Monday, September 29, 2014

Thursday, September 25, 2014

The Week of September 29, 2014

I hope you are enjoying your long weekend!  I'm also having fun planning some activities for the upcoming week.

In math this week and will be taking a closer look at graphing ratios.  Check out this great video from that tells you how to do it.

We will have plenty of practice in class to help you understand how to graph the ratios on a coordinate plane.  You will also have homework Monday and Tuesday night to complete.  On Thursday, you will have a quiz based on what we've practiced in class and on your homework.  You may want to complete you Compass Learning assignment before you quiz, even though it is not due until Friday.  The extra practice could really help you when preparing for the quiz.

We've spent a lot of time last week talking about how to write a good math journal entry.  Please use that knowledge as you complete your daily math journal assignments.  Your journal will be due Thursday for me to check.

In science, get ready to move and shake as we will be talking about plate tectonics!  Check out the following visuals that will go with my lesson I will give on Monday.

As we discuss plate tectonics over the next two weeks, please complete the following choice sheet to help guide your studies.

You will also have a vocabulary quiz Friday, October 3rd and a final test on plate tectonics Friday, October 10.  These will be your LAST grades in science for the first term, so please try your best.  Here is a copy of your vocabulary words and a study guide to help you prepare of the test.

Looking at our class calendar, you can see that we also have a dress down day this Friday.  Just bring in $1.00 to participate.  All of the proceeds will go towards the "Pink Out" Champagne for breast cancer research.  

Finally, first term parent/teacher conferences will be coming up in two weeks.  If you haven't done so already, please click on the "Signup Genius" button located at the top-right corner of this page and choose a time to meet Ms. Carol and myself for a conference.

Let's have another great week together,
Mr. Trent

Student Art Show at Zoe's Kitchen

Some Ellis 6th graders have some artwork on display at Zoe's Kitchen at 1821 East Victory Drive.  The artwork has a food theme, so viewing it could make you hungry for some of the great Mediterranean food on the menu!

6th grade artwork on display at Zoe's Kitchen

Monday, September 22, 2014

Red Cabbage pH Indicator Lab

adding the red cabbage indicator to various liquids

Today we has some fun testing the pH levels of various liquids.  We created a simple indicator by boiling red cabbage.  When the strained juice was added to the liquids, it changed its color depending on the pH level.  Acids were red/purple and bases were blue/yellow.  The pH of a soil is important because it affects its fertility (the ability for plants to receive nutrients from it).

the color of the liquid after the indicator was added helped us determine the approximate pH level

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Soil Horizon Models

Some students are choosing to create three-dimensional models that show the 6 soil horizons we've been studying.  Each horizon has a characteristic unique to that particular layer.  Please share your creations with your classmates when they are complete!

creating soil horizon models

Friday, September 19, 2014

The Week of September 22, 2014

It's going to be a short week at Ellis...we do not have school on Thursday or Friday.  That being said, we have a mountain of items to take care of before you say good-bye for your long weekend.

In math, we will be focusing on skills that will help us improve our math writing abilities.  I will share some strategies you can use as you complete your weekly math journal assignment.  Writing about your math work is important because it will enable you to think more critically about your work.  In addition, it will improve your writing skills across all subjects.  You will NOT have a Compass Learning requirement this week, but feel free to do some choice work on the program if you have an extra minute to spare.

Math Journals

In science, we will be finishing up our focus on soil.  We will be doing a fun lab on pH Monday.  During the lab, you will be using a pH indicator created using boiled cabbage to test various liquids.  Changes in a soil's pH can affect the fertility of the soil.

During your work time, please compete your "Rake the Leaves" choice sheet.  You can also study for Wednesday's soil test using your study guide.  Please remember to also study the following soil horizons diagram:
Soil Horizons Diagram

If you have not done so already, please choose a time for your parent/teacher/student conference by visiting the Signup Genius page.  It can be found by clicking on the button below.

Have a great weekend!
Mr. Trent

State Soils

Today we talked about differences in soil found around the world.  Take a look at some soils found closer to home with this awesome Soil Postcard interactive created by the Smithsonian Institute!  The site allows you to travel to each of the fifty states and investigate major soils found there.

State Soils Interactive

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Dissecting Soil

Today we dissected soil to discover what it is made of.  We found many items including plant remains, sand, unidentified rocks, and even an earthworm or two!  The objects in the soil were sorted into two groups:  organic and inorganic.  Our soil studies will continue over the next two weeks.

