Saturday, November 28, 2015

"To succeed in life you need three things: a wishbone, a backbone, and a funny bone." ~Reba McEntire

Well, Thanksgiving is over, and all that's left is two weeks' worth of leftovers and the wishbone. If your family is anything like mine, that little bone is washed and drying by the stove, waiting for two of us to grab hold, "make a wish," and tug. 

The wishbone is actually called the furcula. This flexible forked bone is formed by the fusion of  two clavicles (aka collarbones) at a bird's sternum and is an important part of its flight mechanics. It's elastic (If you've ever tried to break a wishbone before it dries, you'll see what I mean.) and acts like a spring, storing and releasing energy during flight. Are wishbones unique to birds? Well, no.
Paleontologists found that this bone dates back more than 150 million years to two-legged meat eaters like the Tyrannosaurus and Velociraptor. These guys didn't fly, but the furcula probably acted as a structural support that helped them to hold onto their prey.

Did you ever wonder where the traditional breaking of the wishbone came from? Me, too!  F.Y.I. the Pilgrims didn't make this stuff up. It's a tradition that came from Europe over 2,400 years ago--from the English who got it from the Romans (both of whom called the wishbone "merrithought") who got it from a mysterious pre-Roman civilization called 
whose civilization once controlled much of Italy. 

The Etruscans were the first great power of the western Mediterranean. They (along with the Greeks) developed the first true cities of Europe. 

So why are the Etruscans mysterious? It's because, even though they had a rich and artistic culture, developed an alphabet which they introduced to the Romans, and spread literacy across Italy, none of their own stuff, their histories or literature, has survived.  Nada. Niente.      That's what you call irony. 

Read more about this fascinating culture HERE.  

So what do Etruscans have to do with wishbones. you ask?  Apparently, they were really into their poultry! They believed that chickens were oracles and could predict the future.  Yup.

"They exploited the chickens' supposed gifts by turning them into walking ouija boards with a bizarre ritual known as alectryomancy or "rooster divination." They would draw a circle on the ground and divide it into wedges representing the letters of the Etruscan alphabet.  

Bits of food were scattered on each wedge and a chicken was placed in the center of the circle. As the bird snacked, scribes would note the sequence of letters that it pecked at, and the local priests would use the resulting messages to divine (foretell) the future and answer the city's most pressing questions." 1. 
Apparently they believed that the furcula was holy, and after a chicken was, you know, they would remove it and lay it out in the sun to preserve it. People would pick it up, stroke it, and make wishes on it, believing that it gave them access to the oracle's power. That's how the term "wishbone" came to be.  

So, as I said before. . .

The Etruscans passed the tradition on to the Romans, who'd fight over the unbroken bone (which didn't stay unbroken for long) for a chance at good luck. That's where the phrase, "I need a lucky break," or "i postulo a felix confractus" (That's Latin.) came from. 

Well, the boisterous Romans passed the tradition on to the English, who carried it to America with the Pilgrims. . .

America, as luck would have it, was chickenless, but oh, it was full of turkeys (much like it is today). Being the resourceful folks that they were, the Pilgrims simply switched birds. (After all, if anyone needed a "lucky break," it was them!)

And now you know.

You worked toward it; you crossed it; how do you think you did?

How do you think you can improve?
Set a goal for yourself and make it happen!

11.30 - 12.4


The ancient Egyptians did not call their home "Egypt" (that name is based on the Greek pronunciation of the name of Ptah's temple in Memphis - "Hwt-ka-Ptah"), instead they referred to it as Kemet (or Kem - the black land) or Ta Mery (the beautiful land). ~ Jeremy Hill (Ancient Egypt Online).

This week's activities include completing hieroglyphic writing (Are you done?) and sarcophagus design as we prepare for the major part of the unit, which we will begin later this week.

Check out this great interactive site to learn more about hieroglyphics and sharpen your translation skills.  It's fun! (Take the quiz and turn it in!)

Explore Ancient Egypt and take the quiz. (Don't forget to print it off and hand it in. You can always go back and take it again to improve your score!)

This Ancient Egyptian timeline has a lot of really good information, too.  Read it and take the quiz. (Print off and turn in!)

A list of the major gods of Ancient Egypt can be found here. Challenge yourself to click on each one to learn more, then complete the activity.

Here's a "Cyberhunt" that is as fun as it is educational!
Look for the answer to #5 HERE. #6 can be found HERE.

How much do you know about Ancient Egypt?  Go on an Odyssey to learn something new! (Oh yea, and there's fun games to play!. . .)

Wednesday:  Time to let your creative juices flow.  Be one with your sarcophagus and decorate that baby with all the designs and patterns you can think of. Take your time and remember symmetry!  Want to color one online?  Go HERE!

Thursday:  What do you want to learn and do today?  Complete the vocabulary word search (found HERE) and as time permits, explore any of the sites below. Become familiar with what's in them; they'll make good resources later.

NOVA provides a great interactive site for learning more about pyramids; check it out!

Discovering Ancient Egypt by Mark Millmore
All about ancient Egypt, pyramids, temple reconstructions and the pharaohs. Includes quizzes and games.

We'll be reading and writing about a variety of the articles at this National Geographic site.

For fun, here's a cool jigsaw and word search to test your skill.

Check out this fun interactive site about Ancient Egypt.

Play SEEGA, an ancient two-player game still played today and MEHEN, the snake game.

Challenge yourself to fill in this Egyptian Timeline and/or this fun Puzzle.

Good grief, I have to stop!  
There's just too much cool stuff out there to explore!

Friday:  Double Science Class.  This is something worth watching! 

The Story of Earth and Life


To Do:  Correct Web Quests


Tectonic Plates, Earthquakes, and Volcanoes  

According to theory of plate tectonics, Earth is an active planet — its surface is composed of many individual plates that move and interact, constantly changing and reshaping Earth's outer layer. Volcanoes and earthquakes both result from the movement of tectonic plates. In this interactive activity produced for Teachers' Domain with images from NASA, see the relationship between earthquakes and volcanoes and the boundaries of tectonic plates.

Mountain Maker, Earth Shaker

The theory of plate tectonics has come a long way since Alfred Wegener first proposed his theory of continental drift. Geologists now have strong evidence to show not only that tectonic plates have moved and are continuing to move, but also to describe what happens when they meet. This interactive activity adapted from A Science Odyssey Web site illustrates what happens at the three types of boundaries where plates meet.


Plate Tectonics: The Scientist Behind the Theory

Some of the most influential theories began as seemingly implausible notions. This is not to say that the scientific community embraces every new idea that comes along. Alfred Wegener, the scientist who first proposed the theory of continental drift, learned that the hard way. This video segment adapted from A Science Odyssey chronicles the unveiling of Wegener's theory and shows how compelling evidence is sometimes dismissed when it supports new or incomplete theories.


  1. Why was Wegener's original idea about continental drift referred to as intuition and not science?
  2. What did Wegener find that he believed was evidence to support his theory?
  3. Why didn't others think that his findings constituted evidence?

Plate Tectonics: Further Evidence  

Early evidence showing striking similarities between regions on opposite sides of vast oceans suggested that in Earth's distant past what are now separate continents may once have been connected. However, this evidence said nothing about how the continents could have moved to their present positions. This video segment from adapted A Science Odyssey describes the search for evidence of a mechanism and forces that could propel tectonic plates across Earth's surface.

Bill Nye Talks About Sea-Floor Spreading, Too. . .

And now, a song. . .

UCLA ESS 15 ocean/climate science communication project for Prof. Tripati in Winter 2014


Plate Tectonics: Lake Mead, Nevada

Contrary to what most geologists thought less than 100 years ago, we live on a dynamic planet. Earth's surface has changed in countless ways during the 4.6 billion years since it formed, and it continues to change today. This video segment adapted from Discovering Women looks at some of the geologic processes that have shaped the landscape near Lake Mead, Nevada, and suggests that these processes may be causing North America to slowly break apart.


  1. How did the new information about the ocean floor support Wegener's theory?
  2. How do the rocks at Lake Mead support the theory of plate tectonics?
  3. What other evidence would help convince you that the theory of plate tectonics was real?

