Thanksgiving, along with other holidays, poses an interesting teaching dilemma.

How do we teach it?  Or not teach it?

At what age do we cover it?  Is it okay to just not discuss it at all until the children are “old enough” to gather a fuller picture…

We need to consider the purpose of education, our educational goals, and think carefully before we simply “cover” Thanksgiving.

There are many angles here, but if you plan on covering the “history” then you owe it to your students to be accurate.  If you plan on simply discussing it as a tradition of family and fun, and do not bring in the Native Americans or Pilgrims at all … then maybe, just maybe you are okay… as long as we are talking prekindergarten or kindergarten.

On the other hand, if you think just putting turkeys on a worksheet means you are doing the holiday or the material the worksheet is meant to cover any justice, I believe you may be mistaken.  Simply turning an addition worksheet into one covered in turkeys does neither the math nor the history any justice.   If you are simply having preschoolers and kindergartners making Pilgrim hats and stereotypical Native American garb, then I also believe you are doing an injustice to the actual events.  Let’s work hard to make everything we cover in a classroom meaningful and purposeful.

So before you copy those worksheets– ask yourself, why?


High Expectations

First, sorry I’ve not posted quickly.  My schedule is going to mean that I post sporadically.

I just need to take a moment- after two days of professional development (PD) on guided reading– I realized, it’s all about expectations.  If you don’t expect your students to read at an “appropriate” level, they won’t. Period!

What are “high expectations”– I used to think that was for each teacher to decide.  I now wonder??

School curriculum coach: “but… our kids are so low…”

Me:   “and… !?” ….    “Mine were too, but they still ….”

Yes, everyone is different.  Yes, everyone will master at a different level.  But!  There needs to be an understanding that the majority of children can do… just ask, push, instruct …

Sorry if this post isn’t clear, or meaningful… I’ll come back to it, but I’m just so upset right now from hearing “our kids are so low…” that I needed to take a moment to vent.


3rd Grade Graphs


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In 3rd grade one of the new common core math standards is:

  • CCSS.Math.Content.3.MD.B.3 Draw a scaled picture graph and a scaled bar graph to represent a data set with several categories. Solve one- and two-step “how many more” and “how many less” problems using information presented in scaled bar graphs. For example, draw a bar graph in which each square in the bar graph might represent 5 pets.

I was glad that I took a moment to look up the exact standard after watching two 3rd grade classes work on graphs.  The standard suggests that students should draw a scaled picture graph and bar graph.  Both classrooms I entered into were reviewing graphs as a whole class.  I did not see anything in the room/on the walls that suggested that students had at any point made their “own” graphs or even drawn a graph with provided data.

When I left the classroom and was discussing the lesson with my supervisor, who was also unimpressed.  Within minutes–I thought about what I might do with that standard.

This is what popped into my head before we even made it to the next classroom:

Ideas of students gathering data that interested them popped into my head.

Ideas of students discussing different graphing scales and types as they try and understand why someone would choose a particular scale or graph.

Ideas of students then creating their own graphs and justifying their graph choice and scale–with data they collected.

I saw small groups, partner groups, and conversation.

Tell me— how might you try and make this standard meaningful?  How might you really include those “21st Century” skills we’ve all been hearing about?

A place to start


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If someone were to walk into your classroom, what would they see?

I’ve been doing a lot of classroom walk-throughs recently as part of my internship.  It is very interesting to have an opportunity to see teaching from the “other side.” It also makes me think about what someone would have thought at any given time when they walked through my classroom.  (hmm….)

I’d love to give teachers the benefit of the doubt- having been one, butI have seen only a hand-full of classrooms that I would want my child in.  I have seen many teachers doing what I might call “old-school.”  I also have seen teaching as a check-list.  They are covering the standard, but it is simply that- covering.   Where is the thought behind it.  A glimmer of something that would suggest the teacher understands how this piece of information connects into a bigger picture… a glimmer of excitement, passion.


A science teacher who made sure to incorporate a self-assessment rubric and was actually “caught” in the act of supporting/guiding a child in using the self-assessment rubric.

A kindergarten teacher that still had “play-time.”  There were two little boys in the kitchen area making sandwiches and sharing.

A teacher who recorded her hands modeling a math lesson (guided practice) using math manipulatives on her i-pad, which was then used as a center so that she was able to pull another small group and conduct a guided math lesson.

These lessons were my glimmer…

All teachers/retired teachers feel free to share your best ideas/lessons — so my hope and others’ hope can grow.