Week of February 26th, 2007

25 02 2007

Social Studies – We are officially done with our class work time on the claymation/whaling project.  Students did not finish the project on time (based on our perseverence contract), but they did work rather well together nearer the deadline.  I will put a link on this blog when the project is completed – it looks very good so far, so hopefully they can get it done soon!

This week, students will be researching American Colonization in our American History text.  We will begin reading “Hard Labor: The First African Americans, 1619” later in the week. 

Math – Students are learning about the coordinate grid.  Most seem to have no experience with it so far.  Here are some links to websites that students can use to practice skills with coordinates (may seem elementary, but a little time on them will help build necessary basic skills):




Social Skills – Six select students will be going to St. Mary’s to work with some of the residents there on Monday, 2/26.

The rest of the students will be continuing with Conversation/Listening skills as well as the “5-minutes of fame” activity we have been doing for 2 weeks now. 

Please continue to work with your child on conversation skills: attentive listening, eye contact, body basics (body language), and asking interest-driven questions.  At-home practice is a necessity in helping your child generalize these skills to the real world.

Students were paid a visit last week by Mr. Maclaughlin, the marketing director at St. Mary’s.  He spoke with them about an upcoming project they will get to work on.  Some other students at Washington are going to be producing dog biscuits, and students in my social skills class will be given the task of marketing that product.  Mr. Maclaughlin gave some insight as to what marketing is all about and how the students can get some good sales of the dog treats.  Some will be able to create posters, build webpages, create PA announcements, radio commercials…and whatever else they may think of.  We look forward to this opportunity and know that our kids will benefit from this real-world application of marketing skills. 

Ask your child what’s going on in social skills, and you should be sure to hear about some of the above.

Special Events –

Mid-quarters handed out Monday, 2/26/07

Parent-Teacher Conferences – Thursday, 3/1/07 (this Thursday), from 1pm-7pm.  Come anytime, or give me a call if you’d like to be updated that way instead.


Mini-Course Day!

23 02 2007

This Friday, February 23rd marks our first ever mini-course day at Washington.  Students were given a list of activities to choose from last week, and now they get to enjoy!  Teachers have offered a well-rounded list of activities for the students to enjoy, such as ice skating, bowling, basket making, balloon creations, and much more.

 After the excitement, students in the EBD program will be enjoying a lunch provided by the EBD teachers and paraprofessionals.  After that, students will be playing PS2 and GameCube games, among other (lower-tech) options.  Students have brackets all set up so they may challenge each other tournament-style.

Be on the lookout for some pictures soon!

(below are some pics from last Fun Friday’s gaming)


more gaming

Fun with BubblePLY

20 02 2007

I was playing around with BubblePLY this evening.  Thought I’d share this fun site with the world. 

Here’s my sample:

very easy to work with, at first glance.

Week of February 19th, 2007

19 02 2007

Social Studies – students ran into technical difficulties last Thurs and Fri, so we will be spending Monday and Tuesday this week finishing up the whaling claymation assessment.  Be watching on this blog for a link to that video.  Wednesday and Thursday we’ll be self-assessing our whaling project.

Math – Monday, we’ll do one final wrap up of the integer work – quiz (in class).

Tuesday, begin working with fractions.  Students were “warned” last week about the impending fraction unit, so they should be mentally ready. 

Expect homework Wednesday night.

Social Skills – We are continuing the “Five Minutes of Fame,” where one students gets to sit in the spotlight while the rest of the class practices the listening.  Students will be self-assessing their listening skills as outlined below in this blog.  They will be watching a video of themselves from last week.

Please continue to work with your child on the listening skills, especially that of asking interest-driven questions as outline in previous weeks.

Special Events this Week –

Friday – Mini-course Day.  Students will have the opportunity to earn choices of activities during the morning.  Some have already signed up for activities last Thursday, while others have not.  Not all students will get the opportunity to go to classes.  Mr. England and I will be discussing the necessary criteria with students Monday.  They will have to show that they can handle unstructured activity because Friday will involve a lot of self-restraint on the students’ parts.  Ask your child for details on this day as the week progresses.

Friday – 2 hour early release.  Students dismissed at 12:50.  Lunch is not served at school. 

Week of February 12th, 2007

15 02 2007

Social Studies – This is the final workweek for the claymation project in our whaling unit.  Students will be spending time creating scenery, building characters, photographing their scenes, and finally editing their video.  We have a perseverance contract signed by every member of the class that would earn us a pizza party on Friday if we:

  • Complete project by Friday, 2/16
  • Earn a B or better
  • Work together as a team

Math – Continuing work with negative and positive integers.  See last week’s post for the rules/song that we use to remember how to solve these problems. 


  • Monday – worksheet subtracting integers (30 mins)
  • Tuesday – book work p. 7, do A-E (40 mins)
  • Wednesday – book work p. 8, do “1.1 follow up” (15 mins)

Social Skills – Students are working on listening strategies (of peers – we are not focused on improving listening skills during class at this time).  Every class period begins with one student in the spotlight for “5 Minutes of Fame.”  That student is the center of attention while the rest are to ask interest-driven questions of that student.

Keys to being a good listener:

  • Body basics (show interest)
  • Appropriate responses, such as nodding or verbally affirming what was said
  • Asking interest-driven questions that show the person genuine interest

The final item above is the most difficult, as rated by students.  We looked at video of class discussions and noted that, in many cases, asking questions of peers comes secondary to discussing our personal interests. 
For example, one kid may ask another, “whatcha doin’ this weekend?”
Friend responds, “Going skiing…”
First kid says, “Oh, I go skiing all the time…I bet I’ve gone more times than you…I’ve gone about 100 times…”

Many teens have a difficult time with showing interest in other kids’ activities, and this can serve to ostracize them.  Kids get tired of hearing about one person all the time, and it may cause some alienation.

So this has been our focus this week.  Please feel free to review the basics to good listening as bulleted above.  You could also do a role play with your child.  One of you would be “in the spotlight,” where you get to talk about yourself while the other follows the steps to good listening.  Then switch places.

 Other Events this week:

  • Wednesday: 8th grade field trip to school forest and energy plant.
  • Thursday: Students with highest GPA (grade point averag) and students with most improved GPA from 1st quarter to 2nd quarter will be going up to Golden Corral for lunch buffet.

Week of February 5th, 2007

5 02 2007

Social Studies – continue with claymation production.  Students have nearly completed the outline for the show and are now nearing the dialogue phase and the set design phase.

 Math – Working with integers.  Students learned the Integer Song last week.  It helps them remember the rules for adding and subtracting positive and negative integers.  Here are the lyrics (sung to “Row, Row, Row your Boat”):

Same sign add and keep
Different signs subtract
Keep the sign of the farther number
Then it’ll be exact.

Change the minus to a plus;
change the sign of next;
and all you do is add them up as if it were a plus.

Reviewing this song with your child will help them commit to memory and be able to solve all addition and subtraction problems.

Social Skills: We have finished reading “The Pigman.”  Well, actually, I stopped reading 10 pages short of the end in hopes that students would go and get the book and finish on their own.  This week, we are moving into some discreet social skills training. 
Students will be given a basic social skill (such as “listening”), will have the skill modeled by teacher, will practice the skill with teacher/partner, and then will independently display the skill.  Most students feel this is a bit elementary, but it is a proven method for successful acquisition of social skills. 

We are going to start this week with “accepting discipline.”  Students will be put into a made-up situation where they have broken a rule and are now receiving the consequence for that behavior. 
One of the best ways for this type of social skill training to thrive is for the student to practice outside school.  It would be great even if parents would try to rehearse a similar situation at home.