Sunday, December 22, 2013

"Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire: it is the time for home." ~ Edith Sitwell

Whatever else be lost among the years,
Let us keep Christmas still a shining thing:
Whatever doubts assail us, or what fears,
Let us hold close one day, remembering
Its poignant meaning for the hearts of men.
Let us get back our childlike faith again.
~ Grace Noll Crowell

May all our hearts be filled with the childlike joy and wonder of this magical season.  

It's Christmas in the Heart. . ." image:

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

“Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful. ” ― Norman Vincent Peale

What is Christmas?

Every time a hand reaches out
To help another. . .
That is Christmas.

Every time someone puts anger aside
And strives for understanding. . .
That is Christmas.

Every time people forget their differences
And realize their love for each other. . .
That is Christmas.

May this Christmas bring us
Closer to the spirit of human understanding
Closer to the blessing of peace!
~Author Unknown


Monday: No assignment.  Use this time as a study hall to complete unfinished work.
Tuesday: Complete page 72 and turn in
Wednesday: Pages 73-74
Thursday:  Pages 75-76
Friday: no assignment.

Social Studies:
Monday & Tuesday: Complete timelines.
Wednesday & Thursday:  Watch video, Age of Exploration, complete quiz

Monday:  Turn in A Special Holiday Memory personal narratives
Tuesday:  Share writing with the class.
Thursday: Christmas Carol activity/clues to recognizing songs
Friday:  A Christmas story.


Tuesday, December 10, 2013

"Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful." ~ Norman Vincent Peale

Happy Holidays, everyone--

Christmas 2013 is less than two weeks away!  Business as usual appears not an option for any of us these days, but in the midst of all the chaos that the holiday season brings, it also brings a good measure of joy into our lives.  There is a sense of wonder to it, and a bit of magic, too.  Christmas is, above all, a state of mind; its true spirit can be found in the way in which we come together in peace and good will.  That is, no doubt, why we all love it so much.

I hope your tree is up and glistening, your children well behaved, and your sanity, for the most part, intact.  


Speaking of sanity, here's a list of this week's assignments in my classes:

Word Study, Grade 5
Monday:  No assignment
Tuesday:  Pages 69, 70, & 71
Wednesday: Pages 72, 73
Thursday:  Page 74 (rough draft) 

Language Arts
Monday:  Complete haiku poetry (2) for bulletin board (turn in sloppy copy of 4 assigned haiku poems for me to edit), continue work on Special Memory narrative.
Tuesday:  Complete Special Memory narrative draft in preparation for activity.
Wednesday:  Edit and revise Special Memory narrative using the graphic organizer provided.
Thursday:  Complete changes/additions and begin typing final draft.
Friday:  Finish typing and turn in for final edit before posting on the bulletin board in the hallway. 

Social Studies 5/6
Monday/Tuesday:  Activity 2, "How Early Explorers Used the North Star as a Compass" -- due next class.
Also, turn in "Life at Sea:  Sores, Scabs, and Scurvy" packet
Wednesday: Be sure North Star and Life at Sea packets are turned in, please.
Thursday (Grade 6): Activity 3, "Explorers' Timeline."  We'll work on these for two class periods. Grade 5 will begin this activity on Monday, 12/16.

COOL VIDEO: This is a remarkable visual showing why explorers used the North Star as a compass. . . it remains virtually immobile in the night sky. (Hit "full screen" for best viewing.)


Thanks to all who attended Addison Central School's 2013 Christmas Concert.  What a special way to celebrate the season -- all of us together, a family.

My best to you--

Christmas trees image:
A Christmas Concert image:

Friday, November 22, 2013

Liberty without learning is always in peril; learning without liberty is always in vain. ~ John F. Kennedy

Dear Families-
To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the death of John F. Kennedy, Grades 5 & 6 viewed Part 1 of this History Channel documentary.  It is a riveting series of "primary documents" compiled to tell the story of President Kennedy's final hours and the aftermath of his assassination.  It's worth watching.

John Fitzgerald Kennedy
May 29, 1917 -- November 22, 1963
Part 1

 Part 2

"The stories of past courage can . . . teach, they can offer hope, they can provide inspiration, but they cannot supply courage itself.  For this, each man must look into his own soul." ~ J.F.K.

With appreciation to You-Tube video: and

Monday, November 11, 2013

"As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them." -John Fitzgerald Kennedy

So often we take for granted that for which we should be most grateful.  
To the veterans whose sacrifices for their country 
were predicated on the belief 
that democracy and freedom are ideals worth fighting for, 
you are indeed heroes.


History of the Holidays: History of Veterans Day

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

"You must not hurt anybody or do harm to anyone. You must not fight but do right always." --Wovoka

Hello families: 

Last week we started our Native American unit titled "We the People." It explores how human and physical characteristics of geographic regions influenced the development of distinct Native American cultures.   "We the People" encompasses lessons in Geography, History, Civics, Language Arts, Art, and Anthropology.  Many interesting and engaging activities are included in this unit, with a plethora of enrichment options for those willing to take the challenges offered to them.

Each child has chosen a tribe to study based on information from a map they recently completed. This map activity identified tribes within each region of North America. Next step is to complete a Webquest that will guide them in finding specific information required for a Powerpoint to be presented at the end of the unit.

Here are a few sites being used to help your child in her or his search:
Where to go to find information about your tribe:


(Wonderful, kid-friendly site with lots of information on most tribes) 


TRIBE COMPARISONS—Covers many tribes

Online Native American Activities for Kids
(For Fun When Work is Done. . .)

Image of map taken from:

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

“At 211 degrees, water is hot. At 212 degrees, it boils. One extra degree makes all the difference.” ~ from 212-The Extra Degree

Welcome, welcome, welcome, everyone!

Well, NEXUS is up and running for the 2013-2014 school year -- FINALLY!  September certainly means getting into the groove of a new family of students, a new schedule, and a new curriculum, which promises to be an exciting one, by the way.  It's also a time to reassess how I budget time -- always in short supply -- efficiently.  (Students aren't the only ones to grapple with that one!)  

For those of you new to my blog, NEXUS, which means connections, is just that--a connection between school and home designed to be a "go-to" place for information students and families will find helpful throughout the year.  Look here for news, important dates, assignments, and samples of exemplary student work, videos, and podcasts.  Take a few minutes to look around; it's a fun place to visit, with interactive educational activities for every learner in your household (including you!).  

I'm excited about what's in store for your students this year!  Heather Racine joins the 5/6 team as the Math, Science, and 6th Grade homeroom teacher, and I must say, she's absolutely wonderful to work with!  We are equally committed to maintaining a school culture that focuses on high expectations, collaboration, and innovation.  Please welcome her and know that your students are in exceptionally capable hands. She's a gem.

You're going to become a lot more familiar with Common Core Standards this year; these standards guide what we do as educators to provide our students with rigorous and authentic learning experiences. Assessments will reflect them, and even report cards will look a little different, providing you with added information about your child's progress toward mastery.  

I look forward to a great school year in which we work together to “make all the difference” for our students!  

My best to you--

Welcome image:
Animated teacher image:

Monday, May 27, 2013

"All gave some; some gave all."


Kevin Costner & Modern West



We walked among the crosses
Where our fallen soldiers lay.
And listened to the bugle
As TAPS began to play.
The Chaplin led a prayer
We stood with heads bowed low.
And I thought of fallen comrades
I had known so long ago.
They came from every city
Across this fertile land.
That we might live in freedom.
They lie here 'neath the sand.
I felt a little guilty
My sacrifice was small.
I only lost a little time
But these men lost their all.
Now the services are over
For this Memorial Day.
To the names upon these crosses
I just want to say,
Thanks for what you've given
No one could ask for more.
May you rest with God in heaven
From now through evermore.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

"After winter, but before spring, there’s a muddy, cold, gray sliver of a season. . ."

". . .The ground is almost bare, yet very little grows. This season is not good for much . . . unless you’re one of those overalls-clad, Northwoods diehards who eagerly awaits the running of the maple sap. If you are, you lovingly set aside this season, “from the Ides of March to the singing of the spring peepers,” for tending your trees."
~by Eva Apelqvist

APRIL 8--12


Monday:  Complete "Millions of Mummies" cartoon activity &amp
Tuesday:  Bibliography lesson
Wednesday:  Type final draft/complete final touches of Pharaoh report
Thursday:  Continue typing final draft/complete final touches of Pharaoh report
Friday:  Turn in completed Pharaoh Report


Monday:  Homonym activity, part 1

Tuesday:  Homonym activity, part 2

Wednesday -- Thursday: Have fun playing these interactive games!
Friday:  Fairy Tale Homograph activity.


Monday/Tuesday & Wednesday/Thursday: Painting Chicken Mummies and Sarcophagi & concluding project

Friday: Activity day, Mrs. M.'s class

Wonderful maple sugaring  photo:

Monday, April 1, 2013

The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug. ~Mark Twain

Rabbit, Rabbit!  . . .and so we start another month--the one that takes us from snow drifts lingering on shadowed hillsides (and yes, that occasional awakening to snow-covered lawns) to daffodils dotting grassy meadows.  Peepers will be out within two weeks, mark my word. 

Anyway, with the improvement in weather conditions comes the all too familiar desire for children to do just about anything to get out of completing school work.  Ahh, youth.  Now teaching and parenting must become a bit more, shall we say, inventive. (Kind of like hiding the peas in the ice cream.  Well, sort of. . .)

   Please help your child to remain on track with homework. 

APRIL 1-5 


Monday:  "Right Spelling, Wrong Word"
Tuesday:  Practice session for "S-BAC" online testing pilot
Wednesday:  Begin "S-BAC" 
Thursday:  "Words with Multiple Meanings"
Friday:  READ-A-THON all day!  Fundraiser -- Please consider sponsoring your child--any checks can be made payable to "Meals on Wheels."

Social Studies

Monday:  Mrs. M.'s class -- Watch the movie, "Building the Great Pyramid."
Tuesday:  Mrs. D.'s class -- Same as above.
Wednesday: Mrs. M.'s class -- Mummify those chickens!
Thursday:  Mrs. D.'s class -- Same as above. 

Language Arts

Monday:  Egyptian Poetry Project
Tuesday:  Complete Egyptian Poetry Project
Wednesday: Grade 6 pilots "S-BAC" online test.
Thursday:  "Millions of Mummies" 6-panel cartoon summaries.
Friday:  READ-A-THON!

Monday: Study hall to complete overdue work.  Ten points off late work turned in today!
Tuesday:  Comprehension activity/silent reading
Wednesday:  No class -- read aloud in Library
Thursday: Comprehension activity/silent reading
Friday: READ-A-THON! 

Beautiful artwork, huh?  Fireflies under the Springtime Moon can be found @

Monday, March 25, 2013

"This day I have sent couriers to every part of our country, to every city and village. They carry this decree. That I have set a task for Egypt. . ."

". . .which in any other land would be impossible on the desert sands. You will raise a pyramid, a structure greater than any in the world. This pyramid shall be resting place for the second life. Each man has a covenant with me to work as man has not yet worked in all time. And as the living God of Egypt, I promise you that each man by his labor shall secure for himself a place in the life to come."  ~William Falkner's Land of the Pharaohs 


We continue our study of Ancient Egypt through the completion of our Mini-Books and Research Reports.  As you will see, assignments are a little different now, since much more time is given to students demonstrating their understanding of the concepts we've covered throughout the year. Working independently and with each other, they are creating and polishing projects of interest to them, gathering ideas and insights -- and help in problem-solving -- from their peers.   

The first is a Mini-Book of facts about the everyday life of Ancient Egyptians. This project not only covers reading for information, highlighting important facts, effective note-taking, and compiling information into a visually appealing, polished document, it also demonstrates students' understanding of informational text features.  In fact, each book is required to include at least ten.

This project will be due on Friday, March 29th.

The "Pharaoh Report" is a major research project.  Written in first person, it recounts the lives of some of the greatest kings of Ancient Egypt. Students scoured the internet and printed off three documents that they found most helpful -- to be used as the basis of their report.  They read, highlighted information that they were required to include in their report, took notes, and began the writing process -- one paragraph at a time -- in class. In no time, students were seeking additional information on their own, and were identifying relationships with one another's pharaohs as they began to unravel the history of each of the great kingdoms through a continuum of dynasties. Awesome.  
This is to be an academic paper, complete with bibliography written in APA format.  Ask to see your child's syllabus.  In it, I outline each of the parts of the report (which will become the rubric for grading) as well as the timeline for completion.

