ThreeRingsConnections’ Newsletter: July 2019

Teaching is the one profession that crates all other professions.  Unknown.  This quote honors all teachers!
This quote honors all teachers.

Seven months down in 2019, how are you doing on those New Years Resolutions? If you are still working on catching up on professional development, take a look at this month’s newsletter. All 12 July posts are below, as well as ALL the posts since I started the blog in September 2018. My New Year’s Resolution to get the Threeringsconnections’ newsletter out on a timely, consistent schedule is accomplished: 7 down and 5 more to go! Have a great month!

July’s 2019 Archives

July’s Most Popular Posts

My Favorite July Posts

 See some posts coming next month
See some posts coming next month
  • Gifted Learner Resources
  • Understanding IEPs Starts with Vocabulary
  • 10 Answers To Understand Your Child’s IEP

Resources for Substitute Teachers

School district nationwide are being challenged to fill classroom vacancies with qualified substitute teachers.  Qualified substitutes are needed in classrooms when teachers are absent for health reasons but also for in-district meetings or professional development.  The substitute teacher shortage has gotten increasingly worse over the last few years. Most substitute positions offer low pay, no health benefits, no training or mentoring and do not offer consistent work. However, the recent positive economy has also impacted the number of available substitute teachers, since they are finding other higher paying jobs. 

However, the need to ensure students are learning and staying on track is important.  Studies have shown that students do not perform as well when the regular teacher is absent.  So, for the substitute teachers that have a passion for teaching and enjoy being a substitute teacher, Thank you for your service.  I hope you find the resources listed below helpful to make your substituting a little easier. 

4 Resources to Support Substitute Teachers

Other posts related to this topic:

  • Teacher Interview Questions: My Top 9
  • Are You A Real Teacher?
  • Student Teacher References: Are VIP

Masterpieces for Kids: July 2019

Musee d’Orsay in Paris

This is the 3rd part of a yearlong series of great artworks to share with your kids.  Each month I share information about 3 great masterpieces to share with your children.  My goal of these posts is to create a parent-friendly resource to share great masterpieces with your child. I’ve decided on this monthly series because I totally missed sharing the beauty of art with my own children. Better late than never, I guess.

Each post contains a photo of the artwork, the artist’s name, an interesting fact about the artwork and a link to explore more information.  Last month’s post (May 2019) I shared 3 masterpieces: Mona Lisa (Leonardo da Vinci), The Starry Night (Vincent Van Gogh) and Oriental Poppies (Georgia O’Keeffe).  This month, we’ll look at: The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci, Four Freedoms by Norman Rockwell and American Gothic by Grant Wood.

This month we are going to look at some French masterpieces: Water Lilies by Claude Monet, Irises by Vincent van Gogh and The Skiff by Pierre-Auguste Renoir.

Masterpieces from the French

Water Lilies (1906) by Claude Monet

Remember: You don’t have to “know” art. Just sit for a few minutes with your child, share the information listed and together talk about what you see. Enjoy!

Claude Monet was a French painter born in 1840.  He used oil paints and loved to paint outside scenes. He was the founder of the impressionist movement. An impressionist paints impression of what they see, even though it’s not complete. Monet was famous for painting in series which was to paint the scenes at different times of the day and in different weather.

Water Lilies was one of the last paintings that Monet did towards the end of his life.  It was a series of huge paintings of a pond at different times of the day and in different weather conditions.  When he put all the panels together the painting was over 6ft. tall and almost 300 feet long. Monet is one of the greatest French artists of all time.  He died in 1926.

Irises (1890) by Vincent van Gogh

Van Gogh was born in the Netherlands in 1853. He painted many oil paintings and watercolors and is one of the greatest artists of all time He is a post-impressionist because his style was like the impressionists’ style, but he started painting in that style AFTER the impressionist style began. In addition to outside street scenes he also started to paint portraits of people.

