Skip to main content

“We must remember that intelligence is not enough. Intelligence plus character  - that is the true goal of education.”

- Martin Luther King, Jr.

Worthy Watches and Reads

What is Mindset all about?

The Power of Belief

Packing Snacks and Lunches:

60 Minutes, August 5, 2012: Is Sugar Toxic?

Raising Children in Today's Society:

"A Nation of Wimps"

Allergy Awareness:

Allergies Can Pose a Serious Threat

The Gift of Human Imagination:

Ken Robinson: Do schools kill creativity?

Katie Huckins

Independent Reading

Five Guidelines for Learning to Spell

Practice makes permanent

Did somebody tell you practice makes perfect? That's only if you're practicing it right. Each time you spell a word wrong, you're 'practicing' the wrong spelling. So, if you're not sure how to spell the word, find out, then practice that spelling. Keep an ongoing notebook of words, so you've got your own personal dictionary and you can see your progress. Start small, though!


Don't try to learn all the words at once

Even if you learn them all in one sitting, practice them a few at a time. Find out what works best for you — it may be one or two words or as many as three or four. Then, add another word to your list, or start on different ones. Each time you learn another word, go back and practice the ones you learned before it, because, after all, practice makes permanent.


Review, and review some more!

If you already know some of the words on your list, practice them once or twice each before you start tackling the ones you don't know yet. It's a good confidence booster (and besides, practice makes permanent).


Practice spelling as if you expect to spell those words correctly when you're writing

There's more to learning to spell than passing a spelling test. There are lots of ways to get from guessing to knowing what to write down on a test, AND spelling words right when you're writing sentences and paragraphs. You want to train your hands to write the correct letters in the right order when you think of a certain word. Use the "six ways to practice spelling" listed here.

Use the words you've practiced

That's the point to learning them, anyway. Have a list of words you're learning handy, in a notebook, and you can look them up to make sure you're spelling them right. Besides, using them is practicing them, and practice…you know…makes permanent.




Six ways to practice spelling


Trace, copy and recall

Make a chart like this with 3 or four spelling words you want to learn:



































Then fold over the "recall" part so that only the first two columns show:



  • Say the word to yourself.
  • Trace it in the first column, saying the letters as you trace. Say the word again. You might put a little rhythm into it, "WORD. W – pause – O – pause – R-D. WORD!" (Remember, the goal here is to remember how to spell the words, not to successfully follow these directions.)
  • Go to the second column, say the word, and write it the same way.
  • While the rhythm and the sound and the feeling are fresh in your mind, flip the paper over and say the word and spell it out — the same way, saying each letter (because, after all, practice makes permanent).
  • If it's a hard word, put it on the list more than once. If you're feeling particularly smart, trace and copy TWO words, and try to remember them both before you flip the page over. However, if your short-term memory isn't big enough to hold all that, do one at a time because you want to practice the words RIGHT, not make guesses!
  • After you've done all the words this way a few times, start doing them two or three at a time, and when you feel like you know them, do the list again — but skip the tracing, or, when you're feeling VERY confident, skip the tracing and the copying both.


Reverse chaining by letter

  • Say the word. Then write it, saying each letter (be enthusiastic and expressive)

W - O - R - D

  • Skip a line and say it and write it again — minus the last letter. Say the last letter, but don't write it.

W - O - R - ____

  • Skip a line and say it and write it again — minus the last two letters. Say them, but don't write them.

W - O - ___ ____

  • Do that until you're only writing one letter.
  • Go back to the top. Read the word, then spell it out loud.
  • Fold the page over so you can't see the whole word. Say the word, spell it, and add that last letter.
  • Fold the page back again. Say the word, spell it, and add the last two letters.
  • Keep going until you spell the whole word.
  • GO BACK AND CHECK — make sure you didn't leave out a letter.


Reverse chaining by syllable

This is harder, for longer words.

