Thursday, September 29, 2011

No spring nor summer beauty hath such grace As I have seen in one autumnal face. ~John Donne

Thanks to those of you who were able to make it to Open House last night. We had so much fun making the classroom colorful and welcoming for all of you.

Eric Bird from Digital Wish was here today, working with the students on cyber-citizenship. He will conclude this segment on October 13th (we don't have it next week due to NECAPS), then we're jumping right into our lessons. I can't wait! Friendly reminder: there are only a few permission slips still out; if you could sign and return, I'll pass them along to Eric. Thanks.

The DIGITAL WISH INFORMATIONAL MEETING will be held on October 27th so mark your calendars. I'll let you know as soon as the time is determined.

Until mid-February, Thursday afternoon's schedule will change a bit to accommodate Digital Wish. Sixth graders will have math
(and fifth graders will have Language Arts) from 12:30--1:30. Both classes will then gather in the 6th grade classroom from 1:30--2:30 for lessons.


Tonight's work includes completing "Day 4" of DOL, Spelling, and Vocabulary independently since we didn't have time to work on these (short) assignments in class. Spelling and Vocabulary assessments tomorrow.

Thanks, everyone. Have a great (albeit rainy) evening.


Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Hey fifth graders--to complete your survey, click here.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

"I saw old Autumn in the misty morn stand shadowless like silence listening to silence." - Thomas Hood

Welcome families-- Lovely picture of Peacham, isn't it? This is often what mornings look like as I drive to work. Nice way to start a day!

Yesterday's blog outlined this week's assignments; however, there are a couple sites I found that I think are SO COOL -- I wanted to share them with you. (Please check them out, st
udents, dear.)

  • To check out this GREAT interactive website for reviewing the map skills we covered in class, click here. Try it; it's fun! (Go ahead, parents--you'll like it, too!)
  • Click here to find the latitude and longitude for Addison (or any other place that interests you). On the left side of the screen, enter Addison, Vermont and click "submit." Write down those coordinates, it's extra credit on your last assignment! (You might want to explore this site a bit more, too. It's awesome!

  • Monday, October 3: 8:05 - 9:40 Reading 1 -- 12:30 - 2:00 Reading 2
  • Tuesday, October 4: 8:05 - 9:40 Reading 3 -- 12:30 - 2:00 Math 1
  • Wednesday, October 5: 8:05 - 9:40 Math 2 -- 12:30 - 2:00 Math 3
Gum is allowed during testing. (Sugarless, mint gum is preferred--mint makes you more alert, believe it or not!) As always, please be sure your children get a good night's rest and eat a good breakfast before coming to school. Also, please provide extra healthy snacks for test days--my goodness they get hungry!

Check here for an article called "Fueled to Succeed." It has some helpful tips for parents about foods that help kids do well in school. This might be particularly worthwhile reading before NECAPS.

Thanks, parents, for all you do. I hope to see you all at tomorrow night's Open House (6:30--7:30)!


Monday, September 26, 2011

" When the weather turns cooler and the leaves begin to change, it's apple picking time across the valley." ~from Apple Picking Time by M. Slawson

When Summer's heat gives way to crisper Autumn weather, many of us turn our thoughts to apple picking with family and friends. Local orchards provide a scenic backdrop for treasured memories. How lucky we are to live in a place where we can mark the seasons by traditions such as these.
It's hard to believe that we're nearing the end of our first full month of school; it's been a busy time! I think it's fair to say that routines are now fairly well established, and all of us are becoming more familiar with one another. Results of local assessments have helped your child's teachers get a preliminary "read" on their strengths, proclivities, and challenges, allowing us to plan curriculum that is engaging and meaningful to them.


Sixth Grade:

Spelling and DOL

Unit 3.
This is kept at school; we do a page each day, some of which is done as a whole class. I will provide spelling lists so everyone can study at home for Friday's test. (Packets are due in the drawer by 8:00 AM Friday.)


Unit 3
. This is an independent packet that can be taken home to complete. There's a Vocabulary Check aka quiz on Friday.
(Packets are due in the drawer by 8:00 AM Friday.) If students need help, it is there responsibility to ask for it. I'm here!

Language Arts

  • We had Art on Monday, so there was no assignment.
  • Tuesday through Friday we will familiarize ourselves with the format for NECAPS and look at released tasks. By "getting our feet wet" in a relaxed way, we can help allay some of the fears students may have about these upcoming assessments. This will involve practice in short answers and constructed response.
  • We will also begin work on our Mission Statements.
Social Studies

  • Monday's class discussed lines of latitude (parallels) and lines of longitude (meridians), and created a visual to help us remember. We also discussed N., S., E., and W. hemispheres, and labeled them on a map. Assignment: complete map worksheet, "The Dream Team."
  • Wednesday--We will draw a map based on written directions, incorporating the six parts of a map (title, compass rose, grid, scale, legend/key, and symbols). This is a fun activity, and it serves to show what kids remember about maps. it'll be due Friday.