In 1889, van Gogh was very unhappy.  He went into a hospital because he needed help taking care of himself.  At one time he cut off his ear and sent it to his girlfriend to show her how much he loved her.  He then painted a picture of himself (self-portrait) by looking in the mirror.  The painting included a bandage where his ear had been, but it was on the wrong side because of the reversed image in the mirror. 

 The “Irises” is one of the most expensive pieces of artwork ever sold.  The painting is of the flowers Renoir saw outside his hospital room. It was his last painting before he died in 1890. The painting is now in the J. Paul Getty Museum in Malibu, California.  

The Skiff (1879) by Pierre-August Renoir

The painting above is called The Skiff The exact setting of the painting is not known but it is probably the River Seine since Renoir painted many boating scenes on the Seine.

Renoir was a French impressionist painter. He was born in 1841. Along with Monet, he founded the Impressionist Movement.  He too painted with oil and liked to paint figures, landscapes and scenery.  He used lots of bright colors and the subjects of his paintings were happy. He died in 1919.  The Skiff hangs in the national Gallery in London, England.

Other posts related to this topic:

Solving Stories with Holes

"Stories with Holes" develops helps develop critical thinking skills.
Critical thinking skills can be enhanced by solving “Stories with Holes”.

When I taught TAG (Talented and Gifted) students many years ago, I often used “stories with holes” as time fillers.  Sometimes we played 20 questions to figure out the answer.  Other times, I told them the story at the end of the class so they could think about it overnight.  Often, they would come in the next day with lots of questions and possible solutions. 

Stories with holes” are word-based logic puzzles that tell a story.  However, some key parts of the information are not given. As a result, the story does not make sense.  It is effective questioning with yes or no answers that the unknown information is discovered.  

Stories like these inspire imagination, develop listening skills and enhance problem solving ability. Children have fun as they think in new creative ways to find the answer. Time to give it a try! 

Many watched the steak of brilliant orange and red as it totally disappeared leaving nothing at all behind.  What was it?

Answer: The sun at the end of the day as it set in the sky.

This month’s “Stories with Holes” (July 2019)

  1. Declan went on a safari to Africa.  He shot a tiger, a leopard and a giraffe.  Although he was only allowed to bring 2 suitcases back with him to New York City, all of the animals looked great on the wall in his house.  How did he do it?
  2. Connall’s stealing made his parents proud.  They didn’t think of him as a thief.  Why not?
  3. The pool had no water in it, but Meghan, Emily and Abby stayed in it all summer long.  Why?
  4. There once was a guy that just got on a plan and after greeting his friend, six rows back, he got arrested.  Why?
  5. A woman brought her car up beside a hotel and knew immediately that she was about to become bankrupt. How did she know?


  1. He shot the animals with his camera.  He hung the animal’s pictures on this wall at home. 
  2. He was a baseball player and he stole 2nd base.
  3. It was a carpool.
  4. They guy said Hi-Jack to his friend named, Jack.
  5. She was playing the games Monopoly. After landing on the space with the hotel, she knew she would not have enough money to pay the rent due.

These riddle-like challenges are fun activities for children and adults alike!  Enjoy!

Other posts related to this topic:

Gifted Learner Strategies: Good for All

All kids, including gifted students, have the right to learn something new every day.
All kids, including gifted students, have the right to learn something new every day.

My first teaching job in public school was teaching “Talented and Gifted” students.  I had differentiated instruction to meet the needs of my highly abled students before, but it was not easy. So, once I was assigned to the “Talented and Gifted” students, I thought it would be different. 

To my surprise, I leaned that although I had a few gifted students; most of the students would be considered only highly abled.  Some were certainly gifted in specific areas (math, reading). However, their strengths were different. The result was I was still designing lessons to include variations in both content and techniques.  However, all good teachers know that differentiation is necessary to meet student needs.  It’s difficult, but necessary.

