Do you know about Rosa’s Law?

Better late than never! Thought I’d pass along an important name change that is occurring on the national level, but in turn affects the vast world of teaching students with exceptionalities.

Rosa’s Law is named after 8-year-old Rosa Marcellino, who has Down Syndrome. After starting elementary school, the Marcellino family was shocked to find her labeled as “retarded” in school documents.  Their push to have this changed ended in a new law signed by President Obama, changing the way all people with exceptionalities will be addressed. Read the statement issued to educators below:

TO:       School District Superintendents
School District Special Education Directors
Charter School Chief Executive Officers
Intermediate Unit Executive Directors
Intermediate Unit Special Education Directors
[[I’m including you, too!]]

FROM:     John J. Tommasini
Bureau of Special Education

On October 5, 2010, President Obama signed into law Senate Bill 2781 (S.2781), referred to as Rosa’s Law.  Rosa’s Law (S. 2781) amends the provisions of Federal law to substitute the term “intellectual disability” for “mental retardation” and “individuals with intellectual disabilities” for “mentally retarded” or “individuals who are mentally retarded.”  At this time, Rosa’s Law (S. 2781) does not require states to change terminology in state regulations for individuals covered by a provision amended by this Act.

Changes in Federal regulations will occur as they are reauthorized. Changes to both the Federal data reporting categories and Federal regulatory language is anticipated to occur with the reauthorization of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).  Subsequent to the reauthorization of IDEA, Pennsylvania will make the required changes in terminology in state regulations.  This change in terminology reflects the belief that language plays a crucial role in how individuals with disabilities are perceived and treated in society. No changes have been made in the process of determination of disability categories.

President Obama hugs Rosa after signing the law

I love the statement about the impact of language. So I hope you can begin to include this change  in your everyday vocabulary! Read more about Rosa’s Law here.

miss miller


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my new adventure: postaweek2011

Hello Friends,

In light of the new year and my encouragement to choose your own [maybe even new] adventure, I’ve decided to try posting every week in 2011!

[[I want to blog more. Rather than just thinking about doing it, I’m starting right now.  I will be posting on this blog at least once a week for all of 2011 as encouraged by The DailyPost ]]

If you already read my blog, I hope you’ll encourage me with comments and likes, and good will along the way. Share it with friends & pass it along.

your savvy substitute,

miss miller

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[extra] time savers

So you find yourself with extra time to fill…what to do?

Before the kids get antsy & the chatter begins, make sure you are prepared:

Aside from picking up a favorite book (or a Choose Your Own Adventure novel), it is important to have some “back-ups” ready to go when you’re in a pinch.


[free printout, examples, & grade levels included]

  • rainbow writing: have students trace spelling words several times using a different color each time. (k-2) view my Rainbow Spell Example!
  • bye-bye cherry pie: a twist on the ever popular, sparkle. have students pass the cherry pie while spelling out the word one letter at a time. students sit down when sharing an incorrect letter. the last person to correctly spell the last letter passes the pie, that child then says (and waves) “bye bye cherry pie” and the next student sits down. repeat until one child remains. (1-6) print, color, & laminate your own Bye Bye Cherry Pie
  • speed spelling: have a board race between teams where they have to spell one word or the whole list — get creative! (2-6)
  • synonym search: have students have a spelling test (using white boards, as a board race, independently) by giving synonym clues for the spelling word (3-6)
  • spell benders: have wiki sticks or pipe cleaners? students can bend simple spelling words at their desk (k-2)
  • body spelling: teach children to stand tall for tall letters (b, d, f, h, etc.) sit in their chair for short letters (c, e, i, etc.) and touch their toes for letters that dip down (j, p, q, etc.). once students know how to use their body, give them spelling words to spell out loud & with motions (k-2)
  • basketball: have a hoop in the classroom, a trashcan, or bucket? then you are all set for basketball. divide students into teams, correct spelling = 2 points, a basket = 1 point. (1-6)
  • invisible man: a modern twist on hangman. draw a body (or have it relate to a unit: dinosaur, animal, house) and erase one part as team members spells a word correctly. first team to have an invisible man, wins! (1-6)

This is just the start of a list of things you can do to when you find an extra few minutes here & there. Being prepared & ready with fun fillers is a excellent management technique!

I’ll be updating shortly on more [extra] time savers.
Feel free to comment with your favorite, go to filler!

miss miller


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Choosing Your Own Adventure

Hello & Happy twenty- eleven! My apologies for the extreme hiatus.  Much has happened in the last few month & I’m excited to continue my blogging about the ups, downs, & all around adventures of substitute teaching.

A new year, a fresh start ~ It’s the perfect time to readjust your thinking & get excited about the journey you are on in the great, ever-dynamic world of teaching. I couldn’t help but start this post with some encouragement. January can be quite a stagnant month for educators, so why not take this time to find a mantra & cling to it for the new calendar year & the duration of the current school year. 

It makes me think about one of my favorite childhood series, Choose Your Own Adventure. When reading these books, you would get transported to a world with abominal snowmen or deep sea creatures. At the peak of the adventure, you would be left to choose how you would respond, altering the path of the main characters and ultimately the ending of the book.

We have the same choice, too, in our lives to decide our attitude towards our current situation. I encourage you to choose your own adventure — find a motto & stick to it, set a goal & take small steps to achieve it, steal a moment to reflect on the past year & choose the path you will take this year to make a difference in the lives of others.

