Becky Jenkins Irons’ Creative Ways to Teach On Zoom: Madeline’s Monthly Article & Musical Tips Blog for March 2021

Our blog and Radio Show features Becky Jenkins Irons, our Radio Show’s 2016 Teacher of the Year Award winner, sharing her creative ideas for teaching her students on Zoom.

Many of the world’s teachers, chemists, scientists, medical doctors, mathematicians, writers, and others have studied and played musical instruments since they were children. These eminent individuals have integrated music into their thinking process. Included is an article on the power of listening to Baroque music in the background to improve concentration and learning. March is music in our schools.

Our article of the month is “Be Prepared for All Emergencies” by Madeline Frank, Ph.D.

Radio Show Feature Question for March 2021: Becky Jenkins Irons is a master teacher, and won our “Radio Show’s 2016 Teacher of the Year” award. Mrs. Irons, can you share with us your creative ideas for teaching your students on Zoom?


Becky Jenkins Irons won our Radio Show’s 2016 Teacher of the Year Award. Mrs. Irons has taught for 16 years in the Public schools of Baldwin City, Kansas; York County, Virginia; and Norfolk, Virginia.  She has taught kindergarten, first, second, third, fourth, fifth, and sixth grade.

She is a master teacher, award-winning Gymnast, award winning dancer, wife, mother of five children, pianist, singer and choral conductor.

During this pandemic she has been teaching 2nd graders in the Norfolk Public Schools creatively on Zoom for 5 months. She teaches all subjects: math, reading, writing, science, and social studies.  During this past summer, the district she teaches in, had optional Zoom and other online training which she took advantage of. She says, “We continued with training when teachers came back from summer break and have new, weekly professional development to build upon our current skills and give us new ideas”

Dr. Frank: “How many hours a day do you teach your students on Zoom and on what days?”

Mrs. Irons: “I teach for four hours and 10 minutes a day.  This includes whole group and small group instruction and testing.  While I am working with a small group, some of the other students are working with other teachers in breakout rooms, or they are working individually on their daily assignments in a breakout room.”

“I teach virtually Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday.  On Wednesdays, the students log in and do asynchronous work without the teacher.  This allows teachers to do extra training, plan, make lesson plans and assignments, grade work, input grades, make data spreadsheets, input data, set goals, and to do other things they need to get done to help the students.  The four days the students are on Zoom with the teacher, the school day runs from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. with an hour and 50-minute break for resource and lunch.   The librarian and the guidance counselor also come into the class Zoom meeting for 30 minutes each during the week.” 

Madeline: “Do your students sign in each morning and how do you begin your classes?” 

Becky: “My students sign into Zoom each morning at 9:00.  I put on Classical music in the background when students first enter the class. The music seems to get them in the correct mood and frame of mind to start learning.  Students already know the rules, so we don’t usually need to address them.  We begin class by writing down one good thing that has happened to us or something that we might want to share or show the class.”

“We then look at a fun or unusual picture and use a skill or bit of information that we have been learning about one of our subject areas to do something with the picture.  Students look forward to seeing what new picture will be put up on the screen each day.  We then go over our assignments for the day on our platform and start our first subject.”


Madeline: “Can you share with us your creative ideas for teaching your students on Zoom?”

Becky: “It can be difficult to keep student attention throughout the day.  Besides putting on Classical music at the beginning of the day as students come in, I put on Classical music in the background when students are in the main room and are working on assignments.  This helps keep the students focused and calm while they are working.”

“I look for video timers that have Classical music playing while the timer is going during student breaks.  There are a lot of fun and interesting timer videos for students to watch that have cartoons, animals, and just about anything you can think of.  I rarely use the same timer video twice.  Students look forward to seeing what timer will come up next on the screen.  There are a wide range of timers with various amounts of time.  We take multiple 3-minute breaks throughout the day.”

“To get the wiggles out, we do a lot of fun GoNoodle and KIDZ Bop, and other dance videos, where students dance along with kids on the screen to songs from movies and famous singers.  Some of the dance videos teach students popular dances, and others teach the students subject-related material.”

“I make it a point to use a variety of online websites and links to keep student interest.  I also use my white board with different fonts and shapes, the Ladybug projector, videos, online books, interactive Google slides activities, etc. Students do polls and reply in the Chat on Zoom.  I get students participating by them using objects around their house.  There have been many times where students have been given clues, and they go on a treasure hunt around their house.  Students also have access to multiple learning websites where they can play games while they learn.”

“At the end of the day, I pick a few students that are still there to share.  This encourages students to attend in the afternoon and stay to the end.  I have had students show pets, tell about a fun activity, show a drawing, and even read a story they wrote.  Everyone gets a turn by the end of the week.  Sometimes, we have a theme to our sharing or could involve information we are learning.  For example, they might share something that is a certain color; something they have drawn, made, or cooked; something that is small; or an item that goes along with a lesson.”

“Twice this school year, teachers have had parents come to the school and do a drive by to pick up bags of supplies, such as manipulatives for math, plastic sheets with markers to write on, notebooks, practice books, bookmarks, and anything we can think of to help students stay engaged at home while learning online.”

“Keeping students interested and actively involved has helped to create an environment where students look forward to logging into virtual school.”

Dr. Frank: “Thank you Mrs. Becky Irons for sharing your creative ideas for teaching and connecting with your students on Zoom and for inspiring, motivating, and encouraging them to enjoy learning.”

To read and hear Mrs. Becky Jenkins Irons Blog/Radio Show for 2016: Teacher of the Year:



Be Prepared for All Emergencies by Madeline Frank, Ph.D.

Preparing for every emergency is essential for peace of mind. Whether you are stuck in your car in bad weather, your child or family member becomes sick, your house suddenly springs a leak in one of its pipes, or any other emergency that may crop up; the preparation you invest in now will pay you dividends!


When traveling abroad, take a photo of your passport when traveling in case the passport gets misplaced or stolen. This will save you time and headaches at the embassy.

Fill your toiletry bag with any essential items for any ailments you may encounter.

Household Maintenance 

Five dollars worth of caulk around your window now may prevent a $500 repair bill later.

Teaching your kids how to operate a shut off valve when they clog the toilet can avoid water damage and mess later.

Plumbing emergencies: Know where the cut off valve is in your house!

It was New Year’s Eve and a cold winter day. I was coming back home for lunch from work. As I approached our house I felt something was wrong! As I approached our house there was steam coming from the chimney. I walked in the house into the kitchen, in my 3 piece blue dress suit and noticed water all over the floor. I went into the pantry and saw the hot water heater had a hole in it the size of a quarter. I tried the cut off valves and they would not budge. I quickly called a plumber we knew and trusted on my cell phone and he said he was out of town to call his brother who was also a plumber. I called his brother and he told me where the cut off valve was outside the house. I found the cut off valve outside in the front yard and was unable to shut it off as I needed a special long tool to stop it.

He said he would be right over! The plumber came over and cut off the water. I went into our linen closed and brought out several large towels to sop up the water and our mop. I’m still in my work clothes and called work and said I have a plumbing emergency to take care of. The plumber bought a new hot water heater and installed it and I continued cleaning up the mess!

Moral of this story: Know where your cut off valve is and have the right tools to cut it off! Regularly check your plumbing pipes and make sure there are no leaks. Hot water heaters last 8-12 years.

Know who to call for your emergency whether it is a plumbing expert, medical doctor, car expert or anyone else.

In houses things to remember inside and outside: Have a checklist and walk around your house and check:

– New battery in smoke/fire detector.

-Changing filters once a month or if using a 3 month filter every three months- date them.

-Know where your water cut off valves to the house are.

-Check pipes under the sink regularly to make sure they do not leak.

-Does your thermostat need new batteries?

– Check the caulking around your bathrooms around tubs, showers, sinks to see if they are developing holes and need to be caulked.

– Check around windows inside and outside to see if it is time to replace the caulk.

– After rain and storms check your roof by looking at your ceilings and outside to see if shingles, gable screens are missing or on the ground. Is siding still on your house?

For over twenty years my husband and I have had the same company clean our gutters, downspouts, check and repair gable vents, and cleaning and checking the chimney. We have built over the years a trusting relationship. When we were looking for a new pest control company we immediately called them for a recommendation. We have built many relationships in this manner over the years.

Building strong relationships with contractors, mechanics, and others. Personal recommendations are extremely important to have your own circle of experts. Choose your friends, handyman, plumber, electrician, roofer, heating and AC specialist, doctors, trauma surgeon, lawyers, and other experts wisely! Plan for things to happen. They will when you least expect it!

Connecting with others and building strong relationships is all about helping others, finding common ground with them, and building a trusting relationship with the other person.

“To be trusted is a greater compliment than being loved.” said George MacDonald, the Scottish Novelist.

Jeffrey Gitomer, King of sales says, you want to do business with a “Trusted Adviser”. Someone you trust and like!

Dr. John C. Maxwell, the number 1 leadership guru in the world, one of my mentors, and coaches says, there are three questions you can ask yourself.

1) “Can I trust you?

2) “Do you care for me?”

3) “Can you help me?”

Character and trust are the glue that holds a good relationship together!

In cars things to remember:

– New battery in car every 2 to 3 years.

– New windshield wipers every year.

-In your car and in your house have an emergency kit.

-Walk around your car and check your tires.

– See if anything is leaking under your car.

– Know how to check your fluid levels

It’s the little things that make a big difference between a small job and a big one.

Broken down car:

A few years back, my husband and I were driving our used red Duster in New York City where we lived and worked. The car suddenly stopped on a busy highway. We put our emergency blinkers on and tried to push the car to the side of the highway! It was a long miserable day! Imagine if it had been snowing too!

What should you do?

1)  Be prepared. Have your emergency kits and lists to check on things regularly. Have your experts list updated regularly! Have your cell phone charged and keep a charger in the car.

2)    Connect with others. Build strong meaningful relationships with others. Speak regularly to them and have an updated list of experts to help you.

3)    Take a leisurely walk inside and outside your house to see if everything is in order or needs a little help. Walk around your car, check your tires, wind shield wipers, battery…!

4)    When traveling with children and other family members have your emergency kit with you and copies of all passports if traveling overseas.

What strategies do you use to be prepared for your emergencies?

© 2021 Madeline Frank

If you need a virtual speaker contact Madeline at: [email protected]


 “Love Baroque Music? It Can Also Help Improve Concentration and Learning” (Dec. 9, 2020) by Greta Bradman

A study was done by Dr. Mohiuddin. “He had all the radiologists at his hospital take part. For a number of weeks they listened to the music of Vivaldi and Handel through headphones while they worked. The productivity of the radiologists improved. The amount of radiology slides they got through in the reading room increased. They reported greater accuracy in their work and their work satisfaction also went up. But not only that. Dr. Mohiuddin had them do some tests before and after the trial and found that listening to Baroque music was associated with increasing their spatial reasoning, attentiveness and concentration. Alongside that, brain imaging research out of China led by Dr. R. Gu found that listening to Baroque music (they used music by Vivaldi) has a positive influence on learning efficiency, that is, on your ability to pay attention and remember stuff. Baroque music with certain characteristics (including a tempo of between 50 and 80 beats per minute and certain mid to lower frequencies) was particularly effective.”

“Dr. Gu believes this effectiveness is due to Baroque music stimulating alpha waves particularly well. Alpha waves are dominant when you’re really in the present moment, you feel in the here and now, capable of bringing your attention to the task at hand. To quote the researchers, “brain imaging research using electroencephalography found that Baroque music can bring about a balanced, stable, calm state of mind and improve learning efficiency.”


The Secret of Teaching Science & Math Through Music” by Madeline Frank, Ph.D. is available in book form, and newly updated as an e-book on Kindle, Nook, or iBook:


 “Musical Notes On Math” by Dr. Madeline Frank teaches your child fractions and decimals, the fun easy way, through the rhythm of music, Winner of the Parent To Parent Adding Wisdom Award is available in book form, newly updated as an e-book on Kindle, Nook, or iBook.:


 Madeline’s Midnight Melodies- Music From around the World”. This CD complements her books with a blend of dance music, gigues, tangos, ballet and favorites including “Danny Boy”, Puccini’s “O Mio Babbino Caro”, Debussy’s “Claire De Lune” and others. “Madeline’s Midnight Melodies” is music to relax by and to move by for music therapy.  “Madeline’s Midnight Melodies” CD is now available for purchase by downloading a song, downloading the album, or by CD by clicking below:

Download Your Copy Today!  Amazon | iTunes |

Dr. Madeline Frank’s book “Leadership on a Shoestring Budget” is available through amazon. To order your copy  as an e-book on Kindle click on the following link:


Wishing you and your family a Happy Saint Patrick’s Day from your Non-Invasive Medicine…Music Expert, Madeline

For over 30 years, Dr. Madeline Frank has helped children and adults overcome problems through Classical music. Madeline Frank, Ph.D., DTM is an award-winning teacher, author, researcher, speaker, conductor, and concert artist. She has discovered a scientific link between studying a musical instruments and academic and societal success. Madeline Frank earned her Bachelor and Master’s degree from the Juilliard School of Music. Her education has included scholarships at the Juilliard School, Indiana University, and the University of Cincinnati and she has a violin performance diploma from the North Carolina School of the Arts. (C) 2021 Madeline Frank