Fifth Grade

Language Arts

  • Monday--we finished up our Autumn poetry project.
  • Tuesday through Friday we will familiarize ourselves with the format for NECAPS and look at released tasks. By "getting our feet wet" in a relaxed way, we can help allay some of the fears students may have about these upcoming assessments. This will involve practice in short answers and constructed response.

Social Studies

Same as grade 6 (see above). Fifth grade classes are on Tuesday and Thursday.


Pictures will be taken at school on the morning of September 28th. Please make every effort to be at school by 8:00. Hopefully your child has given you the information long before now. . .

Open House will be held on the evening of September 28th from 6:30 to 7:30. The first half hour is for touring the school. At 7:00, fifth and sixth grades will meet in their respective homerooms for a grade-level meeting. At 7:15, both groups will reconvene in the 6th grade homeroom for a chance to discuss what's in store for this year.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Autumn begins with a subtle change in the light, with skies a deeper blue, and nights that become suddenly clear and chilled. . .

Hello families--

Eric Bird from Digital Wish came today, and the students are psyched! We are one of only twenty-four Vermont schools participating in this innovative program!

We were all surprised to hear that Digital Wish will become a weekly, rather than a bi-weekly event for the first half of the year. Learning in the 21st century is continually evolving to meet the changing needs of our students; w
ith technology advancing exponentially, it is more essential than ever that they be given the opportunity and the tools to explore its amazing potential. We are fortunate to have both an expert available to facilitate this learning, and personal laptops at our disposal.

Speaking of laptops, students have now been provided with their own computers for classroom use, "bugs" are being worked out, and programs are being readied for their use (ALEX is one example.) We will soon announce a parent night (different from Open House) so that you can meet Eric and learn more about Digital Wish. It will be necessary for at least one adult from each family to a
ttend and sign the needed paperwork before students can bring computers home. We'll make every attempt to give you enough lead time to clear your calendar for his presentation. There will also be a rain date for those unable to attend.

Homework for tomorrow:

Grade 6

  • Book projects are due.
  • Vocab./DOL packets are due.
  • "How I Learn" final drafts are due.
  • No Social Studies (woo-hoo!)
  • There will be a Vocabulary test.
  • If Digital Wish surveys aren't done, please complete them. (See last Friday's blog for the link.)

Grade 5

  • We had our Social Studies test today -- no assignment.
  • Language Arts: We have been working in class on a poetry activity. No assignment.

Well, it's beginning to get dark; I guess it's time to head home. Have a good night everybody--


P.S.: If you get a chance, check out yesterday's blog: I wrote it, but forget to click "publish" when I was done.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

"Every leaf speaks bliss to me, fluttering from the autumn tree." ~Emily Bronte

Good evening, everyone--

Sixth graders have spent the last few days talking about the ways in which they learn. Discussions about right brain/left brain dominance and visual, auditory, and kinesthetic learning preferences have been rich and have provided an opportunity for the students to consciously identify both their challenges and their strengths in learning. Their second writing piece, entitled "How I Learn," incorporates all that they have discovered and presents a "shapshot" of how they see themselves as learners. They're quite interesting to read. You'll see them at Open House.

Sixth graders took their first test in Social Studies today as part of their map skills/geography unit. They will bring them home to show you--please sign and return. (Students are required to keep all paperwork in their folder until the end of the unit.) There were some pretty impressive scores! FYI: You will notice that some students got a point taken away for misspelling a word. As sixth graders, they must get into the habit of copying accurately--it matters!

Fifth Grade will take this test tomorrow. Same test, same expectations.

We've done Vocabulary instead of Spelling this week, and have quickly discovered that we can easily do both. From this point on, after we go over the words, Vocabulary will be more independent and can go home for homework and we'll go back to having a weekly "packet" that includes Spelling and Daily Oral Language (DOL), which we do here as a class activity. It should never need to make its way home. (Spelling words can be provided for studying, of course.) The DOL, for example, is discussed and completed together. It will eventually involve developing and diagramming pretty sophisticated sentences! Occasional assessments will be given to insure that everyone understands the concepts. First assessment is on Friday -- Nouns and Verbs.

Book projects will be due on Friday, also. We've been working on them here since yesterday. Two students did not complete their books; please encourage your child's reading whenever possible. Remember, they are required to read two books per month as part of their Reading grade.

I guess that's it for now; I hope everyone is home and unwinding by now. I'll talk to you tomorrow.


Friday, September 16, 2011

In nature there are neither rewards nor punishments; there are consequences. ~Robert Green Ingersoll

Hello families,

Don't you just
love Fridays? Hopefully, all students have completed their work for the week, although I do want to remind the 6th graders that they have a book to complete by Tuesday, September 20. We'll have an in-class book project to do that day. I must say, a few kids have put off their reading and therefore have a lot to do this weekend. (Children learn, if not through natural consequences, then through logical ones . . . ) Ask your child what the name of his/her book is and what page s/he's on.

What else did we do today? Read on. . .

Grade 6

  • Completed all work in Spelling/DOL and took our first test of the year
  • Completed a cool "test" to help determine learning styles
  • Took a "listening" test. This test was easy; they'll get increasingly challenging as we develop these essential skills. (Interesting observation: many kids listen with their mouths -- talking over the teacher, either for clarification or for individualized attention. Meanwhile, others are talking over those kiddos to silence the din--with the opposite outcome, I might add. Sigh. Learning can become a cacophony of children's voices, reaching to be heard.
  • Looked over our "Which Way, USA?" worksheets and collaborated with a friend on direction-finding activity.
Grade 5

I only saw these guys for Language Arts today. We're working on sentence structure, and gaining excitement about writing. Yesterday, we wrote a class story using a picture prompt, and it was awesome. Today, I projected the typed story onto the whiteboard (without any punctuation, capitalization, etc.) and they revised/edited it. Way to go fifth graders!

Their assignment was to look at another picture--this one of a tornado--and write three sentences about it that might be used in a story. I believe everyone turned it in before the end of class.


Please have your child complete this Digital Wish Fall Survey if s/he hasn't already done so. It is information will allow us to monitor progress and growth over the course of the program, and perhaps allow us to secure future funding for grants.

Student Survey -

It is important that students take the survey before we get into this year's program/training.

That's about it for today. I hope you all have a safe and restful weekend. I will be seeing you all on the 28th for Open House!


Thursday, September 15, 2011

Don't knock the weather. If it didn't change once in a while, nine out of ten people couldn't start a conversation. ~ Kin Hubbard

Good evening everybody--

What a difference a day makes. . . Today's (much) cooler temperatures were certainly a surprise! I guess I'd do well to check the weather link on my own blog a little more often!

Today's assignments:

Grade 6
  • Spelling/DOL: Packets should be done by now. Spelling tests tomorrow!
  • Language Arts: We're still doing prep work for writing our Personal Mission Statements. Self-portrait worksheets should be ready to turn in by tomorrow morning.
  • No Social Studies today, although "Which Way, USA?" worksheets are due tomorrow.
  • I've given class time every day for independent reading, and books should be nearing completion. Students will complete an in-class book project on September 20. Is your child reading every night? Please help them by providing time fort it in their nightly schedule.
Grade 5

  • Social Studies: We worked together to practice cardinal and ordinal (intermediate) compass directions through a series of group activities. There should be no homework, unless work wasn't completed in class.
  • Language Arts: Building on yesterday's sentence development activity, we used a cool photographic prompt to help us construct a class story. The idea was to work together to write sentences that would draw the reader in, to sequence events most effectively, and to use sensory detail to paint a vivid picture. Even the more hesitant students were drawn in, and everyone was excited about the finished product, gathering over chart papers scattered across the floor to review what they had helped create.
Please take a few minutes to talk to your child about their day and to support them in their learning whenever possible. Our combined effort will go a long way toward ensuring a meaningful learning experience for our children.


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

"There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle." Albert Einstein

Hello, families--

Next Thursday, on September 22, Eric Bird from Digital Wish will begin his work with fifth and sixth grade students and their newly assigned Dell Latitude 2120 rugged-ized netbooks. We're excited and extremely fortunate to to be working with Eric as we learn about the latest Web 2.0 technology. The Digital Wish program will help prepare our students for an increasingly technological future--in a manner that is both relevant and meaningful to them. I suspect that, as the kinks continue to be worked out, the netbooks will begin finding their way to your homes in early October. I hope you'll be able take a few minutes from time to time so that your children can show you what they (and their teachers!) are learning!

