ENGAGE, EQUIP, & EMPOWER: Teaching about Elizabeth Blackwell

elizabeth-blackwell-3Looking for an interesting topic to discuss next week in class? How about teaching students about the first woman to ever graduate from medical school “way back when” on January 23rd of 1849?

Elizabeth Blackwell was the first woman to receive a M.D. degree from an American medical school. Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell and colleagues founded the New York Infirmary for Women and Children. Read more about this amazing woman here.

One easy way to engage students in a lesson about Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell is to watch a quick intro video about her. Who Says Women Can’t Be Doctors: The Story of Elizabeth Blackwell — Weston Woods

You can also find a read aloud of Scholastic’s book here: Tami Reads “Who Says Women Can’t Be Doctors? The Story of Elizabeth Blackwell” By: Tanya Lee Stone

For K-3 students, engage them in meaningful, thoughtful discussions about courage and self-confidence. You can tie the discussion to a read aloud of Amazing Grace by Mary Hoffman. Students can discuss how both the character and Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell displayed courage and self-confidence. Empower students by having them write about Dr. Blackwell and how they can apply her example to their own lives!

Click here to see lesson plan ideas!

For 4th – 6th grade here is a link to a TpT resource about Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell.

Happy Teaching!



Education Class: Multi-Sensory Magic

MS.pngUsing multi-sensory instructional techniques is not new. We have done it for years. Think about the song “I’m a Little Teapot.” I can always remember that song because I can still do the motions with it. That is multi-sensory instruction!

My son is dyslexic. For the past 2 years, he has received multi-sensory language instruction therapy. When he was in the 7th grade, he only read at a 2.4 grade-level equivalency. He is now a 9th grader. In December of 2017, his grade-level reading equivalency was 8.3!!! This multi-sensory, systematic approach is the ONLY thing that has worked for him. I am incorporating more and more of this instructional approach into my own work with struggling readers.

“Multisensory teaching isn’t just limited to reading and listening. Instead, it tries to use all of the senses. Every lesson won’t use all of a child’s senses (taste, smell, touch, sight, hearing and movement). But in most multisensory lessons, students engage with the material in more than one way.” -understood.org

Read More Here: Multisensory Instruction: What You Need to Know

How about multi-sensory in physical education to teach other content areas? Take a look at my colleague’s approach to teaching Skeletal Anatomy to PreK students!

Multi-Sensory Instruction in PreK with Coach Chris Tolbert

Happy Teaching! Go make some Multi-Sensory Magic!



A Seussational Project & Student-Led Conferences

SLCWOW! I have a lot to cover in one blog post.

First Things First: Student-led conferences are this week. Parents made appointments back in January to meet with their DES Student-Leader. On Friday, students took home reminder cards about this very important date!

Begin With the End in Mind: Back in January, 5th graders wrote letters to colleges all across the country explaining how they were learning to set BIG goals now. They requested college admissions information and a pennant representing the college or university to display at DES. This week, the college and universities started responding in BIG ways. They sent information, pennants, bracelets, notebooks, pens, and even book bags. The most touching is that many admissions officers are taking the time to write personal notes of encouragement to our 5th graders!

pennants1  pennants2.JPG

Public Speaking: Several of our 5th graders participated in the Tallapoosa County 4-H Public Speaking Contest last week. They did a great job! One student left before Mrs. Smith got to snap this great picture! We are proud of you!


Homework / Project:



Kennedy’s WIG? It was a classroom VICTORY!

WeChooseToGoToTheMoonThere are moments in a teacher’s life when he or she feels like a superhero. We have those moments to make up for all of the others. . .LOL! I had that moment this week. I wanted to share because I am proud of my students!

The 5th grade read excerpts from Kennedy’s speech “We Choose to Go to the Moon.” Students were mesmerized. It was amazing to watch as Kennedy’s words echoed through history inspiring a new generation. The “WOW” moment was when students connected this text selection with the 7 Habits without my prompting. Each and every 5th grade class recognized that Kennedy had set a WIG (Wildly Important Goal) for our nation!

We grabbed on to that the next day and discussed how we had to “Begin with the End in Mind” to reach that goal. We discussed that it took “Synergizing” and a “Win-Win” attitude to achieve that goal. We discussed the impacts of the speech and the goal that was set for America. We watched the first moon landing. We read about our American hero, Neil Armstrong. We brainstormed adjectives to describe what characteristics those first astronauts had to have.

We also wrote down our own “Moon Missions.” We wrote down our goals that are hard to do, but we CHOOSE to do them anyway. We choose to meet our goals because we can! This is a sampling of those “Moon Missions”:

Get a scholarship

Play softball at the University of Alabama

Do well on the ASPIRE test

Become a Marine Biologist

Open my own hair salon

Compete in the Olympics (gymnastics)

Be the first in my family to graduate from college

Today’s children still have dreams! They need us to help them set their goals and figure out a way to achieve it! They need someone to tell them that they can. . .not because it is easy, but because it is hard!

This week’s HW:

EVERY NIGHT: Study Academic Vocabulary, Work on Research Project, and Read for AR Points



The Sunshine Shop Grand Opening & Covered Wagon Projects

Wow! What a week!

DES had the grand opening of its Sunshine Shop. The Sunshine Shop is full of goodies that students can shop for. It takes special money to shop in this store. It takes DES Dollars.  The only way to get DES Dollars is either to display leadership skills or reach a WIG (Wildly Important Goal). Teachers help students set WIGs (WIGs should be measurable, academic goals). When students achieve their WIG they receive DES Dollars to spend on the days the Sunshine Shop is open.20140313_081032

It is hard work to reach a WIG. I had one student who had a WIG to bring her “C” average in my class up to a “B”. She did it in a big way. She brought it up to a 83. She doesn’t plan to stop there. She will be setting a new WIG. . .90! That is what it is all about!

20140313_153715The 5th grade also brought in their covered wagon projects this week. This project was the conclusion to their learning unit on Westward Expansion in Mrs. Smith’s Social Studies class. Their projects are displayed in the main lobby of DES. Take a look if you stop by in the next couple of days.

Good job 5th grade!