A Sixth Grade Window

"The whole purpose of education is to turn mirrors into windows." ~Sydney J. Harris

Archive for March, 2012

Going Global…

We have been working really hard to prepare ourselves for our upcoming state test!  But, we have also been continuing to read, write, problem solve…and blog!  The connections we are making and the new learning is amazing, and so much fun!  I have just started to add blogs that we regularly visit to the left side blogroll.  Check them out…we are learning so much from them.  I was very excited following them tonight, because one of the first classroom blogs that I checked out and still one of my favorites is Huzzah.  I was scrolling through tonight and we are listed as one of their blogging friends, how cool!!!   The students loved the Huzzah surveys that the students made, we had to tear ourselves away. ;)  We are planning to make our own surveys soon.  The students have already come up with fantastic ideas and I can see such useful ways to use these surveys; writing, understanding bias, age groups, geography, reading.  Thank you!

Through taking part in the blogging challenge we also stumbled across this cool vocabulary blogging challenge creation.  Check out free rice…for every correct vocabulary answer, 10 grains of rice are donated through the World Food Programme…the discussion we had about this idea while we practiced vocabulary was outstanding.

We were also posed with this question –

Are you, your family and other members of your class, school, community going to take part in Earth Hour on Saturday 31st March at 8.30pm? Visit the Earth Hour website to find out what you could be doing.

We didn’t know about Earth Hour, so that was great learning too!

Congratulations to all students for finishing their Zoo Investigation in measurement.  The final products were wonderful!!  I am very proud of all of you.  I did promise a winner…and for their creativity, attention to measurement specifications, and hard work (even clocking recess time)….the winners of Starbuck’s on Friday are Cheyenne, Paige, Kassidy, and Meghan.  Again, great job to ALL of you!  Should we have a contest for the GeoCity? ;)




Beginning Construction

To investigate geometric concepts, we are building a city.  Each group builds a different section of a city and must incorporate many geometric concepts including lines, angles, polygons, polyhedrons, non-polyhedrons and more!  The city will look really cool when we are finished because parts of the city are 3-dimensional.

Please take a moment to answer our new poll on the right– we are going to add the data to our city project.

We also added a new book, “Because of Mr. Terupt” by Rob Buyea to our Shelfari on the left…we latched on to this book after reading the first line.  The first sentence starts out “It’s our bad luck to have teachers in this world,…”  What?!?  The first chapter definitely has our attention.

Students – check out this video that Pierson and I made to help us review some basic geometric ideas that we talked about yesterday.  We are going to be adding these concepts to our city today! :)  You should have these mastered!

Learning to Write Quality Responses

We have been working on improving the quality in our writing, especially in the area of short responses.  We were having trouble writing quality responses to videos, test questions, emails, and blog comments.  We thank Mrs. Yollis’ class  for giving us a great lesson in writing quality comments to each other and other students.

Check out this video that we decided was surprising and inspiring!  Chris, Ethan, Kassidy, and Alexis shared their responses.

We were also excited to read about the new Mark Twain nominees for 2012-2013.  We used the internet and this booklist to compare and contrast fictional genres.  In order to classify each book by genre, students found great summaries and book trailers online.  Hopefully they will post some of these soon!

Thanks again to all of the students in the blogging challenge who are visiting our blogs and leaving comments…we are learning so much about you, ourselves, and our own writing!

Edited to add – Jessie received this awesome comment in response to one of her comments to a class in New Zealand.  Thank you!  I can’t wait to talk to the class about your comment tomorrow.

<<Jessie from Your class left us a comment so we would like to reply. We went on Senior Camp to Rotorua. Rotorua has an active geothermal area and if you look google for on ” Pink & White terraces or http://www.gns.cri.nz you can see the lake we went on and the underwater pictures of the terraces. Do you think we should drain the lake?
We like your blog with all the cool stuff. Our teacher remembers disecting an eye when she was 12, black stuff went everywhere.
Are you getting ready for exams, or big tests? Our year is different to you as we start in Jan and go until Dec because it us usually very hot in December & January.
Kereru Class>>

Quick Highlights..

Positive results at the end of the 3rd Quarter:

*Thank you parents, students, staff, and my family for a great conference week! :)

*Increased 3rd Quarter grades

*SRI gains

*Looking back over the past 7 Science Benchmarks 2010-present…the latest Science Benchmark showed almost a 10% gain over all others.  Everything we did during the unit was similar to last year…except for the increased integration of technology, with the use of the iPads, in this science unit.  Today we started looking for helpful apps and websites for the study of Earth Processes.

*Thanks, Terrell, for emailing me this poem for the blogging challenge activity.

*Students taking pictures of 3-dimensional figures in order to add lines of symmetry, make transformations, slides, flips, etc.



*We have over 400 visitors!  Our goal by the end of the year is 1000!  We observed that we have been visited by 5 continents (hoping for 6…thinking 7 is not a possibility ;) ), 10 countries, and 24 states.

*Today’s twitter feed:

*Students have been tracking their learning all year with regards to specific math and communication arts learning targets.  I would love to find an app to help us do this electronically…any suggestions?

Mile 22

This week had some rough spots, now that it’s over and I’m quietly reflecting on it, I have started to feel a little guilty.  I think this time of year is inevitable…it’s getting closer to our standardized testing weeks and the feeling can be overwhelming for students and teacher. ;)  Our school has been working all year with the analogy of preparing for the test as similar to a marathon, which is a great analogy.  I’ve ran the Chicago Marathon, and I know the last few miles are brutal.  You wonder if you can really do it, you question if you prepared yourself for it, you’re tired, and you just want it over with!  I heard comments this week from my students like, “you seem mad at us”, “you’re stressing us out”.  I appreciate the honesty and I assured them that I wasn’t mad at them…I just want them to be ready and prepared for middle school and beyond.  I’m not sure they understood – “you still seem mad” kept resurfacing.  ;)

On a positive note…I am so proud of some of the projects we are finishing up.  Our zoo investigation is almost finished … the results are great and the amount of applied learning was outstanding.



We are also wrapping up our informative essays.  Students worked through the process of:  1. A small group topic selection activity   2. Internet research with notetaking   3. Working through an outline of the essay concentrating on transitions and organization   4. Compiling the information in essay form   5. Presenting the essay digitally



Here are few early examples:  More will be posted on student blogs!









I am still really pleased with the help of the eclicker app for test taking work.  This is a very motivating tool.  The students complete test taking type activities on paper with their iPad beside them.  When I call out a question, they enter their answer on the iPad and immediately the results appear in a graph.  They want the class to score well, they want to see that they chose the correct answer.  It is so helpful for me to see immediately who is choosing what answer and working out some misconceptions right away instead of taking the exercises home, grading them and working through the problems a few days later.  Plus, everything is more fun on the iPad. ;)  We’re also enjoying highlighting and post-it note taking on our ibooks.


*Students – if you’re reading this over the weekend or when you read it on Monday…I’m not mad at you! ;)….we’re just on mile 22 and it’s time to take a deep breath and really dig in!!  Get some rest and I’ll see you soon! :)

Busy Time of Year!

We have been so busy lately, that I haven’t even had enough time to share all that we have been doing.

Monday, we went on a visit to EmpowerU!  This is the second day where students have participated in community building, service-learning opportunities.  It really makes students think about how they can contribute to better serve their community.  I think a common thread in this post may be that I wish there were more time.  I wish we could spend more time concentrating on a project that we could “jump start” to help our community!  The students have a lot of great ideas.   At 3:10 today, dismissal time, I found myself wishing we had another hour…we have so much to do!








Tuesday, students were visited by international music instructors!  The group from Scotland taught students all sorts of musical concepts using their iPads and ‘Garage Band’.  The music the students produced was so cool!  I saw huge smiles on the student’s faces, collaboration, fingers and toes were a’tappin!  Very impressive!  Thank you!








Right now we are polishing our digital informative essays, we are finishing our Zoo Measurement Investigation and getting ready to start geometry, we are refining and deepening our reading strategies, testing over Light and Sound, and reviewing grade six skills for our upcoming MAP test!  We are so busy! ;)

Today we reviewed grammar skills using a free app Painless Grammar Challenge.  Students are also continuing to use one of our favorite apps… “Explain Everything”, to demonstrate their mastery of math concepts.  Hopefully, the videos will be loaded soon to their own blogs.  (Thanks to all of those students out there who are posting comments to our blogs, we are working hard to start posting our work!  Your blogs are very inspirational.)

We are in the midst of our first ever blogging challenge and students are engaged in writing and amazed at the learning going on in other classrooms around the world.

Have I mentioned that we need more time? ;)

Welcome Blogging Challenge Participants!

We are 28 sixth graders and 1 teacher.
We are pet lovers.
We are daughters, sons, siblings, step-children, grandchildren, cousins.
We are proud of our Northside community.
We are Midwesterners.
We are readers and writers.
We are iPad users.
We are investigators.
We are curious about people and places in the world.
We are diverse.
We are lovers of read alouds.
We are bedazzled belts.
We are sports players and enthusiasts.
We are players of instruments.
We are artists.
We are technologically savvy.
We are fans of a basketball border showdown.
We are music and movie lovers.
We are prepared for middle school, standardized tests, and today’s world of networking.
We are jeans and hoodies.
We are cell phone users.
We are mathematicians and scientists.
We are friends.
We are talkative.
We are of multiple intelligences.
We are in our last year of elementary school.
We are becoming bloggers!

Some questions we have for fellow bloggers include:
What grade levels attend your school?
What do you do for homework?
How do you use technology in your classroom?
How do you help serve your community?

Thank you for visiting!! We look forward to a challenge. :)