World Refugee Day is Today, June 20, 2016.

World Refugee Day is today, Monday, June 20, 2016. According to the most recent figures from the United Nations, there are more than 65 million refugees in the world. That means that  one of every 113 people on Earth has been forcibly displaced from his or her  homeland. If they were a country,  these 65 million refugees would represent the   21st largest country in the world. Sadly, this is  the largest number of refugees since World War II.

The UN’s Refugee Agency UNHCR reports that more than half (51%) of the world’s refugees are children, the largest number in 10 years. Where are the world’s refugees fleeing from? The majority of refugees come from just three countries: Syria, Afghanistan and Somalia.  One in five displaced persons is from Syria.  Astoundingly, 86% of refugees are  hosted by developing countries, not the world’s leading economies.

It’s easy to ignore the  day-to-day horrors that refugees face when we’re   cocooned in the comfort of our American dream homes.   To better understand the  world in which they’re called to be global citizens, my sixth graders researched four different social issue topics and developed Public Service Announcements for each. Today seems like the right time  to  share a few of those videos with you. Perhaps you’ll be  called to support a nonprofit one of my students identified. At the very least, we hope you’ll want to know more about the refugee crisis that covers the globe. We must ask ourselves, “What can we do?” Then, we must go about doing it. For more info, click here.

Pravallika & Rachel –  Refugee Crisis PSA 

Alexa & Kayce – Refugee Crisis PSA 

Sydney & Nethra – Refugee Crisis PSA

Owen & Eric – Life in a Refugee Camp PSA


Raise Your Voice: Blog Action Day 2015

The First Amendment of the United States of America gives us freedom of religion, speech, press, peaceable assembly, and the freedom to seek help from or complain about our government without fear of punishment. In honor of this freedom–which is both a tremendous privilege and a responsibility–we’re taking part in Blog Action Day on October 16, 2015.

Your blog is a public space where you can freely express your opinions about issues that matter to you.

For me, I’m worried about the overuse of toxic chemicals and the waste of water to maintain fairy tale green lawns. Did you know that 80% of all homes in the United States have grass lawns? The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that nearly 1/3 of all public water is used to water grass. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reports that “homeowners use up to 10 times more chemical pesticides per acre on their lawns than farmers use on crops.” Wow! Most lawn care chemicals can find their way to our groundwater supply. Lawn chemicals are toxic–they kill. I worry about the health effects of these optional pesticides. The U.S. Geological Survey found that 96 percent of all fish tested in major rivers and streams contained pesticide residue. We need to rethink chemical lawn treatments.

What do you care about? What’s worrying you?

What would you change here at school if you could? How can we make Ashburn, Virginia, America, or the world a little bit better? In your opinion, what changes should our government make to improve your future? Speak up on Blog Action Day. How might you help homeless people or animals? Are you concerned about climate change? Or gun control? Or education? Or bullying? Do you want healthier lunches? Are sports too competitive?

Whatever it is, tell me in a quality comment below.

Then, use the internet to find 2-3 facts about your issue. Jot them down and bring to school tomorrow. Be sure to record the websites where you found the info.

Finally, visit another class and leave a comment based on their current post. Just click on the link below! I’m counting on you proofreading your comment carefully. Follow 6th grade writing expectations! Be sure to include our blog URL so the classes you visit can visit us, too! Here’s our class blog URL: 

CLICK HERE for complete list of class blogs in the Student Blogging Challenge (including ours).

Tomorrow, you’ll draft a blog post about what you care about. It’s time to raise your voice!

See you then! Mrs. Rombach




Student Blogging Challenge Week #9: Let’s Shine!

 Week 9: Let’s shine

Shiny, Capt.

Ken-ichi Ueda via Compfight

This is our penultimate week in the blogging challenge.

When you come to the end of a topic, what does your teacher often do?

  • That’s right! We give you a test.

This week’s challenge is a test about your blogging skills.

Having read many of your posts, Miss W came up with the following essentials in a great post.

  1. catchy title
  2. includes at least two visuals whether photo, cartoon, video or another web 2.0 tool like padlet, animoto (use Mrs. Rombach’s class login), tagxedohaikudeck (check out Mrs. Rombach’s example below)
  3. interesting topic with the passion of the author coming through, shows well-researched topic
  4. well written and not copy/pasted from somewhere else
  5. shows it has been proofread and spellchecked
  6. written in paragraphs – at least three of them
  7. includes links to other websites on similar topics – at least two of these
  8. attribution for any images, video, music or clip art used – including those used in slideshows etc

Here are some examples of posts from a previous challenge:

When you have finished your post, please leave a comment for Miss W at the Student Blogging Challenge so she can have a peek at your work. Make sure to include your blog URL! 

Presenting this week’s topic:


Yawn! jerkylicker via Compfight

1. Do a quick Google search on your favorite animal and share out your findings.

2. Address problems like poaching, cruelty, or extinction (you might share the social issues presentation you’ve already done!)

3. Should wild animals be kept in zoos? Write a persuasive argument for or against zoos.

4. What are the benefits of pet ownership and which animals make the best pets?

5. Share your persuasive writing about exotic pet ownership.

6. Have a different idea? Go for it!

cows are cool – Created with Haiku Deck, presentation software that inspires

Make sure you check hints 2, 7 and 8 in the essentials of a great post

Still got time left this week:

  1. Visit Namitha to add some words of help for people in Nepal or write your own post sending words to Nepal.
  2. Keep visiting other student and class blogs to leave comments and continue conversations.
  3. Check out the Flipboard magazine to see if your post is mentioned there and visit some of their blogs
  4. Leave links to your posts on the student blogging challenge blog post so Miss W can visit and leave comments or flip your posts to the magazine.

Wednesday, March 18 – A Problematic Day :)

Mrs. Rombach has teacher training today, so I’ll see you tomorrow.

Credit (creative commons)

Activity #1 Shark Video & Commenting

Today in class, we’ll watch a video about sharks. Afterwards, you’ll click on the title of this post, scroll to the bottom of the page, and you’ll leave a reflective comment summarizing your thoughts and feelings. For students in Block 2/5, this video may remind you of Xander’s compelling presentation about endangered sharks and whales. How does this video make you feel? What did you learn? How can you personally make a difference? As citizens of this world, how responsible are we for what happens to the creatures we share it with? How are land and sea creatures important to our own existence? Pay close attention to make sure your comment meets our class expectations:

1. Your comment is well-written and includes proper punctuation and capitalization. The pronoun I is always capitalized.

2. Your comment makes a connection or asks a question.

3. Your comment shows critical thinking. You’ve thought about the video and left a meaningful comment about its content.

4. Your comment includes your own blog’s URL, an active link back to your blog, as every comment should.

Racing Extinction – Why Sharks Matter from Oceanic Preservation Society on Vimeo.

Activity #2 – Vocabulary Story Time

Working with a partner, spend no more than 10 minutes collaboratively writing a short story using either a chronological or problem and solution text structure. Remember to use signal words to help your reader identify which type of organizational pattern you’re using. Include at least four vocabulary words from our list on the wall!

Activity #3 – Problem & Solution Paragraph 

Working in your writing groups, offer praise and polish comments on one another’s paragraphs. Pay attention to your writing mechanics (punctuation, spelling, grammar, capitalization). Next, revise and edit your paragraph and give it a creative title. We’ll print these out in the computer lab on Friday.

Extra Time?

Read quietly, work on a new blog post, or visit the Student Blogging Challenge and leave quality comments on a few class blogs from around the world.


How Will You Make a Difference?




Hello, my favorite sixth graders!

Next Monday, you’ll start your two-week research projects. You’ll work alongside a small group of classmates to find out more information on a social issue that matters to everyone on the research team. Then, you’ll take the facts you’ve collected and turn it into your own individual project — from an animated slide show to a skit to a public service announcement. You’ll hear more about all of your options next week. For now, think about the local, national, and world issues you care about most. On the Padlet below, add your name and a social issue or two that you feel strongly about. Here are a few ideas…but you may add any issue that’s important to you!

Do you want to know more about a life-threatening disease like childhood cancer, diabetes, or cystic fibrosis and what’s being done to find a cure?

Do you worry about homeless families who lack a roof over their heads or food in their pantries?

Does animal cruelty break your heart?

Want to bring help clean water, electricity, or education to poverty-stricken countries?

Are you concerned about shrinking habitats, animal poaching, or endangered species?

Do you want to educate people about physical, emotional, or cyber bullying?

Is ocean pollution or climate change boggling your mind?

Share the causes you’re passionate about below:

Book Talk Tuesday – 1/6/2015

Presenting a volley of verse novels…

What books were your hands wrapped around this holiday season?

Since this summer, when I stumbled upon National Book Award winner Brown Girl Dreaming via teacher Twitter chats, I’ve been on the lookout for more compelling, can’t-put-down verse novels. It wasn’t long after I polished off Brown Girl Dreaming that our librarian extraordinaire, Mrs. Becker-Sabik, put Locomotion and Peace, Locomotion into my open arms. Locomotion, another verse novel from prolific Woodson, delivered an achingly authentic story from the perspective of a teen boy forced into foster care after his parents die in a house fire. Then I read Peace, Locomotion, a collection of journal entries from the same parentless teen.  That trio of books cinched it. I am hooked. More verse novels, please!

I don’t always have the time to pour myself into million-page books, but poetry is refreshingly different. For this week’s Book Talk Tuesday, I present a rafter of richly crafted verse novels for the young adult crowd–for both male and female readers. Yes, that includes you, my book-hunting sixth graders! I’ve read all of these books except Sharon Creech’s twin tomes, Love That Dog and Hate That Cat. These two four-legged tales are next on deck.

Searching for something different? Give yourself the gift of poetry. Pick up one of these gripping verse novels today. You’ll find most in our classroom, but all can be pulled off the ERMS library shelves. What are you waiting for? Click on a book cover to watch the matching video trailer.


Mrs. Rombach

P.S. – I’ve ordered a few more verse novels. Keep any eye on the shelves!





What I loved: The strikingly delicate, somewhat surprising manner in which Woodson weaves words together. This story tells a truth in a way few other mediums dare.




 What I loved: The subject matter stole my heart: A gifted, barefoot runner who refuses to conform faces the uncertainty of her grandfather’s Alzheimer’s and her best friend’s percolating anger. Beneath it all, she finds the apple of her eye–art!



What I loved: Dressed in dreads and a lifetime of pain, young Locomotion slowly faces his fears through poetry. A fire stole his parents and placed his picture-perfect, deeply adored sister in foster care. Locomotion lands in a group home, where he’s struggling desperately to find his place and stay connected to his baby sister. Locomotion stays with you long after you’ve finished the book.



What I loved: Author Helen Frost rivets your attention on page one of Hidden. There’s a carjacking and an eight-year-old ends up trapped inside a locked garage. Her salvation? A faceless girl her own age–the criminal’s daughter–who tries to help. Flash forward six years. The girls’ worlds collide at summer camp, where they’re forced to face the truth about what happened all those years ago. Hidden roils with heart-racing twists.



 What I loved: Kasienka gives up everything–including her Polish name–to join her mother as they follow the lukewarm trail of the man who abandoned them both. Poor and on unfamiliar terrain, Cassie faces the crushing weight of sounding and looking different. Bullied by her new school’s popular girl, Cassie finds her battle armor as the fastest girl on her school’s swim team. With encouragement from a caring neighbor and an older boy, 12-year-old Cassie finds her voice and resurfaces stronger than ever.




What I am loving: I am in the midst of reading this verse novel, and the tension is palpable. Vietnam is moments from collapsing into chaos. A family is about to be torn apart by war. I have a feeling tears are in the forecast. What I am NOT loving: The cover! It fails miserably at conveying the combustible content smoldering behind this whimsical watercolor.         Dear Publisher, your cover choice stinks. Please reprint with a cover worthy of this author’s work.




What I love: The first page of Love That Dog, which reads:


Room 105 – Miss Stretchberry

September 13

I don’t want to

because boys

don’t write poetry.

Girls do.
















14 Things I Take for Granted

What’s cooler than being cool?
Photo Credit: Ian Sane via Compfight

Tonight, as I made my first post-Thanksgiving, stuffing-topped turkey sandwich, an idea floated like a magic carpet into my brain. I ran my spontaneous idea by my oh-so-savvy high school freshman, and she gave me two thumbs up and a toothy smile. Right now, as I sit typing out this post with the TV playing National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation in the background, my idea evolves into this post.

Beginning today, I’m counting down the school days until holiday break by posting one list every day. I hope I can deliver on this self-imposed challenge.

After reading A Long Walk to Water and being reminded of all we have that others don’t, I thought I’d start with 14 Things I Take for Granted. Are you up to the challenge? Could you match me list for list as we count down to winter break? You choose the topics of your lists. Follow my lead if you like, but you have complete freedom to generate any theme you wish. Or, just read along! If you’re posting lists, leave a comment with your URL so I can create a link on my main page. Here’s a hint:  Adding a brief explanation for each item on your lists makes it more fun to read. I probably went a little overboard, but here goes.

Fa la la la la la la la la…let’s see who’s up for the Countdown List Challenge…


14 Things I Take for Granted – (in no particular order)

14. Instantaneous answers – Whether I’m in the co-pilot’s seat using the Waze app to avoid traffic congestion or debating details over the dinner table, I can get answers instantly, with just a little finger work on the touchscreen and four bars on the wi-fi.

13. Books – My house has shelves of books in every room, from cookbooks in the kitchen to trail guides in the family room to countless titles lining bookcases and bedside tables. I am never at a loss for reading material–unlike so many others around the world.

