• Friday, June 7 - last full week. In social studies, we assessed our understanding of Greek forms of government, reflecting on our building activity from last week.  On Wednesday, we read chapter 27, examining the contrasts between those ancient rivals, Athens and Sparta. Then, kids had their final graded assignment, completing a travel poster extolling the virtues of one of those city-states. The travel poster was due Friday at the end of class.  Next week, I will "teach the rest of history."  We will collect textbooks and participate in our grade-wide olympics, competing in athletic and intellectual games to determine the victors. In ELA, last week kids worked on their scientific boards and debates. We delivered the debates on Friday (a couple left for Monday) and the DDT Posters are due Monday. In PE, we will prepare for the Olympics on Tuesday.
    Some items for the last week.  Tuesday during 4th and 5th, we will have our last auction. Tuesday afternoon we will compete in our Olympics. We expect kids to be out of lockers on Tuesday afternoon. Wednesday afternoon, we will walk over to Splash from 1:00 to 3:00, and we will return by 3:25 for pick up.  Remember to bring $2 for Splash by Tuesday.  
    Friday, May 31 - busy, short week.  In social studies, we completed Greece maps on Thursday and built Greek temples on Friday as city-states. Next week, our focus will turn to forms of government when we will "experience" each while trying to complete a task.  After that, we will examine the differences between the classic rivals, Athens and Sparta.  We will create persuasive posters representing the city-state we find to be the best.  In ELA, we read chapter 14 in Frightful's Mountain and then focused our attention on our DDT debates. On Friday, we outlined our last two assignments.  The first is a scientific poster communicating one argument around the DDT issue.  These small groups (2-3) will need to complete these by Monday, June 10.  Also, pairs of students will debate one another using topics related to school.  We will determine teams and topics on Monday and will debate on Thursday and Friday. In PE, we will hopefully get outside for some games.
    Thanks to all those who contributed their time and energy to Camp Washington.  It was a wonderful, exciting time for all.  Also, thanks to all who contributed to the Walk-a Thon.  Again, it was a super experience.  Coming up on June 12, we will head over to Splash in the afternoon.  Cost for this is $2.  If possible, get that to me sometime next week. 
    Friday, May 17 - big week coming up. In social studies, we took our China assessment over Monday and Tuesday and shifted to our study of Greece, specifically its geography. On Friday, we "experienced" the region, with some of us in farming communities, some in non-farming city-states, and others in colonies spread across the region.  Then we traded, traveled, and sang about our experiences. We will debrief on Monday and will establish our city-states for the remainder of the unit. Students will then complete work and compete against other city-states for the honor of all of Greece. Monday and Tuesday city-states will create flags to represent their region, along with statements of pride that will guide them through our study.  In ELA, we read chapters 12 and 13 of Frightful's and we began practicing debate, identifying and supporting a claim, supporting their own arguments and then countering (rebuttal) their opponent's. We will read chapter 14 next week before we head off to camp. In PE, we took advantage of bad weather to do our last day of dance and we will continue lacrosse, if we can get outside.
    Camp Washington is happening on Wednesday.  Some reminders - kids need to be dropped off on the bus side of the building on Wednesday between 8:45-9:00. We will return on Friday by noon and kids can be picked up then over at Lion's Park across from school.  Make sure kids have a sack lunch for Wednesday... and no cell phones.  The weather forecast is a mixed bag (40's and 50's with a pretty good chance of rain) so pack accordingly.  A wet, cold student makes for a lousy camp experience. Students not going to camp will follow a regular-ish schedule.  They will begin the morning in Ms. Keffeler's room.  
    Friday, May 10 - a sunny end to a really focused week.  We completed our SBAC tests (Moonday through Thursday) and the kids gave super effort each day.  Additionally, they conducted themselves admirably with schedule changes and allowing others the same space in which to do their best work.  Thanks to all.  Interspersed, we were able to do some work. In social studies, we had two assignments kids could work through.  Reading Notes 24 (Silk Rooad) needs to be complete by next Monday, the day of our China assessment.  We also assigned the Silk Road journals, a narrative opportunity to express our understandings of the silk road. These are due Tuesday. As mentioned, we will have our unit assessment on China on Monday.  After that, we are off to Greece. We will spend the week exploring the geography of the region and we will organize into our city-states.  ELA was proabably the big loser in the testing setting so we were only able to get through Frightful's Mountain chapter 11, journal and vocabulary. That should be completed by next Monday. Then, we will look at evaluating sources and credibility as we prepare to debate.  In PE, we are winding up folf and will move to some lacrosse skills. Don't worry, we won't play.  
    Camp is right around the corner (a week from Wednesday). Reminder to begin gathering items from the checklist. Please be aware, if there are items that you cannot afford, we have some donated monies which are available for that. Just reach out to me and we can get you set up. Please, however, do that early next week. Finally, the student council has organized the Walk for Washington Walk-a-Thon to take place May 31.  Kids are being encouraged to ask for donations as we attempt to reach our goal of $15,000. We have laid low on this because of testing, but we will refocus our energies next week.
