Tag Archives: Curriculum

What are Educators and Principals saying about Denise Ball and Unlock the Teacher…

Unlock the Teacher LLC has just finished up working with a staff on curriculum alignment at Our Lady Queen of Martyrs school in Beverly Hills, Michigan.  This has been a fifteen month process.  The  principal, Mr. Joseph Vincler and the entire educational staff made us feel so appreciated!  They came to each curriculum session with an abundance of positive energy and a desire to learn.  This staff took the time to look and analyze their current curriculum, learn the “Nuts and Bolts” of the Common Core State Standards (that we prepared for them) and collaborated within their professional learning communities in the building to make sure there were no gaps in their teaching practices in all disciplines.  It has truly been a pleasure!  I have no doubt, that they are among a small list of schools that have looked at  (in-depth) the CCSS documents and have incorporated the Common Core State Standards for ELA and Math into their everyday teaching practices.

We look forward to continue to build a relationship with this school and coming back to work with this wonderful educational staff once the Social Studies and Science standards are released.

Here are a few comments they sent us from one of our first training sessions with them in 2010 as we began the curriculum alignment process.

What are educators saying about Denise Ball and Unlock the Teacher...

One of the many workshops we conducted as part of our Curriculum Alignment Package to this school over the 15 month time-frame.

Unlock the Teacher talking about Education

May we continue to seek knowledge in all things,



Filed under Best Practices from Awesome Educators, Business We Support, Sponsor or Develop Curriculum For, Common Core State Standards "Nuts & Bolts", Curriculum Resources, Professional Development Workshops for Educators

Common Core State Standards Math Overview-Easier to Read and Utilize as a Teaching Resource

As Unlock the Teacher works with a few schools this year in aligning their building curriculum to the Common Core State Standards Model (CCSS) for ELA and Math, we are having some great discussions about these curriculum documents.

I have not been shy with stating that I am a fan of the CCSS documents. As a curriculum writer and having earned my BS and MA in Curriculum and Instruction, I find that these documents take out all the fluff and redundancies that can be seen in some state standards.  During my years as a classroom teacher, I utilized the state standards as a tool, a guide to create my overall curriculum maps. I would have loved to have the CCSS documents as a resource when creating my curriculum shell, filled in with the many creative best practices learned over the years from many great educators I was fortunate enough to collaborate with.  Given that, I am now happy to go into schools and get teachers excited about mapping out their teaching ideas and best practices while looking at and interweaving the CCSS into their overall teaching vision.

The math portion of the CCSS, is well laid out and easy for educators and educational trainers to understand, manipulate and interpret.  The mathematical practices offered/suggested per grade level is a helpful guide.  This portion would also be a good guide to distribute on Parent/Teacher Night or post on school’s website for parents to be able to see and feel buy-in as a stakeholder in the life of their child.

The Grade Overviews are Simple and to the Point

Grade K

  • Counting and Cardinality
  • Operations and Algebraic Thinking
  • Number and Operations in Base Ten
  • Measurements and Data
  • Geometry

Grade 1

  • Operations and Algebraic Thinking
  • Number and Operations in Base Ten
  • Measurements and Data
  • Geometry

Grade 2

  • Operations and Algebraic Thinking
  • Number and Operations in Base Ten
  • Measurements and Data
  • Geometry

Grade 3

  • Operations and Algebraic Thinking
  • Number and Operations in Base Ten
  • Numbers and Operations-FRACTIONS
  • Measurements and Data
  • Geometry

Grade 4

  • Operations and Algebraic Thinking
  • Number and Operations in Base Ten
  • Numbers and Operations-Fractions
  • Measurements and Data
  • Geometry

Grade 5

  • Operations and Algebraic Thinking
  • Number and Operations in Base Ten
  • Numbers and Operations-Fractions
  • Measurements and Data
  • Geometry

Grade 6 (Notice the Change in Concepts)

  • Ratios and Proportional Relationships
  • The Number System
  • Expressions and Equations
  • Geometry
  • Statistics and Probability

