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

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



How can teachers encourage students to do their homework?

Getting students to complete their homework is a huge obstacle that frustrates teachers on a daily basis. I’ve come up with a list of tips that may help you improve your homework return rate.

1. Agenda: Make sure your students have their homework written down. They are more likely to complete their homework if they have their homework written down in their agenda no matter what grade level they are in. Make sure there is a set time during class that they are to write their homework into their agenda that can become a routine. Make sure your assignment is in an obvious place in the room and is written neatly in that spot everyday. I like to have my students write their homework down right after they do the opener or bell ringer at the beginning of the class. This gives me the opportunity to check their agendas during the mini-lesson while they write their notes. I stamp their agendas, which is faster than writing my initials, if it is done correctly. If it is not, I tell them to fix it and wait next to them while they do it. Other teachers like have their students write down their homework at the end of class and then check it. I used to do that but I noticed that at least once a week, I would run out of time and wouldn’t be able to check it or I would create a traffic jam at my door as I checked them as a ticket out the door. Having students write their homework in their agenda at the beginning of class eliminates those problems.

2. Time: In middle school, each core teacher (math, social studies, science, and language arts) should only be giving about 10-20 minutes of homework a night.

3. Ability Levels & Appropriateness: Think about the students you have in your class. Do any of them read lower than grade level? Does someone have dyslexia, ADD or ADHD or other special needs? Do you have any ELL or ESOL students? I have never met a middle school teacher that has ever had a class that was full of on grade level readers and had no accommodations or interventions due to special education, ELL, or the RTI process. Our students usually span from kindergarten level to college with their reading levels. So if you choose to assign a reading assignment out of the textbook or on a tablet, if your school is tech savvy, and it is on grade level (Did you know that most textbooks are actually written above grade for the grade they are approved for?), it will take your students that are on a lower ability level or in special education or receive ELL services 3 to 4 times longer to complete the reading assignment because they will not only have to comprehend but decode as well or their medicine will have run out and will not be able to concentrate. I have a few ideas that can help you get these students to return their homework completed.

a. Rewrite the chapter at a lower reading level for students who are not on grade level. This is time consuming but most teachers will use the same textbook for at least five years so in the long run, it’s really not so bad. Co-teachers can help out with this.

b. Assign only the paragraphs that are necessary to answer the questions that you assigned to make sure they comprehend the reading. Have students either flag the paragraphs with strips of sticky notes or put a light dot next to the paragraph with a pencil. This reduces the quantity of reading they have to do but doesn’t reduce the quality of the reading.

c. Use a slotted reading assignment (slotted notes or questions for each paragraph assigned) that will force them to answer questions as they go through the reading. This will force them to stop while they read and make sure they are comprehending. I recommend doing this only for the paragraphs that are the most important as this may actually increase the amount of time that is spent reading. It is worth it though because it makes sure that the students are comprehending what they are reading. It is a great technique to use as an intervention and as an accommodation.

d. Allow students on a lower reading level, students that have dyslexia, ADD or ADHD 2-3 days to complete reading comprehension homework by breaking the chapter up into several days. A piece of it should be due on each of the days the assignment is spanning otherwise your procrastinators will just wait until the night before anyway and your efforts will be for not.

4. Consistency of Grading: Teachers need to be consistent with grading homework. It should only take a teacher 3 days maximum to return a homework assignment to a student with a grade. The sooner you return homework, the better for the student. They need to see the effects of their effort before they forget about the effort, or lack there of, that they put into it. If you do not plan on grading something, don’t assign it unless it’s to study something like vocabulary which could be graded during a quiz the next day.

5. Quality not Quantity: You do not have to assign homework. If you don’t have something that will help preview, review or enrich then don’t assign it. Do not give students busy work. It’s a waste of their time and because you should be grading everything that they do for homework, it’s a waste of your time as well.

6. Communication with Parents/Guardians: If students are consistently not returning their homework then teachers should contact home. Their parents may not be aware of it.

7. Start in Class: Allow students to begin their homework in class during the last five minutes. This allows you to go over the directions with them and if they don’t understand something then you can explain it to them.

8. Class website: Update and post the homework assignments and the due dates on your class or teacher website/webpage so if students forget their agendas, they can check what they are supposed to do when they get home.

These suggestions are not going to make you have a 100% homework turn in rate. They should help increase it though. If you have more suggestions on how to improve the homework return rate, please comment so I can approve it. I love to hear new ideas and techniques that can help my students.

Written by,

Kasha Mastrodomenico

Critical Thinking

Critical Thinking Videos

I ran across this site when I was looking through posts on I think it’s very valuable. It offers six videos on critical thinking that you might find helpful. Here’s the link:!

Written by,

Kasha Mastrodomenico