Monday, September 6, 2021



Dr. Wendy Ghiora

September 6, 2011 - Blog#138

"Hello Oliver.  What did you learn in school today?"  This is part of a greeting frequently given by a parent to their child, as the child walks in the front door after school.  Some of the most common answers are:  "Nothing," "I forgot," or "I can't remember."  

Among the parents I know in our local school district, many of them were forced into homeschooling last year when Covid 19 made in-person learning at school unavailable. When the schools finally re-opened in May, many parents decided to finish the school year by homeschooling to the end of June, 2021.  Now, with the mask mandates and possible vaccine mandates, many of these parents are continuing to homeschool again this year.  

With that realization, I thought I should share an extremely valuable classroom technique that works just as well when homeschooling students.  The most important outcome of teaching something is that the student duplicates, understands and can show or explain how the newly learned knowledge can be used. How do you as a homeschool teacher (or classroom teacher) know if this has occurred?  Simple; you ask.

In the classroom, using the "reflection method," there are three steps to determine what was actually learned:

1. Divide the class into partnerships (two's). 

2. Ask each partner in turn to share with the other partner what they learned in today's lesson that they didn't know before and to give an example of how they will use this new knowledge.

3. Get the class's attention and ask, "Who can share what you learned today that you didn't know before and how you can use this new knowledge?"  The partner can share their own answer, or that of the partner's answer, to the entire class.  

The repetition of similar answers helps the students to remember what was learned. However, having them discuss or write down what they have learned does wonders to engrave this new knowledge into their memory.

For the homeschool:

The homeschool teacher will see much improvement by using this same method.  After a lesson, ask your student(s) to write down in their own words, what they learned that they didn't know before and how they can use this new knowledge.  Then have them explain it to you verbally and either say or show you their example.  After using this tool, the following day, the homeschool teacher will notice a significant improvement in student retention.

An additional benefit of this method is, when students are asked to reflect on what they learned that day, at the end of a lesson,  the student's learning retention increases. Therefore, students will pay more attention to what they are learning, because they know they will be asked to reflect on this at the end of the lesson.

Next time the public school student walks in the door after school, when the parent asks,                             "What did you learn in school today?" If you are the teacher that used this method, you can be sure the student will describe your lesson to their parent.  This is the best compliment a teacher can ask for!



Friday, March 5, 2021


Dr. Wendy Ghiora

March 5, 2021

Blog #137

By the age of six, children have been developing "more than one million neural connections each second and trillions of neural pathways every 24 hours". During this time, children are also developing their ability to pay attention, expand their language skills and learn how to get along with others.

The physical activity involved when playing with other children allows them to learn how to use both sides of their body (cross-lateral development). Children who  cannot engage in playing with their peers are more likely to suffer from anxiety.  According to researchers at the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University, "students that have been active in play early on have improved academic performance, college completion, earnings, richer relationships, and good mental and physical health."

Science tells us young children are the least likely to contract the COVID-19 virus. The CDC, as of September 30, 2020, "Students age 1-4 years old have experienced 15 deaths nationwide involving COVID-19 compared to 2,233 nationwide in that age group from all causes. Students age 5-14 have experienced 32 deaths from COVID-19 compared to 3,476 deaths nationwide in that age group from all causes."

The American Association of Pediatrics and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have recommended that schools reopen, noting the social, emotional, behavioral and academic harm of schools remaining closed.  School closures have resulted in an increase in the number of students experiencing some level of depression. Recent CDC data found that one in five teens across America has seriously considered suicide. Regular engagement with peers and teachers in a structured learning model with daily routines is a proven method to support student's social and emotional challenges.

According to Mark Woolhouse, an epidemiologist at the University of Edinburgh, who has studied K-12 schools opening in European countries last spring, "It is extremely difficult to find any instance in the world of a child (under 15) transmitting COVID-19 to a teacher in a school."  

According to the aforementioned Harvard Study, the inherent risk of contracting the virus is recognized; however, the risk of postponing developmental activities for our children and the long-term consequences that could harm that generation. Health professionals and scientists are also weighing the risks and have arrived at the conclusion we need to send our students to school for face-to-face instruction because it is the right thing to do,

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Dr. Wendy Ghiora

September 23, 2020

Blog #136

An Idea for Making your Zoom lessons Pop

Teaching via zoom has many challenges; however, it can also provide the opportunity to create some memorable lessons.

It is probable you've been in Zoom events where you've seen many crazy and often fun virtual backgrounds. A good number of these are hilarious, but can also be distracting. Therefore, some educators have disabled this feature for their classroom meetings. However, there are also ways these virtual backgrounds can be used quite productively.

A few examples of using virtual backgrounds include: 

Experiencing a space shuttle from your at home classroom. Website:   NASA at home Virtual Tours and Apps.  (This is from their site): "Explore our facilities. View our laboratories. Tour the Moon. Enter a clean room. Experience the James Webb Space Telescope-the most powerful space telescope ever built-and more!"

As Thanksgiving approaches, how about taking your students virtual tour of Plymouth Rock and the Mayflower? Just visit:

Invite students for a virtual tour of one of their favorite authors' lives.  For example, Edgar Allan Poe. Each virtual session is led by a live guide who will share the history of Edgar Allan Poe's life in Baltimore. Explore the poet's mysterious death in 1849, and learn about the poems and short stories Poe wrote while residing at Poe House. Visit:

In addition to all the amazing places you and your students can visit, a fun background can also set the tone for your lesson while at the same time possibly hiding a not so tidy room...   

Here is one site for assorted backgrounds:

Have fun!

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Think-Pair-Share Strategy

Posting #135 – August 4, 2020

Dr. Wendy Ghiora


I have found the “Think-Pair-Share” strategy to be one of the best ways to get even the most shy and reluctant students involved and willing to participate in the learning goal of the lesson.


Here is a summary of the “Think-Pair-Share” strategy taken from:


·       Before introducing the Think-Pair-Share strategy to the students, decide on your target for this lesson.  You may choose to use a new text that the class will be reading, or you might want to develop a set of questions or prompts that target key content concepts that you have been studying. 

·       Describe the strategy and its purpose with your students,and provide guidelines for discussions that will take place.  Explain to students that they will (1) think individually about a topic or answer to a question;(2) pair with a partner and discuss the topic or question; and (3) share ideas with the rest of the class.

·       Using a student or student(s) from your classroom, model the procedure to ensure that students understand how to use the strategy. Allow time for students to ask questions that clarify their use of the technique.

·       Once students have a firm understanding of the expectations surrounding the strategy, monitor and support students as they work through the steps below.  Teachers may also ask students to write or diagram their responses while doing the Think-Pair-Share activity. 

·       Think:  Teachers begin by asking a specific higher-level question about the text or topic students will be discussing. Students "think" about what they know or have learned about the topic for a given amount of time (usually 1-3 minutes).

·       Pair:  Each student should be paired with another student. Teachers may choose whether to assign pairs or let students pick their own partner.  Remember to be sensitive to learners' needs (reading skills, attention skills, language skills) when creating pairs.  Students share their thinking with their partner, discuss ideas, and ask questions of their partner about their thoughts on the topic (2-5 minutes).

·       Share:  Once partners have had ample time to share their thoughts and have a discussion, teachers expand the "share" into a whole-class discussion. Allow each group to choose who will present their thoughts, ideas, and questions they had to the rest of the class.  After the class “share,” you may choose to have pairs reconvene to talk about how their thinking perhaps changed as a result of the “share” element.



You will discover even the most shy and reluctant students are much more willing to share their thoughts with only one other soul in the class, versus with the entire group.  The chances of a good result can be increased if you place the shy/reluctant student with a helpful and caring attitude. Once the two have exchanged their thoughts and ideas about the subject at hand, the teacher then asks for volunteers to share the ideas out to the whole class.   If the “shy/reluctant” student still doesn’t want to share, their more outgoing partner can share the ideas of the “shy/reluctant” student to the group. In this way, the “shy/reluctant” student can still have pride in knowing his/her ideas do matter.  In time, these students will be more and more willing to participate in many types of classroom activities. 


This is really a win-win, as it helps the students gradually build trust and gain self-confidence, and helps the teacher reach and understand the thoughts and ideas that are inclusive of more and more students.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Let’s Raise Powerful Self-Confident Girls
Dr. Wendy Ghiora
Posting #134 – April 4, 2016

What exactly is a powerful, self-confident girl? Self-confident girls grow up feeling secure in themselves. They learn to take action, making positive choices about their own lives and doing positive things for others. They think critically about the world around them. They express their feelings and acknowledge the feelings and thoughts of others in caring ways. Powerful girls feel good about themselves and grow up with a “can-do” attitude. Of course, strong girls may (like all of us) have times of insecurity and self-doubt, but these feelings aren’t paralyzing because the girls have learned to work through their problems. Powerful girls will grow up to lead full, valuable lives.

Here are some of our experts’ ideas to help you raise powerful daughters:

1.            Let her have a voice in making decisions.
“Whenever possible, let her make constructive choices about her life. Let her choose her own clothes, within appropriate limits. Give her a voice in what after-school activities she participates in and how many she wants to do (as long as it works for the rest of the family, too). Remember that knowing what she cares about most will come from trying some things and finding she doesn’t like them, as well as from finding things she loves to do,” recommends Jane Katch, Ed.D., author of They Don’t Like Me. “Your daughter might need to make a commitment for a short time for an activity (one soccer season) but when that’s over, it’s okay to try something different!”
2.            Encourage her to solve issues on her own rather than fixing things for her.
“When parents take over, girls don’t develop the coping skills they need to handle situations on their own. Ask your daughter to consider three strategies she might use to deal with a situation, and then ask her about the possible outcomes. Let her decide what she wants to do (within reason). Even if you disagree with her choice, you give your daughter a sense of control over her life and show her that she is responsible for her decisions,” says Simmons.
3.            Let your daughter know you love her because of who she is, not because of what she weighs or how she looks.
“Encourage your girl to eat in healthy ways, but don’t over-obsess over what she eats. Listen to her opinions (about food, and other things) and show appreciation for her uniqueness, to help her develop herself into the person she wants to be,” says Steiner-Adair. “Comment on the way she carries herself into a room or the ideas she is expressing before commenting on her looks. She needs you to know her insides and validate the developing person within, as well as noticing her emerging young womanhood,” adds White.
4.            Allow her to disagree with you and get angry.
“Raising a powerful girl means living with one. She must be able to stand up to you and be heard, so she can learn to do the same with classmates, teachers, a boyfriend, or future bosses,” says White. Lyn Mikel Brown, Ed.D., and Sharon Lamb, Ed.D., co-authors of Packaging Girlhood, write, “Girls need guidance about how to stay clear in their disagreements, and they need support for not giving up their convictions to maintain a false harmony. Help girls to make considered choices about how to express their feelings, and to whom.” Steiner-Adair notes that “Not all girls will want to do this, especially shy girls, but you can still help them develop the skills.”
5.            Make regular time to listen to your girl.
“By creating consistent, predictable times when she knows that you are receptive and available to listen — like riding in a car, taking a walk, or just sitting reading — you will eventually be let into her inner world. Let her use you as a sounding board to sort out what she is going through, without solving problems for her. The answers that come from within her are the ones she will eventually live by,” says White.
Listen more than you talk.
“When we talk to girls, they often experience it as us talking at them, and they not only stop listening, they stop thinking and reflecting. But when we listen to them, they have to think about what they are saying, and they tend to reflect more. And we need to keep an open dialogue — we can’t dismiss their chatter about ups and downs of friendship as trivial, and then expect them to talk to us about the important stuff,” says Lawrence Cohen, Ph.D., co-author of Mom, They’re Teasing Me.
6.            Acknowledge her struggles but keep a sense of perspective.
“We have to acknowledge the pain our daughters are experiencing, so they feel heard and accepted and empathized with. But we also need to put it into perspective, to stay calm and listen to what they are experiencing without projecting our own experiences onto theirs. Your daughter is having a different experience than you did, even if there are surface similarities,” says Cohen. “After all, she has something you didn’t have: you.”
All of the points listed here are important for developing  self-confident girls who will be well-equipped to possess the initiative, drive, and intentness to be successful and respected as an equal, but there is one more that may be the most important. The mother must set the example. Teachers, like mothers, can dispense important information to students.  Nothing helps those children become successful adults quite like the example that teacher or parent sets.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

How You Can Advocate For Your Child
Dr. Wendy Ghiora
Posting #133
January 29, 2016

As a former school principal and classroom teacher, many of my friends and acquaintances ask for advice when their child hits some sort of a road block at school.  These are highly intelligent, very caring parents, who simply don’t understand how schools work. To professionals in the field, it seems like a piece of cake; but to an outsider it is like me trying to understand nuclear physics.

As a parent, the most important thing to remember is, you are your child’s best education advocate. This will remain so until he’s old enough and informed enough to speak up for himself. You know your child’s strengths and challenges, and you can help identify and push for the assistance your child needs in order to achieve success. Here are some tips to help you advocate for your child at school.

Keep Documents in a File

Make sure to keep copies of all report cards, progress reports, evaluations, educational assessments, IEPs, medical records, homework samples and other documents. Many middle schools and high schools require their teachers to provide an outline of each course at the beginning of the school year. This is an important document to save as well, as it may also contain due dates of major projects, etc. Documents can provide insights into your child’s learning issues and how much progress she’s making. It is important to schedule and attend teacher/parent conferences and also PTSA meetings. Take notes at important meetings and keep copies in a file.

Be Prepared

Read and attend workshops. Know what is expected of your child in each subject area. Build relationships by meeting your child’s teachers, counselor, and principal.  Most teachers give their school email address to their students to allow students to communicate with questions or problems they may be having with assignments.  Email also provides parents with an avenue for direct communication with teachers.

Get to know your child’s teachers as well as the school psychologist, speech therapist and anyone else who can help you help your child. Building relationships with these people will help keep the lines of communication more open. There’s less of a chance of misunderstanding if everyone knows each other. Feel free to ask questions at any time.

Copies of requests you have made to school personnel should include the date you sent them. It might also be helpful to keep a log of whom you spoke to and when.

Know when Open House is taking place.  Be sure to attend any event where your child will be presenting her work, or performing in an activity such as a play or concert.

Take Your Time

It can be a frightening experience when you schedule a meeting with your child’s teacher because there is a problem you wish to resolve. Remember that the teachers and other school staff members involved are there to help, even if you disagree with them. The process will go more smoothly if you listen and keep an open mind. Make a list of the topics you want to cover in important meetings. Take deep breaths. Consider bringing a friend or relative who can take notes for you and help keep you steady. Remember that you’re in control.

Parents should never feel pressured by school staff to make a decision. Ultimately, you’re in the driver’s seat. So while it’s important to be receptive to the school staff’s thoughts, don’t agree to something you think goes against what’s best for your child. Usually, if you make a logical suggestion that will be beneficial for your child, the teacher will agree.

Know the law

Learn about your child’s rights to a free and appropriate public education (FAPE) under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Your child might have the right to extra time on tests and other accommodations or modifications. Keep informed about your school’s legal obligations to provide your child an evaluation and other services. You can also request that the school provide a parent advocate to help you during important meetings.

Talk to your child

Understanding what your child is experiencing in school is essential to advocating for his needs. For example, the 30 minutes he’s supposed to spend each week with a speech therapist might only be 20 minutes because the therapist keeps showing up late. Asking your child detailed questions will also help him understand what it is he needs. This will help him advocate for himself when he’s older.

Learn "The Talk"

Find out whether the speech therapist and other service providers are “pushing in” (working with your child in the classroom) or “pulling out” (taking your child to a separate location). This is important because your child may say he didn’t go to speech that day, but it could be that the speech teacher pushed into the classroom.

If a major review is supposed to occur for two days before a final exam, and you discover the teacher was absent on those days and the substitute didn’t do the reviews, you have the right to ask the teacher if he or she can re-schedule the exam until the review has been done.  This is another example of why it’s important to know what is going on in your child’s classroom.

Whenever there is a problem with a certain class, always talk to the teacher first.  Remember, there are always two sides to a story.  After your child has told her side of the story; be prepared to listen to what the teacher says; then, and only then can a fair decision be made.

I hope these tips will help make the navigation of your school an easier process.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Dr. Wendy Ghiora
Posting #132
August 15, 2015

"If Only..."

I have never done this before in a Blog Posting; however, sometimes, as the saying goes,
"A picture is worth a thousand words."   

In this case, the picture is a short video.  It is a Sports Center parody.  In addition to the entertainment value, it was also quite thought provoking.  What if star teachers were respected and compensated for their skills in the same way as star athletes?  

As we prepare for the new school year, just remember:

Teaching is the one profession that creates all other professions.


Here is the link to the video.  Enjoy!