‘Twas the Day Before Our Holiday Break…

As of right now we are officially on Holiday Break!  We had a lovely day in which we finished a read aloud book (Freak the Mighty by Rodman Philbrick), watched the movie, had a party and went to a sing-a-long!  Whew!  And in honor of it being Christmas, I made some more JibJabs that we managed to find time to watch … twice!  Check out some pictures of our party (planned and run by the students) and then check out the JibJabs.  Enjoy!

Disco Christmas

Sled Race


Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree

Feliz Navidad


School – We All Experience It Differently

In order for a poem to connect with a reader, it has to have truth and be full of honest feelings.  I recently asked my students to think about some aspect of their school week and to gather some thoughts.  Their topic had to be something they felt strongly about, whether that be strongly for or strongly against.   I’ve been delighted with their finished work.  I hope you are too!

<Orth> + <o> + <graph> + <y>

you taught me…

like a British Council.
a chance to try my hardest.
a symphony.

How can words be so …


When I study about you
it feels like an ocean’s waves
churning against me,
children laughing, throwing, reading.
A lovely sound.
The world of words can’t grow without you!


words, words, words …

 Could you tell me more?


The Topic of Science

Science, you speak to me.
I love the way you make me curious,
full of wonder, I am now.

I especially love marine biology.
Take me to the ocean and show me
orcas, dolphins, narwhals,
maybe even anemone.

Let’s go to the beach
grab some shells and figure out
what species they are.

C’mon, let’s travel across
the country to Cali
so we can examine dino’s in tar.

You make me squeal.
You make me smile.
Don’t go away, stay for a while.
We have so much more to learn
so much more to do
me and you.
The topic of science.



Oh, recess!
The worst time of the day.
Too much excitement!
Balls getting thrown,
hitting people in the face.


I’m telling you
the truth.
Recess is
a dangerous place.

This is why
instead of going out
in the evil world called
recess …

Just go to the library.



Gym is like a bird
always fun
moving and flying in the air
like a dodge ball
about to hit someone in the head.

Or Steal the Pin
always running and moving to get the pin
or to protect it.

It’s like flying on a plane
jumping around in the air
to make a loop.

It feels like you are in an army
when you are on a team
fighting to win.



My favorite
because of the freedom.
no rules
no mistakes


Quiet chit chat
throughout the room.
The colorful walls
instantly making my day
as I am laughing
at the hilarity on the posters
hanging on the walls.

The smells
of oily crayons
and fresh clay
wafting through the air
to my nose.

Taking in
complicated instructions.

It’s Tuesday morning!
I’m skipping
to art!

How many more steps?
3 …
2 …
1 …
We’re here!



A peaceful subject
in my mind

Finding the right answer
to an equation
is like the rush you get
when you win a basketball game.

I love math
almost as much
as I love my family.

It’s like the gears
in my mind are turning
at just the right speed.

But then once we switch classes,
the gears in my mind seem to
slow down almost
to a stop.

That’s when I feel like
I’m going to fall asleep.

Once I get to social studies and reading,
my brain is completely shut off.

I struggle to stay focused.

Nothing can keep me occupied
and upbeat
like math.



Dear recess,
I cannot describe you with
any word but

I think it’s wonderful
that you have
basketball hoops,
soccer goals and
a kickball fence.

I just love the feeling
when I make a
“nothing but net”
shot at Lightning or
when I make a
game winning goal at soccer.

I also think that
it’s cool that you have
a play structure and a four square area.


It All Happens in the Chloroplast …

There is something quite wonderful about performing on stage.  And there is something equally wonderful about watching.  Maybe it’s the anticipation of unexpected delight or even suspense.  Maybe it’s the performers revealing something about themselves that none of us saw before.  Maybe it’s the exhilarating “in the moment” experience.  Even if you come back and see it again, you know it won’t be like this time.

A week and a half ago, I handed out scripts and cast parts.  Yesterday we performed our Photosynthesis Follies.  All 62 of us.  I have three classes, and in each class there were 3 separate casts.  So for two days the hallways of our school echoed with “Photo what?”  and “It’s a blast being a chloroplast!”  Last night I created this combobulation of all three classes, all nine casts.  And I threw in a few special effects just for fun!  Enjoy!

Stepping Beyond Pronunciation and Definition…

Many people think that if you can pronounce a word and understand what it means, that there is nothing more that matters.  What a mistake!  What about cultivating an enjoyment and fascination of words?

