Friday, May 1, 2015

May Day, May Day! (Not really, we're actually awesome)

Quite a bunch, wouldn't you say?

The 2015 MCS Yearbook: A Sixth Grade Joint
As some of you know, the sixth graders are doing the MCS yearbook as a project-based learning experience in Math class. They have gone through the RFP process with local printers, created an ad schedule to cover print costs and generate revenue, are collecting images from school and community sources, and will design the entire piece. If you own a business or have a product or service to publicize, consider buying an ad in the yearbook to help the students achieve this giant undertaking. If you are a sixth grade parent, you also may choose to take out an "ad" for your student, wishing them luck at Mount Abe or congratulating them on their promotion from MCS. We can design it for you or you can create it yourself. Just ask for the specs. Yearbook ad prices are as follows:

⅛-page ad - $12 (2.5” x 4”)
¼-page - $25 (4” x 4”)
⅓-page - $35 (4” x 8”)
½-page - $50 (6” x 8”)
Full page - $100 (8” x 10”)

Please also remember that part of the fun with the yearbook is the annual sixth grade baby picture matching game. Please email me a digital baby picture or send in a hard copy with the student's name attached to it somehow.

Book Fair
The Spring Scholastic Book Fair will be held at MCS on May 5th-12th (closed May 8th) from 8am-3pm every day, until 4pm on the 5th, 7th, and 12th, and until 6pm on the 11th. Cash and checks payable to MCS are accepted, as are credit and debit cards. Please let Ms. Esterline know if your child has any special instructions about what they may buy. Kids will have a bit of time early on to check out the Book Fair and then buyers will be excused to go shopping throughout the remainder of the week.

Fine Arts Festival & Chorus Trip - Bring A Lunch!
We will be spending time at the Fine Arts Festival on Wednesday the 6th. The fifth and sixth graders will leave MCS at 10:30am, attend a presentation of hilarious performance artist The Real McCoy from 11-11:45am, and have time to visit the gallery from 12-12:30pm. Students will need a bag lunch and we will make time to eat it while at Mount Abe (it could be quick, so simplicity rules!). We will arrive back at MCS by 1pm. On Tuesday the 5th, students in Chorus will be at Mount Abe all day to practice for the ANESU Chorus concert. A bright pink permission slip from Miss Carina went home on Monday and needs to come back a.s.a.p. Chorus kids will also need a bag lunch on Tuesday. Busy, busy!

Ethiopia Teacher Exchange
Last week, we welcomed Mrs. Tadelech and Mr. Adane into Room 110 on Thursday afternoon to check out our various and sundry Literacy and Humanities workshop activities. You'll recall that Ms. Yerrick and Ms. Carter went to Awassa, Ethiopia last year and Tadelach's class was one that they visited. We had a great, big welcome assembly on Thursday afternoon as well, reprising our 2012 hit "Farmland," written in collaboration with Pete Sutherland. I love that MCS is a place where the teachers' wonderful life experiences always come back around to the students and school community. How cool to hang out, even for a little while, with teachers from East Africa and what wonders it does for everyone's sense of magic and diversity in the world.

Dynamic Landscapes Conference
By now, you've heard that we're kind of a big deal and all of our good works have gotten us a lot of cool attention from famous-makers like News Channel 3-WCAX and Alex Trebek. On Thursday and Friday, May 21st and 22nd, I will be presenting at the Dynamic Landscapes technology education conference at Champlain College in a couple of different ways. On Thursday, I am part of a personalized learning panel thanks to my work on the ANESU curriculum team; I'm also doing a TED-style talk (all by myself!) about our Genius Hour program. On Friday morning, I have been asked by Google Educator and Vermont innovation education teacher leader Lucie delaBruere to bring some students to the conference to host the Maker Lounge from 9-11am. I will be asking students to apply for this privilege in some way, likely in a proposal that will be vetted by Mrs. Knox and me, and, once we have chosen our representatives, will let families know who has been asked to attend. I think I can bring five or six kids and will send details after I have had time to curate the specifics, which live in my Inbox right now.

Four Winds
Ms. Blanchette, Mrs. Parker, and I are working to schedule our last two Four Winds sessions for the year. We will likely have them both in May. The April unit that we need to catch up on is about animal camouflage and the May unit is about frogs and toads. Sweet! The kids will need water shoes or wellies for the frog and toad unit and I will let you know the exact dates once we firm things up. Spring at MCS is such a fabulous time!

Can We Find Common Ground?
The trip to Camp Common Ground is coming up fast. Many sixth graders have chosen this camping trip as their "Favorite MCS Memory" in the yearbook and this year won't disappoint... Unless we can't find enough chaperones! I know the overnight commitment is tricky with family and work schedules, but we are hurtin' for certain with regard both to folks to stay overnight and those to help in the kitchen. Even if you arrive after dinner and have to leave after breakfast, it would be a giant favor for us if you could be a part of the trip. Likewise, folks to keep the snacks fresh and dinner hot are a key part of creating literal happy campers.

Reading For Days
One last thing... As we wind down the year and start to look at what we have achieved, I have been playing around with the data from my records of the amount of reading the kids have all done as part of their weekly homework. I track reading homework in half-hour increments, so weekly scores need to be at least a "4" representing the required two-hours (unless it's a short week, of course). The Read-A-Thon really inspired kids to beef up the amount of time they spend out of class reading and earlier this week, I did a check with students to make sure they had all of their weeks accounted for. I was inspired to tell them about research that suggests that time reading out of school is as good for the brain as time in school, so we figured out the formula to determine how many extra school days each student has earned thanks to doing their reading homework. If you think of it, ask your reader how many days of school they have attended without even knowing it, thanks to being an avid reader. Some of the totals were excellently impressive!

Upcoming Dates:
5/6 - MTA visit for 6th graders at 9am
5/6 - Fine Arts Festival in the late morning/early afternoon
5/7 - MTA parent info night at 5pm
5/8 - No school for students
5/11 - Pajama Day!
5/11 - Gagner out in afternoon, Ms. Jones in
5/21 - Gagner out all day, Ms. Blaise in
5/22 - Gagner out in morning, Ms. Blaise in
5/25 - Memorial Day
6/4 - Makerfaire at 1pm in the Gym
6/8-9 - Trip to Camp Common Ground (chaperones still needed!!)
6/16 - Last Day of School!

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