Not only can this book be a great reminder for us daily, but it can also be a super time-filler for substitute teachers. Need a transition activity? Have extra time at the end of a class? Trying to find a way to get children settled before dismissal? Sounds like you need a copy of Choose Your Own Adventure! Check one out at the local library or snag your own copy & keep with you at all times.

It is perfect for the elementary child. After a few pages of reading, the class is left to decide between two options — take a vote, call on a child, or roll a dice to decide the next step! This keeps students engaged and is perfect for reinforcing habits of good readers: predicting, making inferences, drawing conclusions, summarizing…& the list continues!

Just another idea to keep stashed in your bag of tricks. I hope that these stories can come in handy ~ especially during the sluggishly slow month of january!

Do you have a book of choice that you pick up to read as a filler? Comment & let me know!

happy 2011,
miss miller




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De.lic.ious makes staying connected — a treat!

All puns aside, this site is seriously a treasure chest of online gold for teachers!  Are you in the know about

Delicious is an online bookmarking site that allows you to post and find a plethora of websites based on tags or searches. It is like a revved up, personal google that allows you to keep track of all of your favorite websites and have them on hand, regardless if you are on your home computer or not.

Subbing one day and like a site the teacher is using? Go to a conference & learn about a new online resource? Instead of keeping post-it notes and scattered handouts — use delicious as a warehouse for all of those great websites!

What is even better about Delicious is that you can create a list of favorites for your students! Instead of sending home a bulky url, [you know the 54 character ones that include numbers, dashes, slashes, and periods] give a simple link:

WOW! In seconds your students can access ALL of your favorites websites!

Teaching a lesson on multiplication? Need practice websites for the kiddos to access? Consider it done with delicious.

Each site is tagged & given a brief description. Students can quickly find those sites by searching for the topic or clicking on the tag of “math” “multiplication” or “games.”

Think it couldn’t get better? It does!

To the right of every website title, you see a number in a box. With one click, you can see all of the other members who have posted this site. By clicking on to their homepage, you can stumble upon other great websites to add to your bookmarks for future use!

Looking for a fun lesson idea? Need an online game to help with spelling? Search & you will find!

Getting set up with delicious is very simple, requiring only a yahoo account. Go to the homepage, & click the green, join now, button & you’re set to go!

 happy bookmarking!

miss miller

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“Having a sub is fun!”

I had two stand-out moments today that renewed my love for teaching, yes even substitute teaching. As students were packing up for dismissal, one little boy exclaimed, “Having a sub is fun!” and then he proceeded to melt my heart even  more by saying, “I love you.”

Now as heartwarming as that moment was, it made me stop and think about how much of an impact we can truly make on students — even when we are just a day-to-day sub.

And to affirm that enlightened thought, I ran into one of my students that I had taught last year [during a one-month long-term substitute position]. His smile grew large as he saw me and he began running down the hall, arms open, bracing for a big hug. “MISS MEEEEELER! [He has the cutest way of pronouncing my name.] I MISS YOU!”

Wow, it is true — I am really making an impact on these kids — even as a sub.

So my challenge is this:

we may not be able to change our circumstances,
but we can certainly change our attitude.

Subbing may not be the most rewarding job, but it does come with a wealth to gain and to give. You do not always realize the impact that are making, the life you are changing — even in the smallest smile or encouraging word you give. Make the most of each day by searching for the positive and realizing that as small as it may be, you have the capacity to make a difference in the life of a child!

Happy Monday!

miss miller


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Twitter for Teachers

I’ll be the first to admit that I was a huge Twitter skeptic.

“No, I don’t want to read that you are running to the mall at 2:37 pm or that you’re making lasagna for dinner. I’ll keep my nose in my own business, thank you.”

I maintained this stand-offish attitude until I found out what a wonderful resource it could be — especially for teachers!

After attending a workshop on technology + education, I was inspired to start a twitter account to get instant updates on the ever-changing world of teaching. Similar to that of facebook, Twitter works by updating your homepage with “tweets” or 140 character messages that operate like a headline of a newspaper & then link to a more detailed site.

When signing into my account, I am welcomed by messages from Discovery Education Network,, USNews Education, Education Week, as well as teachers who have their own personal news to share! On one site, I have access to hundreds of messages, updated frequently, giving me links to all kinds of resources — songs for the classroom, webinars to attend, freebies for teachers, changes in policy…

I knew I was in love when I was finding free online webinars & professional development to sign up for — such as Discovery Education’s Fifth Annual Stream-a-thon that is being held tomorrow on integrating digital technology into curriculum!

When used in this manner, Twitter can really be a one stop shop for being up to date & in the know!

Want to know how you, too, can become connected via Twitter? 

  • Visit & Sign up! It is fast & easy, just follow the steps listed at the top right corner
  • Find & Follow other teachers & educational resources by searching for education, news, or by searching for other teachers. Twitter4 Teachers is constantly being updated with new accounts!
  • Check it frequently! Make a habit of checking it daily to stay in the loop!
  • Post with your news & update those who are following you!
  • Use appropriately: Remember, like all things online, every post or comment is a representation and a reflection of who you are.

Now this is merely the beginning of utilizing this online tool. Twitter boasts a very thorough Help Center that can answer more specific questions and broaden your knowledge of the tricks & tips for successful useage.

Happy Tweeting!

miss miller

Follow me on twitter @missnmiller!

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