Tuesday, September 30, 2008

HOMEWORK, Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Language Arts: Read Ch. 7 & 8, Gilgamesh
Due: Tomorrow, Wednesday, October 1

Science: STUDY!!! Test Tomorrow.

Math: Notebooks to be collected on Friday

Journal: If you didn't complete in class, please write your entry tonight.
Due: Tomorrow, Wednesday, October 1

O.T.O.: Memorize phrase 7 from the Mother Teresa hand-out
Due: Tomorrow, Wednesday, October 1


If you haven't already, please bring your signed Vocabulary & Social Studies tests to school tomorrow. Non-returned tests result in a zero grade.

We are still collecting magazines - so bring 'em in!


We are in need of paper towels, so if you have an extra roll or two to spare, please bring it/them in. Thanks!

And the Story Continues...

Picking up where we left off yesterday, the students of Room 503 continued on the second and, then, the final "layer" of their Gilgamesh art activity.

After beginning the activity yesterday with a pencil drawing of one of the "main events" from chapters 1-4 of Gilgamesh, the students went over the drawing with either black pencil and/or black marker. The black pencils and markers were used to enhance, accentuate or highlight the first "layer" of the drawing.

Finally, the students used water color paints to add a third and final "layer" to their work - mood, tone, texture. The water colors were to be used to help the artist get across a greater feeling for what the event was being depicted.

The exercise was used to demonstrate the "layering" that occurs in all stories. When creating a story, one has a basic plot and/or outline. The plot is then filled with characters, locations and events. Then it is decorated with details and, of course, different tones and textures. It is told from a specific perspective, or from several, each adding a point of view that can be accepted or rejected by the reader.

When an actual event occurs, and someone who was present tells the story of the event to someone else, it is, of course told from the witness' point of view. It is colored by that person's memory and that person's style of storytelling. When the story is told again, by a secondary source, the story changes somewhat in the re-telling. That person's recollection and style come into play, and so on.

And so it is with a series of twelve tablets written in cuneiform long ago, unearthed by archaeologists, translated into many different languages, and then translated and re-translated again many times over. What does the reader of one translation receive? What does another? And how is it actually taken in and processed?

Our classroom gets a taste of this every day in the re-telling of each chapter. What do we remember? How do we remember it? What images stand out? What feelings are evoked?

Is your head swimming with "layers" of thoughts? Mine is!

Ms. Pitman

Monday, September 29, 2008

Every Student Tells a Story

Last week we began reading Gilgamesh, one of the oldest pieces of literature in the world. Though we are reading the story as part of our Language Arts program it also, of course, ties in with our Social Studies unit on Mesopotamia.

The students had read up through Chapter Four this morning (there are a total of twelve chapters), and, per the usual, I asked them to tell me about the chapter, as they remembered/understood it.

Following the chapter re-cap, each student was asked to go through the first four chapters and to write down what they thought the three main events were from each chapter thus far. Once they completed their lists, they worked in groups of four to narrow it down to the one main event that would truly capture the essence of each chapter.

Next, in their groups, each student had to choose one of the chapter "events," and write it out in a clear, complete sentence. Then they had to draw the event using only a pencil. Tomorrow they will complete the other two parts of that activity. I can't tell you what those are now - for the students aren't supposed to know what they are doing ahead of time - but it does have to do with "layering," and the idea that stories have many layers - i.e. in the story itself; in the re-telling of a story; because of language translations, etc.

This afternoon we had an all-class review for our Science test this coming Wednesday, done in a pseudo-Jeopardy-style format. And the students also were given in-class time to work on their Stone Age Board Game project which is due for presentation on Thursday.

Vocabulary and Social Studies tests were sent home today to be signed by parents and should be returned tomorrow. Tests are a terrific indicator for gaging where students are "at" in their understanding/retention of the information they are learning, but they are not the be-all/end-all.

As the end of the first quarter approaches, Mrs. Veenstra and I are in the midst of assessing what is working best for this group of students and what kind of changes we can begin to implement in the upcoming second quarter

And that, folks, is my story. And I'm sticking to it!

Ms. Pitman

HOMEWORK, Monday, September 29, 2008

Language Arts: Read Ch.'s 5 & 6, Gilgamesh
Due: Tomorrow, Tuesday, September 30

Science: STUDY! *(Test on Wednesday)

Social Studies: Finish up work on Stone Age Game Boards
Due: Thursday, October 2

O.T.O.: Memorize 6th Phrase of Mother Teresa hand-out
Due: Tomorrow, Tuesday, September 30

Math: No Homework; Math Binders will be collected on Friday

Reminder: Fall Break begins this Saturday. School resumes, Monday, October 13.

Will Post Later

Please look for today's posting later this evening...

Homework posted in a few minutes.

Friday, September 26, 2008

HOMEWORK, Friday, September 26, 2008

Language Arts: Read Ch. 4, Gilgamesh
Due: Monday, September 29

Math: p. 29 (1-7)
Due: Monday, September 29

Science: STUDY!
Test Tuesday, September 30

Stone Age Board Games: Bring in any material you need to work on your game on MONDAY, as you will be given class time to work with your groups.
*Project Due: Thursday, October 2

Suggestion: Organize your notebooks.

Trip Slips

I made a slip about out trip to the library today. Though I've had this trip planned for our class for quite some time, and because my plan was that we were going to walk there, I neglected to realize that we needed Field Trip Forms signed in order to go. What I learned is that whenever we set foot off TPA property, we need permission in the form of a signed document. I will be sending Field Trip Permission Slips home next week: Be on the look out!

Because we didn't get to take our trip, however, we did get to utilize our drama time and we were able to fit in some extra study time for our Social Studies test this afternoon.

Today was also Spirit Day, and culminated our final day of Spirit Week, prior to the Homecoming Game tonight. Room 503 got right into the spirit of things this week, with crazy shoes and socks, crazy hair, and TPA T-Shirts. I took some photos with a regular ol' disposable camera, so as soon as I develop the film, I'll post those pictures.

Wishing you all a wonderful weekend -

Ms. Pitman

Thursday, September 25, 2008

HOMEWORK, Thursday, September 25, 2008

Social Studies: STUDY!

O.T.O.: Memorize the 5th phrase of the Mother Teresa hand out

Math: 12-13; 1.3 A, B & C
Due: Tomorrow, Friday, September 26

Around the Box Thinking

This morning we had the good fortune to enjoy the company of Mrs. Kyle, Dane's mother, who graciously offered her time and experience to leading us in a Science lesson.

First, Mrs. Kyle got our juices going by asking us to list what we thought science is, what we think scientists do, and what kind of images we conjure up when we think of what scientists look like and what they look like when they are working (in case you didn't know, they wear black pants, drink black coffee and look like Reed's dad).

Following our discussion, Mrs. Kyle explained that she was going to set down a box on each desk cluster ( five clusters of four students), and that no one was to touch the box, nor look at the bottom of it.

Each box had a person's name on each side (including the top) and two numbers. One number was placed in the upper right hand corner of each side, while the second number was placed on the lower left hand corner of each side. The students' task was to figure out what was on the bottom side.

Using their observation, critical thinking and communication skills, each of the groups worked diligently to come up with an answer. All of the groups eventually found a pattern (or two or three) that they could follow to bring them closer to their conclusion.

One group discovered the answer, while most of the other groups probably would have gotten there had they had more time. Each group had a representative go up to the white board to explain how they got to where they had gotten to in their "experiment."

No one was wearing black pants, no one was drinking black coffee, and no one looked like Reed's dad (except Reed, perhaps a bit), yet we had a roomful of scientists performing an experiment.

We learned that science isn't a finite subject, and even though we came to some conclusions in the experiment we had just done, we still had questions.

This afternoon, we had our first big - well, our second big (Math, being our first) - test this year: Vocabulary. Tests will be graded this evening and sent home with grades for parent signatures over the weekend.

Tomorrow morning we will be visiting the Tempe Public Library. For those who have been, this will probably prove to be a different experience as we will be touring the Middle School area and learning about how to use the research catalog. If students have library books to return, they may certainly bring them. I am not sure if there will be time to check out books, but students are welcome to bring their library cards just in case.

In case you've forgotten, we have a big Social Studies test tomorrow afternoon. Happy studying!

Ms. Pitman

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

HOMEWORK, Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Language Arts: Study for Vocabulary test, TOMORROW

Math: ACE 1 (p. 21); 3-12, 26-28
Due: Tomorrow, Thursday, September 25

Social Studies: Study for Exam, FRIDAY, September 26


Please bring in any unwanted magazines now through the end of October for a project.

Please bring in a copy of your old water bill by Monday, September 29 for a Science project.


If you'd like to attend the Earthly Joys and Sorrows Choir Concert,
there will be performances tonight and tomorrow night, September
24 & 25 at 7 PM, at the Zelman Center at TPA.

Broaden Your Vocabulary...

...Take a pre-oral test - with the rest of your class!

And so we did...twice! This morning we reviewed the eleven words that will appear on our Vocabulary test tomorrow. Students will be responsible for knowing how to spell each word correctly, defining the word and then writing a clear and complete sentence, using the word, to ensure that they fully grasp its meaning.

A practice test was sent home with each student to aid them in their studies this evening.

This afternoon, our focus turned to reviewing the information that students will need for their Social Studies exam this Friday. Students worked in groups of four, in front of the class, asking and answering questions and defining and explaining terms. They also worked quickly to research the information in their text book that they were unable to either remember or articulate out loud.

In between, we were fortunate enough to be able to attend the 10th-12th Grade Choir recital, Earthly Joys and Sorrows. The choirs sang songs ranging from a modern day poem set to a Gregorian Chant to an Old English Round and then to a Spiritual. The singing was beautiful and the accompaniment, lovely. I think the students really enjoyed the performance and displayed perfect audience etiquette.

I am sure that there will be twenty Sixth Grade brains scrambling around trying to cram as much information as possible into themselves in the next couple of nights. I am certain that if everyone takes a deep breath and paces themselves, all will be well when it comes to the actual tests.

Ms. Pitman

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Testing...One, Two, Three...

The students in Room 503 have a lot going on in the next week as our first quarter is coming to a close: A Vocabulary test this Thursday, followed by a Social Studies exam on Friday. Then, next Tuesday, students will take their Science test.

Each subject area has been, and will be, given ample review time in class. Because we continue to practice cumulative "quizzes" during our Finally it's Friday groups, students should be fairly up to speed in each of the aforementioned subjects.

The Vocabulary test will be a straight definition test, and students will be requested to use each word in a sentence to demonstrate clear knowledge of each word's meaning.

The Social Studies and Science exams will consist of multiple choice, true and false questions and fill-in-the-blanks.

Today, each student filled out a self-evaluation form, allowing them to assess their work thus far. This is a helpful tool as it allows Mrs. Veenstra and I to check in and see if the students and ourselves are on the "same page" with one another.

Next week, progress reports will be written and sent out over fall break.

Me thinks there will be a whole lotta studying in the coming days!

Ms. Pitman

HOMEWORK, Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Language Arts: Read Ch. 3, Gilgamesh
Due: Tomorrow, Wednesday, September 24
Study Vocabulary, Test on Thursday
Math: 1.2 A & B, p. 11
Vocabulary: Mode, Range, Median
Due: Tomorrow, Wednesday, September 24

Social Studies: Study for Test on Friday

O.T.O.: Memorize 4th Phrase from Mother Teresa hand-out

SUGGESTED: Organize both Math and General Notebooks.

Gone Fishing...

Not really. But I do have to take my dog to the vet. I will post today's blog entry later tonight. But homework will be posted in just a moment.

Stay tuned and thanks for understanding.

Ms. Pitman

Monday, September 22, 2008

HOMEWORK, Monday, September 22, 2008

Language Arts: Read Ch. 2, Gilgamesh
Due: Tomorrow, Tuesday, September 23
Study for Vocabulary Test, Thursday

Math: ACE 1, p. 21; (1, 22-25)
Due: Tomorrow, Tuesday, September 23

Social Studies: If you haven't done so already, complete
Independent Work Packet
Due: Tomorrow, Tuesday, September 23

O.T.O.: Memorize 3rd Phrase of Mother Teresa hand-out
Due: Tomorrow, Tuesday, September 23

Stone Age Board Games: Continue to work; Due Thursday, Oct. 2


By Monday, September 29: A copy of your water bill (for Science project)

Through the end of October: Magazines of any kind (for a special project)

Independence Day

Not your typical Fourth of July celebration...But a good deal got read, there was much to write, and nobody blew (off) doing their work. So went our first Independent Work Day in Social Studies...

In the past six weeks, our class has mostly worked in partners, small groups or as an entire class. Today, the students in Room 503 worked completely independent of one another.

At the beginning of our Social Studies period, everyone was given a packet. The packet contained directions and material about what to read and write, short quizzes and thought-provoking questions on the later Mesopotamian period, including geography, information about specific empires and their achievements, the Code of Hammurabi and the Hanging Gardens of Babylon.

Students were encouraged to work at their own pace and could work in any order they liked (so long as they read their Text Book assignment first). Those who did not finish in class have the opportunity to complete the packet this evening.

Here are two differing views of our Independent Work Day (as taken from journals):

Having an Independent Work Day was not fun...I didn't like it because I like sharing ideas with people and other people giving ideas to me...I didn't really use my time well. Before I knew it, it was break...I learned that I need to work on my timing skills...

It was fun to have a chance to work by myself...I had time to think by myself and to choose my answers myself. I also liked it because everyone was quiet and I work well when there isn't much noise...I learned that I like to be organized, even though my bedroom isn't so organized. I like to use my time wisely and I go back and reread stuff a lot of times.

The students of Room 503 definitely require all different types of learning methods and environments. We will keep experimenting to find the best balance for all.

Ms. Pitman

Thursday, September 18, 2008

HOMEWORK, Friday, September 19, 2008

NO HOMEWORK: R & R Weekend.


To all the parents and students who provided yummy goodies for today's Tea. We all enjoyed and appreciated the treats.

Tea for Two + 19 More

For the past two days the students of Room 503 have been working on their first big Math test. It has been a big one, so it's not surprising that many were not able to complete the entire test in two class periods. Mrs. Veenstra is happy to accomodate those students who still need more time, however it is important that those students approach her by Monday to set up where and when they will complete their work.

Today marked the culmination of our exploration of the book A Wrinkle in Time. As we did with Old Yeller, we ended with a Tea and discussion. Today's Tea was a huge success and went much more smoothly than our last one - no doubt because this time around, we have some great discussion experience behind us and the students came prepared with very thoughtful discussion questions. Here are a few examples:

How do you think the story would change if Mr. Murray was IT in human form?

If Mr. Murray had tried to take Charles Wallace with him when he tessered, what would have happened?

Compare and contrast how IT controlled the people of Camazotz to people in the Earth's history who have practiced control (i.e. slavery).

How would you react if you were Meg and you saw your father imprisoned in a column?

How did IT first come to be?

If Meg hadn't freed Charles Wallace from IT, would Mrs. Which have tessered Meg away before it was too late for her?

What parts of the story would have been left out, and what would be added, if the story focused on Charles Wallace?

Between thoughtful questions, excellent participation and fabulous treats - today's discussion could not have gone better. Kudos to all!

Enjoy a wonderful and restful weekend.

Ms. Pitman

HOMEWORK, Thursday, September 18, 2008

Language Arts: Write down a good discussion question for our
Wrinkle in Time Tea
Due: Tomorrow, Friday, September 19

Math: Organize Notebook

O.T.O.: Memorize second phrase of Mother Teresa hand out
Due: Tomorrow

Interdisciplinary Work: Edit and type up Legend Story.
*If you have no printer, email to Ms. Pitman
so she can print it for you.
Due: Tomorrow, Friday, September 19


TEA TIME! For A Wrinkle in Time
Volunteers to bring Tea Treats:

EARLY DISMISSAL: Friday, September 19, 12:25 PM

Picture This:

Yesterday we individually explored one part of the book, A Wrinkle in Time, through the visual art mediums of paper, pencils, markers and tissue paper.

Today, we explored some of the main events that took place in the story in small group work in drama. The students divided into groups of four (one group of three, as we had one absent student), to create "tableau pictures" of various events that took place in A Wrinkle in Time.

Each group was given two specific events to create and "rehearse," i.e. MRS. WHATSIT ARRIVES AT THE MURRAY'S, or THE FIRST TIME CALVIN, CHARLES WALLACE AND MEG "TESSER." The students were allowed to use their books to re-read each event. Then they had to decide how to express it through their bodies, and encapsulate the action into a still-life picture.

Each group came up with wonderful and unique interpretations of each event. In creating their "pictures," the students had to become quite specific in how they communicated what was going on. Putting the story into their bodies, the students were able to find new interpretations for what they read.

Because the Zelman Center was being used for a special rehearsal today, we held our drama class outside. It was so nice to enjoy the outdoors now that the weather is turning a bit towards fall. Being outside seemed to add to the freedom of movement the students needed for their tableau pictures.

Returning to our classroom, students took a few moments to look over their art work from yesterday. Lying their two pictures side-by-side gave students the opportunity to think about what their preferences were: color or black and white/muted...what kind of world they would prefer to live in, and what would life be like without color.

Our discussion turned to the differences in Camazotz and Ixchel, two of the planets visited by A Wrinkle in Time's main characters. Camazotz, controlled by IT, where no one thinks for themselves and everyone acts the same v. Ixchel, a peaceful planet, colored in only dark, muted colors, and yet a planet of light and freedom.

The students delved into a discussion about where they would prefer to live, the benefits and shortcomings of both and what life would be like to live in either world.

Tomorrow we will have our celebratory tea and conclude our discussions regarding A Wrinkle in Time.

Ms. Pitman

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

HOMEWORK, Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Language Arts: Read Ch. 12, A Wrinkle in Time
Due: Tomorrow, Thursday, September 18
Study for Spelling Test (Tomorrow)

Math: STUDY for Test! (Prime Time & Vocab)
Tomorrow, Thursday, September 18

O.T.O.: Memorize the first phrase of the Mother Teresa hand out
Journal Entry: What the first phrase means to you.


TEA TIME! For A Wrinkle in Time
Volunteers to bring Tea Treats:

EARLY DISMISSAL: Friday, September 19, 12:25 PM

The Art of Language Arts

Sometimes our understanding of the written word is more deeply understood through the visual world of art. Explaining an image, a feeling or a texture conjured up by the written word, sometimes requires a much different means of communication than verbal articulation. Spoken language can be limiting when there are no concrete words for the thought or emotion one wants to express.

The beauty of any art is in the interpretation of the viewer - be it literature, theatre, dance, music or any of the visual arts. Thus the words we read on the page - which appear the same to all of us - are ingested and interpreted so very differently through our individul minds and hearts. Which brings us to the art work the students in Room 503 created today in a two-part exercise.

Last night for homework we read the eleventh chapter of A Wrinkle in Time, entitled "Aunt Beast," in which the main characters of the story find themselves on a planet called (or not called) Ixchel. Ixchel: a planet of eye-less-headed beasts where there "was no need for color, that the grays and browns merging into each other...was only the smallest fraction of what the planet was really like," paved the ground for the first part of our art exercise: Draw or sketch what Ixchel, or the beasts, or Aunt Beast is for you. Using either #2 pencils, or brown, gray, black or white colored pencils, the students went about expressing their interpretations.

Later in the day, we explored the second part of the exercise based on Meg's realization that "it was she who was limited by her senses, not the blind beasts, for they must have senses in which she could not even dream." The students recaptured the first picture they had created this morning, but this time in color. Using crayons, markers and/or colored pencils, and at least one piece of tissue paper (most used more), the students created the world of Ixchel from a different perspective.

There was a great deal of beauty and detail in both pictures, and different nuances came through in each interpretation. Some students preferred the muted drawings, while others liked the bright colors. Though we engaged in a short discussion about heightened senses and different perspectives, we will delve more deeply into that conversation tomorrow.

Color me happy!

Ms. Pitman

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

HOMEWORK, Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Language Arts: Read Ch. 11, A Wrinkle in Time
Due: Tomorrow, Wednesday, September 17
Study for Spelling Test, Thursday
If you didn't finish your story in class, complete this evening

Math: STUDY!

Social Studies: Read Cylinder Seals Hand-Out
Due: Tomorrow, Wednesday, September 17

ORGANIZE: Your notebook(s) if they are disorderly/messy.

REMINDER: If you have "The Fighters" homework still outstanding,
you have until tomorrow to turn it in (points deducted).

Batteries Not Included

This morning, the students led Mrs. Veenstra through our opening ritual of the bow, attendance-taking, and vocal/physical warm ups...because I was late due to a dead car battery. Fortunately, the students knew exactly what to do, and I was only ten minutes late to our class. Many thanks to Mrs. Veenstra for stepping in.

In Drama, we focused on physicalizing and pantomime, and "doing something two ways." For example: The act of washing a dog. First, as a professional dog groomer; next, as a person who is afraid of dogs. Through our work, students were encouraged to be clear in their actions, so we, the audience could understand what they were doing, and they were also encouraged to be creative and think in different ways, in order to show how they were approaching their action.

Our Language Arts and Science classes today both used A Wrinkle in Time as a basis for our activities. In Language Arts, students were given five "starters" for creative story writing, based on characters/situations from L'Engle's book. Like last week, these stories were practice for writing well-written, complete sentences, full-bodied paragraphs, and fully-realized short stories with a beginning, middle and an end.

Based on the character, IT - "a disembodied brain...an oversized brain...a living brain," we turned our attention to the brain (leaving the topic of "water" behind for the day). Just as IT controlled the people of Camazotz, the students learned how our brains control our bodies. We were going to watch a very cool video about magic and the brain, but we were unable to connect our computer with the Smart Board (not so smart, huh?). Apparently, the problem is now solved, and we will have the opportunity to watch the video tomorrow.

In our reading, we learned that one of the ways to "take care" of the brain is to exercise it - through riddles, puzzles and games. So each group of clustered tables embarked on a few rounds of "Concentration" in order to hone memory skills.

Going home to "recharge" for tomorrow. Hope you are all doing the same.

Ms. Pitman

Monday, September 15, 2008

HOMEWORK, Monday, September 15, 2008

Language Arts: Read Chapter 10, A Wrinkle in Time
Look up definitions of vocabulary words:
Essential, Hierarchy, Agreement
Due: Tomorrow, Tuesday, September 16

Study for spelling test, Thursday (September 18)

Math: Get letter signed and study for test Thursday (September 18)

TEA TIME! For A Wrinkle in Time
Volunteers to bring Tea Treats:


Friday is a half day: 12:25 dismissal *( plus it's an R & R weekend)

Mesopotamian Geckos & Crested Cuneiform

There is sometimes so much that happens in a day that it's hard to keep things straight!

Today Room 503 became the proud parents of two Crested Geckos. Well, actually, we are the proud expectant parents of two Crested Geckos as they are currently incubating in their eggs, their due date being sometime around Halloween.

We are grateful to Mrs. Bush (Ryan's mom, not the President's wife) for offering us the eggs and bringing us all the fixings for their early beginnings: a cage, food supplements, water dishes, foliage and, right now, a mini gladware box, filled with slightly damp soil rocks for the eggs to grow and wait out their last month and a half in.

This afternoon we focused our studies on Mesopotamia, and in particular, the invention of writing. Students then had the opportunity to practice writing as the scribes of Mesopotamia did, using cuneiform (the world's first writing system). First, they translated words and sentences into cuneiform signs. Then they worked with clay to write the cuneiform translations into tablets. This was not easy. But it gave the students an idea of how laborious it must have been to work with a stylus and clay. In their journals they wrote:

It was very hard to write in symbols. The symbols would get blurry and could not be read. It must have been hard for the Sumerians to write like this, but I suppose if you mastered it, it would become easier.

It's way harder to write in clay than you'd think!...Another thing that messed me up was the bumps in the clay. It was hard to make the writing legible...on paper it's flat...which makes it way easier.

Writing in cuneiform was pretty hard and kinda fun at the same time. It was really hard drawing those little symbols on clay with pencils. I can't imagine how long it took back then.

Back to the drawing board - or the white board - I guess!

Ms. Pitman

Friday, September 12, 2008

HOMEWORK, Friday, September 12, 2008

Language Arts: Read Ch. 8/9, A Wrinkle in Time
Due: Monday, September 15

Math: p. 57 (19-24)
Due: Monday, September 15

Social Studies: Read p. 65-69
Due: Monday, September 15

SUGGESTION: Organize your notebooks over the weekend!

Friday Free-For-All!

Well, not really free and only for all Sixth Graders. I just couldn't come up with a better blog title and it seemed sort of sad not to write anything catchy or clever at the end of the week.

However, we did do an assortment of activities today in Room 503.

Drama first thing, followed by a celebration of Eden's 11th birthday, with yummy cookies. Next, students spent some time in their Stone Age groups, working on their soon-to-be new and improved board games.

I heard that Math went well. New concepts were introduced and about 80 % of the students are well on their way with them (and on a Friday, no less! Way to go, Room 503!!!).

This afternoon we began our Finally it's Friday festivities with a "Game Show" quiz, where each student had to come up to the front of a room and pick a "mystery question" out of a bowl and gain points for his/her team. The first round gave students the opportunity to use a "life line" - ask a team member to answer - if he/she didn't know the answer or was unsure. The second round however, required the student who was "up" to answer the question sans group help.

Quiz questions included information on all the areas we covered this week in Science, Social Studies, Language Arts and Drama, as well as questions on prior studies from the first four weeks of school. I often give questions on past material as it helps to keep the students current on their past studies.

A quick exercise on "sameness," based on a portion of A Wrinkle in Time, served as another way to get the Sixth Graders to practice group "think" and how important it is that everyone is on board with one another to accomplish specific tasks.

The last hour and a half, each Finally it's Friday group worked together to create an invention, gizmo, contraption or machine that had some merit on education (this is why we needed left-over household items). We had a couple if homework helping machines, a couple of turning mean teachers into nice teachers inventions and one gizmo that helped younger children (by way of Elmo) gain the skills of older, more experienced students.

The objectives: to encourage students to think out of the box, foster problem-solving skills, and to hone creativity - as a group. Each group had the opportunity to present their creations in the form of commercial, jingle or slogan at the end of our class period. They were all a success.

Writing this all out has made me feel like I've just experienced our whole day all over again. So I will take this opportunity to express my fatigue, and my gratitude, for another ever-exciting week with the TPJA Sixth Graders.

Have a wonderful and restful (or at least fun) weekend!

Ms. Pitman

Thursday, September 11, 2008

HOMEWORK, Thursday, September 11, 2008

Language Arts: Research the four (4) people you picked from
"The Fighters" hand-out. Be sure to find out:
~ When they were born & when they died
~ Where they lived
~ What they did that was important/their contribution(s)
~ A quote (by them)
Please write up (in your own words), four clear, complete
paragraphs (one about each person). *If you type it up
you know how happy I will be! : )
Due: Tomorrow, Friday, September 12

Math: Finish vocabulary (except "Factorization)
Due: Tomorrow, Friday, September 12

Review: Science Text (p. 36-44); History Text (p. 60-64);
A Wrinkle in Time, Ch. 1-7
Due: Tomorrow, Friday, September 12


My apologies to those who read yesterday's homework title: TUESDAY. I'm a bit off track on my days, I guess. ; )

There's History, Herstory, and Today: Therestory!

In an attempt to find a fun way to practice writing clear and complete sentences, and in an attempt to continue to hone problem-solving skills, this morning I asked the students to write a story. Well, I actually asked them all to write just the first sentence of a story.

Once every student had written their first sentence, I asked them to re-read that sentence to make sure it was clear and complete (subject, predicate, begun with a capital letter, ended with a period or whatever proper punctuation it required). I then encouraged them not to get too attached to that first sentence and whatever idea they had in mind for a story, "because," I said, "I want you to now pass your paper to the person on your right."

I prompted each student to carefully read the single sentence before them, instructing them to check to make sure the sentence was well-written and complete, before adding another sentence to the first to continue the story.

Sitting at their desk clusters of four, the students sent the paper around full circle, until there were four complete sentences on each student's paper. "This," I said, "is the beginning of your story. Now you are moving into the middle where you need to add some action, some conflict." So the students passed around each of their papers once again, adding a new sentence to each paper as it made its way around the cluster of desks.

The final four sentences were written to move towards, and finally end the story.

This afternoon each student read his or her story out loud to the class, and it was wonderful to hear twenty very-creative stories all in a row - each, by the way, written in clear and complete sentences.

Ms. Pitman

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

HOMEWORK, Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Language Arts: Look up and define our four new vocabulary
words: Placidly, Judiciously, Ephemeral, Perspective
Due: Tomorrow, Thursday, September 11

Math: p. 56-57, ACE 4 (4-11, 14, 15, 17)
Due: Tomorrow, Thursday, September 11

Stone Age Group Work: Board games due Thursday, October 2

*Remember to bring in odds/ends items!!!
Due: Tomorrow, Thursday, September 11

*SUGGESTION: Check your notebooks: make sure you have
all of your work organized! : )

Basic Training

To add an "s"' or an "es": that is the question: whether 'tis a vowel preceeded by a vowel or a consonant, or whether it doesn't require an "s" or an "es" at all.
"Alot" or "a lot"? 'Tis it one word or two?

This may sound like a set up for a comedy of errors, but it just comes down to the basics.

This morning was a lesson in back to basics, in the form of grammar, in the form of Room 503 classroom "MUSTS" (i.e. putting your full name and date on every paper, quiz, homework assignment), and in the form of "please slow down in your reading assignments so you can aquire better comprehension skills" (as in, take time to get to more than just the surface aspects of what you've read, and please do more than skim the pages).

The 2008-2009 Sixth Grade school year is all about learning the basics - the basics we all need (i.e. grammar), the basics for aquiring new skills (i.e. critical thinking and problem solving), and the basics for learning how to work in all kinds of ways (independently, in pairs, in small groups and in large group settings). I suppose we can look at it as Basic Training...for TPA.

Looking forward to seeing all our recruits again at 0825 tomorrow!

Ms. Pitman

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

HOMEWORK, Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Language Arts: Plural/Singular Noun Hand-Out
Read Ch. 7, A Wrinkle in Time
Due: Tomorrow, Wednesday, September 10

Social Studies: Read p. 60 - 64 of History Text Book
Due: Tomorrow, Wednesday, September 10

Math: No Homework.

BRING IN BY THURSDAY: Any odds/ends: wires, legos,
old cell phones, batteries, boxes,
old computer mouse (mice?), plugs,
cords, etc... *(For Friday Group Project)

Knot Our Average Day

Problem-solving is one of the most important life skills that one can aquire. It 'aint a bad skill to have when it comes to school work either.

However, problem-solving is definitely an area that most all of us in Room 503 need some work on - especially when it comes to group work.

Today, we "interrupted our regularly scheduled program" to engage in an activity called The Human Knot. This is an exercise in which a group of people "knot" themselves up by standing in a circle and extending one of their hands to someone across from them, and then extending their other to someone else. Once all hands are holding all other hands, the group's task is to "undo" themselves into a circle, without letting go of any hands.

The exercise requires a good deal of looking and assessing. It requires good communication in terms of listening and offering up ideas. It requires a great deal of patience, care and flexibility (literally). The Human Knot requires problem-solving skills.

After engaging in this activity, it seemed that the group work we did (continuing to develop our Stone Age board games) went much more smoothly.

*Please continue scrolling down and enjoy the art work the students in Room 503 produced during yesterday's Language Arts lesson.

Ms. Pitman

Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who and Mrs. Which

Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who and Mrs. Which

Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who and Mrs. Which