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Mrs. Dunion's grade 6 page


    We love to read and write.

* If in doubt, please check it out!
    Should you have questions or concerns, and desire to contact me, please feel free to call the school at (781)581-1600,
send a note with your child, or email me at: ddunion@johnsonschool.org
. Thank you. I look forward to chatting.

July 8, 2013:
Hello! I want to thank each and every family for helping to make my day-to-day teaching responsibilities such a positive and fulfilling experience. I can honestly state that I truly appreciate having enjoyed the opportunity to continuously learn and grow along with every student. To say that I truly feel blessed, would be an understatement.
I am 100% confident that all of the members of the Johnson School Class of 2013 will continue to work hard, as each student strives to experience happiness and success in all future endeavors. Best wishes to the best of the best. Please know that I will always be encouraging and cheering you on in my heart. THANK YOU.
June 10, 2013:
Greetings, everyone! It seems hard to believe but we are very close to the end of the current phase of our academic journey together. I am still thoroughly enjoying spending the bulk of my days with your delightful children. While we are busy with a lot of special events and practicing for our Moving On Ceremony, we also are still working away diligently completing some writing projects and trying to keep sharp with our mathematical reasoning skills. Today we enjoyed an all-school assembly about story telling, which tied in nicely with our ongoing writing projects. The students also shared an informative program with our School Nurse teaching about the dangers of concussions and how to hopefully avoid them. We are very fortunate that our Nurse cares so passionately about all of our students that she makes a point of staying current and constantly teaching our children how to remain safe and as healthy as possible. Tomorrow afternoon should also prove to be quite exciting, as we have a distinguished guest speaker scheduled to share an informative presentation about how our brains function and advise us about beneficial study habits. Dr. Pizinski is a highly esteemed expert in her field, so we are very fortunate to be the lucky beneficiaries of her willingness to share her time and expertise. I know that I cannot wait to participate in her valuable learning experience.

Field Day has been changed to this Thursday, so all of the 6th graders will be more than ready and able to assist their team leaders in keeping all of their teammates happy and safe. Our Kindergarten Buddies are matched up on the same teams, so that is always very cute to watch the dynamic as the young and the older students participate in the various events of the day. Students should try to wear shirts associated with the color of their teams, since that way it is easier to keep track of all of the teammates, as well as fostering a welcome sense of team spirit. We are all looking forward to enjoying a great day together. many thanks to all of the volunteers, who help to make Field Day such a positive highlight of the year. It certainly takes a lot of coordination to make it all flow smoothly.

Sincere thanks to all of the families, who have been able to reschedule their commitments, so they can join us as chaperones on our field trip this Friday. We are all looking forward to spending a wonderful time together, creating many special memories to be cherished for many years to come. How exciting! All CORI forms must be completed.

Do take good care.

May 18, 2013:
Hello, everyone! It is amazing how the year is passing! We are so busy with so much going on that the days pass by in a hurry, without any chance to let down or feel the least bit bored! Yesterday we completed our competition to earn the privilege of reciting the Gettysburg Address for Nahant's Memorial Day celebration, and your five students, who accepted the challenge, truly did themselves proud. The speakers worked hard, and their effort and dedication definitely showed. These 5 students represented the Class of 2013 admirably! We thank them each of them from the bottom of our hearts, and thank you for your encouragement and support as they met such a potentially intimidating challenge.
We also met with our Kindergarten Buddies yesterday morning and shared an enriching science lesson, where the older students guided their young friends in conducting research and keeping accurate notes of the interesting facts explored. It was refreshing to notice how far all of the students have come over the course of this school year. The growth was so apparent! All of the children truly seem ready to move forward to meeting next year's objectives and goals. This buddy relationship is very rewarding and a very much a positive experience for everyone involved.
At this point, all students have submitted their thesis papers, and I am in the process of grading them. So far, so good! It is encouraging to note that the papers so far have met all of the standards and seem to prepare the students very well for expectations from the Middle School regarding future thesis writing assignments. By the end of this coming week, students need to submit their comprehension packets and summary booklets to complete their thesis responsibilities. Several students have already submitted their paperwork, so they feel quite relieved!
The next challenge is to craft a hard covered book showcasing each writer's power as an accomplished author. Students have free choice as to the type and style of writing, since this is their reward for completing the demanding style of thesis writing. Now the students can relax and let their creativity flow. There are a lot of essential components to this final writing project, though, so each student needs to stay invested and work, work, work right up to the last day of school. Some of the writing will take place in class, but students will need to also be working at home in order to do themselves proud on this assignment.
Monday we will have a visit from the marine biologists of Northeastern University, so that should prove to be exciting and enriching. Since the fifth grade students will be out of the building that day, we get to enjoy the hands-on learning experiences in our own classroom. I have been in touch with the instructor coordinating the program, and I know that I am eagerly looking forward to sharing in the excitement. It should prove to be a great day!
Students have also begun learning their songs for our Moving On ceremony, so that is quite exciting. We are fortunate to have Mrs. Spencer's expertise and positive energy to help us through the process. What fun!
On this coming Wednesday, May 22nd, we will enjoy sharing the expertise and positive vibes of our guest Queen of Mathematics, when Mrs. Hennessey visits our class to conduct a mental math challenge. Some of the students have demonstrated the initiative and asked me to pursue this venture, so we are all thrilled that Mrs. Hennessey graciously accepted our offer to join us to share her passion for math. It should be wonderful to be able to spend some quality time together celebrating the world of math.
Well, that is all for now, but rest assured that we are working up a storm and committed to learning as much as we possibly can with our time together. Life is good!
April 23, 2013:
Hello! Just a heads up to let you know that your students have been working industriously in class, as we still have so much to accomplish. We are busy crafting quality thesis papers, where the main emphasis is focused upon successfully completing the steps within the writing process as each writer continues to revise and refine one's piece. This important project truly is a work in progress and is quite time intensive. Students need to be working faithfully at home, too, in order to meet the deadlines.
Students are also busy reviewing a variety of math concepts and skills for our upcoming state testing. Students should be faithfully utilizing Study Island challenges as a valuable tool for additional standards-driven review and reinforcement.
Students should also be working to master reciting the Gettysburg Address in order to earn the right to share President Lincoln's famous speech before the Town during Nahant's upcoming Memorial Day celebration.
As you can see, even though spring fever might be in the air, we truly still have a lot of work ahead of us, as we strive to complete the academic year on a positive note.
April 8, 2013:
Greetings, everyone! We have been working industriously each and every day. Your students are striving diligently to craft quality introductory paragraphs to their thesis papers. A few students are starting to move on to the the next step of organizing the selected quotes and information to be shared within each of the two body paragraphs. This is a time intensive project, so students need to be sure to make the absolute most of our time, when we conference together. Likewise, students need to exhibit the self-discipline required to work independently, while I am busy conferencing with others. Each Friday, students need to submit their completed logs documenting their efforts on this important project.
We are also working conscientiously upon building and strengthening our growing repertoires of math skills. This week's theme is geometry, so it is a nice change to concentrate upon the visual aspects and have fun with patterns, shapes, and angles. I am eager to share the projects, due Friday, highlighting geometric concepts and images all around us in the real world. How exciting! It will provide a great service, too, as a handy review for the whole school when we exhibit the completed posters in the hallways for everyone to peruse, ponder, and enjoy.

March 26, 2013:
Ms. Purdin just dropped by our classroom and asked me to remind families that all 'Graduation Messages' to included in the Yearbooks need to be submitted tomorrow. The form was the last page of the newsletter sent home last week. If that form is not available, any paper will do just fine. The option is also available to email your message directly to Ms. Purdin via email at bpurdin@johnsonschool.org.

I also wanted to share that I received an email today explaining that there was an error in the delivery of the Newspapers-In-Education (N.I.E. News) publications by the Daily Item. Unfortunately, the message stated that the papers would not be delivered until next Tuesday, so that means that many of the students will need to wait to see their pieces in print. This edition, we did have 15 articles published, so the Johnson School was well represented. It is such a thrill to see one's work actually published to a wide audience, that I truly wish every single writer could savor the sweet satisfaction, which accompanies being published authors. It is always interesting for the students to realize that the editor of the newspaper has total control over which pieces actually get published, so I am just as surprised as the students regarding which articles get printed. In class, I made a concerted effort to reinforce the belief that every single writer crafted quality pieces and each student should feel proud of one's efforts. It is strictly an issue of limited spacing within the N.I.E. News edition. Hopefully, each student enjoyed a positive learning experience participating in the process.

March 25, 2013:
Hello! Hope all is well. I trust that all of the families received my feedback letters from both days of official state testing. Yes, it is a relief to know that our ELA MCAS assessment is now history. As I relayed in my notes, I was impressed with the serious attitudes and approaches of all of the students, who genuinely appeared to exert their best efforts and demonstrated an earnest desire to shine. How refreshing and promising!
We have now moved on to undertaking the challenge of learning how to craft quality thesis papers, as preparation for Middle School expectations and requirements. This is a major component of successfully completing our 6th Grade curriculum, but please rest assured that all of the supports to ensure a positive learning experience are scaffolded into the process. Every student should truly be able to experience success throughout all of the steps of this important project. Right now, we are just beginning to read and analyze the book, upon which the thesis papers will be based. We will take our time and deliberately dissect the key points of the powerful story, so every student should have a firm foundation upon which to draw when writing the thesis paper. This project is part of a rites of passage, culminating all of the hard work and progress the students have accomplished thus far in their academic journeys. It should be very interesting to guide and watch each writer as the project evolves. I am looking forward to seeing how your students approach this challenge and allow themselves to grow as much as possible in the process. How exciting!

Of course, we must definitely keep in mind that our Mathematics MCAS testing will be rapidly approaching, too. May 7th will be here before we know it, so we are making a concentrated effort to master as many of the key concepts and standards as possible. Oh my! There is so much to learn! There truly is no time to be restless or bored, though, so everything seems to be on the up and up! On that note, please encourage your students to utilize Study Island as much as possible to provide valuable review and reinforcement. Even the games available help to practice important skills.

March 11, 2013:
Hello! All seems to be well. Hopefully there were no surprises with report card results, as the grades are truly intended to provide a snapshot of each student as a learner. Let's hope that every student chooses to complete one's time at the Johnson School with power and pride, ending the school year on a positive note. Each student truly has great potential and possibilities to grow as much as possible.

Tomorrow is the big day for our girls, who will be attending the W.I.S.E. Conference, at Salem State University. What an exciting and promising opportunity for our students to be exposed to workshops led by successful women in powerful positions. The acronym stands for Women in Science and Engineering, and the program's goal is to encourage and affirm the many possibilities for Middle School age girls, to choose to follow rigorous academic courses, in order to pursue rewarding careers in the maths and sciences. It should be an informative and inspiring experience for one and all. Meanwhile, the boys will be working with Mrs. Tibbo and Grade 5 for the day, so they are sure to enjoy their time and learn a lot, too! Life is good!

Students already have their ELA assignment, which is due Wednesday, as well as new Study Island challenges in both ELA and Math, due this Friday, March 15th, so there is no excuse to be bored!

March 1, 2013:
We had a wonderful day today celebrating Reading! We began the day with our Guest Reader, Mr. Murphy, the new Principal of Swampscott Middle School. I think everyone was impressed by his warm personality and obvious passion for kids and for learning. After sharing his joy of reading, he took his time giving the students an overview of goals and expectations for next year. The students were a captive audience, and asked a lot of pertinent questions. There seem to be many valuable opportunities for growth, both in the classrooms and via extra-curricular activity offerings. Overall, Mr. Murphy truly seemed pleased to be here, and he said that he was impressed by our students' interest and attention, complimenting them on their behavior. It was a positive experience for all. The possibilities are very exciting!

We also had fun reading with our Kindergarten Buddies at the end of the day. Since we had perfect attendance (first day since we cannot remember when!) we were sure to take class photos for the Yearbook.

We also were able to send Clarisse off on a positive note. We were so busy, that no one really had any extra down-time to become overly sentimental or too emotional. Sincere thanks to the Rosa Family for sending in a fabulous personalized photo album, capturing so many happy memories documenting very special friendships. All of the students seemed touched, and everyone had the opportunity to autograph the back of the book, sharing updated contact information. Our warm thanks also are extended to Molly's family for sending in a brand new copy of the Dr. Seuss classic: Oh the Places You Will Go, as a perfect parting gift from our whole class. Everyone wrote sweet inscriptions inside on the cover pages, so Clarisse seemed genuinely touched, as she moves forward in writing the next chapter of her life story. What precious keepsakes! The students are sure to keep in touch, too, so all is well.

February 28, 2013:
Tomorrow is Read Across America Day, so we are sure to enjoy our time together celebrating the magic of Dr. Seuss. What perfect timing right after presenting our Seussical Junior play! Mr. Murphy, the Principal of the Swampscott Middle School, is going to be our Guest Reader, so that should prove to be quite interesting and exciting! We are grateful that he could juggle his busy schedule to visit us and share his love of reading. Also, we will be reading Dr. Seuss favorites with our Kindergarten Buddies in the afternoon, so our day should be full of fun and learning! If any students bring in Dr. Suess books from home for us to use throughout the school day, it is a rather painless way to earn extra credit! Please just make sure that all books have students' names inside, so we can be sure to return all of the treasures to their rightful owners at the end of the day. Many thanks!

February 26, 2013:
Welcome, everyone! I trust that all is well. I am still enjoying the privilege of sharing my days with your wonderfully creative students. It truly is a pleasure to be able to guide and observe as your children continue to blossom before our very eyes! We honestly work, work, work every day. There is so much to learn and accomplish.
Thank you for all of your assistance and support in helping our young Thespians to successfully shine under the spotlight during the 6th Grade Play: Seussical, Junior. All of the students worked hard and should feel proud of a job well done. What a superlative experience! Hopefully, all of the students learned a lot and created special memories to treasure forever.
The school level  of the Scripps National Spelling Bee program is scheduled for tomorrow morning at 8:30, in our cafe. All of the students in grades 4, 5, and 6 participated in the preliminary rounds within the individual classrooms. The winners will now compete for the honor of representing the Johnson School at the upcoming Regional Spelling Bee, sponsored by the Daily Item. All of tomorrow's participants are already winners. Bravo! We are very proud of each and every one, and we wish all our very best.
I am thoroughly enjoying sharing the students' poetry projects. It appears that the students seriously explored a plethora of poems, and they justified their interpretations quite strongly. How refreshing!
Students have new ELA and MATH challenges on Study Island due February 28th. Thank you for encouraging your scholars to successfully complete the lessons, in order to take full advantage of the valuable opportunities for review and reinforcement of important skills.
Take good care.
February 1, 2013:
Happy February, everyone! Can you believe that it is already time to change the calendar again? Oh, my! How the year is progressing!
As you can imagine, there is an electricity permeating throughout the class, regarding our upcoming musical. How exciting! It is truly refreshing to watch the growth in confidence and competence as we prepare for our big night. All of the students seem to be working hard and trying to help make our play a roaring success. Many thanks to all of the families for their continued support and assistance regarding the clever costumes, scenery, and props. We truly could not do this without your kind and generous help.
One that note, I am humbly requesting additional help, in the 9 volt battery department! We were able to invest in a small microphone system  this year, and the lines and songs do seem much louder and clearer, as a result. However, the mics seem to eat batteries! It is essential for the students to become familiar with using the microphones and sharing them among characters, so we do need to utilize the microphone system for all of our practices. If families have any extra 9 volt batteries readily available and are willing to loan or donate them for the coming week, we would all be very grateful. Thank you.
On that note, happy week end, everybody. Rest up because next week is sure to be a whirlwind of activity and nerves!

Also, please note that all articles, hoping to be submitted to the Daily Item for their Newspapers In Education Week edition, need to be totally set by Thursday, February 7th. Ah, there is never a dull moment, but this is a very worthwhile endeavor to afford our young authors the opportunity to possibly savor the sweet satisfaction, which accompanies having one's work formally published.

January 15, 2013:
Hello, everyone! How exciting that our clever screenplays teaching us all some valuable lessons will be shared tomorrow. The authors / directors seem quite proud of their efforts, so we should have a great day celebrating each other's amazing efforts. Hopefully the morals of the stories will connect with our lives, so we should all learn a lot more than basic script-writing, in the process. What fun, even though it is demands a  lot of conscientious work.

January 11, 2013:
Hello, everyone! Your students seem to have embraced the New Year, and they have been working industriously all week. Students should certainly still be reading for meaning every day, and then working on their Book Reviews or still leaving tracks of their thinking in their RRJ's. The latest buzz is that the students should be busy crafting clever screenplays for either skits or puppet shows for the rest of our class to view and enjoy. The topic of the scripts must teach all of us a memorable lesson regarding some value, which the students believe is timely and important. The screenplays are due on Wednesday, January 16th, and we cannot wait! It is refreshing to see and hear the excitement of the students involved in the writing process. What fun, and the students are learning a lot about a particular genre of writing, as well as encouraging cooperation and bonding within our whole class. As they say, "It is all good!"
The students have also been working very hard preparing our school play Seussical, Junior. We sincerely appreciate all of the support and assistance by our wonderful families in preparing sets and props. What a terrific team effort to help create a positive experience for each and every student. Many thanks.

December 21, 2012:
Greetings, everyone! This seems to be the perfect opportunity to wish every family the happiest of holiday seasons and to let you know that I truly feel blessed to have all of you in my life. Please soak up every warm moment with family and friends, and savor each sweet memory, since Goodness knows, your children are growing up right in front of our eyes! How exciting! Thank you very much for your ongoing support and assistance, as we continue to work together to encourage each person to achieve as much as possible...including ourselves! Do take care. Enjoy!

December 7, 2012:
Hello! It is mind-boggling to realize that our school year is already well into the month of December. I have been thoroughly enjoying the opportunity to be able to touch base with all of the families to discuss the performance and progress of all of your wonderful children. Thank you for making the time to attend our report card conferences, as it is very helpful to share your valuable input regarding the status of each of our students. I am very grateful that all of the families seem to be invested and realize that the school and the families truly are a team, working together for the best interest of all of our children.
You can rest assured that most of the students seem to be working diligently to continue to expand their developing repertoires of skills and strategies to allow them to achieve success. We truly are very busy, busy, busy! This is just the way it is for our 6th grade experience! While we never seem to be able to simply unwind and catch our breaths, the flip side is that we certainly never have the opportunity to feel bored, either! So, life is good! Take care.

November 9, 2012:
Sincere thanks to all of our wonderful families, who worked together to provide an extraordinary program to thank and honor all of our dear veterans. All of your generosity, time, and effort are truly appreciated, and you are powerful role models for your children, too. The entire town appreciates and thanks you.

October 27, 2012:
Greetings! I wanted to touch base, since we have so many challenges ahead. We have new Study Island assignments in both ELA and Math, which are due by November 2nd. Once students earn the Blue Ribbons in each focus area, they should then continue to practice their skills by playing their favorite games, provided by the site. If any students should need to catch up on past assignments, it is never too late! They should please put in the necessary time and energy to fulfill their responsibilities in this area.
In addition to mastery of our group recitation pieces, students received their individual speaking roles for our upcoming Veteran's Day programs, so they need to be practicing how to present their speeches with expression and power.
Students also received part of the script and songs for our 6th grade play auditions, which will take place on Halloween afternoon, during class time. Beginning the week after our Veteran's Day program, practices will be held on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday afternoons until 3:00, until closer to the performance, which is slated for February 9, 2013. While every student will have a speaking role in the performance, those students interested in the major cast roles should be willing and able to meet a significant time commitment, which will truly pay dividends much greater than might even seem possible, at this point in time. Trust me, though, when I say that all of the time and energy expended will be well worth it! As someone famous once stated, "These are the stuff that dreams are made of!"
Also, we are changing our typical routines this week, so we can focus upon developing our creative writing skills. In lieu of our usual spelling and vocabulary responsibilities for the week, students will be crafting clever stories to be shared in class during our Story Fest, beginning on Halloween. It was refreshing to sense the genuine excitement and positive energy regarding this writing challenge. Each student needs to submit a pre-write activity, rough draft(s), as well a a polished final copy. Students should also practice sharing the tales in front of a mirror, in order to feel fully prepared to share the stories in class, and receive the positive feedback from their classmates. How exciting! There truly is never a dull moment in the life of a sixth grade student at the Johnson School.
As a matter of fact, we also worked with our Kindergarten Buddies yesterday, and a wondrously successful time was enjoyed by all! Life certainly is good!
October 23, 2012:
Ah! The end of another productive day! Your students have been working diligently composing touching poems honoring our dedicated veterans. We worked in the computer lab today, and many of the pieces are really beginning to come together and gel. It is truly a pleasure to be able to guide and observe as each writer strives to share one's deep thoughts and emotions effectively for others to enjoy. Our goal is to enable each author's voice as a writer to sparkle throughout each piece. So far, the poems seem quite promising.
Students also need to be working to master all of our group pieces, which will be recited at our programs. While I realize this involves a lot of work, the end result should truly be worth all of the time and effort. We want every student to be able to savor that well-earned satisfaction, which accompanies knowing one has accomplished a significant achievement. How exciting!
Of course, we are also tackling exciting concepts in math, where we are exploring and developing a working knowledge of manipulating decimals. While some students seemed to feel that this was somewhat daunting at first, I believe we are making real headway in the confidence and competence departments. How nice! It truly is a process to build the connections between fractions, percentages, and decimals, but we are well on our way!

October 18, 2012:
Hello! Hopefully all is well with all of our students. True to form, our days are jam-packed with activities, where we are all very industrious and actively engaged in learning. In addition to our typical routines, we are quite involved in preparing for our upcoming program to honor all of Nahant's noble veterans. I am pleased by the level of cooperation and eagerness to participate in our presentations for the school and for our invited guests. The invitations were quite well done, and Mrs. Mulcahy actually had a difficult time selecting the official invitation, which will get mailed to each of our veterans. Your students are now in the process of properly addressing and stuffing the envelopes, after adding a splash of color to each of the invitations. Hopefully we will get them into the mail tomorrow. The program for our guests will be held on Friday, November 9th from12:30 until 2:00, and I know that many of our parents have been very active coordinating the many details involved in presenting a celebration of such magnitude. Please be assured that all of your efforts are deeply appreciated, since this experience should prove to be very valuable for everyone involved. As the saying goes, "It takes a village to educate a child." How true! Many thanks for all of your support and assistance.
Our students are also in the process of composing poignant poems to create special keepsake booklets for all of our guests. This process involves intensive individual conferencing, so each writer can fine-tune one's skills to compose the strongest pieces possible. It is important that every author experiences and savors the satisfaction and sense of accomplishment, which accompany knowing one has done one's very best. How exciting!


Speaking of excitement, Mrs. Spencer

October 10, 2012:
Greetings, everyone! It has been much longer than I wish since we have been able to touch base regarding all of the day-to-day happenings in the lives of our amazing 6th grade students. You can rest assured, however, that just about every single one of us is honestly working diligently and striving to achieve success each day. We are just beginning to prepare for our annual Veteran's Day program, honoring all of Nahant's noble Veterans, so life is sure to become even more interesting and hectic in the upcoming weeks! There certainly is no time to be restless or bored, that is for sure! Nor is there rest for the weary, so onward we go! We do the best that we can.
Do take care, and keep encouraging your wonderful children to keep pushing themselves toward excellence in all that they do. It really is important. Thank you for your ongoing support.

Please remind your children to be sure to take full advantage of the many possibilities offered by Study Island. Using the standards-based review and reinforcement truly can reap positive benefits regarding mastery. Once the Blue Ribbons have been earned in the various skill categories, students should still practice their skills via their favorite game options provided by the site. Thank you.

September 27, 2012:
Today seemed to be another pleasant and productive day. It is amazing how quickly each period seems to pass, since we have so much to accomplish on our daily agenda. 6th grade certainly is a busy time! We typically do not time to get bogged down or bored, since there always seems to be something new and important to tackle! On that note, please remind your students that the option for earning Extra Credit is always available, where learners can pursue topics of interest and boost their grades in the process. If your children do not know how to proceed, please gently remind them to seek me out, so we can chat and draw up an individual plan of attack. It truly is important to demonstrate initiative and ownership of the learning process. Plus, it really can be quite fun in the process! I have already received several interesting pieces from members of our Grades 5 and 6 Team, so some students are taking full advantage of the opportunity to grow as much as possible this year. Let's try to encourage every single student to 'buy into the program' and experiment with new ideas as each learner nurtures one's essential sense of wonder and desire to become all that one can be. How exciting!

Note: I want to commend those students, who have demonstrated the extra determination and effort to attend our Extra Help sessions on Monday afternoons for Math support and Wednesday mornings at 7:30 a.m. for ELA review and reinforcement. Next week, however, since I have Outside Duty before school, we will not be able to meet on Wednesday morning. This situation will present itself approximately every 6 weeks. I will try to keep the students posted.

September 26, 2012:
Hello! I was pleased to note that many of our students seemed to take last evening's assignment seriously, and appeared to try to apply those tried and true test-taking strategies from last year's efforts. We took the time in class to very specifically review the results of the students' active reading strategies and to refresh mastery of procedures to follow for successfully tackling multiple choice test items. We used individual white boards, so I could receive instant feedback of the status of each learner. (Also, using the white boards for class review makes the lesson seem more pleasant, and not as tedious as it might be.) We quickly shared some of the attributes determining a quality performance on the Open Response question, too, and several students shared their ideas for the rest of the class. It seems like many of the readers / writers are under control and eager to continue to develop their skills comprehending and then effectively communicating their knowledge. How promising!

Students also tried to complete creating their bookmark gifts for their Kindergarten Buddies, since we will begin working together on this Friday afternoon. I needed time to laminate the bookmarks, so these trinkets will be able to withstand the test of time and become the first of many little keepsakes for our young friends. There is a welcome sense of electricity in the air regarding our going down to begin our Buddy relationships. How exciting! In speaking with Ms. Purdin, the little ones are just as eager to meet their mentors, also! Let the magic begin! I am always amazed how fostering this Kindergarten - Grade 6 Buddy relationship truly seems to bring out the BEST in everyone involved. We truly appreciate all of the flexibility and support from the Kindergarten Team to make this program such a positive and rewarding experience.

Thank you for reminding your children to attack our weekly Study Island challenges. Tomorrow is our vocabulary quiz, with spelling on Friday. Friday also is the due date for the social studies Geographical Terms Flip Book projects. I have had a sneak peek of a couple of the booklets, and the students truly seem to be working diligently with a well-earned sense of pride. How nice!

September 25, 2012:
Ah, joy! Today we re-introduced our weekly reading comprehension and writing challenges, provided by the State Board of Education to review and reinforce essential skills. While the students tend to moan and groan about these assignments, these lessons actually provide valuable tools for further developing strong study skills and reading prowess. We will typically tackle these practice lessons each week for Tuesday evening's homework. We always review the work in class, and I make a point to model and encourage applying effective strategies. More important than any specific information gleaned from these assignments is the process of HOW to successfully approach a testing situation with confidence and competence. The goal is to empower each and every student to continue to grow as much as possible, as each student strives for excellence. While each assignment is noted for apparent amount of effort exerted, random lessons are actually graded for reading comprehension and the degree of ability to effectively answer Open Response questions. These grades count and are factored into report card grades.Since students do not know which lessons will, in fact, be graded, they must do their very BEST on every assignment. It can be quite refreshing to observe how much progress each student can actually achieve over the course of the year. All of the diligent work and honest effort truly are worth it!

Please note that there is a new Study Island assignment posted for ELA and Math. Thank you for encouraging your children to make the time and exert the necessary effort to successfully complete each weekly challenge.

September 24, 2012:
Happy Monday, everyone! We certainly worked industriously today, and everyone seemed engaged in further developing their skills.
On area of concern seems to be that the students need to take full advantage of the opportunities to review and reinforce their skills, using the standards-based lessons provided by our Study Island web site subscription. After printing out the results of our first challenge, I was disappointed overall. The Study Island component of our curriculum is an integral piece, and performance on the weekly challenges is factored into the report card grades. I ask that every student work at least 30+ minutes per subject each week, with the goal of earning Blue Ribbons in each area of study. Once the Blue Ribbons have been earned, students may then continue to practice their skills by playing their favorite games, which are provided by the site to make the drill seem more engaging and fun. I truly hope that this week's results will demonstrate an honest commitment on the part of each student to strive for excellence and personal growth. Thank you for encouraging your children to take the Study Island assignments seriously and try to do as well as possible. Hopefully, the students just need to fall into the swing of things!

September 20, 2012:
Hello! I thoroughly enjoyed reconnecting with families last evening at our Open House. For those folks, who could not attend, I did send home my handout information with your children today. I cannot emphasize enough that I firmly believe that the home and school must work closely together in order to empower each student to grow as much as possible over the course of the school year. I feel hopeful and confident that we all will enjoy a positive and successful 6th grade learning experience. I am eager to nurture and nudge each child along on the quest to becoming all one can be. How promising!

Remember that tomorrow is a half day for students. Of course, that means that we will have a whirlwind of a time accomplishing everything on our agenda: math, vocabulary quiz, spelling test, and finish setting up a social studies project. Phew! I hope every student arrives ready and willing to work up a storm! Time will tell.

September 18, 2012:
Another busy, yet productive day! I just wanted to be sure to extend a warm invitation to our Open House tomorrow evening. I am eagerly looking forward to touching base with all of our wonderful families.
September 17, 2012:
Well, we seem to quite smoothly settle back into our usual daily routines, after our brief but welcome hiatus. It was interesting to share what the students believe they learned over the past week, which proved to be quite impressive.
Since today is Constitution Day, as the leaders of the school, we did our best to teach the rest of the students a bit about the importance of our laws regulating our government. First thing this morning, the 5th and 6th grade students circulated to all of the homerooms to actually recite the words of the Preamble to the Constitution, along with those students making the morning announcements over the PA. Then, at all of the lunch periods, after reading selections of choice from a helpful reference book entitled We the People, our 6th grade students shared their version of the Bill of Rights Rap, along with a basic explanation of the precious rights these Amendments guarantee and protect for all of us. Students also performed the Nifty Fifty, to showcase how they have memorized all of the names of our 50 states, which make up our great country (in alphabetical order, no less!) The song format actually makes this amazing feat seem quite painless, too! How nice! Using catchy music with clever lyrics is actually an important study skill option, which students can effectively utilize to assist in memorizing challenging information across all disciplines. It is intriguing how firmly the information can get cemented into our memory banks, when we incorporate music and try to make the process seem enjoyable.
Just a reminder that students do have weekly Study Island assignments, to help to provide valuable review and reinforcement of important concepts, aligned with state standards. The ELA challenge (which was assigned back on September 5th) is due tomorrow, and the first Math assignment is due this Wednesday. We are still 'ironing out some of the kinks' from the recently updated system, where some students reported that they could not access some of the lessons until today, so students are wholeheartedly encouraged not to stress at all, but to simply do the best they can, as we get underway with this year's rigorous course of study. A word of caution: All answers count. Every response is factored into a running record of each student's ongoing progress, which is maintained and constantly updated by the site. Once a given answer choice is entered, there is no way to undo or delete it, so it is truly in everyone's best interest to carefully consider every option before selecting one's response. Each week, individual and class results actually get emailed to the Principal and Supteintendent, so every student is urged to do one's very best on each challenge. Thank you for encouraging your children to take full advantage of the many possibilities provided by the school's subscription to the Study Island website. Many schools across the country successfully utilize this program as a powerful tool to assist all students in striving for excellence. We are fortunate to have access to such a valuable resource.
September 16, 2012:
Greetings! I trust that everyone is resting a bit more easily now that we are all tucked in at home again, safely and soundly, from our incredible learning experiences at the Ferry Beach Ecology School. I know that I have been catching up on the zzz's and sleeping like a baby once more, realizing that I no longer need to assume the heavy responsibility, which naturally goes hand-in-hand with caring 24 / 7 for the safety and happiness of each child's well being. That being said, I do want to assure everyone that I truly enjoyed myself and the myriad opportunities with all of your terrific children, as well as my professional colleagues. Hopefully, all of the children have plenty of feel-good stories and positive memories to share from their experiences throughout this past week. Just as someone famous once said, "Such are the stuff that dreams are made of!"
Well, it will be back to reality in the morning! I am confident that the team-building and bonding, which was evident while we were away, will carry over in a positive way to flavor the rest of our academic journey together. How promising!
September 14th, at 10:05:
We will be able to chat in person in just a few hours. We are all eager to be home. It has been an enriching experience, but it is time. See you soon. XOX
September 13th, at 8:20 pm:
Greetings! Just touching base to reaffirm that all of your loved ones are doing just fine. The afternoon lesson in the Tide Pools seemed quite intriguing, especially investigating the clay. I have several photographs to prove it! Dinner this evening went off without a hitch, where we all enjoyed salad, pulled barbequed pork, mashed potatoes, veggie medley, fresh bread, fresh fruit, and banana cake. After dinner, the students needed to begin to pack up their rooms, since we must vacate the dorm building before breakfast in the morning. Some of us are planning to get up early to go over to the beach to watch the sunrise, up close and personal, so that means that we really need to get our acts together tonight. Let's hope it all works out! Time will tell. All of your children will love to snuggle up in your welcome arms again tomorrow. While it is always fun to get away, somehow it is always fun to get back to home sweet home, too. We look forward to seeing you all tomorrow around 2:15 pm. Take care and rest easy.
September 13th, at 2:25 pm:
Your terrific children are all doing a great job and making the most of our time at little home away from home at our school away from school! Students from another Middle School arrived this morning, so the campus is much more lively now. The new students are settling in at a totally different dorm building, so our children still have the same living arrangements, of which we have become familiar and so fond. As a matter of fact, there were well over 100 students at the cafe for lunch today, but the staff here seems well prepared to accommodate the larger numbers. We all enjoyed a delicious lunch of homemade cheese pizza, salad, chips, fresh fruit, and lemonade. Each table received tokens to pick up 3 good sized pizzas, so everyone certainly had the opportunity to enjoy a hearty and nutritious lunch. It seems to have been a favorite, and rightfully so, I might add.
After some volleyball and free choice activities, the students were all prepped to safely and soundly go off to explore the Salt Marsh for their afternoon lessons. They are sure to come back with plenty of interesting tales to share. How cool is that?

September 13th, at 10:10 am:
Greetings! We are all doing just fine in the wondrous state of Maine! We truly could not have ordered better weather, since it has been consistently sunny, dry, warm - without being hot, and cool - without being cold, for sleeping. Everyone seemed to sleep quite well through the night. While we did need to redirect a bit of almost-over-the-top-homesickness longings before bedtime last evening in one group in the girls' dorm, we were able to rather quickly defuse the situation by taking their minds off of it (via attempting to whip me in a game), and then all was well again. This morning, everyone seems well rested and eager to fully partake in the offerings of the day! Breakfast was a hit, with French toast (made from homemade organic bread, of course), sausages, cereals and granola, fresh fruit, and apple juice, so everyone seems content. The students are now out in the Forest biome, investigating some new concepts with their naturalist educators. Everyone was well covered and protected as much as possible from any potential mosquitoes before they embarked on this morning's adventure. Just as many of the students' tee shirts exclaim: Life certainly is good!
September 12th, at 7:40 pm:
All is well in the great state of Maine! All of the students seemed excited about their discoveries during their Tide Pool adventure this afternoon. Upon their return, we all enjoyed sharing our free choice time, and then it was off to dinner. Everyone seemed to enjoy tonight's menu, which included salad, chicken terriaki, rice, broccoli, lemonade, and fudge brownies. Students are now all bundled up and out on their Night Watch lesson. They will return to the dorm around 8:30 pm for the rest of the night. Hopefully, everyone has had so much fresh air and excitement that people will fall asleep quite readily. We expect everything will be on the up and up! It has been a pleasure to watch some neat bonding and a new-found respect beginning to take root from participating in all of the team-building activities and seeing one another in a new light. A lot of positives seem to be happening. While the children do miss their families and homes, they really are immersed in life at Ferry Beach, which is exactly what we would hope for! You have done a great job building that all-important self-confidence to be willing to try new things and being open-minded to be able to take full advantage of new opportunities being presented. So, thank you and good night!
September 12th, at 2:10 pm:
Just letting you know that all of your darlings are doing great! Lunch was terrific, with plenty of salad, warm turkey and cheese sandwiches on homemade bread, fresh fruit, and lemonade. As is the case for all of our meals, all vegetarian students had thier own option, too. All of the students are now off on a mini-field trip by bus to some tidal pools off campus. These tidal pools are supposed to be amazing as far as the variety of life forms present. We made sure that all of the students wore long sleeves, long pants, closed toe footwear, sunscreen, hats, and perhaps bug repellent for their protection during this afternoon's study group experience. All is well.
September 12th, at 9:55 am:
Good news! Everyone made it successfully through the night for our first evening away from home. The sunrise was absolutely breathtaking this morning, and it has already warmed up to be very pleasant. Breakfast was very filling and quite tasty, with scrambled eggs, a choice of 4 cereals and granola, pan fries, yummy homemade banana bread, fresh fruit options, and apple juice. Needless to say, no one went hungry! Again, there were no complaints voiced, either. After enjoying some free choice time, the students are currently working with their study groups over at the beach right in front of our dorm, doing some investigating with their ecology educators. Everyone seems to be taking full advantage of the amazing opportunities available at Ferry Beach. How refreshing!
ps. I forgot to mention that with last evening's meal, we also enjoyed warm homemade multigrain bread. Delish!
September 11th, at 7:45 pm:
Just checking in again to reassure everyone that all of your darlings are doing just fine! The afternoon lessons were very successful, and then all of the students seemed to use their free choice time in a positive way. We are all having fun, fun, fun! The weather could not be nicer! Right now, it is dark outside and all of the students wore sweatshirts or jackets to their last class of the day, which is related to marine biology. They are sure to tell us all about it! Dinner went very well, with pasta, veggies, sauce (made mostly from their own organic garden), and a yummy cookie. At 8:30, the students will end their day with juice and a final team meeting, before the Ferry Beach instructors return the children to us in the dorms, where we will be in charge until breakfast at 8:00 tomorrow morning. Yes, everything is well at Ferry Beach.
September 11, 2012:
Hello! How nice that there is a computer available for the staff at Ferry Beach! I just wanted every family to know that we all arrived safely and soundly. The bus accommodations were comfortable and the ride up was uneventful. Upon arrival, the students found that our dorm rooms are really quite lovely! The building was recently renovated, and the facilities are more than comfortable.For lunch, we enjoyed chicken fajitas, salad, and fruit, and everyone seems to be a happy camper. There have been no complaints at all! There was plenty of food to go around, and students always have the option of returning to the cafe for fresh fruit if desired throughout the day. After a quick break of free time, the students have gone out with their naturalist educators to work in their study groups, investigating Ecology ABC's. I will do my best to keep you updated, but please rest assured that all is well. Your terrific children are experiencing a fabulous time. We are all doing well. Life truly is good!

September 10, 2012:
Gee, today seemed to pass by even more quickly than usual! We were able to tie up some loose ends, and then the students wrote 'pick-me-up' greeting cards to other members of our 5-6 Team, as well as to themselves. Each student also received a
mini-journal and mechanical pencil to use to record thoughts, feelings, and reactions each day throughout our trip.
We also worked on fine-tuning the moves to our Bill of Rights Rap, since Constitution Day falls upon the Monday, when we return to class at the Johnson School. There is never a dull moment!
Everyone seems genuinely excited and looking forward to a positive learning experience at Ferry Beach. We truly are very fortunate to be able to participate in such a promising program. Students will meet in the cafeteria with all of their gear in the morning, at our usual time. We expect to leave Nahant by 8:30. We will touch base again upon our return. Do take care.
September 9, 2012:
Wow! We only have 2 more Wake-Ups until our fascinating adventure at the Ferry Beach Ecology School begins. We are all very excited about the many possibilites at our new 'school' for the week. Really for the most part, our classroom will be the Great Outdoors, which should prove to be most engaging. We are all sure to learn a lot, and have a wonderful time in the process. We can't wait!
Tomorrow in class, in addition to finishing up some activities, we will be writing cards to our classmates, to be received while we are away. In this way, every student will definitely receive some mail. As a matter of fact, each student will also write a greeting to oneself, to encourage reflection about one's own feelings and reactions. Students will also receive mini note pads, so each learner is expected to take at least 5 minutes each day to jot down ideas, reactions, and feelings. Upon our return to class, each student will share at least one piece with me, and I will give my feedback. This should enable me to better keep my finger on the pulse of each student's state of mind. It is authentic writing, too! How important!
For the record, last Friday, students did receive our next listings for vocabulary and spelling for the week upon our return to reality. Students were encouraged to tuck the words away in a safe place until our return, but the lists should hopefully prove helpful to prepare for the week of September 17th - 21st.
September 6, 2012:
We worked industriously today, and I am happy to report that for the most part, our students seemed cooperative and willing to please. Students began to tackle a standardized Benchmark Assessment in both vocabulary and reading comprehension. Upon completion, analyzing  individual student performance on this inventory should prove to be helpful in fostering continued skill development. We also enjoyed our Reading Workshop and a variety of math activities.  
Students will participate in our first vocabulary and spelling quizzes tomorrow. Hopefully, every student will feel fully prepared to experience success. Let's hope so! Time will tell.
Upon a quick 'sneak peek', I was quite pleased with most of the performance so far in the Readers' Response Journals. How nice! It really is important to read for meaning and leave tracks of one's thinking.
We are all getting very excited about our upcoming trip to the Ferry Beach Ecology School. We only have 5 more 'wake-ups' until our adventure begins! Students should bring reading materials along for quiet times, but the RRJs will be 'on hold', until after we return. We fully anticipate a wonderful time will be had by all! How exciting!
September 5, 2012:
Well, we seem to be falling into the swing of things, and summer vacation already seems like a distant memory! The students appear to be growing accustomed to our daily routines, and we are already quite busy, busy, busy!
In additon to investigating our math concepts and reading for meaning, we were able to set up and begin to organize our ELA binders, completed homework folders, and individual portfolios. We discussed the details of the 6th Grade Reading Challenge, and many of the students seem quite eager to begin. How refreshing!
I look forward to getting back to work with your terrific students in the a.m.! They keep me on my toes! (And I hope to keep them on theirs, too!) There is simply SOooooooo much to learn! 6th grade truly is an exciting place to be. I feel blessed.
September 4, 2012:
Greetings! I am pleased to report that we enjoyed another productive day in class today. I am truly enjoying settling into daily routines with your students. For the most part, the students seem pleasant, cooperative, and eager to participate as valuable members of a positve learning community. An atmosphere of constructive teamwork seems to be developing, which is essential for every student to be empowered to grow as much as possible throughout the course of this school year.
Due to the long weekend, we will take our first vocabulary and spelling tests this Friday. Typically, our vocabulary tests will take place on Thursdays and spelling quizzes will be on Fridays.
Next week, since we will be away at Ferry Beach, our usual academic responsibilities will be placed on hold. Each student should still bring a good book and some type of journal to our 'home away from home' next week, though. Upon our return from Ferry Beach, we will resume our usual schedule.
Students set up their Reading Response Journals today in class, so they should be reading 30+ minutes daily (7 days each week) and leaving tracks of their thinking of at least 3 thoughtful journal entries each day. This year, each reader's goal is to successfully complete 10 consecutive days' responses to prove that each student is truly reading for meaning. Upon achieving this goal, each reader will then begin our 40 Book Challenge to encourage reading up a storm across a variety of genres and having fun doing so this year. Students will receive the particulars regarding requirements about the types of books, as well as the book review letters documenting each reader's accomplishments. Hopefully, students will be invested and really take off on this project. Time will tell, but as always, I am expecting the best.
For the record, I also want to reassure that I am genuinely enjoying the challenge of teaching mathematics to your students. It really is intriguing and energizing to interact with each learner within a different framework of thinking. How exciting! There is a natural connection to emphasize many of the same study skills and test-taking strategies from our ELA curriculum as we explore and investigate concepts within the realm of mathematics. A major goal of mine is to make sure that the students actually come to understand what they are doing and why, instead of merely functioning on rote automatic pilot. For some of the learners, this seems to be a new way of thinking, but I feel confident that we will rmain vigilant and foster curiosity and logical problem solving as we progress through the standards-based math curriculum.
Sincere thanks to all families, who have already submitted the $5 to cover each student subscription to the Time For Kids publication. The sooner I can send in our order, the better.
I will soon have our weekly Study Island challenges in both ELA and Math posted to initiate the valuable review and reinforcement of 6th Grade Common Core standards-based concepts. Students will be working independently to practice their skills, and all results are cumulative and recorded by the web site. A word of caution about resisting impulsive responses: All answers count. Once a response is entered, there is no way to delete that answer choice from the system, so every response is calculated into one's performance rating. The program does offer guided instruction and review to assist students in achieving success along the way.
Well, that should do it for today's update. I trust all is well. Do take care and please keep me posted regarding any questions or concerns. Thank you for your continued support and assistance as we work together to provide the best educational opportunities for every learner. Do take care.
September 3, 2012:
Hello, everyone! During the long weekend, it has been my pleasure to share the first writing pieces of our incredible 6th grade writers. While it has proven to be quite time intensive, I truly enjoy being able to learn more about each student's passions and concerns, as reflected in their autobiographical sketches as either readers, writers, or mathematicians. How exciting that we truly have a cross section of choices for the topics, so I am gathering valuable information about the various interests and skill levels of individual students. It is clearly evident that every author tried to impress me with one's effort, so this is a promising way to begin a new chapter of our academic journey. I am very pleased and hopeful.

August 28, 2012:
Welcome to the beginning of a wonderfully successful sixth grade experience! It was a treat to be able to reconnect with all of our terrific students today. Everyone seemed cooperative and ready to make this the best year possible. How promising and exciting!

July 10, 2012:
Greetings! I trust that everyone is thoroughly enjoying our wondrous summertime vacation. I also hope that everybody is making a point to make time for some quality reading each day. Please be sure to maintain an ongoing log of materials read during our summer break. There is a form on the Johnson School home page to assist in keeping track of one's reading accomplishments. Upon our return to class, it will be interesting and helpful for me to know the choices each student makes regarding summer reading. Many thanks. Take care.