Monday, December 28, 2009

December 28 "Don’t be dismayed at good-byes. A farewell is necessary before we can meet again..."


...AND SO, OLD FRIEND, FAREWELL ~ December 28, 2009

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

December 22 - "I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year." - Ebeneezer Scrooge

I found this excellent 1972 animated version of the Charles Dickens classic. Since we watched the George C. Scott version, I thought this animated one might also interest you. It's about 25 minutes long. Enjoy!


Stay tuned for another video I am preparing. Your children read their illustrated books to the Kindergarten and first grade. It was magical!

Have a wonderful safe holiday.

Friday, December 18, 2009

December 18 "These are the days we'll remember." ~ 10,000 Maniacs

My new granddaughter, Amelia--born December 17th. Isn't she lovely?
After working out a few kinks, I finished compiling the pictures I took at the Craft Extravaganza and made another "movie"; I hope you enjoy it. I hope, too, that you enjoy this last weekend before Christmas with family and friends. Stay warm.


Thursday, December 17, 2009

December 17 "Christmas, children, is not a date. It is a state of mind."

Today's Craft Extravaganza was a complete success thanks to the planning and hard work of our beloved parent volunteers; as always, they made it all seem so effortless. Thank you, parents, for your tireless dedication to our students! I took lots of pictures to commemorate the auspicious occasion and subsequently brought my camera home to download/post... Unfortunately I forgot the USB thingy at school, so I'll have to do it tomorrow... Sorry!

On a personal note: My son and his wife welcomed their second child, Amelia Claire, into the world this evening. 7 lbs 12 oz. and 19 inches long... Life just keeps getting better and better!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

December 16 "A Christmas candle is a lovely thing; It makes no noise at all, But softly gives itself away." ~Eva Logue

Today was the perfect day to listen to holiday music, drink hot cocoa, relax with a seasonal read-aloud, laugh a lot, and enjoy the creative aspect of our latest writing endeavor. We are winding down now with our Christmas/Holiday stories. Second, third, and sometimes fourth drafts have been conferenced and tweaked. Students have learned that the process of writing includes multiple layers of revision--new ideas often replacing old ones as the stories take on a life of their own. Editing has been necessarily slow and methodical as every story line, character, word choice, and punctuation mark has been discussed. Beyond the writing, students have immersed themselves in creating the perfect illustrations to accompany each page. Lots of work, huh?

I'm still holding Friday as the date for book completion. It may be that some will need to have until Monday, but I can't guarantee that students will be able to take the books home for Christmas if that happens. I hope to post a few stories on the blog for you all to enjoy. (First, Mr. Wright has to teach me how to do that... sigh.) Next week, we will share our stories with the Kindergarten and first grade. (I must say, that is my favorite part; I'll take pictures and post them here for you.)

It was good to see many of you at last night's concert. It's hard to believe that Christmas is little more than a week away!

Take care,


Monday, December 14, 2009

December 15 "Like snowflakes, my holiday memories gather and dance - each beautiful, unique and too soon gone."


See the pretty snowflakes
Falling from the sky;
On the walk and housetops
Soft and thick they lie.

On the window-ledges
On the branches bare;
Now how fast they gather,
Filling all the air.

Look into the garden,
Where the grass was green;
Covered by the snowflakes,
Not a blade is seen.

Now the bare black bushes
All look soft and white.
Every twig is laden-
What a pretty sight!


I hope to see you all at the concert tonight!

December 14 "Christmas, children, is not a date. It is a state of mind." ~Mary Ellen Chase

'Tis the season.... My house smells like balsam and cookies, and wrapping paper covers the dining room table. Aside from getting presents ready to mail far and wide, I'm up to my eyeballs in editing Christmas stories. A warm fire and illuminated Christmas tree, however, create an ambiance that makes any task pleasurable, and I'm always anxious get home so that I can curl up and read. I love the child-like creativity in each of the stories, and, although they require significant editing and much one-on-one time, they're coming along beautifully. The lessons are many:

  • Writing to a specific audience
  • Writing a fictional narrative, with a beginning, a middle, an end, and a problem to resolve
  • Writing effective dialogue
  • Designing a book layout
  • Illustrating a picture book
  • Creating a "presentation quality" final product
  • Reading our stories to the littlest members of our school community

The targeted due date for completion is Friday, so those who have progressed slowly on their stories need to get moving. That being said, it's going to be a crazy week anyway, so we will make the best use of any available class time with me to get them done. There will be no Spelling/Grammar/Vocabulary packets this week. Social Studies will take a back seat, too, I'm afraid, since schedules will be interrupted.

Besides, it's not a bad thing to slow down a bit and enjoy a good book...

I hope you all have a warm and restful evening.


P.S. Before you go, check out the post directly below this one. It's pretty amazing!

Just a drop of water...

Some things are just too cool not to share...

If you want to make this "full screen", go to the bottom right and click on the rectangle just to the right of the volume icon. To get back to the blog, just hit escape.

Monday, December 7, 2009

December 7 ""Like snowflakes, my Christmas memories gather and dance - each beautiful, unique and too soon gone." ~ Deborah Whipp

Happy Monday! Christmas stories are coming along, though some students are deliberating a little longer than I'd like on those drafts. In the last couple of classes, fifth and sixth graders have reviewed the art and skill of writing dialogue.

