December 31, 2010

Book Title Challenge

December 31st  Out With A Bang Readathon brought a fun challenge from Reading Teen that I will pass on to our class.
Our mini-challenge, should you choose to accept it, is to find 3 or more books that you have laying around, and use them to make a sentence. Post your sentences in the comment area.
 For example:
1.Strangely Enough Bran Hambric Sabotaged The Unfinished Angel
2. What If The Mysterious Benedict Society Found The Shadow of Thieves Beyond The Valley of Thorns
3. Spilling Ink Ruined The Jaguar Stones MiddleWorld

December 29, 2010

Out With A Bang (and a book)

A quick post between reading breaks to share some of the titles I have read over break. I accepted a challenge to read a book a day while away from the classroom. Of course, I accepted! This reading challenge is taking place on Twitter #bookaday if you would like to see great titles and dedicated readers. I, in-turn, challenged by students to set a reading goal and report back after break. The second challenge I shared with my students was the "Out with A Bang Read A Thon". Starting today, reading as many books as possible before the end of the year will keep me smiling, doing one of my favorite activities-READING!

Wow! This was fun!
  1.  The Scorch Trials, J. Dashner
  2. Ruined, P. Morris
  3. Cleopatra Rules!, V.A. Shecter
  4. Adventure Beneath the Sea, K. Mallory
  5. Fairview Felines A Newspaper Mystery, M. Corriel
  6. Incarceron, C. Fisher
  7. Wicked, N. Holder
  8. An Egret's Day, J. Yolen
  9. Saving the Baghdad Zoo, K Milner Halls
  10. Birmingham Sunday, L. Brimner
  11. Notes From the Dog, G. Paulsen
  12. Mysteries of the Komodo Dragon, M. Crump
  13. Mammoth Bones and Broken Stones, D. Harrison
  14. Planet Hunter, V. Wittenstein
  15. My Rotten Life, D. Lubar
  16. Stone Child, D. Poblocki

December 20, 2010

Mermaids, Mystery and Middle School

What would be your most embarrassing moment ever? 
         Real Mermaids Don't Wear Toe Rings by Helene Boudreau makes a regular day in middle school seem effortless. Jade finds that being fourteen means a little bit more to her then crushing on boys, sending text messages to friends and picking out the perfect swim suit for a pool party. When Jade finds out she inherited mermaid characteristics from her mother- meaning the unexpected morphing of a tail, her embarrassing moments have just begun!
What really happened to her mother? Can Jade help bring her back? And what will she do with this tail? These are just a few of the mysteries that keep you reading while keeping track of a possible relationship between Jade and Luke. In the spirit of Dory from Finding Nemo, "Just keep reading, just keep reading."

December 11, 2010

Last Week to Help

Are you in the "free and easy" giving mood? Click a few times and like magic my class gets new technology-but ONLY if you do it this week-THANKS! Yahoo! Homepages for Homerooms

Picture Book Bananza

Duff Reading class is continuing their Friday Skype Share with 4th graders with enthusiasm. Every Friday, a 6th grader chooses a picture book to read and discuss with Mrs. D's class at Wing's Park Elementary. This time has created many connections between the students and with books.
Two new picture books that were favorites were More Bears and If I Could Keep You Little...

 This book created an impromptu chorus from students near and far repeating the phrase, "More bears!" during our Skype call. We enjoyed sharing the conflict between the story author and characters as the book was being created. The ending will have you giggling and wanting to read it again and again! Created by Kenn Nesbitt and Troy Cummings, this book is a must read whenever a smile is needed.

Excerpt From More Bears!

Once upon a time there was a story. This story was a lovely story with absolutely no bears in it—not a single bear anywhere. Then one day...
What? Who said that? The author of the story looked around the room, wondering where those voices had come from. Were those the voices of children shouting? Then he went back to writing.
As I was saying, this story had absolutely no bears at all. The author was very certain about this.
The author tried very, very hard to ignore the children who thought that the story ought to have…


Excerpt From If I Could Keep You Little:

If I could keep you little, we'd finger-paint our art.  But then I'd miss you creating stories from your heart.

If I Could Keep You Little by Marianne Richmond is a touching book that creates a relaxed atmosphere to share memories and "warm fuzzies." This book had everyone in class remembering what it was like to be little and how much they have changed with their families. Readers of all ages will find their own life stories falling out of the pages of rhythmic verse and warm watercolors.

Students will be using this book next semester during our Live and Dream unit. Come back to see where this special picture book takes us!

December 7, 2010

100 Best Blogs by Teachers for Teachers

I opened my email to a nice surprise this morning- Spot To Read had been chosen as a top educational blog. Spot To Read was created last school year to connect and share our classroom happenings with our families and community. Little did I imagine that it would open the door to the world and involve our class in so many opportunities and celebrations!

I plan to visit the other honored blogs and share in their on-line learning.
Thanks to On-line Schools for bestowing such an honor on our blog!

December 4, 2010

Donors Choose Celebration

Soon we will be receiving our 4th donation from Donors Choose- a web site that matches donors with classrooms. This shipment will consist of a new netbook, speakers, head set and flash drive.
Individual donors from around the world, corporations like US Cellular and Yahoo, and smaller groups all have donated money to help our classroom stay updated with technology. If you are looking for a place to donate that really makes a difference, please go to You can find many Oelwein School projects waiting to be funded by a donor like you!
If you have donated to a project-- THANK YOU!

November 28, 2010

Love That Poetry on Twitter

Reading and writing poetry was made into an adventure by following Jack and his teacher Mrs. Strechberry. Love That Dog by Sharon Creech guided us through the sharing of many famous poems and poets. While Jack struggled with his understanding and writing of poetry, our class wrote and shared using Twitter, class partners and even created our own yellow "Love That Poetry" booklets.

The highlight of this activity was our interaction with Sharon Creech and other classrooms around the world via Twitter. You can see all of our tweets by visiting us @OMS6th on Twitter.
Below are some actual tweets from our classroom and replies we celebrated:
Mrs. Duff's Class OMS6th @ciaobellacreech starting "Love That Dog" celebration Thursday-will last a week or so :D Follow our tweets

OMS6th I think Love That Dog is going to be a great book!!!!

OMS6thWe have to write about what we would say if we were the teacher. I wrote about how you have to at least try to write.

Sharon Creech ciaobellacreech @OMS6th Happy LTD celebration!

ciaobellacreech@OMS6th Hi! Thanks for your notes. . .I'm glad you're enjoying LTD and think it's cool you're making your own booklets. . .

Mrs. Duff's Class OMS6thSo much depends upon A big warm bed Covered with warm blankets Beside my white wall
The Gill-Villeans Gill_Villeans @OMS6th We want to add one! So much depends upon apps working properly, typing in small spaces, and seeing small words. Can you guess?

Deb Tyo ChocolateAir @ciaobellacreech @OMS6th So much depends upon a bloodsucking leech stuck to my ankle from the dark green lake.

@ciaobellacreech @OMS6th Winning Shot...So much depends upon a basketball dribbling in my hands with thirty seconds left.

Mrs. Duff's Class OMS6thI am reading a book during study hall/ the story takes me to a different world/I would like to stay and play/ you come too

OMS6thI'm going out to get the mail/all the way down the road/ I'll say hello to the toad/ I'll not be gone long you come too.

Sharon Creech ciaobellacreech @OMS6th I'm going out to get some chocolate / in the storefront window / I won't be gone long / You come, too . . .

ciaobellacreech@OMS6th ohmygosh, I love these 'you come too' poems!

The Gill-Villeans Gill_Villeans @OMS6th We like reading your patterned tweets! Can you tell? :)

@OMS6th We're learning about Newfoundland. We'll present our findings to other classes. We're going on a learning journey. You come too! :

Mrs. Duff's Class OMS6thLove using Twitter/Like a bat loves a ball/Love using Twitter/Like a bat loves a ball/Love 2share w/the world/Using it daily/Learning it all

Sharon Creech
ciaobellacreech @OMS6th Love the ongoing tweets--the 'love that. . .' ones. Love those tweets /love that class . . .

Mrs. Duff's Class OMS6th@ciaobellacreech Thanks for all your tweets while we "Loved Your Book" We will follow Jack through his next year during our own reading time

November 22, 2010

Old Creamery Writing Contest

“You can make a difference” is a phrase that we hear all the time, but what does it mean? We want to know what it means to you!

There are lots of ways you can make a difference in the world.
You can make a difference by doing bigger things, like raising money for the needy or helping clean up a city park, or smaller things, like showing your teachers respect or helping a friend with their homework.

Students often make a difference when they follow the Six Pillars of Character: Trustworthiness, Respect, Responsibility, Fairness, Caring, and Citizenship.

For this year’s writing contest The Old Creamery Theatre is looking for stories about characters that make a difference!
Use your imagination to write a story about a character or characters that make a difference in some way.
How do you make a difference?

Write a story where your characters really make a difference.
Maybe a character doesn’t care about making a difference and another character shows them how important it is.
Maybe a character wants to make a difference but doesn’t know how.
Maybe a character doesn’t understand why everyone needs to pitch in to make a difference and has to be shown.
You can be inspired from own imaginations or even our own experiences.

The sky’s the limit!

November 19, 2010

Yahoo! Homepages for Homerooms

Easy way to give our classroom a gift and it is free!

Quick one time (per computer/email) way to bring new technology into our classroom.

Help this classroom project get funded by making Yahoo! your homepage.

Going Global: Connecting Communities

Mrs. D
Using technology is limited to times the lab is available. This doesn't allow for teaching/learning moments. Having netbooks in the room would give us instant access! Details
My students need a netbook computer, with speakers, a flash drive and a clearchat headset.

Please send this to friends and family -it's that easy!

November 12, 2010

Veterans' Day 2010

Veterans' Day 2010
Students at OMS showed their pride and gratitude to all US Veterans and Soldiers on 11-11-10. The local Honor Guard and Veterans honored us with their presence and participated in the ceremony. Students and guests watched in silence as the flags were presented and then shared in saying the Pledge of Allegiance and the singing of patriotic songs. Sixth grade chorus sang a wonderful tribute to our heroes. The program's highlight was when the veterans shared the meaning of each fold when the American flag is presented in ceremony. Thank you to all that were with us and those we remembered during this special event!

November 6, 2010

The Power of Twitter

author lover blogger technology fan life high education grade teaching science gifted educator teacher English book social learner books writer reading middle school coach music love specialist media tech great literacy educational coordinator resources learning web world kids gr8 edtech
students classroom teachers
learning sharing

The above word cloud was created from profiles of our Twitter contacts. "Sweet" would be one word to express how much Twitter means to our learning experience.
Tweeting and learning in the classroom is becoming a common activity in room 12 at OMS. Introducing Twitter to 6th graders has been a lot of fun! Students are sharing what they are learning, asking questions, and connecting to the world with their Twitter friends. Some recent highlights would include discussing chapters from a shared read aloud, The Little Prince, with a class in Canada and hearing from Sharon Creech while tweeting about her book, Love That Dog.
If you want to follow our class on Twitter add @oms6th to your list of amazing contacts.

Places in the world we are connected through Twitter:

October 31, 2010

Tangram Enrichment

Enrichment 7th hour has focused on Asian activities.
One of the activities is the Tangram Puzzle.

The Tangram is a Chinese ancient game called Chi Chiao Bread, which means table of the wisdom. The puzzle is made of seven pieces or "tans" that are created by cutting a square in five triangles of different forms, a square and a trapeze. The game consists of using all the pieces to construct different forms.
Students are given the opportunity to use 2-D and 3-D puzzle pieces along with an iPod application and computer challenges. Students can create their own Tangrams puzzle pieces and share with others.

Try your luck at this web site:

October 27, 2010

Dotty-Dots can help with Spelling

c Need a place to study your spelling and have fun at the same time? I found just that place at Dotty-Dots
I'm not sure why seeing our spelling words jumping around a computer screen makes me smile, but it does...try it and see if you can do it without cracking a smile.

October 26, 2010

These are a Few of my Favorite Things...

KidLitCon 2010:
Books, authors, Books, sharing, Books, friends, Books, blogs, Books, laughs, librarians, Books, Twitter, Books, teachers, Books, publishers, Books...

I will be sharing many of the Books that I bought and learned about at KidLitCon 2010
It may be a while- I have sooooo many to read!

October 19, 2010

Does New Technology Scare You?

Introducing new technology and applications to students isn't usually hard to do. Students at OMS jump at the opportunity whenever I am able to present it.
ITAG2010 Presentation

Recently, I was offered the chance to share how I use technology in both my classroom and in my own professional development at the Iowa Talented and Gifted Conference in DesMoines. My English Enrichment students were able to "attend" and be guest presenters using Twitter to share their thoughts on using social networking in our classroom. The response was a positive sign that technology isn't as scary as it used to be.

October 16, 2010

Students Learn and Teach the Teacher

After viewing some of the other Global Read Aloud projects, my students couldn't get enough of voki an online talking head graphic. I had looked at this site before, but hadn't had a chance to play/learn.
The excitement was explosive to say the least.
Students: Teacher6th:
"How do you do that?" "I don't know."
"Can we do that?" "Go for it!"
"LOOK WHAT I DID!" "Wow, I need to try this!"
"You need to try this!"

October 13, 2010

The Little Prince Global Read Aloud

E2 Class has been participating in a global read aloud focused on the book The Little Prince. While listening to the story concurrently with about 60 other school around the globe, students shared predictions, facts, and opinions pertaining to the chapters being read. It was fun to read the wiki, blogs, and tweets from the other classrooms. Our students a were able to use Twitter to meet and share with a class from Canada in real time. More activities and networking is being planned along with individual student projects being created to share with others.

October 10, 2010

Reading Picture Books-Memories & Fun

Picture books aren't just for preschoolers and young readers. Our reading class has been busy reading and enjoying picture books during our free reading time. Picture books are written in all genres and topics cover all our interest topics. They are entertaining and a nice way to remember favorite reads from the past.
We will be sharing some of our favorite picture books via Skype with our 4th grade friends at Wings park Elementary School.

Baby Baby Baby! by Marilyn Janovitz made our tongues tingle with the rhyming chants and repetitions. "Bitsy bouncy baby on a bumpity lap Mommy's little baby likes to Clap Clap Clap!"
shared alliteration and examples of sensory text. Students recommended this book because of the bold illustrations and the rhythm that made them want to read it again and again. Baby Baby Baby! would be a must read while taking care of siblings or tucking in little ones while babysitting.

October 7, 2010

Super Skype Friday has Started!

What better way to end the week then to share a book over Skype with new friends...
Super Skype Friday started this month as we introduced ourselves to the 4th grade students in Mrs. D's class at Wing's Elementary School. Our class was their "Mystery Reader" class for the week. After sharing waves and smiles, I shared the picture book, Nothing to do.
The students on both sides of the cameras were able to share how they like to spend days just doing nothing.

Who will be the mystery reader next week? 6th grade students will be reading from now on!
What book will be shared? Students will be choosing picture books they want to share.
Where will there be learning? Both sides of the cameras!

Share your Friday morning reading a book with others- I highly recommend it!

October 5, 2010

My Name Is Not Isabella

My Name Is Not Isabella is a picture book for girls of all ages. Jennifer Foseberry shares "Just how big can a little girl dream?" through a normal day with extraordinarily women in history. The day starts with Isabella claiming to be Sally and blasts off to breakfast. Her day introduces Annie, Rosa, Marie, Elizabeth, and the extra special Mommy. The vivid illustrations by Mike Litwin creates a eye catching journey. This book opens the door of discovery and creates a community for girls to achieve. So if your name isn't Isabella who would you like to be known as? How will you make your name a name that a young girl would like to claim? What is your name? Read this book to be inspired to make a difference.

October 3, 2010

October book Orders Due 10/15/10

Online Ordering Information
Web address:
Class Activation Code: GNLJK

Dear Parent,
Now it’s easier than ever to find the perfect books for your child—shop our NEW online Book Clubs Web site. Choose from a much-wider selection of books than in the printed flyer. Plus, you can send your orders directly to me online and use your credit card to pay.

Best of all, we earn a FREE book for the classroom library every time a parent places an order online.

It’s so simple! Here’s how it works:
  • SIGN UP at On the parent page, register by clicking click the “Don’t have a user name or password?” link. When prompted, enter the one-time Class Activation Code shown above. This unique code ensures that your order is sent to me.

  • SELECT the books you’d like to order—choose from thousands of titles—many more than in our monthly flyers.

  • SEND your order to me online by the due date and your child’s books will be delivered directly to my classroom.
Ordering online is fast, easy, and secure.

Of course, you can still order using the form from the printed flyer. But why not see for yourself how convenient it is to order online?

Thank you,
Mrs. Duff

September 28, 2010

Effigy Mounds and Outdoor Day Memories

Two favorite activities in the fall find us outside enjoying the sunshine!
This year the 6th graders had many opportunities to share the sunshine with others.
Outdoor Day was celebrated right in our back/side yard. Prairie plant identification, Introduction to archery, BB gun safety, Haiku poetry writing, and Environmental games brought the students and adults together under a windy blue sky.
Hiking at Effigy Mounds is always an adventure. This year the students could see and hear many birds and chipmunks as they walked along the trails and mounds in this spectacular park.

September 19, 2010

"The Aristobrats" OMGasp!

Lylas (Love ya like a sister) are four 8th grade girls on the top of the populadder! Being the most popular in the 8th grade class at Wallingford Academy is all the Lalas had worked for in the last few years. They were there- their Facebook pages full of friend requests, their hair do and fashions soon to be copied by all- they had made it to the top!
But what goes up, must come down! After being assigned to the school web cast production, even a hairy nipfit can't save their populartunity. (glad there are definitions in the back of the book )

The Aristobrats, by Jennifer Solow, is a fun read that goes deeper than designer clothes and made-up words. Parts made me LOL and experience life as a teenager in today's techo world. We are reminded that situations in school and at home aren't always solved by shopping and getting a makeover-sometimes friends need to see what really matters and go where their heart takes them.
You will find yourself cheering for the Lylas and see that it really is all about the attitude!

September 14, 2010

Mrs. P's Magic Library travels to OMS

Mrs. P used a bit of her magic and landed in our classroom to share secrets about her magic library and her love of stories. Students asked questions and received answers that surprised, enlightened, and even made many laugh.
"What is your favorite color?"
"Hot pink with a black head band, red, purple, and well, every color in the rainbow plus black and white."
"What is your favorite book?"
"Right now, Jack & the Beanstalk" then the list continued to change from fantasy to poetry to To Kill a Mockingbird in a blink of an eye. Magic and reading are amazing things indeed!
"What do you think makes a good story?"
"A great story has a beginning, a middle, and an end. It has adventure and suspense."
Mrs. P shared how important reading and writing are to her and how her magic library helps her share this with children and adults 24/7.
We learned about Mrs. P's library and how it has a "katrillion" rooms and that the leaves on the trees change colors about every two minutes. She even has elves, knows someone related to the Tooth Fairy and has given a dog to Santa Clause. This is a library I will have to visit during my next vacation!

Students are writing stories that they can enter in Mrs. P's 2nd annual writing contest.
For more information go to and experience the magic library for yourself!
A big thank you to Mrs. P and her elves-the visit was magical!

September 6, 2010 2nd Annual Writing Contest

Start writing TODAY! Mrs. P. will be in our classroom September 14th (via Skype) sharing stories and laughs.

August 28, 2010

Songs For A Teenage Nomad Review

Chapter 2: SMALL TOWN My new school smells like pickles, salty, clogged with a sea of faces that all look the same. The campus stands on a low hill facing the ocean. Across the road from the main office where I babbled to Mickey Mouse Tie, there’s a small strip of buildings: a café, a hair salon, a movie rental place, and a doctor’s office whose large brick walls keep the students away from the coast.

Kim Culbertson's book Songs For a Teenage Nomad shares real life problems that face many teenagers today. Calle, a new 9th grade student at a California town high school, does her best to find her place in the unfamiliar halls. Use to hiding behind her song journal, she is pulled into friendships and possibly love by believable student characters. Facing pressures from peers, family, and the unknown, Calle
records, remembers, and lives daily moments in her journal. The use of songs and lyrics to guide the story creates a new rhythm in each chapter.
Available September 2010: Sourcebooks

August 22, 2010

School book orders always give me a smile. Today, I opened up the September Scholastic Book Club forms and immediately started a must have-must read list. I love the fact that new releases and old time favorites show up just waiting to join my books in the classroom and at home. The fact that the books are usually less expensive than in book stores is a big plus!

This year, Scholastic is making it easier on students and parents, giving them the ability to buy on-line with our classroom code. You can even see the book list in full detail.
No more, "I lost my order form."
No more, " I forgot to bring my form to school."

I love seeing the box in the school office and passing out books to students! The new releases are the first ones I read. Some will become old time favorites in no time.

So, start making your list of must haves- it might be available from a book club! I always take suggestions when I put in my order -you might even get to read it before I do if my desk is surrounded with must reads.

Scholastic Book Club Order information:

Class Activation Code: GNLJK

August 13, 2010

Write a Story-Have A Published Book Made!

Be a Famous Writer! Mrs. P from Mrs. P's Library is sponsoring a great creative writing contest. Follow the link to see what you need to do to become a famous writer.

Stories may cover any topic, fiction or nonfiction, and should be between 250 and 1,000 words.

Two grand prize winners (one from each age group) will have their stories read by Mrs. P herself and an artist will create original illustrations to accompany the story. Each winner will receive a bound copy of the illustrated story, as well as having it posted on Both grand prize winners and up to eight runners-up will each receive a $25 gift certificate to Powell’s Books.

The judges this year include best-selling author Meg Cabot, Garfield creator Jim Davis, and Danny Kallis, producer and creator of Disney Channel’s “The Suite Life of Zack and Cody.”

August 7, 2010

Back to School: 2010

A little girl had just finished her first week of school.
"I'm just wasting my time," she said to her mother. "I can't read, I can't write - and they won't let me talk!"

The school year 2010-2011 is about to begin and I can promise the students in my classes we will read, write, and talk! As I prepare for the first week, I am excited about all the new ideas and opportunities I want to share with with you. Summer time allows us time to relax, review and rejoice. Summer time gives me hope- hope for now and the future.
  • I hope you were able to enjoy a good book.
  • I hope you were able to spend time with friends and meet new ones.
  • I hope you had some time to do what you wanted to do.
  • I hope you were able to do something new, something challenging, and something memorable.
  • I hope you were able to explore a place you would like to return to someday.
  • I hope you feel every day counts-that you are not "just wasting your time."
So, there it is- my hopes for each of you while in my classroom and out... let the school days begin!

July 30, 2010

The Death (and Further Adventures) of Silas Winterbottom: The Body Thief

The Death (and Further Adventures) of Silas Winterbottom: The Body Thief

By: Stephen M Giles

And you thought your family was strange.

If you enjoyed reading The Series of Unfortunate Events and the 39 Clues series, this is the book that will take you one step further into just how mixed up and crazed families can be.

Three cousins with completely unique and different backgrounds are sent an invitation including $10,000 from their wealthy uncle to spend time with him on his secluded island estate. A dream vacation... until you throw in crocodiles, mysterious tunnels, kidnapping, and a mad scientist. Then you have a real adventure!
Oh, lets not forget to add that the uncle is dying and he will choose one of the three cousins to inherit everything...a bit of competition is added.

This book was a fun roller-coaster read! Each chapter took me in a different direction and even a few loops turning the plot upside down and twisted at the end. I fully enjoyed watching the characters evolve while their uncle plotted against them right up to the very end of the book.
I'll put this on my must read book list in the classroom.

July 23, 2010

Have you found any good books this summer?

I've spent all summer on the lookout for good/great books. I'll post my reading list soon, but wanted to give you a chance to share books that you feel are worth searching for!

Linger is the sequel to Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater released 7/13/10

July 16, 2010

Hambric, hammock...HAPPINESS!

If asked how I spent my summer, I will have many adventures to share. If asked about one of my favorite days, I'll let this photo speak for me...

An ARC (advanced reader's copy) of Bran Hambric the Specter Key, by Kaleb Nation, arrived this afternoon! It took me no time to grab a glass of ice water and head for the hammock. I'll save my review for a later date, not wanting to give away any spoilers, but I had to share how easily I was lost in the land of Dunce and magic.
I was happy but also scared, stressed, relieved, sad, surprised, shocked, and nervous while reading the adventures that Bran was on. I didn't have time to catch my breath from the beginning celebration to the missing bit of magic on the last page.
I did stop once to tweet Kaleb and say, "NOOOOOO!" after reading page #139.
Well done Kaleb! I think I'll start over tomorrow- the hammock calls for more Hambric.

July 6, 2010

teacher6th avatars

Avatars are a great way to share yourself on-line without giving out too much personal information (like your photograph). Sue Waters, from the edu blogger, shared some great sites to help create your own avatar.

I had fun creating the different avatars trying to stay true to my photograph...not easy!