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Room 206 Announcements 2013-2014
BIKE DAY- June 3rd
Sunday, May 25, 2014 4:50 PM

Finally, it's official. June 3rd is the middles' bike day, riding to Lake Nokomis. Everyone needs to wear helmets. If anyone needs a bike, please let me know as soon as possible.  We're in big need of chaperones to guide small groups of student bicyclists down the Minnehaha pathway to Lake Nokomis. We'll be getting onto bikes at around 9:00. Take off time, in staggered groups, begins around 9:10. We leave Lake Nokomis at around 12:30. Thanks for your patience. It all had to do with finding a lifeguard.  Click here for the permission slip .

Southwest Senior Center Field Trip
Tuesday, May 20, 2014 7:45 PM

Room 206 is going to the Southwest Senior Center on Wednesday, May 21st.  Click here for a copy of the permission slip and more information.

Vocabulary Test
Sunday, April 13, 2014 7:55 PM

Hi 206 Families,

One last thing before I head home - students have a list of vocabulary words on green paper to study from the $66 Summer novel. We are having a test on Tuesday, and a second vocab test on Friday.  (Those words will go home on Wednesday.) Click on headline for the list.
Enjoy the weekend,

Mary Austin
Barton Open School


Senior Citizen Essay
Monday, April 7, 2014 9:55 PM

The Senior Citizen essay rough draft is due next Monday, April 14th or before. For more information click the headline above for the spec sheets.

Room 206 Update-April 7, 2014
Monday, April 7, 2014 9:10 PM

Hi Families,

I hope you had a wonderful spring break, but of course now comes the nice weather.
This Thursday, April 10th, is the ElderWisdom/ChildrenSong Ethnic Festival, starting at 5:30. We'd like all middles' students to be there in the commons by 6:45 p.m. or before.  If you can't have your child here that night, it's okay, but we'd like as many students as possible. It was a wonderful experience for everyone last year!
Today, we began a new whole class novel titled The $66 Dollar Summer by John Armistead. I will take the students through the novel, discussing over-arching themes, such as racism, stereotyping, heroism, overcoming fear and facing a monster.  We'll review all of the literary elements present in the novel. Students will participate in discussions and record their thinking in their lit circle journals. I reviewed all of their journals over spring break, except for a few that didn't get in my bag for some reason. (Students must have them still.) After this novel, we'll have time for one more literature circle group in May.
We also began a new unit in U.S. History Alive on the feelings and actions taken by the American patriots and their opposition, the loyalists, before the American Revolutionary War. In small groups, students are preparing their historical person, such as Benjamin Franklin, Samuel Adams, Mercy Otis Warren, etc. for a debate between those who were loyal to Britain and those who wanted to separate. There may be some digging around at home for props to dress up their debater. Students will be working together in groups, reading about their debater's position and taking notes. The debate will be held on Thursday.
This week, we'll also continue our science unit on motion and forces - balls and ramps - gravity. 
April book report due on May 2nd. Specs went home before spring break. They are also on the webpage.
Senior Citizen essay rough draft is due next Monday, April 14th or before. Those specs went home before spring break, and I think will get up on the website, too. 
Student Author Night is Thursday, April 24 from 6-7p.m.  This has been an annual event at Barton for ten years. Any student and parent who would like to participate is very welcome. Students share a writing of their own and get wonderful feedback from those who come to listen. It's a very rewarding and positive experience. The writing can be something they've written either at home or school. Students can sign up in class.
Please remember the plant sale drive. Our classroom goal is $5,000. Last year we surpassed that goal and were the highest - selling middles' class. Things aren't going so well this year. I'm handing postcards out to my neighbors tonight. Let's see what we can do for our school. Funds raised help with our environmental learning trip and many other things here at Barton.
Have a great night. Hope to see many of you on Thursday. You are very welcome to bring an ethnic dish from your culture to share with others. The food sampling will be held in the gym, starting at 5:30. Come be apart of our community!

Mary Austin
Barton Open School


April Book Report due May 2, 2014
Thursday, March 27, 2014 8:00 PM

Click here for information about the last book report of the school year.

MN Zoo Field Trip- Mon., March 17,2014
Monday, March 10, 2014 8:35 PM

The middles team will be going to the MN Zoo.  This Field Trip is entirely paid for by the Target Corporation.  Lunch will be included.  Click here for the permission slip.

Barton Ordway Trip- Thursday, March 20
Monday, March 10, 2014 8:30 PM

On Thursday, March 20, 2014, Barton students will attend the Axis Dance Performance at the Ordway Theatre in St. Paul.  Click here for more information and the permission slip.