Every piece of dialogue should be there to add to the character/s. Done right, dialogue reflects the speech of 'real' people. It invites the reader in and reveals something to them. It moves the plot along and brings the reader into the emotion of the scene. Dialogue should never be included just to make conversation.

As part of this lesson, we reviewed dialogue tags (he muttered, she whispered, Mr. Wilson gasped, etc.). Readers expect to see tags; they are nearly invisible and don't distract from the action. Mosst importantly they reveal how the words are said. (Contrary to popular belief, the words 'said' and 'asked' are not taboo; they simply should not be overused.)

Please remind your child that these [multiple] drafts are due on Friday. If they require more time, your child may not have the opportunity to create/illustrate their book.

Here's an example of a children's story for you to enjoy:

Be well: I'll talk to you soon.


Friday, December 4, 2009

December 4 - Native American Podcasts

Humankind has not woven the web of life.
We are but one thread within it.
Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves.
All things are bound together.
All things connect.

Chief Seattle, 1854

Welcome to our first podcasts. Throughout the year we will create others, and with each one we will increase our skill at modulating/synchronizing voices and music.


Thursday, December 3, 2009

December 3 "Imagination is just intelligence having fun."

Most importantly, let that inner fire build and glow brightly!
As we move into December, we find ourselves busier than ever. By now your children have undoubtedly run storylines by you for their Christmas/Winter children's picture books. In the classroom, we're sharing analyzing, and enjoying stories from our own childhood--looking at those qualities that make the writing memorable--things like mood/tone, point of view, audience, dialogue, characterization, plot, conflict, foreshadowing, symbolism, imagery, figurative language.... As we begin, some of us are imitating the style of classics, some are writing in verse, and all of us are animated and excited about the project. Please please please support this creative energy; ask your children to talk about their ideas; ask them to read their drafts; offer encouragement--they really want to write something memorable. (Equally, help me to help them stay on track. As I mentioned earlier, we're really devoted to moving them toward increased accountability to deadlines, and commitment to best effort.)
In Social Studies, we've started our exploration of exploration. Before the holiday break we'll gain a greater understanding of just what it took to be an explorer. We'll also engage in a variety of fun and educational activities--like creating our own Astrolabe. After we return in January, we'll conclude with a project. Stay tuned for details.
Writing/Language Arts--Continue developing your story. (Next, we're going to learn where and how to include dialogue).
Social Sudies: Grade five did an latitude/longitude activity today. Tomorrow the sixth grade will
complete it.
Spelling/Vocabulary/Grammar: finish up packets. Unit 10 spelling test tomorrow.

That's it for tonight.... Stay warm.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

December 1 "Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience." ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

December in Stowe, Vermont
To lovers of the wild, these mountains are not a hundred miles away. Their spiritual power and the goodness of the sky make them near, as a circle of friends. ... John Muir
A good day; we move into this glorious month with optimisn, humor, and a sense of promise. As I said yesterday, December provides a plethora of opportunities for creative pursuits. With lots of little actvities thrown in to keep everyone active and engaged, we'll begin writing with greater depth and purpose.
The first challenge will be to create a children's picture book, which isn't as easy at it might appear. I requires a vivid imagination, creativity, and perspective. Just because the book (like the child for which it is intended) is short, it doesn't mean the story will be easy to write--quite the contrary. Unlike novels that have lots of time to develop characters and plot, a children's book only gives the writer a few pages (about 28 actual pages, and half of them are pictures) to do so. A writer's goal is to inform, to entertain, to enchant, and to encourage a love of reading. It involves choosing both the right words for the right places, and the right characters doing the right things at just the right times.
Tonight's assignment is to come up with an idea--a story line. Something that has a beginning, a middle, and an end. Students will then work to find that delicate balance beween words and pictures. They'll need to explore literary devices like rhyme, rhythm and repetition, which small children enjoy. They'll be challenged to "show" not "tell" their story. Whew!
On another note, we've begun our next unit in Social Studies--The Age of Exploration. The fifth grade spent classtime interviewing each other and reporting out on a list of perceptions/misperceptions about early explorers. It was lots of fun-and very educational (which was, of course, my intent). There was no assignment. The sixth grade will do this tomorrow.
For grade six: Spelling, Grammar, and Vocabulary lessons for Day 2 were also assigned.
Thanks to those of you who are checking your child's work and going over Spelling words for Friday's tests. I'm noticing marked improvement with many. There are others, however, who continue to not turn work in. Just so you know, Mrs. DaBica and I are implementing a tougher policy for completing work in a timely fashion. It serves no purpose to continually allow extentions (which, incidently, creates a grading nightmare!). I could really use your support on this push toward greater accountability and independence...
It's late.... Time to put another log on the fire and call it a night. Thanks for stopping by, everybody. I'll talk to you tomorrow.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Nov. 30 "Live in each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influences of each." ~Thoreau

"The stripped and shapely
Maple grieves
The ghosts of her
Departed leaves.
The ground is hard,
As hard as stone.
The year is old,
The birds are flown.
And yet the world,
In its distress,
Displays a certain
~John Updike, A Child's Calendar

The last day of November--a time of endings and of beginnings.