    Friday, May 3 - in social studies, we explored the Han dynasty, reading text from chapter 23 and creating seven panel notes.  Those were due Thursday.  The remainder of the week we focused on the original Internet, the silk road. On Wednesday, we completed an experiential exercise, traversing the silk road and trading goods in an attempt to accumulate each of the items available. On Thursday, we debriefed as we considered other things traded (religion, disease, culture) and on Friday we began Reading Notes 24.  We'll finish those over the course of next week so we are able to take our China assessment on Monday, May 13.  Next week, we'll view a National Geographic video "Lost in China" and begin work on our Silk Road Journals. Again, we will slot that work in and around our SBAC testing during the week. In ELA, we have read and completed journal notes through chapter 10. We also began the process of considering topics for debate. Next week, we'll begin to evaluate a number of sources for credibility and appropriateness for argument. In PE, we continue to play folf, but also we are doing some circuit training.
    SBAC testing will take place most of next week.  We will test in the afternoons on Monday and Wednesday and in the morning on Tuesday and Thursday.  Because of testing, we will run significantly altered schedules and, also,we will generate much less graded work.  Be assured we will be working, but the focus this week needs to be on testing.   
    Friday, April 26 - short week but a busy one. In social studies, we created posters of Emperor Qin either commemorating him or condemning him.  Included were images and statements that supported our positions.  We completed one more graphic organizer before beginning our writing on Friday.  Using all our resources, we are writing an argumentative essay regarding the effectiveness of Qin.  These will be due Tuesday of next week.  Then we will briefly touch on the Han dynasty (centered on Confucianism) before traveling the silk road.  In ELA, we studied the sidebars of "The Exterminator" finding gist and determining how they supported the author's argument.  Then we began our mid-unit assessment, again showing our ability to trace and evaluate an argument.  We began on Friday and it will be due next Tuesday at the beginning of class.  We also read chapter 8 of Frightful's and I will take another grade based on chapters 5-8 as kids respond to the focus questions, provide evidence to support that response, and the identification of unfamiliar vocabulary. Next week, we will continue reading Frightful's (ch. 9 and 10) and we will prepare ourselves to write our own arguments by evaluating a number of resources and then choosing a side to argue (for or against the use of DDT).  In PE, we continue to bounce inside and out based on the weather, dance inside, folf outside.
    Couple of things coming up.  SBAC testing will take place the week of the May 6.  Camp is two weeks later.  I'm still missing some permission and medical forms. They need to be in by Wednesday, May 1.  Now is a good time to start gathering items from the checklist so you're not caught off-guard.  Trouble getting items?  Let me know and we can do some problem solving.  Kids were introduced to the Washington Wildcat Walk-a-Thon on Friday.  Info will be coming Monday next week.  Look for a donor sheet.  
    Friday, April 19 - in social studies, we completed our study of the third Chinese philosophy, Legalism. Don't worry. I like your kids. We finished Reading Notes 21 and moved to Emperor Qin, the poster child for Legalism.  We worked through Reading Notes 22, examining how Qin rose to and maintained his power.  We will use these notes next week as we begin to build our arguments for or against the effectiveness of Qin.  Then we will look at chapter 23 as the Han take us back to Confucianism.  In ELA, we introduced "The Exterminator," finding gist and then tracing the argument of the article's author.  Those were due on Friday.  We also moved though chapter 7 of Frightful's Mountain, continuing to answer the focus question, connecting that with evidence from text, and identifying unfamiliar vocabulary.  Next week, we will look at the sidebars from the "Exterminator" and then we will be ready for a our mid-unit assessment that will have kids trace arguments in another article and video.  In PE, we continue with our inside/outside rhythm, dance inside on bad weather days, folf outside on good ones.
    Camp permission and medical forms went home Monday and need to be returned.  Any outstanding camp payments need to be made.  We're off on Monday, but Tuesday we are back at it.  Enjoy the long weekend and be ready to work Tuesday.     
    Friday, April 12  - in social studies, we completed our study of the Shang dynasty and the artifacts that express who these people were.  Next, we began our study of the three principle philosophies of China by conducting our classroom in the style of each philosophy.  Friday, we conducted a Confucianistic class and on Monday we will switch to Daoism.  On Tuesday (after reassuring kids that I like them), I will conduct class according to Legalism.  The product created for this assignment is Reading Notes 21, and that will be due Wednesday.  On Wednesday, we will shift to our study of the best (or worst, depending on your perception) legalistic leader, Emperor Qin.  We will examine his rise to power, his reign, downfall, and what stands in his wake (Great Wall, terracotta warriors). We will then have the chance to write persuasively about whether we find him to be effective or ineffective as a leader.  In ELA, we continued reading Frightful's and completing our journal packets through chapters three and four.  We began "tracing an argument" as we looked at the John Stossel video on DDT.  We began those today and we will finish those by end of class Monday.  Then we will move to the non-fiction writing called "The Exterminator," and again we will trace that argument, finding claims and evidence and determining whether those are sufficient to suppport the argument. We will also continue to read our novel (chapters 5, 6, 7) responding to focus questions and deciphering unfamiliar vocabulary in our journal packets.  In PE, we have begun our dance unit.  Kids self selected "crews" and are developing dances to share with the class.  Once done, we will perform for one another, choose the best, and then that crew will teach their dance to us all.
    First, we have a camp nurse (Yeah!).  We still have a few Camp Washington fees out.  If you can, please get those in as soon as possible. The parent meeting for volunteers is on Tuesday, April 16 at 6:00 in my room. We are aware there is an orchestra ensemble event at 7:00, and we will be done well before that.  Finally, camp permission forms and medical forms will go out Monday and those need to be back this week so those can be passed on to the school nurse for compilation.      
    Friday, April 5 - quarter 3 is in the books as of today.  In social studies, we have left India and have begun our study of China by completing Unit 4 Geography Challenge and reading chapter 19 about the geography of China.  We used that knowledge in small groups to create China Maps, representing the climate, vegetation, physical characteristics, and regions of China.  This will be due Monday ten minutes into class.  We will then visit our earliest dynasty, the Shang,and "unearth" their artifacts to better understand them.  The Reading Notes 20 activity will be due Wednesday.  On Wednesday, we will move to chapter 21 and be introduced to Emperor Qin, the first ruler of China.  Over the next three days, we will teach about ancient Chinese philosophies by learning in classroom conditions that are reminiscient of those philosophies (one of my favorites for the year).  In ELA, we have begun Frightful's Mountain. On Monday and Tuesday, we did some Internet research on peregrine falcons and other birds of prey and then wrote focused, informative paragraphs to reflect our learning.  We did this to create background on these raptors before starting the book.  On Wednesday, we read chapter 1 and completed the accompanying journal activity.  We did the same on Friday with the reading and journal due on Monday.  Home paperback copies will be handed out as we will be asking for more of this text to be read at home in preparation for 7th grade expectations.  Next week, as we continue to read, we will begin looking at some non-fiction texts that will provide the basis for our arguments on the topic of DDT.  In PE, we moved outside for bocce ball.  Next week, we will continue with lifetime sports (unless it rains).
    Camp Washington money was due in March so if you have not paid, make sure and do that as soon as possible.  We will be selling Camp Washington tees and sweatshirts next week ONLY.  Ms. Lynch should have put a link in the team email, and I will have paper copies of the order forms available on Monday.  We turn these around quickly so kids can have them at camp if they wish. Finally, we have one more significant need remaining for camp - a nurse. We are required by our contract to have a nurse or physician on site while we are at camp.  Generally, they distribute medications and handle our first aid needs.  If you or someone you know would be willing or interested, please reach out to any of the teachers here at WMS. Oops - one more thing.  Sign-ups for track and field began this week and the first practice is scheduled for Thursday.  I really want to encourage kids to consider participating.  It's one of only two sports that sixth graders can do here at school, and it's a great opprtunity to get a taste middle school sports.  And it's fun! Forms are available across form my classroom and need to be turned in before kids begin practice.     
    Friday, March 22 - we have made it to spring break!  In social studies, we created billboards to represent King Ashoka's edicts, messages to be communicated throughout the unified Indian empire.  Small groups took actual edicts and recreated them as billboards, and the opposite class had the chance to try and match the edict to the corresponding billboard.  Great cooperative work.  On Thursday and Friday, we took our Unit 3 Assessment over India.  I really appreciate the hard work kiddos put forward on this.  Great practice for SBAC coming in May.  When we return from break, we will dive into China (not literally).  We'll spend much of the week getting our bearings by studying the geography of this vast country (I betcha there are rivers involved).  In ELA, we spent the week on three activities.  Students wrote their literary argument essay (five paragraphs supporting one of two claims), completed the Bud, Not Buddy final assessment (not an assessment grade), and composed an "I Am" poem from the perspective of Bud.  These were all due on Friday.  With that, we close the book on that unit and shift on our return to Frightful's Mountain.  We will establish some background knowledge on peregrine falcons and other birds of prey before launching into the text.  In PE, we finished up our net sports with pickleball.  When we return, we will either dance or play some lifetime sports, depending on weather and field conditions.
    As we return after break, be aware that camp money was due on March 15.  Please make sure you are taking care of that or communicating with me about how you intend to do that.  Parent volunteers, our meeting is April 16.  Make sure to mark your calendars.  Have a safe and relaxing break.  See you in April. 
    Sorry - not sure why this didn't publish on Friday. Last week's post is below.
    Friday, March 15 - one more solid week 'til spring break but lots to do.  In social studies, we completed our study of the Buddha, completing a square representing one of the aspects of the Eightfold Path and a graphic organizer that traces the origins and teachings of the Buddha.  These will be used next week on our Unit 3 Assessment.  On Monday we will read chapter 17 (very short) and begin our work on Ashoka's Edicts.  Groups will create "billboards" representing the edicts of King Ashoka, and then they will see if fellow classmates can match the billboards to the actual edicts. On Thursday and Friday, we will take our Unit 3 Assessment.  Beginning Monday, I will be encouraging kids to "study" their various notes on the unit so as to be better prepared. In ELA, we've finished Bud, Not Buddy and we are working our way through completing our literary argument essay, with kids sharing body paragraphs with me, getting feedback, and then continuing the assignment. On Monday, we will spend a little time reviewing introductory paragraphs. The completed essay will be due by end of class on Friday.  Additionally, this week kids will be working on the Bud, Not Buddy Final Assessment (NOT an assessment grade) and an "I Am" poem.  All of these will be due by the end of class on Friday.  In PE, we will be finishing up our pickleball unit, playing games (hopefully in the new gym). Please make sure we have appropriate shoes to participate.
    The camp deadline for payment is today.  Again, cost is $110 for kids, $75 for volunteers. Arrangements or payment is appreciated as we get closer to camp in May.  Parent volunteers, a reminder of our meeting on April 16.  More details will be coming as we get closer.   
    Friday, March 8 - parent/teacher conferences are in the book (at least most of them).  In social studies, we began our study of the ancient (and current) Indian religion of Hinduism.  We completed a three stations activity where we gathered a multitude of information from text, notes, and videos to respond to questions.  These were completed on Thursday.  On Monday, we will delve more deeply into the five principle beliefs of Hinduism, completing a mandala representing these beliefs. These will be due Wednesday. Then, we will examine the origins of Buddhism and the principle beliefs held by these people. In ELA, we will finish Bud, Not Buddy and begin our work on a literary argument essay that focuses on whether Bud's rules help him to survive or thrive.  We will begin with a graphic organizer on Monday and build to the actual essay during the course of the week.  In PE, we will begin playing pickleball games as we wind up our net activities.
    Be aware that the deadline for camp payment (or arrangements) is Friday, March 15.  Students are $110 and parent volunteers are $75.  Checks can be made out to Washington Middle School. Looking forward to two solid weeks of work as we have much to do.  I know you can do it.
    Friday, March 1 - it's March??? And we had a snow day???  Hard to believe.  In social studies, we completed our Ancient India Graphic Organizer and got those in on Wednesday.  Then we got our hands dirty, creating artifacts representing the accomplishments of Mohenjodaro and then presenting those to the class so we all could have a better understanding of this ancient culture.  Students walked away with 8 panel notes from this actvity.  Next, we began a broader exploration of Mohenjodaro and the Indus River valley through "The Heart of the Matter."  On Friday we began a multi-faceted study of this region through text, notes, and videos.  Students found facts, wrote a focused paragraph, and decided on the most important idea, the heart of the matter.  We will continue Monday with the assignment being due at the end of class.  On Tuesday, we will begin studying our first Indian religion, Hinduism.  Kids will work through three stations over the course of three days to gain a clearer understanding of the ancient religion and its importance today.  In ELA, we completed our study of the first three stanzas of "If" and we will assess on stanza four on Tuesday.  This will include comprehension and comparisons with themes we've found in Bud, Not Buddy.  Speaking of, we are through chapter 16 and have just three more to go.  We should finish early next week and then we will look to write a longer, claims-based essay focused on the concepts of surviving and thriving.  In PE, we have begun pickleball.  We will begin "playing" this week.
    Parent/Teacher conferences are March 5, 6, and 7.  I still have a half dozen or so kids who have not returned forms.  Please get those back ASAP or email me to confirm your time.  A reminder that there is no school Friday and Thursday is a half day. Finally, Camp Washington payment deadline is coming up on March 15. A reminder that students are $110 and volunteers are $75.  
    Friday, February 22 - in social studies, we took our Unit 2 Assessment on Wednesday, and then shifted our focus to the study of ancient India.  We did a paired inntroductory activity in our workbooks and responded to three critical thinking questions primarily focused on advantages and disadvantages of settlement in particular regions of India.  On Friday we began a graphic organizer activity that asks us to rate the suitability for settlement for each of the eight geographic features found in ancient India.  We continued that on Monday, with it being due in Tuesday. Next we will move to Mohenjodaro, one of the first settlements on the Indus and Sarasvati rivers. In ELA, we are moving through Rudyard Kipling's poem "If" looking for more rules to live by.  We began an analysis of the first three stanzas on Friday and will continue that through Tuesday.  We also continue reading Bud, Not Buddy, finishing the pivotal chapter 14 and we will move through chapters 15 and 16 this week.  In PE, we are starting pickleball, our final net sport. A number of kiddos are not bringing shoes for gym.  Make sure you are prepared fro class.
    Parent/Teacher conferences are coming up on March 5, 6, and 7.  Kids received forms on Monday and those need to be returned ASAP.  I have scheduled you based on your time and day in the fall.  Please return or email your responses.  Also, the Camp Washington payment deadline is coming up on March 15.  A reminder that students are $110 while parent volunteers are $75.
    Friday, February 15 - halfway through February.  This week was a little nutty.  After a student holiday Monday, we spent most of Tuesday on the mountain (Marshall, that is) doing snowpack research and a little snowshoeing. In social studies, we presented oral reports on Wednesday and Thursday with final reports for ELA due Thursday, also. On Friday we introduced the Diaspora Acrostic and looked at what kiddos need to know for our Unit 2 Assessment on Wednesday of next week.  With that we will wind up Egypt and head east to India.  In ELA, we completed our assessment using the Steve Jobs speech and moved through chapter 13 in Bud, Not Buddy.  Next week, we'll continue reading and make connections with another written piece, "If" by Kipling. In PE, we have started playing badminton.  Make sure to wear tennis shoes.
    A reminder that there is no school Monday, and Tuesday we will travel to MCT for a number of short documentary films (10:30 - 12:15) put on by SPARK and The Big Sky Documentary Film Festival.    

    Friday, February 8 - Busy couple of weeks coming up.  In social studies, we have been working on the Egypt Exhibit projects and papers.  Rough drafts along with bibliographies and prewriting were due Monday.  Those were returned with feedback and the final drafts are due Wednesday, February 13.  Oral reports are also due Wednesday and we will do those both Wednesday and Thursday of next week. Keep in mind, the oral reports require a "museum piece." We are almost done with Unit 2, finishing our Illustrated Scrolls on the ancient Hebrew leaders on Friday. We will have a Unit assessment over Egypt, Kush and Canaan late next week. In ELA, we are through chapter 12 in Bud, Not Buddy and we continue to add to our journals.  We also have more closely examined the Steve Jobs speech and will take a final assessment over the 3rd story on Wednesday.  Today, we completed a graphic organizer that will help us do that.  In PE, we have finished up volleyball and have shifted to badminton, one of the 6th graders' favorites.  Make sure to have appropriate shoes.

    Some reminders - no school for kiddos Monday.  Teachers are in training all day.  Our team (Herron/Lynch) are off to Marshall Mountain Tuesday for snowpack assessments and snowshoeing.  Dress in layers and warm - hats, gloves, waterproof clothing if possible.  Pack a lunch.  The next Monday, the 18th, is President's Day holiday so no school again, and Tuesday we are going to MCT for the documentary film festival.  Busy, busy, busy.  Oh and we had our Positively Extreme assembly today, and our 6th graders were great. Kudos to you all!


    Friday, January 25 - semester 1 in the books.  In social studies we selected topics for our Egypt Exhibit project and focused our research on those topics.  We also spent some time learning about MLA citations, and we practiced on a number of sources to prepare for the project.  We touched briefly on the complicated relationship between Kush and Egypt, noting what made it so awkward.  Next week, we'll get due dates for the project and paper, do some more online research, and start to put our ideas into a written format. In ELA, we are continuing our reading of Bud, Not Buddy, making entries in our journals noting chapter titles, figurative language, connections, questions, and mental images.  Additionally, we spent a couple of days finding a spelling bee participant from each of the classes.  We had a brief introduction to the Steve Jobs commencemnet speech and we will study it more in depth next week, ending with an assessment.  In PE, the nets are up and we are playing volleyball.
    Please know, a form for Camp Washington went home on Friday.  Please read carefully and respond appropriately.  As a note, please be aware that we presently are in need of many volunteers, and in the absence of those, camp can't happen.  Feel free to reach out if you would like more information.
    Friday, January 11 - Welcome to the new year!  We are back after the holidays, ready to work.  In social studies, we spent the week examining Egypt's social pyramid, the organization of this grand civilization.  We read the beginning of chapter 9 before breaking into cooperative groups and becoming "experts" on one of the social classes.  Then, we prepared, rehearsed, and performed interactive dramatizations to teach the remainder of the class about our social class.  Students took notes to clarify their understanding of the pyramid.  Next week, we'll double check our notes.  We will then take a few days to quiz over geography in an attempt to identify our representative for the school-wide geography bee.  Then, we'll outline the expectations for our Egypt Exhibit.  In ELA, we introduced Bud, Not Buddy, our next novel in the EngageNY curriculum.  We created some background around the Great Depression, the setting of our novel.  Then we began the novel, reviewing how we cite evidence from text and how we create inferences.  Then, we defined some forms of figurative language (simile, metaphor, personification) and began to find those in the text.  We also began looking at tone and how it is represented in that figurative language.  We have read through chapter 4 and will probably get through another three or four next week.  We'll also begin looking at two informational texts, speeches by Steve Jobs and Barack Obama, that we will use BNB to help us understand.  In PE, we have begun net sports, starting with volleyball.  Make sure you have shoes to be able to participate. Otherwise, your grade is negatively impacted.
    Friday, December 21- We have made it.  In social studies, we completed Egyptian Timeline posters, checking to make sure we really understand the concept.  We also viewed the film Mysteries of the Pyramid, and exploration into a newer theory of how the Great Pyramid of Giza may have been constructed.  Fascinating stuff and wonderful food for thought.  Next week, we will explore the Egyptian social pyramid, examining the roles and responsibilities of each level of society.  We will present their lives through the creation of skits and then create notes based on these.  We will then introduce The Egypt Exhibit, our first research project of the year.  Students will be creating a written report, oral report, and a museum piece to reflect their topical focus.  In ELA, we finished up The Lightning Thief and kids should have completed their narrative/hero's journeys.  We also assigned and completed our Lightning Thief Postcard project.  Those were due on Friday.  Next week, we dive directly into Bud, Not Buddy, our next novel. We will show how we've developed our ability to find evidence in text and how to identify and create inferences. We will read chapters 1 and 2 this week. In PE, we may play a little more hockey as we figure out how to set up the gym for our net sports. 
    The "White Elephant Gift Exchange" went well, and I appreciate how well we engaged with one another in the activity.  As we come back from break, we will talk about what to do with our addtitional funds.  Thanks again for all who contributed.
    Friday, December 14 - We are now in the home stretch to the holidays.  In social studies, we have begun our exploration of ancient Egypt.  We have completed our geography challenge, expoloring the physical charcteristics that define the settlement of the regions of Egypt, Kush, and Canaan. We completed Assessment 7 Notes to make sure we had mastered the content. Then we studied the principle pharaohs and their monuments through Reading Notes 8, the postcard activity.  Additionally, we viewed a video ("The Mysteries of Egypt") as a broad overview and to start students thinking about a possible topic for their Egypt Exhibit research project that we will begin after break. This week, we will spend time checking our timeline skills and doing a little more preliminary research on Egyptian topics. In ELA, we have read through chapter 21 in The Lightning Thief ("The Supreme Ordeal") and worked the majority of the week on our narrative/hero's journey, our summative assessment for the unit.  These are due Monday at the end of class.  I will be giving feedback as kids move through  the revision process.  And kids will get to finish the book this week!  Please, make sure home copies of the text get returned this week as we will begin a new book when we return from break. In PE, we are playing floor hockey.  Please remember to have appropriate shoes so you can participate.
    A couple of notes to pass along.  Last week, we invited kids to participate in a "White Elephant Gift Exchange" for Friday, December 21.  If they choose to participate, kids should bring a wrapped gift before Friday, with a maximum value of $3. We will flex our decision-making skills and have a little fun.  Can't wrap?  I have paper here.  Short on funds? Come see me because we have a solve for that.  Finally, my class chose to fulfill three wishes from the WMS Giving Tree.  To pay for this, we collected change (just change) for a couple of weeks.  We actually collected 9.5 kilograms. I went shopping on Thursday and purchased all the desired items (plus a little more), and we will wrap and deliver those this week.  The best news is ... we still have over $100 left for others.  We will spend some time after the break figuring out where we want to spend that money.  Thank you so much for your generosity! It's incredible what we can accomplish when we work together and a reminder of what the season is all about. Thanks also to those who contributed to the Winter Warmth Drive. It is much appreciated. 
    Friday, November 30 - back from break, we are locked in for the next few weeks.  In social studies, we have taken our final assessment on Unit 1 and we are winding up our work on that topic.  Monday and Tuesday, we worked through the Unit 1 Timeline Challenge in the workbook.  Wednesday, we intoduced the legend stories of Sumer, reading the story of Gilgamesh and Enkidu.  Kids then had the opprtunity to write "The Rest of the Story."  Those were due Friday.  On Friday we played "set," what many believe to be the first game, discovered in Mesopotamia.  Next week, we will "move" south and west as we begin our study of Egypt.  We will begin with Geography Challenge #2 and then study the physical features that led to settlement in the Nile River valley.  In ELA, we continued our movement through The Lightning Thief, reading chapters 15 and 16.  We've begun our prewriting/brainstorming for our Unit 3 culminating activity, an original hero narrative.  We'll begin that in about a week.  We continue to work on theme and identifying key elements of mythology in a variety of myths. In PE, we are finishing up our basketball unit and will move next to floor hockey.  Please remember to have appropriate footwear to participate.
    A few reminders.  During this month, we are working as a group to support those around us.  The kids chose to select a few tags off our school "Giving Tree." These items are for students and families in our school who may have difficulties getting certain items during the holiday season.  We are simply asking kids to gather change from home (off dressers, between cushions, and under seats).  We'll collect, I'll make purchases, and then we'll wrap and deliver them. Secondly, student council is sponsoring a "Warmth Drive," again for our population and their families.  We are looking for donations of new or lightly used winter wear (coats, hats, gloves, scarves, snow pants, etc.) to be made available to kids and their families.  Boih of these will run through December 14.  Finally, Kudos to our group for their unbridled participation in Spirit Week two weeks ago.  It was a lot of fun and even netted us an unexpected root beer float party.  Way to go!   
    Friday, November 17 - we are sliding into the Thanksgiving holiday.  In social studies, we are winding up our unit on early humans and Mesopotamia. We identified the characteristics of civilization, creating notes through words and images.  Then, we studied a group of people (the Hadza) who cannot be defined by these characteristics, yet they have existed for nearly 10,000 years. Finally, we assessed our understanding by identifying representations of civilization in an ancient Sumerian artifact, the Standard of Ur. Finally, we looked at the rise of the empire and the four Mesopotamian empires that held power.  Today, we began our Unit 1 Assessment and we will finish those on Monday.  In ELA, we are through chapter 14 in The Lightning Thief and we are tackling the difficult concept of theme.  We are identifying the differences between thematic topics and actual themes, and we will be applying that understanding to The Lighning Thief and then a number of Greek myths.  On Monday, we will begin the summative piece for our unit on The Lightning Thief as we begin to prewrite/brainstorm ideas for our own narrative myths, using the hero's journey archetype as our template. In PE, we are probably in for the forseeable future.  We are working on basketball skills and using these in games.
    A reminder that we are off to the Lady Griz basketball game on Tuesday, Novemeber 20.  An email went out on Thursday with the details.  Mainly, kids will be walking to the U, leaving about 10:30 and returning around 2:30 (depending on the game time). Kids will need to dress appropriately and pack a sack lunch. Also, there is no school Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. Enjoy the holiday.
    Friday, October 26 - A soggy end to a glorious week.  In social studies, we examined early humans and helped one another create notes for chapter 1.  Small groups read about their hominid, created a poster, and acted out the key capabilities of each, enabling the class to gain an understanding of the progression of these species.  Each student came away with their own notes which they will be able to use on our unit assessment in a couple of weeks.  Next, we used our first exposure to chapter 3 to create understanding around the causes and effects of creating a stable food supply, and the explosion of organized communities in the relatively brief period of the neolithic age.  Next week, we'll see the dark side - what problems arise from this growth and then we get to look at our first formalized society - ancient Sumer. And then we ask the big question - is it a civilization? In ELA, we finally took our Unit 1 assessment over chapter 8.  Much of the week we practiced finding evidence in chapter 7 and organizing our constructed response before reading chapter 8, completing a prewrite/graphic organizer, and writing using that information.  Next week, we'll move to chapter 9 and introduce another informational text, "Myths and Legends." In PE, we have taken advantage of the good weather and played some frisbee, focusing on throwing, catching, and competitive skills.
    A few notes - students were handed their SBAC results from last spring and those reports went home with kids today.  Please look for those.  The quarter ends next Friday, November 2.  Make sure all work is completed and turned in. School pictures are Tuesday, and money and envelopes need to be brought by then.  You may also order those online using the forms that went home a couple of weeks ago.  On Wednesday, according to our school rules, students will be allowed to wear costumes if they wish. However, they must adhere the guidelines which we taught-to during homeroom last week.  Primarily, students must still follow the basic rules of the dress code, we need to be able to identify them (no masks, hoods), and their costumes need to not keep them or others from learning or participating in classroom or school activities.  If you are unsure, chat with your kiddo. Finally, Parent/ Teacher conference forms went home Wednesday.  They need to be returned so we can schedule a time for November 6, 7, or 8.      
    Wednesday, October 17  - Short week with MEA Thursday and Friday.  In social studies, we did our frst two assignments in the workbook, Geography Challenge #1 and Reading Notes 1.  We became archaeologists, examining artifacts in a cave and comparing our hypotheses to those of the experts.  This assignment was due today.  Next week, we will study early humans, the paleolithic and neolithic ages, and learn about the pivotal move from lives as humter/gatherers to farmers.  In English, we've read through chapter 7 (due Monday) of the Lightning Thief and we will do our Unit 1 assessment on Tuesday.  This will be our first formalized effort at writing showing how two texts align.  In PE, we've gotten outside in the super weather, playing a little frisbee.  
    Enjoy the long weekend and get out and enjoy the great fall weather!
    Friday, October 12 - Rolling through October.  In social studies, we issued textbooks and workbooks and then spent most of the week imagining where would be an ideal place to settle.  Kids showed their choices on whiteboards and their own individual maps.  Then we flipped the question, asking them to consider where they would settle 20,000 years ago! Responses became more about survival and less about thriving.  Finally, kids used their understandings to select a specific location in Africa, Asia, or Europe that fulfilled those qualifications.  Next week, we'll start looking at who these social scientists are and where they have found proof of settlements thousands of years ago.  Kids will actually get to explore a "cave" and make some discoveries and hypotheses on their own and compare them to the scientists. In ELA, we introduced "The Hero's Journey" and read chapters 5 and 6 looking for where our text aligns with the informational text.  Next week, we will use those understandings to begin writing analyses that show how they are connected, using text evidence from both. In PE, we played Pillo Polo, a form of stick hockey.  Next week, we'll wind that up.
    Short week with MEA on Thursday and Friday. Let's make the three days solid.  See you all then.    

    Friday, October 5 - Back on track and passing the mid-quarter.  In social studies this week, we wound up our 5 themes of geography unit with a week long project and our summative assessment on Tuesday.  We worked much of the week tying together the concepts for our 5 themes in a project called Create a Country.  Kids were able to create a fictional place, through which they made both physical and political maps and identified characteristics connected to our five themes.  These were due Friday at the end of class. Next week, we actually begin our study of ANCIENT HISTORY!!! Students will be issued a text and workbook, and we will begin with a pre-assessment focused on where they might live.  In English, we took our first assessment for the Lightning Thief, the Mid-Unit 1 Assessment on Friday.  The last two weeks we have been honing our skills, particularly as they relate to citing textual evidence to support a response.  On Friday, we checked to see how we were faring.  Next week, we continue in to chapters 5 and 6 and introduce a new text, "The Hero's Journey."  Students will begin to look at Percy's story through the lens of this informative piece.   In PE, we are finally (so says the administration) free to use our new space in the east gym.  We will learn a couple more self-managed activities so we have a few in our back pocket for those unexpected PE days. The mid-term ended last Friday.  Be aware that this early on, even one missing assignment can have a significant impact on grades so make sure those are getting done (at home, at WIN, at ART). SO enjoying you guys this year!

