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.


Education is not a preparation for life; education is life itself. John Dewey

Information about Monday, September 21 (I was out yesterday and the kids had a sub.)

F.Y.I.-- Each L.A. class begins with a Seven-Minute Write and about five minutes of Daily Oral Language review, which we then correct and discuss. The sub distributed the weekly Spelling/Vocabulary packets and the DOL/Grammar packets to the sixth graders and got everyone started on the weekly "stuff". Then they began work on what will become their Personal Mission Statements by doing a "Character Traits Inventory". The fifth grade worked on a grammar assignment (nouns), which they did not complete. We'll go over that today.

In Social Studies I assigned a short interesting reading selection about the Iroquois Confederacy. Both groups had a cloze activity (basically filling in blanks) to complete after (or while) reading the selection aloud and discussing it. Sixth graders were able to complete the assignment in class; the fifth grade struggled and only completed ten of the eighteen sentences. We will work together to finish the material tomorrow since the fifth grade didn't have Social Studies today. This will provide a a real "teachable moment" -- for those who found it challenging, there are strategies for finding information in text. I'm pleased that the present sixth graders remembered those strategies from last year!

Back to Grade 6: Only a couple partially completed DRA tests need to be completed today, otherwise everyone is encouraged to get their second independent reading book done for this month. Remember students are required to read two books per month, which is why they should ALWAYS read at least 20 minutes per night.

I'll write more later about today's assignments.

Take care,

Friday, September 18, 2009

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

Well, everyone, it's Friday, and that's ALWAYS something to celebrate! Your child (see above) is now home in your capable hands for two whole days. ENJOY!

You perhaps noticed there wasn't a blog last night. That's because on Thursdays I beat feet to Middlebury for classes (I'm part of a C.A.G.S. program in Curriculum and Assessment). After class, which is a hop skip and a jump from Hannafords (and T.J. Maxx) I do my errands and food shopping, so I get home long after blogging would be of benefit to anyone. The school day is always crazy, so despite my good intentions, that's usually not feasible... Suffice it to say, all "Weekly Assignments" --D.O.L., Spelling, Vocabulary, etc. are due. There is always a Spelling test. And...your child should have the day's work written in his/her binder. Make him/her accountable.

Today both Social Studies classes worked on coloring maps of North America to show the various regions where certain populations of early Native Americans settled. I took the opportunity to explain how to "read" a map; there's a lot more to it than anyone realized! Hopefully everyone got it done. If not, it should be nearly so.

My class finished lots of projects we've been working on simultaneously, and we took our first Spelling test. We also finished a Writing Pretest--denoting a "baseline" of knowledge and skill in Grammar, Usage, and Mechanics. It included a writing prompt that will be assessed and added to the overall score.

Grade 5 took the Writing Pretest today also. Then they completed their work on a fall poetry assignment that you should see displayed with the 6th grade's in the hallway outside my door. They're beautiful.

If you haven't completed the Multiple Intelligences Checklist for your child, please send it in as soon as possible. I'll be compiling information for parents (and teachers) to use when working with "our" children.

Have a restful and relaxing weekend! Weather will be a bit cooler, I hear...


Thursday, September 17, 2009

Open House, 2009

Thanks for coming, everybody; it was good to see you!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

They may forget what you said but they will never forget how you made them feel.

I hope your children had a fun, productive day today. It's a teacher's greatest challenge to plan lessons that are meaningful when s/he has to be out for the day. For Social Studies, Grades 5 and 6 played with a right brain art activity that can (and will) be used in future classes. They may have brought the paper home to work on... Ask them to show you what they learned about drawing cartoon characters. Also check out the video for a great little tutorial. The artist is a bit dry, but he has some great ideas for drawing cartoon faces!

Language Arts for both classes involved Daily Oral Language (from now on I'll just call it DOL, OK?) and work on the first real poetry piece, "What is Autumn? It's a definition poem that I like to do each fall; children tend to use a lot of sensory detail! I'm scurrying to get something to show you for Open House... We'll see how much the students accomplish today and tomorrow.

Spelling and Vocabulary were completed for Tuesday; they should have had plenty of time to get it done in class. Remember, what doesn't get done is homework. The idea is to use class time productively.

We continued with Reading assessments today as well. We should be able to finish up this week. Writing and Spelling (and I believe Math) assessments are already done. Whew.

I'm looking forward to meeting you all tomorrow night! Until then-

Be well,

Monday, September 14, 2009

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

The first day of the first full week... We organized our binders and received our first weekly "packets" in Spelling/Vocabulary (I staple them together), and DOL (Daily Oral Language)/Grammar. These are all short daily assignments that are usually completed here. Today was a hectic one, however, so look for two packets of stuff to come home.
Packet 1:
* Spelling: do page one
* Vocabulary: do Monday's half page
Packet 2:
* DOL: do Monday (another half page)
Tomorrow we'll be on track to continue with our fall poetry assignment.

In Social Studies I talked about one of my resources that relies on both right and left brain activities
to make learning more fun, so tomorrow (I'll have a sub) the kids will learn how to draw cartoons, which will become yet another way to "show what they know". On Wednesday we'll launch into the earliest inhabitants of North America... There's no assignment tonight for either class. (Want to try a fun right brain/left brain challenge? Click here!)

Grade 5: we'll start our fall poetry piece tomorrow. Today we organized our notebooks, too, and reviewed daily procedures for Language Arts. It'll become second nature soon.

Thanks for those of you who completed the Multiple Intelligences Checklist already! You can certainly bring them in at Wednesday's Open House if you'd prefer. It'll be interesting to see if you see your child the way they view themselves. I'll let you know!

Another beautiful week is on the way! Have a relaxing evening, everyone-

Friday, September 11, 2009

Where DOES the time go?? This four day week flew by with lots of activities aimed at getting to know our students and their learning strengths and preferences. Next week, we'll hit the floor running!

Please check backpacks for a letter I wrote to you; your input will help me better understand your child. Could you take a few minutes to check off the items you feel best describe him/her? I'll then match your responses to the corresponding "Intelligences" and provide you with helpful information about how to support your child's learning at home.

It's important to note that all of us have different levels of aptitude in all eight areas (called "Multiple Intelligences"). When we tap into our particular strength/s, learning becomes easier and more meaningful.

Have a great weekend everyone! --Oh, and
Happy Birthday (on Sunday), Brad!!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Welcome parents! It's good to be back (although 5:30 AM is still a bit painful...). I hope you all had time to relax and enjoy your families this summer. It's been a busy one for me with lots of coursework, visits with my family, work on my house, the birth of TWINS.... Anyway, I do hope your children have come home excited about school and have shared some of the cooperative activities we've done so far. The schedule you received is not necessarily a final copy; we'll wait a bit to see if there are any kinks to work out.

I took a week-long technology course in August and explored computers like I never had before. Of course a week was not nearly long enough to digest all the ways to use technology in the classroom, but I plan to keep learning, and this blog will document my journey. I welcome any suggestions or ideas for ways to highlight all the cool things we do this year. I'm going to need everyone's email address so that viewers can be limited. I will also need to know if anyone objects to having their child's photograph or work proudly displayed in videos, podcasts, photo galleries, etc. I'll create a form for you to fill out, or you can email me at terimaynard@gmail.com. Please bear with me as this will be a work in progress! In the meantime, please take time to check out some of the links I've placed on the blog--interesting places for your family to go for help or fun. Oh, and check out the Avatar-it looks just like me, don't you think?