Christmas is Everywhere!

Hey Kids,

It’s amazing to me that in our society Christmas has become controversial.  Last week someone I know on Facebook posted a story supporting a name change on a school calendar from Christmas Vacation to Holiday Vacation.  Lots of schools and towns struggle over displaying Christmas trees.  Many businesses are afraid to let their employees say “Merry Christmas” in fear of offending a customer who does not celebrate Christmas.  It is strange that a day that marks the birth of a Man whose sole purpose on this planet was to bring love and peace to ALL people has become, for some, a means to spread division and fear among people.  I want to feel comfortable saying “Merry Christmas!” to people I meet, and I want others to feel comfortable saying, “Happy Hanukkah!” or “Happy Kwanzaa!” or “Happy Ramadan!”   Those greetings mean that one person is trying to share peace and joy with another, not that one person is trying to denigrate the beliefs of another.

I am so very grateful that at our school we can read wonderful literature, written by a very diverse group of authors, that celebrates the joy of Christmas.  We read poems, essays, plays, short stories and informational text all with a Christmas theme.  We have studied these poems, and many others, over the years:

“On a Pallet of Straw” by Langston Hughes, “A Visit From St. Nicholas” attributed to Clement Clark Moore , “The Bells” by Edgar Allen Poe, “little tree” by e.e. cummings, “December” by John Updike, and “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” by Robert Frost.  Often we use the lyrics of Christmas songs and carols as poems to analyze and annotate.  “The Grinch” has great metaphors, hyperboles, and alliteration!

I also love to read “The Gift of the Magi” by O. Henry, “A Christmas Carol” (abridged for middle schoolers) by Charles Dickens, and “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus” by Francis Pharcellus Church.  We have read and delivered oral presentations about Christmas traditions around the globe and throughout history as well.

All these readings remind me that people everywhere, and throughout history, have celebrated Christmas with good cheer and peace toward men.  That is the legacy of the birth of Jesus.

So to combat some of the “bah, humbug” that is bound to creep into our celebration of the season of light, I share with you songs and stories that remind us the Spirit of Christmas is everywhere.  God bless us, Everyone!

How can you BE THE LIGHT this Christmas?


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A Fair Welcome to the Season

Huzzah!  Huzzah!  

Welcome one and all to the most merry of occasions, the annual Medieval Fair!  By decree of the Queen, we again host jousters, jugglers, jesters, mummers, dancers, artisans, and merchants of all sorts who will entertain, amuse and beguile you with their trades.  Come along with us and see from start to finish the makings of a Medieval Fair worthy of the court of the finest nobility in the land.

Medieval Fair 2015 on PhotoPeach

Do you have any shopping or entertainment traditions for the holiday season? What do you do at school or at home to celebrate the winter holidays?

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It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year!

It’s the hap, happiest season of all

With the kids jingle belling

and everyone telling

you be of good cheer!

It’s the most wonderful time of the year!

Well, wait a minute.  Just what makes this the most wonderful time of the year?

Is it the presents you’ll receive?  Is it the special and delicious food you’ll eat?  Is it parties you’ll attend?  Is it vacation from school?  Is it snow?  What actually makes this a wonderful time of the year?

Years ago a movie was made that has become a classic at Christmas time.  It’s called It’s a Wonderful Life and is about a man named George Baily who didn’t realize just how wonderful his life was.

George learns that one life touches many through all the ways we help people. That’s what makes our lives wonderful: touching other lives, helping others.
This Advent, use your wonderful life to bless others. Here is a digital Advent calendar to help you spread love, hope, joy, and peace. Click on each day from now until Christmas for a reflection and a “microchallenge”, a small way you can take action to bring love, hope, joy, and peace to others. Even though the Advent Calendar is a Christian tradition used at Christmas time, any one of any faith can use it to help spread love, hope, joy, and peace… help others and yourself to live a wonderful life.
Report back here to let us know how you are creating and enjoying the most wonderful time of the year!

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Christmas Literature Webquest

Hey Kids,

Everyone, young and old, loves a good story!

Today we will investigate the behind the scenes action of the famous holiday literature we have been reading in class.  Please visit the following websites and answer the questions in your comment.   Santa is watching!

1. We read a passage from A Christmas Carol.  The name of the protagonist has become an English word.  What is that word and what does it mean?

2. What is the title in the video on this website?

What other name has become an English word?  What is the word and what does it mean?

3. Once you are on the above website, watch the first three videos in the series and read the article about Dickens.   What did you already know about Dickens?  What did you learn?  What do you want to know? (1-3-1)

4. Watch this short clip about the Boston Ballet’s Nutcracker.

Complete this sentence.  “I think The Nutcracker…….because……….”


5. Read “A Christmas Carol” by Sara Teasdale.

Analyze the poem.  Tell me everything you notice.

6.  Make sure to watch the slide show in the post below, “Christmas Jammytime” and answer the question at the end.

7.  When you are done with the above, visit some of our blogging buddies, read their newest posts, and leave them a comment.

See you tomorrow,

Mrs. Donofrio







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Christmas Jammytime

The story of Christmas began 2012 years ago when an angel named Gabriel visited a girl named Mary.  Today, we still tell that Christmas story, and over the years, we have added many others that help us learn about the meaning of Christmas, about the Love that came to earth that day in Bethlehem.

At ECS, our middle school students read stories to our younger students, helped them write letters to Santa, sang a carol, and shared some cookies and milk.  Christmas Jammytime has become a tradition.

Christmas Storytime on PhotoPeach

What is your favorite Christmas story, song, movie and cookie?  We are taking a tally.  Results by Thursday.

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Visiting Bear Country


Narcoossee Community Middle School:
Home of the Bears

Yesterday I had the opportunity to take a field trip to Narcoossee Community Middle School as part of the Blue Ribbon Conference.  It is a place full of enthusiastic, dedicated teachers and respectful, engaged students, a place anyone would be happy to teach and to learn.  I came away with a renewed sense of energy and passion for teaching after visiting with the students, teachers, and administration at Narcoossee.  Thank you especially to our wonderful teacher/tour guide, Mr. Brian Joseph, the media specialist, and to Antonio, 8th grade student extraordinaire.

Come with me to visit Narcoossee in photos and see what makes this school so special.  Then tell us:

What makes your school world class? 


Mr. Allen, the principal at Narcoossee, is clearly well-liked and well-respected by his faculty and his students. He set a goal to have the first middle school in Osceola County with a score of 600 and exceeded his goal! NMS is in the top 25% of all middle schools in Florida. What goals does your principal have?



A sandhill crane ate lunch as the students walked a half mile around their track as part of their health class. Do you have unusual wildlife at your school?











This is Antonio’s Spanish homework. We also visited a t.v. production class, career skills and AVID. The orchestra and band played “Hiawatha” and “In Excelsius Deo” for us. They were GREAT! What electives does your school have?







The 8th graders are reading Night by Elie Weisel and wrote poetry of the Holocaust on butterfles hanging in their classroom. Each butterfly symbolizes a person who died in the concentration camps. What unique, meaningful lessons have you done in your school?



This poster hangs in the front of Mrs. Dennis’ AVID class. Do any of your teachers use thought provoking messages? Do you know what AVID is?









Narcoossee Middle School has a beautiful campus. 1200 kids pass quietly on the outdoor hallways between classes. They also have frisbee golf and an eagle’s nest on their campus! What makes your campus unique?

These are my esteemed colleagues, Mrs. Brennan and Mrs. Gunther, along with our guide, Mr. Joseph. Who are your world class teachers?

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Blue Ribbon Blogging

Hey Kids,

Thanks so much for writing comments on the last Disney post.  I shared them with the participants at my blogging presentation, and I could see that they were visibly impressed with your writing as well as your thoughts.  They also really liked our ClustrMap and talked aloud about our 1800+ visitors.  They thought it was pretty cool just like we do.   They enjoyed your Christmas oral reports and the Teddy book also.  In fact, Mrs. Brennan asked for a copy of the Teddy Tours Venice book for her granddaughter.

Here are few more photos of what happened at the conference today.  Our first speaker was Mrs. Deborah Phelps, the mother of Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps.  She has been an educator for over 30 years.  She has been a middle school principal.  Neat, huh?  I also attended a workshop about using iPads in the classroom; I will work on that over Christmas vacation so we can get that going in January.   The other session I attended was about inclusion.  That means that kids with all different learning abilities or disabilities come together in one classroom.  Tomorrow Mrs. Gunther, Mrs. Brennan and I are visiting a middle school, and then we have one more session before it’s time to come home.

Meeting Mrs. Debbie Phelps at the Blue Ribbon conference

If you were a teacher, what would you teach other teachers at a conference?

I miss you! See you Friday,

~Mrs. Donofrio

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Hey Kids! Wish you were here!

Hey Kids,
I am at Disney World now and am reading all of your Teddy comments. They are really nice, and I can see your writing progress. I have a balcony off my room that overlooks the Magic Kingdom. At 9:30 we saw a fireworks show in the sky above Cinderella’s castle and listened to music that was synchronized to the fireworks. Wish you were here!

Tomorrow I will present at the conference. I am a little nervous. It’s harder to talk to adults than to kids. Plus, I am little out of my element not being in my own classsroom. However, I am speaking about a topic I really like: writing, a.k.a. blogging!  This is like an oral report for me!

Have you ever done something that was exciting but a little nervewracking?  How did you overcome your nervousness?  Did your event go as planned?



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