Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Weekly Preview: 12/12-12/16, 2011

First of all, this week brings many performance & audience opportunities. Auditions for this year's school play, Number the Stars, take place on Monday and Wednesday from 3:40-5:00. The annual Drama Club Christmas party featuring Sing Along Sound of Music takes place on Tuesday after school. And, the always entertaining FMS Talent Show happens on Friday at 1:45. What a fun week!

Here are the happenings in room 101 this week:

6th GOAL: Students are beginning their first mock trial on Monday... the State vs. Hansel and Gretel Schmidt. Depending on when the first trial ends, I hope to fit in at least one more before the holiday break. All their work has led up to actually acting out the trial. Learning fun!

7th GOAL: Students are presenting their literature circle projects this week. We'll also be finishing up our read aloud book, The Cardturner. Before the holiday break next week, I hope to begin brainstorming about possible History Day topics as well as do some jigsawing of epidemics books to prepare the students for the upcoming 7th grade interdisciplinary unit.

8th GOAL: Students are finishing literature circle project presentations this week. We finished our read aloud book, To Kill a Mockingbird, so before the holiday break, we'll be watching the movie with the amazing Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch.

7th Language Arts: Final drafts of pen pal letters are due Tuesday. On Wednesday through Friday, we'll be talking about the sentence fluency trait of good writing. We'll do an in-class activity with sentence fluency involving the book Joyful Noise: Poems for Two Voices. Spelling list 15 is full of frequently misspelled words. It will be a challenging list. Pretest corrections and book page 94 are due on Wednesday. We'll take the posttest Friday.

Week 15 Spelling Words

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Weekly Preview 12/5-12/9, 2011

We're having our first snow of the year today, and it's beautiful. Here's what else is going on in and around room 101 this week:

GOAL Parents: Don't forget Tuesday's Parent Meeting in the FMS Cafetorium at 7:00. Ann Hektoen and I will be giving overviews of our programs, plans for future parent meetings, information on characteristics of gifted learners, and resources for families of gifted learners. There will be other meetings throughout the year, and more information will be presented on our Fairfield TAG website, which is currently under construction.

6th GOAL: Students are preparing for their first mock trial. Parts have been assigned, and we hope to start the trial on Friday. This week will be spent preparing opening statements, questions for witnesses, witness testimony, and evidence.

7th GOAL: Students are working on their literature circle projects which will be presented on Friday. This project will compare and contrast the different culture clashes the students read about in their literature circle books.

8th GOAL: Students will be finishing their literature circle projects and will be presenting on Wednesday. These projects will show what they learned about the Holocaust during their literature circle unit.

7th Language Arts: Students will be working on pen pal letters this week. Typed, conferenced second drafts are due for teacher edit at the end of class on Thursday. Week 14 spelling words focus on the suffixes -able and -ible. Pretest corrections and book page 88 (1-20) are due Wednesday. The posttest will take place on Friday.

EXCITING ANNOUNCEMENT: The first meeting of the Fairfield Middle School Rabid Readers Book Club will be on Wednesday, December 7, 2011, after school in the band room. Any FMS student in grades 6-8 is welcome to attend. Refreshments will be provided, and we'll be choosing our first book of the year.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Weekly Preview: 11/28-12/2, 2011

Goodbye, November, and hello, December! Here's what's happening in room 101 this week:

6th GOAL: Students are starting their Mock Trial unit this week. On Monday and Wednesday, they will learn the basics of the American Judicial System. On Thursday and Friday, they'll be prepping for their first trial. Mock Trial is always a hit with GOAL students, so this should be a fun few weeks!

7th GOAL: Students are finishing their last week of literature circles. Their final discussion will be on Friday, and they'll start their cumulative projects next week.

8th GOAL: Students will have their last literature circle discussion on Monday, and the rest of the week will be spent working on their cumulative projects. There is room for a lot of creativity on these projects. Already in the works, we have a news broadcast, an iMovie, and a song parody. These projects take the place of a unit test and will show what students learned during their study of Holocaust literature.

7th Language Arts: Students are finishing up RAFT stories. We'll have a group edit on Tuesday in the lab, and final drafts of RAFT stories are due on Wednesday. If students get done early, they should start working on their 2nd pen pal letter of the year. Rough drafts are due Friday. Week 13 spelling is centered around the suffix -ly. Pretest corrections and page 82 (1-20) are due Wednesday.

Week 13 Spelling Words

Monday, November 21, 2011

Weekly Preview: 11/21-11/22, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! It's a short week here at FMS, and then we'll all have some time off with friends and family. There are so many things for which to be thankful!

6th GOAL: 6th graders finished their read aloud book on Monday and are completing an activity to go along with it. Next week, we'll get started with our popular Mock Trial unit.

7th & 8th GOAL: Literature circles are still going strong. 8th graders will have their last discussion on Monday, November 28, and 7th grader will have their last discussion on Friday, December 2.

7th Language Arts: No spelling this week. RAFT stories are due for teacher edit before student leave on Tuesday, November 22. Final drafts are due Wednesday, November 30.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

6th Grade GOAL Models & Design Unit

6th grade GOAL classes have been putting their engineering skills to the test with their Models and Design unit. Students began by exploring the concept of a black box in science... a system that we cannot see inside, so we have to theorize about how it works. They made conceptual models and physical models of different black boxes to try to figure out the systems in each.

