Author Archives: Kasha Mastrodomenico

About Kasha Mastrodomenico

Mission Statement: To help increase social studies differentiated instruction, multiple intelligence, and expository writing in middle school classrooms. Summary I taught for nine years in social studies classrooms in grades 7,8, 10 and 11. I also was a co-teacher in social studies classrooms and science as a SPED teacher or with an ELL teacher. I have been part of school improvement teams that have helped to improve test scores and get schools off Needs Improvement lists. I have given professional development through school and county venues on the subject of differentiated instruction in the middle school social studies classroom. I create high quality middle school social studies differentiated instruction materials for teachers. If you are on, I would love to connect with you! Please send me a request to connect. Specialties: differentiated instruction, multiple intelligence theory, leveling/scaffolding/tiering, remediation, social studies education, SPED, co-teaching, RTI Experience Teacherpreneur 2010-Present (3 years) My store showcases social studies differentiated instruction lesson plans and PowerPoint mini-lessons. It also has graphic organizers and Multiple Intelligence activity templates. CEO of Holler for Mastro, LLC. January 2010-September 2013 It specialized in social studies differentiated instruction for middle school American History. I created: Multiple Intelligence activity engine to reduce planning time using templates An interactive expository writing system An interactive expository essay writing system A leveled expository writing system 105 graphic organizers Over 70 differentiated instruction lesson plans and PowerPoints Produced Newsletters based on differentiated instruction Created and maintained blog about social studies differentiated instruction Social Studies and SPED Teacher East Hall Middle School August 2006-December 2009 Gainesville, GA (had to leave due to husband’s PCS to Germany for the Army) 99 percent student writing improvement rate through the development and implementation of my leveled writing system Achieved tenure Served as the Social Studies Department Head for multiple years and led organized meetings While serving as the SST lead teacher, I successfully placed 100 percent of SST students in appropriate placements using the RTI process Successfully wrote and presented staff development for both our school and county during staff development days on the topic of social studies differentiated instruction Developed a SPED and ELL accommodation chart that organized information Cooperatively co-taught with SPED and ELL teachers Transitioned to teaching SPED as a co-teacher and provided needed accommodations and support to students Wrote quality IEP’s that helped students be successful in the classroom Coached the boys soccer team and brought them to the county final by instructing them on strategy Social Studies Teacher Gouverneur Middle School September 2001-2005 Gouverneur, NY 100 percent success with all of the 10th grade students passing the NYS Regents exam As a member of the Middle School Faculty Advisory Committee, I assisted in the achievement of our school’s removal from the Needs Improvement List (No Child Left Behind) Achieved tenure Cooperatively worked with the SPED co-teacher Served as a Sponsor Teacher for student teachers from SUNY Potsdam Coached the boys modified soccer team teaching basic skill work Coached the girls JV soccer team teaching basic skill work and basic strategy Professional Development Taken East Hall Middle School Thinking Maps Co-Teaching Training Building Background Knowledge Co-Teaching/Push-In Training Part II Choosing Target Students: Using Data to Personalize Instruction Gouverneur Middle School Effective Teaching Differentiated Instruction Collin’s Writing New Teachers Academy Differentiated Instruction by using the Multiple Intelligence Theory Questioning for Quality Thinking Using Lexiles in the Classroom Restructuring for Caring and Effective Education: The Inclusive School Behavioral Management Effective Cooperative Meetings Training The Conflict Cycle Cooperative Learning Structures and Lesson Designs Modifying the Curriculum for LD Students Certifications NYS Permanent Public School Teacher Certificate University of the State of New York Education Department, License 1796459 September 2006-Present Georgia Educator Certificate Georgia Professional Standards Commission, License 704785 July 2005-June 2010 NYS Provisional Public School Teacher Certificate Social Studies 7-12 University of the State of New York Education Department, License 084116011 September 2001-September 2006 Education State University of New York College at Potsdam Master of Science in Education, Social Studies Secondary Education 2001-2003 State University of New York College at Potsdam Bachelor of Arts, Secondary Education and History 1997-2001 Dean’s List SUNYAC All-Academic Team Activities and Societies: Vice President, Pledge Leader and Historian of Omega Delta Phi Sorority, Women’s Soccer Team Fairport High School 1994-1997 Activity and Societies: Soccer Team, Class Secretary Volunteer Experience Family Readiness Group Leader (FRG) 2-28 Charlie Co. Family Readiness Group I have led the 2-28 Charlie Co. Family Readiness Group successfully during our spouses deployment to Afghanistan Implemented Volunteer Awards Oversaw the updating of over 80 percent of our roster Mediated between members Led meetings in an organized fashion Organized large and small social events Coordinated welcome home activities and welcome home items for soldiers and their families Conducted fundraising events