  • Say the word. Then write it, saying each letter (be enthusiastic and expressive)
  • Skip a line and say it and write it again — minus the last syllable. Say the last syllable and spell it out loud, but don't write it.
  • Continue until you aren't writing anything — but still say the spelling out loud.
  • Go back to the top. Read the word, then spell it out loud.
  • Fold the page over so you can't see the whole word. Say the word, spell it, and add the last syllable.
  • Fold the page back again. Say the word, spell it, and add the last two syllables.
  • Continue until you spell the whole word.
  • GO BACK AND CHECK — make sure you didn't leave out any letters.

shou__ __

sho __ __ __

sh__ __ __ __

s __ __ __ __ __

__ __ __ __ __ __


Highlighting the hard parts

Some words, like separate, are only hard in some parts. You might be getting these right on a test — but always spelling them WRONG when you write, frustrating you and your teachers to no end. And since practice makes permanent, every time you practice it wrong you're making it more likely you'll write it wrong the next time. Here's something to help you focus on the troublesome part.


This is also a good technique for learning rules and patterns. If you want to learn a bunch of IE words — that "I before E" rule that so many people find so hard to use — this is a good way to do it.


Get different color pens or pencils or markers, and index cards. Write the words vividly, boldly on the cards — and make the 'hard part' a different color than the rest… maybe with stripes on the letters. Make a mental picture of that card, read the word aloud and spell it aloud, and change the way you say the "hard part," maybe saying it louder, maybe putting on a British accent.


So, you'd write:


When you write the whole word, think about the hard part, what it looks like or sounds like. So, while you're writing "separate," you might be thinking "sep-AY-rate" and/or visualizing that bold, red A.


Again, the keys here are to NOT overwhelm your brain — don't try to learn 5 words at a time like this unless you've got an amazing visual memory. Better to do one word 5 times — and start spelling it right in your writing.


Use a tape recorder to test yourself, and to practice using words

Read the words — be sure you're pronouncing them right — into a tape recorder. Record it like it's a spelling test: word, example sentence, word. For example, you'd say "Separate. Put the papers in separate piles. Separate. Spelled s - e - p - a - r - a - t - e." Play it back — and try to say the spelling before the tape plays it.


Practice using the words in short phrases

If separate is the word, see if you can think of 5 different phrases with the word and write them out. Let's see… separate rooms, separate cars, separate houses, A Separate Peace, separate the pages. Or, try to use 20 of your words in the same story. Get silly — have fun with the words!

Test Taking Tips


Multiple Choice Test Tips

¤ Read the question carefully before you look at the answer, underline key words in the question.

¤ Read all the questions for a passage of writing before you read the passage.

¤ Read all the choices before choosing your answer.

¤ Eliminate answers you know are incorrect and then narrow the remaining choices.

¤ Guess if necessary.

¤ Stay with your first-choice answer unless you have a very good reason to make a change.

True-False Test Taking Tips

¤ Every part of a true statement must be true. If any part is false, it is false.

¤ Pay attention to key words.

*Words like “no, never, none, always, every, entirely, only” usually indicate an answer of “false” because the words mean the answer must be true 100% of the time.

*Words like “sometimes, often, frequently, seldom, rarely, probably, generally” usually indicate true answers.

¤ Negatives can be confusing. If the question has words like "no, not, cannot" mentally cross out the negative and read the sentence again. If it is true, then with the negative word it is false.

Short Answer Tests

Don’t leave any answers blank. Guess if necessary. Before the test, study by using flashcards, writing key terms, dates, and people on the front and the definition, event, and explanation on the back.

¤ Read the entire statement. If you don’t know the answer, come back to it later and then make an educated guess. Sometimes the answer will be found in other parts of the test.

¤ If there is a word box or word list, cross off words as you use them.

¤ Reread the question with your answer to make sure your answer makes sense.

¤ Read the question carefully to make sure you answered it. Some short answer questions have more than one part.

Matching Tests

¤ Matching tests usually ask you to match words in one column with phrases in another column.

¤ Count all the choices in each column. Work from the column with the fewer choices. Don’t waste time trying to match something that isn’t there.

¤ If both columns have the same number of items, work from the column that has the explanations, or phrases, because they can contain clues.

¤ Cross out answers as they are used.

Essay Tests

¤ Essay tests make you recall and organize your knowledge into paragraphs.

¤ Read the question at least two times to make certain you understand it.

¤ Highlight words that give directions for answering, such as “compare, contrast, define, explain, discuss, describe, list.”

¤ Make the question into a statement to use as your opening sentence.

¤ Make an outline with main ideas you need to cover. Under main ideas fill in all important facts you can remember.

¤ Organize your ideas in a logical sequence.

¤ Write the essay changing your outline notes into complete sentences.

¤ Proofread your work, and correct all your errors. Check for spelling, punctuation, and grammar. Proof it twice!

“ACTIVE” Study Strategies

When studying I should RECITE.  I might:

-describe or explain aloud any topic in my own words,

-teach or explain the information to someone else (or record my voice!),

-act out the information or role-play a part.


When studying, I should WRITE.  I might:

-make a Chapter Study Review index card with special vocabulary,

-make and use a set of flash cards (vocabulary and definitions, math problems and solutions, questions and answers and so on),

-draw a diagram, map, a sketch, or a chart;  do this from memory and check your notes or book for accuracy,

-write questions that might be on the test and then answer

-create “semantic” maps to summarize information (such as: Venn diagrams, charts, webs, sequence (chronological) chains,

-create a mnemonic to remember information (such as:  H.O.M.E.S. to remember the great lakes:  Lake Huron, Lake Ontario, Lake Michigan, Lake Erie, Lake Superior).


When studying, I should VISUALIZE.  I might:

-close my eyes and “picture in my mind” any chart, diagram, word, map, event, time period, scene, experiment or character (from a story) that I am trying to remember.

How Do I Improve My Grade?

And now, for the question I am asked more than any other...

“Is there anything that I can do to improve my grade?”


1.  Read ALL of the directions on the assignment, not just the first part of the directions!

2.  Follow all of the directions and complete every section of the assignment.

3.  Put effort into your work.  If something seems too easy, push yourself to make it more challenging.  In writing, for example, this can mean explaining yourself further, or writing more descriptively (adjectives, adverbs, prepositional phrases).

4.  Turn in your work on time.

During class:

1.  PAY ATTENTION in class so that you know what is expected of you! Ignore your friends who are trying to get your attention.

2.  Ask the teacher questions if you aren’t sure of something.

3.  Participate in class - challenge yourself to raise your hand and give answers.  By participating, you will be more involved in what’s going on.  By listening to other students’ answers, you may learn a thing or two!

4.  USE the work periods in class that I give you, instead of chatting with your friends.  You’ll have less homework at home, which will make you (and everyone around you) happier!

Know that it is your job, not your parents’, to know what is expected of you in class!


Classroom Policies

1. All final written work must be done in dark blue or black ink, or on a computer.

2. Neatness always counts.

3. A heading must be used on all papers. Papers without a heading (name) are considered late.


Homework may be assigned Monday through Thursday, and on an occasional Friday. Most assignments will be the completion of daily classroom work, or the practice of new concepts recently explored.  Additionally, some homework may be in the form of long-term assignments that are given to help you prepare for later academic challenges. Students are expected to read at home every night.

Plans during the week may change.  Before leaving class you should check the white board for changes to assignments.

Helpful hint:  Create a folder or box, and computer file, for all of your 6th grade work.  Remember to save, save, save!!


Work missed due to illness may be turned in late. You will be given the same number of days to make up your work as you were absent. Long-term assignments are due on the day you return to school.  For any quizzes or tests missed due to an absence, it is YOUR responsibility to make an appointment with your teacher to make up a quiz or test.


During the first weeks of school, individual classes will be in the process of formulating a set of classroom rules which will become the behavioral standards.

While teachers may have different methods of enforcing basic rules, we are all committed to being fair and consistent. However, we all agree that any serious physical or verbal misbehavior will result in immediate removal from the classroom to the vice-principal's office, and parent notification.