Back in the Swing

A new home

A new place

Hey Kids!

Well, we’ve made it through three full days of school.  So far, so good.

In our two days together, we’ve learned about the people in our class through poetry and song.  We’ve learned about the places in our classroom and in our school where we can find resources to help us develop our minds.  And, we’ve learned about the things that will guide us to success by reading and developing questions for our fact sheets.

By far, I have enjoyed learning about the people around me the most.   What an interesting group!  When asked to describe yourselves with adjectives, you responded with this list: amazing, inquisitive, fantastic, awesome, overachieving, enthusiastic, the best, quiet, hard-working, super, multi-lingual, excited, fabulous, smart, excellent, pretty, responsible, wise, independent, beautiful, ambitious, metalhead, gamer, and cool.  

It is safe to say that the apple does not fall far from the tree.  Your parents are also: wonderful, amazing, awesome, highly motivated, supportive, proud, nice, involved, goofy, good-looking, interested, and ecstatic.  

You have all piqued my interest with your one-word descriptions!  I need to know more!

How did you get to be so inquisitive and enthusiastic?  Did you have a teacher (or parent) who really motivated you to learn and grow?  (Parents are our first teachers.) Tell us about your best teacher.  What did he/she do to help you become the fabulous, smart student you are today?

I know we’re going to have a great  year!

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Happy Mother’s and Father’s Days!

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My mom and I; Christmas Day, 1969. I’m riding my horse, Patches.

My mom and I; Mother's Day 2014

My mom and I; Mother’s Day 2014

What will you do this year to let your mom and/or dad know how much they mean to you?  Did you know that Mother’s Day began as a day to spend in church and in writing a letter to your mom, letting her know how much she meant to you?  Father’s Day was begun by a woman whose own mother had passed away and who wanted to honor her dad.

When I was growing up, my dad wasn’t around very much.  He ultimately left our home when I was nine, and he died ten years later.  There were times he was a great dad, but there were lots of times he wasn’t.  My mom really had her hands full taking care of us three children, working as a nurse, keeping the house up, and dealing with my dad.   I think she did a great job.  My brother became an Eagle Scout and is now the CEO for the Boston Boy Scout Council.  My sister and I are both teachers.  We all have our own families and homes.  None of us would have the lives we do if it weren’t for all the sacrifices our mom made for us growing up.

 

Here are some of my favorite stories about my mom.

When I was about 12, we didn’t have any money for a Christmas tree.  My mother, being the resourceful New Englander she is, got a rusty old saw from the cellar, opened our living room window (which was about 15 feet off the ground), sat with one leg dangling out the window, and began sawing off the top of a pine tree that hugged our house.  She succeeded in getting us a four-foot Christmas tree and in changing the shape of our two-story pine from a triangle to a trapezoid.  She went out to the front lawn where the treetop had fallen, hauled it into the house, set it onto a table to give it some added height, and voila!  Problem solved.  I didn’t love the tree, nor did I love explaining to my friends why we had such a puny tree or why our outside tree had been amputated, but I did love the way my mom took care of us without asking for help or pity from anyone.  She is resilient.

Another time when I was around the same age, we were on a picnic at Castle Island in Boston.  It started to rain, and so my mom put a dish towel on her head and began “running” for the car.  My mom has not really been a runner since she was about five-years-old.  To my junior high way of thinking, she looked crazy, but she was laughing despite the rain, the ruined picnic, and my clear disdain for her dishtowel rain hat.  Even at the time, I still loved the way she laughed at the whole situation, which was beyond her control.  She was able to look at the big picture of our family together, running in the rain, and overlook the fact that the evening did not go as planned.

My mom has taught me a lot by the way she handles adversity.  It is often through adversity that we grow, and guess what?  Without rain, that pine tree next to my old house would never have been able to re-grow, so that today it once again stands two-stories high and is a perfect isosceles triangle.

The house I grew up in.  The pine tree is around the other side of the house, but you can see how high the first floor windows are off the ground.

The house I grew up in. The pine tree is around the other side of the house, but you can see how high the first floor windows are off the ground.

What do you need to thank your mom or dad for?

What is the funniest story you can think of that involves your mom or dad?

How does your mom or dad inspire you?

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The Journey of a Lifetime

Spices of the world
Creative Commons License Photo Credit: darwin Bell via Compfight

Have you ever heard the expression variety is the spice of life?  

The meaning behind that saying is one of the reasons I love teaching language arts.  We have so many different avenues to explore which keeps life interesting.  Every day we think about something different.  To begin with, the basic skills we develop are varied: reading, writing, grammar, vocabulary, speaking, and listening.  All of those skills involve using language in some way.  Add to that the manner in which we approach the development of these skills: small groups, class discussions, games (a list of choices here: diagram races, Jeopardy, Bingo, baseball), dramatic readings with costumes, traditional note taking, technology (more options: the blog, QR code scavenger hunts, Educreations, Quizlet, Prezi, Powerpoint, Chictionary, iPads, iMovie, Skype, etc), simulations, field trips.  Finally, we have a myriad of materials at our disposal: myths, novels, informational text, poems, short stories, essays, and biographies and a plethora of topics: The Odyssey, Jason and the Argonauts, Antigone, Crispin, Beowulf, Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, Under the Blood Red Sun, Tangerine, The Wednesday Wars, a list too long to continue.

Is it any wonder I am constantly saying, “We need to spend the whole day in language arts!”?

This past week we used our speaking and listening skills to present oral reports about journeys we’d like to take.  We chose this topic as we completed our study of The Odyssey.  Odysseus’s voyage took ten years to complete.  He sailed to a multitude of locations around the Mediterranean.  He met strange people, ate unusual foods, and heard enchanting music.  In addition to ten years of his own life, the trip cost him the lives of his crew.  We thought about adventures we’d like to take: where would we go, how would we travel, what would it cost, and what would we see, hear, taste, and do.

Come fly with us around the world!

 

 

Here’s another student making an oral presentation that addresses some of the topics we’ve been thinking about in our class.

What road will you take on your journey in life?

Will you take the road less traveled by?

hundred-foot-journey-quad

Click to play clip

Will your journey be one of thousands of miles or a hundred feet?

How will you add spice to your own life and by doing so enrich the lives of others?

Will you become a world-wide traveler?  A president?  A chef?  A language arts teacher?

What is your journey?

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Serving Others

The Unlucky Twin

Photo Credit: ReSurge International via Compfight cc

Part of our mission statement as a school states that we are “building a caring community that serves others”.  We try to live up to that standard by helping people in our local, national, and global communities.  Every year we send our accumulated 25 cent “lost and found” fines, as well as any other donations, to the Smile Train.  The Smile Train funds operations to fix cleft lip and cleft palate in developing nations.  The surgery costs $250 and takes as little as 45 minutes.  Every year for the last six years we’ve sent our money to The Smile Train.   We began this fundraising because the 7th graders read the novel Crispin: At the Edge of the World  by Avi; one of the characters in the story suffers from an untreated cleft lip.  Last year one of our students donated over $200 herself; it was money she had been saving for new clothes.

On the 10th anniversary of 9/11, we held a fundraising baseball game at our school,     “9 Innings for 9/11.”  Families donated a few dollars to play baseball; we sold hot dogs and popcorn, held a bake sale, and ran a raffle.  We raised a little over $800 that afternoon and donated the proceeds to The Smile Train, St. Jude’s Hospital, Share our Strength, and Our Mother’s House.

This year after reading the book, A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park, we visited the website Water for South Sudan.  We talked about ways to help the people in South Sudan dig and maintain wells for drinking water, but we haven’t yet put any plans into action.  We are glad for this week’s Student Blogging Challenge to remind us about our resolve and brainstorm some ideas so that the children and families in South Sudan can have safe drinking water, something we in America take for granted.

What are some ideas that we can do as a middle school to raise money for Water for South Sudan?

Watch this video from Disney’s Bridget Mendler called We Can Change the World and be inspired to take one step at a time…

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Welcome Back to School!

Welcome Back to School on PhotoPeach

Hey Kids!
Welcome back to school! I am very happy to see you all again, and I am looking forward to a great year where we will love, learn, and soar!
As you watch the video of our first day at school, listen to the lyrics. How are they appropriate for the beginning of a new school year? How do you feel about the first day of school?

Upside Down by Jack Johnson
Who’s to say
What’s impossible
Well they forgot
This world keeps spinning
And with each new day
I can feel a change in everything
And as the surface breaks reflections fade
But in some ways they remain the same
And as my mind begins to spread its wings
There’s no stopping curiosity

I want to turn the whole thing upside down
I’ll find the things they say just can’t be found
I’ll share this love I find with everyone
We’ll sing and dance to Mother Nature’s songs
I don’t want this feeling to go away

Who’s to say
I can’t do everything
Well I can try
And as I roll along I begin to find
Things aren’t always just what they seem

I want to turn the whole thing upside down
I’ll find the things they say just can’t be found
I’ll share this love I find with everyone
We’ll sing and dance to Mother Nature’s songs
This world keeps spinning and there’s no time to waste
Well it all keeps spinning spinning round and round and

Upside down
Who’s to say what’s impossible and can’t be found
I don’t want this feeling to go away

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Reaching our Goals, Top Ten, and Extra Credit

After blogging for five months, we have attained our second goal: at least one visitor from all 50 states.  Vermont was the last hold out.  We are so excited!  YAHOO!  Here are some other HIGHLIGHTS from our blogging adventures:

10. We had a blogging party to celebrate reaching our goal.  We set up the cafeteria like a movie theater with a concession stand.  We had a theater style popcorn maker, soda, candy and chips.  We watched a great movie, Facing the Giants.  (We give it 5 stars.)

Extra Credit: What was your favorite scene in the movie? Why did you like it?

9. Also, as of today, Hey, Kids! has: 3429 visitors from 97 countries.

8.  All 70 Kids have their own student blogs.

7. We’ve been consistently corresponding with the students and Mrs. Smith at Huzzah! and with Mrs. Krebs’ Class.

6. We’re getting ready for our first Family Blogging Month in February.

5. With the help of Hey, Kids! students and our blogging buddies at Huzzah!, Mrs. Donofrio gave a presentation about blogging at a conference at Disney World.

4. We are improving our writing and map skillsCheck out the photo of our push pin map.

3. Our Teddy blog has 210 visitors from 8 states and 8 countries.

2. PhotoPeach slideshows.

and our number one highlight:

1. After 20 years, Mrs. Chonody reconnected with her friend due to our blog!  See the comments in “A Diagram Race”.

Have you ever set and attained a goal?  Tell us about your goal and how, or if, you celebrated your accomplishment.

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