3 Gifted Learner/Highly Abled Strategies

  • Differentiated Lessons – Lesson design focus should combine two types of thinking: critical thinking and creative thinking. Critical thinking involves using evidence to support a conclusion.  Creative thinking involves students learning to generate and apply new ideas.  Both skills are important to thinking and learning.
  • “Guide on the Side” Instruction – It was humbling to teach gifted students.  No longer could I be the “sage on the stage”.  Some of my kids were just smarter than me!  The truth was that I needed to do detailed planning to be able to answer and/or explain student questions.  My role quiet often, was more of a “guide on the side”. I had to learn to ask them the right questions.
  • Opportunities for Group Work – According to NAGC, research shows that enabling gifted students to work together in groups boosts their academic achievement . It also benefits other students in the classroom. When gifted students work together, they bounce ideas off one another to expand a peer’s idea. Activities that share personal interests can be eye opening for highly abled students. They may not know about the topic and become more active learners.

The above strategies can be used in all classrooms during the school year.  All students benefit from being challenged at times. However, this is difficult in the general education classroom. Teachers already have a “full plate” in meeting the various student needs. However, for gifted/highly abled students, using differentiated instruction techniques are a necessity.   All students have the right to learn something new every day. This includes both highly abled and gifted students. 

Other posts related to this topic:

Isn't education ALL about reaching the kids?
Isn’t education ALL about reaching the kids?

RTI/MTSS: 3 Great Teaching Resources

A multi-tier system of supports (MTSS)  includes the three levels of RTI. MTSS also covers social and emotional supports.
A multi-tier system of supports (MTSS) includes the three levels of RTI. MTSS also covers social and emotional supports.

RTI/MTSS (Response to Intervention and Multi-Tiered Systems of Support are an important part of intentional teaching.  This multi-level system integrates assessment and intervention to maximize student achievement. The four essential components of an MTSS/RTI framework are screening, progress monitoring, multi-level or multi-tier prevention system, and data-based decision making.  Each of these categories use multiple data sources to identify students at risk to provide focused instruction.

3 Great RTI/MTSS Resources

  • RTI Action Network: Great guidance resources to guide educators and families in the large-scale implementation of RTI.  Their goal is to help educators have access to quality instruction and early identification resources.  
  • Intervention Central – One of the oldest and most extensive resources in the world of RTI.  Many tools and resources are easily accessible for both academic and behavior interventions in the classroom.
  • Center on Response to Intervention: Provides free resources to teachers, schools and districts to help struggling learners and implement Response to Intervention to attain learning standards.

Many schools maintain a yearly goal to continue to explore resources to help understand, implement, or refine their MTSS/RTI programs.  I hope you find the resources above helpful.

Isn’t education ALL about reaching the kids?

Other posts related to this topic:

Behaviors and Future Academic Success

Behaviors for Ready for School and Ready for Life
Behaviors for Ready for School and Ready for Life

Did you know that the kindergartners that start school this September will be the high school graduating Class of 2032?  Yes, that’s right!  I bet many of you are already thinking about how old you will be that year. However, in 2032, will our schools have prepared them for their careers?  Truthfully, we do not even know what those jobs will be.  So, for now, let’s concentrate on the behaviors that will help them get to the Kindergarten Graduating Class of 2020.

Behaviors Discovered in Research:

report by the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) indicates that kids entering kindergarten display a wide range of skills, knowledge, and school-readiness behaviors — some of which give them a big advantage. Through its Early Childhood Longitudinal Study (ECLS), which tracked students from kindergarten through third grade, the NCES aimed to determine whether some of these behaviors are related to academic performance. They are:

  • Pays attention well
  • Learns independently
  • Persist in completing tasks
  • Organizes belongings
  • Adapt easily to change
  • Shows eagerness to learn new things
  • Follow classroom rules

It is true that we don’t know the career path that our little ones will take, However, the above skills will not only help your child in their future career but in everyday life.  Enjoy the journey!

