Writing with Mrs. Rombach Reads

Hey Kids!

Through the wonder of blogging, we have found a great new class!  Mrs. Rombach and her readers, whom we have visited a bit in the past, have sent us some prompts so that we can write interactive stories with them.

How cool is that?  (Mrs. Rombach has also shared a very creative and fun method of working on vocabulary, but I will save that secret for another day.  Teachers are required by Teacher Law #65113 not to allow too much fun into any one day.)

So today, we can finish a story that has been started by a member of Mrs. Rombach’s class.  We also get to share prompts with her middle schoolers at Eagle Ridge Middle School in Ashburn, Virginia.

So let’s put on our author hats, and get writing!  Perhaps one of us will be the next Graham Salisbury.  You never know what the future holds.

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NCEA, Here We Come!

Hey Kids!

On April 8th I have the opportunity to share two of my favorite joys: teaching and blogging!  As a presenter at the NCEA (National Catholic Educational Association) Convention, I will help other teachers learn how to blog.

I Helped Out! Enokson via Compfight

  Will you help me teach the teachers?

 

I need your input to show everyone how great blogging is.  As you read this post, think about your own experiences with blogging.  While you are reading and thinking, I’ll be sharing our class experiences.    I’ll start with a little powerpoint that explains why I began blogging in the first place.

Next up, I’m going to show this video which explains what blogging is.  Do you remember the first day you went into the computer lab and got your own blog?   How cool was that, right?

I’ll need to mention, of course, the importance of digital safety and the responsible use of technology.  Have you ever had a problem with inappropriate material on your blog?  Think about copyright use, too.

We are going to learn all the important blogging terminology so that the teachers can write fantastic posts.  We’ll be learning about embedding videos, adding widgets, creating avatars, and giving attribution, in addition to lots of other blogging skills.   All the best blogs use these concepts.  What are some of your favorite blogs out there?  As my kids know, we are great buddies with the kids and teacher (Ms. Smith) at Huzzah!, and I am sure we will take a trip to British Columbia, Canada, to visit them.  I would not be here at the NCEA Convention in Orlando, presenting to other teachers, without my BBB (Best Blogging Buddy) Ms. Smith.  Also, I would never even have begun my blogging journey had I not been inspired by third grade teacher Mrs. Yollis in California  and her blogging buddy Mrs. Kathleen Morris in Australia.

We love exploring blogs, reading about all the great learning that is going on in the world, writing quality comments, and connecting with other kids and teachers.   Reading posts from other classes really makes me feel as though I have discovered a “captain’s log” from a ship sailing in a distant land.  Or even perhaps from a  ship sailing in space; I often hear the voice of James T. Kirk in my head as I begin to read a new blog, “This is the captain’s log…”  Do you have a favorite entry/post that you would like us to visit? 

Some of my favorite posts involve special blogging activities we have done, like our blogging parties for reaching a goal.   I also love the Skype visits we have had with author Graham Salisbury; movie producer Dana Hankins; Shakespeare birthplace curators Lisa Peters and Anjna Chouhan; and Mrs. Emerick’s 6th grade class, Making Waves.  Another great experience for me was our guest lecturer, Mrs. Joanne Chonody, who connected with a friend she hadn’t spoken to in over twenty years thanks to Family Blogging Month and our quest to collect visitors from all 50 states.  All of these events were possible because we blog.  Have any of your special memories from school been the result of blogging? 

Under The Blood Red Sun March 26 at 3:14pm · Edited · Here’s our favorite Florida classroom wearing Under the Blood-Red Sun beanies and baseball caps that they earned by partnering up with us. Our website EDUCATION page includes curriculum and a list of schools that have received bookmarks & posters & pin buttons – http://underthebloodredsun.com/education.html Please share to help us reach more schools/classrooms teaching the book and/or movie this year!

 

Of course, I love blogging mainly because it gives us an authentic audience for our writing.  As soon as we write our first post, we have become internationally published authors.  Do you remember Malala?  She started a blog in order to bring attention to the plight of girls’ education in Pakistan, and she was certainly successful!  In 2014, at the age of 17, she became the youngest recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize.  While most bloggers don’t achieve global celebrity, blogging has become a bona fide career for some and an enjoyable hobby for many others.  As of 2011, there were 181 million blogs all vying for a piece of your screen time.  In order to become a successful blogger, you have to be a proficient writer.  We use blogging to sharpen our writing skills; that’s an important job in a language arts class.  Do you enjoy writing and blogging enough to make it your living?