Common Core Social Studies

Common Core Standards Help Teachers Enrich Their Lessons


The Common Core Standard CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.6-8.2 encourages the social studies teacher to go beyond the curriculum or content in a lesson with the inclusion of primary or secondary sources that may add knowledge or conflict with the knowledge they’ve acquired during a mini-lesson or from reading their textbook.

To use the CCSS.ELA-Literacy.R.H.6-8.2 Common Core Social Studies Standard in class, the students must read, analyze and summarize the primary or secondary source explaining how the source is different from what they knew or how it differs with their own opinion. This Common Core Standard brings in high level critical thinking. It helps them connect the content they are learning with their background knowledge. This Common Core Standard also helps them connect the content with themselves. Connecting content to self and background knowledge has long been known to help students retain information.

When I taught in GA, the students learned about Andersonville prison. It was a POW camp during the Civil War with extremely poor conditions and a high death rate. Until I brought in a primary source from a POW camp in Elmira, NY, the students thought that the Confederacy was the only side that had POW camps in the Civil War. Both camps had horrid conditions. When I teach this lesson again, I will provide the same questions that helped students analyze the document. I will add onto what I did before by including a section for students to summarize the document and then another section where they can write about how it conflicted with what they knew or with what their opinion had been before they read the primary source.

In WWI, most teachers will only teach about how the home front helped the war effort through the use of Liberty Bonds and Liberty Gardens, etc. What if a teacher then brought in a primary source about protests against WWI? I for one am excited to see what their responses to that will be.

The next question teachers may ask is how would they differentiate instruction for this type of work session that uses the Common Core Social Studies Standards? My two favorite ways to differentiate instruction are to use the Multiple Intelligence Theory to peak student interest and leveling so that they can learn the same content on their own ability level. To bring in both of these forms of differentiated instruction I would use a ‘Museum Walk’ with two ability levels using two different sides of the room. The average/enriched side would include the primary or secondary sources as is with the questions at the bottom of each source. The lower ability level side of the room would have the primary or secondary sources simplified and have alternate words in parenthesis for vocabulary that is higher than they can handle or for sections that are written so archaically that they would not be able to interpret the meaning. I would also split up the sources into different sections with a question following each section where the answer can be found to help them focus and not be overwhelmed.

During ‘Museum Walks’ students use the kinesthetic intelligence because students move around the room. I would allow students to work in similar ability pairs to bring in the interpersonal intelligence.  I would also offer students the choice of working by themselves in packet form to bring in the intrapersonal intelligence. I would include political cartoons, paintings, photographs or propaganda posters to include the spatial intelligence. Students will be reading the primary or secondary sources from the wall where they hang, discussing the answers with their partner and writing about them so that also brings in the linguistic intelligence. Another option is to have the teacher lead a group of lower level readers and learners with the lower ability level packet form of the activity in a small group to help them read, analyze and summarize the primary sources. The last option will be harder to do without a co-teacher because teachers will still have to pay attention to the partners moving around the room and announce when they need to move to the next source.

Go beyond your content and provide a primary or secondary source that will have your students conflicted and critically thinking about their own knowledge and how they feel about the situation in history in order to enrich your lessons. The Common Core Social Studies Standards encourage you to do this.

To find out more about and how to use the Common Core Social Studies Standards, click on the link here.



Written by,

Kasha Mastrodomenico

Shhhhh! It’s a secret! Creation of the Constitution PowerPoint and Lesson Plan

First I’d like to say thank you to all of you that purchased my products during the 20% off sale! I want to let you in on a little secret to say thank you. Two of my products that are listed on are more than what they seem. Don’t be scared off my the product descriptions warning you away from purchasing these items. They are decoys. In reality it actually has three PowerPoints and three differentiated instruction lesson plans! (Annapolis Convention, The Need for Compromise, and the Major Issues of the Constitutional Convention) Common Core standards are used too. This product will only be up until Jan. 2014. This is one benefit of subscribing to my blog. If you bought these items separately, it would cost you $19! But the Creation of the Constitution Differentiated Instruction Lesson Plan is only $4.00 and the PowerPoint is only $3.00! So you can SAVE $12.00 by getting in on this deal not to mention a bunch of time planning! Below are the links that will take you to these products and remember… shhhhh, it’s a secret!

Don’t miss out on the deal for three differentiated instruction lesson plans and PowerPoints! You can see what is in each lesson plan and PowerPoint by following these links:

Annapolis Convention differentiated instruction lesson plan and PowerPoint:

The Need for Compromise differentiated instruction lesson plan and PowerPoint:


Major Issues of the Constitutional Convention Differentiated Instruction lesson plan and PowerPoint

Written by,

Kasha Mastrodomenico

20% off Sale on EVERYTHING!

If you haven’t subscribed to my blog, you will see why you should. I throw sales on both and I have 20% off sales ready to go on both sites over the next few days. It can save you a lot of money and a lot of time planning. EVERYTHING IN MY STORES WILL BE ON SALE!

Here are the sales dates:

Teacherspayteachers: 12/2-12/3/2013

Teachersnotebook: 11/30-12/2/2013

Click on the links above so that you can see what I have in my stores. If you teach social studies in the middle or high school or even 5th grade, my products can help you.

Have a wonderful day teaching!

Written by,

Kasha Mastrodomenico


Common Core

Common Core: Cite specific textual evidence

Common Core

The Common Core Social Studies Standard  for History/Social Studies CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.6-8.1 demands that students cite evidence when practicing expository writing. Students need to use that evidence to support their analysis of primary and secondary sources. Specific evidence helps students prove why they believe their analysis of the primary or secondary source is accurate. Without proof, it is an ignorant opinion.

When first beginning to teach students how to cite, a teacher can introduce it as a matching exercise. They can provide students with five to ten short secondary or primary sources. Then they should offer the same amount of statements. Have the students find the primary or secondary sources that could provide the evidence to make each statement true. In order to differentiate instruction for this I would use the Multiple Intelligence Theory. I would allow my intrapersonal learners to conduct the activity the way I suggest above. For my interpersonal and kinesthetic learners, I would create small posters with the individual statements and the primary sources. The students could then search for the match with the other students that are going through the activity in this format. Once they think they have a match, I would have them come up to me and explain orally why they think it’s a match. They should say something in the realm of “We think it matches because…”. That statement will also help them gear up for the next Common Core Standard that I will be writing about in my next article.

Once students understand that they can cite evidence to prove an opinion statement, they need to practice writing their own opinion on the content and then write the reason a primary or secondary source helps to prove it. Teachers can have students practice this by providing a primary or secondary source for students to read and providing a question for them to answer about it. The question must contain a ‘why’ statement. The student should then answer the question and state the reason including a ‘because’ statement connecting their opinion with the factual evidence from the primary or secondary source.

When students are ready to move on, they should start using primary or secondary sources in an essay format, usually called a DBQ essay, there are three possibilities for citing specific evidence from the documents.

1. Students may summarize or quote what was stated in the document.

2. Students may summarize or quote and then write where they found the evidence.

3. Students may summarize or quote a document and then place the document number or title inside parenthesis.

Encourage students to create educated opinions by citing proof during expository writing. It will encourage critical thinking and increase confidence because they will be able to back up their opinions. Instead of just saying “I think it means this…,” they’ll say “It means this because…”. One of our goals as social studies educators is to teach our students the skills they need to be successful in life. This Common Core Social Studies Standard can help us accomplish this goal.

I have created an expository leveled writing system that can help social studies teachers differentiate instruction for their students. You can find it by clicking here: Leveled Expository Writing System

Click on the link below to find out more about how to use the Common Core Standards.

To find out more about the Common Core Social Studies Standards, click here. That page goes through the Common Core Social Studies Standards and simplifies them by giving examples and explanations.


Written by,

Kasha Mastrodomenico

Common Core Standards

Common Core Standards help to Encourage Civics

Common Core Standards

Common Core Standards

Common Core Standards for Social Studies

According to Anne O’Brien the Common Core Standards help to encourage civics and I have to agree. Her article does a great job showing how the standards are having a positive effect in our nation’s classrooms. We hear so many negatives that I thought I would post something a little more positive for you read about the CCSS. It may be a viewpoint that you haven’t heard before. Being a social studies teacher myself, I feel it is important to hear all sides of a debate and this one is heated. I have provided the link for you below and would love to see some comments made about it.

My site  also explains the Common Core Standards and then goes into how to differentiate instruction using them. In it you will find links to other articles that will give you even more insight about how to use the Common Core Standards in the middle school social studies classroom. It is well worth to time to check out.

Written by,

Kasha Mastrodomenico

Differentiated Instruction

Differentiated Instruction gets my Students Excited

Differentiated Instruction

Every teacher desires and struggles with getting their students excited about their subject. We want our students to be as passionate about it as we are. The percentage of pure passion for a subject is limited to a few in each class. So how can we get the rest of the students to enjoy and look forward to coming to our class? I suggest trying to use multiple intelligence learning styles, differentiated instruction as well as increasing student choice.

Multiple intelligence learning styles are a great way to start to increase interest in a subject and use differentiated instruction. The multiple intelligence theory was developed by Dr. Howard Gardner. There are seven original multiple intelligences and thus the same number of learning styles but there are considered to be more now. Some even think there are hundreds of them.

I like to stick to the original basic seven as to not be overwhelmed during the differentiated instruction planning process. In my experience they will work for most students in the class. In the rare occasion they don’t, teachers can include one of the new multiple intelligence learning styles to reach the student.

The seven original multiple intelligence learning styles are intrapersonal, interpersonal, linguistic, spatial, musical, logical-mathematical, and kinesthetic. You can use multiple intelligence learning styles in all aspects of the lesson to include different ways of presenting each piece of content in a mini-lesson or offering choices for activities during a work session dealing with different multiple intelligence learning styles, which brings us to the next suggestion to get students excited in a class, differentiated instruction.

Differentiated Instruction has been a hot topic for a while now, however many teachers still don’t quite know how to do it, don’t have time to do it, or they just think it’s a phase. It can be a great tool to use to interest and excite your students and, in my opinion, shouldn’t be overlooked as an option for every day lessons.

Differentiated instruction can be done through the use of the multiple intelligence learning styles as well as leveling, scaffolding or tiering.

Teachers can use multiple intelligence learning styles to differentiate instruction in not only the mini-lesson but also the work session activities and pretty much any other part of the lesson. Offer students up to four choices of activities for a work session, all using the same content, but using different multiple intelligence learning styles. The students will choose the one that they think will be the most interesting to do. I’ve noticed that if you allow them to choose the activities the day before, their interests peak. They feel like they have ownership in their education and look forward to coming to the class the next day. I have also noticed a decrease in complaining about work sessions because they can’t blame you as the teacher. After all, they chose it.

I’m sure you are wondering how I actually have time to create four options of activities for students to choose from. I created a system of activity templates that saves me a ton of time. I offer about 55 of them at They even include rubrics. I can tweak them easily to fit almost anything I need my students to work on.

Another way to differentiate instruction to increase excitement is through the use of leveling. Leveling is also known as tiering and scaffolding. This can be done by using the same content once again but at different levels. This is not less and or more work depending on “how smart” your students are. It has to do with taking students from one level to the next through the use of small steps. Differentiating instruction through the use of leveling is easily done with expository writing. Teachers can take a student from a topic sentence and the listing of three facts to a topic sentence with one fact sentence and then listing two facts and so on. Students need to see that there is hope at the end of the tunnel and if they have a learning disability or are ELL, many times writing can be an overwhelming task for them. Using small differentiated instruction leveled steps helps them feel success and improves their attitude in the subject.

Whether a teacher uses leveling or multiple intelligence learning styles to differentiate instruction, they stand a chance of really interesting their students in their subject area or content. To read more about differentiated instruction, click here.

Written by,

Kasha Mastrodomenico


Differentiated Instruction

Differentiated Instruction Systems

Use Differentiated Instruction Systems to Save Time During Planning

The administrations that I worked under were always pushing differentiated instruction. I think I attended more differentiated instruction training seminars than years I taught. The biggest problem I found when I taught middle school social studies was finding time to plan for differentiated instruction. I had to learn the content before I could create a lesson plan and then I had to differentiate it and with only one planning period which was many times a week taken away for meetings. I was staying at work until nine at night and getting there at six in the morning to try to get everything done. Needless to say, I was exhausted and I was burned out before five years. I took a year off after moving, my husband is in the Army, and then started again. I ended up running around in circles once more.

I realized that there were two ways this could go for me. I could switch careers and work normal hours and actually have weekends off, or I could figure out a way to plan for differentiated instruction in a much faster way. I decided on the latter because I love to teach. I began to systems that helps me plan for differentiated instruction.

The first system I created was a leveled expository writing system. It has nine levels that can help bring a student who needs to focus on just writing a topic sentence and then listing the facts that support it underneath to a DBQ essay within a year’s time. Each template included the directions. They also included the grading checklist so that the student could see how they were going to be graded. All I had to do was write in the question I wanted my students to explore and the assignment was created. By using my leveled writing system, I increased the amount of writing that was done in my classroom and my students became much better writers. There wasn’t one student that didn’t show some sort of improvement in writing that year. When I became the SST chair for my grade level, I realized that this could also be used for the RTI process because it shows small achievable goals each student has made in their writing.

The second system that I created was for activities based on the Multiple Intelligence Theory. At the top of each activity were the Multiple Intelligences used in the activity. Under those, student roles were included to help keep the students focused and on task. This also provided consistency in the way activities were run. All I had to do with the activity templates was write in the content I wanted my students to use for that assignment. I could provide four choices of activities for my students that could be ready in less than five minutes! Each one of the templates also included a rubric specific for that assignment but with an equal grading system as all of the other activity templates.

I was pretty proud of what I had created and since they took less than five minutes to include in a lesson plan, I saved a lot of time during planning. My brain wouldn’t shut off though. What about the other sections of a lesson plan? Was there a better way to do those too? Could I create a system for that as well?

After much deliberation I realized that there was a way to differentiated instruction for vocabulary that could be done with templates too. I created a template with three sections; one for the vocabulary word on the left, in the middle was the area for the definition, and on the right side students could choose from drawing a picture to represent the vocabulary word or write a sentence to show understanding. This choice brought in the Multiple Intelligence Theory and student choice.  From there I decided to level it. The enriched level allowed students to write the definition in their own words to provide a bit of critical thinking. The average level allowed students to fill in the blanks of the definition. The basic level provided the full definition. I chose this option for the lower level because I realized that many of them were having trouble just decoding the definitions even in simplified form. This allowed them the time to read and comprehend it and then use it in their choice box on the right.

Unfortunately, there really isn’t a way to systemize the creation of PowerPoints, note sheets and primary sources quickly. However, I have created many for American History for you to download. Most of my PowerPoints have two levels of them; enriched and basic. For each PowerPoint, there are two levels of notes; enriched and basic. The enriched notes allow for more critical thinking and the basic notes allow students to fill in the blanks as they go through the PowerPoint in class. There are many differentiated instruction primary sources available in my social studies differentiated instruction lesson plans as well to help you bring in the common core standards too. You can access my plans at

To learn more about differentiated instruction, click here.

Written by,

Kasha Mastrodomenico