Khan Academy is growing and I for one am excited!

khan You might be familiar with Khan Academy as a free, online resource to help students in grade K through 12 master difficult mathematical concepts.  However, Khan is quickly turning into so much more.  Through a series of excellent partnerships Khan is rapidly expanding the breadth and range of topics they cover.  Khan’s latest partnership is with the CollgeBoard to bring free, dynamic, robust SAT prep to anyone with internet access.  The conversation around this innovative, and disruptive resource is that perhaps this will have the power to level the playing fields for all college seniors in the country and better prepare them for college. However, Khan’s test prep ventures don’t stop with the SAT. Khan Academy currently also offers free, digital resources to help students prep for the GMAT, MCAT, NCLEX-RN (nursing exam) and CAHSEE (California High School Exit Exam). But Khan isn’t just focusing on standardized test prep in order to help make America’s students college ready. Khan Academy has also curated a wealth of resources to help students navigate the intricacies of college admissions. This takes Khan’s merits beyond the mathematics classrom, making it an invaluable resource for any high school student, guidance counselor or dynamite teacher.

Read more about the great things Khan is doing in my Article for the Yellin Center in New York City.

Teacher Resource: Blends Bingo -A Letter-Sound Game

CaptureAnother resource is up on the Yellin Center Blog, and this time is it for the Blends Bingo game I designed. This game aims to improve student’s understanding of different letter-sound relationships which are critical to the development of a child’s early reading skills. Mastery of this fundamental phonological awareness skill has been linked to overall success in reading decoding and comprehension.

I use this game primarily in special education and reading recovery settings.  However, it can be easily adapted to a whole class environment.  If adapting for a large group, it is important to note that every sound is on every card. Therefore, you should expect to have multiple winners at a given time. The reason every sound appears on every card is that this game was designed as a purposeful play activity. As such, Blends Bingo has the objective of each student participating by locating a new sound every time a new playing piece is drawn by the teacher. There is no waiting in this activity, and every child is able to continually work to manipulate sounds.

For detailed description of the research that backs the creation and implementation of this game, how this activity aligns with the standards and detailed instructions of how to run this activity in your classroom please head over to my in depth discussion on the Yellin Center Blog. There, I also discuss how I have used this tool as a formative assessment measure, as well as a few alternate game play structures to keep your students engaged.

This activity was rather labor intensive to create due to formatting and finding images that clearly represented each sound.  As such, this game is one of my paid TpT resources but today it is on sale! The sale lasts through the weekend, so you can head over to my Teachers pay Teachers store to download Blends Bingo.  Furthermore, since my Blends Bingo Post went up on the Yellin Center Blog I have been routinely asked where I procure affordable or free materials for my curriculum designs.  I understand how tough it can be to find copy write free materials, so for this game and most clip art infused resources I often use Classroom Clip Art. It is an affordable membership service, with a pretty robust selection of images that are education centric.

Third Installment on the Columbia University Admissions Blog

Third Installment on the Columbia University Admissions Blog

This month I was asked to find a spare moment in the chaos of finals to talk about our plans for Christmas, either near or far from NYC. I chose to highlight some of the festive activities that we managed to squeeze in between laborious paper writing and those lengthy library sessions where you sustain yourself on a diet of coffee and determination.

Dating (my husband) in NYC

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I think I have mentioned it before but one of the best, most exciting parts of being in New York has been falling in love with Jay on a new, deeper level.  When we first settled in here I felt worlds away from the support network I have carefully knit with my truly remarkable friends and large, close family, and the distance from them made me feel as if the floor had fallen out beneath me.  If I am honest, there are moments when I still feel this way.  However, I have come to realize that the core things I need are found in Jay.  This is no way diminishes the support I receive from others, because it is equally vital (and hasn’t changed at all).  I have simply begun to realize what an unstoppable, dynamite team him and I are.  He is the pinnacle of support, as he graciously talks to death all the big and small thoughts, aspirations and concerns that stir inside me daily.  Through his hard work and passion he is constantly bolstering all the dreams we both have for our little family.  This is nothing new, he has always been this way.  The only difference is that I have begun to appreciate these attributes in ways I could never have done without stepping outside my comfort zone and taking these risks.  So although we are slowly building a vibrant network of friends here in NYC, I have really enjoyed the us time as Jay and I explore this city and each other in a whole new way.

Now we are not the type of couple to schedule date nights, and in all actuality we are really, really terrible at the romance thing.  We would not be the winners of any cutest couple award that is for sure.  Although we do spend an unnatural amount of time together, I still tend to describe us as one of the least couply-couples.  A friend from back home who now shares the city with us told me she loved being with us because we don’t make people feel like third wheels.  This was one of the best compliments I have ever received.  At the heart of what defines us is that Jay and I are best friends and that is how we approach life and our relationships with others. So with that in mind most of our dates are happenstance and are the result of the friends we invited being busy, not the careful orchestration of romance.  Nonetheless here is a detailing of some of our favorite City dates thus far. Continue reading “Dating (my husband) in NYC”

Teaching Moments: Fairytales and Story Retelling

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My best graduate course at the moment, bar none, is Computer Applications in Education.  It is no secret why I am so enamored by this course – I love technology.  Ed Tech is my most pervasive professional interest.  My technological inclinations have led me to sit on my school district’s Educational Technology Advisory Committee, as well as be apart of a research team at my  university that created and lead professional development workshops on how to integrate and utilize different educational technologies into ones teaching.  Personally, I strive to include an array of modalities into my curriculum but I do rely heavily on modern technological tools to create my own handouts (like the ones below), as well as construct a curriculum that engages and stimulates my students.

As for this particular course, it has a special education focus, with a heavy emphasis on UDL and assistive technology.  Each week we focus on a novel technology that we get to test out and play around -some I have experience with and some are brand new.  At the moment we have been asked to adapt a previous unit plan to include assistive technologies in order to better meet the needs of the exceptional students in our classrooms.  We opted to use my fractured fairytale unit which focuses on story retelling and imaginative writing.  Below you will find a few of the resources and handouts I devised (using great educational technologies) for this unit that I thought I would share. Continue reading “Teaching Moments: Fairytales and Story Retelling”

NYT on Teacher Education: An Industry of Mediocrity

NYT on Teacher Education: An Industry of Mediocrity

A dear friend passed this article my way which sparked a good conversation between us.  She, a former educator from Souther California, and I, a newly minted Teacher from Canada, share the same heart for children and belief in the power of education.  It is interesting for me studying at Columbia University’s Teacher’s College and being in the thick of the teacher education cycle, after recently going through a Canadian teacher education program.  It gives me a new lens with which to view both countries approach to teacher ed, and just how each society values the merits and inputs of its educators. The article is worth the read, whether you are a teacher or a parent or just a concerned citizen interested in investing in the future of our children

Home: Life in Morningside Heights


Many people have been asking to see our apartment in order to get a sense of the community we are putting our roots down in.  So alas here it is folks.  We live just off the Columbia campus in a great neighbourhood called Morningside Heights.  Everything is within an easy walk of our apartment and we are surrounded by great coffee shops (a must for the Jordan’s), restaurants and bookstores, and there is always an energetic buzz of college life filling the streets no matter what the hour.  We also have easy access to Central and Riverside parks for runs (another Jordan must have), and the church we have been attending is a block and a half up from us (and yet we still manage to be late).  As for our apartment, we are quickly learning that the housing market in Manhattan is as competitive as it is expensive.  So we are counting our lucky stars we got into a university owned building a block from where my classes are held. Our building is a 6 floor pre-war building, and our “penthouse” apartment itself is bathed in a swath of natural light and adorned with a panoply of heritage detail.  Also with the seemingly, soaring ceilings it makes the space feel rather large for being a mere 620 square feet.  So without further ado here are some (iPhone taken) shots of where Jay and I work, study, sleep and play.  If you want to see more you will have to come visit… Continue reading “Home: Life in Morningside Heights”