Monday, September 29, 2014

Monday Memo: Chromebooks Go Home!

Today we got word that the kids can take home their Chromebooks and chargers. When we told the kids, needless to say, they were elated. There are some housekeeping issues that we have to take care of over the next few days. The most imperative is insuring the Chromebooks. We sent home insurance forms with the kids today. The insurance for the year is 27.00 and we are encouraging everyone to purchase this insurance. The deductible is 0.00, so it is a good deal. Please check out the form when it comes home and return it at your earliest convenience. If your kiddo does not bring hone the form, you can download it here:

Chromebook Insurance Form

The kids are indeed bringing their laptops home today. A few parents reported that they didn't want their students to bring the Chromebooks home. We will keep them here at school if that is the case. We have found from our experience in a 1:1 classroom, that having computer and Internet access at home is a great advantage for kiddos so we encourage the use of the Chromebooks at home.

We would like to caution the kids that a padded bag of some sort would be a great solution for transporting their Chromebook between home and school. There are a lot of sleeves or cases on the market nowadays that are inexpensive and effective. Even bubble wrap in a student's backpack would do the trick. We would like for the kids to keep the chargers at home and charge the laptops overnight; the batteries will last all day here at school (they are rated as 8-10 hour batteries).

Parent conferences are next week. Please sign up if you have not done so already. We can also conference through e-mail or by phone if a face-to-face time does not work for you. The link to the conference information is here:

Fall Parent Conferences

Field trip forms were sent home on Friday. We need those back in our hands by next Monday. The trip is to the St. Louis Symphony on November 11 for the program called "Forces of Nature". The cost of the trip is $8.00 which includes transportation. We will be back at school before lunch so the kids will eat here at school.

The Scholastic Book Fair kicks off on Friday of this week. The fair will run all next week, so when you come in for your conference, please stop by and brows a bit. There are some awfully good choices this year.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Monday Memo: Conferences, Duke and Grades

Because of a glitch in our online grading program, we are a bit delayed in issuing grades. They will come home a day or two late but they will be there. As always, you can check current grades on the parent portal. Just log in and you can see all of your kids' grades.

Mrs. Gavin passed out brochures for the Duke TIP program. Eligible kiddos will have scored in the top 95% on the Terra Nova section of the MAP test in either fifth or sixth grade. The link to more information is here: Duke Link.

Parent conferences are coming up. All of the information was posted on an earlier blog post but is also linked here: Fall Parent Conferences. Please note that we can do conferences by phone, e-mail or in person. We hope to be in contact soon.

The Scholastic Book Fair will open Tuesday, September 30. It will run through October 9. Please feel free to come in anytime and browse the books. All money raised from the book fair goes to buy resources for the library.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Harmony Gear Is In!

Today a very large box was delivered to the office for Harmony Team. Our gear has come in! The gear choices included t-shirts, sweatshirts, hoodies, athletic shorts, long flannel pajama bottoms, and cinch sacs. The kids could choose any of the clothing items in pink, blue, gray, white, and tie dye. About a half our ago, we put the gear orders in the kids' lockers and, in ten minutes, they will come to their lockers to get their things and leave the building. Inside their lockers will be a little something extra today. The kids have no idea that the gear came in so it is fun watching their reactions to how great the gear looks! This is a wonderful end to a great and productive week.

A tie-dye blue Harmony shirt and a Harmony cinch sac

We are Funded!

Thanks to all who donated to our Kindles in the Classroom grant on! This afternoon our grant was completely funded! Five brand spanking new Kindles will be on their way to us within the next couple of weeks. The final donation came in from the Rise Up Foundation in Orange, CA. The organization is also sending books for our classroom. We would like to thank all of the Harmony Team families for participating. We really appreciate it and can't wait to get those Kindles in the kids' hands! Thanks again!

UPDATE on Important Info for Fall Conferences

Fall conferences this year will be held during the following dates and times:

October 7, 4pm – 8pm
October 8, 1pm – 5pm
October 9, 4pm – 8pm

You may schedule a conference with your child’s teachers by clicking on the link below. Before doing so, however, please read the following:

* You will need to know the name of your child’s team to sign up. (Synthesis is a 7th grade team, Synergy is an 8th grade team.)

