Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Our Dot Day

Image result for the dotWe had Dot Day at our school two weeks ago, you are probably wondering what dot day is. Dot Day is where we read a book called The Dot and talk about the moral of the story. The Dot is a very interesting book about a girl who is upset that she can’t make art. So her teacher tells her to make a mark and see where it takes her. She does and she becomes a great artist. The reason we celebrate Dot Day is because, our teacher wants to show us to be creative and that great things can come out of it.

 To celebrate we did a few stations. The stations were painting a dot on a recycled, ultimate connect the dots, a “make your mark” tweet, a “make your mark” blog, sidewalk dot, and the Tagxedo dot. We even had Dot Day Cafe' full of fun dot snacks and we wore dots. All of the stations were amazingly fun!
We’re going to tell you about some of the stations. The first station was to paint a dot using lids of jars. We painted them in a way that represented who were are as unique individuals. I painted painted mine by doing the rim purple with all different colored dots in the center -GH.  I painted mine with a purple rim as well with a blueish greyish middle -MS.

Our second station was the ultimate connect the dots. We had a bunch of different options. We don't really know what they made because no one finished them because they took a lot of time. Most of us took them home to finish.

Image result for twitterThird, we did a make your mark tweet. Which means we tweeted about how we could use our unique talents to make our mark on the world. That means how we can make the world a better place. We even had college students from Birmingham Southern College tweet back to us. Then, we wrote it on our Idea Wall.

Fourth, we made a “make your mark” blog on Kidblog. This was basically our “make your mark” tweet but longer and more detailed. We had to create a specific plan to put our ideas into action and explain why we chose how we’d like to make the world a better place.

Fifth, was to create a sidewalk dot in our outdoor classroom. Using sidewalk chalk,  we went outside and create a collage of our dots. It was so pretty by the end of the day.

Sixth, we did a really cool craft project on the computer where you take all the words that describe you and make a dot shaped Tagxedo of it.

These are the stations we did, and they were so much fun! Dot Day was really fun and I wish we could do it again! I really liked the book and the positive message it sends. Dot Day was awesome!

Monday, October 3, 2016

BreakoutEDU: The Run-On Renegade and Grammar Girl

One Tuesday, we walked in and we were told we had the chance to do a BreakoutEDU. This time it was themed with the Run-On Renegade and Grammar Girl….and The Run-On Renegade was actually in our classroom trying to play out one of her dastardly deeds.  The Run-On Renegade had actually captured Grammar Girl and stolen her utility belt which contained all her superpowers. Without Grammar Girl, the world wouldn’t have been able to communicate clearly. We had to try to breakout part of Grammar Girl’s belt before the world dissolved into chaos. The clock was ticking. We only had 45 minutes to save the world.

When we entered the room, we had a newspaper story laid on top of the Breakout EDU box. This news story was about Grammar Girl and how Run-On- Renegade wanted to take over the world. Throughout the story, letters were capitalized that shouldn't have been. The letters spelled out LOOK IT UP. We then thought about it and checked the dictionaries. We found a key to one of the locks! Attached to the key was a Mystery Word puzzle. This puzzle led us to find out the letter lock combination. The word was fiend (enemy). Somewhere in the room, we found a paragraph that we read; it was called The Paragraph Protector. We answered questions about the paragraph, and after many tries figured out that was the combination to the 4-number lock! That was our last lock!

We were so excited! We just knew that we had broken out. But inside the box, we found another box with a piece of paper. On the piece of paper was a summary of Schooled with some blanks in them. We had to fill them out using proper capitalization. We were allowed to look at the book. We were also given a UV flashlight. With the UV flashlight, we could see invisible ink where some of the letters were circled. There was a number code, but when we tried that that did not work. We tried using letters and it spelled out LINKS. This puzzle was full of red herrings. We then went to our links section on our class blog. We had to click on Are you COPS? to take a quiz on grammar. We were typing as fast as we possibly could (incorrect, correct). At the end it said,¨ Way TO go. High FIVES FOR everyone.¨ The code was 2, 5, 4 (the numbers in the sentence). We rushed over to the box and put in the code. It worked! We were very excited because we broke out first and we got a piece of Grammar Girl’s superpowered belt.

BreakoutEDU is so much fun! We wonder when we’ll get to do it again.

~ K.C., T. K., E.J.

Our Lit Centers

Literacy Centers, or Lit Centers, are tasks that the students in Mrs.Ramsay's have every week. Lit centers help us learn about the topics we are doing in ELA. They are educational and help us with growing and learning. Sometimes it is partner text talks and at other times we can do blog posts on Kidblog. We have done lit centers based on our read aloud, Schooled. We have done some based on our partner text. We have different ones every week or so depending on what standards we are working towards mastering. They sometimes are graded assessments and sometimes they are for practice.  Some of them we can work with our friends, and others we work on independently. Lit centers are also really fun. This week, we are doing one where we take letter tiles and try to make as many words as we can. This helps us learn word patterns and word parts to strengthen our writing and communicating. These are just some different things that we do during lit centers.

~By L. E.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Thursday, September 8, 2016

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 continuum 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: 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 through 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.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Could you break out? Our first BreakoutEdu

Our class was so happy that we got to do a BreakoutEdu. You might be wondering what BreakoutEdu is? It is a series of different puzzles where you have clues, some easy, some not. With challenges around every corner. Do you think you could breakout?

 When we came into class on Tuesday, there were boxes on our tables with 3 different locks and 1 zip tie. Also, there was a letter on our desk that explained that Monday night the school was struck by lightning when our principal clicked on one of those scam links. So, it cursed the school to where every day was Monday. Our task was to save the other days of the week.

On the box, one lock was a letter lock, one needed a key, and one had numbers. There were clues hidden all around the room. As we read the letter, a few words were green. The words spelled out practice (practice is our homework; it's written on the front board). Our practice is to read every night. In our haste to solve the first puzzle, we almost missed the blacklight flashlights on the board's marker holder. So we grabbed the flash lights and went to Mrs. Ramsay's classroom library. On the checkout sheet, there was a number in the bottom left corner, but we could only see it with the special flash light. The number was 2016, and it unlocked the number lock. Yay! One lock down, two more (and a zip tie) to go.

On the closet door there was a picture of a text message. Some of the letters were larger than others. The letters spelled out LEARN. That unlocked the letter lock, and on the other paper on that door there was a failed test. It told us where to find the keys (it was in the the retake folder). The key was taped to a sheet of paper that had mixed up letters on it. It spelled out a website link. If you went to the link, the website it said lets make something. Which told us to look in our Makery.

In the Makery, there were four pencil pouches with combination locks on them. Next to the pencil pouches there were cards with four combinations on them. Only one of the combinations unlocked the pouch. We had to try all four to find the right one. When we finally got it opened, there was a pair of scissors. That took care of the zip tie.

YES! We  we broke out! We freed the other days of the week and received a small token of appreciation for each of the days of the week. It was so much fun!!!

We didn't all do it step by step in this order. It was a little chaotic!Only three of the four teams in our class broke out.We broke out but the steps were willy nilly. Over all the experience was incredible. We had tons of fun and by the end of it all we all learned Mrs.Ramsay will trick us any opportunity she gets. We can't wait for our next BreakoutEdu!

~GH &

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

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 25, 2016

Let's Rock Some Reading

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. Simultaneously, students will be reading a partner text of their choosing. This is a powerful way for students to demonstrate mastery of reading standards on a text that is of interest to them.

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 23, 2016

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 18, 2016

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, connect with authors, share their insights, and probe other students for deeper understanding of content.

This is my eighth 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 16, 2016

Class Syllabus, Practices, and Expectations 2016-2017

Below you will find the link to our 2016-2017 Class Syllabus. This includes information on our learning and grading practices, procedures and expectations.

An online version can be viewed here:


Thursday, August 11, 2016

Welcome to an Incredible 6th Grade Year!

Dear Parents and Students,

Welcome to sixth grade! I am your English Language Arts teacher. I am a twenty-two 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, This site contains important information about procedures, routines, and units of study. As school begins, additions will be 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 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: @9g39d. If you prefer to register online, please visit the corresponding website: 

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:, 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