Will the real Mrs. Farris please stand up?

  • Born in Poughkeepsie, New York. I'm a NY Giants and Yankees fan. That's right!

    Grew up in Long Island, NY and Allentown, PA

    Penn State - B.S and M.Ed degrees. Lehigh University - PA Superintendent's Letter of Eligibility

    I've worked in education for 20+ years. I've been a Rehabilitation Counselor, Guidance Counselor, Principal, and Assistant Superintendent.

    Married to Rick. Yes, it's true that he played professional football for the Kansas City Chiefs. He was a kicker.

    Son: Greg is a graduate of Southern Lehigh. He currently attends Boston University where he is studying Business and plays on the Terrier Men's Lacrosse team. 

    When not at work, I enjoy traveling, reading, baking Italian desserts with my mother, playing golf and skiing (both of which I do very badly) & cheering on all SoLehi Spartan athletic and academic teams to victory. Go Spartans!

Growing a Reader

  • Reading is critical to learning, and learning to read is awfully hard work. Here is some basic information to help you support your student's continued reading success.

    Third Grade - The Shift:

    Third grade is a big year! This is the grade when students are expected to go from “learning to read” to “reading to learn.” It sounds so easy, doesn’t it? We all know that students magically make the switch, right? Okay, so maybe it's not that simple. 

    What can you do if your child finds this transition difficult? It may be tempting to stop reading to your child and insist that he/she read aloud by him/herself, but research suggests otherwise. Kids actually improve their reading faster by reading with others and having challenging conversations that build vocabulary. So keep reading together and keep talking. Make sure that your conversations pack some serious punch. Use new words, talk about complex ideas, and share information from your own experience. 

    Fourth Grade:

    The reading demands for students jump a level this year. Suddenly there is more homework and a marked emphasis on assessing individual performance through testing. Unfortunately it's also the year where we see a rise in what some folks call “shut down learners." Kids who, for whatever reasons, decide that they hate school.

    What does this have to do with reading? You might be surprised. At this age, kids do notice differences in themselves as compared to others. They may be sensitive about their reading abilities, and in fourth grade reading abilities vary widely.

    So, what can you do? Spend some time together finding the right books. Go to the library or bookstore and talk with librarians. Tell them about your child's interests, and seek their recommendations. At this point, it’s not enough for your child to read only the stuff we assign at school. The "hot book" that everyone is reading may not be the right book for your kid. Think book selection

    Fifth Grade:

    In fifth grade kids are asked to read and write for a variety of reasons. They need to be able to develop and idea into a story, formulate an argument or opinion, and present information with accuracy citing evidence they found in text. For many kids, the leap to analyzing text and reading critically reveals weaknesses in their reading comprehension. 

    If you think that your child is having difficulty answering questions after reading, try this: have your child write a brief summary of what he/she has just read. If he/she reads for 20-30 minutes a night, have him/her spend the last five minutes making a simple bullet list of the recent events that occurred in the story. If they prefer talking to writing, then have him/her report to you what happened in the book. This will make reading comprehension a habit, and not something he/she only does when faced with a writing assignment. Summarize!

    Sixth Grade:

    Your child is a skilled reader, but there’s still much more to learn. Comprehension for a 6th grade reader involves understanding text and ideas, but also requires reflection. Students are expected to think about what they've read and make connections to other content. To monitor comprehension, ask questions and discuss what your child already knows about the topic. Seek details!

    Students also read a variety of genres that cover historical fiction, poetry, non-fiction, and online texts. In the classroom students engage in "close reading", careful story reviews, and study the author's purpose. Have a discussion with your child about different writing styles, how the author uses dialogue, and ask them what they liked best about the book. In conversation, paraphrase what your child tells you using new words to further introduce and strengthen their ever expanding vocabulary. Word up!

What about Math?

  • Strategies to Improve Your Mathematical Skills

    1. If you don't understand something, focus on mastering that topic before moving on to the next. All of us struggle to learn math at some point. Some students in this situation, out of frustration, move too quickly on to the next lesson in the hope that they will better understand the first topic later. This can be a recipe for disaster. Don't give up. Work at it. Watch textbook or web videos over again. Remember math builds! 
    2. Work example problems and check your answers to gain practice with every lesson. Do your homework!
    3. When beginning a math problem, do not "map-out the path from problem to answer" without writing anything down. Think about your approach, but write it down! 
    4. When you practice or study math, find a quiet place. Math is meant to be challenging. It is, after all, about solving problems. Avoid distraction. Resist the urge to listen to music. Turn off the TV. Concentrate!
    5. Use pencil!
    6. Keep your solutions neat and line-by-line. Use one line per step. Show all of your work.
    7. Don't do math late at night. Our brains do not function well when fatigued. Be awake!
    8. If the problem lends itself to it, draw it!
    9. Ask questions! Use your resources (teachers, books, websites, parents/siblings).
    10. Just like in sports, playing music, or art, "practice makes perfect" (or almost), and confidence comes from knowing what and how to do something. Be confident! 


    PA Core Standards for Mathematical Practice

    1. Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them.
    2. Reason abstractly and quantitatively.
    3. Construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others.
    4. Model with mathematics
    5. Use appropriate tools strategically.
    6. Attend to precision.
    7. Look for and make use of structure.
    8. Look for and express regularity in repeated reasoning.