YPC Field Trip- Feb. 21, 2014
Saturday, February 15, 2014 11:15 AM

Click here for more information and the permission slip for the Youth Performance Company production of Freedom Riders!

Room 206 Update-Feb. 14, 2014
Saturday, February 15, 2014 11:10 AM

Dear Families,

We had a lovely day. Students shared their valentines and attended a dance, as part of spirit week, during part of their recess and our afternoon. 
We are going to a play at Youth Performance Co on Friday, February 21st. It is about the Freedom Riders during the Civil Rights' Movement. Students received the permission slip today. If it is lost, it should be on the website for our class at some point this weekend.
Our literature circle groups are going well. All groups have met for their first discussion. We had help on Thursday from parents Michael (Emma), Beth (Lilli C.) and Laura (Theo) who joined groups to help with focus and encourage engagement. Students are referencing the text to support their thinking (our intellectual goal) and challenging each other when there is disagreement over the text. Our second discussion will happen this upcoming week. If the same parents or others would like to join in, there is an opportunity on this Thursday for one parent from 11-12 and Friday for two parents from 1-1:55. Due to the play, we'll have our discussions after recess and lunch. Please let me know.
Several students are also presenting their biographies this Thursday and Friday.
This week we will continue to study and write poetry. It will be based on the book Hailstones and Halibut Bones. Students will also create art to accompany their poetry. Students should be writing their rough drafts (about three pages/double-spaced/font size 12-14) for the ten-hour project. If they do a little bit at a time, it won't seem like so much. I'd like to receive them all by the beginning of March. Students have been turning them in earlier and that helps quite a bit, so I don't have so many to edit at once.
This week we read Time for Kids. The featured article was on Antarctica. Owen called it our Antarctical. Clever! We learned about the geography, science and human impact on this continent. Together, we explored all of the features of the digital article from slideshows and videos on Adelie penguins, vocabulary and maps highlighting the topography. Then students worked in pairs to read the article and answer questions about the text. 
We have a busy week coming up. Spelling is being moved to Tuesday afternoon. I have also met with almost all parents and students. If you have not had a conference, please contact me at your earliest convenience.  It was a pleasure  to meet with 206  families.
Thank you,

Mary Austin
Barton Open School


Room 206 Update- Feb. 9, 2014
Saturday, February 15, 2014 11:00 AM

Dear Families,

Last Friday, several parents, including John (Kiera), Beth (Lilli C.), David (Gabe), Kathleen (Addie), Mark and Karen (Ted) helped facilitate and teach several stations for a social studies chapter on Colonial Williamsburg during the early 1700's. Students learned about life during those times, both the good and bad, by writing, reading and gathering facts about each location. Students learned a song sung by slaves, wrote with quills and ink, sewed a sampler, played a tavern game, made shoes, went to a colonial church, visited the governor's palace and passed laws. Most students chose life in the present rather than an 18th century life. For the girls, it was both interesting and disturbing that wealthy white boys could learn to read and write at the College of William and Mary, but they were expected to learn the duties associated with home life, such as sewing, knitting, etc. Not everyone was treated the same. There were slave quarters. Overall, it was an interesting way to get a glimpse of colonial life. Thanks again to those parents. Our next chapter is on the growing tensions that developed between the American colonists and the British.
This week, several lit circle groups will be ready to discuss the first part of their respective novels. We could really use three parents on Thursday from 11 to 12 to sit in on discussions, keeping everyone focused, making sure everyone has a chance to be heard in the group, asking students to explain more of their thinking. The lit circle cannot be a free-for-all, so this first round of lit circles could especially use some extra support and guidance. If you can help out this week, please let me know.
Last week, we learned about the life and times of the African-American poet, playwright and novelist Langston Hughes. We learned how he was the voice of early twentieth century African-Americans, celebrating their spirit and illuminating their condition during the Harlem Renaissance.  We compared and contrasted his poems, finding the metaphors and similes he used to express the hopes and dreams of African-Americans. The students wrote two poems: one about their own hopes and dreams and the other about a rough, but gentle world.  They are displayed in the hallway, along with their descriptive bedroom essays. Soren's mom Elena typed out each student's essay excerpt, taking great care to find the right fonts and colors to express the imagery present in each excerpt. Thank you Elena for your thoughtfulness and the beautiful display.
It is spirit week at Barton! Tomorrow is sports day; Tuesday is Get-Up-and-Dance; Wednesday is hat day; Thursday is Barton Wear day; and Friday is Rainbow day with the 5th graders wearing black and the 6th graders in green. All Middles' classes will be treated to a dance with dj and snacks on Friday afternoon as a culminating event. 
Wednesday is the 6th grade field trip to the STEM Expo. Students will leave by 8:45. Everyone in our class has told me that they are bringing their own lunch, so I didn't order any.
I sent home class list of names for Valentine's Day. We'll decorate bags in school. Students can bring fabric, stickers, etc. from home.
We have a science unit coming up in class on motion, force and models. I'll begin that this week or at the latest early next week.
Hopefully, your child gave you the Eagle Bluff Environmental Learning Center packet. All yellow forms should be returned as soon as possible. We would like everyone to come! Our children will become the stewards of our natural world, so we want them to know about the natural part of Minnesota. We need parents as well. Eagle Bluff and Barton are both non-profit organizations. We worked hard to reduce the cost, so if you can send the $99 that will be good, but we understand if that is too much, and you can only send a partial payment.  At the same time, everyone will still cost the $99, so it falls on generous families and Barton to help make it possible for all students to go. In the past Barton has struggled to make up the costs, but we value every single child going, so it somehow gets done. Thank you in advance to all families who find possible to send along something extra.
Thank you for sending your children my way,
Mary Austin
Barton Open School


February Book Report
Wednesday, January 29, 2014 10:10 PM

Click on headline for book report specs.

Room 206 Update- Jan. 28, 2014
Wednesday, January 29, 2014 10:00 PM


Hi 206 Families,

We'll hopefully see all students tomorrow. Wow, above zero and in the twenties! 

We'll begin a new chapter in social studies on Slavery. It will focus on the dilemmas faced by West Africans as they coped with the European demand for slaves to work large plantations in the New World. We will lie down on the floor and imagine ourselves traveling this way in tight, unbearable, filthy quarters over the ocean for months. Students will debate on how to cope with the dilemmas faced by those caught up in the vicious cycle of slavery. We'll end with a tutorial and assessment. 

We have finished our novel In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson. We discussed the main character's inner conflict/identity crisis with how to honor/follow her Chinese traditions with the new ways found in America in 1947, Brooklyn, New York. Our character decided to be, as one student so aptly put it, a Chinese-American.  She would celebrate both cultures.  Students will take time to finish vocabulary work and make sure their organization and mechanics are acceptable. We took the third vocab test last week. 

We'll begin literature circle groups by the end of this week. Even though students work in small autonomous groups, I am still very involved with their discussions, not as a facilitator, but as someone who expects them to stay focused while other students are sharing, to think deeply about their responses to each other's questions, and to challenge and encourage them to challenge each other when to use the text to support their thinking. There are a lot of students in the class. I like to be apart of all of their discussions, but with eight groups, it gets difficult to manage this schedule. If you would be interested in helping with mild facilitation of groups, please let me know. We typically have group discussions from 11 to 12. They will not start until the end of next week. First, students will browse through available titles and write down their top three choices. I will organize groups according to book choices, but I also want 6th graders to be in each group to mentor 5th graders. The same standards of content, organization and mechanics still apply to lit circle journals as students complete their jobs in anticipation of their upcoming discussions. Everyone has received written feedback from me about their journals, so there is an expectation that students will meet new goals for their text analysis skills.

We'll begin a study of the poetry of Langston Hughes, which will bring us into February, African-American History month. (I couldn't get to it before the winter break.)

We have an all-school morning meeting this Friday beginning at 7:30 a.m.

I am continuing to conference with any family who has not yet had one, followed by the few families who did have one with Marcie. If you haven't heard from me, and it is only a few, I will contact you within the month of February. I am currently scheduled through February 10th with before and after-school conferences. Thanks for your patience.

Students have a new Biography Book Project to work on. It has to be a book, but for the presentation, students can also use other sources to enhance it. Everyone is expected to read a book on the life of someone of their choosing.  The specs are on the website, thanks to Alison (Peter). We will choose dates this week to present the book projects during the latter part of February. Students will record the date in their planners. (Autobiographies are acceptable.) Looks like we will have school on Friday, February 14th. We will celebrate Valentine's Day with the sharing of Valentines. It's lovely! The class will decorate bags for the occasion, and I will send home a class list of names.Barton Spirit Week is also being held that same week with the following days: Monday - Get Up and Dance (to Wii) It's really fun and great exercise; Tuesday - Hat Day; Wednesday - Barton Spirit Wear; Thursday - Rainbow Day - 5th graders wear white and 6th graders, black; Same day is a surprise for the middles' students; Friday  - Valentine's Day.

Progress on the Ten-Hour Project should be continuing, and hopefully, with our unexpected time off, students used it to move ahead. Every student has their scheduled day to present in March.

All rough and final bedroom essay drafts are due tomorrow. The rough draft must be returned as well. That way I can see what changes have been made. Please don't recycle any rough drafts. We continue to use them.  Student writing will be exhibited up in the hallway by the end of next week.  Thanks to Elena (Soren) who has volunteered to help with that.

Please look at your child's planner. Every single student should be writing in it on an almost daily basis.

Remember Eagle Bluff Environmental Learning Center from March 24 - 26. Looks they are planning on us having school on March 28th.

6th grade field trip to STEM Expo at the Convention Center in Minneapolis on February 12th. I sent field trip slip and attachments last week. Please send permission slip back by Friday. As mentioned before, 5th graders remain in school but will go next year.

Thanks everyone,

Mary Austin
Barton Open School


Update on Ten-Hour Project for Room 206
Monday, January 6, 2014 11:45 AM

Hi 206 Families,

Here's some additional clarification on the TEN-HOUR PROJECTS: 

The ten-hour project plan is to begin working on the project as soon as possible. Students will write a rough draft that is described in the specs I sent home before winter break. I can edit the rough drafts at any time, but I should have edited all of them by the last week in February. Students will present their projects in March, in the two-week period prior to our Eagle Bluff trip, which is the last weekend in March. Basically, students spend January and February working on the project. They will write a rough draft due by the end of February and present the project in March. We'll choose specific dates for the presentations once we get back to school this week, so students will have a target date. At any time, your child can turn in his or her rough draft to me. That is much easier than receiving them all at once. 

I would recommend having your child make a plan. Students choose a topic about which they are interested in learning. It can be anything from learning to knit, how to play a challenging piece on the piano, a period in history, an animal, how to bake cakes from scratch, glass blowing, claymation, lego animation, how to build a hovercraft, global warming, the Holocaust, different cultures, how to ski, etc. They can use a calendar to record how much time they have spent on their project and make some deadlines for themselves.

In addition to the paper, projects will include some type of visual. This is also very open. It can be a traditional poster board with title, pictures and captions. It can be a film. It can be three-dimensional. The presentations can include demonstrations of how to make origami, how to decorate cakes, how to fold a parachute, etc. They can include samplings of foods that a student made for his/her project. They can include a student teaching the class how to make an origami piece or knit. The projects have been extremely varied and interesting. 

It is a chance for your child to pursue an interest. It encourages independent, life-long learning. It's also socializing intelligence, students learning from each other.  It's supposed to be fun as well as educational. If there is any other way I can help, please let me know. 

Click on headline for ten-hour project specs

Mary Austin
Barton Open School
Elder's Wisdom Interview
Monday, January 6, 2014 11:30 AM

Click on headline for a copy of interview forms.

Room 206 Update- Jan. 5, 2014
Monday, January 6, 2014 11:25 AM

Hi Families,

I hope you had a wonderful break. I'm sure that most of you know that we don't have school tomorrow, and Tuesday is still up in the air. When we do get back to school, we'll pick up in social studies, learning about the 13 British colonies from the 1700's on. Next week, we'll learn how slavery was introduced into the Americas - very powerful chapter.

We'll also begin integrating the idea of descriptive language that we've been collecting from our novel, into our own writing. We'll experience seven sensory stations and collect all kinds of descriptive language, associated with mystery objects. Students will receive a descriptive writing assignment this week that will be completed at home. The "specs" will go home later on in the week. The class will have a week to write the rough draft. I'll edit them, and students will write a final copy. We'll also continue our novel In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson and should finish by the end of the week. Students will have their second vocabulary test on Thursday. An extra vocabulary study guide will go home on Tuesday, if we have school.

Students still have GYM, so Pete has asked that everyone bring their gym shoes on Tuesday.

Spelling has now been moved to Monday afternoons to avoid a discontinuity in social studies. Spelling work is due by Friday, and the test is the following Monday.

A schedule for conferences will go home this week. I will continue to plug away at seeing families.

Last year the whole middles' team participated in an artist-in-residence called ElderWisdom/ChildrenSong, which resulted in the creation of a song about an elder, whom each class interviewed and learned the story of his or her life. Our elder was Connie Edberg, the grandmother of one of our Barton students. We performed our songs for parents, and it was a magical moment, excuse the cliche. Patrick Duffy wanted us to do it again this year, so we need another elder to interview. The elder would need to come to Barton on January 15 and 17 from 7:55 to 8:50 a.m. for an interview with the students and also tell the story of his or her life story. I sent home guidelines for this with students before the winter holiday. If you have someone in your family whom you think would like to share her or his story, please send back the sheet, or let me know on another sheet of paper. 

Our Secret Snowflakes went off without a hitch for the most part. Thanks for making sure that your student had a gift for another. The class totally enjoyed it, and it was a festive way to end our year together! There were a few gifts for me that didn't have names on them and were left on my desk. Thank you to everyone for your thoughtfulness and generosity. Much appreciated!

Mary Austin
Barton Open School
Middles Roller Garden Field Trip
Saturday, December 14, 2013 9:55 PM

The Middles will be going on a field trip to the Roller Garden on Friday, December 20, 2013.  Details are on the information and permission slip-- be sure to return it ASAP.

Physics Force Field Trip
Thursday, December 5, 2013 3:20 PM

The Barton Middles will travel to the University of Minnesota to see the Physics Force program on December 9, 2013.  Click here for more information and the permission slip.

This Week in Room 206- Dec. 1, 2013
Thursday, December 5, 2013 3:15 PM

Hi Families,

 I hope you had a great break with family and friends. 

Tomorrow Sinfonia Orchestra is coming to play for our students as they have faithfully done for many, many years. We are very lucky to have them! They play beautifully, collaborate with our own orchestra and educate our students about music and composers. The Middles will welcome them at 9:30 a.m.

I have learned that Lisa Lange will continue to teach writing basics every day this week. Once she has finished, we will do a mini-study of Langston Hughes poetry. I will also begin my writing curriculum as well. In reading, we will begin our new novel of In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson. In addition to the literary elements present in the novel, we will also discuss stereotyping, prejudice and immigrant experiences. We'll discuss how to read a novel that was written about an immigrant experience in 1947 and connect it to current experiences. We'll locate China and Brooklyn, both part of the story setting, on the map. If any of your children know stories of your family's immigrant experiences, please encourage them to share. 

We'll also begin chapter four in U.S. History Alive on European Exploration in the 15th and 16th centuries by "excavating" and examining objects from a sunken ship. Once students locate an artifact, they will read about it, write a description and explain why it was important to explorers. Students will categorize it in one of three ways: motives for exploration, as new technology that encouraged exploration or as a new product found in the Americas.  Students will note that even though the explorers called the Americas the "new world," many indigenous people already called it home. The following chapter will focus on specific explorers and their impact on native peoples.

BIG INFORMATION: The Middles have been going on alternate years to an environmental learning center. We spent six years going to Long Lake and another four going to Wolf Ridge. This year we are going to Eagle Bluff which is located in southeastern Minnesota near Lanesboro. OUR DATES ARE MONDAY THROUGH WEDNESDAY, MARCH 24, 25, 26. STUDENTS WILL RETURN AFTER SCHOOL ON WEDNESDAY. Families arrange pick-up. WE HAVE SCHOOL THE FOLLOWING DAY, BUT FRIDAY IS THE BEGINNING OF SPRING BREAK. PLEASE KEEP THIS IN MIND AS YOU PLAN AROUND SPRING BREAK. We also typically have and need many parent volunteers both prior to the trip and during the trip. Please consider volunteering for this event. The best is coming for all three days, if at all possible. The trip planning and the trip itself are both labor intensive for the Middles' teachers. Please consider helping out.

 I will begin conferencing by contacting families individually. I'm trying not to get too worn out, so I still need your patience.

Thanks, and I hope you have a good week. It's great to be back!

Mary Austin
Barton Open School
"And Then They Came For Me"
Wednesday, October 9, 2013 9:50 PM

Room 206 will attend the Youth Performance Company production of : "And Then They Came for Me" on Thurs., Oct. 10th @ 9:30 am.  For more information and copy of the permission slip, click here.

Swimming at the YMCA
Friday, October 4, 2013 3:35 PM

Room 206 will be swimming at the Blaisdell YMCA two times this year.  The first session will be  November 5, 6 and 7.   We will swim again on January 21, 22 and 23.  For more information and a copy of the permission slip, click here.

Parent Information Night
Monday, September 16, 2013 7:45 PM

If you missed the Parent Information Night Presentation on September 12th, or just didn't write fast enough, here is a copy of the powerpoint presentation by Marcie Stein.

Supply List 2013-2014
Thursday, August 22, 2013 9:00 PM

If you're looking for supplies for Mary's class, you can just use this list from last year.