The first report card -- that official documentation of academic progress --goes home this Friday. For some, it is accompanied by increased levels of stress and uncertainty. Standards-based assessments and continually changing curricula are confusing enough for us as adults. Your children are facing lots of unknowns, too. More sophisticated technology-based learning tasks, more precise requirements for "presentation quality" performance products, deadlines, increased (multiple) expectations...

May I offer some advice?

How to Talk to Kids About Their Report Card

  1. Plan an uninterrupted time to sit down together and go over report cards. Don't discuss them in line at the supermarket.
  2. No matter what, don't get upset; speak calmly and supportively. Remember that real learning often comes from the mistakes we make.
  3. Remember, too, that report cards are designed to measure educational performance and progress, but they are only a snapshot, and as such they tell only part of the story. After all, how can you measure a child's learning potential?
  4. Listen to your children and encourage them to discuss their performance -- the good, the bad, and the ugly. Recognize that they occasionally struggle as we all do. School's tough sometimes.
  5. Start with the positive. Praise your children's accomplishments, but also remember to praise improvements, however small they may be. Encourage their commitment to work hard on areas of concern, and offer your support.
  6. Celebrate successes, but remember that children want to do well in school even when they fall short. Reassure them that poor grades don't make them bad/stupid/a failure.
  7. Talk openly about those grades. Remind your children about the importance of good work habits, attitude, and effort. Poor grades may not be a reflection of ability, but rather a lack of sufficient effort. If that is the case, develop a plan for improvement.
  8. Use the report card as a catalyst for change, not as a reason for punishment. Set realistic incremental goals. Reasonable goals are achievable goals.
  9. End your discussion with a plan. Be optimistic; learning is an amazing journey. There's plenty of time to make the changes necessary for success.

Today we began pre-holiday preparations--a yearly tradition in my classroom. (Lock up your computer paper, I taught your children how to make beautiful intricate snowflakes.) Tomorrow, in another brief lesson, I'll show them how to make a perfect five-pointed star out of paper--requiring only four folds and one cut. Really.

I love the holiday season; it's fertile ground for creative projects! Stay tuned....

Today's assignments:

Spelling, Grammar, and Vocabulary: Day One assignments

Language Arts: Direction-following activity (...snowflakes). For tomorrow, bring in a favorite Christmas/Holiday picture book.

Social Studies: Postponed. (We'll make it up on Friday.)

Science: No class today, although some kids have not finished work for Mrs. DaBica. Ask your child if they know anything about that...

Reading: ALWAYS read for at least 30 minutes a day.

Enjoy your evening, everyone. Stay warm.


Saturday, November 21, 2009

November 25 "If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, "thank you," that would suffice." ~Meister Eckhart

The year has turned its circle,
The seasons come and go.
The harvest all is gathered in
And chilly north winds blow.
Orchards have shared their treasures,
The fields, their yellow grain,
So open wide the doorway ---
Thanksgiving comes again!
~Old Rhyme.
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

November 21 "... everything on the earth has a purpose, every disease an herb to cure it, and every person a mission."

Welcome, everyone. As the first trimester draws to a close, we have the opportunity to reflect on our many projects and tasks. So much learning, so much yet to learn...

In Social Studies, we presented our American Indian projects; the experience was truly extraordinary. Students learned together as they gathered information, and all of them grew in their knowledge of and appreciation for the culture and beliefs of the American Indian. Despite their varied habitats and ways of life, all Indians shared one common connection--their reverence for the Earth, their mother.

"The Great Spirit is in all things, he is in the air we breathe. The Great Spirit is our Father, but the Earth is our Mother. She nourishes us, that which we put into the ground she returns to us...."
~Big Thunder (Bedagi), Wabanaki Algonquin

In the next couple of days, we'll polish reports and have them available for you to peruse on our bulletin board. Please stop by. Also, podcasts are almost done and will be posted soon.

In the meantime, in case you didn't get a chance to view them at our Thanksgiving Feast, may I present to you our projects.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Champlain Bridge

It's more than just saying good-bye to an old friend. For eighty years, the Champlain Bridge, connecting West Addison with Crown Point, New York, has been a critical link for families , farms, and businesses on both sides of Lake Champlain. Also known locally as the Chimney Point Bridge, this enduring landmark has contributed significantly to our way of life since it opened to traffic on August 26, 1929 . Now, after eight decades of wind and weather, it has been deemed structurally fragile, critically unsafe, and vulnerable to sudden collapse. Beyond any hope of rehabilitation, it must be demolished and rebuilt.

For those whose livelihoods have been so intrinsically linked to this half-mile span of steel and concrete, the Champlain Bridge’s abrupt closing on October 16th has been nothing short of catastrophic. What lies ahead? The Ticonderoga and Charlotte-Essex Ferries (see map) have been working overtime to accommodate the increase in commuters, and there is a plan to include a year-round ferry at Chimney Point. As for replacing the bridge, according to VPR News a report prepared for the New York Department of Transportation states that replacing the Champlain Bridge will take about 22 months and cost $67 million.

Meanwhile, in a time of no easy answers, the proverbial adage “you can’t get there from here” leaves no one smiling.

Native American Podcasts

Josh : Blackfoot Tribe

Friday, November 13, 2009

November 13 - "I hear, and I forget. I see, and I remember. I do, and I understand." -- Chinese Proverb

Thank you, parents, for the care you give to your children, for the pride you take in their efforts, for allowing us the privilege of working with you to nurture your child's innate desire to learn. Thank you also for making the time to meet with us today. Addison is such a special place.

Author Unknown

"Whose child is this?" I asked one day
Seeing a little one out at play
"Mine", said the parent with a tender smile
"Mine to keep a little while
To bathe his hands and comb his hair
To tell him what he is to wear
To prepare him that he may always be good
And each day do the things he should"

"Whose child is this?" I asked again
As the door opened and someone came in
"Mine", said the teacher with the same tender smile
"Mine, to keep just for a little while
To teach him how to be gentle and kind
To train and direct his dear little mind
To help him live by every rule
And get the best he can from school"

"Whose child is this?" I ask once more
Just as the little one entered the door
"Ours" said the parent and the teacher as they smiled
And each took the hand of the little child
"Ours to love and train together
Ours this blessed task forever."

Thursday, November 12, 2009

November 12 "Past experience should be a guide post, not a hitching post."

Alison and I are looking forward to meeting with you tomorrow and Wednesday. We'll have conferences in my room since the tables will provide more comfortable seating. Please accept our apologies in advance for the limited time we can offer--fifteen minutes isn't much, but it will give us a chance to begin the conversation.

It's important to remember that your child faces many demands at school: sitting quietly for extended periods of time, listening to and following directions, making mistakes and receiving (constructive) feedback, working independently, meeting expectations and deadlines, getting along with others, waiting patiently for help, being organized, adjusting to rules and consequences, controlling behaviors, dealing with rejection....

Without a doubt, schools are learning places, but children learn far more than how to read and write. They learn to pick themselves up when they fall. They learn that the challenges they face in school will provide them with many of the skills and "habits of mind" they'll need to be successful in life. They learn that learning never stops.

Like families, teachers create a safe, caring environment to help each child deal with these demands. We observe academic strengths and challenges, but also social and emotional ones.
Although the child is ultimately in control of his/her learning, we work in partnership with all of you to provide them with the experiences, opportunities, and support they require to be successful.

And so we begin.


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

VETERANS DAY--November 11, 2009

The price of greatness is responsibility.
— Winston Churchill

Friday, November 6, 2009

Yesterday we had such a wonderful day. We spent an interesting and productive morning looking at rocks, minerals, and fossils at the Fleming Museun. Then, after an early lunch, we arrived at the Flynn Theater where we enjoyed a breathtaking, often humorous performance by the dance company, MOMIX. These spectacular dancer-illusionists created "otherworldly imagery" through the use of lights, shadows, enchanting music, and unbelieveable acrobatics/contemporary dance. Vermont native Moses Pendleton started MOMIX 25 years ago, and this internationally renowned dance company has now performed on every continent except Antarctica. The spectacular optical illusions and theatrics literally took our collective breath away.Check out the following video for a sample of some of the amazing things we saw.

Your children were wonderful, by the way. Addison kids are always a joy to take on field trips.

Thanks, everybody-

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

November 4 "The art of teaching is the art of assisting discovery." Mark Van Doren

Don't forget our field trip tomorrow; we'll be leaving at 8:00 sharp. Everyone will need a lunch, a drink in a plastic bottle, and a snack for the bus. Please, please, please have your child stay home if they're not feeling well; there's nothing worse than long bus rides or extended periods of time in museums or theaters when you feel crummy.

I'll send home another reminder about conferences if you need one. Let me know. I didn't want to post names and times here.

Also please be looking for a letter from me regarding permission to post your child's special writing, podcasts, class videos, or candid photographs on the blog. I'm really anxious to turn "Cave Connections" over to the students a little more and share some of the great things they're doing. They're excited about seeing their work "published", and I think it will become an added incentive to do well.

Blogs or websites that include photo galleries, videos, and pod casts are commonly done in schools/classrooms these days--it's a great way for families and loved ones to share in their children’s educational experience. THIS is the reason I took a technology course last summer! Anyway, before I can showcase your child's work, I'll need you to sign and return the permission slip that's included with the letter.

It's really time to conclude the American Indian projects. Students should have their dioramas/visual displays done or nearly done, and the writing piece should be in its final stages. Mr. Wright will work with everyone on Friday to record their pod casts; we'll present our information to one another next week. Ask to see your child's work. Look at their checklist to see if they've followed the guidelines.

Those little Spelling/Vocabulary/Grammar packets should be done through Day 3. Tomorrow, even though we don't have school, they will need to keep up by doing Day 4 (We went over information today). These assignments are REALLY short; many of them are done already. Please help them review their words for Friday's tests.

Sixth grade completed a sensory poem today incorporating all the senses we've been writing about. They're reallly good! We'll do a final writing assessment on Friday. Grade five worked on the sense of "touch" today. They'll do the poem on Friday and the assessment on Monday.

