Mary Ann Carr

What did you learn?

Exit Card Comments from Resource Teachers attending the 2008 Statewide Seminar sponsored by the Virginia Association for the Gifted.

Your workshop on Differentiating Instruction in Language Arts was the best I have attended in many years. Your slides, activities, open discussion, and general presentation inspired and motivated me to return to my classroom with a whole new set of techniques! I am excited about the possibilities to utilize the many tools you shared with us, as well the many practical ideas others shared with the group. Thank you so much for re-igniting my passion for "teaching outside the box" and making education fun again!!!  Teachers and administrators need more time with people like you.  What an inspiration.  -- Kathleen Grantier, O.T. Bonner Middle School, Danville, Virginia

This workshop has given me so much I can use and share right now.  The organization of the handout and workshop was excellent and Mary Ann elicited many examples from the audience because she validated our ideas.  I have gotten much more than 1 day’s collection of ideas.  -- Nancy Ragland, Woodburn Elementary School for Fine & Communicative Arts, Fairfax County, Virginia

There is no way to write down what I learned on an exit card.  I took notes in my binder for your handout, notes on my laptop, notes in a notebook.  Oh, and I used up almost an entire pad of 2 ½ x 2 ½ stickers.  This was wonderful.  Thank you.  I suggested that they engage you as the keynote speaker next year.

For once, I found a workshop that was very applicable to my job!

I learned that differentiation doesn’t have to take an extraordinary amount of time if I use your suggested activities.

I learned some great ways to help students overcome the “blank page.”  I will use so much of what you gave me.

I use many of these strategies already, but you gave me great ways to revise them.

I learned about RAFT and lots of wonderful ways to differentiate tomorrow!  Thank you for all the wonderful resources!

You are a wonderful presenter!!!!!!

I learned that differentiating in the classroom is essential and not difficult.

I learned so much and I will use it all!!!  I will share with the teachers I work with as a resource teacher.

The writing activities were excellent.  I want to try all of them.

I learned how to tier lessons without using too much extra time.

I will use the personification with my class to really get them thinking.  And, I love the metaphors and know that my students will enjoy these writing activities.

I learned that I am doing a lot of things correctly. A little affirmation never hurts.  I can’t wait to try these ideas.

RAFT was new to me.  I think that will be a very useful tool.  Most importantly, the chance to compare notes and brainstorm is a real rejuvenator for me.

Differentiation doesn’t have to be time-consuming.  There are many easy things that can be implemented.

I loved this seminar.  I especially enjoyed the RAFT idea because I’m doing a unit on perspective.

I am excited to use the RAFT activities.  This made it seem so user friendly.  Also, I will definitely use the Private Eye School book (tomorrow actually).

I learned millions of ways to differentiate!!!

Great time-saving ideas that differentiate.  Thank you for the Bloom’s Taxonomy questions I can use for any book and have something that challenges everyone.

My day with you was well spent.  I will use many ideas such as:   “What is the question?”  Personify the topic, techniques to effectively manage differentiation in the classroom, speech bubbles, the fold-up VENN diagram.

I learned new strategies or remembered strategies I had not used in a while.  I really appreciate the great handouts.  They will make it easy to implement right away such as cubing and RAFT.

I love the presentation.  Thank you for some terrific, practical ideas.  I’ll try the 3 Strike idea tomorrow.

I learned many new strategies for differentiating instruction for my gifted students.  I like how [you] took us beyond Bloom’s Taxonomy and encouraged us to dig deeper with questioning.  Also, the use of tiered questions.  I can’t wait to try these new strategies.  I will use these as my students explore literary genres.

I learned too many things to note here.  I took 5 full pages of notes.  I’ll list a few favorites:  RAFT, Tic-Tac-Toe, help with rubrics and Anchor Questions.

I love the writing center ideas!!!!!

Thank you for clarifying tiered lesson plans.  I understand them so much better.

I learned strategies to differentiate reading and writing in creative ways.  I will model these strategies in the classrooms I work in.

I learned so many things I can use in my classroom, too many to list.  I was most impressed with the innovative ideas for writing prompts.  I am determined to make writers out of all of my students, not just the gifted.

Mary Ann's Workshops

Custom Workshops Available

1. Differentiation in Language Arts

2. The Battle with The Blank Page

3. Differentiation Made Simple: Timesaving Tools

4. Meeting the Needs of Gifted Students

5. Seminar for Parents of Smart Kids

(Custom-designed Workshops also available in "Mindfulness")

An educator for 27 years, Mary Ann has taught grades K–7.  In addition to working in the classroom, she was a resource teacher for a Chapter 1 program in an inner-city school, and a gifted specialist in a large suburban school system.  This wide range of experience gave rise to her passion for differentiation and broadened her understanding of the challenges facing teachers “in the trenches.”

Teachers lack two things: time and materials.  Taking time pressures into account as well as other teacher concerns, Mary Ann develops instructional materials to make their job easier.  As a result, she frequently is called upon to conduct teacher in-service workshops and to speak at statewide Teacher conferences.

Mary Ann's approach to differentiation is unique.  From her years of experience in diverse classrooms, she believes the current emphasis on strategies often overlooks the time-consuming effort that teachers must make to implement those strategies in the classroom. That makes for a powerful deterrent. Accordingly, she focuses not on the strategies per se, but on timesaving tools that simplify the teacher's task.

Mary Ann's newest book, Differentiation Made Simple: Timesaving Tools For Teachers, is now available from Prufrock Press  to hear her 2009 interview with talk show host Neale Steele and Click Here for Pre-publication Reviews.

Mary Ann is past President of both the Chesapeake Bay Branch (Virginia) of the National League of American Pen Women and the Chesapeake Bay Writers ,a chapter of the Virginia Writers Club. She also served until 2012 on the Board of Directors of The Bay School Community Arts Center in Mathews County, VA.

Differentiating Instruction in Language Arts 

Grades  3 - 8  (Length:  2 or 3 hours, 6 hours)

Differentiation is a practice beneficial to all students because it moves every child ahead, leaving no child behind in the process. Designing differentiated lessons, however, is a time-consuming effort.  In this fast-paced seminar you will learn easy-to-use tricks to implement a variety of differentiation strategies in Language Arts.

In addition, you will receive generic tools designed to save you time when preparing differentiated materials for units, vocabulary study, learning centers, independent research and writing lessons.  You can pick and choose from a menu of ideas and questions then easily create tiered activities to accompany any trade book or short story.

Leaving this seminar, you will head home with a list of ideas and a handful of tools that you can use the very next day in your classroom.

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The Battle With The Blank Page:   Motivating Students To Become Great Writers Grades 3 – 8  (Length:  1 -  3 hours)


“But I don’t know what to write!”  Have you ever heard this after giving your students a writing assignment?  If so, you will find this humorous seminar both inspirational and helpful.  It will give you the ammunition you need to help your students win this ominous battle using a variety of brainstorming strategies.

In addition, you will receive tools to guide your students to use high-level thinking when writing their first draft.  After all, in order to write clearly, one must think clearly.  You will then explore the writing craft and how to teach your students to use the techniques of professional writers to paint vivid pictures in the minds of their readers. 

Then, focusing on revision, you will learn an effective way to motivate your students to edit and revise their work, using questions as their guide.  After this fun-filled seminar, you will be prepared not only to help your students improve their writing but you might gain tips that could help your own work as well.

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Differentiation Made Simple: Timesaving Tools For Teachers

Grades 3 – 8  (Length:  2 or 3 hours and 6 hours)

Differentiation is essential in order to meet the diverse needs of students in a classroom. When identifying these needs, it is necessary to consider student differences.  In this fun-filled seminar, we will explore these differences using characters from the Seinfeld TV show as examples.  How many Kramers in your class?  And, we will examine differences in readiness, interests, intelligences, learning styles and personality types. 

“How do I accommodate all these differences when I have so little time?”  Time is indeed a big issue in differentiation.  You will receive tools designed to save you time, enabling you to differentiate your instruction yet still have a life in the evening.  Using these generic tools, you can quickly create anchor activities, tiered lessons and assignments, Tac Tac Toe activities, cubing activities, learning contracts, research projects, differentiated learning centers, writing and vocabulary activities.

You will leave this practical seminar ready to differentiate in all of the content areas even though you have limited preparation time built into your normal daily routine.

"I really enjoyed your workshop- it is my first year EVER so any access to help and resources is much appreciated.  You are a wonderful hilarious presenter- I never once got bored." -- Linda Simthong, 4th grade/Barringer Academic Center, Charlotte, NC

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Who Are The Bright Lights In Your Room?  An Examination of Gifted Students and Strategies to Meet Their Needs

K-8 (Length: 3 - 6 hours)

Who are those gifted students in your classroom?  What are their characteristics?  How can you challenge them?  How can you make accommodations for them and still meet the needs of your other students when you have so little time?  And what about assessment and classroom management when groups of students are working on different assignments? 

This all day workshop will address all of these questions.  You will explore a variety of strategies to challenge and assess your gifted students and examine the tools you need to easily implement them, all of which will save you time. 

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Qwerky Questions & Awesome Activities: A Seminar for Parents of Gifted and "Just Plain Smart" Kids,

Grades 3 – 8

Length:  1 – 3 hours

Does your child complain of boredom? Are they silent, impatient or restless too often? Are they incommunicative or do they too frequently answer "Nothing." to questions such as "What did you do at school today?" If you answered "Yes" to any of these questions, you need Qwerky Questions, a series of ready-to-apply questions and activities designed to engage your child in higher level thinking and problem solving. Activities are specifically tailored for any situation, whether in the home, on a road trip, at a restaurant or waiting at the doctor's office.

Click here or the for details about the Parents Handbook,


Contact Mary Ann to arrange for her to speak to your  Parent organization or group.

NOTE: Speaking engagements come with a free copy of the Handbook for all who attend.

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