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2011-12 Supply List
Tuesday, June 7, 2011 9:25 PM

In case you're ready to get a jump on preparing for fall, Mary's supply list for 2011-2012 is now available...

206 Update - June 6, 2011
Tuesday, June 7, 2011 8:35 AM

We had a very hot Lake Day but cooled off with ice cream treats back in the classroom. The class is ready for portfolio sharing tomorrow morning from 7 until 10ish. If you can avoid from 7:55 to 8:50, then your child can finish what he or she is working on in art. Please take everything home tomorrow, except for three pieces of work that goes into the students' longitudinal portfolio that they'll get back in 8th grade. The students have made awards booklets, in which they have placed three pieces of work. This booklet could go in their longitudinal portfolios that we keep at Barton for them. Please hand the booklet to me before leaving tomorrow. Please allow your child to guide you through his or her work.

Your child can still buy a yearbook - $27 check to Barton or cash - payable tomorrow.

ValleyFair permission slips are due tomorrow. If you have a pass that you know will work at the ValleyFair gate, please send $6 for the bus only. Things changed on that front, so sorry for any inconvenience. Please call ValleyFair if you have any reservations about the pass working. Pick kids up at 4:00 at Barton on Wednesday, unless they are staying. The teachers will be ready to go home, too!

Thank you to all of the biking volunteers. You made our day successful and safe. We had an outstanding group of parent volunteers this year. Thank you for all of your generosity and help this year. Think about going to Wolf Ridge Environmental Center next April for three days.

I will be sending home a narrative/student report on each child by the end of the week.

Have a wonderful summer,


Valleyfair Field Trip
Thursday, June 2, 2011 4:20 PM

In celebration of the end of another great year, the 5th and 6th grade classes will be going to Valleyfair on Wed., June 8, 2011.  See the Information and Permission form for details.

Senior Citizen Center Walking Field Trip
Friday, May 27, 2011 4:20 PM

We are walking to the senior citizen center at 36th and Bryant on Wednesday, June 1st for the ceremony awarding the top six essays. We'll head to Lyndale Farmstead Park for lunch at 11:20ish, eat lunch there and then walk to the Senior Center at around 12:15.  Anyone is welcome to join us.  I didn't send out permission slips, but I will put them into backpacks, Tuesday morning before Forestville. It'll be a quick turn-around, returning them on Wednesday. 

Forestville and Mystery Cave Field Trip
Friday, May 27, 2011 4:15 PM

Hi Families,

Itinerary is set, pizzas and 80 degrees and sunshine have been ordered for our big trip on Tuesday, May 31. We'll be boarding the buses at 7:35. Please make sure your child has a lunch, water, snacks and very proper clothing for the day and appropriate shoes for the cave. The cave is a cool 48 degrees, so the kids should have warm clothes for that.

Students can bring DVDs, rated G or PG for the bus ride. They are also encouraged to bring card games, sketch pads, puzzle books etc. for the ride.. They can bring balls and frisbees to play with at lunch. No electronics or money.

We should arrive at Barton around 7:00 p.m. barring traffic or other unforeseen problems.

Thanks to Kevin (Julian), Andy (Elijah),Kathy (Aaron), Kathy (Meredith) and Mike (Megan T.) for chaperoning. Chaperones! Due to limited space on cave tours, you may not get in on the tour. It's a DNR thing and will depend entirely on the number of students who end up coming on Tuesday. I hope it all works out, but I wanted you to know ahead of time.

Have a good Memorial Day weekend,


206 Update - May 25, 2011
Wednesday, May 25, 2011 9:35 PM

Sorry this is late. We decided that because the weather would be nice tomorrow (Thursday, 5/26), we would eat lunch at the Rose Garden by Lake Harriet and spend recess there. We won't miss very much instructional time. The lilacs are in bloom now, so we usually eat there at least once in the spring. Again, I apologize for the late notice. I was out tonight and forgot after school.

We have everything planned for our extended day field trip to Forestville and Mystery Cave. I appreciate everyone who has already returned the field trip slips, but if we could get everyone's by Friday at the latest, that would be helpful. It will be so busy on Tuesday morning. The students should bring water and snacks for the bus, as well as books, games, balls and frisbees for various outside times. Thanks to the parents volunteering to come along.

Students are beginning to share their Minnesota History projects. We got off to a great start today with the group that studied Minnesota's involvment in the Civil War. They performed several skits and explained their tunnel book, all the while fielding questions from the other students. They really knew their topic. Tomorrow, the Dakota Conflict group will present, along with a few others. It's exciting.

206 Update - May 23, 2011
Monday, May 23, 2011 11:50 AM

There is a lot going on! Thanks for being timely with field trip slips. We have one trip this Wednesday, May 23 to see the uppers’ production of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, which includes five 206 students as wedding guests and servers. That same day we are eating our plant sale pizza lunch up on the roof of the school. The cost of the pizza is covered by the school. Each student will need to bring a drink of his or her own choice for lunch. Bringing an extra one would also be nice for anyone who forgets. Nicole and I are bringing salads and cookies to complete the meal.

Today we have a speaker by the name of Esther Winthrop, who survived the Holocaust during World War II. She will share a video of her experience and speak to the class, answering questions. I hope she’s ready because there will be many questions. The class is highly anticipating her visit. Thanks to Andy (Elijah’s dad) for arranging Esther’s visit.

This afternoon, Ginger from the Wedge Coop will be cooking for the class for the second time. Her visit is in conjunction with the novel we read as a whole class, titled The Crepe-Makers’ Bond by Julie Crabtree, arranged through Milkweed Press. This morning one student brought in wontons, one of the recipes from the novel, to share with the class. Other students also did some baking over the weekend from the novel’s recipes. Many students took copies of the recipes home on Friday. They might be stuffed in backpacks.

This week we have begun to prepare for portfolio sharing, which will take place on June 7th. Hope to see all of you that morning anytime between 7 and 10:30, except specialist time, which is from 7:55 to 8:50. The students will be in art. Students are organizing their body of work from the year. They will choose three pieces of work of which they are very proud. They will write a short three-paragraph essay and create an award for each piece of work, which they will share with you, in addition to all of their other work. Their large portfolio will go home with you that morning. Each student needs to retain three pieces of work to add into their longitudinal portfolio that they will receive when they graduate from Barton in 8th grade. I’ll be collecting that on June 7th.

On Tuesday, May 24th, 6th graders will meet with Allison, one of the uppers’ teachers, to learn more about the uppers’ electives program. They will bring information home tomorrow that needs to be returned soon. It’ll have the return date on it.

We have our big middles’ trip to Forestville and Mystery Cave this Tuesday, May 31st. Please return the field trip slips by Friday, the latest. On Tuesday, we are leaving school right away, and it’s simply too difficult to deal with slips and money, while everything else is going on. Please check out the weather and have your child prepared as far as clothing and food. Thanks to all of the parents who have volunteered to chaperone and drive and to all of the families who have generously donated scholarship funds. We are so lucky to have such a generous community in more ways than one.

On Friday, June 3rd, the middles will be taking our annual bike ride to Lake Nokomis. The permission slips will go home today. No money needed. If your child needs a school lunch, please indicate that on the permission slip. A working bike and helmet are needed. Parents are also needed to make this trip successful.

Minnesota History group projects and will be presenting them to the class starting this week. They have read their chapters, taken notes, written summaries, created skits and a visual, called a tunnel book. They are turning out beautifully.

Students are finishing up the novel Behind the Bedroom Wall, reading, writing and discussing the powerful themes and ideas springing from the novel. Our focus has been on conflict in the story, person vs. self, person vs. person and person vs. society.

Side note: I have completed my two-year reading license program at the University. Thanks for your understanding this year. I also appreciate the time you are taking to give me thoughtful feedback on my teaching. I try to do the best I can, but there is always room for improvement.

More Forms!
Friday, May 20, 2011 7:25 AM

A few forms came home this week that need to be returned:

Forestville and Mystery Cave Field Trip
Tuesday, May 17, 2011 9:20 PM

The Middles teams will be taking an all day field trip to Historic Forestville and Mystery Cave on May 31, 2011.  See the Information and Permission form for more information.

206 Update - May 5, 2011
Thursday, May 5, 2011 8:35 AM

Dear 206 Families,

Beginning Thursday, May 5, I will be full-time student teaching for about two weeks. We have some exciting topics to discuss during this time. In social studies, we will continue working in our small groups to create skits and 3D tunnel books that will teach the rest of the class about our chapters. With language arts and reading, we will be finishing the last round of literature circles this week and beginning a whole class novel on Monday. The book, Behind the Bedroom Wall, is a story about a German family concealing a Jewish family during World War II.

We began a science unit on models and designs within the past few weeks, and in the upcoming weeks, we will continue this unit by creating our own go-carts! With the fifth graders in math, we will be completing our unit on decimals, fractions, and percents this Friday and moving on to some relationships in multiplication and division next week. Finally, on May 5, our specialist class is switching from physical education to music; we will be attending music for the next twelve school days.

In addition to all these topics in the classroom, we have multiple exciting field trips in our very near future! There is a lot to remember, so a list of dates and destinations follows. More information about each trip will be sent home with your student.

  • Monday, May 9 - release day for students
  • Monday, May 16 – Fur Trading Post in Pine City, MN
  • Friday, May 20 – School House Rock at YPC
  • Tuesday, May 31 – Mystery Caves in Forestville, MN
  • Wednesday, June 1 – Senior Citizen visit (we will walk there)
  • Friday, June 3 – Bike Trip
  • Monday, June 6 – Lake Day
  • Wednesday, June 8 – Valleyfair in Shakopee, MN

We have a lot to accomplish and experience in these last few weeks! I am thrilled that the time has come for me to step in and work with all of your wonderful students. If you have any questions for Mary or me, do not hesitate to ask.


African Cats Field Trip
Saturday, April 30, 2011 6:45 AM

The Middles teams will take a field trip to the Southdale AMC theater to see the Disney movie "Aftrican Cats" on Wed., May 4, 2011. The Information and Permission Form is due back by Tuesday, May 3, 2011.

Math Testing
Tuesday, April 19, 2011 11:40 AM

Hi Families,

We are having online MCA Math tests over the next two weeks.The schedule is as follows:

  • Mary's and Sara's math classes: Wed. and Thurs. April 27 and 28
  • Katrina's and Becky's classes: May 2 and 3.

Congratulations to hard-working 206 students Julian for finishing in 3rd place in the 6th grade math masters competition and Liam and Aidan for taking first place in the 5th grade math master competition! They spent several days after school preparing for the competition. Thank you to parents who came and assisted with the prep!


206 Update - April 18, 2011
Sunday, April 17, 2011 8:25 PM

Hi 206 Families, 

Thank you so much for all of your support with the plant sale this year! Our class raised over $4,000. I know some students really went out of their way to help Barton raise much-needed money. We will have a pizza party soon to celebrate our efforts. 206 did a great job!

This week we won’t have Words Their Way because it is a four–day week. Friday is a day off. Thanks to all the moms who have been coming to help each week.

We also have swimming on Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday.

Since spring break, we have learned about the French and Indian fur trade in the 1700s in Minnesota. Students worked in small groups to read parts of the chapter, took notes together and created a performance task, a skit to teach the rest of the class about their section. The students did a great job. This week and last, we have been learning about the first treaties between the United States government and the Ojibwe and Dakota Indians in the 1800s. The students are learning about different perspectives from that time and injustices that occurred and will present parts of the chapter to the class in the form of dramatic tableau – a performance that begins in a freeze frame of students in certain positions that express the feelings and emotions of the time – followed by a spotlight on each student who tells us about different aspects of the treaties. After this chapter, students will work in small groups and take on a full chapter to teach to the rest of the class. Student groups will take notes, create a skit, a power point and a tunnel tube mural (3-dimensional art). Each group will present their learning to the class. This will take several weeks from beginning to end.

We finished reading March’s National Geographic, took a comprehension quiz and wrote a paragraph on different types of feathers. Students worked on forming paragraphs with topic sentences, complete sentences and caps and punctuation. We also read about King Tut, and some students have been taking advantage of the King Tut exhibition at the Science Museum of MN to deepen their knowledge. We’ll work on April’s issue next week after we’re all done with the swimming.

We’ll be doing a models and design science project in the next couple of weeks.

April’s book projects are due on May 5th.

Students are a little past the middle of their lit circle novels. The discussions they have and the written responses to the story in their journals are excellent. The students are discussing stories for more than an hour at a time. They challenge each other, reference the text and support their answers with evidence from the text. The discussions are exciting. It’s impressive.

We’ll be reading a novel from the Milkweed Press. The title is escaping me right now, but the author is coming in mid May talk about her book and do an activity with our students.

On Monday, April 18th, we’ll read the specs for the senior citizen essay. I asked students to choose a subject with whom they have a relationship, write at least ten things about them in order to do a WORDLE in the computer lab on Monday, April 18th. The WORDLEs will be the prewriting/inspiration for their essays. Students will write the rough draft at home, we’ll edit in school with peer-editors, and then I’ll edit them at my home. When final copies are done and handed in, I bring them to the Southwest Senior Citizen Center at Bryant and 36th. The staff and seniors will read them and choose six winners. They give the students feedback and have a nice ceremony for us at the center. The visit will be in early June. Parents are welcome to join us on our walk to the center. We stop at Lyndale Farmstead Park for lunch on the way. More info will go home later.

Upcoming field trips: Northwest Fur Trade Company in Pine City, MN on Wednesday, May 16, leaving at 7:40 and returning by 2:00 for buses to go home. This trip will help the fur trade come alive for students. It is a living history hands-on experience.

The Historic Forrestville and Mystery Cave trip in southern Minnesota is on Tuesday, May 31st. This is a trip that will begin in the early morning and end in the evening, so students will need a ride home from Barton by their families. Since we didn’t go to Wolf Ridge Environmental Camp this year, we decided to look for other trips that would be educational. We will go to Wolf Ridge next year, most likely in the fall of 2011. That trip requires a lot of planning/time on the part of teachers, so we’ll be seeking parental support. It’s a great experience, but it is labor-intensive for the staff.

On May 4th, we’ll go to see the DisneyNature film on large cats at Centennial Lakes Theatre.

On May 20th, we’ll see the School House Rocks at the Youth Performance Co.

Our Middles bike trip to Lake Nokomis is tentatively scheduled for June 2nd or 3rd, depending on the better weather day.

Math MCAs are coming up. Each student will take the math test online with his or her math class, so the dates are different for each math class because of the availability of the computer labs. It’s quite a schedule. I will get the dates for each math class and send out an email.

Enjoy the spring (when it gets here).

Mary and Nicole (Amazing student teacher)

MCA Tests
Monday, April 11, 2011 2:00 PM

Hi 206 Families,

Tomorrow and Wednesday [4/12 & 4/13] we are taking the MCA reading test. Getting a good night sleep and eating a big breakfast are great ways to start any day, but very important for the next two. Your child can being a water bottle, gum and hard candies or mints to eat during the test. If you have time, sending a bag of mints for the class would be very welcomed.

We have swimming next week: Tues.- Thurs., April 19 - 21. This is a change because of MCA math tests, which will be administered on April 27-28th.

A longer letter is coming soon.



206 Update - March 2, 2011
Wednesday, March 2, 2011 5:10 PM

Hi Families,

This Friday, March 4th we are going skiing. Thanks to all of the chaperones who are coming with us. For every ten students we get a free chaperone ticket. Sometimes we have more chaperones than tickets, but the parents always work out an equitable arrangement, that involves a very small fee for skiing. (Bring some cash.)

The students should dress for the weather: warm clothes in layers, water-resistant pants like snow pants (no jeans), mittens (maybe two pairs), hats, wool socks, etc. Students can bring a lunch or a school lunch. (Let me know if it’s a school lunch.) There is also lunch for sale in the chalet. Helmets are a good idea. Afton rents them for $2.00. Students give the $2 to Afton staff, not teachers.

If a student is staying with another adult, after Barton leaves, or driving out with another parent, please send me a written note giving your child permission to stay late/drive and the name of the person with whom they’re staying. I need to have an accurate count of who is getting back on the bus with us. It gets a bit hectic keeping track of everyone. I don’t want to leave anyone behind. All students need to check in with me before Barton leaves at 12:45. Once students hear the loudspeaker, they need to get off the hills, put equipment back, check in with me and board my bus, if they are returning to Barton. I appreciate everyone’s cooperation, so we can all have a great day.

February book projects are completed and on display. They’re great! Work on the ten-hour projects should be continuing. I sent home a yellow follow-up guide to help with completion of the projects. Some students have still not turned in a rough draft for their ten-hour projects. Way overdue! Each student should return his or her rough and final drafts on the date that he or she presents, or earlier. March’s book project is to simply read a book and discuss it with an adult, sign and return the form by March 31st. There is no project or paper to do, just reading and talking about the story. Sounds nice.

My math students need to return their tests with errors fixed on another sheet and signed by a parent by tomorrow.

We will have Words Their Way the next two weeks before spring break. Thanks to those parents for helping with the groups.

I recently sent home green copies of goal-setting sheets along with five free passes to the Minnesota Zoo. Hope you received it.

Thanks for everything.


Middles Skiing
Wednesday, February 23, 2011 6:55 PM

The Middles Team goes downhill skiing every year. We are planning a trip Friday, March 4th to Afton Alps. I am not the best skier, so you will only find me on the bunny hill and one green hill that I know well. If you find me on a blue or black, I have made a big mistake. To make a long story short, 206 needs parent skiers to chaperone small groups of students who can ski and also to give support to our novices. If there is any chance that you can come, it would be most appreciated by staff and students. We often need parents who drive to Afton to transport equipment that cannot possibly fit on the bus. Chalet chaperones are also nice to have. Students often need help getting boots on, etc. See the information and permission form for details.

We have alpine conditions! I hope you can make it.


206 Update - February 12, 2011
Saturday, February 12, 2011 8:35 AM

Dear Families,

Last Monday, I returned to students their edited January book projects. (Interviews with an African-American person.) These projects need to be “fixed” at home and returned by Monday, along with the rough draft. I also wrote feedback for everyone on a blue half-sheet. Please sign and have your child return it on Monday. Three things: final copy, rough draft and signed blue feedback form. Thanks!

We continue to explore all the roles of bullying behavior: the target, the aggressor and the bystander. Last Friday, we saw the play MEAN at Youth Performance Company, in which the actors dramatically and very effectively portrayed those roles and the devastating effects on young people. We witnessed acts of bullying, bystanding and bravery. Students know they can get help from friends, teachers and parents. Students are learning CALM: cool down, assert yourself, lift your chin and mean what you say, when confronted by someone who is being mean to them. Most of all, don’t try to deal with it alone. Students have many chances to reflect on their own behavior through discussions and writing. This week the theatre group CLIMB will return and conduct a workshop with us on Wednesday, a follow-up to the play they performed in January. Emily, our artist-in-residence, who also attended the play, will continue the collage project with a focus self-expression and reflection.

My reading group read a short African-American tale in the Junior Great Book series that explored themes of kindness, cruelty and indifference. Students read and discussed the selection and its themes, study the meaning of words such as despair and faithfulness and how they relate to the story. They will also write short narratives connected to the story themes. Our discussions have been insightful; students hearing other ideas and changing their minds, or not, because of what they hear other students expressing. Our discussions are lively and evidence-based. What do you see in the text to support your reasoning? (I’m a nag about that.) Next week I’ll conference one-on one with students as we take a look back into their lit circle journals together. I am in the process of giving written feedback to them. Students will have an opportunity to read a book of their choice independently as I work individually with others. The following week, students will form new lit circle groups.

The whole class has been reading the last article in the Nat’l Geographic on outer space. It was nice to piggyback with that article after working on geography: directions, latitude/ longitude coordinates, landforms, the reasons for seasons on earth, earth’s rotation and revolution and several other geographical facts. The visit into the giant earth balloon brought it altogether for us! Very cool. Kevin took pictures of our class exploring the earth balloon, and they are posted on the Barton website. In Nat’l Geo we are learning about our solar system and galaxy. Students are reading and collecting facts. We read each article a minimum of two times, each time with a different purpose. To learn about our earth, we use atlases, watch video representations of earth’s movements and read. I also demonstrated the how and why of sunrises/sunsets with a darkened room, a flashlight and a globe (very high-tech). Each time we read we practice another comprehension strategy and ways to collect information.

Last Tuesday, Carrie Proetz, our literacy coach, came and supported our use of comprehension strategies. She taught the whole class the first of three lessons on inference – the hardest of comp strats – beginning with facial expressions and photographs. This Tuesday, she’ll add in text, instructing students how to “read between the lines” and look for clues among many paragraphs, in order to draw conclusions. Inferencing is when the message is implicitly stated in the text, as opposed to explicit. Students must read and look for clues about what the author is saying. We have been working on this strategy all year.

Mixed Blood presents Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. this Monday at 8:45 in the commons. Parents are very welcome to come. It’s a powerful dramatization.

Ordway this Tuesday, Terence Simien and the Zydeco Experience. We leave at 9:30.

Geography Terms test 2 is this Thursday. Students need to study the terms at home. They are continuing to create an earthly knowledge landforms’ drawing in school.

Conferences this Friday. If you are unable to keep your appointment, please call or email me. Thanks. The following week, I’ll pass back copies of student goal-setting sheets to the whole class.


Continue to work on ten-hour projects – rough drafts due on February 23rd. (two to three page paper) See specs.

February book projects: short biography presentations with a handmade puppet due the last week in February. (five-minute presentation with note cards) See specs.

Thanks for supporting our class. If you have a concern, please don’t hesitate to email me. I rarely check voice mail. Something has to give!

Almost forgot! Students will share valentines with the class on Monday afternoon. This is one of the sweetest memories I will keep with me as a teacher, watching my class pass their cards out to each other. We'll take some time to decorate valentine bags. Students can bring materials from home to help with that. Have a wonderful Valentine's Day weekend. (I passed out a class list to everyone last Monday.)

Mary Austin

Valentine's Day Party
Tuesday, February 8, 2011 7:25 AM

We will have a Valentine's Day party on Monday, February 14.  If you plan on bringing cards, here's the list for the whole class (32 students).

206 Update - February 6, 2011
Sunday, February 6, 2011 6:55 PM

Hi Families,

We've got a busy week.

Last friday, the earth balloon made a visit to Barton. Students were able to "enter the earth" and learn a lot about earth's landforms and other aspects of geography from the presenter. Students are working on landforms, learning the terms and creating art based on 56 of those terms. Their earthly knowledge will be on display sometime this month. Landforms, the Foss science kit, has also recently arrived, so we'll be investigating this topic more in a real hands-on way. Students have a test on the landform terms this Thursday. Everyone rec'd a sheet of terms to take home and study.

Most students are finishing up literature circle books. This week, we'll read a Jr. Great Books short story, followed by shared inquiry discussion and vocabulary study and how the words tell us more about the characters experiences and emotional patterns.

We'll also be finishing up the Nat'l Geographic magazine for January and February. We have read about animals that have the ability to regenerate limbs and polar bears in crisis. This week we'll learn about our solar system and what stars are made of. During the readings the students practice many comprehension strategies such as activating prior knowledge, determining importance, cause and effect, inference, summarizing, asking questions, setting a purpose for reading, using context clues to determine meanings of unknown words, and they develop an academic vocabulary.

Tomorrow, we head to the U of M's Physics Circus at the convention center. On Thursday, Historical Perspectives will present the story of Helen Keller to us in the commons. On Friday, we head to the Youth Performance Company to see the play MEAN, another of our efforts to help our students understand bullying behavior. We will spend a part of each week in February learning how to identify behaviors and what to do about it. Games, stories and art will help guide students. Field trip permissions slips for MEAN play and the Ordway visit next week will go home tomorrow.

We have Words Their Way this week. Thanks to all the parents who work with small groups of students, teaching them spelling patterns.

Conferences will be on February 18. February book projects are due the last week of February. Each student has a date for his/her five-minute presentation. Ten-hour project paper rough drafts are due on February 23. They should be about two to three pages double-spaced. I'll edit them.

Thanks for all of your support.

Mary Austin

206 Update - January 29, 2011
Sunday, January 30, 2011 10:50 AM

Dear Families, 

Thanks to all the families who came to scheduled conferences last Monday. Many more families are signed up for the February 18th conference day.

This week:

CLIMB, a Minneapolis theatre group that focuses on bully prevention, will perform for Middles’ students on Monday. They will follow up with classroom workshop visits that will help students, not only recognize bully behavior, but also teach them strategies on how to deal with it as a target and a bystander. CLIMB’s performance and workshops promise to engage and educate our students. Our class will also work with artist-in-residence Emily Isenberg, (a former Barton student, all grown up) in artistic and poetic self-expression related to bully prevention. Emily will visit our class five times in February. The Middles will also see the play Mean at the Youth Performance Company on February 11 at the Howard Conn Theatre. These experiences will undoubtedly inspire thoughtful discussion about bullying in our classroom, which I hope to weave into a larger tapestry of meaning. I will also ask students to write about their experiences and perceptions.

Field trip slips are due back for Earth’s Experience this Friday, which is right at Barton, and our visit to the Minneapolis Convention Center for the U of M’s Physic’s Circus on February 7th. The total cost for both experiences is $5.50. Slips went home about a week ago.

Phillips Eye Institute will screen the vision of all 5th graders on Tuesday.

January Book Projects are due on Monday, January 31st. The specs for the new book project will go home on Monday. It is also a biography. Each student will do a short presentation of her/his subject, using a handmade puppet (of the subject) to the class. Note cards are recommended to help students remember important facts about their subjects. Puppets should be made out of around-the-house materials. Students will sign up for presentation times that will be the last week in February.

Remember the TEN-HOUR Projects. We talk about them every day as a reminder to keep working steadily on them. They are a highlight of the year. It’s interesting to see what students choose to do for this independent study. Lots of surprises and a fun way to end the winter quarter, just before spring break.

We have Words Their Way this week. Last week the students (except the highest group) took mid-year diagnostic spelling tests, so some students have shifted groups. Students should work every day on their words for five to ten minutes. Every day we spend about ten to fifteen minutes doing word sorts, after the initial lesson on Mondays. Tests are on Fridays. Thanks to our wonderful parent volunteers!

We are finishing literature circle groups this week. The quality of written and verbal expression is amazing for some and improving for others. The students really do learn so much from each other’s thinking. They put forth multiple points of view and interact with each other as well, if not better, than some grown-up book clubs. I continue to hold students to high standards in content, organization and mechanics in their journals. I expect students to support their thinking with evidence from the text and participate fully in discussions. I feel that many students are developing a sense of responsibility and ownership of their own work. I ask them to reflect on their involvement and set goals for their learning.

Thank you for sending your children my way. I feel blessed.

Mary Austin

Math Masters for 6th Graders
Wednesday, January 26, 2011 8:50 AM

Do you love math? Would you like to work with some Barton 6th graders and help prepare them for the Math Masters' Competition on February 12 at North High? We have an opportunity for you. Working with interested 6th graders who would like to compete on the 12th will take place every Monday and Wednesday after school from 2 - 3 P.M. of each week prior to the competition. Katrina Belding will be facilitating the groups but would really like interested parents to help prepare and coach our students. We'll also have Math Masters' preparation for 5th graders after the 6th grade competition is over. The date for the 5th grade competition has not been announced.

Very importantly, please encourage your 6th grader to get involved and be challenged in math and represent Barton at the competition. Students will work in small groups and in some short individual competitions. All students are welcome to be a part of the Barton Math Masters' teams. Everyone can benefit from the extra coaching and learning new skills and concepts in math. At the competition on the 12th, students will get pizza and a t-shirt. The competition is in the morning from 9 to 1. It's a lot of fun!

Please contact if you are interested in helping.

Two Upcoming Events
Tuesday, January 25, 2011 8:00 PM
  • Earth Adventure Program, Friday, Feb. 4, 2011
  • Physics Force field trip, Monday, Feb. 7, 2011

Information and permission form (pdf)

Swimming at the YMCA
Monday, January 24, 2011 12:00 PM

It's official. 206 is swimming Wed., Thurs. and Fri. of this week (1/26, 1/27, 1/28).  Bring your swimming gear!

206 Update - January 19, 2011
Wednesday, January 19, 2011 10:00 PM

Hi Families,

Just a quick reminder about the Candlelight Cafe on this Friday at 11:30. Please arrive on time if at all possible. Kids get stressed out when parents are late. We'll eat until around noon when we transform the classroom into a theatre for our play. After the play, plan on sharing your child's portfolio with him or her. All portfolios come back to the classroom. Wolf booklets can go home or remain part of the portfolio. If you haven't signed up for conferences, I'll have the schedule and can do sign-ups during the portfolio share.

We will need votive style candles (no open flames please) for Friday. Some students are bringing props, such as boas, jewelry, sunglasses, etc. Those should come in tomorrow. Everyone is also working on memorizing their lines for the play.

Remember the class has a book project due on January 31st.

Ten hour project should be happening or at least given some thought. Rough drafts are due by the third week of February. Final projects are due ten days before spring break, before March 18th. Each student already has his or her own date for presentation. The students have been sharing what they are either already doing or planning - everything from social service projects to snowboarding to the history of chocolate.

Swimming is next week Tues. through Thurs. This Monday is a release day because of conferences.

Big emphasis on bully prevention for the month of February for the whole Middles' team through art and theatre.

Last week and this week we have been learning more about the life of Dr. Martin Luther King through one-act plays and a video of the powerful and amazing Children's March on Birmingham in 1963 which was the beginning of the end of segregation there. Good discussions.

We're reading about polar bears in the Nat'l Geo magazine and at the same time working on distinguishing between fact and opinion, what to do when an author infers and relating cause and effect.

Students continue to read and conduct book discussions. I continue to meet with small groups and individual students.

Did I say that Kathy Shipp (Meredith) sewed all of the portfolios and put beautiful buttons on each one? Well, she did.

Looking forward to seeing everyone on Friday. Stay warm.

Mary Austin

206 Update - January 12, 2011
Wednesday, January 12, 2011 10:20 PM

Hi Families,

Hopefully, you've received the conference schedule from your child today. Please return it as soon as you are able.
Our Candlelight Cafe is coming up on Friday, January 21st, beginning at 11:30. First, we'll eat, then clean up and set up for the play and then share portfolios. Students have worked very hard on their research projects, which will be on display in the hallway. We are also practicing the play every day, and it's been really fun. After all of the festivities, the students can go home with parents, or they can stay in school.

Book projects are due January 31st. The specs went home in December. If you have not seen the specs, let me know and I'll resend it. The students are to read a biography about an African-American person and create questions and answers about his or her life, using the specified format. One student has already completed his project, which I shared with everyone today.

The class will present ten-hour projects in March, spanning the ten or so days before spring break. Everyone has his or her own presentation date. Rough drafts are due February 22nd.

My reading class began literature circle groups again. I work with small groups and individual students on developing comprehension strategies: asking and answering high level questions, discussing chosen passages, summarizing, researching, illustrating scenes and learning new word meanings and how to use them in sentences. Our students are working hard, and Carrie, our literacy coach, has "borrowed" journals to share with other classes. She also would like to record discussions and share them with other classes. I am very proud of the students' work and their willingness to mentor other students in their group. I continue to give students feedback in individual conferences and journals.

We have spelling tests this week, but not next week because of portfolio sharing.

After our portfolio sharing next week, we'll begin studying the history of Minnesota. It will be one of our main focuses for the second half of the year. We began reading the January/February issue of Nat'l Geographic, working on comprehension strategies and taking reading tests at the end of our reading.

The students just finished science class with Sue. We'll complete two more science kits this spring, plus one more rotation of science with Sue. Tomorrow, the students will have gym with Pete.

In February, the middles team will explore issues of bullying through art, theatre and writing. We have plans for the CLIMB Theatre group to perform and work with each class. We'll also have an artist-in-residence to help us explore this very important issue, and we'll be going to the Youth Performance Company's play titled MEAN. February is filled with community experiences for our students such as the Physics Circus at the Convention Center, the Ordway Theatre, the Earth Experience and Historical Perspective's Helen Keller, both live at Barton. I'll send more about everything as we move closer to those dates.

206 is going swimming January 25, 26 and 27. We changed our spring swimming because of the MCA tests to the week of April 19, 20 and 21.

I hope to see all of you next Friday.

Mary Austin

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