Other posts related to this topic:

DayByDayNY: Kindergarten Readiness Calendar

Top Reading Resources for Kids!

The best way for kids to become good readers is to read, read, read!  This post includes a variety of resources that will keep them engaged and provides hours of fun. The resources are both free and kid-friendly.  They include reading resources for all levels from beginners to advanced readers.

Great resources to get kids to read!
Great resources to get kids to read!

Site includes a variety of resources for many areas.  Perfect for preschool, K-2 , special ed and English Language Development. A paid membership is needed for access to all resources but there are many FREE.

Quick fun activities and games to help them learn to read and write.

FREE educational games and online books for kids preschool through grade 8.  The interactive games develop skills in math, reading, and literacy.

Clifford, The Big Red Dog: Interactive Storybooks!

Funology is the best place that kids can do alone or with their parents.

The Exploratorium isn’t just a museum. It has lots of online interactive activities. website for kids! Hundreds of free kids games, puzzles, activities, coloring pages, clip art & more for children, families, parents, teachers.  

Other posts related to this topic:

Comprehension Questions Help Early Readers

Asking questions helps strengthen a child’s reading comprehension.

Parents often wonder how to help their child with reading.  The comprehension question often comes up when they see their child reading the words but are not sure if they understand what they are reading. So, how can you help them when you are not a reading teacher. 

The important part is asking questions to start your child thinking about their reading. It’s totally fine to repeat the same or similar questions after each story. It helps your child learn to think about their reading; before they read, while they read and after they read.

Quick Comprehension Questions

  • Does anything in the story remind you of something that has happened to you?
  • What questions pops into your head about what you read?
  • There are some great pictures in the book. Can you tell me about one of them?
  • Can you summarize what you read?  What happened overall in the story?
  • What were the names of some of the characters?  Did you have a favorite character?  Why?
  • What do you think the title of the story (chapter) means?
  • Can you think of another title of the story?  Why would that be a good choice?
  • Do you think other kids would like this story?  Why?

Remember to balance your questions with fun.  After all, don’t we all just want to read without interruption sometimes? Think of it this way.  Every question is one more and better than none.  And every question or discussion is helpful.  Enjoy!

Jokes for Kids Develops a Sense of Humor

Jokes can help kids develop a sense of humor.
Jokes can help kids develop a sense of humor.

Yesterday, while sitting in bumper to bumper traffic, I heard a joke on the radio cracked me up.

Question: “What did the baby corn say to mamma corn?”

Answer: “Where is pop corn?”  OK, so it’s a little funny or (corny) but there was lots of traffic!

It reminded me that when I was a K-2 principal I sometimes added a joke to the afternoon announcements. Yes, they were silly but for kids 5-7, just developing a sense of humor, I was a great comedian!  For teachers, I was sometimes a welcome laugh (ok maybe a giggle) at the end of the day. 

Time to Pull Out the Old Joke Book?

My delay in traffic reminded me that it might be time to share my wealth of “kid jokes” with a couple of my grandkids.  In fact, I may have already missed the window on my oldest grandson.  My guess, at the ripe old age of 8, I might see some eye-rolling.  If not from him, certainly from his dad, my oldest son.  But such is the life of a GG! 

Academic Benefits of Getting Kids to Love Jokes

If you are looking for something other than “just for the fun of it”, developing a kid’s sense of humor also has academic benefits.  Parents and teachers can help develop their child’s sense of humor by explaining why something is funny.  This helps them be able to recognize if again.  Afterall, a child is not born with a sense of humor.  It develops over time.  Don’t we all know adults without a sense of humor?  Let’s start our kids young!

  • Great motivator to get kids to read.
  • Helps build larger vocabularies.  Often jokes revolve around understanding different meanings of words.  They provide a great opportunity for discussion.
  • Jokes are short with simplistic vocabulary and sentence structure.
  • Higher order thinking skills developed –Additional connections are needed for the joke to make sense or be funny.

You Funny GG!

That comment came from my 3-year-old grandchild when I was being silly.  When kids are toddlers, it’s the funny faces and silliness that cracks them up.  But, when they get to be school age, we GG’s must work a little harder for a laugh!

Ready for Jokes? Let the Laughs Begin

Teaching kids to appreciate jokes is a great opportunity to laugh together as a family.  Come on, give some of the jokes below a try.  Take some time to be silly with your child and share a laugh (or eye roll).  Enjoy!

  • Q. Why did the cow cross the road?
  • A. To get to the udder side.
  • Q. What do you call a cold dog sitting on a bunny?
  • A. A chili dog on a bun.
  • Q. What do you call a thieving alligator?
  • A. A crookodile.
  • Q. What do you call a cow that eats your grass?
  • A. A lawn moo-er.
  • Q. What do you call a baby bear with no teeth?
  • A. A gummy bear.
  • Q. What do you call a pig who knows karate?
  • A. Porkchop
  • Q. What do you call a cow in a tornado?
  • A. A milkshake
  • Q. What do you call a sleeping bull?
  • A. A bulldozer
  • Q. How can you tell the ocean is friendly?
  • A. It waves!
  • Q. When is the moon the heaviest?
  • A. When it’s full.
  • Q. What kind of shorts do clouds wear?
  • A. Thunderwear!
  • Q. What kind of tree can you grow in your hand?
  • A. A palm tree
  • Q. What is a tree’s least favorite month?
  • A. Sep-timber
  • Q. What did the little tree say to the big tree?
  • A. Leaf me alone
  • Q. What did the tree wear to the pool party?
  • A. Swimming trunks
Isn’t education All about reaching the kids?

Performing Arts and Kids

Performing Arts is a necessary part of the curriculum
Performing Arts is a necessary part of the curriculum

Many studies have shown that involvement in performing arts boosts performance in all areas of life. The benefits, however, are sometimes hard to pinpoint when looking at a child’s growth.  Unfortunately, today’s schools put more emphasis on paper and pencil academic tests, rather than performance skill sets. 

In many schools today, performing arts has become an extra, rather than a part of our classrooms. Involvement in performing arts encourages student engagement and learning.  It has a positive impact on a child’s social, emotional, and emotional growth. 

Teachers need to find more ways to include performance art into classroom lessons.  Student performances DO take more classroom time. However, it’s important to remember that learning occurs throughout the journey and not just at the destination.

6 Life Skills Learned Through Performing Arts

  • Teamwork – Success is dependent on all members of the production to work together.
  • Confidence – Taking the responsibility to be part of a group ensemble helps to build confidence.
  • Reading and memory – Learning lines, a piece of music or the skills of stage production requires students to learn relevant information.
  • Ability to accept criticism – The success of a production depends on a team. Kids learn to accept constructive criticism to help the group be successful.
  • Creativity – Body language, staging and voice control allows students to interpret a play or piece of music.
  • Have fun – An organized activity that allows kids to learn skills and share a common interest is fun.  Wouldn’t that be great if learning and fun happened all the time?

As educators, I believe it is our role to share the many benefits of performance arts for kids. Please go out and share the news!

Other posts related to this topic:

ThreeRingsConnections’ June 2019 Newsletter

Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.  WB Yeats
It’s the end of the 2018-2019 school year. Did you light a child’s fire for learning?

Six months down in 2019, how are you doing on those New Years Resolutions? If you are still working on catching up on professional development, take a look at this month’s newsletter. All _____June posts are below, as well as ALL the posts since I started the blog in September 2018. My New Year’s Resolution to get the Threeringsconnections’ newsletter out on a timely, consistent schedule is accomplished: 6 down and 6 more to go! Have a great month!

June’s 2019 Archives

June’s Most Popular Posts:

My Favorite June Posts:

  • Performing Arts and Kids
  • Jokes for Kids Develops a Sense of Humor
  • Comprehension Questions Help Early Readers