Welcome Back to School, 2014!

This is our third back-to-school video; it’s becoming a tradition!

When I was growing up, my family always went out to eat, frequently at a restaurant called The Ground Round, which gave you baskets of peanuts and popcorn and projected old movies on the wall, on the night before school started.  I loved that!  I also put all my clothes out the night before the first day so I would be ready to go in the morning.   Unfortunately, that was a first day only tradition rather than a daily habit.

Do you have any back-to-school traditions in your family?

What Do Teachers Do the Week Before School?

Hey Kids!

I bet this has happened to you numerous times in the past couple of weeks.  You are out somewhere with your family, and you bump into someone you know.  This person you know looks at you and says, “Getting ready for school?” with a mischievous twinkle in his eye.

Well, guess what?  Teachers get this same question all the time, too!

In reality, teachers spend a lot of the summer, not just the week before school starts, getting ready for the next academic year.   Some of us had to move to a different classroom, and just like when people move into a new home, getting organized and making it feel like your own takes time.   Some teachers become students over the summer, taking classes on-line or at colleges.  Lots of us spend lots of time on the computer, researching new educational trends or learning new technology.   We revamp old lessons and create new ones.  We shop for our classrooms.  We design our bulletin boards.  We READ.  Then when school arrives, we kick it up to high gear.

Here’s a photo essay of what we do to get ready for school:

After today, I am just about ready for our first official day of school tomorrow.  I’ll finish reviewing  Red Kayak so that we can play a game in class tomorrow.  Speaking of Red Kayak, did you know that its author, Priscilla Cummings, wrote a companion novel called The Journey Back?  It’s all about Digger’s escape from the juvenile detention facility where he was sent at the end of Red Kayak.  That might make a good book report book for some students.  

And speaking of students, it was great to see so many of you today at our Open House!  I hope you enjoyed getting reacquainted with your classmates and teachers.

What new changes did you learn about today?  How do you feel about those changes?  Do you see any changes in our classroom?

See you tomorrow!


What is the truth?

Hey, Kids!

On the first Thursday in August, the Odyssey kids met with school board members and a journalist for the Venice Gondolier  to discuss the Newbery Award winning, documentary novel, Nothing But the Truth, by Avi.  (Click on the book to link to Avi’s website.)

Nothing But the Truth: A Documentary Novel

This novel follows a very realistic chain of events as 9th grade student Philip Malloy is suspended from school, purportedly for singing the National Anthem.  Soon, the school board and the national media become embroiled in the emotional issues of patriotism and American values.  Tied up in this incident are the reputation of an English teacher, a political election, and the school budget.   Do you believe everything you read and hear in the news?  Can students be suspended for singing The Star Spangled Banner?  What really happened that day in Miss Narwin’s homeroom period?  Read the book to find out.

School board member Eric Robinson shares ideas with Odyssey 8th graders

School board member Eric Robinson shares ideas with Odyssey 8th graders. Mr. Robinson also offered a $100 prize for our essay contest.


School board member Marilyn Fogerty facilitates discussion about Avi’s novel with 7th grade Odyssey members.


Gondolier features editor Kim Cool and school board member Margaret Wells discuss “Nothing But the Truth” with 6th grade Odyssey members.


Mrs. Gunther and Mrs. Bettley illuminate themes of the documentary novel.


Members of the Odyssey group invited the ECS school board and journalist Kim Cool to discuss Avi’s Newbery-winning book, “Nothing But the Truth” during their summer book club meeting.


Postcards from Kids!

Yay!  Postcards!

Yay! Postcards!


Hey Kids!

Thanks for your postcards!  To date, I have received 30 postcards!  As you can see, finding postcards in the mailbox is a highlight of my day!

Did you ever watch Postcards from Buster when you were younger?  Not surprisingly, this was one of my favorite shows to watch with my kids.  It’s a spin-off from the Arthur show and series written by Marc Brown.  In his own show, Buster travels around the world with his dad one summer and sends video postcards back to his friends in Elwood City.  The video postcards Buster sends are pretty cool, and a very modern advancement from the original postcard of 1861.  Today I learned that it is now possible to send a QR code on a postcard which will play a video when scanned on an iPad or iPhone.  I think that is something we will have to investigate when we return to school.  Postcards sure have come a long way in 153 years!

As an amateur deltiologist, a.k.a. a postcard collector, I have collected hundreds of postcards!  I have yet to receive a video postcard, but I do have lots of different printed postcards.  Some have original artwork created by the sender; others are photographs taken by the sender. I have one that is printed on a piece of wood.  Most are from the United States, but I have a few from Europe and South America.  We will check them all out when we return to school in the not too distant future.  I am planning my postcard bulletin board so you can see all the places your classmates have ventured during the last 10 weeks.

See you soon!

Sending out some from Rome...
Photo Credit: Storm Crypt via CompfightCreative Commons License