Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Vocabulary Games

So have you ever thought about putting vocabulary words into a game? Well, we did. Mrs. Ramsay said we could create any kind of game or activity that would help us practice and teach each other word strategies. We could do anything from a board game to a acting game to a computer game. 

Every person chose a different kind of a game to create. Our even teacher  made up a whole page of links that showed us some different ways to do our vocabulary games...in case we weren't sure where to begin. The other language arts class did it too; they said it was a great idea and they had  fun doing it too.

My group made different types of board games, a card game, an my game. I had a acting game kind of like charades. We also practiced our informational writing by composing the directions and rules that went with our game. 

Once we were all done, we got to play our games with everyone else in the class. It was so interesting to see how different every game was. Of course, the games were fun to play and we were able to build our vocubualry.

Jayden & Highland

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

All Hallows Read...Suspense

October 29th was All Hallows Read. The week before All Hallows Read, we saw this riddle on the board:
Beware the time is drawing nigh
      for All Hallows Read.
 A tool to illuminate your way,
 you'll most certainly need. 

After a lot of contemplating, we figured out that we needed to bring a flashlight to class, but we had not idea why.

On All Hallows Read day, our class lined up like it was a normal day, but when we entered the classroom....it was very, very different.  All the lights were off, and the only light we had were tea lights that we all over the room. On the board it said that this was All Hallows Read. We found out that for this All Hallows Read we were going learn about and practice with suspense.

First, we completed a brain drain about suspense. A brain drain is when we all right down everything we know about a topic. Once we had finished the brain drain, we discussed our ideas. Some of the things we said made things suspenseful were music, lighting, slowing things down, pauses, repetition,  foreshadowing, and imagery.

Next, we had gone over this we watched a clip from The Birds  by Alfred Hitchcock. It was the final bird attack scene, and it was VERY suspenseful. After we had finished watching it, we talked more about what made it so suspenseful. It turns out, we knew a lot about suspense.

We then read Jumanji  (in the dark by flashlight) and  talked about what made it suspenseful. It was a lot of the same elements that made The Birds suspenseful. Finally we wrote suspenseful short stories, and by short we mean 140 characters. We tweeted those out with the hashtag #allhallowsread.

This was a really fun, spooky and exciting day and we learned a lot about suspense! We really hope we can have another awesome day like this one soon!

~Allison & Emily

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Immigration Day

  Immigration Day was a blast. We all had so much fun. Immigration Day was a reinactment of how immigrants would get through Ellis Island and into America. There were six stations to represent this. They were customs, physical exam, mental exam, health exam, eye exam, and legal exam. Once we finished these, we were welcomed  into  America,. It might sound easy, but the exams weren't to easy to get through.

Right when we started the day, we were all on a "ship." We had to have our passports and visas prepared to show as we boarded the ship. The ship was very tight for everyone, except for the first class, of course. They weren't tightly packed on the ship, and they didn't have to go through the stations. They ate cookies Most people had to wait a long time to get off the ship just like the immigrants a hundred years ago.

    Now let us tell you about each station. As soon as you got off the ship, we had to go to the customs station. Here parents asked us general questions about their immigrant's life, such as age, name, place of birth, height, weight, etc. If you got one of these questions wrong you were deported back to the ship. This may not sound difficult, but these parents were all speaking different languages, not English. It was frustrating, just like it was for immigrants who came and didn't speak any English.

 If we passed through customs, then next you went to the physical exam where they tested you to see if you were physically able to work. They found this out by making you do a series of exercises. If you kept up, you were fine and able to move to the next station. If you didn't, you went to the hospital.

The next station was the mental exam. As soon as you got in there, you had to take a test with five questions. They did this to see if you could get creative answers. After that, you had to build an object out of different shape blocks. If the professor didn't see what you built, you were sent to the hospital. The hospital was a room where you would lay down for a few minutes to try and recover and try an exam again. Then the nurse would ask you questions similar to the customs station to make sure you were well. If you got them wrong you either got a lucky chance to lay back down, or you were deported.

The next station was sort of like a double station because it had two stations in the same room. The first one was the eye exam where you look at a letter chart and read out the letters. After that it was eye health. They asked you how you were feeling and made you look through this little tool. They asked you if it was blurry or clear to test how your eyes felt.