Students then took the idea of building a physical model to create a rubber band-powered car. Groups had to plan how their system would work and build a working model. Cars will enter a competition for distance as the final activity of the unit.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Weekly Preview: 11/14-11/18, 2011

Happy American Education Week! We are celebrating at Fairfield Middle School in the following ways:

Monday = Student Appreciation Day! Staff will wear school shirts; treats in homeroom for our Magnificent & Most appreciated students
Tuesday = Parent Appreciation Day! Staff will contact a parent to thank them for helping on a regular basis or for attending conferences. Students will write thank you notes in homeroom to an adult who has been instrumental in their education.
Wednesday = Support Staff Day - Our building will thank our support staff by providing a special luncheon for them.
Thursday = Educator for a Day - Staff will trade classes with a colleague or have a guest speaker.
Friday = Sub Day - We will thank our substitutes! Staff will also wear college alma mater shirts and talk about the importance of higher education &/or why we went into education.
As for regular weekly business, here is what's happening in room 1o1 this week:

6th GOAL: Students are finishing the Models and Designs unit by building rubber band-powered cars. We'll have our distance competition on Thursday and our unit wrap-up on Friday.

7th & 8th GOAL: Students are working hard on their literature circles, discussing and reading every day. 7th graders are reading books under the Culture Clash theme. 8th graders are reading books under the Holocaust theme.

7th Language Arts: This is a maintenance test week in spelling, so there is no pretest. On Friday, students will be tested over the words from weeks 7-11. See past Weekly Previews for those lists. To practice, spelling book pages 75 (1-20), 76 (1-20), and 77 (1-10) are due Wednesday. We will be starting work on the Voice trait of writing this week. RAFT stories will be assigned with rough drafts due by the end of class on Thursday. Stories will be due for teacher edit (revised, typed, 2 peer conferences, & fixed) by the end of the day on Tuesday, November 22.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Weekly Preview: 11/7-11/11, 2011

Here at FMS, we've all enjoyed a three-day weekend. I hope yours was as restful and rejuvenating as mine was! Here is what we will be doing this week in room 101:

Tuesday morning before school is the last time this year's Book Fair will be open. There are tons of great books this time... I know. I spent WAY too much money for my class library!

6th GOAL: This class is finishing up their conceptual models of the Humdinger. On Wednesday, they'll actually see inside the Humdinger, and they'll be able to compare their models to the real thing. From there, we'll move on to rubber band cars as the last activity in the models & design unit.

7th GOAL: On Monday, I'll be booktalking books for the upcoming literature circles around the theme of Culture Clash. Students will also be presenting their campaign posters from the Big Science activity that finished up last week. Literature circles will start on Wednesday, and this will be the only time during the year that students will have a daily assignment.

8th GOAL: Literature circles are continuing this week with books centered around the theme of the Holocaust. Remember, this is a daily assignment!

7th Language Arts: On Monday, students will work on Week 11 spelling. Pretest corrections and p. 70 (1-20) are due on Wednesday. For the remainder of the week, we'll be discussing the trait of word choice in writing. We'll have some in-class activities related to word choice. By the end of the week, we'll be discussing the trait of voice in writing, and that will lead to our upcoming RAFT writing assignment next week. Stay tuned for details.

Week 11 Spelling Words

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Weekly Preview: 10/31-11/3, 2011

Welcome, November! It's going to be a crazy, short week here at FMS. Don't forget Parent/Teacher Conferences Tuesday and Thursday evenings from 4:00-7:30. If you want to see all the teachers at once in the Commons, come on Tuesday. If you'd like to go to each teacher's individual classroom, come on Thursday. And, don't forget, there's no school on Friday!

Here's the scoop for this week in room 101:

6th GOAL: We're looking at the contraption called the Humdinger. We're figuring out this black box and making our own physical models to recreate our own Humdingers.

7th GOAL: We're finishing up our Big Science activity by narrowing our class's choices (debating and arguing and coming up with a consensus is hard work!). Then, we'll be making campaign posters for our personal choice. Next week, we'll start literature circles.

8th GOAL: We're starting literature circles this week. Our theme is the Holocaust, and this is the only time in GOAL when we will have a daily assignment. Groups are decided based on book choices, and each group will decide how much they will read for the next day.

7th Language Arts: Final drafts of our Grown-Up Rules stories are due Friday. Some students will need to work outside of class to get this completed on time, whether it's at home, in study hall, or before/after school. With shortened periods this week, our typing time in the lab is limited. Spelling p. 63 is due on Wednesday along with pretest corrections. The posttest will be on Thursday this week due to no school on Friday.

Week 10 Spelling List

Friday, October 21, 2011

Weekly Re/Preview: 10/17-10/28, 2011

I got out of the blogging routine last week when I was attending the Iowa Talented & Gifted Association's annual state conference in Des Moines on Monday and Tuesday, so I'll recap what happened in class last week AND preview what's to come in the week ahead. Hang on for the wild ride!

Remember that Wednesday is the last day of the quarter. My students need to have all work in by that day to be counted for this quarter's grades.


6th GOAL: The class continued its exploration with black boxes, conceptual models, and coming to consensus decisions.

7th GOAL: The classes looked into past government-funded science programs like NASA and the Manhattan Project.

8th GOAL: The classes continued reading the play of The Diary of Anne Frank as the introduction to their Holocaust literature circle unit. The entire 8th grade got the opportunity to go to the high school on Friday afternoon to see portions of the Fairfield High School Drama production of the same play. If anyone is interested in seeing the play in its entirety, they can see it on October 28, 29, 30, or November 8. It should be a great show.

