General Information

Welcome to Senior M.A.P.P. 2015-2016! We have a lot of great things planned for this year. In addition to continuing our highly individualized Math and English Language Arts instruction, we’ll be studying life science (animals, plants, and ecosystems – oh, my!) and world history and geography (with our new teacher, Ms. Nicole!). We will also be working with our theme, Zoom, in a Global Thinking class that has been added to our specials rotation. You may have also heard that we have a new class pet, a lovely, as-yet-unnamed Betta Fish. (I’ll post pictures along with his name as soon as we figure it out!)

Now that we have oriented the students, parents, and staff, we will embark on our next big task of the year: getting to know where everyone is academically. We’ll start with review of major concepts before delving into varied pretests – some will be formal paper tests, some will be oral, and some will be so sneaky that the kids won’t even realize they are being tested! It is important to remember that these tests are not for a grade; these are diagnostics used to make sure we are designing lessons appropriately for the individual students we will be teaching. I look forward to creating a custom plan for each student that reflects and expands their knowledge and interests.

As always, please contact me if you have questions, concerns, or insights!

This update serves two purposes:

  1. I want to apologize for neglecting this journal for the past few months. During conferences I read through parent surveys (See! We do read them!) and noted that many people said they wanted me to start posting the homework again and improve parent communication.
  2. I want to share some highlights of what we’ve been doing in class, tell you what we are going to do next, and describe some changes that will (I hope!) improve communication about school to home.

What have we been up to?

For the past month we have been working on our projects for the Academic Fair portion of Pie Supper. In Reading the students studied biographies and autobiographies and we talked about what elements we needed to include in the ones they would write. In Social Studies the students read books and websites about their subjects and took notes to inform their papers. In Writing everyone created an outline and wrote a biographical essay about his or her subject. We also spent time revising and editing, writing speeches, and creating the display boards they will use during their presentations.

We studied soil in Science, but we paused that unit for a week. We have been using Science time to take some “brain breaks” from project-land by watching cute animal videos in the meantime. We’ll get back to our study of sand, silt, clay, and humus next week.

What are we doing next?

Next week students will present their biography projects in class and we will complete our soil unit. We will soon delve into our poetry unit in Reading and Writing, a study of landforms in Science, and a look at economy in Social Studies.

Changes? What changes?

First of all, I intend to post the homework on this journal consistently. I set an alarm on my phone to get me back in the habit of posting a picture of the board every day. If you ever notice that I’ve forgotten or if you have questions, please email me ( I appreciate feedback; I’m always looking for ways to improve what I’m doing so that you know what is going on at school.

During conferences I also received a lot of feedback that work is not coming home. Things like spelling tests, writing, and math fact sheets end up in the recycling bin (or smushed in the back of desks) more often than they appear in bookbags, so I am going to stop handing them to students to take home. Instead, I will show them their graded work and then file it so you can come in and look at it. I will keep a crate in the classroom (near the back door) with a hanging folder for each student. If you ever want to peruse your child’s work, please feel free to come look through his or her folder before 8:15 or after 3:00.

One last note…

There is the promise (or threat, depending on how you feel about it) of snow in the forecast for next week. As we all know, this could end up being anything from sunny skies to a blizzard. If we miss school, then I will post an update here about Pie Supper projects. The chances are that we will be able to present all of them in class in a single day if we have to, and most students are ready to present. If we need to do presentations Friday or even the following week, we will.

Okay, last thing. I promise.

I just want to add that I love each of your kids (really, truly) and that I feel very fortunate to work with such caring, involved families. Thank you for everything you do to support the education of your children and make me feel appreciated. I hope you will always feel comfortable coming to me with suggestions, questions, or critiques.

Enjoy the long weekend!

Friday, October 3 marked the end of Module 1! Below is a summary of what we’ve studied in each subject and a preview of what’s coming in Module 2.

English Language Arts:

I just finished reading Roald Dahl’s The Witches aloud; we will review the book Monday and Tuesday for a test Wednesday. Thursday I will split the students into groups and assign them novels to read in class. Each day I will meet with groups to lead a discussion about the previous day’s reading.

In Writing we are entering the final stages of the writing process with our first informational essay. We started these as a homework assignment where each paragraph was planned on an organizer sheet. They have since turned those plans into paragraphs, revised their writing with partners (a peer and me), and written second drafts of their essays. I will edit their writing for grammar, spelling, and mechanical errors. Tuesday they will confer with me and begin the publishing stage. Neatly handwritten final drafts are acceptable, but I will also give them the option to type their essays. Students are welcome to bring their own computers to school on Tuesday or use school computers. Our next writing assignment will be a fiction story. My goal for writing this year is to give students many planning tools so they can organize their thoughts before they start creating paragraphs.

As I mentioned at Back to School Night, I have started using a new program for spelling and vocabulary. Our first week of Word Study was a success; everyone passed last Friday’s test! Each Monday I will assign a new list of 20-24 words and a checklist of activities. Some activities are mandatory and some are optional, and each activity will have a point value. Students will complete activities for classwork and homework for a total of 80-100 points per week. I will collect Word Study notebooks each Friday to check their work before returning them on Monday. I will also post a copy of the checklist here with Monday’s homework.


Each student has been assigned a math book and is working at his or her own pace through the material. The goal is to complete about one chapter per week; some chapters will require more or less time depending on how challenging the material is for your child. Homework should start coming home on a regular basis. Please let me know if you have homework concerns. If your child is having trouble with a concept or particular problem, sending me an email that night will ensure that I check in with him or her the next day in class.

We have also developed a routine for testing math facts. Students working to master a fact family will be tested twice a week, usually on Wednesdays and Fridays; students maintaining mastery of their facts will be tested on Fridays only. At the end of each quarter I will test everyone’s master of all four operations.


In Module 1 we studied the properties and three main phases of matter. We also explored fluids that don’t conform to the typical properties of solids or liquids by mixing cornstarch with water and testing how it felt with different amounts of pressure. In our final experiment, the class split into partners and used foam, metal weights, and rubber bands to create an object that was heavy enough to sink below the surface of a container of water, yet light enough to only barely touch the bottom. It was a fun end to the unit!

Our next Science unit will be energy, forces, and simple machines. This is one of my favorite units because we build contraptions at the end.

Social Studies:

We started our study of United States geography and history by studying map features and learning the five themes of geography: location, place, movement, human-environment interaction, and region. After learning about longitude and latitude, we learned how to find the coordinates of a specific location. We also used different types of maps to talk about the common features and different purposes of maps. We completed our map study by creating a map of our classroom on graph paper. Each pair of students measured the furniture around the room, and we all worked together to come up with a scale that fit our graph paper. (1 square = about 8 inches). Then they drew their maps, placing objects as accurately as possible in relation to each other.

Next week we will begin studying the colonization of North America and formation of the United States. When I introduced the topic to the kids, they immediately started debating who actually “discovered” America. I think we have some interesting discussions and research ahead of us.

Hello Senior M.A.P.P. parents and students! School begins in just a few days, so it’s time to dust off the journal.

I started this website last year, and I will continue to use this journal to share information with families. Each day I write whole-class homework assignments on the board, and the students copy this information in their planners. I will also post a picture of the homework to this journal each afternoon. Assignments unique to individual students (especially math) will not be posted here, but will be written in their planners.

I will also write posts about school events and the topics we are covering in class accompanied by relevant links and sometimes pictures of the students. I recommend subscribing to this journal via email (look for a box to the right) so that you know when a new post is published. If you don’t want a daily email due to the homework posts, then please bookmark this page and check it regularly for important information.

This journal is only part of my website. I also maintain a calendar of assignments and events specific to my class on the home page of the class website. There you will also find links to this journal, a forum designed to encourage students to share information with each other, and the school lunch orders page. I will update the home page regularly with forms or other important links as needed.

I hope that this website is a useful resource to help families feel included and informed. I want to share the wonderful things your children do and create, as well as give you a place to go for important and timely information. That said, this is no substitute for information about your individual child, so please feel free to send me an email ( any time you have questions about your child or what we’re doing in class. We can chat via email, set up a time for a phone call, or schedule an in-person meeting any time during the year.

I look forward to seeing everyone at the Parent Orientation Monday night!

Hello, parents! I hope that everyone fared well through the snow and ice and that today’s sunshine is thawing you out a little. Since many of our conferences have been postponed, I wanted to get some information out about rescheduling those and our next major event, Pie Supper.

First, the best way to reschedule conferences with me will be through email ( Below are the times I generally have available:

  • Mornings (excluding Thursdays) 7:30-8:20am
  • Afternoons (excluding Thursdays) 3:30-5:30pm
  • Every day 10:45-11:30am
  • Wednesdays and Fridays 1:15-2:10pm

I look forward to finding time to meet with each of you to review the first semester and our plan for the rest of the year. If you would prefer to reschedule over the phone, please email me with your preferred phone number and the best time to call, and I will do my best to get in touch with you as soon as possible.

Now, for Pie Supper! As you know, the students in Senior M.A.P.P. have been working very hard on their research, papers, and presentation boards for Thursday night. I sent home a sheet of requirements and due dates in January, which you can download here:

For many students, this is the first or second time they have been required to complete a research project. The purpose of Pie Supper projects in Senior M.A.P.P. is to expose students to the concept of writing an academic paper and presenting a topic to a wide audience (students, teachers, and parents). My entire class has been enthusiastic and proud of the hard work that they’ve done, and they should be.

All papers and boards are due this Tuesday; students will present their projects in class Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday before presenting at Pie Supper. While a few students turned in the final drafts of their papers or left their completed boards at school, most of them took home edited rough drafts and partially completed presentation boards to finish during conferences and over the weekend. If you have any questions about what your child must complete before Tuesday, please email me and I will let you know!

Yesterday, I took advantage of our rare winter wonderland and went for a walk with my camera. I will leave you with a couple pictures that I took and a hope that you enjoy the long weekend and that we all come back refreshed and ready for spring!


I created a bulletin board for the Senior M.A.P.P. students. It includes a forum specifically for homework where I will post weekly assignments. This does not take the place of student planners, but I hope it will make assignments clearer at home. Anyone can read the homework forum, but in order to post replies you must register an account.

I also created subject-specific forums for the students to use. This is an experiment; I am hopeful that this will give students an opportunity to share ideas with each other. These other forums are hidden from unregistered users because the students will create most of the content there. In order to view or contribute to them, a person must have an account approved by me. I am the full administrator of the forums and have complete access to user information and control over posts. Parents are welcome to create accounts so that they can view and contribute to discussions, as well!

Please email me if you have any questions about the forum or registering an account.

Hello! This journal will serve as a way for me to communicate news and interesting goings-on to you all at home. I’ll post information about what we’re learning, projects we’re doing, and events on the horizon. I’ll also post links to websites I think might be interesting or useful. If you would like to leave comments, please register.