Thursday, May 26, 2016

Trimester Assessments

This week students are calling upon all the skills they have learned this year in order to demonstrate their knowledge on the end-of-trimester MAP test. We used this assessment for the first time back in March. I blogged about it. Teachers will be printing out reports to send home with report cards at the end of the year, so you can review with your child their progress since the second trimester.

The reports show Winter and Spring scores so you can see your child's growth. Following are some definitions that will help you read the reports:

  • Student RIT- A student's overall score on the test
  • District RIT- The average score of all 6th graders in our district
  • Norm RIT- The average of all 6th graders across the nation


Famous Person
My famous person is 13 years old. He was born on September 4th, 2002. He and his older brother Hunter (15), are a part of Magcon. They travel around the world to meet their fans. They’re now doing a meet and greet in Europe. My famous person is well known on Instagram, Twitter, Younow,, and Vine. Before fame, he used to take dancing and singing lessons. He and Hunter are starting to do dance again. He, his Mom Christine(38) and brothers like to go to the gym very often. He has a little brother Ashton (10), who is following in his footsteps.

Question of the Week
This week I asked my mom what she likes to do. She said, “I like to cook for my family. I like to watch movies with my family on family Friday.” I asked her what she likes to do on the weekends. She said, “I like going bowling. I like going to church every Sunday with my family.” She also said, “I like going to the Roseville or Marysville flea markets after church.” I asked her what she likes to do during the summer. She said, “I like having BBQ’s with my parents and my in laws and my kids.” She also said, “I like to go to my favorite place to swim, Bridgeport!!!!” That is what my mom likes to do.

Two Truths and a Lie

1. Last year at Golden Hills, my friend told me he was going to throw a party behind the gym. It was at 12:00 when I decided to go. I got dressed and everything, but before I got a chance to go out the door, my dad caught me and I did not get to go. I was in trouble the next day.

2. When I was a little kid I tried to chase birds. I shot one with a be-be gun. Then 4 other birds came and attacked me. I ran in the house and stayed inside for a couple of hours until the pest control we called came. I don’t know why mom called the pest control but they went away, and we were safe.

3. In 2014 my mom, aunt, and I were driving around town when we heard that there's a new Star Wars movie coming out. We were excited. Then we hear them say “it is coming out december 15th.” I was freaking out, but then they said “next year”. I was very mad and didn’t get over it until a few weeks later.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Shady Creek

On May 31st our students will be visiting Shady Creek Outdoor School for a long day of learning in the mountains. Buses will leave at 8:30 a.m. from school, traveling for about an hour and a half on windy roads and arrive around 10. (If you get motion sickness, read this)

After a day of outdoor learning and fun, we will get back on the buses at around 5:00, putting us back at school at 6:30. Please, be here to get your kids on time. We will all be tired and in need of dinner.

What to Wear
Wear light layers and comfortable walking shoes. NO FLIP FLOPS. We will be walking in dirt, up and down hills, and participating in a low ropes course. 

What to Bring

Water! It's important to stay hydrated. Sunscreen and a hat are optional. 

Map to Shady Creek


Each homeroom group will join with a Naturalist for some adventures. Following are three classes that we will surely participate in. 

Survival – A real favorite with kids, this class is designed to help students feel at ease in the wilderness, reduce fears, and promote self-confidence. Instruction is given in the basics of wilderness survival including; preparation, mental outlook, shelter, being rescued, water, fire and food. At the close of the class, students put their new information into action and build survival shelters.

Communities – A series of fun activities and challenges that build cooperation and trust are used to increase each student’s feeling of self-worth, as well as their appreciation and understanding of others. Utilizing Shady Creek’s low ropes course, this class strives to increase students’ sense of community and cooperation, both within the classroom and beyond.

Birds – Students study birds and their adaptations when visiting our injured hawks, falcons, eagles, and owls at The Raptor Center. Birds are used as an ideal focal point to both develop appreciation of wildlife and teach the needs of all wildlife.
Raptor Center

Here's something to think about. You can make an impact in your community.  Be an Eco Kid!

Friday, May 13, 2016

Students Want to Know

I watched a striking TED Talk (shown below)
 from Sir Ken Robinson called "Do Schools Kill Creativity?"

Then I had a conversation with my students about how they have so much information available on the internet that they can use to educate themselves. "What do you want to know about?" I asked. I directed students to where they could watch TED Talks or visit TED Ed videos. 

They watched videos that interested them and wrote persuasive paragraphs so I would choose their selection. 
Below are the winners! Enjoy.

Which one is your favorite? Keep learning from TED. They are "Ideas Worth Spreading"


Famous Person
The famous person that I am thinking of is long gone and past. He was born January 8, 1935 in Tupelo, Mississippi. He moved to Memphis. He got his first guitar when he was eleven years old. He was called a king because of the work he had done in music. He sang a song called Heartbreak Hotel. He sadly died August 16, 1977. Most people  these days do not remember or even care about him but other people (like my grandma) still very much like him and still listen to his songs. He was one of most talked about people in the music industry. He’s kind of a legend.

Question of the Week
I asked my mom what it was like growing up with 8 younger siblings and her being the oldest. My mom replied, “There was always trouble and never a quiet moment. I was like second mom to the younger ones. I cooked, cleaned and did laundry. I always had to babysit and did not have free time like you. We always had to share everything.”

Unlike my mom I am the only child but I still do those things but for my little cousins. Knowing my aunts and uncle it’s not very surprising seeing that they got in trouble. My aunt Pag, Cindy, Yer, and Mailee tell me a lot about when they were growing up and a bunch of stories and occasionally my mom will tell me a few, like how one time she burned her arm. Other than that I feel bad for my mom since she was the oldest. Maybe you should ask your parents how it was for them growing up, too.

2 Truths and a Lie
1.       I have wanted to be a teacher ever since I can remember. When I was little I used to play “School” with my friends. I always got to be the teacher. When I went to college, I studied to be a teacher. Once I graduated, I got a teaching job here at Palermo teaching 6th grade. I taught 6th grade for one year and 7th grade for about 12 years before I became the Vice Principal.

2.       I love to travel. I have been to fourteen countries in Europe (Spain and Italy were my favorites). I have been on four cruises to the Caribbean and one to Alaska. In the United States, I love to visit National Parks and historic monuments. A few of my favorite places are Yosemite and Yellowstone National Parks, the Oregon Coast and New York City. This summer I am going to Glacier National Park in Montana and then driving to Banff National Park in Canada.

3.       I worked as a firefighter for Cal Fire for thirteen seasons. I worked on a fire engine and went to wildland fires, structure fires (fires in buildings), car accidents, and medical calls (if someone was having a heart attack, etc.).  I fought fires all over California and was always ready to respond to emergencies. It was an exciting job! 

-Ms. Farrar

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

The "Real World"

Thank you, @Alice Keeler, for all of your help this year!

Like my students, I have learned a lot this school year. I've been thinking about preparing students for the "Real World". Here are a few big ideas I'd like to share:

-- A quiet classroom is not necessarily a better classroom. Quiet kids are compliant, not necessarily learning.

    • If kids are engaged with their school work, they are not always quiet. They collaborate, give each other feedback, discuss, suggest, assist each other, problem solve. Sometimes it's even noisy. I have learned to let them do that. It's a different sound than disruption. That happens sometimes, too. If kids are disruptive, I need to look at the content of my lessons and try to keep kids interested. Some kids do not make the best use of their time; they haven't learned to be responsible or independent. Those kiddos require reteaching and redirection, sometimes consequences.
      • Today in my classroom, students read to each other from our class novel. They discussed responses to the literature that they typed into Google Classroom. Then they shared persuasive essays with one another and gave each other feedback. Noisy, active, engaged students? Yes. Learning? Yes.

-- Kids like to have choice. Where and how do you learn best? At this age, they are learning about themselves and they most often make good choices when I am clear about my expectations.
    • Some kids like to lie on the floor. Some kids work well outside. Maybe reading independently is best. Maybe in pairs or small groups. While I require independent work sometimes and collaboration sometimes, I am allowing kids more and more to choose what works best for them. They deserve to operate in a "real world" situation, giving them opportunities to exercise free will within reasonable constraints.
      • As we approach the end of their 6th grade year, they have opportunities to choose which assignment they will work on, knowing what the due dates are. Once their work is done, they can visit the classroom blog; they can listen to the Writer's Almanac; they can read from the classroom library of books and magazines; they can redo assignments with improved understanding.

-- I want kids to have the opportunity to be kids. Most of my students are 11 and 12. They forget pencils; I give them new ones. They lose papers; I make extra copies. They fail to meet deadlines; I take late work. They are sometimes rude; I try not to take it personally.
    • There is a lot of pushback against this thinking. "How will we teach them to be responsible?" Some educators think that students need more punishment consequences. My priority is to see what they have learned from my academic teaching. I want them to get their work done. If I give them a pencil, they can do their work. If I take late work, they can still do their work. If I am able to work on my relationship with the kids, they will do their work. (If my assignments are interesting and engaging, they will do their work)
      • Teaching is exhausting and sometimes frustrating. Kids don't always come to school prepared. Some of them don't want to learn; some of them have more pressing things on their minds than school. I want to build in as much support as I can to encourage student success. There are plenty of other ways to teach them responsibility.

-- Paperless classrooms help teachers, students, and the environment. 
    • I am trying to use chromebooks as often as possible in class. Kids can work on a variety of assignments. They can easily keep track of their work. They don't lose individual papers or journals when their work is on a chromebook. Google Classroom allows kids to work on their projects from anywhere there is an internet connection. At home, in class, during the afterschool program, at tutoring, on vacation...Everywhere.
      • Today in class, students are responding to literature by typing short answers to questions.  Highlighting key points doesn't require another implement. They can highlight, bold, and change colors to emphasize and make their ideas stand out. Their "writing" is always legible! They can spell check and word count. Resources like the dictionary and thesaurus are at their fingertips. They will turn in work with a the push of a button. I can comment and return the assignments without taking a stack of papers home. Students who are absent can simply check Google Classroom to see what they've missed. I don't have to recreate work at the copy machine.

I am dedicated to providing a Real World 21st century classroom to these kids. They deserve it!


Famous Person
Can you guess my famous person? My famous person was born in South Central Los Angeles, June 16, 1969. He is a rapper, record producer, actor, and filmmaker. He began his career as a member of the hip-hop group C.I.A. and later joined the gangster rap group N.W.A. He was ranked #8 on MTV's list of the 10 Greatest MCs of All Time. His son played him in Straight Outta Compton. He played in Ride Along one and two, Friday, and a lot of other movies. He was raised by his mother Doris who worked as a hospital clerk, while his father Hosea was a groundskeeper at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Question of the Week
Students, have you realized that teachers are humans too? Yes, it’s true. They go out for dinner, to the movies, shopping, etc.  Most importantly, they have fun away from school (although, I am sure they miss their students)!

I asked the sixth grade teachers what they enjoy doing when they are not at school. You may be surprised at their answers.

Ms. Davis said, “When I'm being intellectual, my favorite thing to do is develop my teaching knowledge through interacting with teachers on Twitter. I love being connected to educators around the world. When I'm focusing on my personal life, I like to have people over to eat! Dinner parties with friends and music, that's my favorite thing to do.”

Mrs. Williams answered, “This time of year we spend our weekends on the lake. We have a boat for swimming and relaxing.” Maybe you will run into her at Lake Oroville some weekend.

Mrs. McCoy’s favorite thing to do is sit on her front porch and watch her kids play in the yard. She has 3 little ones at home. It’s probably easiest to keep track of them if they are all in one place.

Mrs. White replied, “I haven't had a ton of time lately, that's a tough one...I like to be outside somewhere with friends and either play games or have good conversations, I also really like to be able to get my workouts in and spend time at the gym.”

Mrs. Cotter enjoys being outside. She just bought a kayak so you may see her out paddling near Foreman Creek.  She also likes to ride horses, hike and work in the garden.

Mr. McCoy has an exciting favorite hobby. He loves to dirt bike. However, now that he is the father of three small children and must be responsible, he spends time outdoors with his family.

Mrs. Brown is very outdoorsy. She is always out hiking. If you plan to hike Table Mountain ask Mrs. Brown for the best spots because she has been everywhere up there. Besides hiking, Mrs. Brown loves to travel and see the world. Here is what she says about traveling. “It opens my eyes to new experiences and allows me to embrace new cultures. I love meeting new people and their way of life. It also gives me a chance to be adventurous and explore the land from ancient ruins to the tropical sea. I enjoy learning about ancient relics of the past and standing where others did thousands of years ago. It also makes me become more aware of who I am as a person. It allows me to hear amazing stories, try new foods, and gives me a lot of exercise. Some of my favorite places I have traveled include: London and other parts of England, Scotland, Ireland, Paris, Alaska, Oregon, Washington, and Hawaii. I am looking forward to my next adventure this summer! I am going to Florida, Jamaica, Haiti and South Cayman Islands.” When Mrs. Brown is not exploring, she loves to spend time with family and friends, read, catch up on her favorite TV shows and cuddle with her cat.

Who would have guessed that your teachers have such fun hobbies? If you see them out and about, give them a shout!

-Ms. Farrar

2 Truths and a Lie
  1. When I was little I was at my uncle's. He had a pond so I went to step on the bridge, (a wooden plank) and my cousin was behind me. As I was walking I thought it would be funny to block my cousin from getting to the other side, so I turned around and he got mad and pushed me in pond! I cried after I got pushed.
  2. When I went to L.A I thought I saw my favorite my YouTuber, so I freaked out. I almost went up to him. When he turned around I got really upset because it wasn’t him! I wish it was him!
  3. When I was playing softball I was looking at my friend and she was looking at me. Then we laughed. My coach said, “pay attention.” The coach hit a pop fly. I backed up because my friend called it. She went to catch it, she missed it, and it hit her in the lip. I saw everything!