Today's assignments:

Grade 6
  • Language Arts--we completed Spelling inventories today, and began the pre-work for writing our personal mission statements. We also completed the first three interconnected Grammar lessons in our Spelling/DOL packets.
  • Spelling--we discussed and completed "Day 3." (We do one page a day, Monday through Thursday, with the test on Friday.)
  • Social Studies--we reviewed Cardinal and Ordinal (intermediate) directions, and worked on a direction-finding activity. If it wasn't completed in class, it has become homework. This assignment is due on Friday; however, some students have already figured out that, if you have soccer practice on Thursday evening, you'd do well to complete this assignment sooner rather than later. . .
  • Reading is ALWAYS at least 20 minutes a night.
  • Also, we did an eye-opening exercise today. . . As you may recall, on the first day of school I required that students choose an independent book to read. This book should be traveling home and back each day and is to be the basis of their first book project. As I told them early on, I'll only require one book this month since we're still settling in. The date for the in-class book project was then set for the 20th. WELL, today I had everyone fill in a form listing the name of their book, the number of pages in the book, how much they've read so far, how much is left to read. . . Since they have only 6 days until the 20th, I then had them calculate how many pages per night they would need to read in order to be done on time. For some, this was a major wake-up call! (Now, there's a lesson learned, for you!) Check with your child to see how they're doing. . .
Grade 5
  • No Social Studies today.
  • Language Arts--Sentence structure is problematic, so for class today, we discussed how to develop a simple sentence into a richly developed one. Then, I cut apart a series of increasingly complicated sentences into individual words and assigned on word to each student in a group. Without talking, they were supposed to communicate which word came first, which came second, etc. until they created a grammatically correct sentence. They all did very well! I finished class time by reading one of my favorite picture books (known for its rich sentence development) aloud to them.
Tomorrow will be cooler and perhaps rainy, but, ohhh, the weekend looks like another good one!

I hope your evening is a restful one.


Tuesday, September 13, 2011

"It's so hard to learn when I have to, and so easy when I want to. ~Annie Gottlier

to Wednesday, September 28th from 6:30 to 7:30 PM

In case you didn't hear, Open House has been moved to September 28th instead of the 21st as previously stated. The Summer Readers Celebration has also been moved to the 28th. Please accept our apologies for any inconvenience caused by this change; I will look forward to getting together with you then!

On this sunny, breezy Tuesday, grades 5 and 6 attended Conservation Field Days at the Addison campground. Lots of professionals, knowledgeable in their fields, volunteered their time to be with us. Throughout the day, we moved through six stations set up in the woods and surrounding fields, and we learned important information about forest management, animal habitat and the food chain, soil maintenance and preservation, solid waste management, and utilizing the landscape when raising animals to sustain the soil and protect streams and rivers from concentrated levels of pollutants.

As was evidenced today, our children are being raised in a culture rich in knowledge about such matters. How lucky they are!

Thanks for all you do. We'll talk again soon.


Monday, September 12, 2011

Don't blow it - good planets are hard to find. ~Quoted in Time

"Conservation Field Days" is tomorrow! is calling for "partly cloudy skies and windy with a thunderstorm or two possible in the afternoon. A few storms may be severe. High 81F. Winds S at 20 to 30 mph. Chance of rain 30%.; low 80's possible."

We'll think positive thoughts, but in case that doesn't work, your children should dress for the conditions. We'll leave school around 8:30 a.m. and return at approximately 2:15 p.m.. Everyone will need to bring a lunch, as well as healthy snacks and drinks (water's good; avoid soda). No glass containers, please. Also, bug spray may still be needed. . .

Monday's schedule varied from the norm once again as we had our first Art class (from 8:30--9:45). This will be bi-weekly as it was last year. When the students returned, we celebrated Emily's birthday (Woo, hoo, Emily!) and then, ta-da, were introduced to our new computers. All we had time for was setting them up, but it was wonderful just the same. There will be much to tweak as the days roll on. (One example is that the students couldn't access this blog on their computers-- or at least they couldn't today. As it turns out, a "cyber-nanny" has been installed to protect them from accessing any sites that could potentially be considered inappropriate. My blog contained a 9/11 tribute in the form of a short (very appropriate) You Tube video--and You Tube is a flagged site. That's OK--we'll find a way to transfer videos to something that CAN be accessed on the blog, because I use short video clips a lot in my teaching.)

As for the rest of the day:


  • Social Studies: Students completed their Gates-MacGinitie tests today during what was left of Social Studies time.
  • Spelling packets were handed out and discussed. Pages (days) 1 and 2 were easily completed. We didn't do the associated Grammar for these days. We'll have an extended lesson (review, actually) on Wednesday.

  • I introduced the class to "Mr. Stick"--a drawing that we'll use repeatedly throughout the year to make summary comics, in illustrating poetry, and in a number of other Language Arts and Social Studies assignments. Ask them to show you how simple he is to draw!
  • The assignment was to divide an "Etch-A-Sketch" design that I provided into six boxes. They were asked to create a Mr. Stick drawing depicting three things they did this summer in the three boxes on the left, and in the corresponding boxes, they simply needed to write a detailed sentence describing each activity. Three sentences, total. I want to get a read on their grammar, punctuation, and elaboration skills.
FYI: Fifth grade still needs to complete the map of their bedroom for Thursday if they haven't done so already. (They were due tomorrow, but we don't have class.) The directions for how to do this was provided in last Thursday's blog entry.

That about wraps it up for today! I hope you all have a restful evening. I, on the other hand, have to clean my refrigerator. Sigh.


Sunday, September 11, 2011

We remember. . .

"There is a sacredness in tears. Thy are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are messenges of overwhelming grief. . .and unspeakable love.

~Washington Irving

One day. . .one attack. . .one day we shall never forget.

September 11, 2001

The 9/11 Memorial at the site of the World Trade Center in New York City

New York City's 9/11 Memorial at night

Memorial at the sight where Flight 93 went down in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The whole purpose of education is to turn mirrors into windows. ~Sydney J. Harris
Hello families--

As our students become more and more aware of just how interconnected we all are to our global family, Geography becomes increasingly recognized for its fundamental role as a framework of place location. It's more than just must memorizing where countries are on a map, though. Geography explains things. It helps us understand change and why people do what they do. It is the foundation for this year's study of American history.

For our first collaborative group activity, teams of fifth and sixth grade students were asked to list the world's seven continents and four oceans, then properly place them on a map, which they were asked to draw free-hand from memory. They did so with limited success, which was not entirely unexpected. Such learning is cumulative and is best achieved by integrating it into all aspects of their curriculum and their lives. It's truly worthwhile for all of us to continue to encourage our children to learn more about their world. Understanding where they came from and grasping the cultural, political, and economic complexities of where they are and where they're going will be vital to our children's collective future.

By the end of our time together, students in grades 5 and 6 will have worked with a wide variety of maps, primary documents, charts, timelines, computer programs, and other resources to better understand the reasons behind our compelling journey from so many places across the globe.

As we increasingly integrate technology into the curriculum, please help me to teach your children to use the internet as a resource, not a substitute, for learning.

(classroom activities that, if not completed, become homework)

Social Studies, Grade 5 (September 6) and Grade 6 (September 7):
Collaborative Continent & Ocean activity and follow-up discussion
Assignment: Complete Continent worksheet. Study continents and oceans in preparation for a test. (Information from worksheet will be included).

Social Studies, Grade 5 (September 8) and Grade 6 (September 9):
* Discuss the purpose and function of maps as well as the five parts of a map (title, key, symbols, compass rose, and scale). Also, discuss the value of color and readabiity in map making.
* Share history of the compass rose.
* Classroom activity 1: Worksheet--fill in Cardinal (N, S, E, & W) and Ordinal (Intermediate) (NE, SE, SW, NW) directions. Keep as study guide for upcoming test (TBA).
* Classroom activity 2: Follow directions to draw (free-hand) compass rose. Color and label.
* Independent Homework, Grade 5: Draw floor plan of your bedroom--include the 5 parts of a map.
* Because of testing, Grade 6 will create a Pirate's treasure map on Monday following classroom directions. Include 5 parts of a map.

Language Arts, Grade 5, September 6, 7, & 8:
September 6th: Write Source assessment--"Pretest"
September 7th: Create brainstorm list of "What I DIDN'T Do On My Summer Vacation."

September 8th: Write "List Poem" (see title above). Choose one line to illustrate.

Language Arts, Grade 6, September 6, 7, & 8:
September 6th:
Write Source assessment--"Pretest,"and Daily Sentence Editing.
September 7th: Read aloud "The Important Book", discuss purpose of repetition/pattern, and Daily Sentence Editing.
Assignment: First draft of "The Important Thing About Me,"
and Daily Sentence Editing.
8th: Second draft (edited and revised)

Sixth graders are also finishing up book projects, due September 8, as well as Silhouette projects, also due.

PLEASE NOTE: Sixth graders are responsible for reading two books per month. . . These don't include read alouds (books I read to them).

I hope this catches us up assignment-wise. Know that you can always call me with questions or concerns at 759-2131, ext. 216 or email me at


For help studying for your test on Continents & Oceans, go here

For a more supported tutorial, click here

Another source to test your skill, click here