The next and final station was the legal exam. In this station, they showed you what it would be like in the shoes of real immigrants (Not speaking the same language). We were asked questions about our immigrant in Spanish. Don't worry; we had it translated to us. After that, we had at last finished the rotations for Ellis Island, and were in America.

Overall this was a great learning experience for all of the kids in the 6th grade. It really helped us to understand what it was like for an immigrant coming to our country a hundred years ago in search of a better life for them and their families.

   ~Reece & Graden

Mystery Skype

Have you ever talked to someone even though you don't know where they were or who they were? Three weeks ago we had our first Mystery Skype. We have to say it is a lot like twenty questions with another class. We were in a competition to see who would guess where each other class is located.

Two students volunteered to go up on the board and write down the "yes" and "no" answers to the questions. Every two people had a Chromebook with Google Maps to help us narrow down location options.

Each table group got to go up to the computer and ask the other team/class where they lived. For example, ''Do you live in the Central time zone?'' The other team/class would answer and we would put the answer on either the "yes" or "no" column. Then, the other team/class asked us a question, and they would record the data. This pattern went on until we finally guessed the location of the class we were Skyping.

After that, we started talking about the book Fish which was the book that was read for the Global Read Aloud. We made note cards with five different questions about Fish. Then, we went up as table groups again and asked the other class questions about how they liked the book Fish. We also asked some questions like, "what is your favorite chapter and why?"

Mystery Skype is super fun and a great way to socialize and learn about things that you normally wouldn't. We loved meeting people and getting to discuss how great the book was!

~Gretchen, Lakin, & Jackie

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Ramsay's Class Chalk Talk

Thinking about a quote can seem boring, but at the Ramsay Chalk Talk, we started to comprehend the real meaning of them. A Chalk Talk is an activity where everyone in the room actively participates in a conversation without actually talking. Each person gets a dry erase marker and we respond to a quote and to one another's ideas. For our first Chalk Talk, we used this quote from Malala.
"Let us make our future now, and let us make our dreams tomorrow's reality. " - Malala. 

After reading the quote to ourselves, we would take a dry erase marker and draw a line from a word in the quote and write what it meant to us. What made it a challenge was we couldn't talk. We would comment off of other peoples' ideas on a word and that started a conversation without even talking! This activity took up the ENTIRE wall (and most of the class time)! There was so much writing that some people had to stand on chairs to write something more. 

Everybody in our class really, really enjoyed it and would love to do it again! It took time, patience, and not a lot of talking to complete this task. After we were done we stood back and took a look at what we accomplished. We pointed out some interesting comments that we found and talked about them. When we looked back at what we did, we were astonished by how much thought we had put into this activity and how much we learned from everyone's perspectives. We would love to this again, and we would recommend it for other classes.  

PS: Yes, we write on the wall! It's painted with Idea Paint which turns the entire back classroom wall into a dry erase board. How cool is that?

~Maddie & Sophia

Monday, November 2, 2015

Creepy Science 2015

On Friday, we had a phenomenal day of Hands-on, Minds-on learning with Creepy Science. Thanks to the volunteers from UA and our wonderful parents, our sixth graders had an amazing opportunity to experience different science principles with exciting experiments. Enjoy the highlights with this Storify:

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Mathopoly Day!

September 25th was Mathopoly! Mathopoly is a fun day when we play a BIG, interactive Monopoly, but with math! We got to go from classroom to classroom, doing different centers! The teachers were also dressed up as the Monopoly conductor! It was very fun! 

In the first class I went to, we read a book about pi. We got to blow bubbles and then find the circumference of them! We learned that you multiply the diameter of the circle by pi, to get the circumference. This station was called Literature Lane.

In the next station, Cooking Court, we got to multiply fractions in a recipe. This recipe made some really yummy trail-mix!

Then we went to our math teacher at Pattern Parkway. We learned about rotational symmetry. Rotational symmetry is when you can turn a shape any way and it all looks the same! In that group we got to draw rotational symmetry patterns on a circle! 

I then went to Restaurant Row, it's where we ordered food by multiplying decimals. We could order any items that we wanted from off the Rock Quarry Cafe menu up to $2.00. It was yummy. 

Then it was off we went to Bubblegum Boulevard where we chewed gum and graphed how many bubbles we could blow in 2 minutes. 

My group finally went to Track and Field Trace. There we threw shot-put and measured how far we could throw it in meters. Then we had to convert those meters to decimals. 

All of these skills could help us outside of school, so I like how we learned it in a way that we will use it a lot. If we ever have to measure in the metric system, we know how to convert, or if we ever need to measure a recipe or multiply fractions to help us cook. Instead of just note taking, we got put in hands-on situations to learn it! 

At each station we could earn Rock Quarry Money. We got $10 if we applied our math skills accurately and $5 if we needed some assistances. At the end of the day, we could cash in our money for a popsicle. We all sat down with our  class and ate popsicles together. I loved Mathopoly, it was a really fun day, and I hope we can have another day like this soon! 

~Emily B

Monday, September 28, 2015

Our Mathopoly Storify

Here are some of the highlights of our hands-on, minds-on Matholpoly Day where students spent the day applying their math standards to authentic situations and challenges.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Lit Centers with Mrs.Ramsay

 Lit Centers with Mrs.Ramsay are so much fun!  The word lit means literacy. Literacy is all the things that have to do with reading and writing. We work on these during our ELA class. Some are very chellenging, but fun. In Lit Centers, we get to do fun things like make up memes, read, create blogs, go online to work on Google Drive, and do vocabulary.com. All of these activities help us become better readers, writers, thinkers, and speakers. We work to master our standards and create great projects to show what we are able to do.

One of our centers is Liberating Lexis where we work on building our vocabulary. We do things like crating a Pictionary Dictionary and vocabulary.com. Also, we each have our own Personal Dictionaries that we build in the back of our comp books. Vocabulary.com is where you go online and practice finding definitions for words. On this website, it helps you learn the words that YOU need to learn. Everyone's list is different. That's cool, huh?

One more example of what we do is we get to practice with things that we may individually need to work on like naming verbs, adjectives, parts of speech, adverbs, and infinitive verbs. We call this center Grammar Grabber. It helps us learn how to make more complex sentences so that our writing is interesting...and so lots of others will read our writing.

Also in Lit Centers, we get to learn some new things that we don't know about everyday. We sometimes get to talk to friends about what we are reading. This gives us ideas for new books to read. We get to comment on other people's blogs. Our comments tell about what they did well at and what suggestions on how they can grow.  We do this everyday to improve on our learning skills. You should come to Mrs. Ramsay's class and do Lit Centers. They are so much fun!

~Sydney and Elenie

Friday, September 18, 2015

Our Dot Day Celebration

On September 15, 2015 our class celebrated Dot Day. The day is named after the book, The Dot, by Peter H. Reynolds. Dot Day is a day in which everyone celebrates how they are going to make their mark on the world.  We also celebrate how creativity is a brillant thing that can really make the world a better place.

The Dot is a book about a little girl, Vashti, that thinks she can't draw. Then her teacher comes over and says "make a mark and see where it takes you."  She gave it a good jab, and the teacher said, "Now sign it." So she signed it. The teacher took her "jabbed art" and framed it. That's when Vashti realized that she could do so much more than just that small dot. Her creativity grew and she inspired another young artist to try something new and make a mark on the world. (Read hte second book in the series, Ish, to learn his story.)

So we discussed how each of us has something unique about us that can make the world a better
place. A unique talent is how you can make your mark on the world.  Even a small mark can make a big change in the world.  Even if you think you can't do somthing, we learned that you just have to try. Even little things you do you can make your mark on the world of just one person. That's important.

We made a lot of things for Dot Day.  Some of the things were a name cloud using 30 words that described ourselves. We also did an art project using a recucyled jar lid. We create an abstract piece of art in teh lid that represents who we are on the inside. It will become a magnet for our locker to remind us to make our mark. We also  wrote a tweet about how we will make our mark on the world and shared it with the one million other students who were also celebrating Dot Day aroud the world. We did challenging dots puzzles.  We even had a Dot Day Cafe that consisted of DOTS, smarties, and skittles!  

WE LOVED DOT DAY!!!!!!! Not only was it a really fun day, it was a day with really important conversations and sharing of ideas. 

~Lili, Sarah, Anna Claire

Friday, September 11, 2015

Patriot's Day

Today, we watched Boatlift and discussed what it means to be a true hero.

Here are our thoughts about heroism told through a Storify.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

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.

(You can fin the Sixth Grade Reflect, Relearn, Retry contract here: https://goo.gl/B6Fnim. Please be aware that each individual teacher may make slight alterations to this contract and its procedure.)

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 their Google Drive, I will leave feedback thorugh comments. 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.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Lunch and Learn

We know that every student will not be in the same place on the learning continuum at the same time. Students need different supports and challenges based on their individual, specific learning needs. Therefore, once a week, on Wednesdays, I will hold a Lunch and Learn where students can bring their lunch to my classroom to receive extra assistance from me. This time can also be used as additional time to work on class projects or retake assessments (more information on this in a blog post coming soon). Experience has shown that this time is a beneficial tool in a student's learning tool box.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Let's Read!

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 Schooled by Gordon Korman. Simulataneously, students will be reading a partner text of their choosing. 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 Fish by L. S. Matthews.

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.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Bring Your Own Device Policy

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 to use for educational purposes. 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. Outside of each classroom are three signs. The green sign is "ROCK IT." When students see this sign, that means that there is something waiting for them to do with their devices upon entry into the classroom. The yellow sign is "DOCK IT." For "DOCK IT," students need to bring their devices to class, but place it facedown (or closed) on their desk until instructed to use it. The red sign is "LOCK IT." That means that students need to keep their devices in their locker for that class period. 

If your student brings his/her device to school, please remember that he/she must take responsibility for it. 

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.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

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 https://twitter.com/ramsaysclass 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, connect with authors, share their insights, 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 18, 2015

Class Syllabus, Practices, and Expectations 2015-2016

Below you will find the link to our 2015-2016 Class Syllabus. This includes information on our learning and grading practices, procedures, and expectations.

An online version can be viewed here: https://goo.gl/wu0B61

Monday, August 17, 2015

Our First Days at #RQMSJags

This school year has gotten off to a phenomenal start. Our days were filled with top secret missions, art, critical thinking, music, challenges, games, engineering, team building, and problem-solving. We spent time establishing our learning environment and setting the norms for a year filled with learning. Below you can see some of the highlights. Be sure to sign up on this blog to get emails when a new post is published and follow us @RamsaysClass on Twitter and Instagram. You don't want to miss a single moment of our epic learning adventures.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Welcome to an Amazing Sixth Grade Year!

Dear Parents and Students,

Welcome to sixth grade! I am your English Language Arts and/or Reading teacher. I am a twenty-one year teaching veteran, educational author, writer, and National Board Certified Teacher. I have been eagerly anticipating the beginning of a new school year with you; one that I am confident will be highly successful. My class is a student-directed 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. 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 in 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,
 http://ramsaysclass.com/. 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, http://ramsaysclassblog.blogspot.com/, 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 into the learning that is taking place in our classroom and through our global connections.

I realize that for many of us our prime source of communication is through text messages. Please take a minute to join the Remind group where I can disseminate pertinent information to you in a timely manner via text or email. All numbers are confidential. If you would like to sign up via text, please send a text to 81010. For the message, please text the following code: @ramsayrqms. If you prefer to register online, please visit the corresponding website: https://www.remind.com/join/ramsayrqms  

I deeply value your expertise on your student. In an effort to increase my knowledge of your student and to effectively plan instructional practices to support his/her learning, please take a moment to complete the following survey: https://goo.gl/PvI3si. Collaboratively, I am confident that we can provide your student the most successful year possible. I am thrilled as we embark on this epic learning adventure together!


Mrs. Ramsay, NBCT

Friday, May 15, 2015

The Amazing Race to 7th Grade- 2015

On May 15, 2015, we spent an entire day working in teams to demonstrate mastery of interdisciplinary standards through RQMS6's Amazing Race to 7th Grade. There were a total of 12 challenges where we used the knowledge and skills we've learned this year along with problem solving, communication skills, and creativity to successfully accomplish each hands-on station. This day was filled with lots of learning, growing...and fun. Enjoy the slideshow below.

(You need flash to view the photos.)

Monday, March 2, 2015

Innovation Day 2015

On Friday, February 27th, we had a day where we got to answer our own wonderings. We spent a day choosing what we wanted to learn about, how we learned it, and create a product to share with our peers. On March 2nd, we had a gallery walk where we got to share our learning with our peers, teachers, and parents. Enjoy our collaborative story about this exciting day below.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Our 6 Word Memoirs

Welcome to 2015! We spent our first school day back  from the holidays reflecting on how much we have grown and changed as learners (and individuals) since the beginning of the year. Then, learners created their own Six Word Memoir. Here is a storify of their Six Word Memoirs: