Monthly Archives: February 2014

TeachersPayTeachers Sale!

TeachersPayTeachers Sale to Celebrate 3 Million Members!

TeachersPayTeachers Sale!

I have never held two sales in one month but has reached 3 million members! To celebrate, they are offering a 10% off on everything. Use the promo code TPT3 to get the discount. I am going to help them celebrate this huge accomplishment by adding a 20% off sale on top of their discount! This is the perfect time to get some of the big ticket unit items. You do not want to miss out on this. The sale will be February 27 -February 28, 2014.

Go directly to my store by following this link:

My deal of the week is the Bering Strait, and the Advanced Civilization of the Maya, Aztec and Inca Bundle. It is normally $20.00. I have reduced the price to $17.00. You can save even more money if you buy it during the sale dates above! Here’s the link to deal of the week bundle:

Have a great week teaching and don’t forget to subscribe to my blog so that you know about the deals of the week, the sales that I hold and great ideas about teaching social studies. I try to update the blog at least twice a month but usually end up posting more.

Written by,

Kasha Mastrodomenico

school discipline

Do You Believe in Community Discipline in School?

As soon as my two children come home from school, I hear about who got the class in trouble during the day. The school they go to has a school wide policy of community punishment. If a child doesn’t adhere to the silence expected from them in the hallway or steps out of the line while changing from specials, the entire class has to stand during recess. Sometimes they even have to stand the entire recess.

At the beginning of the year after I learned about this policy, I quested all three of the teachers they have. Their response was unanimous. “We are trying to teach about community here. We are teaching the students that their actions affect others.” After I left the school, I went home and thought about their answer.

I can see the schools point of view, kind of. In society, the actions of people who do not follow the laws do affect those that do. Law abiding citizens supply the tax base for the police forces, courts and prisons. The flaw in the schools reasoning is that honest people are not chosen to spend the prison sentence along with the offender to show them that they affect society.

The second issue I have with this policy deals with incentive. I thought back to when I was in sixth grade, a year that I am not so proud of behavior wise. I was part of a group of kids that tried to get Mr. Gordon to explode. His face would always turn bright red right before he did and we watched for that sign and then pushed just a little bit further. Each time he exploded in front of the class, I had a feeling that I had won, even if we lost gum balls from the jar that would help us get a pizza party. My parents rarely lost their temper so to see an adult do it, and knowing that I had control over him doing it, was amusing to me. My point is that there will always be students in a class that enjoy punishment and being able to control the whole classes punishment might even be more satisfying for them. I also have to ask, why would any student do what’s right if they’re going to be punished anyway? Whats their incentive?

The third issue I have with this policy is that standing around teaches the students nothing. Wouldn’t it be better if the teachers retaught the desired behavior? For instance, if a student can’t stay in the line, they should practice staying in line, even if it’s just by following the teacher through the halls. This reteaching, only takes about 30 seconds and from my own experience, it is effective. I learned this strategy in a staff development class called Effective Teaching. They called it going to “camp”. I used it while I taught middle school and would give out “camp” slips if a student was not following the rules. After the school day was done, the students had to meet me back at my class for “camp” where they would practice the correct behavior. For example, if they forgot to take their hats off in class, I had them walk in and out of the door a few times practicing taking off their hat. Besides correcting the behavior, it also reduced the amount of referrals that I sent to the principal. In an elementary school setting, recess would be a perfect opportunity to have “camp”. If students take instructional time from teachers then teachers takes their free time to reteach the correct behavior. (If you are interested in the Effective Teaching staff development that the “camp” idea came from, you can find them by following this link: I do not gain anything from recommending it. It was one of the best staff development courses I’ve had, and I’ve taken A LOT!)

I would love to hear what you think about the policy of community discipline in school. If you have something to add, please comment and share with us.

Written by,

Kasha Mastrodomenico

Progressive Era PowerPoint

Valentine’s Day 10% Off Sale and Deal of the Week!

Don’t miss out on the deal of the week and a 10% off sale!

Everything in my and stores are 10% off from 2/13/2014-2/16/2014! Don’t miss the opportunity to save yourself time and money.

The Deal of the Week for both stores is my Progressive Era PowerPoint Bundle for the week of 2/13/14-2/20/2014. Follow the links below to take a look:


This bundle includes 4 PowerPoints. Each PowerPoint includes a basic and an enriched version. You can save $4.01 when you purchase these PowerPoints as a bundle compared to individually when they are not on sale and not the deal of the week. Now you can save even more! I lowered the price from 9.99 to 8.00 and then took another 10% off! You can now get all four PowerPoints for only $7.20! You SAVE $6.80 if you purchase it on or before 2/16/2014.

These are the PowerPoints that are included. I have provided the link to where they are sold individually so that you can see what they include for content and their ratings and comments.

Progressive Era Muckrakers

Progressive Era Amendments

Progressive Era Ills of Society

Progressive Era Trusts

2. I am also throwing a 10% sale on during the same days. Everything in that store is also 10% off. I don’t have as many products listed on this site as I do on teacherspayteachers but you can see the Progressive Era PowerPoint Bundle by clicking on the link below:

Below are the links for the individual items so you can see what is included:

Progressive Era Muckrakers

Progressive Era Amendments

Progressive Era Ills of Society

Progressive Era Trusts

Thank you again for following me on my blog and on and teachersnotebook! Have a wonderful Valentine’s Day!

Written by,

Kasha Mastrodomenico

Common Core Social Studies

Common Core Social Studies How to Identify Key Steps in a Text’s Description of a Process

Common Core Social Studies CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.6-8.3: Reading for Sequencing

The Common Core Social Studies Standard CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.6-8.3 encourages students to identify key steps in a text’s description of a process related to history/social studies. Basically, the Common Core Social Studies Standard is asking students to read and write down a sequence.

This Common Core Social Studies Standard brings a basic skill into the middle school setting. Sequencing has always been an important basic skill in social studies. It can be implemented when learning about wars, processes of government, cause and effect and chronological timelines.

In my experience, by the seventh grade, most of the students in a class are able to read a text and decipher the steps or a process or events. When I started writing this article on the Common Core Social Studies Standard CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.6-8.3, it came to my attention that I never really put much thought into how I taught students who hadn’t mastered this skill or I just assumed that they were on a lower reading level and had them focus on just getting through the text itself. I know that I was never taught how to teach sequencing in college. I have always considered it to be a skill that elementary teachers would teach which could then be used in middle school and above. My research on the subject seems to agree with me. The research that I conducted for this article on the Common Core Social Studies Standard CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.6-8.3 pointed me in an elementary education direction which I had to modify for the middle school grade levels.

Common Core Social Studies: What Background Knowledge is Needed for Sequencing?

Students first need to know what sequencing is. This may come up in a middle school classroom with second language learners. Other students may just need to be reminded. Sequencing is when events or actions are put in order. For example, chronological order, the order of steps or cycles.

Secondly, students need to know the signal or transition words that can help them identify a sequence and master the Common Core Social Studies Standard. A list of some of the common words students will see are provided for you in the chart below.

Signal/Transition Words for Recognizing Sequence

First, second, third, etc. At the beginning
Finally Prior to
Afterwards Shortly thereafter
While Subsequently
Soon Next
Simultaneously At the same time
Then Following that
When Later
Now Soon
During At (in) the end
The first/next/last thing Before
Last After

(Chart from Cassandra York, Department of Multicultural Education, Palm Beach County)

Common Core Social Studies: How can you Check for Understanding when Teaching Sequencing?

Once the signal/transition words have been presented, the teacher can read a passage aloud pausing to ask students to identify the words used to signal the sequence. Then, students should read a passage and try to circle or highlight all of the signal or transition words that are used. I recommend that the teacher writes the passages themselves using the content they are covering in class because as middle school teachers we cannot afford to lose a day of content teaching to teach a basic skill covered in elementary school. This practice should help teacher solidify the basic common core social studies skill.

Common Core Social Studies: What activities help students practice using text to identify a sequence?

Obviously reading is the first step in all of these activities but teachers don’t need to give up creativity in the second part of the activities.

1. Creating Lists: As the student reads, they can write a list of the steps in the sequence. Teachers can differentiate instruction on the assignment for different ability levels. For enriched students, you can simply tell them to create a list as they read. Average students may need to know how many steps should be included in this list. Lower ability level students could be provided the steps cut into strips. As they go through the text, the should put them in order. Once they are sure the steps are in the right  order, they can tape or paste them on their paper or just have the teacher check them. Another option for lower ability level students is to provide slotted notes for them to use that help the steps be revealed to them as they read. The last option I have for lower ability level students is to provide a list that is out of order. After they read or while they read, they can place a number next to each of the steps to place them in the correct order.

2. Sentence Strips: Have students put the sentences in order as they read or after they read. This can be turned into a fun group activity too. Teachers could divide the students up into groups and provide the same passage to each group to read. You can either provide the groups with sentence strips on construction paper that include the steps or events in the sequence or you can have the students write down the steps as they come across them in the reading. Once the reading is completed, the students should stand in the order they believe their steps or events belong and hold up their construction paper. The group that is in the correct order first, wins the game.

3. Graphic Organizers:

Common Core Social Studies

Social Studies Common Core CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.6-8.3

Teachers can have students use a flow chart graphic organizer. As students read the text, they can fill out the flow chart. Teachers can differentiate instruction for lower ability level students by providing a word box on the graphic organizer to help guide them. You can find a bundle of flow charts ready to help you differentiate instruction by clicking here.

Timelines are also considered flow charts. Timelines are a great tool for placing things in chronological order. They can be very simple and just include the events or they can become more complicated by adding things like descriptions of the events, date, and a drawing of the event to bring in the spatial multiple intelligence. Teachers can provide the timeline to students and have them write in the information or they can have students create them. 

4. Recording: Have students read the passage and then retell the events or steps in order while being recorded. They can then listen to the recording while they check or self evaluate the steps in the text. While self evaluating, they should think about whether they included the most important sections, if they should have included anything else that could support the steps or events, and if their retelling would make sense to someone else who hasn’t read the passage.

5. Write a play: After students read the passage in a group setting, they should agree upon and then write down the steps or events. Then they could write a short play about the steps. This allows students to create something new while learning the content and practicing sequencing.

6. Charts: Either supply or have students make a chart that has a beginning, middle, and end section. Teachers can add questions in the text to break up the reading into sections to help lower ability level students.

7. Outline:

Common Core Social Studies


Teachers could combine the Social Studies Common Core Standard for sequencing with the Writing Common Core Standards. As the student reads, they should fill out an outline (average students if this is an introduction to the skill and lower ability level students) or they could create an outline on their own (enriched students and average students after they have been introduced to the skill). Once the outline has been created, students can then write the sequence in paragraph form in their own words to practice expository writing. Teachers can find a leveled expository writing system that I created by clicking here.

8. Pass and Add: This is a group activity that starts with the group reading the text. After they have read it, they take turns writing down a step or event until all are accounted for. They will then review them as a group to make sure they are in the right order and nothing has been left out by rereading the text aloud.

The Commo n Core Social Studies Standards may change the way the teachers teach. I am not a reading specialist. I never took a course on how to teach reading and I think it’s safe to assume that most secondary education teachers haven’t either. Yet, the Common Core Social Studies Standards are demanding that we do just that. We need to increase our own knowledge through self education. We need to do research and we need to share what we learn because as I talked about in the beginning, what we assume to be true, might not be at all.

Follow the link below to learn more about the Common Core Social Studies Standards and how to teach them in the middle school classroom.

web sources used for my Common Core Social Studies Article:,


Written by,

Kasha Mastrodomenico


How to stay positive during parent-teacher conferences

How to be positive during parent-teacher conferences

As I was climbing through the mountains of binders that hold my teaching resources, I came across a binder I haven’t seen in a while. When I looked inside I found a piece of paper that looks like it was given out at a conference in 1961 (Conference Time for Teachers and Parents; NSPRA Publications 1961). I started to smile immediately when I saw it because I used it so much the first year I was teaching to figure out how to communicate to parents in a positive manner about not so positive issues their children were having in class.

I didn’t learn how to have parent-teacher conferences while I was in college. I had only sat in on a few parent-teacher conferences when I was student teaching but they had been team led. I had to do my first one on my own and was unprepared for what I should say.  JoAnn Smith gave me this paper to help me prepare how to say what I needed to say before my first round of parent-teacher conferences. I have held onto it because most of it is still PC and I think it’s a great reference for teachers who would like to keep their parent-teacher conferences positive. I have retyped it below for you and added to it in parenthesis:

How to be Positive during Parent-Teacher Conferences

How to Tell Parents

There are many expressions which we use that may leave a false, or undesirable impression. Here is a list of expressions which may leave a negative impression, with a kindred, more positive, phrase which might be used.



Must Should
Lazy Can do more when he tries
Trouble maker Disturbs class
Uncooperative Should learn to work with others
Cheats Depends on others to do his work
Stupid Can do better work with help
Never does the right thing Can learn to do the right thing
Below average Working at his own level
Truant Absent without permission
Impertinent (rude) Discourteous (is working on showing courtesy to others)
Steal Without permission
Unclean Poor habits (have had to review personal hygiene habits or organizational skills)
Dumbbell Capable of doing better
Help Cooperation (works better with a partner or group)
Calamity Lost opportunity
Disinterested Complacent, not challenged
Expense Investment
Contribute to Invest in
Stubborn Insists on having his own way
Insolent (insulting or rude) Outspoken (enjoys sharing his opinion)
Liar Tendency to stretch the truth
Wastes time Could make better use of time
Sloppy Could do neater work
Incurred failure Did not meet requirements
Mean Difficulty getting along with others
Time and again Usually
Dubious Uncertain (would like to see him more confident with decisions or would like to see him ask questions about directions given for assignments or tasks)
Poor grade of work Below his usual standard (I’ve seen more detail and effort in previous work)
Clumsy Not physically well coordinated (or fine or gross motor skills have not caught up with growth)
Profane (cussing, swearing, bad words) Uses unbecoming language (uses inappropriate language for school)
Selfish Seldom shares with others
Rude Inconsiderate of others (is working on considering the feelings of others)
Bashful Reserved (intrapersonal learner)
Show-off Tries to get attention
Will fail him Has a chance of passing, if…

Keeping parent-teacher conferences positive will help keep the parent-teacher relationship positive. Remember that parents love their children, even when they are not behaving or are not meeting the standards or grade level work. They want to know that teachers care about their children too. Stating things that you are concerned about in a more positive manner during parent-teacher conferences can help ease the blow for parents because many of them will have no idea that there is an issue. It is also a good idea to have a plan for how you will help the students achieve a specific goal for the behavior or expectation that concerns you. You should encourage parents to have a plan as well by reminding them that you are partners when it comes to the child.

If you have any other ideas about how to say things in a more positive manner during parent-teacher conferences, please comment on this article so we can all learn more as teachers.

Written by,

Kasha Mastrodomenico