It's time to sign off for now. Take care, everybody.


Tuesday, November 3, 2009

November 3 "Cultivation of the mind is as necessary as food to the body." Cicero

Two students came back today, but two more stayed home. My goodness, flu season is upon us all.
With so many students out, it's hard start something new... We completed day two of our Spelling, Vocabulary, and Grammar packets (Unit 7) today. In Writing class, many of us needed to redo or finish various "Sensory Writing" pieces. Lesson learned: it doesn't pay to hurry through assignments... Please help me check for job quality/completion.
Because not all teachers were here today to teach Literacy (grades 3 & 4 were on a field trip), we worked on our American Indian projects or silent read during that time. It's always nice to have a little extended time together to get things done. (As for Math and Science, always feel free to check Alison's website.)
I gave Grade 5 an extended Social Studies class to work on their American Indian projects. If you have a few minutes to spare, please feel free to help me help them organize their information. It's hard for them to pull what they need from books or internet resources. There isn't enough of me to give them all the time they require. Obviously we'll need to spend much more time on this throughout the year.
Don't forget that grades 5 & 6 will be gone all day on Thursday, November 5. Everyone will need to bring a bag lunch. Also, healthy snacks and juice or water in plastic bottles are fine for the bus ride. Cautionary note: If your child isn't feeling 100%, please consider keeping them home for the day; it would be horrible to get sick on the bus or in the theater.
Stay well, everyone. I'll be in touch tomorrow.
(Just so you know, I TRIED to space between paragraphs, but to no avail. Sorry...)

Monday, November 2, 2009

November 2 -- "If I had my way I'd make health catching instead of disease." ~Robert Ingersoll

Well, two students were absent this morning, and by 9:00 or so, three more went home. Sounds like we have a tissue issue, here... I hope a couple of restful days at home will have everyone feeling better.

By now the kids should be winding down on their American Indian projects. I am reminding everyone of "presentation quality"--making sure that not only the content is accurate, but the overall appearance is visually appealing and draws the reader in. Several projects have come in already, and they are fantastic! Thank you, thank you, thank you parents for supporting your child at home; they're so proud of their accomplishments. Remember, reports should be in first person (and present tense since "you" are talking about yourself and your tribe). Mr. Wright will begin working on podcasts when students are ready.

This morning, students created a recording sheet for their spelling/vocabulary grades. We went over (again) the reasons why some people were under-performing (not following directions, hurrying through, not completing everything before turning in...) and they were able to calculate the effects of those practices. A significant eye-opener, and a valuable life-lesson learned.

The fifth grade didn't have Social Studies (although they should be plugging away on their American Indian information). In Language Arts, they started a packet (I just staple the week's work together to make it easier to keep track of) on capitalization. They completed pages 8 & 9 in that packet. Also, they completed(or need to complete by tomorrow) the Sensory Writing: Taste and Smell packet by writing a paragraph about a special memory related to a smell. I'm looking for details, details, details. The year's focus is ELABORATION.

Time for me to head home, I guess. Try to stay well...

Friday, October 30, 2009

October 30 "Backward, turn backward, O Time, in your flight make me a child again just for to-night!" ~Elizabeth Akers Allen


It's Halloween! It's Halloween!
The moon is full and bright
And we shall see what can't be seen
On any other night.

Skeletons and ghosts and ghouls,
Grinning goblins fighting duels,
Werewolves rising from their tombs,
Witches on their magic brooms.

In masks and gowns we haunt the street
And knock on doors for trick or treat.
Tonight we are the king and queen,
For tonight it's Halloween!

Jack Prelutsky

Be safe, everybody! And don't forget to set your clocks back before you go to bed on Saturday night....


Wednesday, October 28, 2009

October 28 - "“Not everything that counts can be measured, and not everything that can be measured, counts.” ~Albert Einstein

By now you are probably aware that Iwas not in school today. I have spent the day pumping Vitamin C in hopes of warding off a cold. I'm feeling no worse, perhaps a little better, so I'll be in tomorrow. So many of us have not been feeling well... I disinfect the tables every night when the kids leave, and pour boiling water over the water fountain in our classroom a couple of times each day to keep it as germ-free as I can. I encourage everyone to wash their hands often and use that gooey antibacterial stuff after using computers or going to the bathroom. We'll continue taking good care of each other.

Today was a continuation of yesterday's work. My class had Social Studies today and worked on their American Indian information. In Language Arts, they completed (or brought home to finish) a sensory writing assignment about the sense of touch. They also worked on DOL, Spelling, and Vocabulary.

Grade 5 finished up their illustrated poetry, "Want To Know What Scares Me Most?" and today's DOL.

I hope your child had a good day; I hate being away from those guys!

Sorry this is so late tonight. Stay well, everybody-

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

October 27 "They may forget what you said but they will never forget how you made them feel." -- Anonymous

You just wait; this is going to be US soon!

Another busy day! Your child should have in their possession October's book project. (How do you like that?? I just learned how to transfer a document to "Google Docs". Well, well...) Because I did not get it to them yesterday as I had planned, they can have until Monday to complete it. These guys are creative and like to incorporate art into their learning, so hopefully it'll be fun AND meaningful.

