Let’s Play Cards

In a search to find new ways to practice our math fact fluency skills over the summer, we came across these fun card games.

making ten
Make Ten
is a fun way to practice “making ten” using addition and subtraction. 





close call

Close Call encourages students to learn addition patterns by creating sums up to 100.






This video demonstrates how to adapt the traditional War game into a fun review. I love that it is adaptable to accommodate two players at different skills level.

Reading with Our Ears!

Summer is a great opportunity to try reading with your ears by listening to audiobooks. We are currently listening to The BFG by Ronald Dahl.

BFGThe boys are excited to see how the images we have created in our minds will come to life in the movie coming out later in the summer!

To learn more about how listening to audiobooks can improve your child’s reading skills, check out Understood.org.  Audible is also currently offering a 30 day free trial!


Our Head of Middle School, Chip Houston, has challenged us to accept the Blogger Challenge!  Each team member was encouraged to cultivate their reflective practice by publishing 10 consecutive blog posts in June.

blog challenge

Over the next 10 days, the boys and I will be reflecting on our summer learning experiences!  Mount Vernon has provided excellent summer learning resources for each division.  Our school believes that learning demands flexible and interactive spaces and students have been encouraged to explore the world around them!

We began our summer adventures by exploring Marineland, Florida, the world’s first oceanarium.  Guests are encouraged to join animals in their habitats and make physical and emotional connections that lead to a desire to protect animals and their marine environments.

 Marineland 1 Marineland 2

While visiting the Palm Coast, we were also able to take a kayak ecotour of the Matanzas Inlet.  Throughout the tour, our Florida Master Naturalist Instructors were able to share their knowledge of the eco-system by describing the plants, wildlife and water fowl. My boys loved the experience and this great opportunity to EXPLORE!

 Kayak 1 kayak 2


Game Changing Google Tools for Students that Struggle with Writing

Many students experience difficulty with written expression. A child may struggle with the physical act of writing or with generating and organizing their thoughts.   While working with my son one evening, we discovered a new feature available within Google Docs called  Google Voice Typing.  My child actually squealed with glee when he discovered that he was able to “type with his voice”.  Although strengthening his keyboarding skills is a personal goal, this is a great bypass strategy  for him to use until he is proficient with keyboarding.

We often recommend that students use the SQ3R  reading strategy.  This strategy encourages students to ask themselves questions  and to summarize the information they have read. Google Voice Typing could be a great way to summarize the questions and thoughts they vocalize.

Some students may choose to take photos to supplement their note-taking. This could provide a great visual demonstration of what they have read or learned in class.   Google Photos is an awesome way to help students organize their photos in their Google Drive and easily access them later for review.

Resource for Parents Considering Educational Testing

Peggy Hendrix, the Director of Admissions at The Schenck School, has shared a wonderful resource with parents considering educational testing for their child. In her blog post titled What Psychoeducational Testing Can Reveal About Your Child’s Learning Profile, she describes the components of the evaluation process and what parents should expect to learn about their child’s learning profile.

Study Skills and Strategies Badging Pilot

In an effort to design and curate demonstrations of learning and evidence of understanding, our Academic Resource Research and Design Team developed the following two study skills and strategies badges.  Our badges were chosen to be part of a Grade 5 Study Skills Pilot described in Chip Houston’s, Head of Middle School, blog. The students were so excited to have the opportunity to earn one of the first badges awarded in middle school. I’m thrilled that the demonstrations of learning our Academic Resource Team, Ann Plumer, Dr. Kelli Bynum, and Jim Matthews, created in our research and design meetings were able to be put in action!  We are looking forward to seeing how the students respond to this initiative and to monitoring the growth they make as they commit to applying these strategies in their daily practice.

Taskmaster Screenshot

Screen Shot 2015-11-13 at 1.16.20 PM

Which sports are best for students with attention concerns?

ADDitude  just shared a great article about the benefits exercise and sports can provide students with challenges related to attention and focus.

Understanding that some students may have challenges with following directions, attention, impulsivity and frustration tolerance, they ranked the following sports as Gold and Silver medalists!

Gold Medal

Swimming and Diving

Martial Arts




Silver Medal



Horseback Riding

Track Events

I would like to personally recommend the youth programs provided by 4.0 Martial Arts in Sandy Springs, GA.  Coach Daren is amazing with the kids and really works to develop the whole child.

4.0 Martial Arts

IPad and Google Apps with Assistive Features

I recently participated in two webinars facilitated through Georgia Tools for Life: Georgia’s Assistive Technology Act Program.  The first webinar focused on fine motor and sensory apps and shared this comprehensive list with the participants.

The second webinar demonstrated Google Apps and Extensions with assistive features.  From the apps shared, I was most excited to try out Voice Not.es, which allows users to watch videos and take notes in the same browser window.  These notes are time stamped and synced to your Google Drive.

Another app that you may want to check out is Newsela.  This reading tool publishes daily new articles that can be adjusted to 5 different reading levels.

If you would like to watch the webinar recordings, both are archived on the Tools for Life website.

Why audiobooks are great for kids…

I recently read an article from Scholastic.com outlining the ways that audiobooks can boost childrens’ reading skills. Audiobooks have traditionally been recommended as an assistive technology tool to provide students with learning differences an opportunity to enjoy books!  The audio version of texts helps to strengthen listening and reading comprehension skills and can be used as a bypass strategy for students that might have challenges related to reading fluency.

Audiobooks can be of great benefit to avid and gifted readers also. Not only do audiobooks make reading more enjoyable and less laborious for some students, this multi-sensory approach to reading helps introduce students to books above their independent reading level.

At Mount Vernon Presbyterian School, our middle school students have the benefit of having most of their online textbooks available on their personal chromebooks.  Many of these online texts include the audio feature as a resource for their readers.

There are also three additional audiobook resources, I typically recommend for students. Learning Ally, Bookshare and Audible.  Learning Ally and Bookshare are nonprofit organizations that are designed to provide students with learning differences access to audio versions of textbooks and other literature.  However, my sons (Drew-3rd grade and Will-1st grade) prefer to listen to novels using Audible, because the narration tends to be more animated and engaging to the listeners!  Some of the series they have enjoyed listening to recently have included Percy Jackson and the Olympians, The Kane Chronicles, Wings of Fire and The Gryphon Chronicles.