Friday, June 22, 2012

Final Updates

I hope summer is going well for all of you! I wanted to inform you of a couple of developments that may have a huge impact on my professional life...

First of all, I made a little video about the work we did concerning the country of Syria and submitted it to a contest. The contest asked for teachers to submit videos and lesson plans about activities from their classrooms that inspired "passion" in their students. I thought our work with Steve Goldberg skyping into our class to teach us about Syria fit this perfectly. So I created a 2 minute video placed in the top six! As a result, it will be featured several times at the International Society for Technology in Education conference next week in San Diego. I'm lucky enough to be going to this conference, so I'll be there to see our class become "famous!" I'll let you know how it goes. If you want to watch the video yourself, here it is:

Educators from around the world will be watching it. Pretty awesome, huh?

Also, wanted to let you know that I'll be leaving the classroom next year. I've accepted a job at our school as an instructional coach. Instead of teaching kids, I'll be teaching teachers, helping them improve their work and helping our school to become even more awesome than it already is! 

You and your children, and anyone whose child I've been lucky enough to teach, played a big part in this. I learn about teaching from the children I teach, and from the families I work with. Thank you so much for helping me. Every day I work in this new position, I'll be drawing from my experiences with your children. 

Thank you, once again, for a great's a little sad for me to think about the fact that this blog won't exist anymore, but I'm excited about what lays ahead!

Friday, June 8, 2012

Summer Learning!

A couple of things to let you know about...

Coming home today will be two Everyday Math journals. We didn't get to these very often this year, so there are lots of blank pages. These would be great for summer practice. 

Also, I've added a Summer Learning page to the blog. You can access it all summer by clicking the link at the top of the blog homepage. It has math games (I especially like Calculation Nation), spelling practice, and more. 

Also coming home today is a list of books that I recommend for summer reading and a list of technology tools we've used (or that students could use by figuring them out on their own). Save this list and use it when you need ideas for projects in sixth grade.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Important Note Home

An important note came home today...lots of Exhibition info. If you didn't get it or haven't seen it yet, I'm pasting it in its entirety here...

Ummm, I’m spent. And so are the students. We spent the entire day preparing for Exhibitions. And I’m not exaggerating. The…entire…day. They worked really hard, and if they followed along, they got the help they need and their work is complete (or very close to complete).

We are putting together a wiki page that will serve as a digital portfolio of many of their awesome fifth (and some fourth) grade projects.

This note today covers some of the last minute stuff, particularly the answer to this question: What should students talk about at their exhibition?

Here’s a short response to that.

·       INTEREST PROJECT—discuss everything you learned and show your visual aids.
·       POETRY RECITATION—Student must recite the poem they chose from memory! NO NOTES! Be sure to stand tall and talk loudly.
·       10 PLACES PROJECT—Show us your ten places page. Choose 2 to tell us about (where they are and why you chose them). Don’t read it off the board, just talk!
·       POEMS TYPED—Their poetry collection will have 15 poems. All of these must be typed. They should pick 3 of their favorites to share and talk about what’s good about them.
·       COLLEGE PROJECT—Facts and Figures and notes must be done. Article about the college must be typed. Talk about the facts that you learned and why you think it’s a good school.
·       CURRENT EVENTS/SOCIAL JUSTICE—The essay final draft must be typed. Discuss your essay…what was your thesis and what are your reasons?
·       MYTHOLOGY—Newspaper must be done. (all reading classes except Ms. Dinning) Show your newspaper and discuss what you wrote about.
·       AUTHOR STUDY—My reading class only…author study must be typed. Talk about the books you read and how they were alike and different.
·       VIDEOS & PODCASTS—You must show your Langston Hughes poetry video and talk about why you chose the pictures that you did. Hopefully you will choose another video to share and discuss, too.
·       READING WORKSHOP PROJECTS—ONLY if you are in my class…choose 1-2 projects and talk about what you learned.
·       OTHER PROJECTS IN YOUR PORTFOLIO—Are there other things you’ve done that you want to share and discuss? Feel free!

PLEASE NOTE: The stock market project isn’t going to get done! I am removing it from the requirements list. We will finish it in the remaining weeks of school and add it to their portfolios.

ALSO: Check on their progress by looking at their portfolio page on this website: .

FINALLY…I sent home checklists that will help you make sure that they have all the required parts of the biggest pieces of the exhibition (10 Places, Current Events, College Project, Mythology Newspaper).

PLEASE email any questions

See you soon!


Friday, May 18, 2012

Milestones Passed!

So, we had a huge milestone due yesterday...5 huge items all due on one day: Interest Project, 10 Places, 15 poems, a Current Events essay, and an article about a college.

Here are the folks who had it all turned in on time yesterday:


Thanks to all of them. I can't wait until Exhibitions!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

What Now?

I am checking in milestones at 11:00 this morning. I'm giving students the first couple hours of the day to put the finishing touches on these projects:

  • 10 Places typing
  • Poetry collection typing
  • Current events essay (rough draft)
  • College Project article (rough draft)
  • Mythology Newspaper (all reading classes EXCEPT Ms. Dinning)
  • Author Study (rough draft) (ONLY my reading class)
So what's next? With just under a week to go before Exhibitions start, there's still plenty of things to do! Here's what should be worked on at home, starting as soon as possible:
  • Finishing and rehearsing Interest Project
  • Memorizing and rehearsing the poem they chose to recite
  • Finishing any and all typing (not everyone got done!)
  • Creating an agenda so they know the order they will present things (they do NOT need to have an agenda to pass out, though. Just one for themselves.)
As for us here at school, starting tomorrow, we'll be doing several things to get ready. Including:
  • Finishing the 10 Places project (adding links, images, and video)
  • Building the wiki page that will hold all of our projects
  • Finishing the stock market project (we will get to this, I promise!)
  • Checking over all of our work using scoring rubrics to make sure we've met all requirements
  • Tying up all other loose ends (I'm sure there will be a few)
Wow. Deep breath. We can do it!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Important Note Coming Home Today

Today coming home you will find a list of ALL Milestone 3 requirements explained in detail. Milestone 3 is next Thursday, the 17th. There is a lot of work to be done. Things should get worked on every night at home. The note explains exactly what to do for each part.

Also coming home is an update of how your child is doing on the 10 places and poetry projects. Both are a big part of the Exhibition.

Also, here's a tip for the 10 Places project, have your child show you the SAMPLE paragraph I wrote. It includes all the parts we taught in class. Your child's 10 paragraphs should look & sound similar to that one!

Don't want to wait for them to show you? Here it is:

Want to check your child's progress yourself? Head to this page:

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Free Dress for $1 or More Tomorrow

Please read the note coming home today about Sean, a kindergarten student at UPA Mark Murray Elementary. Sean suffers from a rare disorder called ALD that leads to progressive brain damage and failure of the adrenal glands. All free dress money will go to Sean’s family to help with medical expenses. $1 is the required amount, but feel free to give more, if you are able.

I don't think I've ever gotten choked up in front of students...before today when I was talking to the class about Sean. The money we're raising will eventually help his family pay for a funeral, which is tough to think about. Sean has siblings in second and fifth grade, and as a father of 3 myself this really hits home.

So if you're able, please send in a donation for Sean's family. Keep him in your thoughts and prayers, and hug your kids extra tight tonight.