Friday, August 29, 2008

HOMEWORK, Friday, August 29, 2008

NONE! It's an R & R weekend.



That's how you spell the last day of the school week!

Speaking of spelling: we had our second spelling test this morning. Overall, the class did a terrific job. We will have spelling tests every other week throughout the year.

This morning, in our Finally it's Friday groups, students were given three different tasks to accomplish: First, based on Old Yeller, they had to come up with reasons why certain places are named what they are named. For instance, Yellowstone National Park. (in Old Yeller, there were locations named "The Salt Licks" and "Birdsong Creek"). Then they had to list names of places in the Arizona area that were probably named for what is near or around them. Then, each group had to invent their own names for places, i.e. our school, etc. This kind of exercise always encourages creative thinking.

Next, each group was charged with the task of exploring the Scientific Method by way of just two rubber bands. Also an exercise in creativity, this activity was another way to reinforce practice of the Scientific Method. As I have explained to the students, the Scientific Method certainly is not the only way to learn about science - and certainly won't be the only way we learn about science in Sixth Grade. However, it is an important method to know and can be used in application to science and, actually, to all of our school subject matter and life in general.

The third part of today's group work consisted of creating a group book entitled WHAT WE KNOW. Each member of the group had to have a hand in writing about what we have learned in Room 503 over the last three weeks. Students had to rely on their memory (and the memory of their fellow group mates) to piece together pages of all that they have taken in during this beginning phase of school.

Group work is a wonderfully enriching and challenging way to work. There are always those who take the lead and always those who hold back. There is always someone prepared and willing to get the job done, and typically someone who has difficulty even getting started. Personalities clash, ideas clamor to be heard and it can be quite chaotic. However, it can be revealing, empowering, exciting and a very fun way to learn.

As our Finally it's Friday groups continue through their semester-long journey together, it will be interesting to see how the dynamics change (or remain the same, as a case or two may be), how the students wrestle with challenges and embrace differences and what kind of learning takes place.

At any rate, it was a very full Friday morning, and I am sure the students, like Ms. Veenstra and myself, are ready for some much needed R & R.

Thanks to those of you who were able to make it out to Curriculum Night, I hope you found it insightful. For those of you who weren't able to make it, please let me know if you would like me to email you the Sixth Grade Overview so you will have a clearer picture of what we are doing in Room 503 this year.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Ms. Pitman

Thursday, August 28, 2008

HOMEWORK, Thursday, August 28, 2008

Spelling: Study word list and be prepared for test tomorrow.

Math: p. 31 (15 - 18)
Due: Tomorrow, Friday, August 29


Early dismissal tomorrow, Friday, August 29: 12:25 PM

No School Monday (Labor Day), September 1

Today was suited to a Tea!

This morning we "Tea'd" off with the completion of our first book, Old Yeller. Students brought in questions (they wrote as homework last night) to facilitate our discussion. Between the rearranging of desks and chairs to create a discussion circle, and the excitement of eating treats during class time, our discussion took awhile to find it's rhythm. We finally found our stride about ten minutes before our time was up. However, I thought it was a terrific first stab at such a discussion and next time, I'll make sure we have more time.

Thank you to all the parents who provided goodies for our event. Many thanks as well to those who have helped to restock our room with paper towels, Kleenex and wipes. Your help and thoughtfulness is greatly appreciated!

Judging from the science homework turned in this morning, about half of the class hasn't quite grasped each step of the scientific method yet. It was helpful to have the several students who do, help explain the process to the students who are struggling. We will continue to work through the step-by-step process tomorrow in our group work.

Our Stone Age games still needed some finishing touches, so students were given time this afternoon to finish working with their groups and tomorrow morning each group will present their game to the class and explain how it's played.

Looking forward to seeing you all this evening at Curriculum Night!

Ms. Pitman

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

HOMEWORK, Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Language Arts: Write down, and bring to school tomorrow, a discussion question
on Old Yeller for our tea.

Math: Study vocabulary and organize your binder!

Science: Write out a question/problem (Purpose) and follow through with it
by using the Scientific Method: Purpose, Research, Hypotheses, Experiment,
Analysis and Conclusion. PLEASE keep your experiment simple -
It should take you one half hour - a whole hour at the most. Write down
all your information through each step of the process to be able to show
that you understand the Scientific Method.
Due: Tomorrow, Thursday, August 28.

