About Mrs. Cavanah

Contact: acavanah@conejousd.org

Teaching is my life's dream realized. One of the things I love most about teaching and working with children is the young student's imaginative spirit, inquisitive nature, creativity, and natural enthusiasm for discovery and learning. I am passionate about providing a high-quality public education to all students, regardless of their background or ability and have a deep respect for the trust placed in me as their teacher.

I have been teaching at Maple since 2009 in Kindergarten through Third Grade, and have also served as a reading interventionist.  I have degrees from CSU, Chico in Psychology and Child Development, as well as a California Multiple Subjects Teaching Credential from CSU, Channel Islands.

On a personal note, I attended Maple myself, as did my two children.  My husband Craig and I have an 22-year-old daughter, who recently graduated from UC Santa Cruz with a BS in Molecular, Cellular, & Developmental Biology, and 20-year-old son, who is a junior at UC Irvine.  We enjoy sailing, camping, singing, road trips, and time spent with family.  

For the 2020-2021 school year, I will be teaching the remote cohorts of second grade.  I welcome every opportunity to partner with parents and believe it is the best way to meet the needs of your beautiful children.  In that spirit, I look forward to meeting with each family via Zoom within the first few weeks of school, and I will be available to conference any time throughout the school year.  

Scholastic Book Orders

Click on this Scholastic Book Orders link to order books and earn points for our class: Scholastic Book Orders
Our Classroom Code is MHTXZ.


Welcome to Mrs. Cavanah's Class!

Stay connected.... Join us on Canvas and See Saw!  

Below you will find information about how you can help your child at home, as well as links to various Web sites that complement our curriculum and will help your child practice what they've learned in a fun, interactive and engaging way. Your child can log in to all of these sites through our new "class link" Google platform.  

It is my goal to complete all classwork with your child during daily live instruction.  In addition to classwork, second graders are expected to complete approximately 80 minutes of reinforcement activities, which will be designed to be accessible, independent, and low-stress.  Please contact me if your child is struggling with the independent activities, or if they take longer than 80 minutes, so I can make adjustments. 

Second grade at CVUSD has a "standards-based report card", meaning that rather than working to earn grades, we are working toward mastery of essential academic skills.  As your child engages in the learning process, mistakes are expected, welcome, and provide opportunities for growth.  Genuine and specific praise regarding your child's work when they share it with you goes a long way. Research repeatedly demonstrates that praise specific to effort, rather than ability, has a huge impact on future success.  It will encourage students to embrace challenges, give their best effort, and believe that with effort and hard work, anything can be accomplished.

I welcome a parent-teacher partnership and am available to support your child and family in any way I can.  The best way to contact me is by e-mail or text (see directions above).  

Wish List

Classroom donations are appreciated! 

Amazon Wish List  Link: http://a.co/4WgIv8I

Grading Policy

Students in K-2 are graded on a scale of 1 to 3.
3 = Meeting or exceeding grade-level standard
2 = Approaching grade-level standard
1 = Working below grade-level standard

More Resources for Parents

Selecting Books for Your Child:  Finding 'Just Right' Books (Source:  K. Rogers, 2008 & www.readingtogether.org)

Five finger rule

  1. Choose a book that you think you will enjoy.
  2. Read the second page.
  3. Hold up a finger for each word you are not sure of, or do not know.
  4. If there are five or more words you did not know, you should choose an easier book.

Still think it may not be too difficult? Use the five finger rule on two more pages.

Choose a book that is a good fit for you!

Read two or three pages and ask yourself these questions:

Will it be an easy, fun book to read?

  • Do I understand what I am reading?
  • Do I know almost every word?
  • When I read it aloud, can I read it smoothly?
  • Do I think the topic will interest me?

If most of your answers were "yes", this will be an easy book to read independently by yourself.

Will this book be too hard for me?

  • Are there five or more words on a page that I don't know, or am unsure of?
  • Is this book confusing and hard to understand by myself?
  • When I read it aloud, does it sound choppy and slow?

If most of your answers were "yes," this book is too hard. You should wait awhile before you read this book. Give the book another try later, or ask an adult to read the book to you.

Tips on reading with your child

When they can't read the word, say…

  • Can you sound it out?
  • Fingertap it.
  • Can you think of the word or movement that helps you remember that vowel sound?
  • What is the first and last sound? What word would make sense?
  • Does it have a pattern that you have seen in other words? (ex-an, ack)
  • How does the word begin?
  • You said_______. Does that make sense?
  • What word would make sense that would start with these sounds?
  • Put your finger under the word as you say it.

When they want to read a book that is too hard, say…

  • Let's read it together.
  • This is a book you will enjoy more if you save it until you are older — or later in the year.
  • [Be honest!] When people read books that are too hard for them, they often skip important parts. You will have more fun with this book if you wait until you can read it easily.

Ways to Help Your Child with Reading at Home (Source: Routman, 1994)

Consider these ideas on how you can support reading at home: 

Setting the Atmosphere

  • Help your child find a comfortable, quiet place to read.

  • Orient your child to the book by looking at the cover first and talking about what you think it may be about

    or any way it reminds you of your life. Ask your child what s/he thinks.

  • Have your child see you as a reading model.

  • Read aloud to your child. Re-read favorite stories.

  • Read with your child.

  • Discuss the stories you read together.

  • Recognize the value of silent reading.

  • Keep reading time enjoyable and relaxed.

  • Let your child see you reading for enjoyment and for information.

    Responding to Errors in Reading

    Based on the way most of us were taught to read, we tell children to “sound it out” when they come to an unknown word. To help children become independent readers who monitor and correct themselves as they read, try the following ideas before saying “sound it out”. When your child has trouble reading a word, give him or her wait time of 5 to 10 seconds. See what he attempts to do to help himself and then apply one or more of the following questions or comments.

    • “What would make sense there?”

    • “What do you think that word could be?”

    • “Use the picture to help you figure out what it could be.”

    • “Go back to the beginning and try that again.”

    • “Skip over it and read to the end of the sentence (or paragraph). Now what do you think it is?”

    • “Put in a word that would make sense there.”

    • “You read that word before on another page. See if you can find it.”

    • Help your child sound it out or tell what the word is.

      Most importantly, focus on what your child is doing well and attempting to do. Remain loving and supportive. When your child is having difficulty and trying to work out the trouble spots, try these comments.

    • “Good for you. I like the way you tried to work that out.”

    • “That was a good try. Yes, that word would make sense there.”

    • “I like the way you looked at the picture to help yourself.”

    • “I like the way you went back to the beginning of the sentence and tried it again. That’s what good readers do.”

    • “You are becoming a good reader. I’m proud of you.”

      Source: Routman, R. (1994)

“If parents want to give their children a gift, the best thing they can do is to teach their children to love challenges, be intrigued by mistakes, enjoy effort, and keep on learning.”
  – Carol Dweck


5 Parenting Strategies to Develop a Growth Mindset (Source:  M. Taylor, 2004, imaginationsoup.net)  

The research Dweck did on our feedback to kids is fascinating.


How do I Help Promote a Growth Mindset? 

According to Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D., author of Mindset, I can do the following:


1. Have daily learning discussions.

At dinner, in the car or at bedtime take time for both the kids and parents to share the answers to these types of questions:

“What did you learn to day?” (I LOVE this – so much better than “How was your day?”)

“What mistake did you make that taught you something?

“What did you try hard at today?”

 It’s really important says Dweck that I share what I learned, too. This models for kids that I learn new things every day, even learning from failures.

When children share, you can reply like this:

“You certainly did get smarter today.”

“I like the way you tried all kinds of strategies on that math problem until you finally got it right.”

“We all have different learning curves. It may take more time for you to catch on to this and be comfortable with this material, but I you keep at it like this you will.”

“Everyone learns in a different way. Let’s keep trying to find the way that works for you.”

 (These are direct quotes from Mindset by Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D.)


2. Give feedback on process only.

Praise effort, persistence, strategies, seeking challenges, setting goals, planning, or using creative strategies.

Don’t praise personal abilities like being smart, pretty, or artistic. This kind of praise actually can lead to a loss of confidence since kids won’t be smart at everything. They’ll doubt their ability to be good at something that is difficult initially.

Salman Khan recently wrote that he will never tell his son he’s smart for this very reason. He shares, “Between the deep body of research on the field of learning mindsets and this personal experience with my son, I am more convinced than ever that mindsets toward learning could matter more than anything else we teach.”


3. Do you know brains can grow?

Explain to kids how the brain can grow stronger and that intelligence can improve throughout your life. Intelligence is not fixed. It’s changeable. This is called brain plasticity. (Aren’t you so glad!?)

What’s more, learning CHANGES our brains. (Again, three cheers for brain growth!) Kids need to know this is possible.


4. Encourage risk, failing, and learning from mistakes.

Now is the time to let our kids risk and fail. Failure teaches our kids important life lessons. For one, it’s how they learn r resiliency 

But we often want to prevent our kids from failing, from feeling upset or sad.


We must let our kids fail now so that they can strengthen their growth mindset muscles. If we don’t, they will be adults with no perseverance, with no belief in their abilities to work hard and succeed.

In The Blessings of a Skinned Knee, Wendy Mogel says to be compassionate and concerned but not enmeshed.

Let’s keep each other accountable on this. This is hard but so important.

famous failures

And if when your child fails, celebrate the lessons in the failure. Tell them about all the famous people who failed and didn’t give up.


Then check out the “You can learn anything” movement that the Khan Academy is doing. Are you in? Go here.


5. Encourage and model positive self talk.

Finally, I think it’s worth sharing this self-talk chart from Fieldcrest Elementary. Our self talk is where it all starts to shift.

Growth Mindset Self Talk