Friday, December 13, 2013

Letters About Literature

6th and 7th grade GOAL students are participating in the Letters About Literature Contest.

For any writers needing some inspiration, here are the links to winning letters from the past:  Maybe those will help inspire you to think of how your favorite books have affected you.

Rules and guidelines for the contest can be found here:

Friday, November 1, 2013

Deep Thinking Friday

Questions Without Answers


 Is your mind blown? :) Discuss.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Update... It's Been WAY Longer Than a Week!

This teacher/blogger has been naughty!  It's been far too long since I updated this blog, but I'm back on the bandwagon.  Here's what's been happening in room 101 up to and during this last week of the first quarter:

English 8:  Students are busy finishing their Prezis on important women in history.  They're due Friday, and then students will have a chance to share the inspiring information they've learned.

5th GOAL:  5th graders started the quarter learning about cricket: all the rules, all the equipment, all the fun!  They practiced for a few days, and then Mr. Edlin came to umpire their big match.  They kept score and had a great time.  Now, they're finishing up research on a sport or game from another country.  They'll be creating projects to share their knowledge and to teach the class how to play the sport of game they researched.

6th GOAL:  6th graders are loving their read aloud book Okay For Now by Gary D. Schmidt.  They have been discussing the book on their class wiki.  They have also been busy with their Models and Design unit.  They have been creating physical models of the Humdinger, a mechanical device that hums when you pull a string and then dings when you let the string go.  They have been collaborating in groups and making models that will recreate what the Humdinger does.

7th GOAL:  7th graders' read aloud is The Cardturner by Louis Sachar.  They have been learning a little bridge while listening to the tale of Alton & his Uncle Trapp.  Online discussions have taken place on the wiki.  Students finished a unit on Big Science.  The debates were great between whether biotechnology or an environmental car should be what the government backs as its next big science project.  In the end, students presented their own personal opinions in the form of a campaign poster, complete with unique slogan.

8th GOAL:  8th graders are in the middle of hearing To Kill a Mockingbird as their read aloud.  Tom Robinson's trial has just started, and we're all engrossed!  Students have discussed the book in an online wiki.  They're also in the middle of a unit on Mandarin Chinese.  We've learned some basic vocabulary, and now students are writing skits to perform to show what they've learned.

Deep Thinking Fridays:  Deep Thinking Fridays started with a simple question: "Is Google knowledge?"  The video sparked such fantastic discussion that a 6th grader suggested we have a Deep Thinking Friday EVERY Friday.  What a great idea!  Since that first time, we've discussed many topics including: What is consciousness?, Just how small is an atom?, littering and pollution (video and image), and Is your red the same as my red?  Deep Thinking Fridays allow students to think outside the box and ponder big, mind-blowing questions and issues.  One student reported that Deep Thinking Fridays gave him a headache, but he liked it!  By pondering life's mysteries and dilemmas, students engage creativity and imagination.  They think about their place in the world, and they debate the possibilities and explanations.  The discussions have been amazing.  Stop into room 101 on some Friday, and see for yourself... Join the deep thinking FUN!

Friday, September 6, 2013

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Putting Words of Wisdom into Blogs

These links might help GOAL students who are putting Words of Wisdom projects on their blogs:

How to embed a Prezi into Blogger

How to embed a Google Presentation into Blogger

How to embed a Glog into Blogger

Uploading an iMovie to SchoolTube so it can be embedded into Blogger

Weekly Preview: 9/3-9/6, 2013

I hope everyone had a nice long Labor Day weekend.  Now it's time to get back to work, and we're actually on a regular schedule this week!  Here's what's happening this week in room 101:

5th GOAL:  Students are gathering their words of wisdom which are due at the end of the week.  We're also getting to know each other by playing some games that get us talking and thinking.

6th GOAL, 7th GOAL, 8th GOAL:  Words of Wisdom projects are due at the beginning of class on Wednesday.  We'll spend Wednesday in the computer lab embedding those projects in our blogs so we can share the wisdom with the world.  We'll be back in the classroom for the rest of the week, presenting the projects so the rest of the class and I can view the work each student has completed.

English 8:  This week, we're beginning our short story unit.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Weekly Preview, 8/26-8/30, 2013

hot weather photo: Weather - Hot Weather-Hot.gif It's the first full week of school, but because of the horribly hot temperatures, it's not going to feel like the first full week.  Here at the middle school, we're lucky to have air-conditioning, but since we're the only building in the district to be so lucky, we'll be on an 8:00-1:30 heat schedule all week.  Even with the shortened periods, we'll still be able to accomplish a lot of good things in GOAL class though!

5th GOAL:  This week, the 5th grade students will get used to coming downstairs to room 101 for GOAL.  We'll be getting to know each other, and then they'll get started on their Words of Wisdom assignment that the 6-8th graders have already begun.

6th GOAL, 7th GOAL, & 8th GOAL:  Outside of school, students are gathering their words of advice from multiple sources.  In class, GOAL students are in the computer lab this week.  They are setting up and/or modifying their Goodreads accounts and getting them linked to their school blogs.  They will be working on their blogs too, getting them ready to go for this school year.  I plan for their blogs to be a portfolio of learning of all the things we cover in GOAL this year.  FYI:  Library Day will still be on Tuesdays this year.

English 8:  Students are finishing up with classroom procedures, and they will be starting their short story unit.  FYI:  Library Day will be on Wednesdays this year.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Welcome Back!

It's the first day back to school!  I'm so excited with how things are changed up in room 101 this year.  First of all, I'll be having 5th graders in GOAL this year for the first time.  I think we're all going to have a blast together.  Additionally, I'm co-teaching English 8 with Mrs. Kaska for one period, and I think we're going to be a total dynamic duo.  I've missed teaching reading and language arts so much... I'm glad to be back in the game!

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

5th GOAL:  I actually won't start seeing these kids until next Monday.  Just an FYI:  Mrs. Lyon's & Mrs. Eeling's classes will come on Mondays and Thursdays.  Mrs. Copeland's, Ms. DeMoss's, & Mr. Philips's classes will come on Tuesdays and Fridays.  We might add Wednesdays with everyone together later on in the year.

6th GOAL, 7th GOAL, & 8th GOAL:  We're starting with a project called Words of Wisdom based off a book called Live and Learn and Pass It On by H. Jackson Brown, Jr.  Students will be interviewing relatives, friends, teachers, and community members to develop their own compilation of words of wisdom.  Next week, we'll be making sure everyone has a Goodreads account to document their independent reading, and we'll be blogging for the first time this year.  Words of Wisdom projects will be uploaded to their blogs.

English 8:  We'll be starting with a short story unit... stay tuned for details.  Hope everyone had a great first day... I know I did!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

6th & 7th grade GOAL: 6/4/13

6th grade GOAL:

1.  Complete this survey.  Make sure to explain your answers thoroughly.

2.  Go to  Set up an account using the Google button and your school username and password.

Follow the directions on each page, rating books, choosing genres, and setting up your account.  You'll be using this account to keep your reading log online.  Be sure to include the books you've read this Once your account is created, find the "groups" section.  Search for FMS GOAL and request to join. 

3.  If you finish, add some friends from this class and other GOAL classes.  If you've completed everything, you can play vocabulary games at  You can also read for your contract... we'll do contract self-evaluations tomorrow!

7th grade GOAL:

1.  Complete this survey.  Make sure your answers are explained thoroughly.

2.  Add a new journal letter blog entry on your blog, discussing the last book you read/the book you're currently reading.

3.  Update your Goodreads accounts.  We'll be doing your contract self-evaluations tomorrow, so make sure things are current.

3.  If you get done, you may: 1. continue your exploration of the game of bridge using the links from last week, 2. read for your independent reading contract, or 3. play vocabulary games at


Thursday, May 30, 2013

8th grade GOAL, 5/31/13

Click here to go to Miss Nelson's end of the year survey.

7th grade GOAL, 5/31/13: Learning to Play Bridge

As a follow-up to the Louis Sachar book, The Cardturner, 7th grade GOAL students will be learning how to play bridge in the last week of school.  Use the following websites and videos to give yourself some background knowledge.  Start a google doc to take notes.

At 11:15, stop looking at websites and go to your blog.  Write about bridge.  Use the following questions as a guide if you can't think of what to write about.  What do you understand at this point?  What is still confusing?  What are you looking forward to?  What did you learn by looking at the different bridge sites today?  What about bridge is coming back to you from The Cardturner.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Mark Twain Webquest

7th grade GOAL students:  You will find your Mark Twain Webquest at this link:

Go there and follow the directions. 

Friday, May 3, 2013

Critical Concepts Directions: May 3 & May 6

Critical Concepts Class - Friday and Monday  May 3 & 6, 2013
We will meet in the upstairs Mac Lab

Do the following in the order it is listed.  You may not complete all of these in one day.  

1) Finish all the lessons on Digitial Citizenship we did this week.  (Ignition)

2) Retake quizzes on any lesson you did not have 70% or higher.

3) To be done you will have to take the survey again so don’t worry when it pops up again.
Just take it to finish.

4) Create a new Google document and share with Miss Nelson
A) List 3 things you learned this week in class
B) Give your opinion of this program. Should we use it again? Did you find it helpful?
Was is frustrating to do? Was is boring? Etc.

5) Do Fastt Math Lesson

6) Explore different Public Service Announcements. In our next unit, we'll be making a public service announcement. 

Public Service Announcements are free messages in the public interest put out by the media to raise awareness and to change attitudes and behavior towards a social issue.  Watch as many examples of PSA's as you can on the websites:

On the Google doc you shared with Miss Nelson, answer the following:

a. Copy and paste the links to 3 good PSA's.
b. Write why you thought they were good Public Service Announcements.
c. Brainstorm 10 possible topics that you would be interested in researching and making into a PSA for others to see. Use this website to help you with ideas (
d. What kind of advertisements get your attention when you watch TV or are on the internet?
e. What would a PSA need to have to get teenagers to listen or to think about an issue?

7) Do Type To Learn Lesson (Go to if you've finished Type To Learn)


Design a cover for the FMS 2013-2014 Assignment Journal. You can do this on paper or on the computer. The design must fit on a 8" x 9" paper with the words fitting a 6'' x 8 3/4" space. It must be colored, school appropriate, and focusing on our school's mission: TROJAN PRIDE: Inspire. Empower. Achieve.

8) Play Financial Literacy or Cool Math Games ONLY WHEN EVERYTHING ELSE IS COMPLETE! Remember you are being graded on the Digital Citizenship Lesson we did this week.

Monday, April 29, 2013


Weekly Preview 4/29-5/3, 2013

I can't believe it's finally May.  6 weeks left of school.  5 more Mondays!

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

6th GOAL:  Students are having their last literature circle discussion and working on their final projects this week.  We'll start presenting next Wednesday.

7th GOAL:  Students are frantically working on their animated movies.  2 weeks until premiere!

8th GOAL:  Students are frantically working on their documentary films (and battling our flawed technology... cross your fingers that the technology gods smile down on them this week!).  2 weeks until premiere!

8th Critical Concepts:  Students will be working on an individualized digital citizenship unit this week in the computer lab. 

Monday, April 22, 2013

7th Grade GOAL Blog Assignment 4/23/13

1.  Update your reading log on Goodreads.  Review and rate books as necessary and document your progress in the book you're currently reading.

2.  Write a journal letter on your blog about the book you're currently reading.

3.  Choose one of the following questions to answer on your blog after your journal letter:

*  Discuss your progress, excitement, frustrations, questions, etc. about the stop-motion animated movies.

*  Discuss your personal goals for the rest of the school year.  How are you going to make the last 6 weeks really count?

*  Discuss a recent news event.  Give your thoughts, opinions, comments, and/or questions.

DUE: 4/26/13

Weekly Preview: 4/22-4/25, 2013

As we reach the end of April, we're really heading into the final stretch of the school year.  Hang on to your hats, everyone!  Here's what's happening in room 101 this week:

6th GOAL:  Students are finishing literature circle discussions this week with the last discussion on Friday.  Next week, they'll be working on the projects they'll present to the class to show what they've learned.

7th GOAL:  Students have begun the painstaking, fun process of filming their stop-motion animated movies.  It's a labor of love!

8th GOAL:  All the interviews have been filmed, all the facts have been researched.  Now it's time for the process of documentary filmmaking to really begin as students edit film clips, write and record scripts, and insert still photographs into their iMovies.

8th Critical Concepts:  Students are beginning the week talking about tolerance.  We're tying this into the Holocaust unit they just finished in English 8, and we'll branch off from there.

Have a super week!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Giver Resources

Today, the Fairfield Middle School Rabid Readers Book Club will be discussing the book The Giver by Lois Lowry.  Here are some resources we'll use during today's book party:

Interview with Lois Lowry

Utopia Webquest

Discussion Questions

Euthanasia Debate Activity
What is Euthanasia? (resources)

Sequels (?) to The Giver

Online Book Log with

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Weekly Preview 4/15-4/19, 2013

It's hard to believe we're at the 3-week reporting period for the last quarter already... this year is flying by!  Here is what's happening in room 101 this week:

6th GOAL:  Students are working hard in literature circles.  They meet every day to discuss the reading and read again for the next day.  All books fall under the theme "Moral Dilemma."

7th GOAL:  Students are preparing sets and characters for their animated movies.  We start filming next week!

8th GOAL:  Students are conducting interviews, researching their topics, and finding pictures for their documentary films.  Next week we'll be writing and recording our scripts.

8th Critical Concepts:  Students are finishing up their financial literacy unit by talking about job applications and taxes withheld from paychecks.  On Friday we'll have a posttest for the whole unit.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Weekly Preview: 4/8-4/12, 2013

April Showers bring May flowers... we need to keep that in mind this week!  Here's what you can expect in room 101 this week:

6th GOAL:  Students will continue with literature circle discussions this week.  Their books all center around the theme "Moral Dilemma."

7th GOAL:  Students will be brainstorming ideas for their animated movies.  Filming will start next week.

8th GOAL:  Students will be finalizing topics for their documentary films.  They will be setting up the interviews they'll be filming, and they'll be starting research on their topics.

8th Critical Concepts:  Students will have a guest speaker this week.  Kyle Selberg from Cambridge Investment Research will be coming to discuss investments vs. spending.  For the rest of the week, students will be playing the Game of Life and documenting all their expenses and income.  After the game, we'll be talking about how different decisions affected the outcome of the game and how that compares to real life.

Make it a great week, everyone!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Weekly Preview: 4/1-4/5, 2013

Welcome back from Spring Break!  Here's what is happening in Miss Nelson's room this week:

6th GOAL:  As a follow-up to our Great Ocean Rescue collaborative activity, we'll be exploring more oceanography resources.

7th GOAL:  This week, students will start blogging on their very own blogs.  We will also look at new examples of stop-motion animation in preparation for our upcoming animated movies.

8th GOAL:  We'll start the week reflecting on the whole Images of Greatness project.  From there, we'll see some examples of documentary films and start brainstorming for our own documentary film projects.

8th Critical Concepts:  As part of our financial literacy unit, we're starting the week talking about change and how to count back change.  We'll end the week playing The Game of Life and documenting all our income and expenditures as we play.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Weekly Preview: 2/18-2/22, 2013

I hope all you students enjoyed your day off from school on Friday.  I enjoyed meeting many parents at conferences last week.  If you parents and guardians didn't get a chance to stop in, e-mail me at, and we can set something up.

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

6th GOAL:  This is our final week of preparation before the Jefferson County Science Fair on Saturday, February, 23.  Display boards are due on Tuesday at the end of class, and we'll spend the rest of the week practicing our presentations and getting ready for judges' interviews.

7th GOAL:  Students will be working hard on National History Day projects this week.  We have websites, performances, documentaries, and exhibits all in the works.  History Day is one month from Tuesday, so the deadline is quickly approaching!

8th GOAL:  Students finished researching last week for Images of Greatness.  This week, they'll be taking all they've learned and writing a historical paper about their Image of Greatness.  Papers are due Friday.

8th Critical Concepts:  After taking a week off from career explorations to complete the Design-An-Ad for the Fairfield Ledger, students will be presenting their posters and career information to the class and then to another group of students in a career fair-type setting.

Also, don't forget to mark your calendars for this year's musical, The Little Mermaid, Jr.  It will be presented on February 28 & March 1 in the FMS Cafetorium at 7:00 pm.  Admission is $2 for adults and $1 for students, and activity passes will be accepted.  Bring the whole family to enjoy this fun show and to support the kids' hard work!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Weekly Preview: 1/27-2/1, 2013

It's January in Iowa, so that means crazy weather.  It's only Tuesday, and we've had an ice storm, dense fog, and a high of 65 degrees.  Tonight we're expecting 2-4 inches of snow.  It feels a little crazy in school too, so it's only fitting.  Here's the scoop for room 101 this week:

6th GOAL:  This week, we're learning how to graph data on Google docs, and we're going to be analyzing the results of our Science Fair experiments.  Experiments should have been done last week, but we have a few stragglers.  Get those experiments done so we can start getting the data ready for our display boards!

7th GOAL:  This week, we're up to our eyeballs in History Day research.  Friday is the last day we have a computer lab reserved for this, so extra work will need to be done at home to find enough resources to make a good History Day project.

8th GOAL:  This week, we're finishing the creation of 4-year plans for high school, and then we'll transition into researching for Images of Greatness.  Topics should be chosen by the end of this week.

8th Critical Concepts:  This week, we'll also be finishing 4-year plans, and then we'll move into an in-depth career exploration.  Students will becoming an expert on a career, and they'll be sharing what they learn in a project.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Weekly Preview: 1/21-1/25, 2013

I hope you were able to watch a little of the Inauguration footage today.  I showed a bit to my classes, and it makes me tear up every time I watch it.  So many people excited to be a part of history.. it makes me so proud.  Between that and remembering Martin Luther King Jr. today, I'm reminded of the very best of America. 

Here's the scoop in room 101 this week:

6th GOAL:  We're working hard on science fair projects this week.  Hypotheses were due today, and students should do their experiments this week.  In class, we're talking about how to professionally contact experts to get more background information, how to make and record good observations, and about how to document all the necessary information for our display boards.

7th GOAL:  We're finalizing History Day topics and working hard to research in the library.  We'll have two weeks of research before organizing our projects.  Titles of projects will have to be finalized by next week so we can get registered for the competition.

8th GOAL & 8th Critical Concepts:  We're working on our 4-year plans for high school, examining possible career choices and looking at how high school classes might lead us to those career goals.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Weekly Preview: 1/14-1/18, 2013

Happy New Year!  After a blogging hiatus, it's back to the trenches.  One of my New Year's resolutions is to keep this blog more accurate and updated.

6th GOAL:  We were happy to have two new students in our class today.  Welcome!  This week, we'll be finalizing topics, doing background research, locating experts, and developing hypotheses for our projects for the Jefferson County Science Fair. Upcoming weeks' Science Fair work will include: 1/21: Hypotheses due, do experiment, take pictures, consult experts; 1/28: Take photos record observations, make graphs, summarize results; 2/4: Finish experiments, complete charts, record all data, write conclusions (this week we'll be doing a lot of typing); 2/11: work on display boards; 2/19: display boards due, practice presentations; Saturday, February 23: SCIENCE FAIR!

7th GOAL:  We are just dipping our toes into our History Day projects.  This week, we'll be talking about primary resources, we'll be dissecting and analyzing the History Day rules, we'll be looking at project examples, and we'll be brainstorming possible topics for this year's theme: Turning Points in History.

8th GOAL & 8th Critical Concepts:  We are working with Project HOPE from the University of Iowa this week to explore Healthcare Career opportunities.  Next week, we'll start our 4-year plans for high school.