  • Old Yeller Tea, tomorrow morning
  • Curriculum Night tomorrow night, 6:30 PM


Yesterday I wrote that Early Dismissal this Friday, August 29 was at 12:35. Please accept my apology for providing misinformation. Early Dismissal will be at 12:25.

We Got Game!

Actually, we've got games. Stone Age games, that is.

We our winding up our (albeit quick) week-long unit on the Stone Age, and today the students worked in small groups to create a board game that - once again - fused fact with imagination.

The first thing students were asked to do, was to (as a group) list all the facts they could remember from their Stone Age studies. Next, they brainstormed ideas for creating a unique board game. They had to come up with a layout and design for the actual board, and really think about why they wanted to use that design, how would it add to the game?

Then they had to decide how players would move through the rolling dice? Picking cards? etc...Would there be a beginning square and ending square? Stopping places (i.e. “Jail” in Monopoloy)? Would players answer questions? Would they have to write, draw or act out anything? Would there be rewards and punishments? How does a player “win” the game?

They also had to decide what the game pieces were to look like, come up with rules - how many people could play? How do players move around the board? What can and can’t you do? Students were encouraged to keep it consistent and realistic (as in fact-based and “do-able” ).

The afternoon flew by as the students brainstormed, concocted and created! One group completely finished their game, while the other groups will be given some time to finish up tomorrow. Though disagreements seemed to come up here and there, overall, each group seemed to find positive ways to work together to complete their task in a timely and creative manner.

I will look forward to seeing and hearing each of the games presented tomorrow.

Ms. Pitman

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

HOMEWORK, Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Language Arts: Read Old Yeller, Chapter 14 - end of the book
For Tomorrow: Wednesday, August 27

Math: Organize binder
Complete purple sheet
Write a paragraph on participation and behavior
Due: Tomorrow, Wednesday, August 27

Notes Home:
In case you prefer hard copy to virtual - an all-school note when home with your child today announcing CURRICULUM NIGHT ~ Thursday, August 28 ~ 6:30 PM

Old Yeller Tea
The following students volunteered to bring in treats for our tea on Thursday:
Denzel Abdulai
Victor Dinh
Joshua Putrasahan
Claire Ternyik
Samuel Walterscheid

Thank you in advance for supplying us with delicious goodies for our first book event.
*We will rotate goody-bringing each time we have a tea.


This Friday, August 29 is Early Dismissal. TPJA will end at 12:35 PM

Monday, September 1 is Labor Day. NO SCHOOL.

Looking for a few good...

Full Tissue Boxes
Full Paper Towel Rolls
Full Wet Wipes Canisters
*We seem to be the go-through-everything-like-crazy class!
Thank you!

Tuesday's Child is Full of...ENERGY!

It was an odd-energy day over all today. I felt that way this morning before school began and before we even began our first unit (drama) this morning, I offered that idea to the Sixth Grade students: "It's a strange-energy day today, isn't it?" I asked. They all agreed. One said, "I think it's the weather." And it just well may be. The feeling seemed to last all day.

Despite that, the students did some great work during their vocal and physical warm ups this morning and they did some absolutely stunning work in drama!

The opening drama exercise we did was created to give actors a chance to simply "be" on the stage, while at the same time giving the "audience" the opportunity to support the "working actors". Across the board, the students took their jobs to heart and made the exercise a success because of the very-present give and take that took place.

Next, we played a game of Stone Age Charades. This consisted of terminology students learned yesterday mixed with a dash of creativity and willingness. Yesterday we had read in our History text book several reasons why language may have been created. But what did people do before they had language? How did they communicate? Some of the Social Studies terminology we used today was very difficult to act out - to "mime." When a student felt stuck or stumped by the term he or she needed to "perform" they were encouraged to figure out a way - to problem-solve - how they would be able to communicate this if they had to. Some students got very creative and other students were simply very good guessers.

Grammar, spelling and seems to know no bounds in our classroom so far (for about half, most of the time, for about three-quarters, some of the time), so the past two days we have given some extra focus to spelling, word usage and punctuation.

