Earth Day Lesson Plans

Earth Day and Spring perfectly overlap, and students greatly enjoy science resource texts. Stories are the best possible way to teach science to students of all ages. Despite the assumptions, a huge amount of science learning is integrated with language arts, at least by the great ones. Earth Day offers an ideal opportunity to teach and discuss how human actions effect the environment. Even though all the present hype with STEM tagets hands-on, there is no learning without actual reading for both background knowledge and additional research. Here are some awesome Earth Day books and lesson plans to go along:

thelorax1. “The Lorax by Dr. Suess is a must read for primary grades. Kids love Dr. Suess books, activities, movies, anything. Perfect Earth Day read and lesson.





thegivingtree2. The Giving Tree – Grades K-2 

“The Giving Tree” is a well loved book, for reasons that escape those with reason. It is not a story of giving and how wonderful it is to give. It’s a story about a boy who takes everything until there is nothing left. The message of non-renewable resources and importance of sustainability doesn’t escape. Super read on how not to be.



heroes3. Heroes of the Environment – Upper Grades – Free Lesson Plan on TpT (Earth Day Lesson Plan Giveaway)  This is a great guided reading non-fiction common core text for students in older grades – upper elementary and middle school.
Happy Teaching! 




4. World Without Fish – lesson plan – Earth Day Non-Fiction Text



5. Tracking Trash: Flotsam, Jetsam and Science of Ocean Motion– Non-Fiction Science Resource Text Lesson Plan


Florida Teachers Testing Fiasco

teacher-1280966_960_720Florida Teachers Failing General Knowledge Exam; How?

You don’t have to look for the “Weird Florida” guide at Books-a-Million to hear something super messed up about Florida on daily basis. Here is one. Florida Department of Education has hired the super over-paid Pearson (read: over $200 million contract; British curriculum company) to create teacher examination tests. Now we all know how good Person is at making tests. Just look at kids’ test scores, the wording of their exams and the strange 5 answer questions. You have to see it to believe it. Pearson not only speaks foreign language to our students, but now they have succeeded to design a General Knowledge Test that has a teacher passing rate of 58%. Wow. How?

test graph

Out of teachers that took the general knowledge math exam, 6027 of them failed. How  can this test be a valid assessment tool with such low passing rate. Again, all takers are university graduates.

How is Florida Teacher Exam having a lower passing rate than the Bar Exam?
How? How are teachers like Kaitlyn Frank, graduates of the University of South Florida failing these tests? The University of South Florida is one of the best state schools. Their education department is excellent. How is it that their graduate cannot pass a General Knowledge Test?
How can a 13 year teacher veteran not be able to pass the General Knowledge Exam?

What kind of general knowledge are we testing that a university graduate and/or cannot pass?
Now none of this makes sense, except it does. All people who are familiar with the Florida Department of Education and Pearson testing know that they make $200 per every exam and retake. That is a lot of extra money for retakes. If you want to view your test, you have to pay them on average $100 to do so. Just like Pearson is paid on average $50.00 for every test Florida student takes, they are paid for retakes and hold backs. Sadly, all your answers are: money.

If the General Knowledge Test requires teachers to pass all 4 sections to keep their certification, and one of the sections has a failing rate of 43%, then 43% of all teachers that need this exam are unable to keep their job. It took one teacher six times to pass a test. Dear God. That is $1200,00 just to keep working. Not sure if she passed.

Anyhow, Florida doesn’t treat their teachers any better than students. Eh, it is just money.
Got to love it.

If 43% of university graduates are failing Pearson’s General Knowledge Test, then we have to look at the test. As a curriculum writer, I can design a test that will ensure lower passing rates. How? I can write questions in a very confusing manner, as our British friends, and then not allow the test takers to view their results. Also, my questions do not have to be general knowledge, all I have to do is call them that. It’s easy. It would be unethical and it would work against American students and their teachers, but Person will make a lot of money. While the Florida Department of Education will surely not do anything at all.

P.S. – Most of Florida teachers were educated out of state.

Mrs. Lena, M.Ed.

Florida Threatens to Hold Students Who Opt Out

palm-tree-2095813_960_720Two Florida school districts–Sarasota and Manatee–have warned parents their children will not be promoted if they opt out of state testing. The only way to opt out of the state test is to take a state test before opting out. Alice in Wonderland? Even students who have earned high marks all year will […]

via Florida: School Districts Threaten to Hold Back Students Who Opt Out — Diane Ravitch’s blog

Florida educational policy and school system both put great effort into making sure that they fail an enormous number of students. Starting with 3rd grade end of the year reading test mandatory retention, automatic promotion of ELL students regardless of their readiness to master current year’s curriculum, or the lack of actual special education intervention. What most parents do? Most parents pull kids out of their local public school and place them in charter schools, where if they fail the reading test, the school substitutes a “portfolio” of work to justify promotion into 4th grade. Nonetheless, schools do very little to help kids who fail the 3rd grade reading test catch up. The same students still have reading trouble in 5th grade, 8th grade, 10th grade, … English language learners can fail every test and be promoted to the next grade since they are ELL. This gives everyone a pass to put their hands up in defeat; parents, teachers, and students. What happens to ELL students in our county, they eventually (middle school) drop out. Kids who receive special education services have to show the smallest progress to actually receive any services. None of these services are actually serious. They are insufficient in depth or scope to help students catch up. To add to this misery, most schools have minimal electives and no recess. A formula that makes every student and teacher completely miserable. Florida education is an oxymoron.