Grade 7

  • Ratios and Proportional Relationships
  • The Number System
  • Expressions and Equations
  • Geometry
  • Statistics and Probability

Grade 8

  • Ratios and Proportional Relationships
  • The Number System
  • Expressions and Equations
  • Functions
  • Geometry
  • Statistics and Probability

Mathematics Standards for High School Grades 9-12

This segment is broken down not per grade but by standards:

  • Number and Quantity
  • Algebra
  • Functions
  • Modeling
  • Geometry
  • Statistics and Probability

These are just the overview concepts advised, with the CCSS documents providing a more in-depth breakdown for the educator to interpret and utilize as a tool. Notice that K-5 have the same concepts titles with a few additional concepts given based on development. (e.g. Grade K-counting and grade 3-fractions etc.) The document is written as such to allow a scaffolding process to occur within the curriculum. This is to ensure learner success across the grades. (REMINDER: This is a tool…as an educator, you are the subject matter expert of the students in your class.)

Grades 6-8, and 9-12 have their own set of concepts following the same scaffolding thought process as K-5. regardless if you teach math or not, it is a good document to familiarize yourself with, so if questions are asked (and they will be) you can speak with some authority that you have read them.

A Short CCSS Story

I was asked to assist at a Curriculum Night Open House for one of the schools we have been assisting with their curriculum alignment.  Unlock the Teacher created documents demonstrating all the curriculum alignment the staff had been working on and how the educators were reading and interweaving the CCSS into the building’s curriculum. One parent, a very learned individual within the field of mathematics, was at first very skeptical about the CCSS Initiative.

However, once I began to ask him questions about why, and had he read the document and seen the scaffolding effects and just how great that can be for the learning process? He had to admit that his opinion was solely based on what he was reading in the media; he did not read the document for himself.  The principal had anticipated this, and Unlock the Teacher  created a “Nuts & Bolts” version of the CCSS documents for parents. This wonderful parent, truly invested into his child’s learning experience, paused and began to read. He took the information home for further review and was thankful for the explanation on the CCSS Initiative in such a positive light.

I believe in education as in all aspects of life, communication is key.  It is our responsibility as educators to ensure our parents and community are given opportunities to ask questions and to seek answers in a positive environment. Isn’t this is the expectation we also have for our classrooms?

If you or your school has questions about aligning your building’s curriculum to the Common Core State Standards, please feel free to ask and we will try to help. We are happy to come in and work with your educators to ensure that they do not have to feel overwhelmed by adding one more thing to their already hectic schedule, so they can do what they do best…TEACH!

May we continue to seek knowledge in all things,


denise@unlocktheteacherllc.com or teachme@unlocktheteacher.com

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Filed under Achievement Gap Blogs, Common Core State Standards "Nuts & Bolts", Curriculum Resources, Math

Book Proposal Getting Ready to Fly and Positive Comments from Focus Groups Leave us Hopeful for Book I in the Unlock the Teacher Series

Book Proposal Getting Ready to Fly and Positive Comments from Focus Groups Leave us Hopeful

for Book I in the Unlock the Teacher Series

It is an exciting time, as our first “traditional” book proposal will be sent out before the first of the year.  We have worked on this book for over a year and we have been writing and collaborating with Dr. David Lick, Director of Family Medicine Troy Beaumont and Dr. Joslen Letscher, Professor at the University of Detroit Mercy.

We have conducted our third Needs Assessment with another group of parent and educational leaders.  Their feedback was amazing and we gleaned a lot from their input…it gave us much hope for this series of books.

Given the parent and educational leader’s input, we now have a clear direction of target audience. Comments for our book design has been quite positive and we listened to group one and two of our first Needs Assessments and feel we have created an educational tool that will be well received for parent and teacher.

Dr. Lick has offered amazing input throughout this process and I know parents and teachers are just going to appreciate and enjoy his comments in the “Dr. Corner”.

Stay tuned…I will blog here about the wonderful process of submitting book proposals traditionally, and all that this process entails.

However, while you wait, please check out any of our academic eBooks at http://www.barnesandnoble.com/c/denise-ball

A couple of our academic eBooks are donated to local schools and helping to promote literacy; all profits from these books go directly to the school.  Together we can make a difference!

May we all continue to seek knowledge in all things,


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Filed under Blogs that Inspire Us, Book I in the Unlock the Teacher Series, Promoting Literacy, Unlock the Teacher eBooks at Barnes and Noble Online

Anti-Bullying Workshops for Grades 1-12: “Words Hurt”, “Pick-up vs. Put-Down”, “You Can Make a Difference” and “Getting the Big Picture”

Anti-Bullying Workshops provided by Unlock the Teacher LLC

Anti-Bullying Workshops
These workshops ultimately benefit our children, our future and theirs.
We come into schools, summer camps, homeschooling groups,
youth groups and church groups to teach and inspire.

References and Background Check
can be provided upon request.
Please visit our website for testimonials and more information.

Anti-Bullying “Words Hurt” Workshop Session I (Grades K-3)
This workshop is centered on identifying and discovering that  we all have gifts and talents. As a group, we discuss positive and negative words, and how when used, they can make us feel inside.  As a group, students create a “Pick-Up-Don’t Put Down” chart. (e.g.  I am strong because I am kind.”)
Session Length:         45-60 Minutes
Price:                          $400.00 per 200 Students

Anti-Bullying “You Can Make a Difference” Workshop Session II (Grades 4-6)
This is a great workshop for character building. Studies show this is the age to target to catch and dissolve bullying behavior.  Dialogue
centers on identifying appropriate and inappropriate behavior associated with bullying.  Presentation covers how to communicate when involved in or witnessing this behavior. Problem solving tips are given to help with future anti-bullying success. Students create as a group the “Don’t Be a Bully Three B’s Please” chart. (e.g. 1. Don’t be a bully “B”ecause…it makes you feel bad inside!) If time permits, students are encouraged to participate in impromptu skits and role-play scenarios. (Students usually love this portion.)
Session Length:          60-90 Minutes
Price:                          $500.00 per 200 students
Anti-Bullying “Words, Action, Character” Workshop Session III (Grades 7 & 8)
This workshop begins with a review of “You Can Make a Difference” workshop, spending the first 15-20 minutes discussing how we all can
contribute and help each other for the greater good.  In this workshop, examples are given via video clips of 11-13 year olds who have been victims of bullying, its effects and strategies used to overcome it.  Students work together as a group to create a slogan for their school environment’s
“Words, Action, Character”.  Students will identify words that empower the slogan created and words that destroy its meaning.
Session Length:          60-90 Minutes
Price:                          $500.00 per 200 students
Anti-Bullying “Getting the Big Picture” Workshop Session IV (Grades 9-12)
This workshop is designed to educate students on the legal ramifications involved with the improper use of social media tools.
i.e. Twitter, Facebook, AIM, IM, Blogs, MySpace, etc.  Examples are provided to identify improper use and the results and consequences of such action.
Leadership is highlighted in this session along with character attributes.  An overview is given along with examples of how the actions of today are judged by future colleges and employers.  (Given size of school, this session can be divided into two groups: grades 9 & 10 and 11 & 12)
Session Length:          60-90 Minutes
Price:                         $500.00 per 200 students
We work in all schools and are happy to help work out funding or help find a funding source for you.
For additional information, please visit our website at www.unlocktheteacher.com or email us at teachme@unlocktheteacherllc.com
When we all come together for the greater good of our children, our future…there is nothing we cannot conquer!
May we continue to seek knowledge in all things,

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Filed under Anti-Bullying Workshops, Blogs that Inspire Us, Sharing the Good, Student Workshops

F-R-E-E Educational Webinars for Teachers and Parents

Given our economy, professional development has been slim for many educators. There is a plethora of free webinars online. Have fun learning!

Life is busy and for those of us who do not have time to attend a class for learning or pleasure, webinars can be just the tool needed to achieve our goal. Given technology, webinars can be the next best thing for teachers too.