If my students learn enough about words, they are going to see them as connected to other words with the invisible threads of familial relatives.  They will learn about a word’s roots and the fascinating journey it has taken on its way to being a modern English word.  They will learn that from historical events new words emerge, and that even without a major event, new words are entering our language all the time.  They are going to understand a structure they never noticed before by studying word sums.  They’re going to be a bit choosier about words when writing.

In my last post, I shared some of the “word posters” that my students have been working on.  They are on display in the hallway we use most often.  Heads are turning constantly as people walk this hallway.  It is a glorious sight!  But more than that it is an opportunity for my students to look deeper into a word.  Deeper than just its modern day definition and spelling.  It’s been an opportunity for my students to connect a present day spelling to a word’s roots, relatives and past spellings.  They’ve found out that not all words were born at the same time, nor in the same language!



Some of the words chosen were free bases, and some were not.  In order to collect words for a matrix, this had to be determined right away.  Kaeleb had a rather enjoyable journey finding out about the base of <computer>!  Before he went to any resources, he hypothesized that <er> was a suffix.  His reasoning was that he could easily use the word <compute> in a sentence.  As he began his research at Etymonline, he found that <com> was a prefix meaning “with” and the base was from the Latin root putare meaning “to reckon”, originally “to prune”.  I shared with Kaeleb what I knew about the Latin infinitive suffix -are.  That helped him identify the modern base to be <pute>.

I mentioned to Kaeleb that if he typed the Latin root putare in the search bar at Etymonline, he would get a list of words that share that root.  Now that he knew the bound base,  he could get busy collecting words and figuring out word sums, so he could create a matrix!


As you can see, he enjoyed identifying a great many members of this word family!  As I was looking over his matrix, my eyes hesitated at the words <amputation> and <deputy>.  This is what I love about pausing to look past the spelling and definition.  Wow!  A connection between computer, amputation and deputy?  Even though Kaeleb explained his understanding of the meaning they shared, I needed to look at the resources for myself.   With the word <amputate>, the prefix <am-> is a clip of the prefix <ambi-> and means “about” and the base <pute> takes on its original meaning “to prune, to trim”.  With the word <deputy>, the prefix is <de-> and means “away” and the bound base is again <pute> meaning “to count, to consider”, literally “to cut, to prune”.  So the deputy is considered as having the full power of an officer, but is one position away from being the sheriff.


When Elizabeth chose the word <illusion> neither she nor I expected such an interesting study!   She hypothesized that this word had an <-ion> suffix, but didn’t recognize either <illus> or <illuse> as a word.  It was time to look at Etymonline.  We found out that the prefix <il-> is an assimilated form of the prefix <in-> meaning “at or upon”, and that the base comes from the Latin root ludere meaning “to play, to mock, to tease”.  This part was a bit confusing for Elizabeth since the root ludere didn’t share the <lus> that we see in <illusion>.  I immediately recognized the Latin infinitive suffix <-ere> and took Elizabeth to Latdict to see if we weren’t looking at twin bases.  (I haven’t talked about twin bases with my students yet, but when opportunity knocks, I say, “Go for it!”)

At Latdict we found the four principal parts of this Latin verb.  They are ludo, ludere, lusi, lusus.  In order to find out if we have twin bases here, orthographers look at the second and fourth parts.  The second verb part is ludere, and when we remove the infinitive suffix, we have <lud(e)>.  The fourth verb part is lusus, and when we remove the supine suffix, we have <lus(e)>.  These two verb parts are not the same, so we have determined them to be twin bases!  Embracing the idea that there could be such a thing as twin bases, Elizabeth wondered if bases could be triplets!  That led us to asking questions and getting clarification from our favorite Old Grouch in France.   (“He’s not grouchy at all,”  my students quickly discovered.)

After that, Elizabeth went to Etymonline and typed ludere, the Latin root, in the search bar.  That took her to a list of modern words that share that root and have either <lud(e)> or <lus(e)> as their modern base element.  Once she determined the word sums for her collected words (some from Etymonline, some from Word Searcher, some from the dictionaries in our classroom), she created her matrix and recounted her discoveries about the word <illusion>!

Here are a few of the other posters on display in our “Hallway of Word Histories”.


DSCN5975 DSCN5977