* Please sign up for an available time to meet with your child’s team. In most cases, this will include your child’s   English/Language Arts, Math, Science, and Social Studies teachers.

* If you would like to meet with your child’s elective teachers, you will need to schedule a conference separate from the team conference. This may require going back to the address below and logging into the website a second time.

* Conferences are ten minutes in length. Please be respectful of everyone’s time by being prompt and conscious of keeping your conference to ten minutes. Teachers will be happy to continue the conversation at a later time, if necessary.

Hixson Middle School Conference Scheduler:

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Kindles in the Classroom Grant!

Our grant for five Kindles for our "Kindles in the Classroom" program on Harmony Team is live on If you would like to donate to the grant, please do! If you could share our grant with others on Facebook, Twitter and your other social media outlets, please do.

Using the Promo Code INSPIRE will double any donation given (up to 100.00) so our money goes a long way! This afternoon, I gave ten bucks, and had it doubled, so that I could take screen shots of the process to make it easier on other donors. Thanks in advance for any help you can give. 

Here is the crucial part of the note from that directs donors to the correct project (just click the link highlighted in blue).

I want to make sure my students have the materials they need to succeed, so I just created a request for my classroom at

Kindles in the Classroom!

Give to my classroom by September 22, 2014 and your donation will be doubled thanks to Just enter the code INSPIRE on the payment page and you'll be matched dollar for dollar (up to $100).


Simply put in the amount you'd like to donate and click the green "Proceed to Checkout" button.

Type in the code "INSPIRE" into the Promo Code box and click "Apply" to get your donation doubled. Then simply follow the rest of the process. It really is that easy.

We appreciate any help you can give us in our endeavor to use technology to learn and create lifelong learners. Harmony Team parents are always so supportive and this year's parents have been no different. Thanks for all that you do.

Symbaloo - Organizing Our Digital Tools

Harmony Symbaloo Link

Symbaloo is a tool that we will be using this year on Team Harmony. Instead of bookmarking all of the sites that we will be using this year, we've created a Symbaloo featuring graphic "tiles" for each of the sites we'll use this year. The Harmony Links Symbaloo is available for all students and parents to use. Simply sign up for a Symbaloo account (free at, click on the link above, click the "Add to Webmix" button and the Harmony Links will appear as one of your Symbaloo frames. Easy as that. We feel this will be a convenient and useful place for kids to keep all of their digital tools organized. Kids can also create their own personal Symbaloos. It's a great tool!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Monday Memo: Laptops, Grades and Grants

On Friday, kids received their Chromebooks. During first and second hours, kids learned a bit about how to operate them and sign on to the school wifi (which can be tricky). Since then, we have been working with kids to familiarize them with the apps and digital tools we'll be using this year, primarily the ones on the right hand side of this blog in the "Most Used Sites" section. We've begun using Google Classroom and we're picking it up quickly. Kids also have created accounts on 3DGameLab so that we can complete class-related online quests. We'll continue demonstrating various tools (BrainPop and Khan Academy) to the kids this week and integrate them gradually so as not to overwhelm them.

Term 1 closes on Friday. Grades will be issued and mailed home next week.

The link to use to sign up for conferences will be available in the next few days. It will be available on the school web page and as soon as we see it, we will post it here as well. Please sign up for conferences so we can talk about your amazing kiddos.

We submitted a grant to for five Kindles for our Kindles in the Classroom program. As soon as the grant is live, we will publicize it with the hope that some of you or those you know would be interested in making a donation to the cause. We normally get a code which enables every donation (up to 100.00) to be doubled. We have had great success with in the past and hope that we can put even more Kindles in the hands of our kiddos.

That's about it for this week. We hope everyone has a great week!

Friday, September 12, 2014

In School Dental Care

We are sending a form home today with kiddos about in-school dental care. This is what the form looks like. Please look for it!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Monday Memo (on Tuesday): Pictures, Activities, Texts and Kindles!

We are off to another busy week on Team Harmony. Picture Day is Friday, September 12 in the LMC annex. This day is only for the kids who did not have their pictures taken during Orientation. Picture Retake Day will be in October.

Term 1 ends next Friday, September 19. This is a snapshot of where kids are right now. The grades are cumulative until the end of Semester 1 in December. 

After school activities are in full swing. There are dozens of clubs and activities for kids to participate in. We also have study session on Wednesdays and Thursdays after school on team. Any kiddos who need a quiet place to work or a little help can stay either or both of those days.

Yesterday we started using Remind, an app that allows teachers to send text message reminders to students and parents. You can sign up on the right hand side of the blog. No phone numbers are kept by teachers or students and no private text messaging can occur. The app is only for mass-distribution reminders. We find this useful for field trip reminders and the like. Please sign up if you'd like to receive text message reminders.

Please use the hashtag #hxharmony in your social media postings to post cool things that Harmony kids are doing outside of school. Those postings will collect in our Tagboard stream on this blog. 

The Kindles have proven to be very popular once again on team. We are going to put a grant up on in order to purchase five more Kindles. We will have the grant up by the end of the week. The way grants work on is that people from the community, who want to help public schools, donate to the grant project of their choice. In the past, we have received a code that, when donors use it, doubles the donations. For example, if our grant is for 300.00 worth of materials, then we would only have to raise 150.00 if each donor uses the code. We hope that some of you will help us acquire these Kindles by considering a donation and spreading the word! We cannot tell you how much the kids love those Kindles!

We hope you all have a great week!

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Tagboard Those Tweets!

One of the digital tools that we use on Team Harmony is Tagboard. It collects all of the posts from across the Internet that use the #hxharmony tag. We began using the #hxharmony tag last year to keep track of all things Harmony. Scrolling through the stream is a good way to get caught up on team happenings. If you scroll down this blog a little and look on the right hand side, you'll see our Tagboard stream.

We would like parents and students to post cool Harmony Team kid-related happenings to our stream as well. Our Harmonites are involved in so many activities outside of school and much of the time we don't even know it so it'd be nice for you to give them a shout-out on our Tagboard stream. All you have to do when you tweet (or whatever social media tool you use) is include #hxharmony. Your post will show up in our stream. We would love to foster the spirit of community on team by keeping up with the kids' outside activities.

Please be aware that we have a short list of media-exclude kiddos on team and their images cannot be posted online. If it is your own kiddo, go for it! We are excited to see the sports, plays, clubs and other out-of-school activities that the kids are involved in. We hope that our Tagboard stream helps make the blog even more interactive.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Keeping Up with the Harmonites!

Melissa and I consider ourselves to be pretty technology-literate when it comes to using tech in school. However, we also realize that there are tons of people who know so much more than we do and so we rely on others to help us be more efficient and effective. During Open House, Mr. Carton had some great suggestions for our blog in order to make it even easier for parent and student. We appreciate his help and have the following suggestions:

1. The Assignment Calendar feed URL for those of you who do not use Google and want to subscribe is I have changed this in the previous Calendar post as well.

2. For those of you who want to subscribe to the RSS feed of the blog, he suggests (a paid service) or (a free service). I use Feedly as my news reader and it is very cool. I went through the process of subscribing to the Harmony Team Blog RSS feed on Feedly and it worked nicely. Here is the process:

- On your computer, go to and sign up for a free account.
- In the search box, type in and Hixson Team Blog should appear as one of the choices. Add that blog and it will appear in your list of feeds on the left hand side of the screen.
- That's it! You've just subscribed to this blog on Feedly.

A big "thank you" to Mr. Carton for his help in improving this blog. As always, leave comments or e-mail if you have suggestions or questions. We are always trying to improve the parent and student experience with our online tools.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Monday Memo: Activities, Pictures and Ice Buckets

We hope everyone had a great Labor Day weekend. We are back for a busy four-day week at Hixson. After-school activities begin this week. Kids will have many activity choices on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday after school until 4:00pm.

Picture Day is next Friday, September 12. Any kiddos who didn't have their picture taken at Orientation can have them taken next Friday. Retakes will take place in October.

The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge has come to Hixson Middle School. Kids making donations at lunch will be entered into a drawing to dump a bucket of ice water on the teacher of their choice.

Please continue to check the assignment calendar. The kids have been great about getting their work done on time and we would love for that to continue.