Soil Dissection Lab

Just for fun, check out this hilarious video all about how soil is made!

"Chef's Challenge" Soil Video

Friday, September 12, 2014

The Week of September 15, 2014

Can you believe that we are over half-way through the first term of school already?  We only have 4 more weeks until the beginning of term 2!  Time flies when you are having a good time!

This week in math we will continue our work with division.  We will turn our focus from decimals to fractions.  You will have some division of fractions lessons, classwork, and homework to prepare you for a quiz Thursday.  Your journal (due Thursday) and Compass Learning assignment (due Friday) will also give you some practice dividing fractions.  Check out the following sheet for some instruction on the process and a little extra practice.  The answers are found at the bottom of the page.

In science we will spend the next two weeks getting our hands dirty studying soil!  After some lessons on soil topics, you will be asked to complete the following choice sheet to guide your soil studies.  Please note that it is due NEXT WEDNESDAY (because we do not have school next Thursday or Friday).

Rake the Leaves Choice Sheet

You will have two tests during our work with soil.  The first will be a vocabulary quiz Friday, September 19th.  The next will be a soil test on Wednesday, September 24.  Use the following two documents to help you prepare for the tests.

We will also spend some time studying soil horizons.  Here is a great diagram outlining the important parts of a column of soil.

Soil Horizons (click image to enlarge)

Progress reports will be sent home Tuesday.  Please take it home, review it with your family, sign it, and return it to your homeroom teacher Wednesday.  If you or your family have any questions, please note them on the report.  You can also email me any questions or concerns at

It's going to be a busy, busy, busy week!  Don't be so busy that you forget about the free dress down day on Friday!  This and other important things to remember have been placed on the classroom calendar.  You should also write them in your planner.  Please see me if you need some help doing so.

Have a wonderful weekend,
Mr. Trent

Going Out: Skidaway State Park

A special thank-you to the rangers at Skidaway State Park for sharing a wonderful presentation about the geological history of the area and showing us some awesome fossils, artifacts, and living animals!

Our Fieldtrip to Skidaway State Park

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Hot Off the Presses: The September Bobcat Gazette

Remembering September 11, 2001

During our morning meeting, we discussed the the events of September 11, 2001.  We had time to share our thoughts and feelings concerning terrorism.  It also gave us a chance to pause and show empathy for all those who grieve.  To end our discussion, we read the following poem "One Today" by Richard Blanco.

One sun rose on us today, kindled over our shores,
peeking over the Smokies, greeting the faces
of the Great Lakes, spreading a simple truth
across the Great Plains, then charging across the Rockies.
One light, waking up rooftops, under each one, a story
told by our silent gestures moving behind windows.
My face, your face, millions of faces in morning's mirrors,
each one yawning to life, crescendoing into our day:
pencil-yellow school buses, the rhythm of traffic lights,
fruit stands: apples, limes, and oranges arrayed like rainbows
begging our praise. Silver trucks heavy with oil or paper—
bricks or milk, teeming over highways alongside us,
on our way to clean tables, read ledgers, or save lives—
to teach geometry, or ring-up groceries as my mother did
for twenty years, so I could write this poem.
All of us as vital as the one light we move through,
the same light on blackboards with lessons for the day:
equations to solve, history to question, or atoms imagined,
the "I have a dream" we keep dreaming,
or the impossible vocabulary of sorrow that won't explain
the empty desks of twenty children marked absent
today, and forever. Many prayers, but one light
breathing color into stained glass windows,
life into the faces of bronze statues, warmth
onto the steps of our museums and park benches 
as mothers watch children slide into the day.
One ground. Our ground, rooting us to every stalk
of corn, every head of wheat sown by sweat
and hands, hands gleaning coal or planting windmills
in deserts and hilltops that keep us warm, hands
digging trenches, routing pipes and cables, hands
as worn as my father's cutting sugarcane
so my brother and I could have books and shoes.
The dust of farms and deserts, cities and plains
mingled by one wind—our breath. Breathe. Hear it
through the day's gorgeous din of honking cabs,
buses launching down avenues, the symphony
of footsteps, guitars, and screeching subways,
the unexpected song bird on your clothes line.
Hear: squeaky playground swings, trains whistling,
or whispers across café tables, Hear: the doors we open
for each other all day, saying: hello, shalom,
buon giorno, howdy, namaste, or buenos días
in the language my mother taught me—in every language
spoken into one wind carrying our lives
without prejudice, as these words break from my lips.
One sky: since the Appalachians and Sierras claimed
their majesty, and the Mississippi and Colorado worked
their way to the sea. Thank the work of our hands:
weaving steel into bridges, finishing one more report
for the boss on time, stitching another wound
or uniform, the first brush stroke on a portrait,
or the last floor on the Freedom Tower
jutting into a sky that yields to our resilience.
One sky, toward which we sometimes lift our eyes
tired from work: some days guessing at the weather
of our lives, some days giving thanks for a love
that loves you back, sometimes praising a mother
who knew how to give, or forgiving a father
who couldn't give what you wanted.
We head home: through the gloss of rain or weight
of snow, or the plum blush of dusk, but always—home,
always under one sky, our sky. And always one moon
like a silent drum tapping on every rooftop
and every window, of one country—all of us—
facing the stars
hope—a new constellation
waiting for us to map it,
waiting for us to name it—together.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Pompeii: The Eruption of Mt. Vesuvius

During our discussion of igneous rock today, the topic of the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius was brought up.  Here is a great video from the BBC about the eruption.  Check it out!

Pompeii:  A Mystery of People Frozen in Time

Friday, September 5, 2014

The Week of September 8, 2014

Are you ready for another great week at Charles Ellis?!  I know I am!

In math this week, we will be reviewing division.  I know division is something that you have been doing for a few years now, but I really want to take a deep look at what it means to actually divide numbers.  After a review of long division on Monday, we'll take it up a notch and throw some decimals in the dividend and divisors.  Be sure to try your best on your classwork and homework this week because we will have a test on division Thursday.  To help you with dividing decimals, you will need to complete a Compass Learning assignment this week as well as a math journal (due Thursday).

Do you want more practice dividing decimals?  Check out this interactive lesson below:

An interactive lesson about dividing decimals.

In addition, check out this textbook chapter on dividing decimals.  If you choose to use this for some extra practice, I can check your work for you, just place it in my box.  Again, this isn't required, but it is a great tool to use if you feel you need more practice with the concept.

In science, we will continue our work with the rock cycle.  I've seen some amazing rock posters, read some creative narratives about journeys through the rock cycle, and even enjoyed a few rock poems! Keep it up, all this work is helping you more deeply understand the complexities of the rock cycle and is preparing you for your test on Friday.  You can also use the following study guide to get ready for Friday's test:

Please study the following items for your test on Friday.  You will also need to review your vocabulary words from last week.

You have a few other science-related items to keep in mind this week:  

1.  Your three choices from your Hard Rock Cafe menu are due Friday.  Be sure to put your name, date, and activity on each assignment before you staple it to your coversheet.  
2.  Our fieldtrip to Skidaway Island State Park will be Friday!  We will be walking the trails and learning about fossils.  Please wear comfortable shoes.  You are more than welcome to purchase a school lunch to take along or to pack your own at home.  Keep in mind that our fieldtrip will take up most of the day Friday, so you will not have a worktime to finish your assignments that day.  

See you Monday morning,
Mr. Trent

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Fieldtrip Forms and Payment Due Tomorrow

If you have not done so already, please submit your Fieldtrip forms and money ($2.00) by tomorrow, Friday September 5th.  Late forms and payment will not be accepted.  Funds have been donated for anyone who is having trouble affording the trip.  Please email me or send in a note if you would like to take advantage of this offer.  I'm looking forward to a fun island adventure!  

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Interactive Rock Cycle

There is so much to learn when studying rocks and the rock cycle!  Luckily, there are a number of websites that can help you as you work.  One of the best is the Interactive Rock Cycle site.  The page will take you through each type of rock, the rock cycle, and give you a quiz at the end to test  your knowledge.  Check it out by clicking on the picture below.

Interactive Rock Cycle 

Monday, September 1, 2014

Howdy, from the Blue Ridge Mountains!

Over the holiday weekend I took a trip to the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains in North Carolina!  While there I enjoyed some time taking in the scenery from Pisgah National Forest and along the Blue Ridge Parkway.  I also went tubing down the French Broad River!  This beautiful area is part of the Appalachian Mountain Range that extends from Georgia all the way North to Southeastern Canada!  The mountains were formed at a convergent plate boundary that was once found at the center of the supercontinent Pangaea!  We will learn all about this type of plate movement in a few weeks!

Pisgah National Forest, North Carolina