Whether never learned or suffering from summer brain, half the students stumble over which to use: "there", "their" or "they're". "Too", "to" and "two" can sometimes be a problem as well, as can "then" and "than". The only remedy for clarification and proper usage is practice, which we partook in and will continue to do so.

This week is our final week reading Old Yeller. In fact, tonight's reading assignment will take us to the end of the book. Thursday, we will be having a "tea" - as we will when we are finished with all of our books - to discuss and celebrate. Our next book will be Madeline L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time.

I am grateful today for the weather cool-down and yesterday's storm, and am hopeful that tomorrow will bring a new energy...a little less strange...well-focused and spelled correctly.

: )

Ms. Pitman

Monday, August 25, 2008

HOMEWORK, Monday, August 25

Language Arts: Read Ch. 12-13, Old Yeller
Write out (separate sheet of notebook paper) location information for "Every Picture Tells a Story" (if you haven't already)
ALL OF THE ABOVE due: Tomorrow, Tuesday, August 26

Math: Finish worksheet or work for 20 minutes
Due: Tomorrow, Tuesday, August 26

Science: Read Section 3 & 4 (p. 16-27)
*You do not have to do the section reviews UNLESS you want to.
Due: Tomorrow, Tuesday, August 26

Social Studies: Complete Storyboard (if you haven't done so already)
Review Stone Age terminology for TOMORROW'S DRAMA CLASS


Room 503 is collecting cardboard shoeboxes and empty paper towel and toilet paper cardboard rolls. Bring them in whenever you can through September 22. Thanks!


Curriculum Night is this Thursday, August 28 at 6:30 PM.

In the Students' Words...

When asked to complete:
The best thing about Room 503 and being in Sixth Grade so far...

The students responded ~

...I like how Ms. Pitman encourages us to dig deeper in our journals. - Zach B.
...going in groups: making our names, slogans and posters.
- Ryan B.
..."Capture the Flag" at break and drama. - Victor D.
...when we go to the Zelman Center and we all do drama; mainly when we do stuff communicating with other people. - Alana H.
...Squeaker, the air conditioning thing. - Jeremy L.
...Ms. Pitman is fun and creative. - Brianna L.
...getting to know 6th Grade. - Eden M.
...writing at the end of the day. - Meghan M.
...are my great teachers. - Reed O.
...having the blog to use as a reminder to do homework. - Kyle P.
...having great teachers and classmates. - Joshua P.
...having group activities. - Chad S. classmates. I don't have any jerks in my class any more.
- Ben S.
...the teachers, students and homework. - Jacob S.
...drama. - Dane S.
...having Ms. Pitman and Mrs. Veenstra as teachers. - Max S.
...we do a lot of exciting things. - Claire T.
...watering the plants. - Samuel W.

Friday, August 22, 2008

HOMEWORK, Friday, August 22, 2008

Language Arts: Read Chapters 8 - 11, Old Yeller
By Monday, August 25

Math: Ace 2: Prob.'s 1-7, 23-25, & 31-33
Due: Monday, August 25


Curriculum Night is this Thursday, August 28 @ 6:30 PM.
Mrs. Veenstra and I are looking forward to seeing all of you who can attend.
If you cannot attend, but would like more information on Room 503 and the Sixth Grade Curriculum, please email us your request:

Becky Veenstra, Math:

Nicky Pitman, Fine Arts, Language Arts, Science, Social Studies:

Introducing the Finally it's Friday Finale!

Last week's group work went so well, I thought that it might be a great way to wrap up every Friday: integrating everything we learned during the week in a culmination of group-think (and group-do) games, quizzes and projects.

The students seemed to agree. Room 503 was abuzz with energy as students convened in their groups (groups they will remain in every Friday throughout the semester) to come up with group names, mottoes or cheers. Each group made a poster and all five of them are now decorating our classroom.

Students were given three different activities on our first day:

1. A series of statements that they needed to mark as either True or False
2. An excerpt from Old Yeller which had blank areas marked as either nouns, adjectives, etc.
as a kind of "Mad Libs"-style grammar game, and
3. A series of multiple choice questions where they had to circle the best answer.

We will keep a running tally of each group's weekly scores based on how quickly they worked to get activities completed and how well they did at accomplishing each exercise.

It was another great end, to another exciting week. And if the students are feeling in any way like Mrs. Veenstra and I are feeling, we will all be sleeping well this fine Friday night!

Wishing all of you a terrific (and restful) weekend.

Ms. Pitman

Thursday, August 21, 2008

HOMEWORK, Thursday, August 21, 2008

Language Arts: Read Old Yeller, Chapters 6 & 7
For Tomorrow, Friday, August 22

Math: M.R. on p. 21
Special Number
- 4 facts
Study vocabulary
For Tomorrow, Friday, August 22

Science: Read Stream & River Deposits, Section 3, p. 12-15
For Tomorrow, Friday, August 22

"Look down at your feet!"

The students in Room 503 heard me say I don't-know-how-many-times in the past couple of days. By "look down at your feet" I am reminding (and re-reminding) the students to stay present - as in here. As in BE HERE NOW.

It's actually absolutely silly to expect a Sixth Grader to stay present, and even sillier to expect a Sixth Grader to stay present for an entire school day. Let's face it: I've been an adult for quite some time now, and I certainly can't stay present most of the time - even when I try. There's grocery lists to make, and thoughts about this, that and the other and all other ideas that flow like a stream of conciousness through that wild world of mine, most people call a brain.

But I am determined to put the idea in the students' heads - the idea of staying present. I do believe that just having that reminder come into play, it offers the students the opportunity to practice coming back to the moment and being present once again - even if it's only to be reminded again and again.

This morning, during our drama class, we created a circle story. The rules of this particular circle story were that we had to go around the circle, from one person to the next, say one sentence to continue the story, and each new sentence had to begin with the next letter of the alphabet. Everyone had to speak loudly and clearly, and though the story could be silly, it had to connect and make some kind of sense.

In order to make this story work, everyone had to remain present throughout its creation. Students needed to listen - no matter where they were in the circle - so that they could keep the story going and make it flow. They also had to make sure they were in keeping with the alphabetical order, according to the rules.

Theatre - at least good theatre - regardless whether it's comedy, drama, improvisation, a staged reading or a film, requires its actors to stay present. The stage of life (and its schools) requires its participants to do the same.

As I explained to the students earlier today (quoting whoever once said this anonymously):

Yesterday is history,
Tomorrow is a mystery,
Today is a gift -
That's why they call it the present.

Ms. Pitman

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

HOMEWORK, Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Language Arts: Read Ch.'s 4 & 5 of Old Yeller
Vocabulary Words: look up definitions
Create the location of your "Every Picture Tells a Story" story
Due: Tomorrow, Thursday, August 21

Math: Play game


Shakespeare penned new words so I thought I'd try my hand at it as well.

Factuation is a hybrid mix of fact and imagination. The students in Room 503 got a taste of this in their afternoon Social Studies activities.

Students were split into groups of four. Together, they read aloud the last section of our first textbook chapter, Mapping the Past. They then answered questions regarding the chapter content as a group - with one person serving as secretary. Students were encouraged, as always (and are probably deathly sick of me saying), to "dig deeper." Meaning: once a question is answered, they are always encouraged to ask themselves, "is there more?" Then they are to continue asking the question until they believe they have delved as deeply as they possibly can into the answer.

Next, students were asked to create a CULTURE - a culture created by way of fact and imagination.

First, each group had to come up with a name for their culture. Then they had to create a timeline, detailing what periods of time their culture existed (anywhere between 3000 B.C. and 2008 A.D. Then the group had to choose one of the rivers that is being researched in our River Project. They had to locate the river on the world map, and use that river - and its region - to inform the choices they made in creating their imagined culture. The students next had to create customs and religions that their culture observe. They had to decide on what kind of government was used, what kinds of food the people ate, what kind of artifacts they used and what their clothes looked like and what they were made of.

The rules were as follows:

Listen to one another’s ideas.
Be thoughtful.
Dig Deeper.
Have fun!

Most of the students really took to the activity. After debriefing, some of the students expressed that there could have been better ways to work as a group, and we discussed what worked and what didn't and what could be done differently next time.

