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DIVE IN Change your life, your learning, your perspective

You’ll get out of this class what you put into it. Start creating good habits: around how you learn, who you connect with, and how you engage with friends and teachers. Making a conscious effort to start the year off right will help and keep you motivated all year long.


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Find something in your surroundings that you're grateful for -- life's simple pleasures. Since we're focusing on the little things in life, I'd like you to shoot on a macro scale. Get creative, get close, get as abstract as your heart desires! Check out these examples of One Minute Videos. Once you've found and framed your subject, shoot for exactly one minute. There can be no camera movements (panning, tilting, etc.) or editing, and you must make use of only the original sound. Embed to our blog.

In the digital age, kids need to have an understanding of what it means to be a responsible digital citizen. They need to learn the technical how-to’s, as well as a more global comprehension of how to navigate the online world. Here are six reasons why students should learn to blog: 1) Creating positive footprints 2) Communicating with digital tools 3) Transparency for parents and family 4) New ways of thinking about web tools 5) Effective digital citizenship 6) Pride in their work. Please visit our class blog, Ironwood Ink


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Ode to the Lemon by Pablo Neruda
From blossoms
by the moonlight,
from anaroma of exasperatedlove,
steeped in fragrance,
drifted from the lemon tree,
and from its plantarium
lemons descended to the earth... read on

In class, you have the freedom and responsibility to discuss anything as long as the topic fit under these three categories: safe, healthy, and/or educational. My job as your teacher is to provide you room to discover, inquire, question, explore and take responsible risks in order to ensure you get the most out of your education. Be prepared to learn alongside me as I learn new things too. We will learn together because that's healthy and real.


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Finding Buck McHenry,
Out of the Darkness,
One the Run-The Fugitive,
Border Crossing,
Beyond Escape,
Over the Mountain,
Paddle Out to the Sea.

Front cover - Inside jacket - Back cover information (the blurb) - Characters we've read about in other books - Another book in a series - Interesting title - Great illustrations - Authors we know and like - Book recommendations from teachers, friends and critics - Books that are movies - Reading level - 5 finger rule - Reading the first chapter. Guidelines for choosing just right books.


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Memoirs reflect on the relationship between the writer and a particular person, place, animal, or object. It explains the significance of the relationship. It leaves the reader with one impression of the subject of the memoir. It is limited to a particular phase, time period, place, or recurring behavior in order to develop the focus fully. It makes the subject of the memoir come alive. It maintains a first person point of view. Themes for Teaching Memoirs, 6-Word Memoirs by Grade 5, A Memoir by Renee Sanow, Memoirs by Mary Sexton, Memoirs by Michael Salinger, Memory Poems
For the annual school retreat, students went to the primary rainforest of Bukit Bangkarai. The mission was for students to learn more about themselves and their peers by participating in trust and team-building games. This sort of trip gives students and teachers a chance to learn more about each other in a unique natural environment (away from the regular classroom). Click here to video. To learn more, click Team and Trust-Building.


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Be expected to get outside. Some trips will be tougher than others; yet, all of them are rewarding. You'll pass through a "rite of passage" which ensures your place in our school culture. My hope is that you to embrace these experiences and learn more about yourself, your friends and teachers. Spending extended time immersed in the wilderness can also create a sense of place. It restores a connection between you and the land. Kids Count: Young Citizen Scientists Learn Environmental Activism, Adolescents, the Wilderness and Schools
PBL is focused on questions that drive you to encounter the concepts of a subject hands-on. You form your own guiding question to develop research skills and engage in design, problem solving, decision making, and investigative activities. You learn and can apply these skills to the world outside the classroom. PBL promotes and practices new learning habits, emphasizing creative thinking skills by allowing you to find that there are many ways to solve a problem. What Makes PBL a Success, Best Practices for Project-Based Learning, Six Affirmations for Project-Based Learning, Resources and Tools for PBL


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Students will be taking the DRA Tests in Language Arts class. The DRA test provides information about the student's reading accuracy, fluency (speed or rate of reading) and comprehension. More>>.
Writers will have the opportunity to return to their fall writing samples and re-write earlier work in order to measure growth using the six trait rubric. As writers, keep in mind that you will need to look at your piece and make your own decisions about what needs to be rewritten. Read more >>


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In persuasive writing, the writer tries to convince or persuade a reader that their position or proposal (opinion) is the best one. The writer will state a position at the beginning, then provide details or reasons that prove, explain or support the position in the body. In addition, it's important to state facts to support the position. Good persuasion also address counterarguments and uses them to strengthen the writer's arguments. Resources: Intro to Persuasive Writing, Sample, Environmental Essay Lesson, Persuasion Map, and Essay: Should Marine Mammals Be Held in Captivity? Marine Mammals in Captivity Keiko's Journey Home
Storynory publishes free audio stories online each week. The stories are read by professional actors who enrich and bring more delight to the ear. You can listen to stories online or download them to your portable device. The are quite a variety of stories enticingly captured, like from Brothers Grimm or Han Christian Anderson. Also, there are unusual stories from around the world. Students can read the words while listening to the story being read aloud. Here are some Norse tales: Sigurd and the Dragon, Odin's Eye, Sif and Her Golden Hair


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Lessons worth sharing. Ted-Ed aims to capture the voices of the world's greatest educators. On Ted-Ed, students can watch the educational videos and answer questions from customized lesson plans which carefully curated to the content.
Be patient-don’t expect quick easy solutions. Set goals-think about what you can do now and what you have to patiently work on. Get involved-read books and magazines; watch documentaries; participate in sports, join a club. Think logically- beyond your “knee jerk” emotions. Ask questions-about what you read, hear, even what you see. Be creative-don't settle for the obvious answer. Make connections-pay attention to the details. Write things down-this helps you clarify ideas and remember them longer. Download Becoming a Better Thinker


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February 21 is International Mother Language Day, a day officially recognized by the UN and around the world to honor people's first language learned and promote awareness of linguistic and cultural identity. Make a BitStrips comic creating a conversation between two characters introducing themselves in their native mother tongue.
"Poets convey a timeless message. They are often key witness to history's great political and social changes. Their writings inspire us to build lasting peace in our minds, to rethink relations between man and nature and to establish humanism founded on the uniqueness and diversity of peoples." - Irina Bokova, UNESCO. The UN honors World Poetry Day March 21. Compose a poem to celebrate peace and goodwill. Resources: Giggle Poetry, Poem Farm TES World Poetry Activities


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Support awareness for the Sun Bears by 'liking' the Rockin4the Environment Facebook page. Read the post about efforts to inspire action and raise awareness for the world's smallest bear. The Sun Bear Rock! Music and Arts Festival will be happening at the DoPPel Kafe in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia April 23-27. Show your support, check out the Sun Bear Rock! wiki.
Compfight is a photo search engine tailored to efficiently locate images for blogs, commericial work, inspiration and research. The basic search will look through Flickr tags and return hundreds of photos tagged with key words. There's a 'Creative Commons' filter that locates images with attribution rights (approval) for public use.


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Issuu is a digital publishing platform that delivers high quality reading experiences of magazines, catalogs, and newspapers. Students may upload their best publications to create beautiful digital editions. Currently, students' work will be published using the teacher's account only. Student examples: Un-Bear-Able, Save Our Souls, Hidden Honors.
With VoiceThread, group conversations are collected and shared in one place from anywhere in the world. This multimedia slideshow holds images, documents, and video and allows students to navigate slides and leave comments. The purpose in using VoiceThread is to share student's writing and reading and learning with a global audience.Koufax vs Python, Salok Api Geocache.


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The Zimmer twins are an ordinary pair of 12 year-olds except for one thing--they have psychic powers (not really though). The weirdness began when they adopted a cat named 13. You can create your own endings to one our story starter, or make a movie from scratch. How to Make a Movie, Must See Movies
Art inspired stories. Storybird reverses the process of visual storytelling by starting with the image and 'unlocking' the story inside. Choose an artist or a them, get inspired, and start writing. Choose a reading buddy and collaborate by publishing a Storybird. Featured Storybirds


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Unlock the educational power of comics. BitStrips for Schools is an educational tool that engages students in what they love--comics! Fun-and-social making comic strips that are monitored by the teacher. Hundreds of meaningful curriculum-connected activities make this free tool a hit in the classroom. See our classroom.
Email is one of the most common forms of written communication in the business world. An email message consists of three components, the message envelope, the message header, and the message body. The message header contains the originator's email address and one or more recipient addresses. When composing an email use proper email writing etiquette or a business email writing format. Resources: Email Etiquette, Business Email Writing, 10 Tips on How to Write an Email


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Transition words (aka transitional devices) are essential, since they not only connect ideas, but also introduce a certain shift, contrast or opposition, emphasis or agreement, purpose, result or conclusion in the line of an argument. To improve your writing it's essential to understand how transition words can be used to combine ideas. Resources: ABCTeach, Word Search Maker Transitional Words for Essays, Transition Word Cheatsheet Oatmeal Grammar Comics, Conjunction Junction
You will be creating vokis that read a sentence which you create using your vocabulary words. Create a Voki account, customize your Voki or hit the die to randomly select a character. 1) Type in or record yourself reading your sentence for you assigned vocabulary word. 2) Save and Publish your voki – name it whatever your vocabulary word is. 3) Copy the embed code and then insert on your page. Resource: Voki, OneLook Dictionary


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Historical fiction allows you to illuminate history and promote multiple perspectives and characters' point of view. 1) Characters must behave in realistic ways. 2) They are involved in a dilemma that's realistic for that period. 3) Places and events are vividly described. 4) The setting is a definite time in history and a very real place. 5) Real events are mixed with fictional happenings. The plot makes sense and ends with logical solution. 6) The characters' words reflect what people knew and thought about in those times. Resources: Teach Historical Fiction, Write Historical Fiction, Lesson plan, Historical Fiction Book List, Character Traits, Writing Checklist, Books Should Be Free, Documentary Tube.
A well-written informational piece allows a reader to experience the writer's intended meaning, understand the premise, and accept or reject the writer's point of view. Effective informational writing: is focused on the topic and does not contain loosely related information; has an organizational patter; contains a beginning, middle, and end and uses transitional devices; contains supporting ideas through the use of details, examples, vivid language, and word choice; and follows the standard conventions. Resources: Informational Writing Notes,Expository Writing, Cluster Diagram, Essay Map, Telling Questions and the Search for Insight, How to Teach Writing Article, Transition Words


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Blogging provides many educational opportunities. Students have: an authentic audience for writing; revisit and reflect upon the lessons when they read the posts on the blog; keep the learning alive by continuing to comment; learn how to navigate around the Internet and how to present digital information in a variety of ways; participate and contribute to an online community; have more time to prepare for more individualize online collaboration that will be in the middle and high school years; and practice a letter-writing form, when they comment. Resources: Meaningful Comment Starters, Educational Blogging wiki, Walking the Walk: Action Research , Do I Need to Write All That?, 5 Cures for Blogger's Block
The lead (beginning or introduction) establishes the direction of your writing will take. A good lead grabs the reader's attention and refuses to let go. Below are some ideas on how to write an interesting lead: question, action, dialogue, figurative language, middle of scene, dramatic, mysterious, misleading lead, and flashback. View more lead examples >.


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Choose something or someone that is important to you and explain why. Use this Narrative Rubricor 6 Traits Rubric to evaluate piece when finished. Write about an time you were filled with grief, anger, disappointment or scare. Start with entries for each emotion. Use similes to "show" the emotion. Create a movie in your mind of that particular time and how it felt. Narrative Checklist for revising and Question Grid for peer conferencing.
Begin your writing ideas by making "entries" in the back of your writer's notebook. Think about a special time: first time, last time, special place, person, moment, et cetera. For each entry, write 5-6 lines describing details about the idea. Include 5 senses (I saw, I smelled) Draw a picture to capture the "scene". Share some of your ideas. Resources: intensity, love, bliss, frigid, warm.


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Figurative language is a tool that an author employs (or uses) to help the reader visualize what is happening in a story or poem. Some common types of figurative language are: simile, metaphor, alliteration, onomatopoeia, idiom, puns, and sensory language. Resources: figurative language lessons, Eye on Idioms, Spinning Space Ships, More games, Cliche Finder, Awesome Analogies.
Revising is making decisions about how to improve your writing--looking at it from another point of view. Try to find places where your writing could be clearer, more interesting, more informative, and convincing. Ask yourself what extra details or unnecessary bits are in this piece. Play the "movie in your mind" to show, not tell the story. Identify the "heart" of your idea and stretch it. Resources: More methods, Checklist, writing conference.


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There are different reasons for starting a new paragraph: new ideas begin, when someone begins to speak, there is a change in time (i.e. later, that evening), change in place or there is a conclusion. For informational writing, be sure to include a topic sentence, supporting details that prove the topic, and closing sentence that rewords the topic. Resources: Stoplight Five Paragraph Essay Writing method, Graphic Organizer, Paragraph Building, Paragraphing, Exercise.
Give copyrightcredit and Fair Use to those who have put the time and energy into creating, contributing and sharing. This goes for writing AND photos. Make sure you site authors. Use only Creative Commons images and site authors in the captions. Try Compfight to copy the image's URL to insert into your post.For wiki and blogs, it is recommended to use small size images.


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The ability to summarize is one of the most critical thinking skills you can develop. Taking large quantities of information, understanding what that information means, and condensing it takes thinking. Resources: Write a summary, Summary template, Writing A Summary, Story Map Organizer, Writing Checklist.
Dialogue spices narrative and increases pace because it is read more quickly, is pleasing to the reader's eye and gets readers involved. Use dialogue to add interest and enhance the idea, character or speaker. Don't be caught using irrelevant dialogue. Pay attention to the way authors incorporate dialogue in the books you are reading. More >> Resources: punctuation rules, Photostream, Vikings On Night Watch.


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Etymology: The word grammar derives from Greek γραμματικὴ τέχνη (grammatikē technē), which means "art of letters", from γράμμα (gramma), "letter", itself from γράφειν (graphein), "to draw, to write". Take your pick of all the grammar categories, exercises quizzes and tests you need offered by EduFind. Is this a sentence or a fragment?Identify the parts of speech. Play the parts of speech game using ClassTools
A word a day keeps the brain in play. Keep a list of your wild words on Google Docs and embed an 'iframe' into your wiki. Practice using your wild words in your speech and writing daily. Most commonly misspelled words: Grade 5 Resources: 7 Vocabulary Strategies, IncreaseVocabulary.net, Vocabulary.com, Snappy Words, Visual Thesaurus, Vocabulary Poem Builder, Word Study Homework.


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1) A writer's notebook is a place where writers explore their thinking. 2) A writer's notebook is a reflection of who that writer is at a point in time of her life. 3) Notebooks are tools that require writers to make decisions. 4) Rereading one's notebook helps writers explore topics more deeply or in a new way. 5) As a writer becomes more diligent about keeping a notebook, his notebook will evolve in its purpose. More >>
1) Just Right Books: Good readers read books that are appropriate for their level. 2) Reading Stamina: Begin your reading today. You're asked to reflect on reading volume and stamina throughout the trimester. You'll need to keep two running records which are due every two weeks. 3) Oral Reading Strengthens Comprehension: Oral reading rate, when it assesses fluent reading, is a measure of automaticity--the ability to recognize words automatically. It's an indicator of potential reading volume and a predictor of comprehension.


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1) I make connections to what I already know.
2) I ask myself questions.
3) I make inferences by "reading between the lines".
4) I create pictures in my mind.
5) I check comprehension while I read.
6) I use a variety of fix-up strategies when I don't understand.
7) I determine what is important in what I read.
8) I understand what I read and synthesize information.

1) Time: You'll need time to look through books and read independently. Your reading time will increase as the year goes on. 2) Choice: You'll have the opportunity to choose the books you want to read. Your book choices must appeal and continue to challenge you. 3) Response: It's important that you respond to the literature you're reading: response journals, class discussions, booktalks, or projects. 4) Community: You are part of a classroom community and each student is valued as both a learner and a teacher in the matters of reading. 5) Structure: Understand the value of silent reading and the importance of sharing and listening during discussions.


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Everything you express and post is public! Read the Technology User Agreement and Web 2.0 Behavior guidelines to understand the rules and policies. Take the Technology User Test to asess your understanding. You must pass with a 80% or better to demonstrate proficiency. Resource: How Rude! Digital Manners for the the Digital Age.
1) STOP Stop what you are doing. 2) SCREENSHOT Press Print Screen (PrtScr), Open Paint, click Edit > Paste, Save the image to My Docs. 3) BLOCK Anyone offensive should be blocked and removed as a friend if he or she is on your friends list. 4) TELL Tell an adult immediately about the situation and give them the screenshot. Don't stop speaking out until you find someone who can help. 5) SHARE After talking with your parents and/or teacher, if appropriate, share with friends to promote internet safety.


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  • This made me think about...
  • I wonder why...
  • Your writing made me form an opinion about...
  • This post is relevant because...
  • Your writing made me think that we should...
  • I wish I understood why...
  • This is important because...
  • Another thing to consider is...
  • I can relate to this...
  • This makes me think of...
  • I discovered...
  • I found myself wondering...
Your published work reflects you as a writer. Take time to revise your published and public writing before you push "submit."
  • Spelling
  • Punctuation
  • Grammar
  • On topic
  • Complete sentence
  • Add or answer a question
  • Tell a related story
  • Start a conversation
  • Compliment


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Add informative, data collecting widgets to your dashboard such as a hit counter (page views), RSS feed, visitor map, QR code or social feeder. There are many widget making websites. Here are some examples:
  1. Internet Safety Hangman
  2. Webonauts Internet Academy
  3. Safety Land
  4. Iggy & Rasper's Internet Safety Game
  5. Anti-Phishing Phil
  6. OnGuard Online: The Case of the Cyber Criminal
  7. How Secure is My Password


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Glogster is a social network tool based on the use of interactive posters loaded with text, graphics, music and video. Students can express their emotions, feelings and knowledge through 'glogs' and share collaboratively online. Check out the Sun Bear Rock! glog.
Anyone can animate! Students create movies easily now with Go Animate! Students can create their own animated characters, direct their own movies, and watch others' creations. You can customize the videos with a large number of features to create unique works of expression.


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Prezi is a cloud based presentation software that makes it fun to explore ideas and their connections between them. Students can create captivating presentations that lead your audience down a path of discovery by being able to zoom in and out of the canvas.
7 Resources for Developing Typing Skills by Free Technology for Teachers


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Within minutes you can be an Epublisher. Youblisher is a free service allows you to turn writing, articles, presentations and all other PDF documents into online flippable pages. Click to watch the video.
SideVibe is a simple way to place useful formative lessons over any webpage. SideVibe could be a helpful tool when teaching students to evaluate the validity of information found on websites. By using SideVibe you could take a fake website like DHMO.org and build an evaluation lesson around it. Tutorial video.


Create your game now. Start by following the directions at Gamestar Mechanics: http://gamestarmechanic.com/join/Wordplayer
Discover Shel Silverstein's poems animated on the Shel Silverstein YouTube Book Channel. Create your own animate of your favorite poem.

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a space to mingle & swap ideas