6th Grade Life

Vikan Middle School

Archive for August, 2013

Reflections on getting things done!

Being the Earth!Sometimes half days are deceiving… you are glad for the break, but you are also frustrated with the lack of time and continuity. We accomplished many things this week – and added new things to our daily routine. Following are some examples:

We started Word of the Week: a way to increase 5th graders with good vocabulary. The word was INVIGORATE, and students found it challenging to draw a picture and write a sentence without using the word itself. We hope to do two words a week as we more and more fit into a weekly routine.

We also accomplished lots in math! Lessons are flowing and students are moving through skills in a good pace.

There was ¬†some excellent thinking going around making decisions. This was initiated by our Read Aloud “Earthquake Terror”. Students were able to write and discuss whether they agreed with the character in the book and how they personally would have handled a similar situation.

In science, we completed (for the most part) our poem on the layers of the Earth. We made interesting connections between layers and family members and then created a poem about one of the layers. I read beautiful similes and strong words describing their knowledge of the science behind the layers. The poems and illustrations will hang outside our classroom next week. One things that helped in the understanding of the layers was to go outside and act them up. Each student had a role and/or a movement. It was fun to watch them act out the layers together, outside in the sunshine (see the picture above).

We got a chance to look, read and give feedback to reading responses again. I did not collect a grade for the first one (last week). I wanted to give everyone a trial run and feedback on their work. It is important that everyone understands expectations. But the reading responses due Tuesday will be graded. Expect to see this in your child’s Infinite Campus by Thursday at the latest.

In the middle of the week, we had a visitor of the insect kind. Lauryn noticed a Praying Mantis outside the Cabins. She and Sidney went out and carefully put the Mantis in our insect box. We got to observe it all morning and then released it back outside with no harm done. It had nothing to do what what we are learning, but that’s okay. Sometimes you have to take time out to… observe the praying mantises around you! ūüôā

I wish everyone a safe, fun Labor day weekend. What a great chance to recharge the batteries! I look forward to students that come ready to learn Tuesday!

Thank you for sharing your children with me!

Ana Marlatt

Reflections on Expectations: Reading responses , home learning and math

Our first full week of school is behind us! Everyday we learn more and more about expectations, about rules and about doing our best. The past week we all got to take a look at expectations for our reading logs. By bringing their reading response draft on Friday, students were able to look at what other kids wrote, get ideas, see models and refine their writing. Some kids realized they had written about the wrong prompt. Other realized they had not addressed the prompt at all! So they wrote notes and (hopefully) will be adjusting their responses to present their best work tomorrow. I was excited to see the conversations and the level of interest that kids showed. They were giving their friends good feedback and learning about their own writing in the process. As one of our quotes of the day said:” A lesson taught is a lesson learned”. By teaching each other we learn so much! I am excited to read their responses tomorrow! Please remember reading responses can be written again if, after students get feedback and a grade, they feel they can do better. I throw away the old grade and they get the grade they truly worked for.

I do expect every child to do their best. But I also believe that their best comes in stages… it is a learning process to push yourself, to not give up, and to experience success. Every child is different, as you and I are different, and respect that. That’s why it is always okay to redo work, to push yourself and to try again. Grades are not as important as a child feeling he or she is successful – truly successful, and believing in the power of “Yes I can!”.

How is home learning going? Is your child getting right to it? Or does it take 2 hours or more? If it takes a while to do the home learning piece, it is because the material is challenging or do you have to change expectations at home? Maybe the TV needs to go off, and distractions taken away. Maybe your child needs a snack before starting the work. Maybe your child needs to get home and play outside a bit before going for it. Hopefully you are finding balance and helping your child focus on the work. Homework is about developing good habits and feeling successful. If thats not happening, please send me an email and I will help you.

One last thing about expectations: Our math time is very self-directed. One of the things I expect is that, once students complete the assigned number of problems, they all must check their answers in the answer books. They must check every answer and fix the mistakes, or ask for more lessons if needed. Remind your child that he/she must check – this is done on purpose…! Your child discovering a mistake is better than me discovering a mistake. My checking their work they are thinking about the problem themselves and that’s the most important part! Last week, a few kids skipped that “you must check your work” part. We had a talk and I believe it was a lesson learned.

Thank you so much for sending great kids for me to teach this year! They are fun, energetic and smart!!!!! It is going to be a wonderful year!

Thank you for sharing your children with me!

Ana Marlatt


Reflections on our first week and things to come…

Reading and Thinking partners

We had a wonderful transition into full time learners. We started slow with assessment days, transitioned into our first early release Wednesday, and ended the week with two glorious full days at school. We got many things accomplished! All school supplies are labeled and organized. Table of contents are created. I know your child better – as a learner and personality-wise. We have established many routines. The students know I use music for everything (to signal the beginning and ending of things, as metaphors and just for fun!). They also know when I need their attention (I raise my hand and ask for their help). They know my “I mean business voice”, and my “It’s okay to have fun” voice. I also ¬†got a glimpse at how your children think, and I have much like what I see. I see children that are sensitive, caring, concerned about each other, and most important, I see children that are excited to learn! That makes me excited for the possibilities this year will bring all of us.

Please use this site!! I will post picture (photo tab), videos for your child to watch (tutoring tab), and we will soon start book reviews (book review tab). This is how I’ll communicate as I rarely send papers home. You can access it from ¬†any place easily. My wish is that this will give you constant glimpses into our classroom and what we do every week.

This past week was used for establishing routines and getting to know each other. This coming week will bring more consistency in our schedule and by Wednesday, we will be well on our way to normalcy as far as our daily schedule is concerned.

One of the routines that I hope will solidify next week will be the Home Learning piece. I am not a huge believer in homework. Kids are in school most of the day and they ned time to be kids when they go home. I also don’t want any child going home and practicing something for homework the wrong way. So don’t expect huge amounts of work from me.

*Your child is responsible for reading 120 minutes a week. I don’t care when your child reads (20 minutes a day or 2 hours on a Saturday). The only way to get better at reading is to read more! So 120 minutes a week is the minimum. All students must bring they choice book MONDAY for an activity!¬†

*Your child will also get a math packet every week. It will be at their desks Monday morning and is due back on Friday. The packet will be an” old skills” practice packet.

* Lastly, your child will be responsible for one fantastic reading response every week. The reading response is based on the book your child is reading. On Monday I will go over this with the class. They will understand the reading response paper, the rubric and the prompts. Reading responses are due the following Monday. However, a draft of the response is due Friday. Your child will get feedback from me and from friends in order to turn in their best work on Monday. The reading responses are a huge part of your child’s reading grade. Reading responses can be rewritten any time for a better grade.¬†

I am the mother of 3 children myself. I know that life gets busy and many kids have many after school activities. Please feel free to excuse your child’s home learning assignment by sending me a note or emailing me. We can come up with alternatives so that the most important work gets done. I would like to avoid frustrations over homework and find a peaceful way for all. Just let me know what you and your family need.

On Monday we will start our read aloud and our literacy block will be on its way. The literacy block is where I combine reading. writing, science and social studies. We will start with plate tectonics, volcanoes and earthquakes. This is a fun unit and kids love learning about these incredible natural disasters. Great writing comes out of passion and engagement and kids are highly engaged around this topic.

By the end of the week, I expect we will all be feeling very comfortable, less confusion and more excitement for what’s to come.

I have posted pictures of our week. Please click on the Photo tab for viewing them.

Thank you, and thank you for sharing your children with me!

Ana Marlatt

Our First Week!

First Day of School

Please remember we get off at 2:15 pm on Wednesdays.

Assessment Days

We are off to a great start!

Welcome to 5th grade! What a priviledge it is to be your teacher!  5th grade is a wonderful grade, where students are at the end of their West Ridge journey, and will have a chance to leave a legacy of hard work, perseverance, success and fun!

Assessment¬†days went well. I was able to meet with students and collect data on¬†their reading. I was able to get to know your child a little better, both as a person and as a reader. Tomorrow will be our first full day together (although we do get off at 2:15 pm… so not an actual full day). Here are just a few things to remember:

1. Please make sure your student meets me by the back of the cabins. Those are the doors we will always use. I will be outside looking for everyone.

2. Do send a snack with child. The day will be long so a snack break will help the brain function better. We have snack right after specials (10:20 am). Please refer to my brochure for ideas and information on this.

3. You will receive updates through this website, so expect an email from me every Friday or Saturday. I update weekly.

Don’t hesitate to ask if you are confused or need direction. Beginnings of¬†the year can be like that! The BEST way to get ahold of me is through email. I have it on my phone and will usually return your email right away, even on weekends (Yes, I do have a life but it is really no probelm for me to email you on the weekend…!). My email again is amarlatt@sd27j.org If you prefer to call, please dial 720-685-5314. Please know that I do not usually answer phone calls during the school day, while I’m with your child.

I am honored to spend the school year with this wonderful group of kids!

Thank you for sharing your children with me,

Ana Marlatt