In fact, I imagine that next time will take place again soon!

Not penning my own, but this time quoting the master: "Parting is such sweet sorrow..."

Ms. Pitman

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

HOMEWORK, Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Drama: Fill out "Stage Directions" sheet
Due: Tomorrow, Wednesday, August 20

Language Arts: Read Ch. Three, Old Yeller
*Unless, of course you've finished it, then go read War and Peace - KIDDING!)
Due: Tomorrow, Wednesday, August 20

Math: P. 15-18 (17, 19, 23, 35-37)
Due: Tomorrow, Wednesday, August 20

Science: River Project (Research 1 fact about your River:
Cultural, Ecological, Economical & Political)
Due: Tomorrow, Wednesday, August 20

If It's Tuesday, It Must Be...

...the second Tuesday of the school year!

Drama, Language Arts, Math, Science...a well-rounded day!

Today was our first day using our first text book in a series of science books. Water is the theme of our first unit, and our first project is an interdisciplinary one: integrating science, language arts and social studies. Each student chose (by chance) a great world river that he/she will be exploring throughout our Water Unit.

Room 503 is filled with a voracious pack of readers! Though the assignment tonight was to read Chapter Three of Old Yeller, about three-quarters of the students are completely done with the book! I love that they are keeping me on my toes!!! I will be spending the next couple of nights planning to find fun ways to challenge them on their reading prowess.

Overall, the students have written insightful and delightful entries in their journals.

The assignment over this past weekend was to write about "your experience of today (Friday)." You may recall, we worked all afternoon in teams. One student shared, " I had a blast today with the scavenger hunt! I like to work as a group when doing things. One reason is that you get more ideas...another is that you get to know your group better."

Yesterday's journal entry was based on the prompt "I sometimes wish..." and students were asked to finish that lead-in ten times. The reason for this is that repetition, albeit tedious at times, can often spark thoughts and feelings that wouldn't otherwise surface. One student shared: "I sometimes wish that I was poor so I could see the true value of things."

Sixth Graders: Amazing!

Ms. Pitman

Monday, August 18, 2008

HOMEWORK, Monday, August 18, 2008

Math: Study! Vocabulary Quiz
When? Tomorrow, Tuesday, August 19

Language Arts: Read Ch. Two, Old Yeller
Look up definitions to Vocabulary Words
Due: Tomorrow, Tuesday, August 19

Social Studies: If you haven't, complete U.S.A. map
Fill in blank Arizona map, per directions
Answer Physical/Human Geography Questions
*You may use the internet, encyclopedia, atlas or travel books
for all of the above.
Due: Tomorrow, Tuesday, August 19

Monday, Monday...

Have you ever had one of those days when you're sure you have it all together, but The Universe decides to keep you just a little bit humble and throw a curve ball your way?

All I have to say to that is: the students in Room 503 are FLEXIBLE!

I ran out of the house this morning with everything I needed...Everything that is except my computer that had everything we needed for today's Social Studies and Language Arts lessons!


Able to piece together what I needed for our Social Studies unit, we swapped our regularly scheduled times and had Social Studies in the morning and Language Arts in the afternoon. I went home during my planning period (with an extra ten minutes, thanks to Mrs. Veenstra) and retrieved my computer. The students were terrific about the whole thing!

We began exploring geography today, as it will go hand-in-hand with all of our Social Studies work. Students were introduced to the two main branches - Physical Geography and Human Geography - and have a short research assignment with regards to both this evening.

We began reading Old Yeller this afternoon. Well, some of us began reading it. Others had begun reading it sooner. Still others kept reading even though we stopped, as a class, after the first chapter. That is a sure sign of a great book! Chapter Two was assigned to be read individually this evening, though it's a safe bet to assume that most of the students in Room 503 are already well past the second chapter.

The students were delighted to find that many of the plants we potted last week, sprouted over the weekend! A notable observation: not one pot containing cilantro seeds sprouted as of yet. The students and I are all eager to see how long it will take before we see growth.

On a light note: Our classroom's air conditioning unit is about as vocal as every student in Room 503. Last week, as a class, we voted to bestow it with a name and welcome it via a birthday party to our class today. At 1:35 PM this afternoon we sang "Happy Birthday" to Squeaker and celebrated his/her (I am not sure we gave it a gender) inaugural with cupcakes.

Looking forward to another adventurous week!

Ms. Pitman

Friday, August 15, 2008

HOMEWORK, Friday, August 15, 2008

Math: Finish lab sheet, 1-2; Play factor game.
Due: Monday, August 18

Journal: Write about your experience this afternoon. How was it for you to work in a group?
Do you prefer it to working independently? If so, why or why not? What worked
in your group's ability to problem-solve? What didn't?
Write at least five, thoughful sentences.
Due: Monday, August 18

Vocal Warm Ups: If you haven't already, please memorize Whether the Weather
Due: Monday, August 18


PICTURE DAY: Thursday, August 21 (information and form sent home)

CURRICULUM NIGHT: Date change - Thursday, August 28, 6:30 PM

LOCKERS: Please leave combination locks on lockers at all times and keep them locked!

F.F.F. (Finished the First Friday!)

Please excuse my stuttering, but I am in awe that we have already completed our first week of the 2008-2009 school year.

And what a week it was!

We spent our final afternoon of the week working in teams. Students split into five teams and were asked to work together and problem-solve in several different ways.

First, each group had to come up with a team name and slogan. Next, students set about learning more about the TPA community via a scavenger hunt. Employing their critical thinking, logistical and math skills students had to make their way around campus in order to answer twelve questions.

Next students had to create a device that would cushion a light bulb's fall from an eight-foot drop. Operation Soft Landing gave students the opportunity to put their best problem-solving feet forward. Every group's light bulb survived the test! Go, Sixth Graders, Go!

The team competitions ended in an oral quiz that gave students the chance to review many of the things we learned this week - from vocabulary to history terminology to fun facts about their teachers. It was a fun and educational way to spend the afternoon.

Raising a virtual glass to us all for completing a terrific first week! Have a wonderful and relaxing weekend.

Ms. Pitman

Thursday, August 14, 2008

HOMEWORK, Thursday, August 14, 2008

Math: P. 14-17; #1-7 and 28-30, on a separate piece of notebook paper
Due: Tomorrow, Friday, August 15

Not homework, but just a little wink, wink: Review everything we've gone over this may help with what we are doing in class tomorrow. : )

Thoughts on Thursday

This morning our class was able to break the "Grammar Code":

Realizing, after a quick grammar review, that "summer brain" had creeped in and taken over a good percentage of the student's minds in Room 503 - we will be incorporating grammar practices into our language arts curricula weekly.

I heard from many of the students that they played "the FUNNEST game ever in math class" today, and - according to Mrs. Veenstra - they were the most focused they've been all week.

The excitement and newness of the first week of school is beginning to settle into a comfortable daily adventure all around. The students (and us teachers) are becoming more familiar with each other and the routine of Room 503. Overall, everyone seems curious and engaged and our class is filled with constant energy.

This afternoon we planted herb seeds (basil, parsley, dill and cilantro) in pots we had painted on Tuesday. We are going to care for them, observe them and chart their growth. Students spent time after our planting to write about connections they could make between ecosystems and the school system and between plant growth and student growth. I, myself, will look forward to seeing both.

And with that, I will leave you with this:

If we do not plant knowledge when young, it will give us no shade when we are old.
~ Lord Chesterfield

Ms. Pitman

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

HOMEWORK, Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Vocal Warm-Ups: Memorize Betty Botta
Due: Tomorrow, Thursday, August 14

Language Arts: Work on/complete first draft, Every Picture Tells a Story (2 Pages)
Due: Tomorrow, Thursday, August 14

Math: Sign Overview; Read p. 7-8 in book
Due: Tomorrow, Thursday, August 14

We're More Than Half Way Through...

...the first week of school!

Observation has become a buzzword and a through-line for many of our class activities this week, and will continue to be throughout the year.

This morning students honed their observation skills in Language Arts through an exercise entitled Every Picture Tells a Story. Students sat in groups of four and were given a photograph. After studying it for a time, students wrote down their observations, doing their best to keep their prior experience and point of view out of their work.

