Posted in Miscellaneous

The Importance of Instructional Scaffolding

I am a self-taught organist. When I was called to play the organ for my ward as a junior in high school, I didn’t have anyone to teach me. I did my best to figure out how to work that wonderful instrument, though, and before long, I was faking the organ pretty well, if I do say so myself. I knew about the settings I needed for each hymn, how to make it sound fluid, when to stop in the right places, and I even used the foot pedals at times. Like I said, I didn’t really know what I was doing, but I knew what I needed to do to make it sound like I had some idea of how to play the organ.

A while later, I found this video of Richard Elliot, Mormon Tabernacle organist, playing his arrangement of “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot.”

 Because “Swing Low” is one of my favorite songs, I decided I would learn to play it. Unlike you, who might find my goal a little far-fetched, I thought I could do it! As I’m sure you’ve guessed, I failed miserably. I couldn’t even figure out how to snap and work the foot pedals at the same time. It was then the sad reality hit me–I was good at faking the organ, but I didn’t really know how to play.

Because I wanted to get better, I bought a book with relatively easy organ preludes and slowly worked through the pieces one at a time. Eventually, I was able to play them fairly easily. I knew it was because I had finally built up some basic skills I needed to play the organ. When I tried to take a huge leap in my organ-playing, I felt discouraged and wasn’t sure I could ever play anything other than hymns. When I took baby steps and slowly developed basic organ-playing skills, I was able to improve just a little bit. I’ve tried to continue my organ-playing baby steps so I can become a little bit better each day. Continue reading “The Importance of Instructional Scaffolding”

Posted in Miscellaneous

List of Useful Apps for Students and Teachers

It’s time for teachers to embrace technology and iPads have become really popular in the classroom. With the many apps that have been created for educational purposes, it can be hard to figure out which ones will actually be useful and worth buying. To get your app collection started, I have developed a list of useful apps for students and teachers. Some of these apps have been recommended in my BYU education classes or seen in practicum and some of them I researched to add to the list.


Using your Scholastic account, buy Storia eBooks that have an embedded dictionary, read-to-me eBooks, learning activities, and reading reports. Ages 4+

An interactive app that helps kids learn their ABC’s and build their vocabulary. Ages 5 & under

Super Reader

Help children with reading and comprehension with many short stories followed by comprehension questions. Grades 1-2

A one to two player vocabulary building game where students can learn and practice prefixes, suffixes, synonyms, homonyms, and much more. Continue reading “List of Useful Apps for Students and Teachers”

What Shall We Give?

Merry Christmas, everyone! I’m always so grateful for this wonderful time of year when we get to celebrate the birth of the most remarkable Man who ever lived: our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

christ-in-garden-of-gethsemane-heinrich-hofmann-Each of us has different ways of celebrating the birth of the Christ child, but I believe it’s safe to say that most of our traditions and practices revolve around giving and receiving gifts. These gifts come in many forms. Some come in the shape of wrapped presents, some in acts of kindness, and others in expressions of appreciation and love. Jesus, being our perfect Exemplar, has given us the ultimate gift by offering Himself as a sacrifice for the sins of all mankind. His gift offers us heavenly peace and everlasting joy.

Each Christmas season I find myself asking this question: “What can I offer as a gift for Christ?” The answer to this question is different for everyone. Some have money to buy gifts while others have talents to share. Each of us has something to offer. If we were to ask Jesus what gift He would like to receive, I would expect Him to express His desire that we serve one another. And by doing so we are serving Him. King Benjamin taught that “when [we] are in the service of [our] fellow beings, [we] are only in the service of [our] God” (Mosiah 2:17).

Teachers have a unique opportunity to bless and serve Heavenly Father’s children. I don’t believe it is a stretch at all to say we are serving our Father in Heaven and our Savior by blessing the lives of children through teaching.  And just like the gifts we give are unique, so our teaching is different. We each have strengths and abilities that enable us to provide unique opportunities and experiences for our students. How confidently and sincerely are we offering our strengths and abilities to our students? How are we giving of ourselves to serve God and His children?

FrontOfTheClass10I recently watched a movie entitled “Front of the Class.” This inspiring film is about Jeff Cohen, an elementary school teacher in Georgia who has Tourette’s syndrome. While many doubted his ability to teach effectively, he proved that his condition was not a handicap but instead a gift that he could use to bless the lives of his students. His experiences with Tourette’s syndrome helped him teach his students to respect people who are different from them and that it’s okay to be different. This special gift he offered to his students, the gift of himself, drew them closer to him. He gained their trust and became a profound influence in their lives. Continue reading “What Shall We Give?”

Posted in Miscellaneous

ArtsBridge: Bridging the Gap Between Core Curriculum and the Arts

I love all the dance moves you taught us and how almost all the lessons you taught was what we were learning in class. I think it helped me understand everything better.”

It was so awesome to learn the life cycle and heredity through dance.”

Things have made more sense to me after you have taught them.”

You helped me a lot on science. I have been getting better grades since we have been seeing you.”

These are just a few samples from the sweet notes I received from my students in BYU’s ArtsBridge program my last day of teaching. This last semester I had the opportunity to be a dance scholar in the BYU ArtsBridge program. As an art scholar, you work with a classroom teacher to assist in integrating arts in the classroom. After participating in an Arts Leadership Academy, a teacher chooses an art form they want to have more practical experience in, whether it be dance, music, drama, or visual art. Then, they are paired with a BYU student, or an Art Scholar, who has an interest in that particular art form. The student visits this teacher’s classroom at designated times to show them, as well as help them, teach their core curriculum through the art form to improve the students’ academic comprehension. A program of this sort has been implemented in over 30 universities throughout the United States!


I was assigned to work with Mrs. Washburn and her 5th grade class at Alpine Elementary. I was so excited because this is one of my favorite elementary school ages! Looking back at my experience, I am amazed at how even though I was there to help Mrs. Washburn, I grew so much as a future teacher as well.


During my teaching, I was lucky enough to get to use the gym in the school. This was both a blessing and a curse. It gave us lots of room to move, but also made the students think they could spend this time goofing off. Consequently, I became really focused on improving my management skills. I began walking around the students, specifically by those who were talking, rather than just standing or pacing in the front of the room. This improved focus because the students never knew where I was going to walk next, and continually having a new place to look increased attention span. I also learned to wait for their attention. I am not a huge fan of yelling, so one simple way I get attention is to silently wait. The students knew that this meant I wanted their attention and they were good about helping each other be quiet. To wait like this can sometimes be awkward, but is often a very useful tool. At other times, I would use the way Mrs. Washburn gets attention in the classroom since they were already familiar with the method. She yells “ocean!” and the students respond with a hand signal that look like waves while saying “shhh!”

One other management skill I worked on was to change the volume of my voice. It is easy to find a comfortable volume that you always use. It feels like the louder you get, the more the students can hear you and will listen. Often, the opposite is true. When you speak softly and quietly, the room quiets down because they want to hear what you have to say. Your words often become like a “secret” they want to hear. They have to really focus to know what the next directions are.


These are just a few of the skills I got to improve with BYU’s ArtsBridge program! This opportunity opened my eyes to even more ways the art form of dance can be used! Having to come up with effective lesson plans in an efficient amount of time was really good for me, got me more excited for the future, and gave me confidence in my abilities. This experience gave me a glimpse of the future and a sliver of how tiring but rewarding teaching is! Whether you are a teacher looking for more creative ways to teach or a student with a passion for the arts, I highly recommend checking out the ArtsBridge program!

For more information or to get involved, visit