won't need to handwrite anything.  Until that day, handwriting needs to be taught.

Is handwriting an art form?  Maybe, but it shouldn't be completely considered outdated yet.  There are times when technology is not accessible.  Have you ever been in doctor's office and had to fill out a form, or the DMV, or a bank, the list goes on.  What if you had no idea how to form letters to complete that form.

There is something very special about reading a handwritten piece of work.  I treasure all the little handwritten notes students and parents have given me, as well as from my own children.  Thank goodness I know how to write.  I have notes and lists everywhere to remind me of things to do.

If you don't have time to teach handwriting during your school day, as Hensher recommends, tell parents to teach their children and to provide their child times to practice their writing, such as writing a nice thank you note to their teacher.

Please share this blog with colleagues and friends.  Also, take a moment to check out my book on

Best Effort,

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Daily Assignment #125: Reinforcing Standards and Expectations

Hello Everyone,
I hope you have had a wonderful, relaxing and healthy holiday.

So much has happened in a month, most notably, and sadly, the tragedy at Sandy Hook.  I have no words to express my sadness.  I can't imagine the heartache of the families, teachers, and the community at large.  They are all in my thoughts.  May it never happen again.

We all know, as difficult as it is, we must move forward.

Returning from the holiday break you've probably noticed that your students' behavior, and performance, has taken a few steps backwards.  This is a phenomenon, which I call the "2 Step," 2 steps forward, 1 step backward.  Now it is your turn to dance and you must take the lead.

Begin by reviewing the expectations with the students, hopefully these are posted in the classroom.  It is important for you, as the teacher, to be firm, clear and consistent.  This applies to behaviors, as well as performance.  Maintain your standards and expectations, especially on those days when it may feel like it is the first day of school.

Here is the toughest part--have patience and no blaming, especially that of the students.  They are doing what comes naturally--proving the teacher will not notice.  Don't blame yourself either.

Heads-up--the "2 Step" is common and will happen again after the next semester break--be prepared.

Please share this blog with colleagues and friends.  Also, take a look at my book on effective strategies on

Best Effort,