Club for Kids Who Like to Read and Compete

Dear Parents,

First, here’s to hoping that the first weekend of your summer vacation was a good one!

Second, I had a quick announcement that I wanted you to be aware of: I am starting a Battle of the Books reading club for Track 4 students of all grade levels.

Meetings will be held two days a week during Spartan Time and occasionally after school.

For those of you who don’t know, Battle of the Books is a state wide reading competition where teams of kids from different schools compete against one another to "show what they know" about a collection of books chosen by the state’s media specialist association. We will have an "in-house" competition first — and the team who wins will advance to a county competition held in the spring.

The club is a GREAT option for kids who love to read and love to compete.

If this sounds like something your kid would enjoy, encourage them to come find me at the beginning of the year.

And if they want to get a head start on the competition, point them to this list of books.

Let me know if you have any questions,

Bill Ferriter

Thank You for Your Kindness!

Dear Parents,

On behalf of all of the teachers on the Gnomes team, I want to THANK YOU for the candy and gift cards and kind words that you sent in to us this week. We are all incredibly grateful — especially since you already shared a remarkable group of kids with us this year.

Please know moving forward that all of us are ready and willing to help you or your kids out whenever you need it. Just drop us a line or send your child to find us and we’re there. THAT’s how important they were to us this year.

Enjoy your four weeks off and hope to see all of you at some point over the next two years at Salem.

With gratitude,

The Gnomes Team!

Thank You for Sharing Your Kids With Us!

Dear Parents,

I just wanted you to know that today was a beautiful day here at school.

I loved watching all of your kids get recognized for different accomplishments this year — whether that was for their character or for making the Honor Roll or for being an accomplished speller or geographer or band student. Their smiles and pride and joy — for themselves and for one another — left me with a warm heart.

What was even more amazing was our Team Talent Show. Your children have SUCH an incredible range of talent and courage — singing or playing or dancing or telling jokes in front of their peers is a HUGE risk for middle schoolers. I was also super proud of the kids in our audience — who showed respect for every act, who were genuinely impressed by their peers, and who gave huge rounds of applause for every performer.

Don’t get me wrong: I wasn’t surprised. I’m never surprised by your kids.

They are truly remarkable in every way — and that comes from a guy who is stingy with complements!

But I was overjoyed. And fulfilled. And proud of who they are.

Thank you for sharing such an amazing group with us. They are a reflection of your efforts as parents and I’m incredibly grateful.


Bill Ferriter

A Word on Science EOG Scores

Dear Parents,

Just wanted to drop you a quick reminder about the Science EOG scores that your child will get back at some point next week: The Science EOG test is REALLY hard — and that is because it is a collection of 40 multiple choice questions that review random facts from the entire school year. It’s difficult for anyone to prepare for a test that includes isolated facts learned over a full school year. Doing that as a twelve year old is even harder.

For perspective, the statewide average on the exam is usually right around a 66. The county average on the test is right around a 68. The school’s average on the test is right around a 73. Last year, the Gnomes average on the test was a 78.

So what I tell the students is if they make between a 68 and a 78, they performed at an average level on the test. That always feels weird to them because most students aren’t comfortable with making scores so low. Also, those are lower marks than they generally make on classroom tests and assignments. The difference, I remind them, is that our classroom assignments don’t force them to remember content from an entire school year.

And anything above a 78 is "above average." So students who come home with grades between 80-85 might see that as a disappointment, but in actuality, that’s a great mark for this test.

Anyway — I just wanted to help you put the marks that you will see into perspective. It really is a difficult test and sometimes students are discouraged because they earn grades lower than they are used to seeing.

Let me know if you have any questions,

Bill Ferriter

Fourth Quarter Honors Assembly

Dear Parents,

I’m not sure if I’ve advertised it yet, but we are having a fourth quarter Honors Assembly next week!

Here are the details:

Wednesday June 27th
9:00 – 10:00
Salem Middle School Auditorium

If your child is receiving a special award from a core teacher, we have already notified you directly via email or via letter home. We do NOT notify parents of Honor Roll students, though — there’s just too many of them!

You can find out if your child is on the Honor Roll by looking it up in PowerSchools.

Let me know if you have any questions,

Bill Ferriter

LA Update

Happy Thursday!

I just wanted to let parents and students know that I have just posted two exemplars of the DDT position paper that was just returned to students yesterday. Students can use the exemplars as examples for excellent word choice, analysis of research, punctuation of research, etc.

As I stated very clearly to all students yesterday, I am accepting revisions to this paper up through Sunday evening. Come Monday morning, my grades will be closed. Revisions are not a requirement for this paper, but they are an option for everyone.

Please let me know if there are any questions. It’s almost Friday! 😊

Chambliss Barrow

The Best Way to Prepare for Friday’s Science EOG

Dear Parents,

Just a quick heads up: The best way to prepare for Friday’s Science EOG at this point is for students to use the Socrative test that I posted online for them.

The test includes 30 questions that are on topics that frequently appear on science end of grade exams. Each time that your students give an answer, an "explanation" box will pop up with details reinforcing/reteaching the concept. If students answer the questions and read the explanations, they should be well prepared for the big ideas that appear on Friday. My guess is that completing the test and reading the explanations thoroughly will take about an hour.

Here’s how kids can log in:

Navigate to

Choose "Student Login."

Enter my class code: GNOMES6SCI

Hope this helps,

Bill Ferriter

Are there any Seedfolks books out there?

This past week involved lots of helpful preparation for the upcoming EOGs! We did lots of review, talked about strategies, and I assured them that all I expected was that they try their best. No unnecessary pressure- just give it your best effort. I am proud of all of the hard work we have put into language arts this year, and look forward to wrapping up the year well!

Speaking of wrapping up the year, I’m hoping that some students still have their copy of Seedfolks, by Paul Fleischman. This was a small novel that was on their supply list at the beginning of the year. We typically read this at the beginning of the school year, but with the curriculum change, we were unable to do that this year. I’m hoping to read it with the students the last couple of weeks of school- it’s my favorite!

If you still have your copy lying around, please bring it to my room at the beginning of the week. I appreciate it!

Have a great weekend!

Chambliss Barrow

6-4 Language Arts

Salem Middle School

Math 6/6 Plus Ice Cream Party

Dear Parents,

Good afternoon! Our mathematicians have worked hard to prepare for this year’s math EOG. They earned stickers towards an ice-cream party for each packet on which they showed 85% mastery or above. Please send ice-cream and supplies to help celebrate our hard work! The party will be held in class on Tuesday June 26th.

Wishing everyone best of luck on next week’s EOGs!

Kate Kotik

Reminder: Science EOG is ONE WEEK AWAY!

Dear Parents,

Just wanted to drop you a quick reminder that the science end of grade exam is exactly one week from today. That means it’s time for your kids to buckle down and study a bit if they haven’t been doing so.

Here’s why that matters: The Science EOG is, in many ways, the hardest EOG test. That’s because it isn’t really a thinking test. It’s a remembering test. Your kids will have to answer 35 fact-driven questions that cover an entire year’s worth of curriculum.

The best way to prepare for the test is to review as much content as possible. There are LOTS of different ways that your kids can study. Here’s what we’ve been using in class:

(1). Quizlets — posted in Google Classroom. Cover all of the vocabulary from the entire year. Worth studying because understanding the vocabulary in individual questions is often the key to getting the questions right.

(2). Quizizz — posted in Google Classroom. Includes 128 questions that are similar to the kinds of questions asked on EOG exams. More complex than Quizlets simply because it requires students to understand and apply the vocabulary that they are learning.

(3). Vocabulary "Secret Message" Packets