Next, students made interpretations about what they thought was going on in the picture.

The third part of the exercise entailed writing a creative story based on the photograph, the students' observations and interpretations.

This creative writing assignment will be the first major piece of writing that the students will be graded on. Tonight, for homework, students are to complete their first drafts. From there, we will begin working on the elements of writing. Many drafts will be written so that students have the opportunity to experience what it means - and what all the necessary components are - to writing a story.

Observation came into play this afternoon as well. After reading the first chapter of our history book aloud, students broke into small groups and worked as archaeologists to analyze specific artifacts from TPA. Students were encouraged to work as a team to come up with the best possible answers to questions to discover what these artifacts said about Tempe Prep and the people of the TPA community.

We had a new student join us today: Chad Shaw. Now our class is a well-rounded group of twenty. We'd like to extend a warm welcome to Chad and his family to (and from his class in) Room 503!

Ms. Pitman

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

HOMEWORK, Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Math: Read and highlight the math overview
Due: Tomorrow, Wednesday, August 13

Language Arts: Vocabulary Words: look up dictionary definitions
Due: Tomorrow, Wednesday, August 13

Social Studies/Science: Read hand-out: The Beginning of Human Civilization
Due: Tomorrow, Wednesday, August 13


Information sheet about after-school sports

Information about this blog

Day #2

Though only the second day of school, Room 503 seems to already be settling into a routine:

We begin (and end) each day with a bow. The bow is a sign of respect for ourselves, each other, the room, and the work we do in it. Following the bow we take attendance where, one by one, each student calls out the next student's name. Attendance, therefore, becomes the responsibility of everyone and each of us has awareness of everyone else, and if they are present or not.

Each morning we spend ten minutes on vocal and physical warm ups. Consistent awareness of our bodies will lead to more effective presence when it comes to public speaking, and daily attention to our voices will hone our enunciation and projection skills in all areas of communication.

Today students had the opportunity to work on activities and projects independently, in pairs, in small groups and as a full class. Because this is the first week, students are getting a sampling of all the different ways we are going to approach each of our subjects.


Please make sure your child has a composition book to use for their journal writing. After tomorrow (Wednesday, August 13), loose leaf paper and other notebooks will not be accepted for journal assignments.

If possible, please send a re-fillable water bottle with your child to keep at school, or pack a water bottle daily. This helps keeps the students hydrated (and at their desks instead of the drinking fountain).

Optional (but a good idea): please send a snack with your children. Most of them get pretty hungry mid-morning.

Double-check the dress code. It can get confusing between what colors boys can wear and what colors girls can wear.

Thanks & Cheers,

Monday, August 11, 2008

HOMEWORK, Monday, August 11

Math: "Mathematical Me" Assignment
Due Tuesday, August 12

Vocabulary: Look up the dictionary definitions for ~
Integrity, Truth, Beauty, Goodness & Aspiration
Due Tuesday, August 12

Also: Make sure to bring Book Form back to school, signed by parents.
Tuesday, August 12


A new school year, a new school and a brand new class offer up all the necessary ingredients for a new blog. So welcome to the Room 503 blog! I am writing this first entry as Mrs. Veenstra introduces the students to their first day of math.

Our first morning is going well. We had nineteen out of our twenty enrolled students show up and everyone seems to be excited about the school year. We have spent time at our lockers - two times so far - and while some students have aced their locker combination skills, others are still working hard to get theirs open. I have a feeling that by the end of the week we will all be pros in that area.

Today is a day of introductions: to one another, the school itself, classroom rules, the Academic Honor Code, the dress code and what we will be doing this year in school.

I am encouraging the students to think of this year as a grand experiement. Our classroom is our laboratory, and, as we are the very first sixth grade class, we are going to experiment to see what works well and what could use some changing. The students input will be an integral part of shaping our classroom experience this year, and will be the foundation for those Sixth Graders joining us in the 2009-2010 school year as well.

Parents, your input will be invaluable as well. Mrs. Veenstra and I welcome constructive feedback by way of email, telephone and in person.

We are thrilled to have the opportunity to work with your children and are excited to be engaged in the collaborative efforts of growing this group of Sixth Grade Students.

Ms. Pitman