Hello and welcome to my site! I am delighted to be returning for my sixth year with the Pine GT program and my sixteenth year in Washoe County. It’s a joy and a privilege to be a part of the GT community at Pine.
This year, I’m excited to be teaching 6th grade Science, World History, English, Math and Art/Garden. In my classes, we take a BIG cross-curricular look at the world and the history of human ideas. What I love about teaching all 6th grade core classes is the opportunity to make connections to the big picture of life. It's also an opportunity for my students to have a year to get prepared for the 7th and 8th grade curriculum.
As I am writing this, it is July 9th and I am starting to ease myself into planning for next year. I'd like you to have some information about my class and let you know what to expect.
Orientation for 6th graders is July 30 from 9AM-2PM. Students will be able to pick up their schedules, pay fees and get into their lockers. I will most likely be in my classroom from 9-noon. Feel free to drop by and say Hi! July 30 is my birthday. Cupcakes and/or chocolate welcome!
Mr. Slater sent an email listing what our Pine GT students should bring to school the first week. The requirements for my classes are:
- 2 Composition books, one graph and one lined.
- 1 sketchbook, any brand. Size should be either 8 x 10 or 8 1/2 x 11
- Colored pencils and any other coloring media students would like, such as markers, gel pens, etc.
- Pencils, eraser and a hand sharpener. Students may use pens, to write in journals if they like.
- Flash or Thumb Drive (note: I am TERRIBLE with these myself. I tend to lose and/or wash them! I will be encouraging students to create and save their work in OneDrive and/or Google Drive, but having extra backup for important projects is never a bad idea.)
I allow students flexibility in their seating. Many students last year brought in yoga balls to sit on. I find it gives students an opportunity to move around while working. It's a great help for fidgety kids. I have a couple yoga balls that students left last year, and you are welcome to send a yoga ball with your students this year. I'm always looking for floor pillows and bean bag chairs, so if you have some you don't need, I'm happy to take them! Since I only have one group of students, they may leave their yoga balls in the classroom and no one else will use them.
All GATE classrooms have a set of laptops and my classroom also has a set of iPads. My masters is in Educational Technology, so I use technology extensively in my classroom. This year, we will be using Microsoft Teams and many of the classroom assignments will be there. It is helpful for students to have access to an internet-connected device for assignments, be it a desktop, laptop, tablet or smartphone.
All of my 6th graders will be in my Art/Garden class. I am sensitive to the fact that not all students would choose to do Art, so I have taken a choice-based approach to the class. I teach basic drawing, paper engineering, and digital art. There are times during the year, when we use our art time to work on the creative components to other content classes. For example, we spend time in quarter two creating digital illustrations for the poetry book we write in ELA. I will teach various crafts such as crocheting, jewelry making, and allow students to devise their own projects if they bring in their own materials. Last year, I had students create Minecraft art, work on sewing projects, and make amigurumi animals. Grades in Art will be based on weekly reflection on process, not on the quality of the artwork.
In addition, during the growing season, we will spend time in the Pine Garden, which I manage. This season's plants are already growing and we will tend them to harvest. We will then make plans for next season's garden and plant in the spring. It's good for students to have hats and/or long-sleeved shirts on our garden days, if they're sensitive to the sun.
I understand how important it is for parents and students to know what's happening in our classroom. Last year, I sent out a weekly (usually!) email. This year, I may either do a bi-weekly newsletter, or post here on a blog page. My goal is to find that happy medium between, "why didn't I know about this?" and "OMG, ANOTHER email?" I'll be asking you when I send out my survey later this week. If you ever have a question or concern PLEASE email me! I respond to emails usually before the end of the day, but always within 24 hours.
I am in a unique situation in that I teach both History and Science. I've always believed in 6th grade World History that seeing the big picture of human history and ancient cultures is more important than memorizing dates. I found a program called The Big History Project that takes a big picture approach. Since it starts with the beginning of time, it also happens to cover most of the 6th grade science standards, so I use the program for both Science and History, supplementing where I need to in order to cover all the standards. I think you'll find it is very engaging and a great program for teaching critical thinking and scientific writing. I'll give you more information at our first meeting.
The curriculum and grading I use for math is the GATE program curriculum. I use all the GATE unit tests and semester finals and I work closely with the other 6th grade Magnet teachers. This year, I will also be using some elements of a program called M3, which teaches deeper mathematical thinking. As with everything else we do in 6th grade, my goal is big picture thinking as well as procedural fluency.
The ELA program at PineGT was designed as a 3-year program. We teach literary analysis and academic writing, giving students voice and choice. We will read three novels over the four quarters and write three different essay forms a year. In sixth grade, students come to me from a variety of different experiences with writing. Some have written numerous essays, while some have necver even heard of them. I take time in sixth grade to make sure each student gets the instruction they need to be better writers. I have a background working with students who struggle, so I know how to break down the writing process to make it easier to understand. If your student has trouble with writing (and I don't mean handwriting) they will be able to write a structured essay by the end of the year. If they're skilled writers, they will have experience writing and revising three formal essay styles and be ready for Mr. Slater in the seventh grade!
I hope this gives you an overview of what to expect for next year. Feel free to email me with any questions.
Degrees and Certifications: