Scaffolding Novel Studies

Tuesday, August 23, 2022 No comments

 Many educators make the mistake of just jumping right into a novel or play without giving students and background information or just having one big project at the end of reading a new novel or play. This can be frustating for many students who may struggle during the duration of reading a text.

Introducing A Text 

Before reading a new text it's important for students to get some background information be it historical context, cultural context, or information on the author. Many books are hard for students to comprehend certain events inside the text without any background knowledge. In the case of science fiction or horror information on the genre may also be helpful.

Guided Reading

Don't leave your students hanging! Check for comprehension while students read each chapter. Go over vocabulary words or better yet-- have students find vocabulary words and define them. Study guides and graphic organizers are excellent tools for students to use to demonstrate their understanding of the text.

Assessment/ Projects

Novel projects are fun! Students can make a movie trailer, a board game, a pop-up book, and a lot of other activities that can not only prove mastery of the content but allow their creativity to shine through. 

Need More Help with Scaffolding Text? 

We got you covered! Try our Novel Units ... Don't see what you need? Let us now what novels and plays you would like to see covered. 

Positive Reinforcement

Tuesday, August 16, 2022 No comments

 I tend to find the best way to get my students to do their work and behave is to incoorporate positive reinforcement. Of course types of positive reinforcements to use can vary based on grade level and budget.

Elementary School

Most elementary school students are eager to please their teachers. The best types of treats for these students include

- Stickers! (especially shiney ones)

-Temporary tattoos

- Positive notes

- Candy

- Small dollar store items.

Middle School

Middle school students need alot of praise and are often pushing their limites behavior wise. Be sure to reward good behavior and not just academics.

- Candy

- Positive call home

- Extra Credit

-Homework pass

High School

High school kids need encouragement too! Many wake up very early, have other responsibilities besides school, and are easily disheartened.

- Candy

-Small snacks (can be healthy or unhealthy) 

- Positive call home

- Extra Credit

-Homework pass

All grade levels tend to love... class parties, movie days, or certificates. To help with budgeting I like Starbursts, Jolly Ranchers, or Airheads as candy treats. If you don't know what your students like...ask!

Data Driven Instruction

Tuesday, August 9, 2022 No comments

 The importance of data driven instruction has been a major topic among administrators, teachers, and professors; however, it can be difficult to administer in practice. Data based instruction is valuable for all students regardless of what level, as each student comes in with different strengths and weaknesses. So what is it and how can we accomplish it?

Getting the Data

Testing is one thing students and teachers hate, but is an excellent way to gather data on what skills students have mastered and which ones they struggle with. Even gifted students, find some tasks difficult. If possible access prior test scores; however, should a student not have a prior test score administer a diagnostic exam that covers a variety of standards. This should help in gathering the data needed about the students to see where their skills are.

Communicating with Students and Parents / Setting Realistic Goals

Data should not only stay with the teacher as students have a right to know how well they did on the diagnostic. Typically, I like to give the class an independent assignment while I call up students one by one to go over the data with them. Don't post individual test scores as for some students it can be embarassing or lead to problems with their classmates. Information regarding individual scores are not public information for the whole world to see. You may discuss individual information with the student or parent or guardian. You may also show average for the entire class score , so long as you are not pointing out an individual student. 

You may point out what the grade level concordant is , but when setting goals make them realistic for that student. Each child is different and even if a child doesn't reach the grade level concordant it's best to celebrate any improvement that child makes throughout the year. You never know, the child may surprise you. In addition, you want to be careful when a child is above level as regression can happen. If a child is above level give them challenging work to meet them at that level. This is where differenciated instruction kicks in to try to meet the needs of all the students. 

Lesson Planning

Lesson plans should be created based on the test scores and primarily to address student weaknesses. When lesson planning you may use centers, games, and assessments to foster a productive learning environment for students. The lessons need to be engaging and interactive, so that students don't get too reluctant or bored. Think about it this way... When you are building a house it's important to have a solid foundation before building any walls. Learning new skills is the same way. When a student is weak in a standard they often have a weak foundation, so fix the foundation first and gradually move on to building the rest of the house. Assessment should be varied and constant so that the teacher can self-evaluate their own lesson and see what needs to be retaught and reinforced. 

Repeat and Reward 

These steps will need to be repeated at least twice during the school year. Even if it's tiring, it can be rewarding to watch students improve throughout the school year. I like to celebrate improvement and often keep Starbursts around for such an occasion. Even big kids like candy, so it can be helpful to buy some in bulk. I recommend Starbursts, Air Heads, and Jolly Ranchers because it's easy to buy them in bulk. Be careful with chocolate as it may melt. I would also reccommend learning if any of your students have allergies or religious perferences (like if they only eat Kosher foods). Not sure what type of treat they would like? Ask them. They will gladly tell you. 

Need More Help? Get Our Free Editable Data Tracking Sheet in Google Drive. 

Parent Communication Made Easy

Tuesday, August 2, 2022 No comments

Communication is the key to help our students achieve success. In an ideal world both parents and teachers would work together to help students reach their dreams. Many times, I've heard of parents wanting to help their children, but not knowing what is going on inside of class or what they can do about it. Here are some simple ways that we as teachers can help. 


Old fashioned newsletters can easily be emailed to parents and help keep them in the loop as to what is going on inside of class without having to reach out and ask a ton of questions. Better yet, the students can't come up with the "I lost it" excuse to their parents. I reccommend sending it as a BCC (Blind Carbon Copy) as you don't want people's emails to be exposed to everyone else. If you are unsure how to get started why not try our free Canva Template .


Truth be told, students and parents are on their cellphones alot. Even if you have it under control in your classroom, you know once they leave they will be on their phones. Why not take advantage of it? With the remind app both students and parents and text you and you can text them back without having to reveal your personal phone number to them. You can even set 'office' hours so that students are not texting you at all times in the middle of the night. Remind is free to use. Go  to to learn more. 


I was introduced to ClassTag last year through my youngest child's teacher. It offers a common place for classroom communication and an easy way for parents to reach out to students. If you have a Google Classroom, ClassTag easily intergrates with Google Calendar and Google Meet. You can send photos, reminders, and parents can comment. I also like that it doesn't have the cutesy avatars or a limit on how long messages can be like Class Dojo doesI can see how it works well in elementary school but in middle and high school you would probably have to set up multiple accounts for the different periods. Go to Classtag to learn more.