Grade: Unsatisfactory

Lena, M.Ed.


Dental Health – STEM Activities

demoDentalHealthAcidityScienceLessonStations3064140Dental Health Month – STEM Lesson Pack

This past February we celebrated the National Children’s Dental Health Month with a series of STEM activities and challenges.

We don’t teach enough about dental health or health in general. Even though we need to do a better job, teaching and being examples. During our dental health check up week, it was shocking to find out that a large number of students had excessive number of cavities, especially for their young age.

Dental problems can lead to numerous other health problems, yet the prohibitive cost and the lack of information contributes to the growing problem.

Our STEM activities looked at relationship between acidity of every day foods/drinks and dental health.

For the Acidity & Dental Health STEM click here! 

Lesson Planning 101 for Homeschoolers

Lesson CoverFor the most part, homeschooling parents are left on their own when it comes to educating their kids. And while, we all appreciate that, there is not enough support in terms of teaching parents how to go about teaching their kids. The job seems easy during primary years, but as middle school age comes along, most parents that I know struggle with homeschooling or decide to send their kids back to traditional classroom. In Florida middle school age is especially hard due to lack of affordable options that are any good. So here we are. As most well meaning parents, the search for the homeschooling information usually starts with the online search.

Unfortunately, this brings a sea of useless information and proclaimed know-it-alls to the surface. Equipped with the colorful planners and kitschy lesson plan outlines, I don’t need more than a second to realize that they have no idea what they are talking about. No one needs a desk filled with binders and colorful post-its to do homeschooling properly. Parents need quality curriculum and guidance on effective instructional practices. The fact that effective instructional practices aren’t implemented in traditional schools doesn’t mean that they are not proven by research and practice.

So, here are some quick tips:

1st – Please don’t listen to the self proclaimed homeschooling guru. Writing lesson plans year ahead and having a controlling instructional schedule is counterproductive.
Some lessons will take more time. Be flexible.

2nd– Learning is dynamic. As a teacher, a mother of a homeschooler, and a Curriculum Writer, I know that teachers and parents everywhere have to adjust their lesson planning on daily basis due to time that it takes to teach a lesson and students’ learning styles. What works in one lesson does not work in another. Most of the time, the variation of background knowledge that you have to build up the lesson to plays a major part.

3rd – Planning a whole year ahead takes away from learning inquiry. As you go through the curriculum you, will find that there are gaps in student’s knowledge that you will need to address by teaching and/or reteaching the material.
Learning is dynamic, and so is teaching.

4th – More often than not, during your teaching, you will realize that you need to rewrite the lesson because there is a better way to present the material to your student.

5th – Teachers get better through teaching. If any of us, teachers or teacher-parents are to become better at what we do, we have to be able to analyze what works and what doesn’t work, what we are good at explaining and what we need to work on.

6th -Some lessons and units will take longer. Don’t be scared of slowing down. It will save time in the long run. Plus, the lessons/units that your child will breeze through are just around the corner.

For a Lesson Planning 101 Quick Guide Download – Sign Up for the Newsletter

Happy Homeschooling!

Lena, M.Ed. – Curriculum & Instruction

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Science Test Prep Bundle Giveaway!

FCAT previewWhat is the best time to get ready for Science Standardized Testing?

With the testing season in full force, most teachers start reflecting on their yearly test prep strategies. After all, when the results are in, we can either take credit for learning gains or use the data to improve our instruction next year.

When it comes to science and social studies, the story is much more complicated. Science and social studies testing doesn’t only test yearly growth but learning completed in prior years as well. 5th Grade science test includes content learned form 1st to 5th grade. Being that science and social studies are not taught on regular basis in public and/or charter schools, preparing students for the multi-year content exam is intense work.

What is the best time to start science exam test prep? It is the beginning of the year. Assessing prior student knowledge will provide a solid anchor where to start reteaching/refreshing of the past years content. Chances are, science knowledge mastery is all over the map, and incorporating benchmarks from prior years will be a must in effort to get students in 5th grade up to speed. The same can be said about 8th grade science exam, being that 6th and 7th grade science is dense in content.

Monthly Giveaway! – Science Test Prep Pack Giveaway

5 Lucky Winners will win! Science Test Prep Pack!

72 pages of science content
Section 1 : Complete & Incomplete Metamorphosis
Section 2 : Vertebrates & Invertebrates
Section 3 : Photosynthesis
Section 4 : Solar System
Section 5 : Continents and Oceans

To Enter:

1 Sign up for the Kids Read Newsletter  – 1 entry
2. Follow us on Twitter – 1 entry    @kidsread09
3. Follow us on Pinterest – 1 entry @beatlebug

4. Share on FB – 1 entry

Open to all residents of the United States.

Mrs. Lena, M.Ed. 

Giveaway Ends on April 1st, 2017


Leading Online Tutoring-

The Three Little Pigs Count to 100 -Lesson Plan

coverGrace Maccarone gave a perfect makeover to the traditional Three Little Pigs fairy tale. In “The Three Little Pigs Count to 100” children can study not only elements of fictional text, fairy tales, words, and story sequence, but also counting to 100, skip counting, number comparison, logical reasoning, quantity, odd and even numbers, and geometry. To top it all, Maccarone masterfully incorporates characters from other fairy tales into her work. This is a super engaging read that can be easily aligned with kindergarten and first grade benchmarks.

5 Stars!

Happy Reading!

Mrs. Lena, M.Ed.

“The Three Little Pigs Count to 100” Lesson Plan