Earning Units

Continuing Education Units (CEUs) are available through Dominican University in coordination with Allan Varni.  Each workshop series may be taken for units: $95 for 1 unit or $190 for 2 units.

About My Workshops

The workshops are thoughtfully crafted to respond to your individual needs. You can expect practical, affordable professional development that respects your experience.

Practical:  Each workshop focuses on specific skills that you can put to use immediately in your classroom.  Because each school, class, and teacher is different, you may take what you like, adapt what you can, and leave the rest.  There will always be opportunities for you to share your own expertise about the topic.

Affordable:  Every effort is made to keep costs reasonable.  Discounts are offered for buddies who sign up together.  Units are also offered separately so you may choose to benefit from the workshop without the expense of CEUs.  When possible, teachers have the option to sign up for just a portion of a series.

Responsive:  With a minimum of 5 teachers, bring any of these workshops to your school to fit your schedule.  After school? Sure!  Evenings? Absolutely.  Weekends? Why not?  Contact me today and let’s make a plan!

Targeted  Reading Instruction for  Student Success

(EDUO 9231) Two Days August 10 & 11, 2017  9:30 am – 4:30 pm

Every experienced teacher knows that each student has different reading capabilities. Even those students who appear to read at the same level will reveal distinctions upon deeper examination.  They’ll have varying interests; they’ll make different kinds of errors; their comprehension will be affected by unique life experiences. For teachers to respond to these infinite variations requires a strong repertoire of Common Core-aligned teaching strategies. We will examine the multiple sub-skills involved in reading and how to use running records with error analysis to plan reading lessons that specifically target children’s needs.  There will be time to level your own class library so your students can select their own “just right books.” You will learn about multiple reading assessment systems and several different ways to organize your reading instruction in order to accommodate the many varied learners in your class. The focus of this workshop is primarily on elementary reading instruction, but it could be relevant to teachers of older children who read below grade level.  If you are wondering if this series is right for you, contact me and we’ll talk.


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Beyond BTSA Boot Camp!

 (EDUO 9837) Six Half-day Workshops  August 7 – 9, 2017  9:30 am – 2:30 pm

This series is designed to start your year off right:  organized and confident!  You’ll come away with practical ideas you can use right away.  We’ll also cover that often-neglected aspect of your career—YOU!  You can stay happy and healthy in this demanding profession.

The workshops are aligned with the California Standards for the Teaching Profession, are held at a relaxing retreat-style property in Santa Cruz, and include light refreshments.

Though designed with elementary teachers in mind, these workshops would be useful to anyone teaching in a self-contained environment. If you are wondering if an individual workshop is right for you, contact me, and we’ll talk.

The Beyond BTSA Boot Camp is designed as 6 stand-alone workshops, and can be customized to your needs. You may:

  • Sign up for the whole series and earn 1 or 2 semester units.
  • Sign up for the whole series without units.
  • Sign up for only those topics that most interest you (no units available).

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Get Organized!

August 7, 2017   9:30 – 11:30 am

Bring your plan book, grade book, report card, school calendar, and any texts or pacing guides you know you’ll use next year.  You will plan your year, set a pacing guide, create a useful grade book, and plan inter-disciplinary activities to make your lessons “count” in multiple subject areas.  Plus, we’ll share tricks to keep you organized and efficient all year long.

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Positive Classroom Behavior

August 7, 2017   12:30 – 2:30 pm

Why do some classes have a positive climate? How can we spend less time on discipline and more time teaching? When it comes to discipline, an ounce of prevention really is worth a pound of cure.  In this workshop we’ll look at activities that build inclusion and trust. We’ll examine ways in which lessons in any curricular area can be used to create a positive class climate.  We’ll also look at positive discipline responses for those times when the preventive work isn’t enough.

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Parents:  Both Helpful and Difficult

August 8, 2017   9:30 – 11:30 am

There are specific things you can do to win over parents the first day of school and keep them on your side all year long.  We’ll look at ways to make the most of your parent volunteers so they are truly helpful.  And, for those times when all else fails, how to defuse angry situations.

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Student-Led Parent Conferences

August 8, 2017   12:30 – 2:30 pm

Teaching students to lead their own report card (or progress report) conferences can make your parent conferences much more powerful.  When the children take responsibility for assessing their own progress and explaining it to their parents, the entire dynamic of the conference changes.  You will learn to help children set achievable goals and guide them to see themselves as being in control of their learning.  This builds great relationships with parents, too!

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Multiple Intelligences:  A Unit for Children

August 9, 2017   9:30 – 11:30 am

You can create a classroom community that celebrates children’s multiple intelligences.  In this workshop we will experience instructional activities from the students’ point of view and see how we can help children understand themselves and each other better.  These activities help you recognize the diversity in your class, develop a common class language and help every child find a way to shine and be appreciated by their peers.  Use this knowledge to craft lessons to which children respond, and create assessments that give them multiple ways to show what they know.

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Healthy and Happy in the Profession for the Long Haul

August 9, 2017   12:30 – 2:30 pm

Teaching is an all-consuming job.  Burnout is common and the attrition rate for new teachers is high.  How do we take care of ourselves physically and emotionally in such a demanding profession?  How do we develop our professionalism and maintain a personal life?  We’ll share ideas that work. Each participant will craft a personal plan for success and self care.  This workshop is relevant to all teachers, whatever the grade level or school environment.  Think of this as an opportunity to spend some time taking care of you.

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Teaching Social Studies as the Struggle for Social Justice

(EDUO 9677) Two Days   July 27 & 28, 2017  9:30 am – 4:30 pm

Social Studies doesn’t have to be dry text books, lists of dead men, and the recitation of dates. You can make your social studies units relevant and exciting for children. Research shows that children’s self-esteem and engagement in school is increased when they see themselves in the curriculum; when they know their cultures and histories are seen and valued. Social studies lessons can be used to improve your class climate, reduce bullying, and empower students to become active citizens. You will learn how to engage your class by making your lessons accessible to diverse learners. Through the use of examples cited from U.S. history, we’ll see how to engage your class and make your lessons accessible to diverse learners.  But whatever your social studies focus, we will learn how history can be framed, not as factoids to be memorized, but as a dramatic struggle in which your students are the latest champions. You will learn to create activities that guide students to be critical thinkers and see events from multiple points of view. Through the adaptation of these techniques you can create quality lessons for any social studies curriculum.  This workshop is Common Core-aligned and suitable for teachers of 3rd through 8th grade.

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Elementary Math – Fun and Practical Ways to Implement the CCS

(EDUO 9553) Two Days August 3 & 4, 2017  9:30 am – 4:30 pm

Math is such a complex subject to teach.  Facts, algorithms, time, money, geometry, measurement, statistics, data analysis, graphing, algebra, probability and more!  How is a busy teacher to fit it all in and use common core aligned strategies that develop children’s deep understanding of these strands?  Through the use of specific examples and suggestions teachers will learn ways to teach multiple strands of math in the Common Core-aligned elementary classroom.  You will learn to integrate math across the curriculum as well as use hands-on activities that can help students develop deep understanding of mathematical ideas.  Additionally you will learn ways to differentiate your instruction of mathematical algorithms so each learner gets just the amount of guidance s/he needs to be successful. We will also look at ways to teach children to become fluent in the basic facts they need to succeed at more complex math tasks. Real-life application of mathematical principles, and increasing family involvement in math instruction will all be included.

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Elementary Teachers Do It  All!

 (EDUO 9779)  A Series of Six Half-day Workshops July 31 – August 2, 2017   9:30 am – 2:30 pm

Elementary teachers are the ultimate generalists.  Whatever our unique talents, interests, or major in college, we are expected to be able to teach everything!  From Music to PE, from Language Arts to Visual and Performing Arts…we do it all!  It’s natural, though, to give more attention to those areas in which we feel skilled than those we don’t.  This course is designed to increase your effectiveness as a multi-subject educator.  You will leave this class with specific activities and systems you can use immediately in your classroom to make your instruction more inclusive of the many diverse learners you serve.  In each 2 hour workshop, the emphasis is on practical tips that recognize the widely disparate students in our classes and the limited resources available to most teachers. Through 3 days of participatory activities, you will learn techniques to effectively teach PE, Drama, & Art – even if you don’t see yourself as an athlete, artist, or actor.  We will also learn specific activities you can use to differentiate your instruction of Spelling, and English Language Development.  Additionally, you’ll learn ways to use field trips to enrich your curriculum, even when you lack parent drivers and big donors.  As always, there will be opportunities for you to share your own experience, successful strategies and activities with the class.

Elementary Teacher Do It All!  is organized into six stand-alone workshops, and can be customized to meet your needs.  You may:

  • Sign up for the whole series and earn 1 or 2 semester units.
  • Sign up for the whole series without units.
  • Sign up for only those topics that most interest you (no units available).

Register Now!

PE for the Not-So-Athletic Teacher

July 31, 2017   9:30 – 11:30 am

PE can be fraught with conflict, hurt feelings and incipient bullying.  Or it can be a time to give children the lifelong joy of fitness through movement.  It can also increase class cohesion and improve children’s social skills.  In this workshop you will participate in active games that develop cooperation and good sportsmanship.  You will learn innovative ways to organize traditional games that honor children’s different levels of skill and experience with team sports.  Even if you were picked last for every team as a kid, you can protect other children from that fate and actually enjoy PE time with your class.

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Successful Field Trips

July 31, 2017   12:30 – 2:30 pm

You don’t have enough parent drivers.  Your district doesn’t provide school buses.  Your field trip budget is non existent.  How can you give your students the curriculum enriching experience of a field trip?  It’s challenging, but not impossible.  We will research the public transportation available to your school neighborhood, make a list of possible field trip destinations within bus and walking distance of your school, and look at possible sources of funding so your class can enjoy the benefits of community connections.

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Art for the Not-So-Artistic Teacher

 August 1, 2017   9:30 – 11:30 am

Even if your art skills are limited to drawing stick figures and stringing macaroni, you can teach the basic elements of art to your children, helping them produce interesting work worthy of any refrigerator!  We will look at ways to integrate art activities with other content so they support and enrich your instruction in other curricular areas.  You will have the opportunity to get dirty and “do” some art too.

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Class Plays Without the Drama

 August 1, 2017   12:30 – 2:30 pm

Does the prospect of doing a class play fill you with dread?  Are rehearsals chaotic?  Does it seem like the adults are doing all the work while the kids are barely involved? Given all the pressure to test, does it seem you can’t spare the time needed to put on a class play?  There are ways to organize a class play successfully.  Learn how to select a script and direct a play in such a way that children are empowered to do most of the work during the actual performance.  You can integrate a class play with other academic subjects so that it enhances your curriculum, rather than overwhelms it.

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Spelling–How to Differentiate So Students Measurably Improve!

August 2, 2017   9:30 – 11:30 am

Do you have students with a wide variety of spelling skills in your class?  Do you have students who spell a word correctly on the test, yet misspell the same word in their writing? Have you tried different spelling programs with little success?   Spelling is a developmental skill, closely linked to reading, yet we often use a one-size-fits-all approach.  In this course you will learn how to differentiate your spelling instruction in a way that supports children’s growth and aligns with their reading skills.  We will practice specific techniques and activities that have helped children gain one, two and more grade levels in their spelling skills in a year!

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ELD for the EO Teacher

August 2, 2017   12:30 – 2:30 pm

Your class may have students who are at various stages of learning English.  They may not all speak the same home language.  You want to give each child the English instruction s/he needs but there’s only so much you can do in a day!  In this class you will examine CELDT scores and RFEP criteria to develop a strategic plan of instruction to help your students improve their English.  We will experience games and activities that develop students’ English skills in all four domains: reading, writing, listening and speaking.

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