Contacting Parents of Students with IEPs and 504s

For general education teachers who have some students with IEPs and/or 504 plans, it’s a good idea to contact those parents at the beginning of the year to let them know that you’ve reviewed their child’s documents. Tell parents about your plans for accommodating the children and ask for suggestions for ways to best serve them.

Behavior Management with Cards

When students are misbehaving, talking out of turn, being disruptive, give them a yellow card as in soccer (just a piece of yellow card stock). You don’t even have to stop teaching or talking – just give the student the card. That’s strike 1. With a second yellow card comes greater consequences (maybe a detention). Strike 3 is a red card, which students know comes after two yellow cards. A red card means calling home or meeting with the principal or something students really want to avoid.

The trick is to make it so that the first yellow card isn’t a “free pass.” There must be some consequence associated with it. Students must also know that misbehaving badly enough can get them an instant red card or two yellow cards at once – it’s not always the same progression of one yellow card, another yellow card, and finally a red card.

Right now, without being a teacher, I’m thinking 1st yellow card = sit apart from students or some other small consequence depending on the “offense”; 2nd yellow card = lunch/recess detention to work on homework or help the teacher with a chore; a red card = parent conference at the least.

I really like this idea because the teacher can communicate with misbehaving students without disrupting the teaching. Another thing to consider is how to keep track of which kids have how many cards… Maybe a chart on the teacher’s desk (though not necessarily on the white/black board – it’s not necessary to humiliate children who are sensitive or to give the attention-seekers some “fame”).


Triptico is a FREE desktop app for teachers. It includes lots of easy-to-use programs such as randomizers, word magnets, and a variety of timers.

Standards and Data

So this is my life now – thinking and blogging about standards and data.

Here’s an idea about making sure you reach most (all?) standards and have evidence thereof: make a list of all standards (in a spreadsheet?) and write the summative assessments for each. Make sure grading is standards-based and then use the grades to collect data about who and how many have met which standards.


Remind101 is a FREE computer program that allows teachers to send text messages to parents and students without actually texting or revealing your phone number. It’s done through the computer and is one-way so you cannot be texted back. You never know the numbers of those who receive the messages, and vice versa. Parents and/or students must sign up in order to receive texts, and I imagine that both parties will be charged depending on what texting plan they have. You can organize your classes on Remind101 and schedule updates to be sent at specific times in the future if not immediately. With parent permission, it would be great program for students as well (to send them reminders), since today’s kids seem to be attached to their phones.

Mockingjay – Suzanne Collins

MockingjayReading level: 7
Series: The Hunger Games series book 3
Genre: Dystopian
ELL-Friendly: Yes
Library recommendation: Middle or high school

Goodreads summary:

Katniss Everdeen, girl on fire, has survived, even though her home has been destroyed. Gale has escaped. Katniss’s family is safe. Peeta has been captured by the Capitol. District 13 really does exist. There are rebels. There are new leaders. A revolution is unfolding.

It is by design that Katniss was rescued from the arena in the cruel and haunting Quarter Quell, and it is by design that she has long been part of the revolution without knowing it. District 13 has come out of the shadows and is plotting to overthrow the Capitol. Everyone, it seems, has had a hand in the carefully laid plans–except Katniss.

The success of the rebellion hinges on Katniss’s willingness to be a pawn, to accept responsibility for countless lives, and to change the course of the future of Panem. To do this, she must put aside her feelings of anger and distrust. She must become the rebels’ Mockingjay–no matter what the personal cost.

Let’s start with the good: Katniss clearly struggles with post-traumatic stress disorder and is heavily impacted by the death and destruction caused in her wake. She goes a little crazy at times, and it is hard to watch her deteriorate and change from the level-headed (if not confused) and determined girl to the Katniss she develops into as a result of being in two Hunger Games and watching thousands of people die, which is incredibly realistic. The most amazing part is that, despite the strength of President Coin and the Capitol, Katniss is never a pawn – at least not completely. She becomes the Mockingjay because the government of District 13 wants her to, but she does so on her terms. She makes up the rules as she goes and always acts according to her heart and head. She is never without agency, which could have been easily stripped from her.

I also loved the further development of characters such as Haymitch, Prim, Joanna, and Finnick. Even though Haymitch and Katniss never got along well, I think Haymitch loved her at least a little. I was a bit upset, though, that Katniss didn’t mourn Finnick’s death more than she did. He’s a fascinating character who we don’t really understand until reaching this book.

The bad: It was difficult having Katniss so desperate and weak for a majority of the book. Mockingjay in general is very dark, more so than the other two. It deals with the heavy subjects of morality, fault, drug abuse, and mental illness more than the other books (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing) which were more about staying alive and being with those you love. Basically, I just didn’t think it was very interesting. The epilogue wasn’t as terrible as the one in Harry Potter, but it would have made me facepalm if I hadn’t been listening to the audiobook while driving.

Mockingjay reminds us that there is no limit to the atrocities humans can impart on each other. History can always repeat itself.

As far as teen romances go, it was interesting that Collins made loveable, loyal Peeta into sort of a monster. It was so hard to take in this dramatic change of the boy with the bread (there’s a soft spot for him in all our hearts, admit it). Although he and Katniss do reach a sort of happily ever after, it’s not perfect, and they are both forever damaged, which is, again, quite realistic.

I’d still recommend Mockingjay for middle and high school even though the subject matter seems to stray a bit from YA to more adult issues (PTSD, drug abuse…). Despite Haymitch’s continued alcohol abuse and the morphling abuse of Katniss and Joanna, I don’t think it’s inappropriate for young students because it’s quite clear that substance abuse does terrible things to people.

Lastly, I’m interested how the Mockingjay movie will turn out with Peeta no longer being loveable and Katniss no longer being very sane.

Library Inventory

Books go missing from classroom libraries…which (hopefully) means that students are reading/getting good use out of the books. That being said, rather than guessing which books went missing, keep a list of all the classroom books and do a full inventory at the end or beginning of each year so you know which ones to replace.

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