PBS Teachers Live Should be in Every Teacher’s Toolbox

PBS Teachers Live offers a wealth of webinars in many areas across the disciplines. For example, if a teacher were interested in educating students about Earth Day in April (hopefully), then PBS Teachers Live would be
a valuable tool. Teachers sign up for free and log on to various webinars, full of ideas, lesson plans and across the curriculum connections, to name a few.

Webinars, an Awesome Resource for Educators

After doing some research, here are a few webinar sites across the Internet that is recommended by those within the world of education:

Education Week (one of my personal favorites) offers many enlightening webinars. Check out “E-educators’ Evolving Skills”…talk about relevant!

American Statistical Association offers various webinars…currently hosting a K-12 “Meeting within a Meeting” for Science and Math Teachers

Exploring Middle School MiddleWeb is a blog powered by Typepad. They are a promoter of 21st Century Learning and offer live and archived webinars. Check out the latest webinar: The National Middle School Association is teaming up with the NSF-funded Middle School Portal to offer “Free math and Science Webinars”…the goal was to not only make the training affordable but user friendly; teachers could watch from home.

Webinars and Educational Professional Development

The life of a teacher is very demanding and organization is necessary. This is also true for those entrusted to lead and provide professional development for their educational staff. Given this amazing age of technology, regardless of budget, there is no reason that professional development is not occurring within schools.

All of the webinars posted here in this article, can be utilized to strengthen and enrich any school faculty. Time can be manipulated and educators can watch at their own pace or educators can be assembled and view webinar as a whole and collaborate in groups afterwards. This type of professional development is only going to increase not decrease as we progress further into the world of technology. There are many curriculum developers/professional development trainers, who utilize programs like these mentioned to create meaningful professional development for educators around the world.

Given our economy, we are going to need to be more creative with our training. Training cannot stop due to funding. Teachers still need to be prepared to teach the 21-Century student, we just need to be creative. MSN as created a fabulous tool for any organization looking to create “living” documents. For educators, this tool can be multi-faceted and utilized with students or within a building for aligning curriculum. This is just two of unlimited possibilities with OneNote. Check out the free OneNote Webinar below for further details.

OneNote and Education:
This MSDN blog was created to have a dialog about OneNote and education, including sharing ideas, resources, and building community with teachers, students and faculty.

Parents are the first teachers. All of these webinars mentioned are open to anyone interested in learning and changing the life of a child. This will be one of many articles written on the topic of professional development within the world of education. There is a plethora of free programs out there for all of us to learn and use, to meet the needs of our children,
our future.

May we continue to seek knowledge in all things,



Please visit our website for our wonderful workshops for students and teachers. Our Anti-Bullying Workshops for students 1-12 is quickly gaining steam. We will gladly provide recommendations from parents, teachers and principals.

Unlock the Teacher




Filed under Curriculum Resources, FREE Educational Webinars for Teachers and Parents

Professional Development for Teachers=Inspiration for Trainer

We Conducted a Workshop for Teachers Before Students Arrive Next Week...Inspiring!

We conducted our first professional development for the 2011/2012 school year.  We were honored to be asked back by a school we had worked with all last year, with one of our year-long curriculum alignment packages. They worked so hard to align their curriculum as a building. We visited their school three times last year to discuss the Common Core State Standards, met with teachers one-on-one to discuss individual classroom curriculum that we had been working on via email and conducted grade-level curriculum meetings to ensure that the entire building was on the same page.  As a curriculum developer, I was very impressed with their dedication to their profession and their work ethic to make sure that their building’s curriculum was appropriately scaffolded to maximize learning potential.

So it was with great joy we accepted their invite to come in and give a two and half hour motivational workshop…what a fun way to kick of the year for them and for us!

This dedicated staff allowed me to push them out of the box with some collaborative “hands-on” exercises and impromptu sharing. I think I enjoyed it as much as they said they did. I truly love to see teachers get excited about collaboration and willingness to learn from one another. It was a great way to start our year off at Unlock the Teacher too.  Sometimes we get so consumed by our writing and curriculum alignment projects, that  when we conduct our professional development and student workshops, we are reminded of why we are choosing to do what we do.

We look forward to meeting new teachers and principals this year.

We are excited to share that we are talking with app developers for some of our material and we will be sending off our proposal for Book I in our Unlock the Teacher series, that we are collaborating with Dr. David Lick, Director of Family Practice, Beaumont Hospital, and a Professor at Wayne State and Oakland University Beaumont Medical School, and Dr. Joslen Letscher, Professor at the University of Detroit Mercy.  We have an exciting year ahead and are thankful for all the community support we have received.

As last year, and in keeping with who we are, we will be looking for one or two schools to work with and donate our time and talent with writing and ePublishing workshops.  Please let us know if your school would like to be considered by emailing us at teachme@unlocktheteacherllc.com or by visiting us at our website and leave a comment at www.unlocktheteacher.com To contact me directly, email me at denise@unlocktheteacherllc.com

We wish all those who play a role in the life of a child to have a year full of many learning discoveries!

May we continue to seek knowledge in all things,


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Filed under Best Practices from Awesome Educators, Common Core State Standards "Nuts & Bolts", Professional Development Workshops for Educators

Teachers are Planters of Seeds…What Kind of Seeds are you Planting?

What seeds are you planting for our future?

As I sit and review my notes for Unlock the Teacher‘s first professional development session for the 2011/2012 school year, I reflect and wonder, what
words can I provide that might inspire and instill hope for all the amazing teachable moments that will happen in the life of the teachers with whom I will
be speaking to tomorrow. Teaching is SO much more than a job, I honestly believe it is a calling; an urge that a person feels to make a difference, and
is played out in the classroom.

We often think about all the teachable moments that happen throughout the school year for our students, our future. However, I also think
of the amazing teachable moments that occur for the individual teacher. I hope that at this time of year, the teacher is reflecting and writing a curriculum
map for the school year that will be used as a master plan.

The teacher, who starts the school year, is often different from the one who finishes it. Hopefully, this is the case, as a true reflective
practitioner will evolve throughout the year as his/her students will…keeping in mind no two students are alike, no school year should ever mirror another for
a teacher.

In regards to a teacher’s master curriculum plan, this is just a tool that is utilized to create lessons full of discovery for each quarter,
with one scaffolding on the next to ensure that students are maximizing their potential. However, this is just a plan, as all good teachers know, true
“teachable moments” sometimes just happen and must be capitalized on in the moment.

I have chosen the theme of “Teachers are Planters of Seeds” for tomorrow.  I have had the pleasure of working with this staff on curriculum alignment and I am honored to be asked back into their building on their first day back to school before their eager students arrive next week.

I think as teachers, we have the awesome power to create new worlds in our students’ minds, take them to places they might not ever get an opportunity to experience, tell them and show them how to achieve the impossible dream OR we can crush the human spirit with one angry glance or snide comment.
Actually, anyone who plays the role in the life of a child has this same awesome power and it would serve us all well to remember it.  Think about what kind of world we hope to have in the future and remember that it all begins with how we treat our children today, what opportunities we provide, what words of encouragement or destruction did we choose to utilize at the moment of chaos in the classroom, that hectic classroom greeting after driving through rush hour?


Children Learn What They Live

By Dorothy Law Nolte


If children live with criticism,
They learn to condemn.

If children live with hostility,
They learn to fight.

If children live with ridicule,
They learn to be shy.

If children live with shame,
They learn to feel guilty.

If children live with encouragement,
They learn confidence.

If children live with tolerance,
They learn to be patient.

If children live with praise,
They learn to appreciate.

If children live with acceptance,
They learn to love.

If children live with approval,
They learn to like themselves.

If children live with honesty,
They learn truthfulness.

If children live with security,
They learn to have faith in themselves and others.

If children live with friendliness,
They learn the world is a nice place in which to live!


What kind of seeds are you getting ready to plant this school year?

May we all continue to seek knowledge in all things,



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Filed under Curriculum Resources, Professional Development Workshops for Educators