Friday, December 19, 2014

Relief and relaxation

Wishing you all days of rest and nights of joy. For families who need an additional copy of the newspaper, distributed today, I am happy to provide those as soon as we return to school. In the meantime, a parent requested that I post the newspaper online. Although nothing beats seeing one's words in print and turning the pages of an old-fashioned paper, here is the link to an online version of the printed copy: 6th Newspaper

Safe travels to those of you on the road!
See you in 2015.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Just because...

I am a HUGE fan of paper arts: origami, kirigami, paper sculpting and more. Those of you who enjoy the paper arts will enjoy these sites.

365 days of origami

Peter Callesen

Brian Dettmer

Friday, December 12, 2014

Winter Break is in sight!

We will continue to prepare for the Midterm this week. Your only homework is Journal #8 on Edmodo due Tuesday. You should be using your study guide (handed out in class and available on the side of the blog) to review all the rules we have learned this year. Make sure you know which point of view should be used for each type of writing. Additionally, make sure you remember which pronouns are 1st, 2nd, 3rd person.

You need to have selected a book from the mystery genre list (also on the side of the blog) that you can complete over the break. We will be completing a project based on your book of choice beginning the day we return, so do not wait to read the book.

Day 1: Review for Midterms
Day 2: Review for Midterms and Murder Files, distribution of Bonus Passes
Day 3: Part One of the L.A. Midterm in regular Thursday blocks
Day 4: Part Two of L.A. Midterm (alternative schedule, 1/2 day)

Wednesday, December 10, 2014


In your Easy Grammar books, please complete pages 57-61 - ALL ITEMS.
Please complete pages 65-73, you may choose any five items per page to complete.

The Edmodo #8 journal entry is due 12/16. This was written incorrectly on the white board. I have corrected it.

Sorry for any confusion this may have caused! First and foremost....NEWSPAPER ARTICLE!

Also, although I am returning the Mechanics Test to each of you, I have not yet determined how the recovery for this test will be administered. Please be patient as I try to find the most effective means for assisting you.

Friday, December 5, 2014

12/8 - 12/12

This week we wrap up The Giver with an open-note, open-book test. Additionally, we complete Unit 8 vocabulary and roots. Please remember that the newspaper article is due NO LATER THAN December 12. I cannot make any exceptions to this deadline due to printing. This week, the only required guided lesson will be on subject complements on Day 2. You may choose when you wish to take your vocabulary and Giver tests - Day 2 or Day 3. Monday I will answer any questions you may have about material covered on both tests. We'll also try to get to the Book Fair. On Friday, we'll begin our review for Midterms. Each day will be a different series of competitions between groups, which I will assign. Review is always a fun experience in Room 110!

You will need to select your mystery novel from the list on the link to the right of the blog. We have some of these titles in the classroom, some in the media center, and many may be downloaded electronically. You are welcome to check out a copy from the local branch of your public library as well. You are expected to finish reading your book of choice by January 5.

I will provide information about recovery for the Mechanics test on Tuesday, at which time all students will have completed the test. If you scored below 75% you are eligible for recovery.

Monday: I will answer any questions about vocab, roots, and The Giver.
We take a trip to the Book Fair.
Students who were asked to read Among the Hidden will have a small group chat.
Use remaining time to work on E.G. 57-61 or complete a monster drawing/description.

Day 2 or Day 3: Guided - Subject complements (predicate nominatives, predicate adjectives)
Vocab and Roots Test, The Giver Test

Group review for Midterms
If I asked you to create a podcast, you will record today. Please complete the script in advance.

I'm glad you are all enjoying Murder Files!


Complete your newspaper article by Friday.
Complete the next Edmodo post (#8) by 12/16
E.G. through p. 70 by Friday (may be completed in class as well)
Take the time to clean out your binder and language arts folder. These are the items you should have in the yellow folder all year:
1) Roots list
2) Chart of literary elements
3) Six types of conflict
4) Spelling and diction packet (this is printed on blue paper)
5) MLA format
6) Point of view table (this is on more than one handout)

Other papers should be archived.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014


As we approach the celebration of Thanksgiving, please know that I often reflect on how fortunate I am to be teaching you and getting to know your families. Your desire to learn, to work hard, and to share your knowledge (that's a compound subject) makes coming in to work each day a positive experience for me. As you probably know, I am always searching for ways to make YOUR experience equally engaging.

In the coming week, we will have the pleasure of sharing the excitement of middle school with the 5th grade shadow buddies. In class we'll wrap up our study of The Giver; I will explain how the 6th L.A. midterm will be administered; we'll do some diagramming work; and we'll begin Unit 8 V&R. Please note you have a major writing assignment (newspaper article) due on 12/12. If you wish to turn in a rough draft for me to edit, do so by 12/8 so you will have time to make changes. You will also have Journal Entry #7 due 12/8 as well. Plan your time accordingly.

Monday 12/1: Annotation of The Giver BRING YOUR BOOK TO CLASS!, Distribution of midterm study materials

Day 2 (Tuesday/Wednesday): Diagramming practice, questions about Unit 8 words/roots, Murder Files (No, I won't tell you about this until class!)

Day 3 12/4: Pros and cons of uniformity, the ending of The Giver, Murder Files

Day 4 12/5: "B" schedule Rock Shabbat! Easy Grammar 57-61, Direct Objects, Murder Files


- Begin learning Unit 8 words/roots,
- Work on your Newspaper Article (due 12/12)
- Edmodo Journal entry due 12/8

From the Unit 7 test bonuos: polymorphic = able to change into many forms (poly = many, morph = ability to change, ic = having the form of)

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Finally! A block schedule!

HOORAY! I am so glad to finally have a regular week's schedule. This allows us to have our modified instruction which will be blended. The topics for guided portions of class are listed below. This week will allow us to accelerate for those of you who have demonstrated readiness. I have the final say on who is and is not ready for acceleration.

Those students, who I will meet with on Monday during class, will begin reading Among the Hidden which we will use to compare with The Giver. Additionally, students whose final 1st Trimester average was 95 or higher will be producing a podcast for our class. I will tell you more about that this week.

Your parents will receive an email late Monday explaining the Newspaper Article which I will assign in class on Monday. You must take the Unit 7 vocabulary and roots test on either Thursday or Friday. You may take the Punctuation/Capitalization test on Fri., Mon., or Tues. If you know you will be out next week, you will be taking the U7 test Thursday and the Mechanics Test on Friday.

Day 1 (Monday)
- Guided (everyone): Newspaper Article, irregular verbs (E.G. pp. 45-48)
- Independent: Check your work on the Capitalization/Punctuation pages in E.G./complete your index cards/ annotate The Giver, finish Edmodo Journal #6 (You cannot access the animalselfies site at school. Plan accordingly.)
- Accelerate: Receive Among the Hidden
- I will be checking vocabulary and roots for those of you who scored below 90% in that category 1st Trimester. I will let you know on Monday who you are. If you scored 90-100%, you are doing a super job and will be exempt from this grade!

NOTE: If you are taking the Cumulative 4-5-6 Recovery Test, you must do so during Study Hall on Monday or Tuesday of this week.

Tellus Essay revisions are due on FRIDAY - NO EXCEPTIONS. Simply fix your essay on Google Docs.

Day 2 (Tuesday, Wednesday)
- Guided: citations and plagiarism - knowing when to use quotation marks
- Independent: Telescoping Text for more descriptive writing, diagramming practice with D.O., compounds, E.G. 49-53
- Accelerated: Podcast topics and writing

Day 3 (Thursday)
- Guided: irregular verb tense, symbolism in The Giver (It is EVERYWHERE!)
- Independent: Small groups will practice irregular verbs with a fun online game
- Assessment: U7 V&R Test

Day 4 (Friday)
- Assessment: U7 V&R Test OR Mechanics Test (Punctuation and Capitalization)

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Short Week but MUCH TO DO...

***Will has a BRILLIANT tip for you all! Do you have more than one Google account? Have you forgotten which account you created your Google Doc in? Simply share your document with your other email address, then you will have it in both places!!!***

We have a regular Monday, and "A" schedules Tuesday and Wednesday. No school Thursday and Friday for Parent-Teacher conferences. I am modifying the GUIDED lessons to cover annotation for The Giver, which we did not get to on Friday.

- Complete pages 267 - 286, 307-309 in Easy Grammar
- Continue working on making your punctuation cards. You will need these for the Punctuation Test which will be offered 11/21, 11/24 and 11/25.
- Be reading and annotating (with sticky notes or a grid) The Giver. Not sure what to annotate? Take a look at the PowerPoint (link is on the side of the blog).
- Journal entry #5 is due on Monday, 11/10. Journal entry #6 will be up on Tuesday, 11/11, due 11/18.
- You have changes to your Weebly due on Nov. 17, including a blog post ON WEEBLY, not Edmodo.

IN CLASS, I will help you plan your work.
Here is the schedule of GUIDED sessions:

11/10 - Annotation, commas with clauses/coordinating conjunctions, accessing Kaizena for your essay feedback
11/11 - ("A" Schedule)Conflict in literature *EVERYONE NEEDS TO PARTICIPATE IN THIS LESSON"
11/12 - ("A" Schedule)Vocabulary Unit 7 - answers to Easy Grammar pages will be available for you to check your work.

Irregular verbs, scheduled for Monday, will be moved to Monday of next week.
Thespians auditioning for the musical...BREAK A LEG!!!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Tellus Essay

I am moving the grade for the Tellus Essay to second trimester to allow time for you to revise and resubmit AFTER I HAND BACK THE GRADES. If I leave the essay in first trimester, some students who would benefit from revising will not have that opportunity. When I have all the essays scored (probably Monday) I will be able to enter them into next trimester's file on NetClassroom. PLEASE DO NOT modify essays until I have completed scoring them all and have a chance to provide feedback.

For all of you who wrote about Foucault's Pendulum (and for those of you who didn't but thought it was interesting) this vid shows you what happens when you alter the length of the string/wire from which the bob hangs. The reason that the waves change patterns has to do with math and equations.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

The next few weeks...

As we move forward with implementing the new method of covering our content for Language Arts, I am finding that we need to look beyond the immediate week, enabling you to plan your work. Over the next couple of weeks, we will cover: completion of the Tellus Expository Essay, Cumulative Vocabulary and Roots Test (units 4-5-6), completion of the punctuation/capitalization unit, conflict in literature, diagramming sentences and more.

- Turn in the Tellus Essay via Google Docs 'Share' to both Mrs. Stein and Mrs. Healan (end of L.A. Day 2)
- Take the Cumulative V&R test on either 11/6 or 11/7.
- Complete pages 267 - 286, 307-309 in Easy Grammar
- Continue working on making your punctuation cards. You will need these for the Punctuation Test which will be offered 11/21, 11/24 and 11/25.
- Be reading and annotating (with sticky notes or a grid) The Giver. Not sure what to annotate? Take a look at the PowerPoint (link is on the side of the blog).
- You will see a new journal entry on Edmodo beginning 11/3.
- You have changes to your Weebly due on Nov. 17, including a blog post ON WEEBLY, not Edmodo.

IN CLASS, I will help you plan your work.
Here is the schedule of GUIDED sessions:
11/3 - Field Trip
11/4 and 11/5 - Anyone needing assistance with the Tellus Essay will be my first priority.
11/6 - Direct Objects, diagramming, contractions (you should have completed through p. 44 in Easy Grammar)
11/7 - Helping verb phrases, punctuation clarification
11/10 - Irregular verbs
11/11 - ("A" Schedule)Conflict in literature
11/12 - ("A" Schedule)Vocabulary Unit 7

Hints for the Tellus Essay:
- This is an EXPOSITORY ESSAY. Write in third person only. See the chart of pronouns I provided.
- Follow the instructions provided to create an inverted funnel.
- Follow MLA format.
- Cite the sources of your research using EasyBib. The link is on the blog. (You need two sources.)
- When you have completed your Webspiration PREWRITING, submit your document to Mrs. Stein.
- Proofread, proofread, proofread! Use the PEP3 method for the most effective results.

Monday, October 27, 2014


I never knew you could watch the control room at NASA! A launch scheduled for today was scrapped because there is a boat in the way of the "safe" area. This is SOOOOOO COOOOOLLL!!! Click here: NASA CONTROL

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Week of 10/27

This week begins our modified classroom. Because of our Day 2 lesson related to The Giver, our next novel, and our "C" day on Friday, this week will be a bit of a hybrid. Next week we have a field trip on Monday, but you will be able to take the Cumulative Vocab & Roots test over units 4, 5, and 6 on Day 2 or Day 3 - your choice.

Day 1 (10/27) : Guided instruction on vocabulary/root words, guided instruction on research/citing sources. Independent work on your essay. Easy Grammar pages 37 - 44 are due Friday. These pages are contractions and helping verbs, both of which are review for you.

Day 2 (10/28, 10/29): Introduction to The Giver. You will rotate between three activities. Everyone should complete all three activities.

Day 3 : Unit 6 vocab and roots test, guided instruction on essay

Day 4: "C" day - independent work on essay which is due electronically on Monday.

Remember that YOU decide what to work on in school and what to save for homework. I will be spot-checking vocabulary books on Friday for some of you to see that you completed work on Unit 6 words. This is "accountability."

Friday is "pink" day, a half day for you.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Tell us about Tellus!


This week we enjoy a trip to the Tellus Museum, after which you will compose an expository essay on a topic of interest to you. Tuesday and Wednesday (block day 2) you have the Unit 5 Vocab and Roots test AND I will be returning your Watsons essays and giving you the instructions for the Tellus Essay. We will review types of writing and purpose of writing on block day 3. On Friday, you'll have a brief (two paragraphs) written assessment of Out of my Mind and will turn in your book. You will need your book in class on Friday. I'd like for all slides for the OOMM Slides Project to be completed by Friday. The link is on the right side of the blog. Also take a look at the Weebly tutorial if you can't recall how to update your site.

Next week we begin reading The Giver, will continue in Easy Grammar with the verb unit, and Thursday will be the Unit 6 V&R test. (NOT cumulative)


Monday 10/20: Field trip. Wear teal/navy, bring lunch. If you previously ordered lunch for this day, your lunch will be a bag lunch. You will not be able to buy lunch in the morning.
Tuesday/Wednesday 10/21-10/22: Unit 5 V&R test, return Watsons essay, introduce Tellus essay
Thursday 10/23: Types of writing, purpose of writing
Friday: OOMM short assessment, slides due - you can do this during Study Hall or at home.


Monday 10/20: Complete p. 292 in Easy Grammar (apostrophes) due day 2
Tuesday/Wednesday 10/21-10/22: No homework nights
Thursday 10/23: Review literary elements as they relate to Out of my Mind.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

If you are working on the OOMM Slides...

You might see a little speech bubble on the left:
This means I have left you a comment. Click on the speech bubble to read it. You may leave comments, too, as long as they are appropriate and helpful.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

A recap of today's lesson

Today we moved from simply finding evidence in the book to describe the main characters to introducing ANNOTATION. If you OWN the book you are annotating, write directly in the margins, circle words, highlight passages. If you do not own the book, use sticky notes to help you record important information. You may wish to transfer this information to a chart. Here is a quick PowerPoint of the main ideas we covered.

Disclosure: some information in this presentation originally appeared in a teacher's web-based resource.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Upcoming weeks 10/6 - 10/15

As our celebration of the fall haggim continues, we have several more non-block schedule days. We will soon begin reading The Giver, but you will need to have Out of my Mind AT SCHOOL to use as we continue our study of literary elements. If you were absent on Friday, October 3, be sure to watch the short video on diagramming. The link is listed under "Important Links."

IMPORTANT NOTE: If you are taking the recovery version of the Prepositions Test, you must remember to come to Room 110 during Study Hall. I will give you a pass during your regular block of L.A.

This week
10/6: Unit 4 Vocabulary and Roots test, work on Watsons Essay
10/7: "A" Schedule - Work on Watsons Essay, turn in TWO copies. If your essay is completed, you may get a head start on the next journal entry or work on punctuation note cards, which I will explain.
10/8: "A" Schedule - We will be in the Media Center, sharing our Parts of Speech projects

Next week
10/13: Easy Grammar - direct objects, "functions in a sentence" vs. "parts of speech"

10/14: Literary Elements, annotation (YOU MUST BRING OOMM TO CLASS)

10/15: Annual Simchat Torah celebration at Lower School "B" day - using Google Docs, MLA format/Tellus Essay, Weebly

Due 10/7: E.G. 299-300
Due 10/8: E.G. 301-303
Due 10/13: Edmodo Journal Entry #4
Due 10/14: E.G. 304-306
Due 10/15: E.G. 265-266 AND Unit 5 V&R exercises/cards

ALSO due 10/14: Create a set of notecards for the punctuation rules as follows:
- group by topic (all comma rules the same color)
- each card should have one rule
- each card should show three examples (examples do not have to come from E.G., but must be correct)
- I will give you a Ziploc baggie in which to keep your cards.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Shana Tovah!

As we approach the Days of Awe, be thinking about how YOU can BE MORE AWEsome! This period of time in our calendar reminds us to evaluate ourselves as human beings. Are you being the best "YOU" you can be? That's all God asks of us. We are not supposed to compare ourselves to our friends - only to what WE are capable of being. During your time away from school, whether you are at services or not, take some time to think about what one change you can make on a daily basis that will make you more awesome. As for me, I am trying to be more understanding and patient with my own parents. Parents can be so frustrating, can't they? But really, all they want is the best for us. I am trying to remember that, and to be thankful for what they have done for me.

Here is how our schedule will look over the next couple of weeks:

Monday, 9/22 regular schedule: Cumulative Test over units 1-3 vocabulary and root words
Tuesday, 9/23 "A" schedule: Literary Elements, discussion of Out of my Mind
Wednesday, 9/24 "C" schedule: Using Webspiration Classroom, Will's birthday
Other than completing Journal Entry #3 on Edmodo, your only homework is to complete the Parts of Speech project, finish Out of my Mind, and work on the Watsons Essay if you are able.
Rosh Hashanah

Monday, 9/29 regular schedule: Parts of Speech project due, preparation for WRaP Assessment, Andrew's birthday
Tuesday, 9/30 regular schedule: WRaP Assessment part 1, Leora's birthday
Wednesday, 10/1 regular schedule: WRaP Assessment part 1, Adam's (A.J.) birthday
Thursday, 10/2 regular schedule: WRaP Assessment part 2
Friday, 10/3 "C" schedule: Noon Dismissal - Kol Nidre
PREPOSITION RE-TEST DURING STUDY HALL and 10/6 DURING STUDY HALL for those students who scored below 75%
You must attend a tutorial before re-taking this assessment.
Yom Kippur
Homework for Week of 9/29:
Due Day 2: E.G. pp. 293 - 295, Unit 4 2 sections vocab, roots cards
Due Day 3: E.G. pp. 296 - 298
Due Day 4: Unit 4 2 sections

Enjoy this overview of the first of the Literary Elements. Characterization will be up soon!

Friday, September 19, 2014

Thursday, September 11, 2014

NEWSFLASH! Spread the word and tell your friends.

I am postponing the due date for the Watsons essay for ALL BLOCKS. I do NOT want you to work on this on Shabbat, and I want you to enjoy your weekend. Tomorrow, Friday, we will focus on the preposition review and an overview of diagramming. Monday will be the preposition test. Any time you have after the preposition test should be used for working on the essay. Then, when we return from Charleston you will take the cumulative vocabulary and roots test, and we'll discuss Out of my Mind. I will introduce literary elements as well. We will get back to the essay the week of the 29th. Writing is a process that takes time. Trying to rush through it won't help you or me. Please put your notes in a safe place.


Friday, September 5, 2014

Week of 9/8

This week you will complete the Watsons essay, learn an effective strategy for proofreading, complete the unit on prepositions, and begin learning about elements of literature (you're going to love this!). Keep in mind that the Unit 3 test will include units 1 and 2 vocabulary words and root words in addition to the current set of words and roots. Please review a few words EVERY DAY.

Please also keep up with the pacing chart for Out of my Mind. If you have finished the book, don't give away the ending!!

Day 1: Getting our technology information organized, completing and publishing websites on Weebly
Welcome to Webspiration!

Day 2: P.O.P.3 Proofreading
Get as close to completing your Watsons essay as possible
Return Unit 2 V&R test

Day 3: Grammar - compound phrases, preposition review
Literary Elements

Day 4: Preposition Review
Finalize Watsons essay


DUE DAY 2: E.G. 290-291 (apostrophes), roots cards
DUE DAY 3: Two sections of Unit 3 vocabulary
Write a sentence using any words that you missed on the previous two tests.
DUE DAY 4: Two more sections of Unit 3 vocabulary

REVIEW E.G. for Preposition Test on 9/15
REVIEW Units 1&2 vocab and roots for cumulative test on 9/22

Sunday, August 31, 2014

No way! WAY!!!

ABC’s “Schoolhouse Rock Special” will air Sunday, Sept. 7 at 7 p.m.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Another incredible week!

You all did an amazing job with the lessons on segregation, Civil Rights, and current events. We will come back to these topics several more times during the year. Surely the Torah was speaking to us as we heard "Tzedek, tzedek, tirdof" this week! I would love to say I planned that, but I didn't, which makes the timing that much more powerful. We also began our grammar studies. Always remember that you are being judged by the way you communicate - that's the society in which we live, and the reason I am a stickler for correct G.U.M.S.

Next week we focus on the writing process with the essay comparing Kenny and Byron, and a visit by nationally recognized educator and storyteller, Marilyn Price. She will help us understand how to use words that enable your audience to visualize the story you are telling. We'll also have the Unit 2 vocabulary and roots test. Tutorial for this test will be on TUESDAY MORNING beginning at 7:25.

For those of you headed away for the long weekend, safe travels!

Tuesday and Wednesday: Organizing notes on Kenny and Byron, introductory paragraph, Webspiration Classroom
Thursday: Vocab and Roots Test Unit 2
Friday: Guest Marilyn Price

Journal Entry #2 is due on Tuesday, by 7 pm.
Keep reading OOMM. Those of you who have finished, don't tell others what happens!
Study for Unit 2 V&R test
Due on Friday: Easy Grammar pages 287 - 289, Exercises in English p. 128 which I will provide. Note - you will turn in p.128 for a homework grade on accuracy.

For those of you who wanted to see Victor Borge's Phonetic Punctuation again, or those of you who missed it, here it is: Phonetic Punctuation

Friday, August 22, 2014

Week of 8/25

We continue our examination of Watsons go to Birmingham, focusing on the main characters and how they change. On Monday, we will have an activity related to this content, and we will be integrating our core values of tzedek, chochmah and kehillah as we discuss Civil Rights. Later in the week we will continue our pre-writing work for the upcoming essay. Moving on to Unit 2 in vocabulary and root words, we will spend less time in class reviewing the words but will address any questions and clarification needed. The second journal entry will be assigned, and we will continue our study of grammar reviewing prepositions and helping verbs. Finally, we will continue building the ePortfolios, focusing on blogging and microblogging (Twitter). Please keep reading Out of my Mind.

Day 1: Turn in idea for Parts of Speech project
Discrimination and Civil Rights activity/discussion

Day 2: V&R Unit 1 Test will be returned
V&R Unit 2 Clarify any word confusion
Continue finding evidence for Byron & Kenny's character traits

Day 3: Grammar through page 14, intro to punctuation unit

Day 4: Essay instructions, rubric
Complete set up of ePortfolio if not already done
Add blogging page, discuss Twitter


Due Day 2: Complete your roots cards and 2 sections of vocab Unit 2
Due Day 3: 2 more sections of vocab
Work on journal entry, which is due 9/3
Due Day 4: Work on journal entry, which is due 9/3, complete Kenny/Byron character trait sheets if not already completed

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Avatars and ThingLink

ThingLink is not cooperating. I will be showing everyone what I had planned to do, then we will brainstorm in each block what we will do instead. Simply make sure you have an avatar ready to use for later. How much later? I'm not sure yet. We'll figure it out together. Save, print, or screenshot your avatar. We'll problem solve together.

This is my superhero avatar - I'm lighting the way for your path of learning.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Week of 8/18

This week we begin analyzing The Watsons go to Birmingham. Please bring your book to class. We will discuss the writing process as we embark on preparation for the first essay comparing the two main characters in the book. We simultaneously begin reading our first in-class novel, Out of my Mind. I will provide you with a pacing chart for your reading, which will be completed outside of class. We'll also begin our work on grammar and will continue studying for the vocabulary and roots test on Thursday. Finally, we'll build a website that will serve as a digital portfolio for each student for the next three years.

NOTE: TUTORIAL for the vocabulary and roots test will be on TUESDAY, 8/19 beginning at 7:30
(Tutorial cannot occur on Wednesday because I have morning carpool duty.)

You may have noticed that I have not updated the class calendar on the tab above. I am working on creating a grade-wide calendar, rather than just Language Arts, that will record all subjects in one place. Please be patient.

Day 1: Distribution of OOMM and the first project (Parts of Speech), discussion of Watsons
Day 2: The writing process, note-taking and analyzing the Watsons
Day 3: Vocab and roots test Unit 1, ePortfolios
Day 4: Grammar

Due on Day 2: Journal #1, read OOMM, study for V&R
Due on Day 3: Be prepared for vocab and roots test
Due on Day 4: Stay current on your reading of Out of my Mind, create an avatar, attach to our Thinglink (instructions will be provided in class)

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

How do you make a Lego object without talking?

At, first the blank stares were of utter disbelief. Then, excitement spread throughout the room...silently. Students were tasked with creating objects with a partner using random Legos, but were not permitted to talk. This is an exercise that demonstrates just how vital clear communication is. Additionally, this task helps students think creatively. The rules limited only what they could NOT do - and said nothing about what they COULD do. As a result, students got creative! (As I hoped they would.) Some wrote instructions to one another on paper, many used hand signals, and some mouthed words. One bright pair walked over to an object in the room, pointed to it, shook their heads in agreement, and got to work. That was all the communication necessary. This assignment leads us into a discussion of language, and the importance of clarity and specificity.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Ignorance is not bliss, it is unconsciousness.

One of the great benefits of being an online connected educator is the vast amount of resources available. Like Alice down the rabbit hole, one may follow any of hundreds of potential paths, having no conception of where they might lead. That's a situation I have encountered multiple times this summer. I still have no idea how I found out about the CLMOOC, but boy am I glad I decided to give it a try. Numerous links, chats and posts on Twitter  and G+ have led me to learning about topics from the animation of Adventure Time to reconsidering how to arrange the classroom to incite more engagement. After following one of the breadcrumbs that Shawn White left on Twitter, like this one,

I traced a path for nearly two hours learning what IFTTT* is.  I read blog posts, watched associated YouTube videos and Ted Talks, and then read more all because I was ignorant in how these automated messages got created in the first place. I thought that users could check a box somewhere on a social media site that measures analytics (such as, not realizing that the automation might actually be something users were developing on their own to be efficient. How bizarre!

On the one hand, because I am relatively new to Twitter and still have what I would consider a small following, I can understand how a heavy feed would make responding individually nearly impossible. Those users with the largest following in the educational sector can't possibly keep up with their Twitter feed and their day job(s). Thus, the need to find efficiencies wherever possible - but at a cost. Shawn, in his various blog posts, addresses the many idiosyncracies of Twitter and its various off-shoots (chats, EdCamps, Webinars) as they intersect with the bizarre technological search for humanity. Read them. (Then read about Pax to understand the man behind the writing.)

What I sense is a mass of human beings trying to figure out how to navigate the seemingly emotional connections to other human beings they've never met. In Twitter, blog, and G+ posts, the desire to make "real connections" comes across frequently. The ability for a user to say, "I was at (fill in the desired PD institute here) with (fill in name of leader of the field here)" holds the same currency as being in the proverbial in-crowd in middle and high school. I have witnessed on some large chat sessions some users' brilliant tweets going completely ignored while other well-known users get immediate response and feedback. The best moderators work hard to engage as many different users as possible. Exemplary moderators in my book are @JennGRoach, @BethHill2829, @dogtrax, @grammasheri, and @kfasimpaur. Some I've 'met' through subject area chats, others I've 'met' through CLMOOC. I'm certain there are many other engaging folks who, by their very nature are inclusive. Of course, there are also those in the Twittersphere whose sole purpose is self-promotion. 

To be fair, long time users seem to be fulfilling a different need than those new to Twitter. I often wonder if they feel that their time on these social media sites has become less worthwhile. For some reason I don't yet grasp, a vast number of Twitter-educators (Twedupeeps?) are looking for someone to validate them, their methodologies, their Tweets. Others use posts and Tweets in a search for information (I'm in that group) and others still are on Twitter only because someone else told them they should be.

As I moved from using Twitter only to share with my classroom parents what was going on in school to developing my PLN, my knowledge of what's available has grown exponentially. With this new technological intelligence comes a sense of having to choose. With the choice comes a concern that I'm possibly missing what might be more beneficial for my specific situation. At some point, I have to trust that what I know is good enough. I am hoping that I can develop a new habit of referring to the curation tools I have so carefully built over the summer because I certainly will never remember all the new tools and tips I have been exposed to in the last several weeks. What I do know is this:

The network of collaborators that I found on the CLMOOC is far more intimately connected than those I have met on Twitter. 

Perhaps because of the nature of the CLMOOC - assignments, gently prodding facilitators, a sharing of results, and opportunities to process the process, taking metacognition to a whole new level, and multiple 'touches' within short timeframes, I feel more connected to the PLN from the MOOC than I do the Twitter PLN. The MOOC facilitators have been nurturers, whereas the Twitter participants are sharers. In the MOOC I found the humanity that Shawn laments is lacking in the IFTTTs. 

As my chance to learn and play without time constraint comes to a close, I can carry into my classroom a new understanding. I can teach (share) and the information will land on its mark but without the warmth of emotional attachment, or I can facilitate (nurture and engage), where my students will develop that WANT to learn that all true educators are trying so desperately to create. More valuable than all the tools I tried and mastered over these last many days and nights is the critical human component that the students need, whether they realize it or not. So glad I had the opportunity to experience it firsthand, my eyes, and more importantly, my arms - are open.
*(If this, then that - old coding protocol that still applies to nearly all programs, but in this case is a web-based automator that allows the user to create messages between devices and users without human intervention.) 

Sunday, July 20, 2014


The acrostic, in a different form and order was shared by Steven Williams, Herefordshire, England. The design is my remix, using

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Bobby Bobberts are you out there?

I can't wait to find out your real name. Clever pseudonym, Bobby. Full of alliteration. Are you, perhaps, Oren? Or are you one of the 7th graders trying to make me chuckle? This is a wonderful way for me to know that my blog is being read! Carry on, Bobby!

On Twitter Chats

***At the bottom of this post is a list of Twitter terminology highlighted within the text for those unfamiliar with the lingo.***

I love chats on Twitter. I don't recall when I first began lurking to see that the fuss was all about, but I have been observing educationally related chats for six months at least. They have been going on for a few years, though. One of the first was created out of necessity by Meenoo Rami, who was seeking support in her early years of teaching. I only knew of a few chats, and had not heard of Meenoo's #engchat or many others until I was exposed to the digital library created by cybraryman, Jerry Blumengarten. Jerry's resources are so widely used that when I Google his web presence, this is what comes up:
I entered only two letters, and the algorithm knew what I was looking for because of the sheer number of educators referencing Jerry's vast repository. Or maybe that's because I'm on Jerry's site so often. It is my favorite online resource, followed by Joyce Valenza's curation, and Richard Byrne's blog. I owe a huge debt of gratitude to Stacy Brown (@21stStacy) for helping me through the murky process of curation, and pointing me to these resources.

When I recently went to Jerry's Twitter Chats list to double check the day and time of a specific chat, I examined more closely the names of the chats. It is interesting that over 340 chats exist in the educational setting alone, not counting those few that might occur but are not on Jerry's list. Hashtags range from 1to1chat to psycchat.  Every person in education could find a chat to participate in, if so desired. This is what I find fascinating about Twitter.

What is it that makes chats both popular with users and apparently highly useful? If educators did not find chats worthwhile, they would not be taking over the Twittersphere as they appear to be. I've noticed that chats generate a significant amount of positive reinforcement among the participants. Intelligent comments are often favorited  as a way of demonstrating both gratitude and acknowledgement, as well as being earmarked for later reference. I know that, even for myself, getting notification of a favorite is a dopamine pump inducer, especially for a newbie

Secondly, chats allow introverts to be heard. In a face to face meeting of more than three people, an introvert, no matter how intelligent, is not likely to speak unless directly spoken to, or until waiting for the other participants to stop talking. In a chat, however, the social norms do not apply. Anyone may "speak" at any given time, without talking over another person. An introvert does not feel he/she is interrupting because each tweet is boxed independently of those before and after it. This is an important visual cue. A side conversation, by way of a direct message (DM),  can occur simultaneously to the stream. In a meeting, side conversations are frowned upon, even stopped punitively.

Additionally, chats are a phenomenal source of new contacts and resources that have been pre-vetted and pre-approved. I have found many new contacts in my areas of expertise on chats. Mention that you are planning a specific unit, and a torrent of "Have you tried this..." or "I did this and it was great" messages come back to you. I have amassed a large number of web-based links from the chats I've been on. I may or may not use what has been suggested, but I won't have anyone pressuring me to do so, as might happen within a school building. "Did you try that game I suggested? Did you use the worksheet I gave you?" Often, well-meaning suggestions don't fit with another teacher's classroom culture. But the giver feels slighted none-the-less. Not so with Twitter. Use it, or not. No worries. 

But most interesting to me is the fact that chats level the playing field among the participants. Unless specifically mentioned, no one knows how long participants have been teaching, their age, their appearance, their personality type, their tics, their management style, or their perceived social position in the culture of their school. This means that teachers who may be ignored, or are quiet, or are loners in a faculty meeting are actually able to participate fully in the experience. In-person meetings inherently engage the societal rules that Twitter obliterates. Chats, in particular, because of their brevity and lack of visual connection, create a situation in which every participant feels equally valued. The rapid nature of a large chat does not allow much time for pre-editing in the thought process, which is tough for an introvert. However, because apps such as Tweetdeck and Nurph allow the user to isolate the chat and back scroll, a participant can respond to a comment that may have occurred earlier in the chat. This is the equivalent of someone blurting out an idea ten minutes after the rest of the group had moved on in a meeting. In a Twitter chat, it still works, without the social blundering. Imagine if teachers simply walked in and out of a faculty meeting whenever they felt like it. This is perfectly acceptable on a chat. You can only make it for the last ten minutes? No problem! Your ideas are still welcomed. Not only that, but many moderators spend personal time archiving chats so that anyone may go back later and view the content. A shout-out here to the incredible Paul Solarz who generously donates his time to help archive many chats. They can be found on his blog. I don't know many teachers who would go back and watch the video of a team or grade-level meeting to make sure they didn't miss anything, but the number of Tweeps requesting links to archives is high.

I finally convinced my husband, who is seeking work in the pharmaceutical industry, to use chats as a way to make connections (PLN for non educators). After only one chat for LinkedIn he had plans to change his LinkedIn profile, and had made connections. He, too is sold on chats, and he's one of the strongest extroverts I know! 

I want to be clear to say that in-person meetings are critical for a school, team, or division to run successfully. I am by no means advocating eliminating faculty meetings in favor of Twitter chats. Each has its respective values and purposes. I do think, however, that chats are more than just a cocktail party with a large group of people, without the cocktails (or maybe not - we'll never know).  Their format, brevity, and openness create an experience unlike any other. If you haven't yet, give it a try! 

Twitter terms (these definitions are mine - I did not source them from the web):
  • chat: an open conversation among Twitter users at a scheduled time using a hashtag, typically oriented around a particular topic of interest 
  •  lurk(ing): reading the stream of a chat without participating
  • #engchat: a chat initiated by Meenoo Rami for teachers of English (lit and comp)
  • #1to1chat: a chat for uses of devices, one per student
  • #psycchat: a chat for psychologists and counselors in the educational field
  • hashtag: symbol previously known as number or pound sign, used to track information (as in hash marks) 
  • Twittersphere: the collective of Twitter users, as represented by their tweets
  • favorite(d): a verb (gasp!) meaning to mark a Tweet for reference or acknowledgement using the star symbol in Twitter
  • notification: a Twitter category that places specific Tweets in a file for the user's review
  • newbie: a new user to the platform
  • DM: direct message sent from one user to another, not seen in the stream of Tweets
  • stream: list of messages sorted in time stamp order
  • Tweeps: people using Twitter
  • PLN: personal learning network - a group of strangers and acquaintances sharing a common interest or knowledge base to promote individual intellectual growth

Monday, July 14, 2014

Process Thinking...process OF thinking...process the think-ing

As the calendar creeps closer to pre-planning days, I have been reflecting on my "summer" and the range of emotions it has unexpectedly evoked. I often say to my family that I wish my brain had an on/off switch. I spend all of my waking (and non-waking) hours analyzing, noticing patterns, consciously thinking, thinking, thinking. As a goal driven list-maker, I had specific intentions for my time away from the classroom. But one connection led to another, which led to another, and another -- interconnected learning never ceases. The Language Arts teacher in me is having a tough time letting that last sentence live with two dashes rather than the more appropriate semicolon or period, but it seems fitting given the intended meaning and visual imagery it induces.

I've experienced moments of great frustration that I feel the need to so fully embrace the CL world and the multitude of opportunities it presents. Another person might be perfectly comfortable merely to dip a toe in the water for now, then add a little bit later on, and so on. I don't seem capable of that behavior. Once I signed up, joined, registered, followed the chats and links, I was all in. This was an exciting adventure that I found easy, intuitive to explore. A new app? OK, I'll try it! A great web based tool for presentations? Sure, why not? I can give my students more options if I know they are available.

But then resentment set in.

Why would self-directed learning affect my emotions in a negative way? I'm a positive person, I think. No happy-go-lucky-everything-is-beautiful, but also not a Debbie Downer. Perhaps I feel I am being controlled rather than being able to control my precious time. I sense a pressure to "finish" before pre-planning so I can begin the year "ready".

Hold that thought and bear with me as I share a moment of beauty.

On my way to run an errand, I recognized Copeland's Appalachian Spring on Performance Today. I could name that tune in three notes! (If you understood that reference, I know how old you are.) 'Tis a Gift to be Simple touches me in some deep unknown place anyway, but just as the Aspen Festival Ensemble's notes swelled, a bird's flight path moved across my line of vision in perfect curve with the arc of the melody. It was as if it had been choreographed just for me. My thoughts, blessedly, took a different turn - from brooding about my to-do list, to thinking about curves and cosines, and the beauty of music and math, and the gorgeous lines of a bird's aerodynamic body, and the sweet notes that come from such a small creature. And, as often happens in the process of driving, or showering, or just before waking, in the alpha brain wave cycle, I made my most intuitive connection in learning.

I'm still ingrained in the "product" mode rather than the "process" mode. What a critical recognition this is! Therein lies my challenge. Once I acknowledged that the learning will never be finished, my shoulders dropped, and I began to relax (well, a little bit, anyway). I know that my students, too, are accustomed to the product methodology of "How we used to teach." It will be up to me to recognize that the discomfort in them AND me is coming from a place of cognitive dissonance with the paradigm shift. Whatever learning I have completed by the time those joyful, smiling faces arrive (I mean the students, not the parents who are dropping them off, but if the shoe fits...) will be enough. I have already packed an incredible amount of learning into these last 4 1/2 weeks. I feel accomplished, eager, and invigorated. I've also fulfilled my need as an artist to create during these weeks. I've created a variety of Zentangles in mandala form (great for unwinding)- slideshow below, as well as made other beautiful pieces of art this summer, both digitally and traditionally. I've made invaluable connections with other educators of all levels, and have read several books that have informed my thought processes.

Once again, I am glad that the teacher (me) has experienced what the students will encounter. I will be authentically honest when I say, "I know how you feel. Frustrating isn't it? But you know what? It is a good sign. You are learning."

Mandala Zentangles and Vision - Created with Haiku Deck, presentation software that inspires

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Grab a cup of coffee or tea...

I had started to write a reflective post several times this week, but each day, some new occurrence would cause more reflection and give me pause. Earlier in the week I was on the upswing of the roller coaster ride that has been my summer of learning. In financial settings, upswings are a sign of an improving economic climate. On roller coasters, however, the upswing is the climb - slow and jerky. That's me.

I'm not a jerk (at least I've never been told as much) but the amount of activity and learning these last few weeks has been exponential. This has not been a gradual accumulation of knowledge, it has been an avalanche, where I try to catch as much snow in my magical net as I can. While I'm keeping up with the programs I have elected to participate in, I am wondering how I will ever manage to keep up with all I've learned once school begins again. How will I manage my fledgling PLN, read others' blog posts, update my own (for my students) maintain the classroom calendar, review and comment on student writing while implementing ePortfolios and voice-over with their Google docs, stay on top of lesson planning, emails, inevitable changes to the schedule, and more? I know there must be other educators who have successfully managed this transition. How did you do it and keep your household running, too? I know, I know. It will all work out somehow. I am the kind of teacher who does not, cannot settle for 'good enough.' Not enough time, as a recent commentary indicated is the resounding lament heard far and wide. Something about reading it in print made me feel heard.

Knowing that it is not my being inefficient (Ha! Nothing could be more ironic) but the expectations of today's educational environment helped me put my situation in perspective.

I then turned my attention one of my summer goals - getting my studio back in order so that I could accomplish some of this week's tasks: the writing hacks (more on that below), participating in EdCampHome, participating on a Google Hangout panel , writing a reflective post, and participating in the "Hack Your Notebook" day.

As the week progressed my engagement in the PLN I have developed through these MOOCs (#TeachDoNow and CLMOOC) increased and deepened. The conversations are broadening and eliciting thoughtful discourse. In the meantime, my own 'makes' for the CLMOOC are allowing me to see the continuing benefit of process learning, gaming, and (my own personal torch) creativity. I have thoroughly enjoyed the variety of writing hacks, which felt more like games than arduous composition. Why shouldn't my students' experiences feel the same?

While on a trip to MICON14, one of my principals asked me if we did any poetry last year. We only completed one poem. Doing so allowed us to study "A Midsummer Night's Dream" instead. I have to find a way to do both this year. I don't know how, but I will. I've gotten such enjoyment out of this week's fun with the various poetry generators online. My first hack was a nod to Austin Kleon. I will be forever indebted to my colleague Samara Schwartz for introducing me to Mr. Kleon's work several years ago. She "thought I might like it." Understatement of the year. The beauty of deconstruction and simplicity in his process is one that mirrors the work of the minimalist painters (Agnes Martin, Robert Ryman are two examples.) Minimalism is one of those genres that average citizens don't understand. One must know the history before and of the movement to grasp why these pieces are breathtaking in meaning and simplicity. For the writing hack, I took my first post, and "Kleon-ed" it, then shared it with other members of the CLMOOC. Here is the result:

I had planned then, to create a book/movie that utilized writing from my past - thus the need to straighten the studio - to find the pieces to work with. But as often happens with a work in progress, the piece must speak for itself. It led me in a different direction than I had planned. I'm still mulling over the idea that words are tied to space and place. Their meaning and impact changes with the environment. This is a concept I will call "Living Words" because they are in flux, in our memories, in our spaces, in our understanding. This is the result of my "words" project:

And finally, because there is no Notebook Hack Event near me, I did a modified version. Apologies to Irene Cara - I have no idea why the sound drops out of the clip. I tried mightily to fix it. Oh well! Notebook Hack Video

If you are still reading, you have earned an endurance badge! What I am loving most about the week is the intersection between literacy, arts, and science. I have always looked for those cross-curricular opportunities because the world does not work in subject areas. THIS is how I teach and how I learn. I welcome your feedback, but not here. Send comments to

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Hey, campers!

If you are at home or on vacation, looking for something fun to do next week, check this out:
Maker Camp

Tell your friends!

Friday, July 4, 2014

"The Good of the Many..."

Star Trek fans know that the rest of the sentence above comes from our beloved Spock, "The good of the many outweighs the good of the one." When Spock had to sacrifice his life to save the crew, Captain Kirk struggled with his own desire to save his dearest friend and companion. While no one is in danger on the Cyberspaceship CLMOOC, Sheri Edwards has captured just how valuable the collaborations, connections, and sharing are for successful learning. The growth of the many far exceeds the learning of any individual. Her recap of the week's participants speaks volumes about what can be gained by participating in a MOOC.  Enjoy! Slideshow Link

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

The Reflecting Pool

I wanted to begin this reflection with an appropriate quote. I narrowed it down to....thirty. Too many to choose from! I should not be surprised. I was searching for thoughts on collaboration. Here are a few of my top choices:

It is the long history of humankind (and animal kind, too) those who learned to collaborate and improvise most effectively have prevailed. —Charles Darwin

Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much. —Helen Keller

I never did anything alone. Whatever was accomplished in this country was accomplished collectively. —Golda Meir

It is literally true that you can succeed best and quickest by helping others to succeed. —Napoleon Hill

The secret is to gang up on the problem, rather than each other. —Thomas Stallkamp

Individually, we are one drop. Together, we are an ocean. —Ryunosuke Satoro
All from courtesy Stephanie Sarkis © 2012 Sarkis Media LLC

This week's make cycle for CLMOOC was (is) games/play. I thought I knew where I was headed until the NWP project leaders began throwing out a wide variety of possibilities. I typically jump right in, sharing from my own classroom experiences. I thought I was going to share how students have created an enormous range of games for our parts of speech review. I considered mentioning how I have used compass games to teach any kind of categorization (think "types of a sentence" or "types of writing".) What transpired, however, was a chance for me to create a game, and to play one, although I would never have defined the group poetry tag as a game. The playing I will say more about shortly. The creating was an iteration of Jeopardy that I have used many times. Still waiting for collaborators to complete devising the questions so we can actually play it, this part required no effort on my part, but I hope, is a resource others will use. (Here's the link to the CLMOOC Jeopardy game.)  

Two HUGE take aways from my day: 1. I had FUN!!!! [Wait...I'm allowed to have fun in my summer of learning?] Having fun made me want to do more.  2. My learning and understanding deepened as a result of my collaboration, allowing others to lead at some times, and follow during others. Sheri Edwards, Kevin Hodgson, and Terry Elliott threw the first proverbial dice, but the number of suggestions and participants quickly snowballed. Dozens of interpretations of "game" and "play" sparked curiosity, engagement, and posts. Sheri's dangling carrot, poetry tag, (previously not categorized as play in my brain) nabbed me with its simplicity and openness. I had never done this before, but why not? The progress of the day's exchanges can be found on Sheri's Storify. My participation netted me a new app, a chance to express my creativity, and a sense of accomplishment at having successfully conveyed a message with precious few words. Follow this link to see the poem I am referencing: Shift  

The more I thought about the progress of my day, the more I allowed myself to become the recipient of the learning, rather than focusing solely on knowledge that would be put to use for my students. My own shift in purpose was colored by the fact that this was "supposed to be" my week off. I am on vacation. Unfortunately, or fortunately as I would rather see it, one of my many medical conditions prevented me from spending my day as I intended. I could not be out on the beach, so I plugged in, and hit the ground running. The result was a greater mindfulness of the power of sharing. 

I don't think I can successfully convey the re-wiring in my brain that occurred throughout the day. As I shifted between Twitter feeds for ISTE, CLMOOC, other Tweeps and new apps, the Google+ hub for CLMOOC, email, Two Dots, and SmartyPins, I did not feel my usual need to be curating the vast amount of information passing across my cyberspace. Rather, I chose one stream in which to participate, fully. The result allowed me the space to use my artistic brain. I took a break to take some photos, resulting in this collage (a message in itself):

Near the end of the day, I sent off an email request to my admin for a chalkboard paint spot in a common area that will allow everyone - not just my classes - to participate in the type of collaborative play that I so enjoyed today. I want the students to value the knowledge they can share. I want the teachers to play. I want the prospective families to look at this space and think, "That is amazing!" Because it is. Those quotes up at the top of this blog? They still apply. Thank you, thank you, thank you to all the leaders of the CLMOOC for your many gifts. I'm still learning, and glad of it!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Reflection #2

As my learning curve with the CLMOOC begins to look less like the first lift hill on a roller coaster (h1 in the image below),
and more like a reasonable geometric bell curve, I feel that I am making progress in harnessing the vast amount of information available to me. Still working on managing curation in a way that will be efficient during the school year, I forge ahead on Twitter chats, contemplating methodologies and content delivery changes. I spent a little more time lurking than commenting in my last couple of chats as I needed time to process, not simply respond. Now, as I reflect on my participation in the CLMOOC make cycles, I am experiencing a highly valuable emotion - discomfort.

I don't easily understand memes, the Week 2 Make. I don't watch television, rarely go to movies, don't have a Netflix account. Many of the cultural references are totally foreign to me. I feel my childhood rearing its head. I have always placed as far Introverted on the Myers-Briggs scale as is humanly possible. I recall the consultant brought in to evaluate my and my coworkers' results sharing with the group, "I have never seen a score like this!" I wasn't sure what to make of that comment. Since then, I have found the results to be right on target. Unfortunately, in our extroverted world, this has not been an advantage. Big props to Susan Cain for acknowledging and touting the value of thinker-makers. But here I am again, at a loss for understanding how to create a viable (and valuable?) meme. I'm not socially adept. Slapstick is not at all funny to me. So creating a meme that is meaningful to anyone but me is a tremendous challenge.

But I forged ahead, realizing that my emotional response: a bit of stomach twisting, self-denigration, grumbling about feeling out of the loop - is EXACTLY how every one of my students feels at one point or another during the year. What an excellent reminder for me to be compassionate, supportive, and empathetic. We cannot all excel at everything. I certainly will never excel at meme-creation. But I WILL excel at determination and exposing myself to possibilities. I'll even reward myself for diving in the deep end of the meme pool - by going to my studio and being alone. :)


Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Take Cover...Head Explosion!!!

Although my "school year" has officially ended, my break-neck speed and information acquisition have not. I attended MICON14, which inspired me to keep on keeping on, affirmed that I'm doing the right things for my population, and gave me a chance to connect with my peers outside of the building. We bonded in ways truly unforeseen. Immediately upon our return, I began working on my summer to-do list, which is too long for the remaining seven weeks I have until reporting for pre-planning. Too much to do and not enough hours has been my MO over the last decade or so. Although my own kids are technically adults (though still tightly bound to the nest) I have no more downtime than I did when they were young and required chauffeuring and supervision. This has been a frustrating realization.

Am I really that much of a "Type A" personality? People tell me my sense of calm and patience is what anchors them. I do agree that I am not easily ruffled, and rarely lose my temper. What then, is going on? I seem more frustrated more frequently. My husband refers to the technological world to which we are now exposed as "information through a fire hose." That's it, precisely. I feel obligated to be well versed in the tech world in order to be a 21st century educator, in keeping with my own philosophies of the necessity for creative/divergent/lateral thinking in today's world. But the expectation that I will be adept at the plethora of tools, information, apps, software, SM, memory, RAM, speeds, and on and on and on is, quite literally, overwhelming.

"What does 4G mean? How is that different from data?" asks my daughter.
"Go ask your mother," replies my husband.

And a few hours later,

"I did something to my computer and I can't figure out what I did," my mother says, "Can you come fix it?"

My husband to me, "I can't get my contacts to sync. Can you figure out what's going on?"

I do learn quickly. That's an advantage. But no matter how much I do to get "ahead of the curve," there is always another new topic to learn. For someone like me, who is goal oriented and needs to be able to complete tasks, the looming "CLOUD" is...turning gray.  In attempting to organize my summer of learning, I came across the #CLMOOC, and could not resist. I thought engaging in the course would enable me to develop plans for my units, determining which apps and sites would work best with which projects. I was right about that. But it has also exposed me to how much I don't know, putting me back in the cycle of feeling stressed because now I have to learn more to get ahead, thereby "falling behind."

I wanted to spend the summer getting ready to move my students to Google based portfolios, and I am feeling sidetracked. I have created more stress by finding new apps for my students to use, then trying to find efficient ways to curate all this content. (Again with the fire hose!)

Ignorance is indeed bliss.

Then, while Tweeting (a third fire hose), I came across this phrase that immediately resonated: living with presence in the age of productivity.  For the complete post from Brain Pickings, click here Theology of Rest. How do I keep from drowning? Stop.

It isn't "just me." Our expectations as a culture and community are unrealistic. We are humans, not computers. What's more important than having the knowledge is being flexible. If I plan on using Chatterpix the first week of school, and suddenly it doesn't work, so what? I won't spend a class period trying to figure it out, thereby losing precious "contact minutes" to teach with. Or maybe, I'll use that situation as an opportunity for the students to problem solve. (Here's my Chatterpix attempt: Walter) I do not need to participate in every Chat Session, don't need to be on every Webinar, don't need to bookmark every blog for later reading. I'm beginning to get a feel for the redundancy in the Cloud.

Indeed...a fellow #CLMOOCer just posted a similar concern. "So I'm working hard to use the inspiration and not let the flood of ideas overwhelm and distract me." Kim's full post is here. I'm exhaling now. I think I will go outside now, and pick some basil. The computer, and its faithful connection to the digital world is happy to wait for me.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Digital Studio Class...get ready!!!

Want to make beautiful infographics? Try I did and made this in a snap!

Another Avatar!

What do you think? Is it me?

Want to make your own? Try it here: Mini-Mizer Send me your Lego-you, and I will put it on the blog! Attach it to an email and send to

Saturday, June 14, 2014


Teachers never stop learning or preparing. While you are all off enjoying camp, the beach, the library (I hope!) or even your own backyard, I am busy learning about the many exciting opportunities that await us all in school next year. One of these is an online course that I am taking in which I will share information with thousands of other educators from all over the world. We'll teach each other about apps, links, projects, and more! So, this summer, you will likely see posts from me relating to this course and others I am engaged in. If you are interested, read on! If not, that's okay, too. If you are looking for a fun way to create an avatar for yourself, and haven't done this yet, try Marvel Comics' superhero maker! I learned about it from #CLMOOC, and had fun creating my avatar.

Friday, May 16, 2014

We did it!

We completed the unit on pronouns, and have finished the grammar curriculum for this year. The remaining regular class days will be spent reviewing in preparation for the final exam, which occurs on 5/29 and is cumulative. Refer to your Study Guide for what will be on the final. Here is a snapshot of our remaining weeks:
5/19 Regular Monday - review for finals
5/20 "B" day - math placement tests in the morning, review for finals
5/21 Lag B'Omer at the Lower School
5/23 "A" Day Adverbs and Pronouns Test
5/24 "B" Day - Unit 15 Vocab and Roots Test
5/26 Memorial Day - No School
5/27 "A" Day - review for finals
5/28 "A" Day - review for finals
5/29 Finals 11:30 Dismissal
5/30 Last Day 11:30 Dismissal

You have no homework other than studying for your grammar test, your V&R Unit 15 test, and completing the Edmodo Post. Several students thought that the Edmodo post said 5/21. It does not. I entered the date correctly on Edmodo as being due 5/20. NetClassroom also says 5/20. It is still due 5/20.

Ethan requested that I post the link to the irregular verbs wheel game. Here you go, Ethan! Irregular Verbs

Friday, May 9, 2014

Week of 5/12

Pronouns! Pronouns! Pronouns! That's our week, as well as finishing the last of the Adverb instruction. Begin studying Unit 15 in vocabulary and roots. Remember that the Final Exam on 5/29 will include units 13, 14, 15. You received your Study Guide on 5/7, and should be referring to it each night. A reminder of upcoming important dates:

Reflective Post due 5/20 (see Edmodo for instructions)
*****NEWSFLASH!!! Ansley shared a fabulous tip: After you write your paragraph, paste it into Google Translate, and select English for your language. Then, click on the speaker icon in the bottom right corner of the word box to have your text read aloud to you! I always recommend to have someone read aloud to you, right? Now you can do this online. Thank you Ansley!!!
Adverbs/Pronouns combined test 5/22
Unit 15 Vocabulary and Roots test on 5/23

Due Day 2: Fragments and Run-ons worksheets, begin learning Unit 15 words and roots
Due Day 3: Complete pages 219-222 in Easy Grammar
Due Day 4: Sentences for Unit 15

That's it! Stay on track with your reviewing and school work, please.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Week of 5/5-5/9

This week we celebrate Yom HaAtzmaut, continue with our study of adverbs, wrap-up our study of "A Midsummer Night's Dream", and complete figurative language. Please be sure to complete reading When You Reach Me by Friday. We move on to Unit 14 in vocabulary and roots as well. Although we have but a few weeks remaining, we will be staying focused on learning. Keep track of your assignments, which you should have been doing all year, as teachers in all of your classes have been careful to balance the various due dates and testing that remain through the end of school.


5/5 Adverbs 186-193, Diagramming, Yom HaZikaron Observance during Tefillah
5/6 Yom HaAtzmaut ALL DAY PROGRAMMING Wear blue bottoms, white tops
5/7 "A" Day "A Midsummer Night's Dream" (watch through Act II and When You Reach Me Discussion, complete MSND worksheet
5/8 "A" Day Easy Grammar Adverbs, Diagramming continued
5/9 MSND Wrap-up, Figurative Language review

Due 5/7 Unit 14 sentences, continue reading When You Reach Me
Due 5/8 Work on Idiom Illustration if not completed, diagramming packet (through p.154)
Due 5/9 Turn in Idiom Illustration, complete reading When You Reach Me

Unit 14 V&R Test on 5/12. No Adverbs Test - this unit test will be combined with pronouns. No cumulative roots test. All three units (13, 14, 15) will be included on the final exam. Reflective Edmodo post (3 paragraphs) will be due 5/20.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Heading in to May


No 2014 climbing on the Nepal side!

Chag Sameach! I hope you had a meaningful seder with your family, and enjoyed the break from school. For me, the change of scenery was wonderful! Fortunately I took my heavy coat to the beach. My bathing suits and shorts stayed in the suitcase, but I had a delightful time anyway. I spent one of my days at a local Marine Park where I met some new friends:
Sea Turtle
FL friends

I will be entering grades for the essays this evening. Most students should be prepared to revise and resubmit, which I will explain in class. Additionally, I will distribute our next novel, When You Reach Me, and we will begin a unit studying Shakespeare's Midsummer Night's Dream on the iPads.(It will be fun!) How fortuitous that we will begin this unit on William's birthday! Additionally, we get back to our regularly scheduled vocabulary study, and wrap up the unit on adjectives.

Listed here is HOMEWORK ONLY for now.
4/23 "A" Day: Due on Friday: through page 163 in Easy Grammar, begin learning Unit 13 words and roots.
4/24 "A" Day: See 4/23 and begin reading When You Reach Me
4/25: Unit 13 (TWELVE)Sentences are due
4/28: Read through p. 70, review adjectives unit
4/29,4/30,5/1: Study vocabulary and roots, Essay re-write due WEDNESDAY, read When You Reach Me

Friday, April 18, 2014

Tragedy strikes on Everest...again.

Hi everyone!
I am at the beach, watching the deluge of rain while I work on grading your essays. I can't convey my sense of grief as I heard about the most recent tragedy on Mt. Everest. For those of you who mentioned avalanches as a risk of death, this event would certainly support your thesis. Pray for the families of the sherpas.
Everest Avalanche

See you next week,
Mrs. Stein

Friday, April 4, 2014

Week of 4/7

Thank you to each of you for your focus and efforts on the CTP IV tests. I am thrilled by how many of you noticed vocabulary words in the reading and writing sections! We will tackle the last three units of vocabulary after Spring Break. This week, we begin the adjectives unit in Easy Grammar, continue our unit on short stories, and take the trip to Biz Town.

Your Persuasive Essay (2 copies) and your cartoon are both due NO LATER THAN WEDNESDAY. Please remember to attach the bibliography and to turn in your pre-writing with your essay. I am looking forward to seeing the efforts of your hard work!

Day 1: Elements of a short story
Easy Grammar - Adjectives (pp. 142, 146, 150)

Day 2: "A Sound of Thunder," comparing myths and short stories

Day 3: Short Story Program

Day 4: Trip to Biz Town

Day 1: E.G. pp. 143, 147, 151 if not completed in class, due Day 2
Edmodo journal entry due Friday

Day 2: E.G. pp. 144, 145, 148, 149, 152, 153

Day 3: Edmodo journal entry due Friday

REMEMBER to turn in your essay (2 copies) and cartoon by WEDNESDAY.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Essay Information Update

* Please plan on TURNING IN your pre-writing documents with your completed essay.
* I have added a link (see the left side of the blog) to help you with parenthetical annotation, which I explained in class.
* Use EasyBib for the bibliography you will attach as the last page of your essay.

The essay is more important than the myth cartoon. If you cannot complete the myth cartoon by Friday, no worries. Essays are due to me by the end of the day on Friday.

Friday, March 28, 2014


I hope you had a wonderful time in Charleston. Be sure to check my Twitter feed and #davis6 for all the great photos your chaperones took. There are hundreds more photos on the Flickr stream Mr. Frank posted. Be thinking about what you learned, what you loved, and what you will always remember. (Hint: Journal Entry on this topic coming soon!)

For the coming week, please bring something to read with you each day to your testing room. You have four myths to be read by Wednesday; use any free time to read if you have not yet completed these. Eat a healthy breakfast, and be on time to school, please.

We have "B" days Monday through Thursday, then a regular Friday schedule. On Monday in class, I will explain the Greek Myth cartoon project, which I did not get to do on the 24th. I will be extending the due date to Friday, April 4. Each day in class, work on writing your Persuasive Essay, which is due to me by the end of your block on Friday. If you finish the essay before Friday, work on your cartoon in class.

That's it! Have a great weekend, and I will see you Monday morning.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Whitwell to Atlanta to Charleston

The experience at Whitwell takes some time to think through, reflect and process. Please look at Edmodo for a journal response due before you go to sleep on Monday evening. This is a single, well-written paragraph. Continue reading the Greek myths. You have an assignment associated with the myths which is posted on Edmodo as well. That assignment is due April 2. In class on Monday, we will talk briefly about the purpose of myths, and use the time for completing all pre-writing for the essay. If you are ready to move on to your draft, go right ahead and begin with your body paragraphs.

See you Monday!

Friday, March 14, 2014

Fun week ahead...

The Purim Shpiels are ready to go! Please go directly to the Lower School on Monday morning. If you bring lunch, simply bring it to the Lower School with you. I will make sure it gets back to the LA room for you to pick up at lunchtime. If you have a brown bag lunch, please put your name on it!

Test on nouns this week, then the trip to Whitwell, TN to see the Paper Clips project/museum. Don't forget to turn in your permission form. On Day 2, you will receive a book to begin reading for our next literature study, which will be a series of myths/short stories and more! In class, if you have time after the assigned activities, I will ask that you continue working on your Persuasive Essay. You should have all your facts now. The next step is organizing the information, then you will create the rough draft.

No blog entry for the week of the 24th as we will work on the paper then head to Charleston! Woo hoo!

Day 1: Celebrate Chag Purim
Day 2: Review of noun unit, work on Persuasive Essay, receive book of myths
Day 3: Noun Unit test, work on Persuasive Essay
Day 4: Trip to Whitwell

Monday, March 24: Discussion of myths, work on Persuasive Essay

Day 2: Review for Nouns Test
Day 3: Read from mythology text

See you Monday!

Friday, March 7, 2014

Prepping for Purim Puppetry

This week we have an exciting integration with Judaic studies and performing arts. Each of you will have a part in putting on a shadow puppet show for Mechina-3 at the Lower School Purim celebration on the 17th. The theme for the shpiel is superheroes. "The Hamanator vs. the One and Only Excellent Esther and her Uncle, Marvelous Mordy" will require some of you to be puppeteers, some of you to perform the script, and some of you to work sound effects/props.

This experience fulfills the mitzvah of modeling menschlikeit behavior, teaches you teamwork, cooperation, and planning, and allows for creative expression. Additionally, we will be examining how a script mirrors plot structure in a novel and contains the elements of literature you have studied.

Everyone will be making a shadow puppet, and most of you will be helping younger students create miniature puppets on the 17th. Nationally recognized educator/artist Marilyn Price will be in residence at the Middle School Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. You will be working on the shpiel in both your Language Arts block and Judaic studies block.

MEANWHILE...on Monday we will wrap up the unit on nouns in Easy Grammar. On Friday, you will have your Cumulative Test on Units 10-12. The Noun Unit test will be Day 3 NEXT WEEK (either 3/19 or 3/20.)

Monday: Complete Noun Unit - Direct Objects, Indirect Objects, review
Days 2 and 3: PURIM SHPIEL!
Day 4: Cumulative Test Vocabulary and Roots Units 10-12.

On Monday: Make sure you have completed through page 136 in Easy Grammar
TUESDAY/WEDNESDAY/THURSDAY: Review for the cumulative test. Remember that we did not have a test over Unit 10, so pay careful attention to those words and roots. PEAK vocabulary will not be on the test.