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Room 206 Announcements
Mosaic Memories

See our Mosaic Memories gallery...

Week of June 1, 2010 Update

Lake Day is this Friday, June 4th. Please feel free to join us at this really fun whole school
event. We'll begin our walk over to Lake Harriet at around 9:30.


come to Valleyfair at our reduced price or possibly free. Students who are with their parents
can stay later at Valleyfair. Please let me know. The permission slip will go home this week.

This week we are finishing up our novel The Watsons Go to Birmingham.

Students are also completing reflecitve writing about their work this year. This "booklet "
will be part of what they share with you on Monday.

Hope to see you on Portfolio Sharing Day. ALL work will go home that day.

Have a wonderful summer with your children, and thank you for sending them my way this

Mary Austin

Week of May 17, 2010 Update

Time is zooming by, and we have another busy week ahead.

The Middles will be going to the Ordway to see dredance on Tuesday, May 18th.

On Friday, we'll head to the Senior Citizen Center to hear about the winners of the writing contest. I absolutely loved reading the
essays. The students did a superb job of expressing in words the love they feel for their grandparents and other older family members. I think more than one grandmother received an essay for Mother's Day last weekend. We'll leave school around 11:30, stop at Lyndale Farmstead Park for lunch/recess and then continue on to 36th and Bryant, arriving at 12:30. Parents are very welcome to join us. It usually is a very pleasant and interesting experience for the students to meet with a group of senior citizens. Everyone has the chance to read his or her essay to a supportive audience.

Tracy continues to teach full-time. She is working on the Civil War for two weeks and teaching a novel The Watsons go to Birmingham, a story that takes place in the South during the Civil Rights Era. Tracy is doing a great job. Please ask your student to stay focused on the learning. High energy, when positively channeled, is great, but we want everyone to remain respectful.

The class has also enjoyed the Own Choice book reports that some students have chosen to share with everyone. Creativity is not in short supply in Room 206.

Have a great week!


Tragedy, Comedy, and Dance

The Middles are taking a field trip to see several theater productions in May:

  • Wed., May 12, 2010: Shakespeare's Macbeth, Scottish Rite Temple
  • Fri., May 14, 2010: Surviving the Applewhites, YPC Theater
  • Tues., May 18, 2010:, Ordway

See the details on the permission form.

Week of May 3, 2010 Update

Hi Families,

Rough draft of the senior citizen essay due May 4. We'll be peer-editing that day, so it would be good if everyone had it ready.

Social Studies: Revolutionary War. An actual tug-of-war with many rules and unexpected changes is an experiential metaphor for the Revolutionary War, which we will study this week. There will be a test on Friday on chapter 13. Please have your child do the online tutorial by Thursday night. It's a great way to prepare for the test. Students are really showing they can learn a lot about U.S. History.

We continue to do literature circles until Wednesday. Mid-week, Tracy, our wonderful student teacher, will take over more of the class, and she will be doing a whole class novel. If students have finished their literature circle book, they will have time each day to complete it independently. Other students who have finished should have a novel of their own choice to read each day. 

5th graders will take a state science test on Tuesday morning. 

Options begins this week - Tuesday and Thursday

Students have art as their specialist this week and next.

Last spelling unit for 2009-10: Each group has chosen their own unit out of those remaining. A huge thanks to parents Pam (Mitchell), Beth (Kenny), Teri (Megan), Julie (Nick), Angie (Zack), Beth (Clark), Leah (Preston), Jessica (Wesley). Spelling wouldn't have happened so seemlessly without the dedication of these parents. 5th grade parents please consider helping out next year one afternoon a week! Get to know a small group of students and provide a helpful service to our school community.

Monday, May 10th Release Day

Almost everyone has finished a beautiful mosaic of his or her childhood memory. They are on exhibition in the hallway. Stunning!


Week of April 26, 2010 Update

206 had an excellent debate between the Loyalists and the Patriots last Thursday. Small groups of students prepared their historical subject/debater with background knowledge on the issue of independence from Britain and arguments that could be used in the debate against the opposing side. It was a lively debate of which Ben Franklin, Sam Adams, and Mercy Otis Warren would've been proud. This week we continue our study of the Revolutionary War with the Declaration of Independence, putting it into more modern-day language that we can understand.

All students were to take the online tutorial for chapter 11. The hard copy is due in class on Monday. Please do not e-mail it to me, unless there is no other way. I am encouraging students to email it to themselves and print it at school if a printer is not available at home. Chapter 12's test will be in school on Friday. Students are encouraged to bring their book home and take the online tutorial to help prepare for tests on Friday.

Spelling Unit 20 on Monday.

This week artist-in-resident Fatawa, African dancer and musician, will be working with 206 students during music. Our class will learn African dances and culture. It'll also be a great work out!

We will also begin our last type five essay. The subject will be a relationship that students have with a senior citizen. This essay is sponsored by the Southwest Senior Citizen Center at 36th and Bryant. The SW staff will judge the writing and give out awards of participation to everyone and six awards to writers they feel have superlatively described their relationships. We'll begin the writing in school, but it may go home if time doesn't permit us to type at school. (Very time-consuming process for 34 students) Because this is a contest, allow your child to use his/her own words to express their feelings. Resist the temptation to give them help other than editing for mechanics. I am ready to get the specs for the writing project into the hands of students on Monday.

We hope you can visit the exhibit of our childhood memories that is going up in our hallway. The class, (not everyone is done), has been creating a mosaic of a childhood memory. The students wrote about their memories using the non-linear writing structure of flashback and completed them before spring break. We are embedding the writing into the art as part of the mosaic. They are stunning! We might try to get them on our website within the next few weeks, if you can't make it in to school.

Thanks to families for bringing in snacks during the MCAs.

Have a great week,


Week of April 19, 2010 Update

MCA Reading Tests Tues. and Wed. of this week

Good night's sleep, hearty breakfast, water bottle

Thanks to families who donated mints, suckers, etc. The class very much appreciated them.

Social Studies: Unit 11 The Loyalists vs. The Patriots Debate. Please sign and return unit 10 tests and unit 9 if you haven't had the chance.

Literature Circles continue this week.

We began the mosaics and will work on them in the afternoons - a nice respite after the testing.

We'll begin our last big essay on a relationship that students have with a senior citizen. We will write and edit them in class, but if we are running out of time, the essays might go home. If you can give your child some ideas about who they could write about, that would be great. The writing is for a contest sponsored by the Southwest Senior Citizen Center, so the students need to write them completely on their own except for editing spelling and mechanics errors.

Field trip on Friday, April 23 9:15 to noon to see Oceans at Southdale AMC. We're no longer calling parents the day of field trips when students forget their permission slips. The slips must be turned in if students are going with us. It was getting out of hand - all of the calling.

Thanks for your understanding.

Week of April 12, 2010 Update

Tues. and Wed. MCA testing in mathematics

Please make sure your child has a good night sleep and a good breakfast. Water is also good to have during testing.

As a class, we would love to have mints and hard candies to suck on during the test. If you are out and about this weekend, please think about picking some up for us. Even the Dum-dums help us.

Students should bring a good book to read after testing to relax a bit.

We'll be learning about the Pre-Revolutionary War Period in Social Studies.

Unit 17 in spelling. Several students were late in handing in their spelling, while some are doing it too quickly resulting in misspellings. Ironic.

Literature Circles started last week.

We read two articles in the Nat'l Geo Explorer. We read the article on Iceland and took a comprehension test. On the frog article we worked on summarizing.

We'll begin the mosaic art project this week by viewing a power point, rereading the childhood memory, doing a preliminary sketch of the memory and then constructing the actual mosaic. Fabric, ribbon, copies of photos can all be apart of this project.

Please remind your child to stay focused and learn as much as they can while in school. The chatting is getting a bit out of hand and can slow down the learning, but the class is otherwise great.

Week of April 5, 2010 Update

Spelling Unit 16

Social Studies Chapter 8: Introduction to Slavery in the Americas

Reading two National Geographic Explorer articles focusing on Iceland: A Land of Fire and Ice and Fantastic Frogs

Comparing and Contrasting two poems

Beginning to work on a mosaic depicting the childhood memories that most students finished writing, editing and creating a final draft of before spring break

March book reading project/parent sign-off due April 5

I will present the specifications for the April book project: student choice of book genre and student choice of representation/presentation due in early May. Specs will come home this week.

Tracy, our outstanding student teacher from the University, joined us full-time the week before spring break.

Almost everyone presented their ten-hour projects before spring break. They were interesting and engaging. Thanks for supporting your child in this endeavor. Feedback will come home this week.

Please sign and have your student return it to class.



Two Field Trips

Room 206 will be going on two field trips in the next couple of weeks -- to Stages Theatre on March 17, 2010 and to the Minnesota Zoo on Mach 22, 2010.  See the Information and Permission Slip for more information.

Week of March 8, 2010 Update

Swimming this week: Mon., Wed., Fri

We have spelling this week and next and then not again until after spring break.

Students will take an open-book test on chapter 6 in U.S. History on Tuesday. They can always get on-line with the HistoryAlive tutorial to prepare for the test.

I am editing ten-hour project rough drafts and childhood memories. I hope to have all the student childhood memories edited and ready, so the students can begin working on a mosaic of their memory. If anyone has interesting fabric, paper, ribbon that they can donate that would be great. Any student who handed in a ten-hour rough draft will get it back tomorrow.

Everyone did an amazing job on the February book reports. Our wall of fame is filled with many famous faces. March's book project is to simply read a book and then discuss it with the family. Some parents read the same book as their child to have a very meaningful discussion. I'll get the discussion questions out to students this week. Then all that the students need is for you to sign off on the March book report sheet saying you had a great discussion. Sign-off sheet is due after spring break or anytime before.

We had a wonderful day for skiing. Thanks to 206 parents Michel, Kevin, Julia, Corey, Mike, Pam, Helene, Kathy, and big brothers Jon and Tom for helping to chaperone kids. You were a huge help.

Have a fine week.


Week of February 22, 2010 Update

Hi Families,

Our class will begin presenting our biographical book projects on Tuesday. Each student has his or her own date already set up. We'll take pictures of all of our "famous visitors" this week and set up a Wall of Fame in the hallway.

We will begin U.S.History Chapter 5 on European explorers and explore their country of origin, their motivations for exploration and the impact they had on the native peoples. Students can always go online and do the HistoryAlive tutorial.

We are also beginning a unit on art and Faith Ringgold, an African-American artist and writer. I'll use a story about her art and her
interest in her own family history to inspire the students' own art (mosaic) and writing about their childhood. The students will use the literary device of flashback to introduce their memories, so we'll investigate the use of flashback in both movies and books. We also recently read a Nat'l Geo article on Henry Louis Gates and genealogy, so this will be a good tie-in with families and memories. Last Friday, the class took a comprehension test on that article. We always review the test and share high standards for writing the constructed response, giving students a chance to see how they could improve their thinking and writing. It's also a good way to prepare for the reading comprehension test on the MCAs.

No spelling due to the four-day week.

A combined field trip slip for the March 4th skiing trip to Afton Alps and a free trip to the Minnesota Zoo on the 22nd of March will come home this week. Please sign and return as soon as possible. Last week for the YPC play, we had a lot of students forget and so several calls were made home, taking up time.

Thanks to everyone for coming to mid-winter conferences. Please contact me if there is anything else I need to know or do for your child.

Mary Austin

Week of February 15, 2010 Update

Everyone needs a permission slip returned tomorrow because...

Our class, with the whole middles' team is going to the Ordway to see Sweet Honey and the Rock, an African-American blues, gospel, jazz singing group, as part of our artist-in-residence experience. Last week our students wrote songs with Danielle Daniels about being a part of an ideal community, based on the music of Sweet Honey. We are being immersed in African-American culture, beginning last week with Mixed Blood's production of an African America and continuing with the performance at Youth Performance Co. of My Feet is Tired, But My Soul is Rested. The play also focused on Tiennamen Square in China and Kent State during the Vietnam War. The theme was people coming together to make change. All have been powerful arts experiences for our students.

We are continuing lit circle groups, but we should be wrapping them up by next week.  As a class we'll begin to read about writer and artist Faith Ringgold. She will be part of our childhood memory writing and mosaic project. Ask your child to think of a childhood memory that is special to them.

In U.S History we are beginning a new chapter on Europeans sailing to the New World. The students will be bringing home a test to be signed from last week on the seven Native American cultural regions of the U.S.

We'll also be reading another article in the National Geographic Magazine on family trees. The article will focus on an African-
American man tracing his roots. A comprehension test with a constructed response will follow.

Don't forget the permission slips for tomorrow!!!

Thank you,
Mary Austin

Week of February 8, 2010 Update

Thank you very much for your generous contributions to 206's Haiti fund. We collected over $400! I have sent the money to No Time for Poverty. They have a much-needed medical team working hard over there
right now.

We will have a little Valentine's Day party on Friday afternoon. Students can bring materials to decorate bags (I provide) or shoeboxes. I sent home a class list. On Friday afternoon we'll share valentines and play board games together for about 45 minutes.  

We're into our second week of literature circles. Students are reading, working on jobs and discussing their stories. We plan on finishing stories by the end of next week. I've been listening to some amazing discussions about literature.

We are studying Native American cultures before European arrival in social studies. This week we are focusing on seven cultural regions. Students should take the online review at by Thursday. We'll have a test on Friday on chapter 3. Once corrected the tests will go home and be signed by parents. We've also begun our states' books. We'll be collecting facts about each states, including latitude and longitude of each state's capital city, regions, bordering states, etc. This will be our arriving-at-school work, so it's important that students arrive on time to school. We hope to have all fifty completed by June. At some point we'll have a states and capitals test. It's a rite of passage!

There will not be any spelling until the first week in March due to short weeks and the need to have math on Monday afternoon, February 8th because of a Mixed Blood production at Barton in the morning. Mixed Blood is presenting an "African-America" tomorrow morning for students. (We're still hoping for a replacement for one of our volunteer spelling helpers on Friday afternoons. It's particularly essential to have an adult volunteer to give the spelling test.)

206 is having Vocalessence artist-in-residence Danielle Daniels, African-American storyteller, for two classroom visits this week. Our focus is a peaceful community inspired by the music of Sweet Honey and the Rock. We'll follow up with an Ordway concert of Sweet Honey and the Rock on February 16th. A permission slip will go home this week.

This Thursday morning, February 11 we are going to see the Youth Performance Company's But My Soul is Rested. This will support our exploration of African-American history. Permission form...

February book projects are due towards the end of February. Students already have their presentation dates.

Students should be working on their Ten-Hour projects due before spring break. Everyone already has his or her presentation date.

I am finishing up conferences this month, seeing a few families a week. Last week I called the remaining nine families. If you would like to have a conference and didn't receive my phone message, please feel free to email me.

Upcoming events: Downhill skiing at Afton Alps on Thursday, March 4. Skiing parent chaperones are very much in demand. I think we have five 206 parents coming, but we could use more if you ski and can get the time off of work. I am a somewhat reluctant skier.

Very exciting! 206 student Kenny Carlson is performing in the Stages' production of "Tales of a Fourth-Grade Nothing." Our class will be going to see Kenny on Wednesday, March 17th perform as "Ralphie," the younger brother.

Swimming, slightly changed to accomodate ELL testing, is March 8, 10,
and 12.

Trip to the Minnesota Zoo on Monday, March 22.

We will begin a writing project on childhood memories. Please ask your child to think of a memory that he or she would like to write about. We'll start to brainstorm and prewrite the week of February 22.

Thanks so much everyone for all of your support.

Mary Austin

Spelling Volunteer Needed

Attention parents: I need a replacement for one of our Friday spelling volunteers starting the week of March 1 through the end of the school year. The commitment is 12:50-1:35 p.m., Fridays of complete school weeks. Please e-mail me if you can help.

A parent volunteer is needed to help a small group of students correct their spelling homework, give a spelling test and correct it. We have spelling almost every Friday from 12:50 until 1:35. Having parent support allows us to differentiate and teach spelling patterns and word usage at four different levels. It's fun, and many parents have enjoyed working with a small group of our wonderful students. 

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