Tectonic Plates and Plate Boundaries

Continents were once thought to be static — locked tight in their positions in Earth's crust. Similarities between distant coastlines, such as those on opposite sides of the Atlantic, were thought to be the work of a scientist's overactive imagination, or, if real, the result of erosion on a massive scale. This interactive activity adapted from NASA shows the position of Earth's continents on 11 massive tectonic plates and illustrates the motion of these plates relative to one another.


  1. Which direction are the plates moving at the different types of boundaries? 
  2. What geologic features can be seen at each boundary?
Plate Tectonics: The Hawaiian Archipelago

Given that all of the Hawaiian Islands were created by volcanic activity, it is somewhat surprising that only one of the islands possesses any active volcanoes. Why did the volcanoes that built the other islands stop erupting and why are those on the big island still active? This video segment adapted from NOVA describes the role of a relatively rare phenomenon, known as a hot spot, in the formation of these majestic islands.

Thursday:  Another day of exploration, discussion, learning, learning, learning. . .Test coming soon:  Know these terms! Practice, practice, practice!

TO DO:  Complete Interactive Notebook Review Activity

A great introduction to Hydrothermal Vents

"Probably one of the biggest biological discoveries ever made on earth..."

TO DO:  Complete a 20-word "gist" about hydrothermal vents. 


Narrative Writing continues to be a major focus for us as we sharpen our use of descriptive language and dialogue.  Did you complete your Personal Narrative and "Giving Thanks" activities? Hope so.

This week we will  commence the holiday season with poetry (Haiku directions can be found HERE) and projects that will transform our room, so sharpen those listening skills; you're going to need them!

The holidays provide lots of opportunities for writing!  Let's have some fun!

When we read aloud, we can communally 
to build comprehension.

Go HERE and scroll down for links that explain 
the value of reading aloud to older children!

"The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who cannot read them.” – Mark Twain 

Monday: Complete "5 Rules" and "5 Treasures" for Bud, Not Buddy final project. (See last week's directions.)  Turn in.
Tuesday-Friday:  You've finished your book for November and I'm so anxious to read about it.  I'll provide a hard copy of your Book Report Template, but if you lose it, you can also find a copy HERE.  Final draft will be typed.

Use the Character Traits chart, found  HERE to provide greater insight and detail about the characters in your book. Use specific words to paint a picture of each of them.  (Don't rush through character description. Ever.)

We'll begin our next book on Monday!


CCSS:  6NS.C.7c  Understand ordering and absolute value of rational numbers. Understand the absolute value of a rational number as its distance from 0 in the number line; interpret absolute value as magnitude for a positive or negative quantity in a real-world situation.

Monday:  3.5 Absolute Value. Share & Show, pgs. 167-168. Homework, pgs. 169-170.
Tuesday:  3.6 Compare Absolute Values.  Share & Show, pgs. 173-174. Homework, pgs. 175-176.
Wednesday: CCSS Absolute Value Worksheets
Thursday: 3.7 Rational Numbers and the Coordinate Plane.  Share & Show pgs. 179-180. Homework, pgs. 181-182.
Friday: 3.8 Ordered Pair Relationships. Share & show, pgs. 185-186.  Homework, pgs. 187-188.

Lesson 3.5:  Absolute Value

More With Absolute Value

Lesson 3.7  Rational Numbers and the Coordinate Plane

Great lesson!

Lesson 3.8 Ordered Pair Relationships

So anyway. . .

Get NEXUS on your Smart Phone 
and never have to wonder what we're up to.

  1. Soniak, Matt. "Why Do We Wish on the Turkey's Wishbone?" Mental Floss. Mental Floss, Inc., n.d. Web. 27 Nov. 2015. .
  2. Frederick, George. "The Surprising Connection Between Turkeys and T. Rex." LiveScience. TechMedia Network, 05 Nov. 2012. Web. 27 Nov. 2015. .
  3. Taylor, Laurel. "The Etruscans, an Introduction." Khan Academy. N.p., 2015. Web. 27 Nov. 2015.