Saturday, June 27, 2009

I finished and home. It is Saturday and my vacation starts. Yes!

It was a good year with lots of learning, fun (for me, you too?) and a bit of frustration. I'll miss this class.

I've said all year that when I wasn't frustrated, you were one of the best classes I've had for learning and growing, and the best class yet for getting the big picture and getting detail. Wow!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Enjoy next year, come back and visit and for a couple of you, when you've hit that maturity, come back and you can be the poster child for next year's class!

Have a great summer!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

The test far.

Adonica's is below. She has consistently done a great job all year. Note how messy an outline can be. That's what it is all about: getting your thoughts organized. Her actual writing? It's always incredibly neat. So, she's a wonderful thinker who takes pride in her work and does a terrific job.

Hannah's is next. Hannah, too, has worked hard this year. At the beginning of the year, Hannah's thoughts were quicker than her writing and because of that, much of her writing ended up in thoughts. The problem with that was that the reader wasn't in her head and so it was hard to follow. Hannah, through effort and growth, has matured into her thoughts. She's incredible: a thinker and, now, a clear writer who can with clarity make her thoughts known to others.

Chris has been incredible this year. Right from the beginning he, too, had opinions and ideas he wanted to share. But, along with not being in his head, he made errors too. That made it tough, especially since I knew how much he wanted to do so well. and, here at the end? Wow!! Chris pulls in so many wonderful ideas and then develops them. It's amazing. Oh, there are still errors, but he has 4 more years to attune his eyes to them and then correct them. His thoughts? He's there. What a treat it has been to watch him grow!

Kylene has been a hard worker all year. She started out as a good English student and has only grown better. But, she has struggled with "The Important Thing." Kylene could get to the main idea but then she struggled with how to develop the idea with examples and detail. This week? Read it down below. I am so proud of her! She knew she was struggling and didn't give up. By not giving up, not only did Kylene learn one thing--how to a great job on this -- but she found that not quitting and continuing pays off (something I bet she's already learned in her sports).

I have had many moments this final to see what my students are capable of. I was just telling my 5th period class that we have maybe had our ups and downs, but I know, I know just how well so many of you have grown.

Go to high school. Work hard, struggle sometimes and be confident that with effort you can do anything you put your mind to.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


...and we're two-thirds of the way through my final. Tomorrow I will put some examples on that exemplify what you are capable of. Overall, I've seen some terrific work. I'm betting everyone knows how well they did and you know if what I wanted you to get out of this year was gotten. I sure hope so. This year, while teaching English, I worked hard at giving you skills to help you be a lifelong learner. That's what I've been basing my final on. Hope it's worked!

Saturday, June 13, 2009


...awards. They couldn't happen if we didn't have Mrs. Filzen, who works so hard for all of us, students, teachers and parents.

Mrs. Filzen works tirelessly for us all, and this day is just one of the examples of how we are so lucky to have her.

But, you know what? It takes great students, too, to have a great school. Today's awards assembly, picnic and ice cream ending was all about great students.

We have students who come to school, knowing being here is half the battle of learning.

We have students who understand that not only showing up is important, so is behaving. It's hard to teach students who can't behave. This group understands that.

We have students who have grown so much since 6th grade, and isn't that what education and life is all about? Growing, learning, getting better and better. Yes!

We have students who can write, understanding that being able to think, organize and then put it on paper to share with others is a great skill to have.

We have 6th graders who, even as the youngest here, are role models for us all, being the type of students we all want to be.

We have students who are recognized by the community they live in for being students who we want to go out in the world and model for others what Groton believes in.

We have students who recognize that academics matter and who work hard to achieve their high goals of learning.

And, we have fine teachers and staff who believe in their students and push and pull and do what it takes to bring out the best.

Finally, we have students who are recognized by the Marines, in honor of one of our own, who display the attributes we all strive to have.

It was a great hour. I am lucky to have a job where I work with wonderful people.

I know we're all ready for summer. We will enjoy the summer and then come back, refreshed, ready to continue.

I look forward to seeing all of Groton's finest!

It's a bird, it's a plane, it's Superman!, it's a bird, but which one?

We have an immature bald eagle in the area and we have an osprey.
I took pictures so maybe my husband could tell me when he gets home.

He has a fish he caught in his talons.

Can you see it?

I saw it when he flew away.

What do you think it is?



You guys did a GREAT job helping to pack the room today. Some walked and some ran errands and some packed and moved. Wow! Except for my areas, it's done.

A big thank you goes to all of you for helping with your school.

Thank you!

(Final again on Monday....a funny....we packed the lit. books. I have to find box 17!!)

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

I know saw me, but I ended up going home for a sick daughter.

I hope all took their time. Today's work is a third of your final. You will have all of tomorrow to finish it. Today, truly, should have been the thinking and prep day and tomorrow the writing day. But, it's your final, so do what you want.

We will be packing the room on Friday, so what books are still on my book lists, will go down as not coming back yet.

See you tomorrow. Sure hope you are mature enough to have behaved for the sub.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009


...for high school and life without me. (I'll pause for a moment while everyone cheers.)

...still cheering?

As you settle down from your wildly crazy celebrating, remember my hourglass? That's it below.

I think it's a great image for brainstorming to find the big picture and then using the facts to develop your big picture

Ok. Back?

Yesterday and today we're working on having examples of the four studying concepts we have worked so hard on this year. If teachers use them, great, you're ready to jump right in. If they don't, you still can.

We've practiced them all with all four core subjects. You can finish your examples in the next two weeks whenever we have time.

Have a chapter to read? Before, During, After is an easy way to focus and remember key ideas.
Have a short story to read? Notetaking is an easy way to have the info in front of you for the discussion.

Have a test to study for? Doing List, Group, Label, Write is a wonderfully, organized way to have everything you need in your head.

The same goes for The Important Thing...

You are leaving me here (Yes, I can hear the cheering...) and going to high school.

And, yes, there will come a time for all of you to want to be students. The high school is, as it should be, all about content. Use these skills to make learning the content easier.

Teaching, like parenting, isn't about tying you to us; it's about giving you the skills and confidence to leave us.

So, leave...and learn (and enjoy the process).

Thursday, June 4, 2009

A big

...thank you!

June can be a tough month. Students are tired of being in school and teachers are frustrated at students who want to quit learning. But, in the midst of that, there have been some terrific pluses.

First, I want to thank the parents who connected with me this year. Some have had continuing conversations and some have touched base with me once or twice. I have learned from not only your students but from you too.

And, just when I was wondering if my blog was worth it, if it really was the teaching tool I had hoped for, one parent gave me a wonderful image of what it can be for some: "a window to the classroom".

How amazing that one phrase (and one wonderful parent) can remind me that, yes, the blog is worth my time. The blog has always helped me to clarify my thoughts, and I have hoped that it has been a help to students, but now I find that for parents who want to be involved but removed (allowing for their students to be independent and responsible), it is good for them too! Wow!

With that 'redemption' comes another. Since I've handed out the post on my goals for next year, I have had most of you step up and come, for the most part, with pens to write with. I have seen less pencils broken. I have had terrific 'big picture' and detail work (see post below). And, I have had one of you, after one trying period, ask if we were going to see all the comments--hers being one that talked about how annoying it is to watch her fellow classmates take time away from her learning.

We are also reading The Red Pony by John Steinbeck right now in preparation for one part of my final next week. Again, for the most part, you are all stepping up and reading; for some of you, I cam almost tell the moment that the book becomes real for you because, suddenly, I realize it is quiet....reading quiet, something that I had talked about also.

These are students who took their reading outside today in honor of the sun.

Tomorrow, it's trip day. Enjoy. I plan to get pics of the scrolls on. After that, it's the weekend! Enjoy and know that the end is near.

The big

...picture through use of detail. That's what we worked on last week with the WWII papers. I handed them all back, but first, in each class, I used examples from each class to show how well you are getting the concept of having 'the big picture'. We don't read in a vacuum. We read to connect it to our lives. When we finish reading, we should be able to see how it fits to our world. To share that knowledge, we then use the detail in our own way to develop a clear picture to then give our thoughts to them.

Certainly, we have been working on that all year, but the DBQ unit was a perfect example of using lots of sources to develop an idea--one that was given to you. Now, with the WWII book reports and the Diary of Anne Frank paper, you are having to come up with your own focus, the big picture.

I have lots of examples, and here are a few.

The first three above are Sam's, Allison's and Adonica's. Each have another page of writing, but for the sake of length, I have just scanned the first. Terrific, aren't they? Read on for more good ones!

The darkened box is Brenna's. Click on it, and it will come scanner went bonkers at that moment....see Brenna, even computers can be wacky like you and me!