A Sixth Grade Window

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

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!

What’s Your Angle?

Our Zoo Investigation is coming along nicely.  I’m excited to see the students’ finished products!  The first part required the students to begin developing their blueprint of the zoo, they were to make sure that each space met the specific area and perimeter requirements.  Many students were ready to move on to part 2 on Friday.  Part 2 required students to incorporate 20 different angles in their blueprint.  Students used graph paper, rulers, protractors, and their iPads to measure lines and angles.  The free app, “Angle Meter”, allowed students to place their angles below the camera on the iPad and measure the angle.  After finding out the measurement of the angle, they had to decide which type of angle it was in order to incorporate it into their zoo blueprint.  Part 3 involves elapsed time and many students were ready to start making their animal feeding and cleaning schedules.  Good work, sixth graders, I think this is our best investigation yet!

Using Angle Meter


Student blogs are up and running.  On Friday, students had just a moment to add an introduction.  Tommy and William added a snapshot of some quick poetry they made using the free app “Poetry Creator”, this app displays random words which the students were to try to make poetry from.  It was a fun word work exercise we investigated before reading a poem in class together.  Some students demonstrated quite a natural ability for poetry…

During library, Mrs. Hernandez showed the students how to maneuver some great search websites. –  Encyclopedia and Searchasaurus  – The second search engine allows elementary students to search articles by lexile, cool!

We continued to work on our informational essays that we want to turn into digital essays.  Students are really helping each other find good sources on the internet.  Blake shared a great example of how to find organized information about a college he is interested in learning more about…(too bad it’s Duke and not UNC! ;))





For the class blog challenge, I have been visiting other classroom edublogs.  The challenge asked that we visit each other’s blogs, leave comments, help add to their conversations.  It’s amazing what’s out there; lessons, strategies, use of technology (I have found some really cool virtual field trips tonight)… This blogging has opened up a whole new world for me and the students! :)

Steady Work…

After being off for 4 days, the students worked really hard yesterday…tried a lot of new strategies, displayed critical thinking skills, and concentrated on the tasks at hand.  First, we tried a new app for answering multiple choice questions called eclicker.  This app is free to all students, I did pay $9.99 for the eclicker host site so that I could enter my questions and “beam them up” to the students.  I type the questions and answer choices beforehand, students open the app, and one by one the questions I choose will appear on their screen.  After they have entered their answers, a graph appears that illustrates our class percentage for each answer choice.  The students cannot see names, just class averages.  I can see each student’s answer choice and I can email myself a score sheet for grading purposes.  This app would be a “substitution” type activity…but, it leads to a lot of discussion of answer choices, lightening fast feedback, and a little motivation vs. the dreaded bubble sheet …and it is environmentally friendly. ;)


Even though this article uses examples from an upper level science course…I thought some of his examples for ways he uses clickers to elicit higher-level thinking to be very interesting.  I like the predicting using clickers and the group opinion polls.

Yesterday, we just experimented with getting to know the app, I see solid uses for it in the future…

In other news, we are excited about trying out a class blogging challenge starting March 1st   http://studentchallenge.edublogs.org/

…and we are working on writing an informative essay that we would like to then turn into a digital essay!

More to come…

“Love is in the Air”

Valentine’s Day is a day to be collaborative, right!  :)  In math, we used an app called Groupboard.  This app is a blank whiteboard, but the catch is that it allows a group of people to chat and draw together anywhere on the internet in real time.  The free version allows up to 5 users to draw simultaneously in one group.  The students were working on what we call “math squares review” problems.  I assigned each student to a group on the board, they did not know who was in their group at first and they had to silently solve the problem together on the white board.  At first it was difficult because students were writing and erasing at the same time, but as we worked through the problems, it became great collaboration.

I think this may work even better with more difficult multi-step problems.  When we reviewed the answers as a whole group, all students had a great grasp of each step of the solution.  They really had to think while watching what was being written on their board, to know what was incorrect, to know when to write a particular step, etc.  It was also a very “safe” way to make a mistake versus going to the front of the room on the board when students may not feel very confident yet.  All students participated, it was a very productive introduction.  We could even write on the board with students from other classrooms, schools, states!  Nice job, guys…my favorite part of this video is when I hear you congratulating each other. :)


…AND even sixth graders love a “SWEET” day every once in awhile!

It was a Zoo on Friday!

Not really, but we’re building a zoo.  Friday afternoon we started a measurement investigation that requires students to build a 50,000 square foot zoo area.  There are many specifications required for the zoo.  Areas and perimeters that are specific to each type of animal…specific angles are required in the sidewalks, water features and more.  Students work in groups to create a blueprint of the zoo and record all of their measurements.  They were really grappling with how to scale the measurements to fit on graph paper.  Here is a short video clip of a minute of our work.  Just experimenting with video and editing, need to work on the volume.  Meghan, you are a much better videographer than I am. :)

I found two free apps to help us with graphing and measurement.  “Angle Meter” uses the camera, you can place it on top of a graph and it will automatically measure the angle…an interactive protractor.

Another app, called “Quick Graph”, will be a great review for what we just finished studying in algebra.  You can enter any equation and it will graph the equation for you.  This will be a quick way to review linear and non-linear functions.


Class, remember this weekend you were to do a little investigating…trying to figure out how to represent the area of our zoo on the graph paper.  And you were to take a peek at the “Classics” you have on your iPads…let’s talk about the assortment on Monday.  If you are curious, you can check the lexiles at http://www.lexile.com.

Oh, and some of you were wondering if we would ever have a visitor from another country…looks like we did!  Woohoo!   Check out the poll on the right too, I hope on Monday all of you choose “within the last 24 hours”. ;) (Jessie, your comment was very funny, strategy huh??)

Have a great weekend!  See you Monday.

“Everyday We’re Shufflin'”

*First, cheers to all of the students who have used iMovie to complete a book trailer!  Thanks Mrs. Burright, for the cool idea!  I decided I would work on making one for a book that I had read recently, and as I was making it I thought of all of the critical thinking I was putting into it.  I realized that when Kassidy made this book trailer she really had to understand the setting, she had to visualize the story, she had to know the plot, she summarized, she synthesized!  I have confidence that if Kassidy had to answer a question on a test about how the setting influenced the plot of the story, she would have no trouble answering.   I can’t wait to see ALL of your book trailers.


Next, actually we’re “shufflin'” with the push of a button, instead of the old fashioned way.  Today we used icardsort for two learning opportunities.  1. We made a deck of cards with academic vocabulary terms that highlighted our new measurement unit in math…and 2. We made a different deck of cards to enhance our spelling skills. Some time ago I learned a strategy for helping older students spell words correctly, that is to have the students spell the words backwards.  First, students spelled specific words backwards, next they spelled them correctly, then they made cards with the words containing missing letters.  The students quickly organized their cards to match up.  At the end of the lesson I asked them to push one button…all of their cards automatically shuffled and their “pretty” work needed to be put back together!  Thanks Kade for showing me how to change the background so that we could use this graphic organizer to match the spellings of the words.


Sixth graders, tomorrow is Friday! :)  I better stop writing and start thinking of a weekend project we can work on.  “Temple Run” may help with hand/eye coordination, but you won’t convince me of its educational value. ;)

Reflections 2/8

It is very exciting to log in to the computer tonight and be able to “see” students doing their homework, talking through math problems…amazing!

Here Padon is working through turning an improper fraction into a mixed number.  Wonderful job, Padon…I’m proud of you!  Class, Pierson (my personal assistant ;)) noticed that Padon may not have recorded the correct final answer…what do you think?

Today we also discovered a great way to record and organize notes.

We read a nonfiction article about Amelia Earhart and each student chose what they thought to be the MVP (most valuable point).  They recorded their MVPs in Evernote.  It’s cool because we found out that we can arrange our responses, thoughts, vocabulary, notes, etc. in a very organized way.  Today we just opened a notebook for “Reading Nonfiction”.









Sixth graders, I got to thinking tonight that when you shared in your small groups we should have recorded the other student responses in our notebook…then we really would have had a great outline of the article.  What did you think of the way we shared out today>> Student 1 reads his MVP, student 2 responds, student 3 responds, student 4 responds, then student 1 defends/explains his or her point and the process moves to student 2…were you able to keep from “crosstalking”?   I noticed many of you had the same MVP, what do you think that means?

We are also starting a new study in Measurement…if anyone knows of an app or website that would be helpful, we would love for you to send it our way!

Can you “Explain Everything” today?

Today we are going to “explain everything”! :)  Take a look at this quick tutorial that shows us the features of the app known as “Explain Everything”.  Last night, Pierson wanted to help me use this app to show how we figure out what fraction and percent of the school year has passed.  Cool, huh!  We made a few mistakes. ;)  How can you use this app to help you better understand the math lesson today? Can you explain to me how you figured out the answer to our math squares?  I can’t wait to see your explanations, maybe you can post them on your blog.

One Giant Leap for Room 20


Yesterday was the day every student in the class received an iPad for their use at school AND at home!  It was very exciting and we couldn’t wait to peek in the bags.  Students shared some of the following thoughts about how they think the iPads will change their lives:

“It will make learning more fun.” ~ Meghan

“It will be easier to find information and look things up.” ~Kali

“I’ll be able to stay focused.” ~Chase

“Some kids type better than they write.” ~Tommy

“We’re going to save paper!” ~Cheyenne

“I’m going to have everything in one place at home!” ~Blake

Last night students had their first iPad assignment – they were each assigned one app to investigate, find the educational value in, and report out on today.  This afternoon we are going to share what we uncovered in 28 apps!