MARCH 25-29 


Monday: Begin work on COVER -- an Egyptian scene utilizing the artform known as frontalism.  The words ANCIENT EGYPT will be written in hieroglyphs. We will work on this again tomorrow, after which any unfinished work will need to be completed at home or during study hall in the afternoon.

Tuesday:  Complete cover (include color) and work on any other unfinished aspects of the project.  (Remember "Presentation Quality!")  After today, you're on your own to complete and turn in your project no later than Friday.

Wednesday:  Center Square Activity

Thursday:  Complete Center Square Activity and put finishing touches on this month's Writer's Notebooks.

Friday:  Share Mini-Books, turn in Writer's Notebooks for March.

Monday:   Mrs. M.'s class completed the concluding paragraph/s (death and legacy).  All the paragraphs should be organized onto one document -- the second draft of the report -- and turned in for feedback.

Tuesday:  Mrs. D.'s class is a day behind.  We will work on accomplishments and interesting facts paragraphs. 

Wednesday:  We'll share our reports with our peers and seek their advice.

Thursday:  Mrs. D.'s class will complete the concluding paragraph/s (see Monday's assignment above). 

Friday:  No class. 

SPELLING, GRADE 6 (No task cards this week!)

Monday: Art got in the way; we'll catch up tomorrow.

Tuesday:  191-194

Wednesday:  195-196

Thursday: 197-200

Friday: TEST


Monday --> Friday:  
  • Concepts of Comprehension activities
  • Independent Silent Reading
  • Study Hall (lots of informational reading is associated with projects in most subject areas)
I hope this week will be productive and fun as project work becomes increasingly creative and students work more freely with peers to critique and complete them. 

“ my eyes grew accustomed to the light, details of the room within emerged slowly from the mist, strange animals, statues, and gold - everywhere the glint of gold. For the moment - an eternity it must have seemed to the others standing by - I was struck dumb with amazement, and when Lord Carnarvon, unable to stand the suspense any longer, inquired anxiously, 'Can you see anything?' it was all I could do to get out the words, 'Yes, wonderful things.”   ― Howard Carter, Tomb of Tutankhamen

Ancient Pharaohs illustration:
King Tut illustration:

Monday, March 18, 2013

"Then come the wild weather, come sleet or come snow, we will stand by each other, however it blow." ~ Simon Dach


Well, there is consolation in knowing Spring is coming even if its effects cannot be felt for awhile...

MARCH 18 -- 22
So much more work is project-based this trimester.  
It relies on your ability to stay on task and work productively and independently.

Words for the Week:  indefinite, illuminate, jealous, emit, uncommitted, ancient overworked, thoughtless, illegibly, achieve
Two of your task cards should be to write definitions for each of these words and use them effectively in a sentence.

pages 181-182 & task cards
pages 183-184 & task cards

pages 185-186 & task cards
pages 187-190 & task cards

Test - collect task cards


Write Source Assessment

Review informational text features. Finish typing & adding text features to mini-book.  Check off which text features are included in your mini-book using worksheet provided to you.

Egyptian Art Form Activity -- Frontalism.  Complete practice sheet and begin planning cover. (If you're not done typing your mini-book, this must now be done for homework or during free time.)

Work on cover art (Ancient Egyptian scene utilizing Frontalism) and hieroglyphs ("Ancient Egypt")

Finishing touches on mini-book -- turn in!


Mrs. M.'s class -- Write paragraph/s (background, description)

Mrs. D.'s class -- Same as above

Mrs. M.'s class -- Write paragraph/s (accomplishments/ interesting facts about your pharaoh)

Mrs. M.'s class -- Same as above

No class (Complete any unfinished work)


Work on Reading project for the end of the month, Social Studies informational reading/writing

Tuesday --> Friday:
Comprehension activity, then silent reading, informational reading/writing 

Wonderful cartoon that pretty much sums up our hopes for Spring in this week of snowstorms: