Last week, started reading a new book called Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry.  It is a very different book than our previous read.  It is a serious historical fiction book dealing with themes of racism, love for family and how to deal with injustice.  

I encourage parents to check out a copy from the library or borrow your child's book and read along.  It is an extremely well written book and I'm sure you'll appreciate it, but more importantly than that you may want to help guide your child through some of the issues it raises.  We have taken and will continue to take a lot of time in class discussing these issues, but a teacher isn't a parent.

One of the controversial choices the author, Mildred D. Taylor, chose to make is to include the "n word" at times in her book.  Her intended audience is young adults, but she doesn't shy away from the harsh truth of our past.  You should know we don't use this word in class and if it comes up during read alouds, we just say "n".  We will continue to discuss it though.  What does it mean?  Why would she use it in a book for young adults?  Should she have used it?

Let me know if you have any concerns or questions, or if you would prefer your child was reading an alternate book.


Balance in Design


As you design your Canada poster, think about using the design principle of balance.  For example, let's say you have to place a large object and a small object on your poster.  They are very different sizes, but you can still balance them by placing the large object close to the center and the small object close to the edge. 
Alternatively, you might consider balancing one large object with a number of small objects.  Something doesn't have to be symmetrical to be balanced.
Yesterday, we learned about how transitions help connect ideas together.  Sometimes they connect similar ideas, sometimes they connect different ideas, sometimes they let us know that an example is about to be given, and sometimes they let us know we are summing up an idea.

At this point, many students' use of transitions are a little messy.  They're a little unsure if they're doing it right.  That's okay, and parent perspective of which transitions work and which ones sound awkward is helpful!  All students have a Transition Helper, but if they lose it there is one that can be downloaded on the Helpful Tools page.

Below is a broken up paragraph we worked on in class.  It is a model students can follow as they add transitions to their own writing.

Washington State has a little bit of everything for every kind of person!
For example, Washington has great geography;
It is home to incredible sunsets resting behind peaceful ocean waves.
In addition,
People ski on mountains, surf at the beaches, and pick apples and cherries in eastern Washington.
On the other hand, Washington has very strong industry for people.  For instance,
Microsoft, with its great jobs, competitive salaries, and fun work environment, has its campus in Washington.
In the same way,
Boeing is a large airplane manufacturer that employs a number of Washington citizens.
However, there is lot of cool history in Washington like
                              - or -
Yet Washington’s history is very interesting.
                              - or -
However, history is also a big part of Washington.
                              - or -
However, we could not be here without history.
                              - or -
Regardless of how great the businesses are, Washington’s history is just plain cool.

Starting August 13th, 1805, Lewis and Clark documented many encounters with
Indians in the Pacific Northwest. 
They were largely a mystery to the people of the US. 
Washington became the 42nd state to enter the union.
Washington is a great place full of beautiful sites and a rich history.  Come visit us!

Reading Blog Update


Parents, please be sure to check in with your child on how they are doing with their reading blog.  

Last week, was our mid-trimester check and a number of students reported having read between 0-500 pages and also that they were not on track to meet their goal.  Students had an opportunity to revise their goal, which some did, but my hope was that for most students it would be a wake up call.

The expectation for 6th grade is to read 1,500 pages of grade-level reading per trimester and respond to each book that is finished with a blog post.  I understand that for various reasons 1,500 pages is not reasonable for some students, and that's okay!  That's why each student has taken time to set personal goals that make sense for them.

So at the end of the trimester, some students will be able to say that they worked hard and met their reading goal, but they didn't meet the 6th grade expectation.  As long as the student set a good goal for themselves, I think they should be satisfied with that result.  Perhaps they'll increase their goal a little bit for the next trimester.

However, some students have set goals that are lower than the 6th grade expectation and haven't really done anything yet to meet that goal.  Every sixth grade student should be reading regularly.  That might be 10 pages a night, 30 minutes a night, 5 nights a week, or maybe they plan to read extra on the weekend.  The idea is that everyone has made a goal and knows what they have to do to reach that goal.  No one should be reading nothing.

If you have any questions about the reading blog expectations please let me know.  I'd much rather help now than at the end of the trimester when it's too late.

Sock Puppet Brain



Share Your Brand!


Here is a link, if you can't see the survey below.

Dream Big!


You have probably already heard about Felix Baumgartner jumping from a capsule 24 miles up in the sky and breaking the sound barrier.  He had a vision for something like that as a five year old, as can be seen in the picture he drew 38 years ago.

Does this video describe you as a learner?  Do you expect your teacher to pull you along like an escalator, or can you be responsibly for yourself?  Not that you have to teach yourself everything, but how much of your progress as a learner are you taking responsibility for?
Today is the mid-point check to make sure you are on track to meet your reading blog goal.  

Students, complete this survey to let me know how you are doing.  Parents, be sure to ask your child tonight about their reading blog.

For everyone's reference, the independent reading expectations for the 1st trimester of 6th grade are as follows:

Exceeding Expectations
I showed deep inferences and applications that go beyond what was taught like writing exceptionally insightful responses to 2,000 pages or more of grade-level reading per trimester.

Meeting Expectations
I wrote insightful responses to 1,500 pages of grade-level reading per trimester.
I didn't make any major mistakes.

Making Progress
I showed some understanding, but made these mistakes:
  • I wrote mostly summaries of the books I read, and didn’t include enough of my own thoughts.
  • I read less than 1,450 pages.  (0-100, 101-400, 401-1000, 1001-1,449)

With Help
With extra help, I showed a little bit of understanding of at least some of the expectations.  My mistakes are circled above.

Not Yet
I didn't demonstrate this expectation.