Okay, now here’s the part where I could use your help.  Would you take a few minutes to think about a specific experience you’ve had with blogging and then share that story in the comment section?  I know the teachers at the convention will want to know about blogging from the students’ points-of-view.  This is how you can help me teach the teachers. 

As my new blogging friends from Hawaii (Graham Salisbury and Dana Hankins) say,

Mahalo and much aloha!

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Student Blogging Challenge 2015

Hey Kids!

It’s that time of year for The Student Blogging Challenge!

This is our opportunity to meet kids from all over the world!  Already there are tons of kids registered and waiting to meet other kids, like us, through their blogs.

Making friends around the world

Making friends around the world

Check out this list of students who have registered so far.

  • Who is 13-years-old, is from the Philippines, and likes Taekwondo?
  • Who is 12-years-old, is from Australia and likes netball and cricket?
  • Who is 13-years-old, is from the USA and likes pinning?
  • Who is 13-years-old, is from the USA and likes bodyboarding?
  • Who is 11-years-old, is from Taipei and likes listening to music?
  • Who is 13-years-old, is from New Zealand, and likes rugby?

 

How many kids are middle school aged (11-14)?

Who likes things that you like?

Where is Taipei?

What is netball?  pinning?  bodyboarding?

Jornada de entrenamiento bodyboard con los deportistas de la Academia Surf&Rock Miguel Navaza via Compfight

How will you find out these answers?  Visit these students!  It’s super easy; just click on the link to their blogs.   Start a conversation; ask them about their hobbies and tell them about yours.  Ask them about their corner of the world and tell them about yours.  Ask them about their school and tell them about yours.  Make a high-tech pen pal!

In order to start connecting, we’ll join this year’s Student Blogging Challenge.  We’ll meet new kids and improve our blogging skills simultaneously.  Cool, right?  Register for the challenge here.

With whom on the list would you like to connect?  Why?  

The game is afoot!  (Does anyone know what that is an allusion to?)

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My Top Ten Inspiring People

 

Most of us have pretty routine days, which is great because they allow the special days to really be special!  Most of my day today was pretty ordinary.  Around 4:30 this afternoon, I sat down at the computer to do some very typical schoolwork.  That’s when my relatively ordinary day turned into something special.  When I checked my email, I found a note from Dana Hankins, the movie producer of Under the Blood Red Sun.  Suddenly, my run-of-the-mill day was not so run-of-the-mill.  Through our blog, we have made a connection with a movie producer, actors, and the author and screenplay writer, Graham Salisbury.  These people are taking the time to email, Tweet, blog, and now Skype with us as we share our experiences learning, reading and writing.

How many kids do you think have the opportunity to talk with authors and movie producers about books?  Are we not fantastically lucky that people in Hawaii are interested in what we are learning here in Florida?  Not only are they interested, but they want to HELP us LEARN MORE!  How great is that?

Dana Hankins inspires me!  Thank you, Dana!  Thank you for turning what could have been an ordinary classroom experience of reading and discussing a novel into a once-in-a-lifetime experience for me and my kids.

 

And with that, I have to now list nine more people who inspire me in my work.  They make the ordinary extraordinary.

9. Graham Salisbury, author of Under the Blood Red Sun and commenter on our blog!

8. Priscilla Cummings, author of Red Kayakthe first author who visited our classroom, and with whom I got to eat dinner

7. Joan Hiatt Harlowe, author of Thunder from the Sea and a resident of our hometown, Venice

6. Liz Lantigua, author of Mission Libertad who visited our school and related the work involved in publishing her first novel for young people

5. Fern Schumer Chapman who wrote Is it Night or Day? about her mother’s escape to America during the Holocaust and who Skyped with us

4. . Anjna Chouhan and Lisa Peter, the curators of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust who Skyped with us during our celebration of the Bard’s 450th birthday

3. Jan Smith, teacher extraordinaire and Huzzah! blogger

2. Sue Waters and Ronnie Burt, the Edublogs Support Team.  Without Sue and Ronnie, my kids and I would not be blogging because I would be lost in the technology.  Nobody does customer service like Edublogs.  Nobody.  Nowhere.

1. My KIDS!  Think of all the special times we share during our routine schooldays.  Last night I saw one of my former students at a New Year’s Eve party.  He said, “When I heard you were here, I had to come right over to see you.”  Now those were special words for a regular old language arts teacher to hear.   My kids inspire me every day.

Who or what inspires you?

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Please vote for us, Confonnit!

Hey Kids!

Do you remember reading Under the Blood Red Sun last year?  Do you remember the bookmarks we got from the movie producer, Dana Hankins?  Do you remember our Literary Tea Party and dressing up as characters from the novel?  Do you remember the author, Graham Salisbury, and the producer, Dana Hankins, commenting on our blog?  All very exciting moments for us!  Fortunately, the folks who made this movie remember how much we enjoyed the novel, and they have not only voted for our blog, but they have invited all their Facebook friends to vote for us as well!  Super cool, right?!

 

The movie is recently released on DVD, Blu-Ray, and Digital Downloads. We plan to watch the movie as part of our blogging party celebrating our 20,000th visitor! Time to roll out the red carpet for Under the Blood Red Sun!  Check out the trailer, too.

What do you think is the best part, and the hardest part, about making a movie?

 

 

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We’ve been nominated!

Yay, Kids!  We're nominated!

Yay, Kids! We’re nominated!

Hey Kids and Friends of Kids!

Thank you to our blogging buddies at Huzzah! for nominating us for Best Class Blog!  We are so very excited!  We are hoping that our blogging friends will vote for us by Dec. 15th by clicking on the badge above. After you have voted, check out the other nominees in categories such as: Best New Blog, Best Individual Blog, Best Student Blog- where our own Chrissy has been nominated, too!  Please vote for her as well!- Best Teacher Blog, Best Librarian Blog, Best Administrator Blog, Most Influential Blog Post, Lifetime Achievement and nine other categories.

Since beginning to blog two and a half years ago, we have learned a lot, and we have learned from the best, especially from the folks at Edublogs: Sue Waters and the Student Blogging Challenge.  I always say that I have purchased cars for tens of thousands of dollars and not received one hundredth of the customer service help that we have received from Edublogs for $30 a year.  Here is what makes the support team so great:  they get back to us within hours EVERY TIME!, they often fix whatever problem I am having, they provide very clear directions for a way I can fix my error, they do it all in a polite, positive, and efficient way, and they challenge us to improve our blog with ten weeks of tasks, twice a year.

From the outstanding class blogs we interact with, we have learned how to-

We are so honored to be in the company of these all-around outstanding blogs and the teachers behind them.  Please take a moment to VISIT THESE BLOGS, and the many others who were nominated, and then leave a quality comment for at least one class or one student.  Blogging is all about reading, writing, thinking, learning, and sharing.  Let’s do it!

 

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Exploring the Middle Ages

For the past seven years, our middle school students have hosted a Medieval Fair for our entire school.  We read literature pertaining to the Middle Ages, study the history of the time period, and then put our knowledge to use by creating a town fair, complete with jousting tournaments, swordplay, dramatic presentations, juggling, stilt walking, music, and of course, booths of food and wares.

In our blogging adventures, we have noticed that Mr. Miller and his class at Chalone Peaks Middle School in King City, California, also study this era in history, but in a very different way.  They bring a modern twist to the Middle Ages by recreating Medieval villages through Minecraft.  (Click on the photo to visit Mr. Miller.)

Mr. Miller's Medieval Minecraft

Mr. Miller’s Medieval Minecraft

Mr. Chiu’s class at Aldergove Public School in Ontario, Canada, also studied the Middle Ages.  They created 3D models and made oral presentations. Visit Mr. Chiu’s class by clicking on the photo.

A 3D model of a castle in Mr. Chiu's class

A 3D model of a castle in Mr. Chiu’s class

The Year 6 students at Tirlebrook Primary School in Gloucestershire, U.K.,  took a field trip for a Magnificent Medieval Day this past July.  You can watch them in action in a slide show on their blog.

Elder Tree student playing a game of 9 Men's Morris

Elder Tree student playing a game of 9 Men’s Morris

Of course, you can see how we celebrate by visiting any of our archived posts listed under Medieval Fair.

In 1271, a young Marco Polo sailed from his home in Venice, Italy, to exotic lands in the Far East, bringing back tales of his adventures.   Like the Venetian explorer from the Middle Ages, you can visit other far off classrooms to discover how their studies of the Medieval Era are similar to and different from ours and then write about your travels in a comment or post.  Start a conversation with another class who is also studying the Medieval time period.  

In addition to blogs, you can visit some cool websites as well!

Medieval Music

Everything Medieval

Happy traveling!  

 

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Around the World in 80 Minutes

Hey Kids,

Do you ever wonder what kids do in other classes?

Do they read the same books we do?  Do they dress up in character?

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Polyphemus and his Cyclops friends

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Jason, the Argonauts, Kings Pelias and Aeetes, Medea, Phineas, and the Harpies

Do they have an 80 minute language arts class?

Do they race to diagram a sentence?

Do they use iPads in the classroom?

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Day one of 1:1 iPads

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Interviewing each other with our new iPads

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Exploring our new technology

 

When you live in one classroom, it is easy to think that there is only one way to do things.  One of the reasons we love blogging is that we get to step into the classrooms of other kids.  We see new ways of doing things.  Our brains engage in the “what if” scenario.  What if we…

 

Visit some of our blogging buddies.  Visit their blogging buddies!  Read about their classrooms.  Write them a quality comment.  Ask questions about what they are learning.  Share what you are learning.  Love.  Learn.  Soar.  Pass it on.

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Flattening Classroom Walls!

After two years of blogging, and exchanging a plethora of comments with classes around the world from Canada, to New Zealand, to the heartland of America, we finally connected via Skype with a class in Connecticut, Mrs. Emerick’s 6th grade wave riders!  This visit is the epitome, so far!, of our blogging adventure.  We spent two half hour sessions chatting with our blogging buddies about summer reading books, sports, band, school uniforms, book trailers, brain teasers, Genius Hour, and of course, blogging!

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Mrs. Emerick on our Apple t.v. during our Skype visit

Capturing my students on the iPad as we Skype with Mrs. Emerick's class.

Capturing my students on the iPad as we Skype with Mrs. Emerick’s class.

We learned that we have a lot in common:

  • The book we read for summer last year, A Long Walk to Water, by Linda Sue Park, is what Mrs. Emerick’s students will read this summer!
  • We love to play sports and music.
  • We love blogging and Skyping!
  • We don’t love homework (teachers included).

We learned we have a few differences:

  • In Connecticut, lacrosse is favorite sport; in Florida soccer reigns supreme.
  • Mrs. Emerick’s class created book trailers on Animoto; Mrs. Donofrio’s class will learn how to create book trailers on Animoto.
  • The Floridians are on summer vacation now!  The New Englanders have to wait until June 23rd.

 

Next year we hope to Skype more often.  In addition to our high tech pen pal system, i.e. blogging, we will put the Pony Express to work as well and send each other some postcards this summer.  We are also hoping to share in each other’s curricula in new ways.

Participating in blogging and Skyping makes me think about all the ways education has changed since I was a middle school student in the early 1980s.   We barely knew what schools around the block were doing, never mind across the country or around the world!  The biggest technological advancements were erasable pens and dustless chalk.   Grades came home on papers in schoolbags.  Now we can visit schools around the world and engage with them through blogging, Vimeo, Skype, YouTube, and Educreations, among other technologies.  Parents can much more actively participate in their children’s learning.  Today I used my iPad to email a mom a video of her daughter participating in a Chinese tea and speaking Chinese.  Another mom asked me to post my grammar lessons which we record on Educreations on the blog next year.

Here is a photo of a classroom, 1978, and another now 2014.  I am in both photos!  Can you find me?

Mrs. Donofrio- Grade 5, 1978.  Sister Lois taught our class "nitty gritty grammar".

Mrs. Donofrio- Grade 5, 1978. Sister Lois taught our class “nitty gritty grammar”

Mrs. Donofrio-language arts teacher grade 7, 2014.

Mrs. Donofrio-language arts teacher grade 7, 2014.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What changes do you see in teaching and learning over the last 30 years?  Ask your parents to comment also!

Thank you to Mrs. Emerick and her 6th graders for helping us end our school year so fantastically!  The walls are tumbling down!

 

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A Tributing to Shakespeare or Attributing Shakespeare?

Live The Bard!
Creative Commons License Photo Credit: Su℮ ❥ via Compfight

Would you be surprised to learn that a man stole a 1623 edition of The First Folio and was able to hide his theft for ten years?  Well, Raymond Scott did just that.

Sometimes people try to steal the work of others for their own benefit.  On the other hand, sometimes people use the work of others without meaning to steal it.  They think that because they found it on the internet, it is free for anyone to use.  That is not always the case.

This week’s Student Blogging Challenge invites us to ethically use images, videos, and music in our posts.  That means we need to add this pizzazz to our posts without stealing the work of others.  First we need to make sure the creator wants to share his work, and then we need to attribute our source.  Check out this excellent article from the Edublogger before adding any pizzazz to your post.  You don’t want to be found guilty after the fact and be forced to protest too much.
And speaking of attribution, here’s an interesting video about some people who wonder if the works we attribute to Shakespeare should be attributed to someone else entirely.

Did Shakespeare really write his plays?

Is his authorship to be or not to be?  That is the question.

 

 

 

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