Solar Eclipse Day Reminders

Dear Parents,

Tomorrow is our Solar Eclipse Viewing Party! 

Thanks to a ton of planning by the sixth grade staff at Salem Middle School, every child that has returned the WCPSS Liability Waiver form will be outside with their own pair of NASA approved eclipse glasses watching a celestial event that is pretty darn amazing.

(Needless to say, I’m geeked!)

A few reminders:

If your child hasn’t returned their liability waiver, please make sure it is signed by both you and a witness and that it is in their backpacks right now!  You can see a list of students without signed waiver forms here.

It will be hot outside tomorrow — so send your child dressed and ready to be comfortable in the heat.  Tomorrow is not a day for hoodies and blue jeans!

Slather your kid in sunscreen.  The current weather forecast has us completely sunny for our viewing period tomorrow.  That’s perfect for two things:  Watching solar eclipses AND getting wicked bad sunburn.  PLEASE either send your kid in with sunscreen OR force them to bathe in it on Monday morning before sending them to school.

Send your kid with other items to help them be comfortable for two hours in the sun:  We’ve told kids to bring a beach towel to sit on, a water bottle (even though we will have plenty of iced down Capri Suns on hand), an umbrella to create shade if they want it, and a hat to keep the sun off their heads.  Watching an eclipse will be cool — but the weather sure won’t be.  Let’s prepare for that.

Speak to your kids about eye safety:  If your kids follow the rules tomorrow (read: keep their eclipse glasses on when looking directly at the sun), they will be completely and totally safe.  So remind them again and again about eye safety.  We did a lesson together in class on Friday — so I THINK they understand what the consequences are of failing to protect their eyes.  But a nudge from mom and dad is never a bad thing, too.

If you can, make a plan to watch the REST of the eclipse with your kid:  Our viewing party ends at 2:50 for dismissal time.  That will be JUST after maximum coverage — which happens at 2:46.  If you can, make a plan for watching the REST of the eclipse, where the moon moves away from the sun.  That will take until 3:45.

If you carpool, think about parking your car and hanging with your kid at the Salem Pond Park.  Bring a cooler with some cold sodas and make an afternoon of it.  If your kid rides the bus, see if you can be home when they are and watch it in the backyard together.  Why not have a great memory to share with your son or daughter!

Here’s to hoping that tomorrow is simply amazing!

Bill Ferriter

[category Science]

Has Your Child Turned in their Liability Form for Monday’s Eclipse Viewing?

Dear Parents,

As a reminder, we are planning a super fun solar eclipse viewing party for Monday here at school — complete with NASA approved solar eclipse glasses, Capri Suns and Moonpies!

But your child CAN’T participate unless they’ve turned in the second WCPSS Waiver of Liabilty form that was sent home this week.

You can find out if your child’s form is missing by clicking on this link.

If you need another copy of the form, you can get it here. You can also have it witnessed by a neighbor, friend, aunt, uncle, cousin — or by the receptionist here at Salem Middle School.

Hope this helps,

Bill Ferriter

Can I Borrow Your Colander? (No. Really. It’s for the Eclipse!)

Dear Parents,

I have what could be the strangest request that I’ve ever made: I am looking to rustle up 5-10 colanders.

Yup. The kind you use to strain your pasta.

Here’s why: I am putting together an activity for the students who don’t bring back their liability waivers for eclipse day. I want to get them to view the eclipse using "pinhole viewers" and it just so happens that one of the BEST tools for making a pinhole viewer is a colander!

It’s all those pinholes!

I’d like to have 5-10 colanders so that lots of groups can try this out.

Can I borrow yours for a few days?

I’ll put your name on it with masking tape and return it on Wednesday or Thursday of next week. Promise.

If you are down with this, send in those colanders!

With (slightly nutty) gratitude,

Bill Ferriter

Urgent Reminder: Second Eclipse Permission Slip is REQUIRED.


As I mentioned in this post earlier in the week, WCPSS has made a decision that all parents of students who are going to participate in an Eclipse Viewing event on campus MUST sign a second "waiver of liability" form.

To date, I have received 53 out of 123 forms!

Please ask your child for the "Green Form" that Mr. Ferriter handed out and be sure to get it signed and returned no later than Monday morning — although I’d prefer to receive them no later than tomorrow!

If you want to print a copy of the form right now, you can find it online here.

If your child doesn’t bring that form in signed before our viewing party on Monday afternoon, they will have to stay inside. There are no exceptions being made.

I think that would be a huge bummer!

Let me know if you have any questions,

Bill Ferriter

Urgent: Second WCPSS Eclipse Permission Form Coming Home

Dear Parents,

I was just notified this morning that WCPSS is requiring that the parents of all students who want to participate in a solar eclipse viewing party sign an additional “Waiver of Liability” document. This is in addition to the parent permission letter that you already signed.

You can find the additional form here


I will also be sending home a printed copy with your child today.

A few additional details:

This form requires the signature of a witness, too. That means you need to sign it in front of someone outside of your family. Consider bringing it to work and signing it in front of a colleague, stopping the mailman and asking him to watch you sign it, or finding a neighbor and getting them to witness your signature. You can even stop by school and have someone in the front office witness your signature. Heck, if you need me to, I’ll meet you in the carpool line to witness your signature! Just let me know that you’ll need me.

