Final Two Weeks / Schedule of Activities

Dear Parents,

We’ve been getting a ton of questions lately about the schedule of events over the last two weeks of school. While everything isn’t set in stone yet, here’s what we know for sure:

Testing week: June 19th – 23rd: Please do your best to make sure that your kids get a good night sleep, eat something for breakfast, and come to school with two sharpened #2 pencils. Here are the specific dates of specific exams:

June 19th: Reading EOG exam

June 20th: Math EOG exam

June 21st: Social Studies EOG exam

June 22nd: Science EOG exam

June 23rd: Makeup testing for any students who are absent

Final week of school: June 26th – 30th: We’ve got lots of special things happening this week on Wednesday through Friday of this week. Monday and Tuesday will be regular school days. Here’s what we’ve locked down for the rest of the week for certain so far:

Wednesday June 28th:

Fourth Quarter Honors Assesmbly: 8:30-9:40 in the Auditorium. Parents are invited to attend. Parents of students receiving a Teachers Choice Award or an End of Year Character Award will be notified directly. Honor Roll Certificates will be handed out

End of Year Pizza Party Signup Genius

Dear Parents,

On Thursday, June 29th, we’d like to have an end of the year pizza party with our students! All students will need to send in money to cover the cost of the pizza. Mrs. Kotik will be sending home details about that in the near future.

We will also need parents who are willing to donate things like drinks, fruit, veggies and chips for the party. Finally, we’ll need a few parents who are willing to come in and help us to set up, serve pizza and then clean up when we are done!

If you think you can help with those things, here is a Signup Genius:

Thanks in advance for helping us to put on a nice end of the year celebration for your kids.

Looking forward,

Bill Ferriter

Science Update / Extra Credit Available

Dear Parents,

Here’s what’s happening in science:

Finishing our energy unit: We spent this week talking about sound and light waves and how they transfer energy from one place to another. We also started talking about how heat energy transfers between objects of different temperatures. We will finish talking about heat on Monday and that will mark the end of our heat unit. There will be no unit test for energy simply because we need as many days of class time as possible to work through our Space unit.

Starting our space unit: We will spend the last two weeks before EOG exams studying space. Our unit covers two big ideas. The first is how the earth, moon and sun work together to create things like seasons, phases of the moon and tides. There is also a quick review of how we get day/night and years. The second big idea in our space unit are the characteristics of habitable planets. We study each of the planets in the solar system — but through the lens of, “Why are these planets NOT able to support life?”

Extra credit available and being collected on Thursday: If your child is unsatisfied with his/her fourth quarter average, they can turn extra credit in on Thursday of next week. The easiest extra credit to do will be to complete Brainpop videos, quizzes and worksheets on topics from our matter, energy and space units. For every quiz that students score an 80 on in their FIRST attempt, I will add 3 points to a low grade. For every worksheet completed accurately, I will add 7 points to a low grade. You can find a list of all of the videos connected to the matter, energy and space units in our EOG review handout.

The key here is that students must score an 80 on the video quiz on their FIRST attempt. It’s not uncommon to see students take the quiz 3 or 4 times before earning an 80 and then asking for extra points. Instead, have your students watch the video 3 or 4 times before taking the quiz — and consider encouraging them to take notes and/or complete worksheets BEFORE taking the quizzes.

The goal for students doing extra credit is to prove that they’ve learned material that they originally struggled with. That’s a lot easier to do if they can show mastery on Brainpop quizzes the first time that they take the quiz.

Hope this helps,

Bill Ferriter

LA Update

Hopefully everyone had a chance to look over the practice EOG analysis with their students last night. If not, your student has an analysis of the exam and a quick reflection. I asked that students take it home and speak with their parents about their strengths, weaknesses and goals when it comes to reading.

We will wrap up our quick look at nonfiction next week with a nonfiction assessment on Thursday. On Friday, we will spend time revising our literary analysis papers. This is an assignment from a little while back; I have provided some direct feedback to their writing, so I will give them a chance to see the feedback and make adjustments.

The following week will be some EOG review and pump-up for the upcoming week!

Please let me know if you have questions. Have a wonderful weekend!

Chambliss Barrow
Salem Middle School
6th grade language arts

Proctor Call


Thanks to those of you who have already volunteered to proctor our Track 1 testing week. We could not have done it without you!

Our big testing week is 3 weeks away. We still need a lot of proctors! Without you, we fear we will be forced to create less than ideal testing environments for our students. If you can spare a day (or even more), we would appreciate your time. It takes 2 weeks for new volunteer security clearance to clear, so with 3 weeks left, there is time for you to help. All you need to do is come into Salem and fill out an online form. It only takes 5 minutes!

Below is our current needs for June. Please take a look at the dates and your schedule and see if you can offer some time.

Here’s what you can do to help:

  1. Make sure your volunteer registration is up to date. You will need to update your registration if you have not already done so this school year (since July 1, 2015).
  2. Sign up for the date(s) you are available to proctor on our Sign-Up Genius:
  3. Attend proctor training to be held on the morning of your first day of volunteer proctoring.

On your first testing day, please arrive at 7:30AM for proctor training. On subsequent days, please check in at 7:45AM and report to your assigned room so we can begin testing promptly. Volunteers should plan on being here until at least 12:00PM. This time may be longer or shorter depending on the testing session.

Thanks for all you do to support learning and teaching at Salem Middle!

Our current needs are:

June 19th: 2 more proctors needed
June 20th: 12 more proctors needed
June 21st: 8 more proctors needed
June 22nd: 10 more proctors needed
June 23rd: 9 more proctors needed
Plus some needs the following week

Science Update / Studying for EOG Test?

Dear Parents,

First, here’s to hoping that your Memorial Day weekend was restful and relaxing!  I was at the pool for the whole weekend, so I’m heavily chlorinated (and caffinated!) this morning.

Second, here’s what’s happening in Science:

Continuing to move through our energy unit:  We are right at the end of our study of energy.  We have looked at the ways that light and sound travel — and at the ways that our eyes interpret light.  Today, we’ll be looking at how our ears interpret sound.  Then, we’ll spend a day or two talking about the way that heat travels and we’ll be at the end of energy!

Moving into a unit on Space:  Once we are done with energy, we’ll move into a study of space.  Specifically, we look at the earth – moon – sun system (things like tides, day/night, seasons) and the characteristics of habitable planets.  There are tons of cool things to study during our space unit given all the space exploration going on right now — so the kids really dig this unit.

Studying for EOG test:  Are your kids spending 20 minutes a night studying for their science EOG?  If not, they should be!  The EOG science exam is really challenging because it is nothing more than 35 isolated facts from across the entire year’s worth of studying.  The best way to study is for students to watch two Brainpop videos, take two Brainpop quizzes and do two Brainpop worksheets every single night between now and the exam.  There is a tracking sheet listing all of the videos connected to our curriculum currently posted in Google Classroom.  I’ve been reminding students to do this every day during class.

A quick reminder:  You can also learn more about what we are studying by checking out this site — where I’ve been sharing short ( > 2 minutes) videos about our content and our curriculum almost every day.  You can also have your kids watch these videos for review.

Hope this helps,

Bill Ferriter

LA Update

Happy LONG weekend!

We will be taking a practice reading EOG on Tuesday. This is a released copy of a previous EOG, so we should be able to collect some data to steer the instruction for the remainder of the year. The students and I will be analyzing our test data from the test at the end of the week. We will break the test into its standards in order to see both our strengths and weaknesses.

We will spend the rest of the week studying irony (fun!) and reading more nonfiction.

Enjoy the weekend!

Chambliss Barrow
Salem Middle School
6th grade language arts

Science Update / Are Your Kids Studying for the EOG?

Dear Parents,

Just a quick update on Science happenings:

Pushing through light, sound and heat: Our current unit covers the way that energy travels. We explicitly study light, sound and heat. Right now, we are nearing the end of our study of light. Your students should be able to tell you all about how color works, what happens to light when it enters a new medium, and what the parts of a light wave are. We will be moving into a study of sound today and tomorrow and we will finish with a study of heat early next week.

Lots of demonstrations/questions available online: I’ve been posting 2 minute videos covering the topics we are studying in class each day on Twitter. Those videos are also cross posted online on this blog. Consider checking it out — or having your child check it out — on a regular basis. It’s a great way to review topics that we are reviewing in class.

Grades posted: There are a TON of new science grades posted in Powerschools. Be sure to check those out. There are tons of missing assignments right now that are having a negative influence on grades.

Studying for EOG exam: PLEASE don’t forget that your child should be spending 20 minutes EVERY night studying for their end of grade exam. The best way to study is to use Brainpop. Every student has their own copy of this handout, detailing all of the videos that are connected to our curriculum. I’d recommend that students watch two of those videos — starting with the topics they are the least familiar with — every night, take the “review quizzes” associated with those videos, and complete one of the “activities.” If you want your child to do additional studying, they can use our science textbook — which is found in Discovery Ed

Do You Want to Help Your Child Prepare for the End of Grade Science Exam?

Dear Parents,

I’m not sure if you’ve heard about it yet or not, but your kids have an end of grade exam in science this year.

It’s actually a REALLY tough test because it is 35 multiple choice, fact-based questions that cover content from the entire year.  That’s awful tough to prepare for.  Heck — even in college, when fact driven tests were a regular part of our lives, we only had to remember facts from one semester.  And we were 20 years old!  Your twelve year olds will have to remember content going all the way back to July 27th.

By far, the BEST way for your child to study is to use Brainpop — the online service that has short (2-5 minute) videos about darn near every topic in our required curriculum.  The videos do a great job of reviewing key concepts and essential vocabulary — just the kind of stuff found on our end of grade exams.

To help kids do this preparation work, I’ll be sharing this handout with them tomorrow in Google Classroom.  It lists every video related to every topic that we’ve studied this year and includes places to record quiz scores and lessons learned from each video.

While I am not requiring kids to do this work, I hope that you will at home!

It will be the only significant work assigned between now and the end of the year.  I’d recommend that you require your child to watch two videos per day, complete the quizzes for both videos, and  — if they have the time — to complete one of the activities related to the video.  Students can also do this work in my room during Spartan Time each day.

Doing so will really help your kids to be prepared for the end of grade exam.

Thanks for your help with this,

Bill Ferriter

Want to Know What’s Happening in Science Most Days?

Dear Parents,

Not sure if you’ve seen it yet, but I’ve started creating a bunch of short videos highlighting demonstrations and concepts related to the topics that we are studying in science class. Those videos can all be found online here:

It could be a great way for you to get a sense for what we are studying. It could also be a great way for your kids to review the concepts that they are learning on a day to day basis.

I can’t promise that I’ll make a video every day, but it’s definitely something that I’m striving for.

Give it a look,

Bill Ferriter