Language Arts: Classes worked on finishing their pen pal letters and being introduced to the Ideas trait of writing. Week 8 spelling words included: encouragement, idleness, canoe, manage, forgiveness, acreage, outrageous, management, forgive, canoeing, inventiveness, encourage, acre, commencement, advantageous, commence, fierceness, amazement, awareness, and announcement.


6th GOAL: Students are continuing with their Models & Designs unit. This week, they're designing conceptual models of their own black boxes in science. These are creative and entertaining to see! They'll be trying to figure out and recreate the Humdinger invention later in the week.

7th GOAL: Students are still working on their Minds-On Science: For the Sake of the Nation. This week, they'll be looking into biogenetics and its role in society.

8th GOAL: Students will be finishing up reading The Diary of Anne Frank, and then they'll start their literature circle unit on Holocaust books.

7th Language Arts: For the writing assignment to go along with the Ideas trait of writing, students heard the book The Secret Knowledge of Grown-Ups. They are now creating their own secret rule. Rough drafts are due Tuesday, teacher edit drafts are due Friday, and final drafts are due next Thursday, November 3. Week 9 spelling words center around the suffixes -tion and -ation. Pretest corrections and page 58 (1-20) are due on Wednesday.

Week 9 Spelling Words

Monday, October 10, 2011

Weekly Preview: 10/10-10/14, 2011

Here is what's happening in room 101 this week:

6th GOAL: We'll be finishing up our comics unit on Monday with final sharing, and then after library day on Tuesday, we'll be starting our Models and Design unit. We use the Foss kit for Models & Designs, and it's always a great way for kids to get hands on experience with engineering skills. This week we'll be exploring the concept of a black box and how it relates to science.

7th GOAL: We'll be finishing up our comics unit on Monday with final sharing, and then after library day on Tuesday, we'll be starting our unit called Big Science: For the Sake of the Nation. This unit centers around government funded science projects. Students will use video and pamphlet information to debate what the next government funded big science project should be.

8th GOAL: We'll be finishing up our comics unit on Monday with final sharing, and then after library day on Tuesday, we'll be starting our Holocaust literature circle unit. We'll begin by reading the play The Diary of Anne Frank this week. Next week, we'll begin reading and discussing our literature circle books.

7th Language Arts: Pen pal letters are due Wednesday for teacher edit. 2 peer conferences are required before that point, and envelopes must be included. Final drafts are due by Monday at the latest. Spelling Week 7 pretest will be Monday. This week's lesson focuses in different affixes. Pretest corrections and book page 46 (1-20) are due Wednesday. Posttest will be Friday.

Week 7 Words

Friday, October 7, 2011

Class Act Comics Conference

Wednesday, October 5, 2011, 25 FMS students in grades 6-8 had the opportunity to attend the Class Act Comics Conference at the University of Iowa. They met and heard from 3 published graphic novelists and comics and had a chance to see the University of Iowa Museum of Art's special exhibit called Graphic Language: The Art and Literature of Comics which will be open to the public until December 11. Click here for more information on the exhibit and accompanying activities.

Students were encouraged to draw throughout the day, and many received autographs from the authors and artists they met. It was a "once in a lifetime" experience!

James Sturm talks about his start in comics and his current work including The Golem's Mighty Swing and Market Day.

Students ready to hear from Jessica Abel

Jessica Abel, whose work incudes Drawing Words & Writing Pictures, talks about the process she goes through when creating a panel of a comic.

John Porcellino, creator of King Cat, talks about self-publishing and making comics out of everyday life events.

What a great group of kids! We enjoyed lunch at City Park in Iowa City before heading back to Fairfield

Monday, October 3, 2011

Weekly Preview: 10/3-10/7, 2011

Happy October! Here's the scoop on what's happening this week in room 101:

6th, 7th, 8th GOAL: We're finishing up our comics, cartoons, & graphic novels unit this week. Final drafts of comics are due Tuesday. On Wednesday, 25 students will be attending a comics conference in Iowa City, and we'll have our final sharing on Friday. On Wednesday and Thursday, students will be getting outside for some GPS activities since we'll have several gone. I want as many here as possible to see the finished comics on Friday.

7th Language Arts: This is a Maintenance Test week for spelling, so there will be no pretest this week. Friday's test will be over words from weeks 1-5 (see past weekly previews for the lists). Spelling pages 39 (1-20), 40 (1-20), and 41 (1-10) are due on Wednesday. On Tuesday, we'll begin our first pen pal letter. I believe this is the 39th year for the 7th grade pen pal program, and our community volunteers look forward to hearing from their pen pals. This activity teaches letter writing and communication for our students, and it gets the community involved in our school! Rough drafts of the letters will be due on Thursday, and we'll begin typing that day as well. Letters will be due next Tuesday for teacher edit, with final drafts due next Friday.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Monday, September 26, 2011

Weekly Preview: 9/26-9/30, 2011

Happy Homecoming Week! Fairfield Middle School is getting into the spirit of the week with lots of different celebrations. Don't forget dress-up days: Cowboy/Camo Day (Monday), Clash Day (Tuesday), Retro Day (Wednesday), Hat Day (Thursday), and Orange/Black Day (Friday). We'll end the week with a big pep assembly to get pumped up for the high school football game that night. Go Trojans!

Aside from Homecoming activities, here's more of what will be going on in room 101 this week:

6th, 7th, & 8th grade GOAL: Monday, students will finish their jam comics and their panel lotteries. Tuesday is Library Day. From Wednesday through Friday, students will work with comic activities that tie with the book The Arrival by Shaun Tan, writing captions, showing passage of time in comics, and an activity called Sum of Its Parts.

7th Language Arts: Final drafts of "If I Were Mayor" essays are due Monday. We'll also take the pretest for spelling unit 4 on Monday. Pretest corrections and book p. 34 (1-20) are due Wednesday. For the rest of the week, we'll dive into the Ideas trait of writing which will culminate in a piece of writing that ties in with the book The Secret Knowledge of Grown-Ups. More details to come on that assignment.

Week 5 Spelling Words

Friday, September 23, 2011

Another Picture of the Winning Moment!

Today we surprised @kinnick72's 9am language arts class ... on Twitpic


The following explains the fantastic events of today! More media footage to come in the next few days, but you'll get the idea here:

It's not every day a 7-foot dog with green spots is seen outside of a terrible nightmare, but Friday in Tena Nelson's classroom at Fairfield Middle School, a 7-foot dog with green spots named Click made some dreams come true.

After receiving an e-mail earlier in the year forwarded to her from Principal Laura Atwood, Tena entered her class in a contest sponsored by Windstream Communications. Windstream provides DSL internet, phone service, and digital television to its customers, and their contest, called Windstream Connects: SchoolsWIN, was created to give back to schools and communities across the nation.

Applicants were asked to join through Facebook and/or Twitter. They were asked what they would use $1000 for in their classrooms and what kind of challenge they would have for Click the Dog if their school was chosen. Miss Nelson wrote, "Budget cuts are killing our students' access to technology! I'd love to have 2 iPads to share to allow students to skype with authors, create online presentations, and to write their own blogs... and, that's just the beginning! I want to help create 21st century citizens, but I need the hardware to do it! Come to Fairfield Middle School in Fairfield, IA! My students have been debating issues in class this week... feel like getting into a heated debate about mandatory dress code, Click?"

Superintendent Art Sathoff and Principal Laura Atwood were notified on Thursday that Fairfield Middle School's entry to the contest had been chosen and that Tena Nelson's classroom would be receiving $1000. On Friday morning, the Windstream Classroom Caravan pulled up outside Fairfield Middle School, and Click the dog, Windstream's loyal mascot, jumped out to greet the practicing FMS Marching Band.

Click and the Windstream crew visited Miss Nelson's classroom and presented her with a check for $1000. Since Click neither speaks nor wears clothes over his fur, the debate about dress code was dropped and replaced with an impromptu dance celebration. Miss Nelson hopes to use the money to purchase as least one, hopefully two, iPads for classroom use on a variety of projects. Before leaving the building, the Windstream group met many students throughout FMS and informed them that they were now eligible for a 25,000 prize if they document a community service project and upload the video to their website. Footage of Friday's events can be seen soon on the Windstream website at www.schoolswin.windstream.com/caravan.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

7th Grade Trip to Camp Dodge

Last Friday, our entire 7th grade class took a trip to Camp Dodge in Des Moines. Watch the video to see their adventures! Thanks to the great Ms. Mangler for putting this movie together!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Weekly Preview 9/19-9/23, 2011

It was a great weekend to be a Hawkeye fan... hope your teams did well too! Here's what's happening this week in room 101:

6th, 7th, 8th grade GOAL: We're continuing our comics, cartoons, & graphic novels unit. Monday we'll be sharing our pictureless comics. Tuesday is library day, but we'll pick up again on Wednesday to work on a panel lottery class comic. As time allows this week, we'll work on jam comics and a tie-in to the book The Arrival by Shaun Tan. Out of these comics, students will be choosing one that they wish to take to the final draft stage as a representation of what they learned in this unit. Students attending the comics conference in Iowa City on October 5 (signup will be available on Tuesday; there are 25 spots) will be taking that final draft to swap, in addition to it being for their unit reflection. 6th grade journal letters are due Wednesday, 7th grade journal letters are due Thursday, and 8th grade journal letters are due Friday.

7th Language Arts: Since the entire 7th grade was gone last Friday, on Monday we'll take last week's posttest AND this week's pretest. Pretest corrections and book p. 28 are due Wednesday. "If I Were Mayor" essays are due Wednesday for teacher edit. Final drafts will be due next Monday.

Week 4 Spelling Words
dining room
word processing
pencil sharpener
study hall

Sunday, September 18, 2011

How I Look at Teaching Reading

This article from The New York Times discusses my philosophy of teaching reading... let the students choose the books! The first book I ever hated in my life was a whole class novel. Those weeks of being forced to read The Hobbit were pure torture, and they affected how I look at the fantasy genre to this day. I hope my students will become lifelong readers, and I believe independent book choice is the way to do that.

Thanks, Book Whisperer, for posting this article on Facebook tonight, so I could share it with all of you!

Friday, September 16, 2011

She Knows Me Too Well!

This was on the board today in Mrs. Kaska's room. I made her Daily "Pun"ishment! I guess it sometimes pays to be a Drama Queen! :)

Thursday, September 15, 2011

GREAT Opportunity!

I just received word about this FREE event this Sunday in Coralville for elementary & middle school students. Check it out... it looks great for kids into science, math, and engineering!

Here's the website: http://iexplorestem.org/.

Here's the information:

On Sept. 18, elementary and middle school students and their families will simulate a Hazmat decontamination, play "Blood, Guts, and Healing" on a wii console, operate robotics, and take part in many other hand-on activities at Iowa's first iExploreSTEM.

Held at the State Hygienic Laboratory in Coralville from 1 to 5 p.m. , iExploreSTEM is a free festival created to encourage student involvement in the areas of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

"Probably every economic assessment written in the last 50 years concludes that growth comes from innovation, and that most innovation derives from STEM-related advances," said Gina Schatteman, Ph.D., Director of iExploreSTEM and associate professor of Integrative Physiology at the University of Iowa.

The festival is a collaborative brainchild of Schatteman and leaders at the Hygienic Lab and Iowa Mathematics and Science Education Partnership (IMSEP). The idea grew out of the first USA Science and Engineering Festival held in 2010 on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. IMSEP was a participant at that event and will co-sponsor iExploreSTEM with the Hygienic Laboratory.

More than 40 iExplore activities are designed to engage students in activities that will encourage them to study STEM subjects and pursue careers in these fields.

"The stagnant performance of U.S. students suggests that we are not creating a new generation of innovators," Schatteman said. "This bodes poorly for economic growth in the US in general and Iowa in particular. Fortunately, we have a strong culture of innovation and a supportive education system, so this course is not irreversible if we act now."

The U.S. Department of Commerce estimates that the number of STEM occupations will increase by 17 percent in the next seven years, compared to an increase of 9.8 percent for non-STEM occupations.

Most jobs now require some level of STEM knowledge, according to Schatteman. These include firefighters who need a working knowledge of chemistry for Hazmat duties; farmers who rely on math and economics to decide what to plant and when to sell their crops; and emergency medical technicians who use their knowledge of physiology.

"To be competitive for 21st-century jobs, students must have a strong foundation in STEM," Schatteman said. Unfortunately, once the world leader in STEM education, the U.S. is now in the middle of the pack and falling fast in international rankings. Iowa students used to be the best in the nation, but now rank in the middle by some measures. How will our kids be able to compete for jobs in a global economy?"

More information about iExploreSTEM is available online at iexplorestem.org.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Drama Club

First Drama Club of the year today... awesome group! This year (because we no longer have week 1 & week 2), Drama Club will meet on the 2nd & 4th Tuesdays after school from 3:40-5:00. Grades 6-8 are welcome! Spread the word!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Weekly Preview: 9/12-9/16, 2011

It's hard to believe it's been 10 years since 9/11. I remember where I was that day... I was running late for professional development at the high school, and I saw the second plane hit right before running out the door. I'd never been so scared for my country in my whole life as I was that day. We must all continue to talk about 9/11... to remember for those who are too young to remember on their own.

And now to what's happening in room 101 this week:

6th, 7th, 8th grade GOAL: We're continuing our exploration of comics, cartoons, and graphic novels this week. We're reading a bunch, and then we're going to do some activities that lead up to us creating our own. This is out of the comfort zone of many students... and their teacher! Click on this link for a great resource that we'll be using extensively for our comics unit. Tuesday is Library Day. 6th grade journal letters are due Wednesday, 7th grade journal letters are due Thursday, and 7th grade journal letters are due Friday.

7th Language Arts: We'll start with spelling. After Monday's pretest, corrections and page 22 (1-22) will be due on Wednesday. For the rest of the week, we'll be working on our "If I Were Mayor" essays. We'll be typing, conferencing, and fixing draft 2, thereby making draft 3! Some students will be ready to hand in draft 3 for teacher edit. Others will need further drafting and correcting because we're all in different places when it comes to learning to write. Essays will be due for teacher edit at the end of the period on Friday.

Week 3 Spelling List

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Weekly Preview: 9/6-9/9, 2011

I hope you all had a great long Labor Day weekend. We're ready to jump into another week here at FMS!

6th, 7th, & 8th grade GOAL: Tuesday is our first library day, so we'll be refreshing our memories about all the procedures and rules of the library. Then, students will have a chance to check out and read books. Journal letters will be due this week (Wednesday for 6th grade, Thursday for 7th grade, and Friday for 8th grade). They may be written about the read aloud book or about the students' individual reading contract books. On Wednesday, we'll be in the computer lab learning about our class wiki and how to use it. Thursday and Friday, we'll be starting our comics, cartoons, and graphic novels unit.

7th Language Arts: A short week means quicker spelling. We'll take the Week 2 pretest on Tuesday, and the assignment (p. 16, 1-20) will be due on Wednesday. The posttest will be Friday. We'll be working on writing our "If I Were Mayor" essays for the rest of the week. Rough drafts will be due Thursday at the end of class. Friday, we'll go through a group self-revision so we'll be ready to type next week.

Week 2 Spelling Words

Monday, August 29, 2011

Weekly Preview: 8/29-9/2

It's our first full week of school! Here's what classes will be up to in Miss Nelson's room this week:

6th-8th GOAL: Our school library won't be open until next week, but there is still a lot of reading to be done. Students may check out books from my classroom library at any time, and the public library is a great option too, of course! On Monday, we're going over journal letter expectations. Students will write one per week. We also are starting our read aloud books for the year. 6th graders will be hearing Okay For Now by Gary D. Schmidt, 7th graders will be hearing The Cardturner by Louis Sachar, and 8th graders will be hearing To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. They may journal about the read aloud books or about their independent reading books. Either is fine. We'll also be setting up a class wiki for discussion of the read aloud books, so stay tuned for that!

For the rest of the week, we're going to be thinking on our feet and getting to know each other with some impromptu speeches and some quick class debates.

7th Language Arts: We'll start the week with our first spelling unit. Week 1 words are words from the media. Pretest corrections and p. 10 (1-20) are due on Wednesday. Aside from spelling, we'll be starting the 6+1 Traits of Writing with an introduction and then with getting into the trait of Organization. The writing assignment that accompanies this trait will be an essay called, "If I Were Mayor..." More information on that to come.

Week 1 Spelling Words

Don't forget about picture day on Tuesday, and have a great week!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Class Calendar

I'm trying the embedding tool on Google Calendars. I think this can be a great way to see deadlines, etc. I'll plan on posting it every week as part of my Weekly Preview. Can't wait to see all my students tomorrow!!!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Getting Ready!

School is just around the corner! If you want to help in Miss Nelson's classroom, come to school on Wednesday (August 17) at 9:00 a.m. You can help decide how the classroom will look this year. Stay and work as long as you want. Miss Nelson will buy pizza for lunch!

7:25 pm adjustment: Because the janitors will be waxing the floors tomorrow, we can only get in the classroom in the morning. I'll be there by 8:00 for anyone who wants to come early, and we'll plan on being done by 11:30. We'll still have pizza, but we'll have it picnic style at O.B. Nelson Park!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Summer Reading

GOAL students know that I expect them to read over the summer, but I recently found out about a fun way to document that reading. Thanks to the Free Technology for Teachers blog, I discovered a program sponsored by Scholastic this summer called the Scholastic Summer Challenge. It looks like a great resource for both students and parents alike. I'll be documenting my own reading on Goodreads.com. I hope to learn enough about that site this summer to incorporate it into my routine for students to document their own reading in the fall.

Here is a great link with summer reading ideas for gifted kids. It includes some great reading lists!

Happy reading, everyone!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Hannibal, 2011

We had a great trip to Hannibal last week with the 7th grade GOAL class... enjoy the highlights on this PhotoPeach!

Hannibal, 2011 on PhotoPeach

Thursday, May 26, 2011

7th GOAL Animated Movies

Here are the links to all the 7th grade GOAL stop-motion animated movies from this quarter. We're excited to premiere them tonight on the big screen as part of our GOAL movie night fundraiser!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Weekly Preview: 5/23-5/27

Our last full week. Where did this year go???

6th GOAL: Students will be finishing their GPS scavenger hunts this week. After that, they will assessing the scavenger hunts, writing thank-you notes for the chaperones who went on our field trip to Nauvoo, completing reading contract self-evalutations, and participating in a class quiz bowl.

7th GOAL: Students will be taking their field trip to Hannibal, MO, on Tuesday as part of their Tom Sawyer unit. On Friday, students who made their assignment journal goals will reap the reward at Coral Ridge Mall for the day. So, in between, GOAL students this week are going to be continuing to hear Tom Sawyer, getting animated movies ready for our movie night Thursday, completing reading contract self-evaluations, competing in a class quiz bowl, and writing thank-you notes for chaperones.

8th GOAL: Students are frantically finishing their documentaries, so they're ready to present on Thursday night. They'll also be writing thank-you notes for trip chaperones, completing reading contract self-evaluations, assessing the documentaries (their own and their classmates'), watching their elementary Challenge Egg-Drop video, and competing in a class quiz bowl.

7th Language Arts: No spelling this week... our books are handed in for the year! This week, students will be finishing pen pal letters that were due last Friday, choosing their favorite piece of writing for their permanent writing folders, assessing the fractured fairy tale Zoobursts of their friends, having a spelling bee, and participating in a pass-write activity where students build on the ideas of others.

Whew! It's a lot to pack in, but we can do it. We have to make every minute count!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Weekly Preview: 5/16-5/20

6th GOAL: On Monday and Wednesday (Tuesday is Library Day), students will be setting up their GPS scavenger hunts. On Thursday and Friday, another group from their class will be completing the scavenger hunt. Keep your fingers crossed for good weather!

7th GOAL: Students will be assessing animated movies on Monday. For the rest of this week, we'll be finishing up Tom Sawyer in preparation for our trip to Hannibal next week. We'll also be touching on GPS skills as a mini-unit.

8th GOAL: This week, students will be working hard to finish up their documentary films. The movies will premiere (along with the 7th grade animated movies) on Thursday, May 26, our GOAL movie night.

The 8th grade GOAL class had a great time on their overnight trip to Des Moines last week. They visited the Des Moines Art Center, the State Historical Museum of Iowa, Drake University campus with a tour from an FHS alumni, and the Science Center of Iowa where they saw the Hubbell IMAX movie and saw the new Body Worlds exhibit. Click the photopeach below to see some highlights!

8th Grade GOAL to Des Moines on PhotoPeach

7th Language Arts: Students will be finishing up their last pen pal letters this week. Letters are due Tuesday for teacher edit, and final drafts are due Friday. Week 32 spelling words focus on words ending with -tial, -cial, -cious, and -tious. Page 195 and pretest corrections are due Wednesday.

Week 32 Words

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Science Fiction Booktalks

Here are the science fiction titles I booktalked today for library day. Enjoy!

Larklight by Philip Reeve

Starcross by Philip Reeve

Mothstorm by Philip Reeve

The Dark Side of Nowhere by Neal Shusterman

Life as We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer

Weekly Preview: 5/9-5/13

6th GOAL: Monday was our big trip to Nauvoo... what a great time... click the play button on the Photopeach movie below to see the highlights! For the rest of the week, students will be planning their GPS Scavenger Hunts. We hope to be hunting next Thursday and Friday.

Nauvoo, 2011 on PhotoPeach

7th GOAL: Students will be finishing their animated movies this week... editing, adding music, uploading to YouTube and SchoolTube... getting them ready to present on our GOAL movie night on May 26!

8th GOAL: Students will be working on their documentaries... getting pictures uploaded and in order, writing storyboards, and finding music. Next week, they'll be recording and getting everything in order. The documentaries will be presented on the GOAL movie night on May 26. This class leaves after school Thursday for their big Images of Greatness trip to Des Moines.

7th Language Arts: Students will be starting their final pen pal letters of the year. Rough drafts are due this Thursday. Spelling for week 31 has to do with adding -ly to words ending in "ic." Pretest corrections and p. 190 are due on Wednesday.

Week 31 Words:

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Booktalks: Historical Fiction

GOAL students are getting close to finishing their reading contracts for the year, but some are having trouble finishing their historical fiction genre requirement. I found a website with a lot of great suggestions... click here to see all the young adult historical fiction titles they've compiled on this site.

From that list specific books that I quickly pulled from our library this morning include:

Indio by Sherry Garland

A Bone from a Dry Sea by Peter Dickinson

Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan (and its sequels Skylark and Caleb's Story)

The Legend of Jimmy Spoon by Kristiana Gregory

The Stowaway by Kristiana Gregory

I know our Fairfield Middle School library has a lot more from the list too, so dig in. Enjoy some historical fiction today!

Weekly Preview: 5/2-5/6

6th GOAL: We're continuing our work w/ GPS & Geocaching. Monday, students jigsawed articles about how GPS receivers work, the history and applications of GPS, and the basics of Geocaching. Later in the week, they'll be using GPS technology to map different locations on school grounds and to build their own scavenger hunt.

7th GOAL: We're still working on our animated movies. We hope to be done filming this week so we can move into adding sound and finishing the movies next week.

8th GOAL: We're continuing work with documentary filmmaking. This week's focus is writing the script for our films and getting our interview footage uploaded to iMovie.

7th Language Arts: No spelling this week. We're finishing up our fractured fairy tale Zoobursts (due Friday) and getting ready for the big Pen Pal Party on Friday morning where we finally get to meet our pen pals face-to-face!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Happy Birthday, Harper Lee!

This is such a great post about how, in To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee shaped the meaning of these words:






Happy birthday, Harper Lee!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Fractured Fairy Tales: Oldies but Goodies

On Friday, I showed 2 fractured fairy tales from when I was growing up. I remember watching these on Saturday mornings! You can see in these examples, a familiar story has been changed. Red Riding Hood has become a very annoying girl that even the wolf wants to get rid of. The three little pigs now are jazz musicians. Maybe these examples will inspire your own fractured fairy tale for our assignment due on Monday, May 9, in language arts class.

Weekly Preview: 4/25-4/29

I can't believe this is the last week of April... the 4th quarter is flying by! Here's what's happening in room 101 this week:

6th GOAL: We'll be finishing up Westward Expansion projects and then starting our geocaching unit. Our field trip to Nauvoo is coming up on Monday, May 9. Parent chaperones are welcome, so let me know if you'd like to attend!

7th GOAL: We're still animating like crazy. I hope the picture-taking stage will be done this week, and then next week, the kids can edit and finalize their movies. Our field trip to Hannibal is coming up on May 24. Parent chaperones are welcome, so let me know if you'd like to attend!

8th GOAL: We're working on our documentary films. This week, interviews will be filmed, and pictures will be found. Facts are being organized, and then scripts will be written. It's going to be a busy week! Our field trip to Des Moines is coming up on Thursday, May 12. We need a chaperone for every hotel room, since it's an overnight trip. I still need one female chaperone and one male chaperone, so please let me know if you can attend. We will leave right after school on Thursday, and we'll return between 6 & 7 on Friday night.

7th Langage Arts: We're working on our folklore writing projects. Students are "fracturing" a fairy tale, tall tall, myth, or legend. They'll be putting their final projects on the Web 2.0 tool called Zooburst. We'll be in the Mac lab this week and next week to complete these projects. For spelling, it's a maintenance test week, so there is no pretest on Monday. Pages 183 (1-20), 184 (1-20), and 185 (1-20) are due Wednesday, and we'll take the maintenance test (covering weeks 25-29) on Friday.

Have a great week!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Weekly Preview 4/18-4/21

6th GOAL: This week, students will be presenting their Westward Expansion projects to the class. I can't wait to see what they've learned!

7th GOAL: This week, students will be filming their stop-motion animated movies. They've been working hard on sets and storyboards, and they're ready for the real fun to begin!

8th GOAL: This week, students will be working on compiling their research for their documentaries. They'll be setting up and filming interviews, organizing research, and starting to write their storyboards.

7th Language Arts: This week, students will finish finding folklore examples in The Princess Bride. They will then start writing their own fractured fairy tales, using the elements of folklore. Spelling for this week focuses on the Latin forms of miss, manus, fluere, and animus. Pretest corrections and book page 178 (1-20) are due Wednesday. The posttest will be on Thursday this week due to no school on Friday.

Week 29 Spelling



Monday, April 11, 2011

Weekly Preview: 4/11-4/15

6th GOAL: This week, students will be working on their projects for our Westward Expansion unit. We already have a variety of posters, glogs, 3-D models, and photopeaches in the works, just to name a few. We'll start presenting next Monday.

7th GOAL: This week, students will begin filming their stop-motion animated movies. Storyboards are due Monday, we'll have a demonstration of the program on Wednesday, and hopefully, all sets will be constructed so students can start filming on Thursday. At 15 clicks of the camera per second, they have a lot of filming to do to make their one-minute movies.

8th GOAL: This week, students are starting their documentary filmmaking unit. Groups were chosen on Monday, and now the process of choosing topics has begun. Research will be done on each topic, and students must have at least one interview that they will film as part of the movie.

7th Language Arts: Students are in the middle of their folklore unit. This week, we will be finding examples of the elements of folklore in the movie The Princess Bride. We'll also be reviewing for and taking the Parts of Speech quiz again. This week's spelling list focuses on words from French. Page 172 is due Wednesday along with pretest corrections.

Spelling Week 28 Words

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Folklore Exploration

Because of an assembly this week, some language arts students had one day less to complete the folklore exploration. Since the books cannot be checked out, I wanted to post some links here for more folklore examples if students need them tonight to complete the assignment. The assignment is due Friday.

Catch The Bus! Win An Author Visit!

Catch The Bus! Win An Author Visit!

I hope we win... this would be awesome! You can click to enter as well... the more entries we get, the better!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Weekly Preview: 4/4-4/8

Have you been watching the live feed of the Decorah eagles' nest? 2 eggs hatched over the weekend... 1 left to go!

Live Video streaming by Ustream

6th GOAL:
Students will be finishing their research for Westward Expansion projects. They have chosen a variety of interesting topics that have to do with westward expansion and the middle 1800's. We'll start working on the projects next week in class.

7th GOAL: Students will be starting to make their animated movies this week. Groups have been chosen, and students will be brainstorming materials and plot of their movies at the beginning of this week. At the end of the week, they'll be gathering/making materials and finalizing their storyboards.

8th GOAL: Students will be finishing the movie To Kill a Mockingbird, and then they will be starting their unit on documentary film making.

7th Language Arts: Alphabet poems are due Monday, and then students will be starting their unit on folklore. We'll be focusing on folk tales, fairy tales, and tall tales. This week students will be exploring different folklore from around the world. They will also be doing spelling. Page 166 is due Wednesday, along with corrections from their pretests.

Week 27 Spelling Words

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Newbery Booktalks!

Today most of the GOAL classes heard booktalks about three of the Newbery Award winning books for this year. They happen to all be historical fiction, and they happen to all be WONDERFUL!

One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia
Heart of a Samurai by Margi Preus

The books above are Newbery Honor books. The following is the Newbery Award winner for this year... drum roll please...

Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool

Check them out today!!!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Weekly Preview: 3/28-4/1

Welcome back from Spring Break! I hope you all had a restful and rejuvenating week. Here we go into the 4th quarter at FMS!

6th GOAL: We'll be setting quarter reading goals this week and then getting into our Westward Expansion unit. This will involve research on an aspect of westward expansion in the United States and/or a topic relating to the middle 1800's. The unit will culminate with our class field trip to Nauvoo, IL, later this spring!

7th GOAL: After setting our quarter reading goals, we're starting a couple of things at once this week. First, I'll be starting to read Mark Twain's Tom Sawyer aloud to the class. I'll share a bit each day. In another month or so, we'll be studying more about Mark Twain. The Mark Twain unit will culminate with our class field trip to Hannibal, MO, later this spring, but we're starting Tom Sawyer early to make sure we finish the book before the end of the unit. For the rest of the week, we'll be working on our stop-motion animation unit. This unit is an extension of a Mod Tech module on animation. Students will be working in groups to create an animated movie of about a minute in length.

8th GOAL: We'll first set our quarter reading goals, and then, as promised, we'll be finishing up our To Kill a Mockingbird read aloud by watching a little of the master, Gregory Peck, in action!

7th Language Arts: We will start the week with spelling unit #26 (Greek Forms: gram, chron, phon(e), and scope). Page 160 and pretest corrections will be due on Wednesday. Then, we'll be working on a week-long alphabet poem writing assignment. This assignment will be due next Monday.

Week 26 Spelling Words

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

History Day Adventure

The 7th grade GOAL students had a great day at District History Day competition yesterday. They all successfully presented their projects as proud representatives of our school. We even have three projects going on to State History Day in May. Congratulations to all who participated on a job well done!

the whole gang

Lindsey & Katherine accepting their pin for State (group exhibit)
(Suzannah was sick, but she'll be going to State for this project as well)

Oba accepting his pin for State (individual documentary)

Nathan & Logan accepting their pins for State (group documentary)

What Do You Think?

This new graphic biography is getting a lot of buzz... what do you think about it?

Monday, March 14, 2011

History Day Documentary Links

We uploaded the 7th grade History Day documentaries to YouTube as a backup plan in case we had technology glitches at the big event. But, now that they're there, everyone can enjoy the hard work of the documentary groups. Enjoy!

Jacob's documentary on Genetic Modification

Brennan & Dain's documentary on Dropping the Atomic Bomb

Weekly Preview: 3/14-3/18

First of all, Happy Pi Day, everyone! :)

It's a crazy week... it's the end of the quarter, it's the week before spring break, it's the week of History Day, and it's the week of Images of Greatness. Hang on to your hats, folks!

6th GOAL: We'll be finishing up our unit on consumption by sharing what we learned in our oral history interviews and then comparing our consumption log data. Remember that consumption logs are due Wednesday!

7th GOAL: Tuesday is History Day! Students need to be at school by 7:45 a.m. to get ready for the big event. The rest of the week will be spent reflecting, assessing, and grading projects.

8th GOAL: Thursday is Images of Greatness! Students will need to be at school by 6:30 p.m. to get in their costumes and to get their display boards and foods ready to go. Images of Greatness begins at 7:00, and the public is invited to attend.

7th Language Arts: We'll be working on Parts of Speech this week by finishing up group presentations, making a Parts of Speech study guide, and then taking the P.O.S. quiz. Spelling p. 154 is due on Wednesday along with pretest corrections.

Week 25 Spelling Words