    Monday, October  1 - Sorry about the Internet outage last Friday.  Apparently someone cut a line, so Friday's note is delivered today.  In social studies, last week we made our way through the remainder of the five themes, including regions, movement and human-environment interaction.  We found items from all over the world in my classroom (imagine that) and hypothesized how they traveled here.  We also classified statements according to their relation to the 5 themes in "Throw Me a Line."  This week, we will conclude our study with an assessment on Tuesday.  Also, we will assign our culminating activity, the Create a Country project.  We will work on them this week (due on Friday). In ELA, we are through chapter 3 of The Lightning Thief, and we are aiming toward a mid-unit assessment on Thursday or Friday.  In it we will answer questions, using evidence from text to support our responses, a skill we are focusing on daily here at the oiutset of the novel.  In PE, we are hoping to get in the gym for some self-guided games.    

    Friday, September 21 - Moving through September and happy fall tomorrow!  In social studies, we completed our famous place posters, detailing the specific "whats" that define places.  Thursday we began our study of regions, geographic areas that share similar characteristics. We'll finish that up next week and hit the last two themes of geography, movement and interaction before taking an assessment at the end of the week.  In ELA, we wrote a description called "The Box."  Then we did a quick Junior Scholastic worksheet on an informational text about the soccer team trapped in the cave before embarking on our journey through the Engage NY curriculum and The Lightning Thief.  A home copy of that novel was sent with kids on Wednesday so make sure they have them.  We will use another copy here at school. Next week, we will begini the novel focusing on the characteristics that make our main character a hero.  In PE, we are in the new gym! Make sure kiddos have athletic shoes for PE (Herron - Monday and Wednesday, Lynch - Tuesday and Friday).   
    Friday, September 14 - First full week. We're settling into our routine.  In social studies, we began our study of location, the "where" of geography.  We have looked at relative location and spent alot of time learning about and using absolute location.  We've exhibited mastery of latitude and longitude, first in a practice worksheet and then in a brief assessment.  We are now looking at the second theme of geography, place.  We identified place known for their physical features in an activity called Topo Quest.  Today, we began our favorite place poster activity.  Kids researched today and will work in class on posters to be due Wednesday.  After that, we shift to the study of regions.  In ELA, we spent most of the week practicing reading comprehension strategies using three texts.  On Thursday, we did our final one as an assessment.  Today, we began reading a short story, "The Circuit," using those same strategies and next week we'll tie a descriptive writing to that.  Be aware that we will also have our fall STAR testing Wednesday through Friday.  In PE, we will play a little more ultiamate frog and dabble in a little Ga Ga Ball.
    Kids are now employed, and next week they will receive their first paychecks.  I'm excited about our becoming a cooperative community.  See you Monday.  

    Friday, September 7 - Four day week in the books.  The 6th graders are beginning to lock on to the roles and responsibilites of being a student at WMS. In Social Studies, we are focused on location, specifically absolute location using latitude and longitude.  We even played (or started to play) a paper version of battleship using a world map and the measures associated with them.  Monday we'll assess our understanding and then move to the study of place.  In ELA, we studied reading comprehension strategies and began reading excerpts to see kids' abilities to use those strategies to make sense of the texts.  We will continue those next week along with oral fluency measures to assess our understandings. On Thursday, we completed a cross-team cooperative activity called "Obstacle Course for an Egg."  Kids did a great job or group problem solving and respectfully competing against one another.  In PE, we began playing ultimate frog.

    Nearly all forms are in with just a few going out again on Friday.  Really excited about our first full week next week.  See you all on Monday.  

    Friday,August 31 - We are on our way!  The kids were excellent in their first three days of middle school.  There is much to digest, and they dove in head first.  Finally, we are ready to get on with the learning.  In Social Studies next week we will begin to study the five themes of geography, specifically looking at place and location.  These concepts need to be in place before we begin our study of ancient civilizations.  In ELA, we will review comprehension strategies and do some quick assessments to get a bead on where we are as English students.  Also, kids will finiish up their "Letter to Mr. Herron" which will be due Tuesday at the end of class.  In PE, we will begin the year playing ultimate frog.  A reminder that my homeroom will have PE on Mondays and Wednesdays, while Ms. Lynch's kiddos will have PE on Tuesday and Friday.  Make sure you have athletic shoes of some kind for participation.
    DLI students will begin going to their class at 8th period starting next week.  I have a half dozen kids who still owe me froms so please get those in ASAP.  Thanks again for a great start to the year.  No school Monday.  See you all Tuesday.
    Tuesday, August 28 - Wow! What a wonderful night last night at 6th grade open house.  Welcome again to Washington Middle School.  I hope you had the chance to get a taste of our school and campus.  And for those who are still unsure about getting started, don't worry.  There are lots of people here who are ready to help you become a Wildcat!  School begins tomorrow, Wednesday, at 8:07.  All 6th graders will start in their homerooms, and we'll spend most of the day helping you get settled into 6th grade.  Parents, be aware there are a lot of forms and papers that will come home with your student.  Please, read, sign, and get those back to school as soon as possible.