Thursday, September 11, 2014

FAQ- Grading, Retakes, and Procedures

It's that time...the eve of our first progress report. There may be several questions on your mind regarding the scores that you will see on your learner's progress reports. Here are some questions that you may have when your student brings home his/her report Friday afternoon.

What exactly does mastery of standards mean? All scores identify the level of mastery that an individual student reaches for each of the 6th grade standards. That means that as we practice with standards throughout the year, students work towards one-hundred percent mastery for each standard. Grades are not compensation for effort put forth but a communication of where he/she currently is on the learning continnuum for each standard.

Where are the assignments listed for each grade? Because students are graded on standards, you will see the standard identified for each "assignment." There will also be an indicator as to the specific task, activity, or project for which a score was taken.

My student scored low on a practice assignment or assessment. Can they earn some extra credit? Learners are being graded according to their level of mastery of the 6th grade standards. Extra credit gives inaccurate data on where a child stands in their learning. However, students can continue to work towards mastery of the standards. If a student would like to take the time to reflect on their progress, complete a retake contract and make arrangements to retake an assignment during Lunch and Learn, they are welcome to do this up until 10 days before the end of a grading period. 

I have at least one Lunch and Learn session a week where I conduct mini lessons for students who feel they need additional assistance in a standard. These are in addition to the small group lessons that I conduct during class three to four days a week. Students are also given access to additional study materials that they can use at home. In case you are wondering, yes, all of these instructional supports have been available and provided for your students since the beginning of the school year. All of these avenues have been thoroughly and explicitly explained to all of my students on multiple occasions.

For our students, part of being in middle school is learning how to take responsibility for their actions. Although, I will work with all students diligently in class and encourage each one to take advantage of all the additional learning opportunities, it is ultimately each individual student's responsibility to fill out a retake contract, meet with me one-on-one, take time to relearn through the plethora of opportunities, and make arrangements to complete a retake.

How are scores determined on retakes? Students will keep the score that demonstrates the highest level of mastery. In iNow at Home, when you sign-in, you will see the scores noted for each of the attempts. However, only the highest score will be the one that counts towards a final average.

How does my learner know how to improve? For every assignment, I provided detailed feedback on how he/she can improve. In their blog posts, I will leave private comments that are only viewable to that student with specific information regarding their level of mastery and areas they may need to grow. In all cases, students are also given resources and tips on how they can continue to grow in that area.

Hopefully, these have addressed any questions you may have had in regards to your learner's grades including what they can do to continue to grow. Using these procedures, my students always have an extremely successful school year filled with exponential growth...and a lot of fun along the way.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Bring Your Own Device

I wanted to take a minute to make all of you aware of the digital device policy for 6th grade. Students at Rock Quarry Middle School are allowed to bring their digital devices to school. That includes devices such as smart phones, iPod Touches, Kindles, iPads, tablets, Nooks, or laptops. These devices need to be internet capable.

In our classroom, we will use digital tools on a regular basis to support individual student learning. If your student brings his/her device to school, please remember that he/she must take responsibility for it. When in class, their devices must sit on their desks the entire class period. When not in use, the device must be face down on a student's desk. If it is a device that opens, such as a Chromebook or netbook, it must remain on their desk closed until they are given instructions to begin its use.

In our class, we will use devices for different types of assessment (formal and informal), writing, publishing, communicating, creating, and collaborating.It is exciting when students learn how much the tools that they use in their everyday lives can positively impact and support their learning too.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Class Reading Texts and Novels

Throughout the school year, in our English Language Arts class, we will be reading a wide variety of texts across many different genres. Typically, we will have an ongoing literature study. In today's digital society much of our reading is moving to a digital format. That being said, I realize that many of my learners have devices where they can download an eBook version of the books that we will read in class. This is not mandatory, but it would give your student the opportunity to notate in his/her eBook as we read through the books in class. Similarly, if your student would like to have his/her own print copy of the book, that would be great as well. Although this is not a requirement, having a personal copy in print or digital format would give students an opportunity to have the same text at home and school with their specific notes.

The first book we will read is Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life by James Patterson. After completing that, we will be joining thousands of other students in the Global Read Aloud (more about that exciting project in another post) by reading the book One for the Murphys by Lynda Mullaly Hunt. 

In addition to our whole group literature, genre, or text studies, students will continue to read something of their choice. Students may bring print or digital versions of whatever they are reading to class as each student strives to grow as independent readers.

Monday, August 18, 2014

RamsaysClass on Twitter

Research has proven that one of the most powerful learning tools for middle level students is the ability to socialize.  We are fortunate to live in a time that provides us with the opportunity to learn from anyone, anytime, and in any place. In our digital world, social media is extremely prevalent. It is imperative that students learn how to make safe and wise choices when they interact online.

My goal is to prepare them for their lives outside of the classroom walls in today's digital world. We will spend the beginning of the school year learning about netiquette, online safety, and cyber bullying. The students will be developing lifelong habits while in the safety of the classroom. Just like we wouldn't ban pencils from the school if one student writes on the restroom wall, we do not want to prevent students from expanding their horizons by supporting their learning using a tool which can broaden their horizons and cause them to take ownership of their learning journey.

With that in mind, our class will be connecting with students from all over the world through our class Twitter account. You can find us at where you also will gain a peek into our daily activities. Please be aware that I am the only one with access to this account. I will approve and monitor everything that my students tweet out as well as anything that other students tweet to us. Twitter is a powerful tool where students can reflect on their learning, compose stories, participate in book chats, write poetry for an authentic audience, set academic goals, and probe other students for deeper understanding of content.

This is my seventh year to tweet with my classes. It is always astounding how much learning is generated in using a simple tool like Twitter. We hope you will join us in our learning journey this year as we tweet away.

PS- You can also find us (@RamsaysClass) on Instagram using the same procedures as we do on Twitter.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Welcome to Sixth Grade!

Dear Parents and Students,

Welcome to sixth grade! I am your English Language Arts and/or Reading teacher. I am a twenty-year teaching veteran, educational author, writer, and National Board Certified Teacher. I have been eagerly anticipating the beginning of a new school with you; one that I am confident will be highly successful. My class is a student-direct learning environment where students have a voice and choice in their learning with the support and guidance from me that each student needs, wherever they are on the learning continuum. Every practice in which we engage is supported by proven research for best practices in promoting the highest level of success for each student.

 Many of the traditional teaching methods that you may have experienced in the past will look different than the practices in our class. Much of our learning will take place with the support of digital tools using digital age literacy to increase a student’s growth, motivation, and enthusiasm for learning. My students will be connected with students from around the world to collaborate, connect, and learn with throughout this entire school year. Although our learning may appear different, students will be held to high expectations and challenged on whatever level they may be on each of the content area standards. In this type of environment, students take ownership of their learning. I feel very fortunate to get to witness how each student blossoms and grows in this type of learning environment.

In order for our students to have the highest degree of success, I know that we need to build a strong relationship between home and school. I have arranged several different mediums where we can communicate, and you can stay informed of our classroom learning activities. First, we have a class website, This site contains important information about procedures, routines, and units of study. As school begins, additions will be regularly made. For classroom activities and news, you can visit our class blog,, where we will post more specific activities, giving you a window into our classroom. I will write the first several posts, but then the students will take ownership in writing and publishing the blog posts, under my guidance. Please take time to sign up for alerts when a new blog is posted by filling in the “Follow RamsaysClass by Email.” I know that you will not want to miss any of the exciting things going on in our class. Also, for a further connection, please consider following our class on Twitter and Instagram, @RamsaysClass, for current insight into not only announcements, but also insight into the learning that is taking place in our classroom and through our global connections.

I know that you know your student extremely well. In an effort to increase my knowledge of your student so that I can better plan instructional practices to support his/her learning, please take a moment to complete the following survey: I am thrilled as we embark on this epic learning adventure together!

Mrs. Ramsay, NBCT

Monday, February 24, 2014

Innovation Day: Let's Get Ready to Learn!

On February 21-22 we did a little thing called Innovation Day. Actually, it was a BIG thing. The entire 6th grade got to study and learn about a topic that they wanted to learn about. They also had to make a project showing what they learned. That's right....the STUDENTS got to choose what they wanted to learn about and how they wanted to share their learning.

After conferring with teacher and completing a planning guide, the students were split up into groups based on topic. The students got to spend all of their academic classes (P.E. and elective is not an academic class) in that one room and work on their projects in order to find the answers to their wonderings and become an expert on their topic. At the end of the day they had to be experts on their topic. The students could study whatever topic they wanted. Their were no limits, but it had to be done by the end of the day.

The next day the students shared their projects to half the grade. All of the projects were very creative. We had projects on Mardi Gras, car engineering, chocolate, even nail polish. Some kids made Glogsters, Tackk, Storyjumpers, powerpoints or Vokis while other built things or created models.

The projects were well thought through and very interesting. Some of the kids brought treats for the other kids that related to their projects. The students had to present their projects in less than two minutes. While one kid was presenting everybody else had to write down on a sheet of paper the presenters name, topic, subject(s), and something they learned.

Everybody enjoyed the day and learned about topics that they would not learn about in school. I can't wait to do this again. It was an amazing filled with more learning that we ever could have done without Innovation Day.

Blog you later!!!!!! ~S.C.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

"The Case of the Missing Teacher"

"The Case of the Missing Teacher" was a crime that occurred when we got into our Language classroom. Here is how it all started...

 We had just entered the room, but there was no teacher. There was a note on the board. There was a bunch of spelling mistakes in the note. Mrs. Ramsay is a spelling and language arts teacher, so we knew that this had to be on purpose. We had been studying a mystery unit, so we started to think. We got all of the letters that were missing or were not supposed to be there.  The mistakes spelled out Mr. Maxey, our principal. We quickly got together a group that would go down to Mr. Maxey's office. We found our first clue. We also videoed the entire thing in case we had missed something. We had followed the clues all over the school. Each room that we went to had a green note saying where the clue was. One was in Dr. Fondren's office, Mrs. Hardy's office, and in a library book. The last clue said that we have already seen the person who took Mrs. Ramsay. It also said that if we knocked down a wall in our classroom she would be there. Mrs. Abrams's closet goes into our classroom. We then all ran straight into Mrs. Abrams's classroom and went into our closet. Their was Mrs. Ramsay grading papers. That is the case of the missing teacher.

We all had a lot of fun finding Mrs. Ramsay. We learned all about teamworkand applying what we'd learned about mysteries. We also had to challenge our minds. We want to give a big thanks to Caroline and Mrs. Ramsay for making all of this possible. We had tons of fun and hope that we can do it all again. We love to do things like this in Ramsayland. (a.k.a Mrs. Ramsay's classroom) Thanks again for making this happen!

Blog you later!!!!!! ~SC

Six Word Memoirs

Our class did a 6 Word Memoir.  In a 6 Word Memoir, you summarize a point in your life in exactly six words. You can  explain your feelings, your life, or whatever you want, but it must be in six words. 

The 6 Word Memoir is pretty challenging because you have to really think how you are going to write about your life in six words. We started by looking at and analyzing some published 6 Word Memoirs online. After we discussed our findings, we began to brain storm some ways to create our won to publish in our digital portfolios. 

This actually challenged our class a bit. Mrs. Ramsay challenged us to write a 6Word Memoir about who we were as a learner when we entered sixth grade and how we have changed after learning together for a semester. We think our memoirs were really good. Many people use analogies and imagery to share their story. You could actually understand what they were trying to say in six words if you stop and contemplate the meaning behind their memoir. Even though it was challenging, it was fun at the same time.

Always go big, never go home.  ~A.C.

Never stay down, always get up ~ C.C.

Small successes lead to bigger ones. ~ M.S.

Was a pencil, now a pen. ~ P.N

Was a blossom, now a flower. ~ E.L.

Was so stupid, now so smart. ~ Z.X

Once a seed, now a tree~ S.S

I was black, now I'm gold. ~ S.C.

Once empty canvas, now fully colored. ~ M.D.

Taught by an author......became one.~M.P.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                                                  First uninformed communicator now intelligent communicator~A.R.S

Was blind now I can see.~C.B

Was small and dull, now elaborate.~C.F.

I was an ant ; Now a skyscraper.~L.B

It was hard, I got stronger. ~W.H

I was weak, now I'm strong. ~ K.W

First came rain then came rainbows. ~ P.S

Some talent, now overflowing with abilities. ~ A.G

Was a dreamer, now a believer. L.A.

Pick yourself up and try again.~ C.M.

Started school bad, now star student.~ C.L