Forms without the signature of a witness won’t be accepted, though. That’s a directive from WCPSS leadership.

There is a photo/video release form on the back of the page, too. Mrs. Hofmann has invited the news to our viewing party. They will be taking pictures and possibly video. Please indicate on the back of the form being sent home today whether or not pictures of your child can be used by the news media or by WCPSS in any reporting about our event.

I apologize for the confusion around parent permissions. The decision to require this new “waiver of liability” document was just made by WCPSS’s senior level leadership. Until this morning, we were under the impression that our previous permission slips were enough.

Please email me at or text me at 919-622-3625 if you have any questions.

Be well,

Bill Ferriter

Looking for a Chromebook? Here’s a Deal on Refurbished Samsungs.

Dear Parents,

As you know, the preferred BYOD device at Salem Middle School are Chromebooks. That’s because all WCPSS students are given a Google Apps for Education account to use throughout the year. Your kids will be working in their Google Drives and Google Classrooms all year long.

If you are looking for a cheap Chromebook, there’s a deal on refurbished Samsungs on Tanga right now:

Samsung “Grade B” Refurbished Chromebooks – $88.99

Samsung “Grade C” Refurbished Chromebooks – $69.99

As you probably already know, refurbished machines are NOT new devices — but they have been fully tested to be sure that they function as new devices.  They may show some wear and tear on the body of the devices.  Essentially, they are used Chromebooks that have been reset to factory settings and tested to ensure that they are working properly.

While I can’t make any promises about the quality/reliability of the devices Tanga is selling, I have purchased close to 20 refurbished Samsung Chromebooks over the last few years and all are still working.  They may not be the prettiest device in the world, but they are used all day long by kids without trouble.  In fact, there’s a good chance your child has already used one of my Samsung Chromebooks this year.

Figured I’d pass this information along just in case you were still looking at devices for your child.

Hope this helps.  Let me know if you have any questions.

Bill Ferriter


Smartphone Apps for Solar Eclipse Day!

Dear Parents,

First, I can’t tell you how thankful I am for your willingness to send in Capri Suns for our solar eclipse viewing party! One of my only concerns about the day is thirsty kids sitting out in the hot sun.

If you are still willing to send in Capri Suns, I’ll take them! I’d rather have too many than too few — and anything that we have left over, we’ll use for other team events during the first quarter.

Second, if your child has a Smartphone or a tablet with a data plan, can you think about putting the following two observation apps on their devices in the next week:

NASA’s Globe Observer App: NASA has a neat app that people can use to submit observations about the world around them. They will have a special section for eclipse observations going live later this week. Data submitted is then used by researchers to confirm the accuracy of other evidence being collected by the agency. This is a neat example of "citizen science" — regular folks like you and I making observations that can later inform practicing scientists conducting research around the world. Available for Apple or Android Devices.

Google’s Science Journal App for Android: If you have an Android device, Google has put out a cool little app called Science Journal that is designed to let kids use the sensors in their phones to make observations of the world around them. Most helpful for our eclipse viewing party will be a light meter — which we can use to track the drop in light coming from the sun as the eclipse occurs. Only available on Android devices.

Both tools will be fun to tinker with while we are observing the eclipse. Neither is required — I have them on my phone and will be calling out the data to the kids during the course of our observation. But if your child does have a Smartphone and a data plan, this could be a good time to show them how their devices can be used for more than just watching YouTube videos!

I’ll be talking about the apps in class on Friday — so if this sounds good to you, please see if you can add the apps to your child’s device by then.

Hope this helps,

Bill Ferriter

LA Update

I enjoyed our introduction to Percy Jackson in The Lightning Thief! We spent a lot of time using evidence to make inferences about his character in chapters one and two of the novel. We will continue this work next week while reading chapters three and four. There will be a mid-unit assessment on Friday where students will be assessed on providing a “gist statement” for a text and citing evidence from the text to prove their answers.

You can check your child’s agenda or the Gnomes website for next week’s homework. I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend!

Chambliss Barrow
Salem Middle School
6th grade language arts

Social Studies- Update

This week in Social Studies the focus has been on map skills and Geography. Students took a quiz on Tuesday on Map Skills which were graded and returned today. The grades will be updated in Powerschools over the weekend. I was also super impressed with the maps they created of their bedrooms. There was a great deal of effort put forth on the details and labeling all the TALDOGS map elements.

Next week the focus will be on the 5 themes of Geography. The students will be studying the 5 themes and creating a country project based on the themes as well. It will be a mostly in class project, but there may be some portions that will be finished at home if they begin to fall behind. Tuesday there will be a quiz on the Continents and Oceans. There are materials on the Google Classroom to help them study for this.

Take care and have a great weekend.

Mr. Sudlow

Math 6/6Plus Update


We have finished another successful week at school and our first mathematics unit!

– Decimals Unit Test is Monday August 14th.
– Our next topic is factors vs multiples.
– Please use Google Classroom to keep up with homework and studying. : )

Hope everyone has an awesome weekend!

Kate Kotik