Friday, October 31, 2014

Learning While Community-Building

There is much more to school than the classes in which kids are enrolled. Sometimes, because of learning opportunities or the time of year, we can plan fun events that incorporate learning into a fun "day off" of regular classes. Today was one of those days. Being Halloween, we had our own costume contest on team. Here are a few of our favorites.

Kids voted by secret ballot and our winners were: Sam (pictured below) in third place, Carter (center) in second place, and Owen (right) first place. The kids had a lot of fun dressing up and really got into the spirit of things. After our costume contest voting, we played some Halloween Trivia. A few weeks ago, we discovered Kahoot, a game-like quiz app. We used it to introduce our Digital Citizenship program in Discovery and the kids loved it! So today, we Kahooted again!

Sam in armor

During second hour, kids collected data on all of the pumpkins that they brought in (thanks again for your pumpkin donations). They were to measure, circumference, mass, radius, weight, etc. Once the data was collected, they were ready for the Pumpkin Drop later in the day. 

Kids collecting data

In third hour, we introduced our big service project for the year, our Holiday Family. Every year our team adopts a family in need for the holidays. We raise money, purchase gifts and help out in any way we can to make this season a great one for a family that has fallen on hard times. It is extremely rewarding and the kids develop even more compassion and empathy during this time. Of course, we have a bit of a competition between Hellwig's and Eckert's classes, so that is fun too!

We did the Pumpkin Drop during fifth period. One team member would stand in the second-story classroom and hold the pumpkin out the window. Upon the release, other team members on the ground would measure the time if took for the pumpkin to fall, the depth of the "crater" in the dirt-filled kiddie pool. All of the data collected will be used in science on Monday. 

It was an eventful day full of different and fun activities. We try to honor the ebbs and flows of the school year by mixing in a variety of learning events at every opportunity. Today was a great day for that!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Please Pass the Pumpkins!

Tomorrow we are having some very fun and educational events on team. One of those activities involves pumpkins. We have about 10 and need about 40. If you have an extra pumpkin laying about and are willing to donate it, please send it in with your kiddo in the morning. Thanks in advance!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Wednesday Memo: Pumpkins, Parties and Potpurri

Melissa and I are back from the MOREnet conference in Columbia, MO where we got to brag about the amazing things your kiddos are doing for 20% Time projects. Dozens of educators showed up to our session and are planning on adopting some features of 20% Time in their own classes and schools. We learned a great deal while we were there, including some really cool technology that we introduced to the kids today.

Friday marks the end of Term 2. It is amazing how quickly the year flies by. It seems like just yesterday we were meeting all of the kids on the first day of school and all of the parents soon thereafter. Wow! Grades for Term 2 will close Friday.

This Friday is Halloween and we will be doing some special events on team during core time that day. If you have a pumpkin you would be able to donate, we would love to have them. We are going to use them for a Pumpkin Decorating Contest and also for an activity about gravity (you can guess where we're going with that one). There will be a variety of fun events during core time this Friday.

On Friday we will also introduce our Holiday Family collection. Every year, each team adopts a family in need for the holidays. We raise money, purchase gifts and try to make the holiday a special time for them in a time of need. Harmony Team has always come through in a big way during this time. In fact, for 9 consecutive years, we have raised more money than any other team in the building even though we are only half the size of most teams. A couple of years ago, we set the all-time Hixson record for money raised for this project, over $3,000.00. Our goal each year is $1500.00 and in each of the last 9 years, we have met or exceeded our goal.

Please stay tuned for a TOP-SECRET e-mail that you will be receiving within the next week. Speaking of e-mail, school e-mail has been down for the past three days. It may be a few more days until it is up and running again. As always, you can still reach us at and Please feel free to use those e-mail addresses.

On November 11, we are going on our St. Louis Science Center field trip to see the "Forces of Nature" presentation. We will be back in time for lunch. On November 19, we are going on a field trip to the St. Louis International Film Festival. This event takes place at the St. Louis Public Library (Downtown Branch). The field trip permission slip is linked here. We will be going to Happy Joe's for lunch on the way back to Hixson. The cost for the entire trip is only $7.00

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Monday Memo: Party, Pumpkins and Pictures!

The Fall Party is this Friday after school from 3:30-5:00 at Hixson. Kids must purchase wristbands by the end of lunch on Thursday. Wristbands are $5.00 and will be available during lunch all week long. Kids must purchase a wristband in advance to attend the party.