Today is Tuesday, so 6th graders had Science instead of Social Studies. Still, I hope they're plugging away on their American Indian information. I gave a completion date of Thursday, November 5th, but since we're going to be gone that day, we'll move it to the 6th.

We worked on Spelling, Vocabulary, DOL, and Grammar today, with enough time left over (hopefully) to finish the "Scares Me Most" poems. I didn't collect their Sensory Writing packet, but will do so tomorrow.

For grade 5--We're also doing "Want to Know What Scares Me Most?" poems. They're fun! These poems are couplets and have a decided rhythm to them, so those used to free verse are having to think a little about the words they choose. In Social Studies, they began their American Indian project--a bit scaled down--and will probably be asking for your guidance, too. Class time will be provided to find and write their information, although many will probably need some additional home time to complete it. Check over their packets; they outline the expectations.

That's about it for now. I hope you have a good evening. As I tell the kids, don't forget to eat your vegetables and get to bed early.


Wednesday, October 21, 2009

October 21- "Don't set your wit against a child." -- Jonathan Swift

It's supposed to rain on Saturday. I kind of like those "stay inside" days, warm by the fire....

Well everybody, assessments in their many forms have been completed at long last, and we can finally settle into a comfortable, predictable routine. Beginning on Monday, October 26, grades 5 and 6 will have Science and Social Studies twice a week for 70 minutes instead of daily for 30 minutes. On Mondays and Wednesdays from 10:15-11:25, Grade 6 will have Social Studies. On Tuesdays and Thursdays at that time, they will have Science. (Allowances will be made for snow days or holidays.) This will eliminate the choppiness of frequent transitions and shorter lessons, and provide the necessary time to work on projects and labs. Also, Reading groups start on Monday from 12:30 to 1:05. Math resumes in all its glory, too, from 1:45 to 2:45. Of course, Writing remains in the 9:10-10:10 time slot.

Hopefully your child brought home their American Indian information to continue working on this weekend. We went over a variety of strategies for taking notes and documenting sources. Next week, we'll put the written part of our project together ("Presentation Quality"). We'll also create live podcasts to post on the blog. These podcasts will be a brief (1-2 minute) summary of our information, complete with music and other special effects. What an excellent way to build fluency and technology savy, and make the blog more exciting to boot! Part of the project involves creating a replica/diorama of a shelter (
tipi, wigwam, longhouse, etc) used by each tribe set in the appropriate habitat for that tribe. I'm hearing wonderful stories about what some families are working on together. Other ideas to make the project more fun (food, clothing???) are in the information packet. I'd like to have everything done and ready to present on November 5th.

On Monday, October 26th, I'll give an independent book project for everyone's second book of the month; it'll be due on Friday. Ask your child how many books they've read so far this year--pretty amazing!

Well, it's time to go home. I hope you'll all have the opportunity to unwind and enjoy a little peace and quiet this weekend.

Talk to you later-

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

October 20 "Learn not only to find what you like, learn to like what you find." Anthony J. D'Angelo

Whew! What happened to Monday?? This week our 6th grade continues to be self-contained as the 5th grade finishes up NECAPS and PPPs. It's OK; we have lots of things to do.

Hopefully your child has shared with you their American Indian project, which is due on Thursday, November 5. Before NECAPS I gave each of them a detailed description of the information they'd need as well as a Check-Off Sheet (to keep them on track) and a Rubric (identical to the Check-Off Sheet). Everyone already chose an American Indian tribe to research, and I've given them lots of class time, so by now they should have much of the work done. Please ask to see their information packet; together we can keep them on track. (Part of their assignment is to create a replica of the type of house --in a realistic habitat--used by their tribe)

This week is so short, we're not doing DOL or Spelling/Vocabulary. We ARE doing Grammar, though. We finished it today, so hopefully everyone put theirs in the assignment drawer. We also illustrated a found poem and started our own thematic poem for October--kind of fun--titled "Want to know what scares me most?" We'll work on these again tomorrow.

For such a short week, things sure are humming around here!

Be well,

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

October 14 "What is important is to keep learning, to enjoy challenge, and to tolerate ambiguity. In the end there are no certain answers."

Day 2 of Math NECAPS... and your kids are hard at work. You can be proud of their efforts; to remain silent and unmoving for so long is an accomplishment in itself! One more day!!

Just so you know, this week we are working on Spelling and Vocabulary (weekly packet--it's all being done here). We're also doing a story map of our first book of the month (remember, we're responsible for 2 books per month). I started a great read-aloud; it's a ghost story titled Wait Till Helen Comes. We're doing some Chippewa/Ojibwa "picture writing" stories (American Indians had no written language, but they drew pictures to convey important information). We're also creating silhouette collages--VERY cool!
Basically, we're keeping busy and having fun.

Your kids are wonderful, just so you know...


Friday, October 9, 2009

October 9 While we try to teach our children all about life, our children teach us what life is all about. Angela Schwindt

ENOUGH SAID! (NECAPS resume on Monday.) Have a restful weekend everybody...

