Moving Forward . . .

Mrs. Barbarin offers Tutoring that Empowers and Affirms students.  For more information, or to schedule your convenient tutoring time, email:

VB Business Card

From the lands of the Lenape and Susquehannock peoples, Master Certified Teacher, Mrs. Barbarin teaches to make a difference in her community, and ultimately in the world. She is inspired knowing that she has had an impact on each child and that in some way she has uncovered the genius within them.  Her hope is that every child is empowered and confident because of her uncompromising high standards, and the positive impact she’s had on their life. Currently a 4th grade educator in the Downingtown Area School District, and a former 5th grade teacher in the Coatesville Area School District, Mrs. Barbarin is licensed and certified to teach grades K-6 . An active Sunday School teacher at the St. Paul’s Baptist Church of West Chester, PA for 15+ years, Mrs. Barbarin, was nominated for the Citadel Heart of Learning award for 3 consecutive years. Mrs. Barbarin is trained by the Mid-Atlantic Equity Consortium, Inc. as an Equity Leader and facilitated staff and students in the promotion of educational equity. Mrs. Barbarin is currently a SEBA Enrichment Academy, Master Teacher who teaches American History focusing on the black and indigenous contribution to the legacy of a history sanitized to eliminate people. For more on Mrs. Barbarin’s qualifications, education and experiences, view her LinkedIn page.

Mrs. Barbarin’s Mantra this year is: “Excellence is the antidote to hatred.” – Rev. DeForest Soaries

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Communicating with Emotional Intelligence

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Leave a Reply

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Beyond the Exit Slip: Closure Activities for Classroom Instruction

Having Closure

The Teaching Factor

Have you ever been so engrossed in teaching that the time just escaped from under you?  Or your students have to remind you that class is over because you lost track of time?  

I recently finished reading the book Teach Like a Champion by Doug Lemov.  In regards to lesson planning and execution, Lemov said that closure is vital to a lesson.  Too many times, teachers look at the clock and realize there is one minute left to the lesson, students might already be packing up to go to their next class.  How can teachers better plan and execute closure to wrap-up the day’s lesson up and review the key points of the lesson?

Initially, in the lesson planning closure is included, but when time runs out, closure is the first thing to be omitted.  Closure is important in the execution of a good lesson.  Closure is important because…

View original post 429 more words

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Black History


The scholars have been studying the Original 13 Colonies and their study has coincided with Black History Month. They were visited by a retired 1st Grade Teacher and a retired art teacher also from Great Valley who told the story of the Freedom Quilt. As avid quilters in their retirement they shared the many “Freedom Quilts” having had the great fortune of working on with their craft as members of the Quilting Circle at the St. Paul’s Baptist Church of West Chester. Students were able to see up close the many clues these quilts held for run-away slaves. The scholars prepared for their quilting visitors by reading Clara and the Freedom Quilt by Deborah Hopkinson. Students were also able to create their own map of their homes using the quilting legend.

Topsy Turvy

Scholars were fortunate enough to have a retired Great Valley Middle School teacher visit. She brought her wonderful storytelling imagination and her rare “Topsy Turvy” doll and a basket that could  . . . hold water! Ask your scholar what these artifacts were used for in colonial times, and have them retell the stories behind them.

To culminate the month, they students got to enjoy a Griot who provided enjoyable, informative story-telling and African artifacts. Through the art of storytelling students learned about the middle passage and the rich history of the African and their ancestors prior to slavery.

Leave a comment

Filed under Announcements, Social Studies

Happy New Year!


Happy New Year 5th Grade Families!

Thank you for your thoughtful Christmas gifts I hope all of you had a wonderful time with family and friends. The new year is underway and we will be heading back to school and diving back into our studies. Your students will continue to be working in class on the cultural diversity, and we will wrap up our Solar Car projects in Science.

As we deepen our learning, students should be improving in their written and verbal responses to literature and will be given opportunities to make presentations to their peers. Your scholar should have gotten better at active listening, taking relevant notes and asking probing questions. I have seen some improvement in the comments they provide each other in homogeneous and heterogeneous groupings. I cannot thank  Mrs. Reynolds, Mrs. Madsen and Officer Reynolds enough for their committed volunteering with reading, critical thinking and classroom support. As a result of their consistent efforts, your scholars are able to build their  skills around the PA State Standards and I am seeing (and hearing) students backing up every comment, and or argument with evidence, which is very encouraging.

In math we are working on all aspects of the Everyday Math Curriculum and we are seeing that if we struggle with our multiplication and division, as some students do, it continues to be a challenge for us in other areas. I would encourage each family to practice multiplication and division with their students each night. I have set up Moby Max accounts for each student to practice at home and here at school.  They also have access to ConnectEd and Prodigy to help them, but if they need to log on and practice. Although students have math everyday here at school, we do not have enough time for every student to practice, and be challenged at their individual learning rate. The additional practice at home makes a huge difference in my experience, and they will better grasp the challenging mathematical concepts we tackle in class. The material in class is growing more challenging each day, and those who are not skilled in recalling their basic facts, or doing multiplication and division problems, risk falling behind.

If you Google “math flashcards” there are online programs you can use. You can also create your own flashcards and quiz your student daily, increasing the difficulty to challenge them. Students are also encouraged to practice on the textbook website for Everyday Math mentioned above ( each night, as this is a way to improve their success in math as well.

I would also strongly encourage that students Read! Read! Read! And read some more each night. Too many students struggle to answer math word problems appropriately (aka: “writing in math”) because they struggle with reading. As you know, most math problems on the PSSA are word problems. We cover answering strategies in class, but again it is important that students practice at home. This allows them to think and process the information learned earlier in the day, and builds their problem solving skills. Subsequently, when they are faced with challenges, they are better able to handle them. In Malcolm Gladwell’s book Outliers, he states that it takes about 10,000 hours to master, or become an expert at a task. I have not done the research on Gladwell’s premise, so it may take longer, or it may be shorter in some cases, but what I do know is it takes practice, and lots of it.

Thank you for your continued partnership in getting your 5th Grade Student on the road to success.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

With Gratitude: End of Year “Adieu”

som farewell

Dear 5th Grade Families:

It is a bitter sweet moment that we will share in promoting the 5th Grade Scholars. I thank each of you for your partnership and support in educating your student. Thank you for allowing me to be a part of your family this school year as I strived for excellence from every student, on their academic level. Please continue to not accept any less than your scholar’s best, and hold them accountable for their actions. Harvard Business Review (HBR) highlighted recently that, “it’s pretty easy and straightforward to improve upon a weakness;” and I have tried to allow students to see their weaknesses and to work to improve them by practicing. But, at the same time we have identified each student’s strengths and, “… developing strengths is very different” HBR states,  “Think more strategically? Become more inspiring? Practice problem solving more intently?” To those questions I answer a resounding, yes! Students will need to sharpen their strengths by working on skills that will enhance and increase their knowledge. We cannot do it for them, however, we can continue to guide them into doing more of what will benefit their education and not detract from it.

I am grateful that I had the opportunity to teach your scholar, and I hope that I made a difference in their academic lives. I wish you a safe and joyous summer and hope each student rises to the high expectations set for them in their coming school years. Please feel free to have your scholar come back and visit 5th grade as a way of “paying it forward” to their underclassmen.

I am thankful to those parents and PTO Volunteers who helped the year run smoothly, and kept everyone apprised of  school and classroom activities. Many thanks also to our class volunteers who committed to coming in each time I reached out for them to help read with our scholars’ or to fill a classroom, or social need. And, to the parents who helped by volunteering to chaperone and making sure our tie dye shirts were laundered properly. I am deeply grateful.

Have a spectacular summer!


Mrs. Barbarin

“A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle.” – Maya Angelou

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

April Showers


Hello again future 6th Grade Families! Are you ready for the PSSAs?

The days are getting longer and time is moving rather quickly. We continue to keep pace with our curriculum, however I am seeing some students putting a lackluster effort into their studies and their grade averages are reflecting it. This is where I need your help.

Every student needs to put forth an effort that is reflective of their ability and their skills need to be practiced at home. To assist me in my effort, please have students study, as well as complete their homework. They will be much more effective and productive. Additionally, please have students read chapter books in the home. Reading can enhance their skills in all disciplines as we tackle challenging topics. The time we have in class is not enough for each student to grasp academic concepts without their own independent study. In my experience students who do well are the ones who put in extra time at home studying, doing additional research at libraries, reviewing my downloaded videos and seeking information online. Most importantly, having family support to achieve more studying at home is very crucial as well. I thank you for your continued support at home.

When the weather breaks, we will have the opportunity to get outside for additional learning and to enjoy reading outside, with the occasional “field trip” on campus and away from school. As always you will be notified of dates, times and possible costs associated with them.

The PSSAs this month will reflect your scholar’s knowledge and they should be relaxed and ready. Students should arrive each day well rested, having eaten a nutritious breakfast. If you are curious about the Common Core Curriculum or the PSSA, please use these links to find out more: and

Please let me know if you have any questions, and know that I am reinforcing your high expectations here at school. Thank you in advance for your assistance and for the opportunity to bring out the best in each student.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Finish Strong!


For a minute I finally, spring/summer like weather was here, but Mother Nature has much  colder plans for us. Each day we ponder what to wear as the temperature rises and falls. Students enjoyed the weather unit earlier, especially the informational reading on “Storms.” Students are also looking forward to a much needed Spring break later this month and we are hoping the weather will cooperate.

As our Scholars begin the last trimester of their elementary school career, I am encouraging each of them to “Finish Strong!” The 5th Grade team is currently taking some time to acclimate students to the PSSA testing atmosphere, to alleviate any fears or anxiety students may have. Students are asking questions and relaxing more as the test dates draw nearer. Testing information will be sent home and report cards are also forthcoming, but please let me know if you have ANY questions or concerns in the meantime.

When the weather has stabilized, the 5th Grade teachers will set some important dates for the annual 5th grade activities. Until then, continue to encourage your scholar to study, be respectful, empathetic to others, and remain academically focused.

As always, thank you for your continued support.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

A Second Chance


Hello 5th Grade Families:

Just wanted to let you know that scholars should be studying tonight for math. The math retake is for students who scored below 75% on the math test and they will be given the opportunity to correct their wrong responses for 1/2 the points added to their current grade which is Below the math Expectations for Chapter 4. Students received study guides to help them study the work they struggled with during the original test. We also have a midterm scheduled for this Thursday (1/25/2018). Any student willing to write me a persuasive letter to take the mid-year test next week, I will gladly comply. This gives scholars the opportunity to write persuasively, study longer, as well as make an argument on a position. Scholars were told yesterday and the deadline for the letter is 1/23/2016.

So far no student has written me a letter.

Leave a comment

Filed under Announcements




Runner Jenny via flickr

Dear fifth grade families:

As November draws to a close, I’d like to take this time to thank you for your commitment and support in educating your scholar. I hope you enjoy a pleasant, family-friendly& safe holiday.

As we gear up for December, we continue to concentrate on critical thinking and crafting grade-appropriate, written responses. Some students are catching on, while others remain resistant to writing grade-level responses that require their thinking. The Common Core State Standards requires student thinking, problem solving and reasoning which is more important than having an answer. Students are required to justify their responses and explain how they came to a certain conclusion. I encourage students to self-evaluate, where students compare their paper next to a model essay, and determine if their writing aligns with selected models. Students ask themselves and others when sharing: Did student use evidence to justify their argument? Have they restated the thesis? Have they answered the question? Students are not left to do this on their own, we have spent entire lessons learning how to assess our own work using math answer keys, error analyses, a rubric & a writing guide that lays out what is expected of students. This action gets students involved and deeply active in their own learning by not just passively looking at their own work, but determining the steps they need to take to improve. With that in mind we have several volunteers who are committed to helping your scholar achieve their best, and we are grateful for the gift of their time. If you would like to volunteer your time, please contact me.


Students recently completed their dodecahedron multicultural project “Around the World,” and I look forward to reading the written reports each student will write about the country they researched. Before each student makes their country presentation, it was helpful that they learn to be respectful of the presenter and the content. We have also focused a lot of time on character building. Students are learning  that showing respect is being polite, kind, empathetic, using good manners and being tolerant of others’ opinions. When you show respect then others will show it to you, and this is a concept we are all trying to demonstrate.

Please continue to encourage your scholar to do their best each day & to have high expectations in everything they submit to be evaluated.


Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized