Thursday, September 25, 2014

Thank You

Dear Families,

Today, we got the news that our Donor's Choose project received full funding.  Thank you so much for your excitement, support, and enthusiasm surrounding the project. The students and I are still in disbelief about how quickly the books were funded.  We cannot wait for them to arrive!  

As a thank you to the donors, I posted the following letter on our project page:

Thank you so much for your generous donations.  When I began this project, I would have never guessed how much the community would get involved.  I cannot thank you enough for your time, help, and support.  Your investment in our classroom and our learning means so much to our students and to me.

This year, our classroom has developed a culture of reading.  Our independent reading time is sacred.  Our reading conferences and book talks are revered.  Our reading wish-lists are constantly expanding. Now, with your help, our love of reading will continue to grow.

As I said in the project proposal, I believe that every child is a reader.  Students just need to find the right books to get them hooked on reading.  Your donation will not only provide our students with new books, it will also provide them with new views of themselves, new adventures to partake in, new worlds to explore.

We cannot fully express how much of a difference you have made, but we will try.  Thank you.  You've made our classroom more interesting and more engaging, and you've contributed to our classroom community in ways we have yet to discover.  We are truly lucky to have your support.

Whether or not you were able to donate monetarily, thank you so much for all you do to support our classroom from home.  I feel truly blessed to be able to work with your students each day, and I am so thankful for your help, support, and investment in our learning.

Thank you.  For all you do, and for sharing your student with me.


Our Donor's Choose Project just got funded!!!  We cannot thank the community enough for their support!!

WE ARE SO EXCITED!!!!!!!!!!!

Thank You, Mr. Allen!

After receiving a generous book donation last week from school board member Tom Allen, we wanted to express our appreciation.  Students brainstormed different ways we could say thank you, we put together this video:

Thank you Mr. Allen!  We are so appreciative of our new books!

Speaking of books, we are only $139 dollars away from getting our Donors Choose Project funded.  We are so close!  Thank you so much to everyone who has donated.  Your support and investment in our learning means a lot! 

If you're interested in donating, click here.  If you want to read our previous blog post on this, click here.

The Global Read Aloud

Beginning October 6th, our ELA class will be participating in the Global Read Aloud.   The Global Read Aloud is a project created to connect students around the world using a single book.  In ELA, our class will be reading One For the Murphys by Lynda Mullaly Hunt.  Each week, I will read chapters aloud to the students during class, and then we will use the book as a platform to talk with classrooms in other states and countries.

I've been busy connecting with teachers from around the world. Some of the activities we have planned with the students include:

...and more!

I will be introducing the project in class today, and sending home a family letter and blogging permission slip with the students this evening.  Please sign and return the permission slip by Monday, September 29th.

For an online copy of the family letter and permission slip, click here.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Banner Day!

Gould's Galactopuses: Battling Bad Behavior and Getting Good Grades
On Friday, we had Banner Day.  Banner Day is a school wide-celebration to promote unity and positivity.  Students met with their ARRE Time groups in the morning to choose a team name and slogan and create a team banner.

Our students created the team name "Gould's Galactopuses."  They informed me that a Galactopuses is an octopus that is galactic.  As you can see, we filled our banner with space ships, octopuses, stars, and our photos of course!

After creating the banner, we went to the gym to share banners and participate in team cheers.  Finally, students headed outside for the Banner Day Olympics.

Take a look at some of the games we played below:

Skittle Pass!
Pass the skittles using only spoons into a cup at the end.

Chicken Run.
Put the foam under your arms and see how many you can get in the bucket.

Hula Hoop Pass.
Stand in a circle with arms linked.  See how many times you can pass the hula hoop around.

Leg Lock
Get the foam piece to the basked using only your legs.

Ball Bounce.
Get the ball to the bucket with a bounce.
Ball Pass
Lie in a circle and pass the ball using only your feet

We had a great day!  Thank you to everyone who provided treats! We appreciate it! :)

Monday, September 22, 2014

iPad Open House

Thank you to everyone who came tonight!  Here's the slideshow we went over.

We're excited for the learning to begin! :)

September Book Orders Due Friday, September 26th

September book orders went home today.  Students had some time to look over these in class to circle books they are interested in.  Book orders are due back this Friday, September 26th. If your student will be ordering books, please pay with a check.  Checks can be made out to Scholastic.

Let me know if you have any questions!

Our First Donors Choose Donation

Before school started, I created a Donors Choose project in anticipation of our Classroom Library.  Donors Choose is a website that allows teachers to propose projects and ask for funds from individuals and companies around the nation who are looking to make a difference.

For our proposal, I talked with teacher friends and librarians and browsed children's literature blogs (like Nerdy Book Club and Mrs. Ripp Reads) searching for recommendations of new, high-interest, and high-quality literature for sixth graders.  After all the research, I put together my ultimate wish-list of 50 new young adult books for sixth graders.  And the community answered.

This weekend, we received our first donation to our project, Making a Marvelous Classroom Library.  On Saturday, a McFarland Community Member donated $500 to our project, and now, we just have $285 dollars to go. We cannot thank her enough. The students are so excited!  We can't wait to get our hands on new and captivating books!

With the goal so close, we would appreciate your help. If you or your friends and family are interested in contributing to our classroom, any amount would make a huge difference.  You can contribute to our classroom by clicking here.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

iPad Open House: Monday, Sept. 22nd, 6:00pm, LMC

As a reminder, we have the iPad Open House on Monday, September 22nd at 6:00pm in LMC.

At this open house, we will go over policies and procedures with you and your students, and you will receive the iPad Use Agreement and iPad contract.  If both you and your student are there to sign the agreements, you will get to take the iPad home with you that night!  After both contracts are in, the iPads will travel regularly from home to school. Most of the students' work will be on the iPads.

Please let me know if you are unable to attend, and we can figure out a way to make it work.

Looking forward to seeing you Monday!

iPad Roll Out!

Today, we rolled out the iPads for their first use in class!  We started by going through some iPad policies and procedures, and then we moved on to get Notability and Schoology- two apps we will be using this year- all set up.  

To be on the same page as your student, take a look at the iPad policy and procedure slide show below.


Today in social studies, we were already using the iPads to take notes, research, and generate ideas.  It was great to see the students utilizing the new resource so quickly.  The question of the day was, "Ms. Gould, can we do this on our iPad?"  The answer: yes.  Let's figure out a way to make it work!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Book Recommendation: The False Prince

So this week has seriously been the best week ever for books.  First, we get amazing book donations for our classroom library, and then, this morning, I wake up to an email from Overdrive (an online library resource) that The Runaway King is available for checkout on my kindle. I have been wanting to read The Runaway King since February, and I've been on the library waiting list for months.  It was a great way to wake up!

The Runaway King is the second book in the Ascendance Trilogy by Jennifer Nielsen.  I first was introduced to the series when I was long-term subbing in Middleton.  The teacher for whom I was subbing, Pernille Ripp, had chosen the book as a read aloud for her fifth grade students.  I had the good fortune of having my first day on the day the class was having an author Skype...the fifth graders were Skyping with Jennifer Nielsen!  It was amazing to see, and something I would love to figure out a way to do with our students.  Without spoiling anything, Nielsen told us all about the book and her favorite parts.

I jumped into reading the book aloud to the kids in the middle of the novel, and immediately, I was hooked.  The students were "ooing" and "ahhing" while I was reading....I had never seen anything like it!  I went home and read up to where the class was so I could experience the plot with them.  I was going to read ahead, but they begged me not to.  I'm so glad I didn't.  Finishing an amazing book with a group of students was quite a memorable experience.

Take a look at what goodreads has to say about the book:

"THE FALSE PRINCE is the thrilling first book in a brand-new trilogy filled with danger and deceit and hidden identities that will have readers rushing breathlessly to the end.

In a discontent kingdom, civil war is brewing. To unify the divided people, Conner, a nobleman of the court, devises a cunning plan to find an impersonator of the king's long-lost son and install him as a puppet prince. Four orphans are recruited to compete for the role, including a defiant boy named Sage. Sage knows that Conner's motives are more than questionable, yet his life balances on a sword's point -- he must be chosen to play the prince or he will certainly be killed. But Sage's rivals have their own agendas as well.

As Sage moves from a rundown orphanage to Conner's sumptuous palace, layer upon layer of treachery and deceit unfold, until finally, a truth is revealed that, in the end, may very well prove more dangerous than all of the lies taken together.

An extraordinary adventure filled with danger and action, lies and deadly truths that will have readers clinging to the edge of their seats."

Our school library doesn't have a copy yet, but we made a request, and Mrs. Neal is working on getting it for us.  We are so lucky to be in a school with such amazing staff and resources! :)

Reading Goals

Today we set our reading goals for the year.  There are three types of reading goals students will have this year:
  1. Monthly Goals:  These goals will help students monitor their own growth over the course of the month.  Students will set one goal relating to quantity and two goals relating to reading quality (using reading strategies, having high level partner discussions, etc.).  These goals will not be formally graded.  They will serve as a guideline and basis for check-in during reading conferences over the course of the month.
  2. Quarterly Goals:  Each quarter, students will set a page goal using a page goal form.  Today, students set their page goals based on a number that they felt would be challenging, but not overwhelming. In addition to the personal goal, students have the option of going for the sixth grade challenge goal, which for first quarter, is 1,000 pages. These goals will be graded.  If students reach their personal goal they will earn an A in independent reading, and if students reach the challenge goal they will receive an A+.  During class, I checked in with each student individually to discuss and sign off on goals.
  3. Year-Long Goal:  Today, I introduced the 40-Book Challenge, inspired by Donalyn Miller.  This challenge is entirely optional and purely for fun.  I challenged any students who wished to participate to reach forty books over the course of the year, and as a double-challenge, I challenged them to do it faster than me.  Regardless of whether or not students participate in the challenge, all students will be keeping track of the books they are reading.  My goal with this is to help promote a culture of reading and generate excitement around books and book discussions.
We also brainstormed our Classroom Reading Rights.  I've included some of the ideas the class brainstormed below:

In our classroom, we have the right to
  • read!
  • choose our own books
  • choose where we read
  • choose how much we read (as long as we are reading!)
  • abandon boring books
  • dislike some books
  • give and receive book recommendations
I was so proud of how deeply the students were thinking while we were generating this list.  I'm excited for all of the book recommendations and book discussions to come!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Our First Book Donations!

Today, we received our first book donations!  A member of the school board donated books to the school, and since our classroom was in need, we got to take a look at them!  Five boxes were delivered to our door, and the students spent the first part of ELA sorting through the books, looking for keepers.  We were lucky...almost all the books were keepers!

Students sorting through book piles in table groups

I dumped piles of books at table groups, and students spent time previewing the books with their table-mates deciding what we should keep.  Looking through all the books generated a lot of interest! The excitement in the air was tangible... the students were laughing at how much energy I had going from table to table looking at the books.  There were some gems in there!  I've been keeping an eye out for the Artemis Fowl books, and sure enough, several were found in the boxes!  We also found copies of books in the Percy Jackson series and the Maze Runner series.  Today felt like the best treasure hunt ever!

I am going to stamp and file the books, and then students will be able to check them out from me.  Many were already writing titles down on their book goal is to get the books in their hands as soon as possible!

New additions to our classroom library!
If you have any books laying around at home (even just a few), we would love to take them off your hands!  It was awesome to see the students so excited about new books today...hopefully it's a feeling we'll have again in the future soon! 

Timber-Lee Brochure

The first project you will have in Language Arts is to create a Timber-lee Brochure.  Your job is to choose three aspects of Timber-lee to write about.  You may choose to write about the sessions, the dorms, the campfire, walking around the grounds, or bonding with friends.  You may choose any three topics you want, as long as they relate to Timber-lee.

I want to invite you to be creative in the way you write.  You may write informative paragraphs, poems, narratives, or tell a story from a new point of view (perhaps talk about the art piece from the perspective of a flower you plucked from the ground and then assembled in your art piece).  I will provide examples of brochures from the past to show you.


-You must write about a minimum of three topics that relate to Timber-lee
-For one of the topics, you must write a standard paragraph including a topic sentence
-For the other two topics, you may choose the format with which you write (poem, song lyric, narrative, etc.)
-You may hand write/hand-draw the project or create it on a computer (we will not be able to access computers in class for this project...sorry!)
-You may include pictures, but this is not required

The final project will be due Tuesday, September 23rd.  We will work on the topic pieces one by one.  The first topic piece will be due Thursday, Sept 18th, the second, Friday, Sept 19th and the third Monday, Sept 22nd in order to help keep you on track!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Timber-Lee Slideshow and Photo Link

Thank you to all the parents and family that volunteered at Timber-lee.  We really appreciate your time, energy, and photos!  Here's a slideshow of some of the photos taken by one of our parent volunteers.

To see more photos, click here.  

If you have more photos you'd like me to post, please send them my way! :)

Thank you to Anne Byers for the photos in the slideshow and to John Tran for the photos at the link.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Camp Timber-Lee: On The Way Home

So we're officially on the way home from camp. It's been an amazing, terrific whirlwind, and I cannot believe it's over already!

Here's some highlights from the last 24 hours:

Geology:  Students traveled to the rock pit and studied rocks. We split rocks open, categorized them, and looked for fossils. My favorite part was seeing students so absorbed with what they could see in the rocks. 

Arts and Crafts: I led several more sessions of arts and crafts. I was so impressed with everything the students could do!

Night Sessions:  Last night, students had two more rotations. I supervised movie time (we watched A Bugs' Life) and game time (we played ping pong, carpet ball, fusball, etc.). 

Bonfire:  My favorite part of the night was the bonfire. We want songs, and the students performed the skits they've been working on for the past couple of days. It was great to see all the Sydney's taking risks, getting up in front of an audience, and sharing their ideas!

Morning Sessions: This morning, students braved the cold and traveled to two more rotations. I lead orienteering and arts and crafts, which I've alrwady blogged about, but students went to other sessions like animal encounters (they got to hold live animals like ferrets, chinchillas, and snakes!), leather, leaves, etc. 

Overall Reflections:  I love camp! My favorite part had been all of the bonding that's been taking place. Many students have already told me they've met new people and made new friends. For me, it was really fun to get to work with the other teachers and spend time with the staff, students, and parents outside the regular school day. Mr. Tarnutzer and Mr. Jondle both visited us at camp too!

I feel so lucky to be working with such amazing and supportive students, staff, and parents.  Thank you so much to everyone out there for all of you're help and support. Whether you came to camp or helped your student get ready...we couldn't have done it without you! 

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Camp Timber-Lee: Day Two

This morning, the students have three sessions.  I spent he first two sessions co-leading "Give a Hoot" with Ms. Stokes.   In this session, we read the book The Barn Owls, and then we dissected Owl Pellets. 

As we learned this morning, owl pellets are the bits of animals the owls can't digest (think bones, hair, and feathers) that are regurgitated in a hard brown pellet. I couldn't believe what we found! Take a look:

Gross, awesome, and amazing!!! Next up, Geology! 

Camp Timber-lee: Day One

The night is drawing to a close, and I cannot believe how much we fit in! We had six different activity sessions, skit practices, and large group time. My favorite part of the day has been seeing how much the students are growing and working together.

During the day, groups travel from activity to activity with their ARRE time groups. Teaches and Camp Timber-Lee staff run the activity sessions as the groups rotate through. This evening, I got a break from leading sessions and got to attend all three night sessions with my ARRE time, which was really special. 

Here's some highlights from the day:

Orienteering: Students used compasses to navigate an orienteering course.  They learned to read a compass and take bearings to travel in a specific direction. 

Pond Study: This afternoon, we braved the rain as we studied the pond.  After learning a little about the importance of ponds and their ecosystems, students used pond nets to scrap the top and bottom of the pond. We were amazed by the critters we found! Especially the leeches! You can see a couple leeches with cool patterns in the pictures above. 

Leather Making: After dinner, my ARRE time had the opportunity for leather making. We got to pound in the designs ourselves, and then choose the leather color. It was a great hands-on project!

Farm Animals:  We ended the night with a trip to the barn. After learning about the animals, we got to feed and pet them! Some of the animals we interacted with included goats, llamas, alpacas, a cow, pigs, and chickens. 

As you can see, it was an action-filled day. In the girls dorm, we are just winding down for lights out and some well-deserved rest. 

More updates to come soon!