Thursday, October 8, 2009

October 8 -- Every student can learn, just not on the same day, or the same way.-- George Evans

Hi everybody. This is a late blog; I just got home from class. I just wanted to remind you that it's NECAP time! Just in case you need another schedule, I've included it here:

Thursday, October 8 --
8:20 – 9:50 (Reading #1)
Friday, October 9 --
8:20 – 9:50 (Reading #2)

Monday, October 12 --
8:20 – 9:50 (Reading #3)
Tuesday, October 13 --
8:20 – 9:50 (Math #1)
Wednesday, October 14 --
8:20 – 9:50 (Math #2)
Thursday, October 15 --
8:20 – 9:50 (Math #3)

Hopefully, any appointments your child may have during this time can be rescheduled. I'm sure you're already aware of the importance of getting sufficient sleep before testing, and eating a good breakfast each morning... Feel free to send in additional (healthy) snacks to be eaten during or after tests. I will also allow sugar-free gum at this time. (May I suggest peppermint? Studies show it helps keep you alert. No bubble gum, please.)

Just a reminder--there will be no major assignments given during testing.

Oh, one more thing: We just finished reading Freak the Mighty in class. It was a powerful story about friendship, acceptance, and overcoming physical and emotional hardship. The class loved the book--ask them to tell you about it. It was made into a movie that the everyone would like to see, but because it is PG13, I can't show it without written permission from you. Please let me know--or call me for more details. Thanks.

Time to close; it's getting late. Goodnight everybody.


Tuesday, October 6, 2009

October 6 "I have never met a man so ignorant that I couldn't learn something from him." Galileo Galilei

That reminds me--we start NECAPS on Thursday. Please please make sure your child gets a good night's rest and a healthy breakfast (not that Chocolate Frosted Sugar Bombs don't have a certain allure...). If you misplaced the schedule, let me know and I'll send another one home. Also, if you get a chance, check out these two sites. The first one is called "Brain Food for Kids". The second is an article from Prevention that lists "11 edibles that boost brain function, enhance memory, and improve concentration".

We're trying not to get too carried away with homework this week, so if anyone noticed an "American Indian Project" packet stuffed into a backpack, you heard it from me that we're not going crazy on these yet. Choosing a topic and beginning to gather information is as much as I want anyone to do at this point. Presently, we're watching some interesting videos in class and taking notes about Indians from different regions of North America. (For some, note-taking is still challenging, but we're working on it!)

Here's a rundown of today's lessons for Grade 6:

DOL, Grammar, Spelling, and Vocabulary--Day 2

Reading: Literary Elements, 2-page handout to complete on Setting, Plot, or Character (to go with short booklet of stories and poems.

For both groups:

Social Studies:
We finished watching a short video on the Woodland Indians. Students were required to take notes, which will either be typed or handwritten in complete sentences. When we have finished watching the video series, we will use our notes to create a visual display.

: We have finished (or need to finish for tomorrow) a short sensory paragraph. Our task is to describe something focusing on the sense of SIGHT. Really LOOKING at something takes some effort! We're sharing our writing, and I must say, their work is pretty darn good. You'll see.

Well, time to go home and figure out what we're having for dinner. I hope you all have a good evening. I'll check in tomorrow.


Friday, October 2, 2009

10-2-09 People love chopping wood. In this activity one immediately sees results. ~Albert Einstein

Guess what I'm doing this weekend?? The wood guy left three cords of wood in my driveway and I'm thinking it looks like a hundred. We've started stacking some of it already, but the pile still looms large. (I think it might have something to do with approaching the task at the end of a long day.) Still, I keep thinking about the prospect of curling up by the fire with a good book one day soon... Colder days are coming!

Today the fifth grade was gone on a field trip to Walden; that left time for us to enjoy our latest "read-aloud" and finish up a lot of projects. It was a good day. Fifth graders need to turn in their sensory piece on Monday-by virtue of their field trip today, they have a little extra time to tweak it and make it amazing!

I hope you find a little time for yourselves this weekend. If you get bored, I live in Charlotte and I have this huge pile of wood to get in... Just kidding...

Take care everyone-

Thursday, October 1, 2009

While we try to teach our children all about life, our children teach us what life is all about. Angela Schwindt

This will be a quick one since I have class on Thursdays...

Reading: Always always always read at least 20 minutes a night. Two books per month are required.

Language Arts: DOL and Grammar packets for this week are due tomorrow. We've begun working on sensory writing this week. The assessment paragraph for "SOUND" is due tomorrow also. (What I've read so far is pretty darn good! Check out what your child is writing!)

Spelling: Test tomorrow. Also, spelling/vocabulary packets are due.

Social Studies: Those wampum belts are taking a long time to complete. Really and truly, they're due tomorrow (or it's homework for the weekend...). I'm anxious to share our stories.

Science: I'm told they did rock packets--check Mrs. DaBica's web page for her assignments.

Math: NECAP prep

Sure is chilly; I hope you all stay warm tonight! I'll be in touch tomorrow.

Till then--

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Education's purpose is to replace an empty mind with an open one. Malcolm Forbes

Hi everyone-
Mr. Dick came in for me today since I'm home getting a woodstove installed and wood delivered. Back in the day I heated with wood exclusively and have really missed it; it'll be good to not rely so heavily on fossil fuels to stay warm this winter. This model sits right on the fireplace hearth. Anyway... I digress.

In Language Arts, we're continuing with our Sensory Writing: Hearing activities from yesterday. Today they needed to choose a location from a list provided or come up with one of their own, write it on their paper, then list all the sounds they might hear at that location. The assignment for today was to write several sentences/a paragraph that described the above event. This is not as easy as it “sounds” (no pun intended)—students need to carefully select descriptive sound words in their writing.

In Social Studies yesterday I introduced an activity that both classes worked on independently today. They are making “Wampum Belt” designs on a 3" to 6" strip of graph paper (landscape position). The directions were to create a pattern of symbols and designs that depicted their (family) history or somehow told their story (the idea being that pictures help us to remember better). They should have come with the designs all planned out and ready to transfer onto a final draft paper in today's class. Although the native people used shells that were purple and white, students were allowed to pick any two colors of their choice. (FYI: the Iroquois people used wampum belts to help them memorize important events or information, including the 117 sections of their constitution. They referred to these wampum belts often and used them in teaching their children. Remember, they had no written language.) If they completed their drawing, they were directed to begin the "caption” explaining their pictures. We’ll conclude tomorrow; there's no assignment for tonight. (We'll take some time to share our "stories" with our classes this week, then make them into a bulletin board--come in and see!)

My class needs to be sure that Tuesday's DOL, Grammar, Spelling, and Vocabulary (short!!) assignments are finished and ready to go over tomorrow.

That's about it for today. I hope you enjoy your evening with your families. I hope to relax in front of the fire. Ahh...

Take care-


Monday, September 28, 2009

The essence of intelligence is skill in extracting meaning from everyday experience. Unknown

Happy Monday! This is going to be a quick one since I seem to be running late...
Some days are just like that.

Assignments for Monday, September 29

English/Language Arts: Complete Day One (or Monday, depending on what it's called on the page) of DOL, Vocabulary, and Spelling. Also, complete page 2a of Verbs (part of the DOL packet). Most people should have completed this at school.

Your child should also have a Sensory Writing: Hearing worksheet. The assignment is to finish #2 & 3, which is to make a list of 10 sounds they LIKE to hear--using sensory detail (example: the sound of water gently lapping against the side of the boat when my dad and I are fishing) and 10 sounds they DON'T like to hear. (example: the cat gagging on a fur ball in the middle of the night)

Social Studies: We're designing Wampum Belt patterns--that tell the history of our family or life. Hopefully everyone (grades 5 & 6) has planned what symbols or patterns they want to include on theirs for tomorrow!

Reading, Grade 6. We're doing book projects for our second independent book for the month of September. A few folks have not done (or completed) a second book... oh-oh! (That's why they should read at least a half hour a night, and use extra class time when available.) We're doing it here, so there's no assignment--that is, unless they're still finishing that book!

I hope everyone has a pleasant evening--Take care.

Friday, September 25, 2009

The beautiful thing about learning is that no one can take it away from you. B.B. King

Well, FINALLY! Google has been down for two days (How can that be?) so my blog has been non-functioning. Sorry, everybody. Let's see if I can get you back on track.

Today, as all Fridays tend to be, was a day to tie up loose ends, go over the week's work, take our Spelling test, etc. My class should have turned in their Mission Statements. If they didn't, they're late and need to be completed asap. We'll be "antiquing" them as soon as we have them all. Those that are in will be retyped in calligraphy (one of my weekend jobs--I've got the font on my computer) and readied for the next step.

We watched an interesting short clip about the Iroquois Confederacy yesterday as a follow up to the assignment from Monday. Did you get a chance to read the article I gave the kids? Anyway, this five-minute clip is really worth a watch!
I love learning something new...

Cover those plants tonight; it's going to be nippy... Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Education is not the filling of a bucket, but the lighting of a fire. -- W. B. Yeats

Above is The Hiawatha Wampum Belt symbolizing the founding of the Iroquois Confederacy.

What a day! The sixth grade had an (slightly) extended morning since the fifth graders were busy working on PPPs. We began work on our Personal Mission Statements today--wait until you see them! I am always impressed with the thought that goes into these very personal documents!

There was no Social Studies today other than (Grade 6) discussing the reading and going over the assignment from yesterday. The reading was about the Iroquois Confederacy. It's amazing to note that it was the model for our country's democratic representative government. Additionally, the Iroquois had no written language so their Constitution, which consisted of 117 sections, was recorded by stringing white and purple shell beads, called wampum, into belts and then MEMORIZED! For fun, I told the kids to look on the links or click here to create their own (virtual) wampum belt.

We continued independent reading and concluded a Reading Survey for the DRAs today. Remember, the second book needs to be read in order to complete a book project next week. Keep reading!

In Grade 5 Language Arts, we corrected and discussed yesterday's assignment about nouns after their DOL and 7-minute writes. We concluded with a fun activity of trying to come up with at least 3 nouns that began with each letter of the alphabet. It will ultimately provide review for parts of speech AND be a segue into figurative language... You'll see.

Time to go home. I hope you all have a pleasant evening; I'll check in again tomorrow.