After introducing 20% Time to the kids last week, we are continuing our work this week. You can take a look at our other blog,, for updates on that project.

Call for Pumpkins! We are asking for pumpkin donations for some special activities that we are doing on team next Friday, October 31. If you can donate a pumpkin, please send it in sometime next week. Thanks in advance.

Please be prepared for a Top Secret e-mail that will be coming to you within the week. It is imperative that you do not show any of the kids or share any of the content of the e-mail with any of the kids. We appreciate your secret-keeping abilities!

This week we have a backwards schedule. Elective classes will be in the morning and core classes are in the afternoon. This Friday is Picture Retake day. Picture Retake Day is for the following students:

1. Students who were absent on September 12th and would like to have their picture taken for yearbook.

2. Students who have completed picture order packets and brought money to purchase pictures. NOTE: Some students forgot packets/money and only had yearbook pictures taken. They may now purchase pictures.

3. Students who would like pictures to be retaken and have brought original pictures taken on August 8th or September 12th to return to the photographer.

Monday, October 13, 2014

All School Party and Spiritwear Information

All-School Party
When: October 24
Time: 3:30 pm - 5:00 pm
Cost: $5.00, which includes pizza, DJ, photo booth, and other activities 

How to Attend
·         Students may purchase a wristband at lunch on October 17 - 23
·         Wristbands will be handed out during 7th hour on October 24. 
·         Students must have a wristband to attend the party. 

Parents who are able to volunteer their time as a chaperone may sign up by clicking here

The deadline for ordering spiritwear has been extended to October 21. You may find more information about spiritwear by clicking here.

Monday Memo: 20% Time Kick-Off

Today we kicked off the 20% Time Projects for 2014-15 school year. We spent two periods of core time showing kids WHY we believe so strongly in this type of learning and also HOW we're going to coordinate projects this year. While many kids can't wait to get started, we are stressing that everyone should take their time and really explore their interests in order to come up with a project they are passionate enough about that they can sustain it all year long. You'll hear much more about 20% Projects in the near future. If you'd like to read more about how today went, please click here: 20% Time Project Kick-Off.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Fair Ye Well

Today, kids attended the Hixson Career Fair and the Hixson Health Fair. Many community members spent part of their day talking to kids about their careers. We also had several health experts in to talk to kids about nutrition, exercise and healthy living. The kids had a great time.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Monday Memo: Conferences, Short Week and Fairs!

Parent conferences are Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday of this week. If you signed up, you should have received a confirmation e-mail with the time of your conference. If you need assistance, please e-mail us and we can let you know your time slot. We are looking forward to meeting all of you.

Wednesday is half day. Kids will be dismissed at noon. Friday we are off school altogether.

On Wednesday, the health fair and career fair will both be happening at Hixson. Kids will rotate through the career fair and health fair during third and fourth hours. Both are usually interesting and fun events for the kids.

We are still waiting for a few more field trip forms to come in for our trip to the St. Louis Symphony on November 11. If you have not already returned the slip, please do so ASAP.

There are no after school activities this week because of conferences. We do still have morning session every morning from 7:45-8:25 and kids are welcome to come up and work or read during that time.

This week is the Scholastic Book Fair. Please stop by the book fair in the library annex when you come in for your conference. Tomorrow is Hixson Night at Papa Johns. Fliers went home with all of the pertinent information.

We also explained how grading will be a bit different this year. That information is on the "Grading" page. When you look across the top of the blog, click on the "Grading" page and hopefully that information will answer any questions that you may have. We can also talk at conferences about grading this year.

Gaming in the Classroom

As you can probably guess, the accessibility of a laptop computer also means the accessibility of computer games. While the filter at school does a good job, the kids are even better at finding games that are not blocked by the filter. We find gaming to be very distracting to the students. Therefore, we will begin issuing detentions for students that we catch gaming in class and those kids will lose their computer for the remainder of that period (but not the rest of the day).

There are appropriate times for kids to play games (before school, during lunch, between classes, etc) but not during instructional time. If we catch kids gaming, we will issue a detention and follow up by sending an e-mail home. The laptops are great tools for learning and we want the kids to get the full experience.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Chromebook Insurance

We hope that everyone takes advantage of the insurance program for the Google Chromebook laptops. It is a good deal. The cost of the insurance is 27.00 and the deadline for buying insurance is October 17. The insurance form can be found here:

Chromebook Insurance Form

The kids love the Chromebooks and we are using them extensively. We hope everyone can see the value of these amazing tools.