• Friday, October 15 - Good Friday to all! Another good week in the books. In social studies, we honed in on chapter 2 and five groups of early hominids. Kids researched in groups, prepared and presented their early humans and classmates took their chapter notes from these. We also looked at big picture connections among them, looking at the progression and development of skills and capabilities over time. On Friday, we looked at how our older text can sometimes be inaccurate based on new finds or research. And we briefly set the stage for our shift from hunter-gatherers to farmers (and everything that comes with that). Next week, we deeply explore that transition and the impacts that it had on early peoples. In ELA, we continued our work in Bud, Not Buddy, completing chapter 3 work and focusing on tone, feelings and emotions connected to a text. We identified a number of excerpted texts, primarily from our WIN read Out Of My Mind, and worked to find specific words to identify tone. We also utilized a Feelings Wheel to more accurately represent those emotions. After assessing chapters 1-3 in the yellow packet, we stepped back for some reteaching of evidence-based responses and applyed those for chapter 4. Next week, we will continue in text and take a mid-unit assessment to check understanding of figurative language and tone. In PE, we went "Old School" and played some competitive ball and hoop games. We also played (just with our class) Monarch, a game we had briefly been taught by Ms. Ollinger's class during pictures last week. Lots of fun, lots of movement, and in our back pocket. 

    Know that next week is a three day week as MEA teacher's conference is Thursday and Friday. Also, picture makeups have been rescheduled for October 26. See you next week for a focused three days. 

    Friday, October 8 - Fall is in the air as we continue through quarter #1. In social studies this week we wrapped up our study of the 5 themes and moved into the history part of our study of ancient history. We examined social scientists and looked at three that will inform our study of these ancient places. Archaeologists, geographers, and historians use evidence and and their experience to make hypotheses regarding artifacts, to try and make sense of the world that used to be. We took our best shot at these roles examining (observing closely) a number of artifacts and, with partners, noting our observations and comparing those with the social scientists. On Friday, we moved way back in time to look at the earliest humans. Pairs and triads were assigned a hominid to research and present on Tuesday of next week. We'll share our understandings, via a jigsaw, so all kids will end up with notes from the entire chapter. Then, we will move to the end of the paleolithic era to study the monumental shift from hunter to gatherer. In ELA, we have embarked on the novel Bud, Not Buddy. We have established a ryhthm of work, completing a pre-reading prompt, followed by reading of a chapter and an evidence-based response afterwards. This continues to build on our skill of effectively utilizing evidence from text to support our writing. We also looked at Bud's Rules to Live By and whether those rules help him to survive or thrive. On Friday, we looked at the writer's craft and how the author uses figurative language.  Then, we hunted for examples in the first two chapters (not hard to find). Next week, we'll continue our reading and pull in a non-fiction text, Steve Jobs' Commencement Speech, to look at others who want to share rules to live by. In PE, we took advantage of relatively good weather to build more skills and play more Frisbee over at Lion's Park.

    We have settled into our weekly routine and now we are looking to be more effiecient in our work time together. Being in class on time with materials is important for all of our success. As much as possible, make sure kids have what they need (Top 5) and are ready to get after it each day. The pace will quicken a bit as we have turned the calendar to October. Enjoy the weekend and we'll see you all Monday.


    Friday, October 1 - we have hit October! Quarter 1 midterms have ended as of today and those midterm grades should be in IC. Please know that midterms are a photo of where your child is at this time in terms of academic progress. These may include missing assignments from absences or work that needs to be revised or corrected and may not represent all work completed during the first half of the quarter. Please talk with your child about their progress, and if they have questions, we encourage them to connect with their teachers to clarify their grades or work that needs to be done. 

    In social studies this week, we wound up our study of the five themes of geography. We examined movement and how it presents itself in our world and then we learned about human-environment interactions. We then completed "Throw Me a Line," an application of the 5 themes, and on Friday we took our first "real" assessment over those five themes. Finally, on Thursday we began work on our summative project, Create a Country. This assignment will be due next week on Wednesday. We will work in class on Monday before moving on to our first civilization unit. We will look at what scientists help us make sense of history before beginning our study of the first hominids. In ELA, this past week was all about the narrative. We studied a well-known graphic organizer that represents many narrative pieces of writing. Then we did a "write-around" narative before completing a skeleton draft with tablemates. Finally, on Wednesday and Thursday, kids individually wrote a draft narrative of their own. On Friday, we dipped our toe into our first Engage NY unit based on the novel Bud, Not Buddy, seeking some background knowledge on the Great Depression. Next week, we'll begin our reading and work, applying many of the skills of using evidence based responses. In PE, we had pictures so only a couple of days of activity. We did head over to Lions Park for some frisbee and I hope to do more of that as we move into October. 

    Speaking of pictures, the word is next week we'll get info about viewing and purchasing those. Stay tuned. Happy to see more faces (or masks) this week. A quick word about absences. If you or your kiddo is out for just a day or two, we will connect with them on their return to take care of the work they missed. I appreciate the desire to "keep up" but with the nature of the work in 6th grade, often putting together absence work is impractical and doesn't necessarily represent the work being done in class. It might be that kiddos will need to spend a little time in A.R.T. (Academic Recovery Time) during recess when they return to get the requisite instruction and lessons. For those who are gone for extended periods of time, we will continue to put work downstairs on Mondays and Wednesdays after 2:30. Thanks again for all your hard work. Did I mention, Go Griz? See you all next week.  

    Friday, September 24 - another beautiful week with kids. We're moving through quarter 1 and finding a bit of rhythm. In social studies this week, we finished up our study of "place" as a part of the 5 themes of geography as we completed and turned in our Famous Place Posters on Tuesday. On Wednesday, we reviewed Topo Quest and then moved our focus to "regions" for the remainder of the week. We defined and identified regions primarily from a statewide and country wide persepctive, noting those areas that shared similar characteristics. Then we practiced an activity and assigned two for assessment, Regional Reasoning #2 and #3. These will be due Monday. Next week we learn about our last two characteristics, "movement" and "human environment interaction." Our summative activity, "Create a Country" will be assigned later next week along with an assessment over the Five Themes. In ELA, we shifted to academic writing and response. We responded to a number of prompts from a variety of text sources to build predictable, logical answers. Kids continue to focus on clear topic sentence writing followed by "finding" relevant text that supports that claim and then making logical, coherent connections between the two. These are works-in-progress right now, but eventually it will become second nature and will more effectivey reflect the thinking and understanding of the kids. In PE, we have been hampered by the school schedule that keeps us from being outside. We are playing some tag games and I introduced Pillo Polo midweek. Please make sure kids are coming to PE with shoes appropriate for the gym. Otherwise, they will lose credit.

    Some items for the upcoming week. First, picture day is coming up this week. You may have received an email from Ms. Laslovich noting that pictures will be taken on Tuesday, September 28 and Wednesday, September 29 during your child's PE class. That is correct. Lynch's homeroom will have their pictures taken on Tuesday during PE (4th period) and Herron's homeroom will get theirs done on Wednesday during PE (4th period). The document Ms. Laslovich attached to the email doesn't reflect that. Please know, there are no packets for pictures. Students will receive a QR code when they are photographed that will allow you to access and order their pictures (if you choose).  Most of our kids are now employed and received payment for the first week of work. We will continue to build on our community system in the coming weeks so as to build an environment which recognizes the support and participation of all students and creates positive reinforcements to move us all forward.

    Finally, we have begun to see some extended absences and want to clarify mine and Ms. Lynch's protocols for addressing work in those situations. If you expect or might possibly be out for a while, Ms. Lynch and I will look to get modified work down to the office on Wednesdays and on Mondays for pick-up. We will have those down by 2:30 (as we have afternoon prep period). You are welcome to "turn in" work down there when you come to pick up. Just make sure our names are on the assignments so they get to the right person. Know you may also be responsible for work which cannot necessarily be packaged and delivered without some classroom connection. But don't fret. We will help you to get that done when you return.

    Thanks for everyone's effort and enjoy the beautiful weekend. Oh, and GO GRIZ!

    Friday, September 17 - my apologies for those looking for last week's post. Evidently I didn't hit something so it is now below this. I will make sure to double check my page to make sure it is showing up. Sorry.

    Third week in and we're starting to find our groove. This week was the first in what I might deem a "normal" schedule. During WIN, Ms. Lynch and I will switch homerooms a couple of days a week so kids can get enrichment in math and reading/writing. We both established jobs and introduced our M&M system, and on Friday morning we had our first Kudos Club. Not sure what those are? Ask your kiddo and see if they can explain. The more kids get confident with their schedule, the more we are able to be efficient in using our time.

    In social studies, we moved from location to place and studied how place is characterized (based on physical or human characteristics or both). We focused on physical characteristics as students worked alone or in self-selected pairs to complete Topo Quest. These were due Thursday. On Thursday we shifted to more well known places as kids began research for a Famous Place Poster (due next Tuesday). Kids were responsible for finding a plethora of information that would identify their place (absolute and relative locations, facts and effective paragraphs, a significant image). Kids had access to chromebooks on Thursday and Friday. They will have in-class time Monday (no devices) before it is due on Tuesday. We will review our Topo Quest on Tuesday before moving to a study of Regions and a number of "Regional Reasoning" activities. In ELA, the focus of the week was paragraphs. Using our own background knowledge, we explored the parts of a paragraph and what makes good/bad ones. We even did a quick writing called "Bad Paragraph/Good Paragraph." On Thursday, we read the short story "The Circuit" and on Friday we introduced the concept of using "Evidence froom Text" to respond to questions. We will spend much of next week building that skill - making a claim, providing evidence from text and making the connection between the two. This skill will be a lynchpin for students' academic writing for years to come.  In PE, we learned a couple more games (Foxball and soccer/basketball) so kids will have a number of activities in their back pocket in the event I am not at school on a PE day.

    I can't tell you how much I'm impressed by the hard work I am getting from many of the kids. However, I will express one concern both Ms. Lynch and I are having as it relates to transitions. With shorter classes, it is even more important that, when we come out of the "passing period" and the tardy bell rings, we are all ready to get to work. That means materials in place, bodies in seats and focus on the class beginning. Any assistance with this conversation is appreciated. Enjoy the weekend and we will see you all Monday.    

    Friday, September 10 - solid second week for our middle schoolers. We are becoming more middle school"ish" every day. Thanks for everyones' effort and positive attitude.

    In social studies, we leaned into the 5 Themes of Geography, beginning with location. We examined the differences between relative and absolute locations. We then spent a number of days learning and practicing finding absolute locations using a number of different map resources. We had a paired assignment (completion grade) before assigning "World Map" to assess our individual understanding. We briefly introduced place and next week we will spend our week there. First we will use Topo Quest to gain an understanding of many geographic featues (physical characteristics of place). Then we will assign the Famous Place Poster to let kids flex some research skills. In ELA, we focused on reading comprehension strategies, finding connections, asking questions, making predictions, summarizing and evaluating a number of texts. We worked through excerpts from How I Became a Ghost and Peak before assessing kids' skills with Touching Spirit Bear. Then we began some basic writing evaluation using whiteboards. Next week we'll logically move to paragraph writing, the gold standard for our 6th grade writers. In PE, we spent a week honing our "frog" skills playing Ultimate Frog.

    Thanks to all families for getting those pesky forms back in and signed. It is wonderful to have that out of the way. Kids have applied for employment and we will begin to assign jobs to help our classroom run smoothly and create a sense of community. Oh, and we will start to get paid. More on that to come. Enjoy the weekend and we will see you next Monday. 

    Friday, September 3 - Fantastic work, 6th graders. It has been a long time since we had a full five-day-week to start a school year, but our kiddos rocked the house! Thanks to the kids and families who helped us get off to such a rousing start.

    For the first couple of days we spent A LOT of time learning how to be a middle schooler - procedures, protocols, rules, responsibilities, and and everything else. We also sent home a couple of sets of papers to be signed, and with the exception of a couple, they are all back and signed. Thank you for taking that off my plate so we can get to the business of learning. Also, my apologies for redundancies with some of the paperwork and timing. I think we're all getting back in the swing of being live with full classes in person.

    In social studies, we assessed some basic knowledge around maps and timelines as they will be foundational for us as we move through the remainder of our curriculum. We assigned "Who Are You" Timelines on Thursday and these will be due Tuesday when we return from the holiday. These help kids build accurate timelines and inform me a little more about your kiddo. Next week, we will begin our unit on The Five Themes of Geography, studying Location and Place, and culminating with a Famous Place Poster. In ELA, we learned about the primary components of a friendly letter, and then the kids wrote "A Letter to Mr. Herron" to introduce themselves and build skills around the letter format. On Thursday and Friday, we focused on Reading Comprehension Strategies and we'll practice those next week, assessing progress on Wednesday or Thursday. In PE, we've established some expectations around dress, participation, and protocols... and started playing some Ultimate Frog! We'll continue next week. Finally, my homeroom used WIN to get through the first week paperwork and begin our morning rituals. Next week, we get a curveball - fall STAR assessments. Ms. Lynch has graciously agreed to do those through her WIN time as she has the Chromecart. During this time, I will begin the novel Out of My Mind with all the kids.

    Thank you again for the great start to the year. Enjoy the weekend.

    Sunday, August 29 - 'Twas the night before school started and all through the class, not a creature was stirring except Dwight munching on a stray mealworm." OK, that didn't rhyme but it's probably true.

    Tomorrow you will become middle schoolers and I can't tell you how excited I am to get back in the classroom with all of you. I so enjoyed our brief opportunity to connect at Open House (great to see over 80% of kids and families), but tomorrow it becomes official. We get started at 7:45 and will go until 2:45, BUT it's just us 6th graders tomorrow. We will spend some time getting to know one another and learning some of the basics of middle school life, but mostly we will spend our time getting comfortable with our surroundings. Oh, and sending home materials that you and your student need to go over and a few forms to sign and return. Over the first few days we will add more information as we get into the work of 6th grade. In ELA, we will explore the format of a friendly letter and produce " A Letter to Mr. Herron." In social studies, we will look at timelines and gain an understanding by creating one of our own. And in PE, we'll establish some protocols (new word?) so we can get the most out of our active time.

    I will generally post here on Fridays, wrapping up where we've been and where we are going in the coming week. Please check here to find out "What's Going On."