12. Medical care – Salva’s seriously ill father walked over 300 miles to the nearest clinic. I have two hospitals within a 10-minute drive, and easy-to-access urgent care centers nearly as popular as strip mall nail salons. If I’m hurting, ibuprofen is at my fingertips. That’s not true for so many.

11. Electricity – It warms my home, powers my technology, cools or freezes my food, washes my clothes, cooks my meals, and entertains me with movies, TV, and music. Power cords snake through my house, gobbling up electricity that’s a plug away.

10. My job – I get paid to do what I love, so I’m incredibly blessed. As I rush from one lesson plan to the next, one set of papers to grade to the next, it’s easy to forget that so many people who desperately want to work can’t find employment. That’s here in Virginia, across the U.S., and around the world. I can’t imagine a better way to earn a living than to teach over 70 students.

9. Neighbors – We watch out for each other, we trade eggs or flour when recipes call for ingredients we lack, we chat across the cul-de-sac, and watch each other’s children grow up and out of the house.

8. My better half, Mike – It’s been nearly 25 years since we tied the knot, but he still makes me coffee every morning, keeps me laughing (at him and myself), and is my backroads partner for life. This guy rocks.

7. Laney and Clancy, our four-legged best buds – Despite the fur that blankets every surface in my house, nothing is better than coming home to their squeals of delight. Whether I’m gone an hour or overnight, they fling themselves at my feet as though I’ve been a missing person for the past five years.

6. Food in my pantry and fridge – I’ve never experienced hunger like Salva or Nya have. If my stomach grumbles, I hush it with a quick snack from the pantry. I’ve never had to worry about how to feed myself or my family. There are so many who hunger, even here in Loudoun County; we need to be grateful for all we have–and generously share our abundance with others.

5. My co-workers – Mrs. Fields, Mrs. Haseltine, Mrs. Devlin, Mrs. O’Brien, Mrs. Smith, Mr. Lacey, and Mrs. Cohen are just a few of the rockstars I’m lucky enough to collaborate with daily. Too many people head into a work environment that’s frustrating or demeaning. Not me…I love coming to work!

4. Kindness – I’m surrounded by kind people. I encounter kindness in the most ordinary of places…the Dunkin’ Donuts drive-thru, an email or text message from a friend, a door held by a stranger, kind words shared by a Wal-Mart checkout clerk. I need to be more grateful for the little things that make me feel warm and fuzzy inside.

3. Education – I have high school and college degrees, but more importantly, my education has never stopped. I’m a lifelong learner and am blessed with the opportunity to take graduate and online courses, read innumerable books, and explore an infinite array of websites. I think of Nya, and other girls around the world, who are denied an education because of their life circumstances. Today, I celebrate all that school has brought into my life–three different careers, a husband I met at college, and a library of knowledge tucked inside my gray matter.

2. Water – You knew this would be here, right? Before A Long Walk to Water, I knew water was precious, but I didn’t understand fully how clean water is the lifeblood of a community. Clean water brings better health, schools, clinics, and allows a village to thrive rather than simply survive.

1. My children – Somewhere between the gray hair and the side-splitting belly aches of laughter, there is perfection in parenthood. I adore my five children. Yes, they turn my life topsy-turvy some days, but then we’re dancing like robots together in the kitchen, reciting Ellen’s classic jokes, or scrambling over rocks at Bears’ Den. I’m thankful for all the little moments we make together.

If I’m going to keep this up, I’ll have to write a little less next time around. 🙂 There you go…my List of 14 Things I Take for Granted. Tomorrow…My List of 13 Words I Can’t Live Without.

See you then- Mrs. Rombach





Who Inspires You?


photo credit:

photo credit:

As we finish reading A Long Walk to Water, Linda Sue Park’s riveting story about former Lost Boy Salva Dut, I know many of us have been profoundly affected by Salva’s treacherous journey to freedom. This young man, who at age 11 left his South Sudanese village amidst brutal civil war, came to lead 1200 boys and and young men to safety.

Salva Dut’s courage astounds his. His determination, not only to survive but to change his part of the world, leaves us awestruck. We marvel at his unrelenting determination. If you ever doubt your ability to singlehandedly make a difference in this vast universe, remember Salva Dut. One hope-filled person with a mission…that’s where change begins.

Speaking of Salva Dut, check out his response to my tweet. Pretty cool. 🙂 Now, tell me who inspires you and why. I can’t wait to read your replies.! Leave a comment with your blog URL. When you click on the title of this post, you’ll be able to see my example. 🙂


Salva Dut TWEET


Who Let the Blogs Out?

Who’s ready to rock the blogosphere?

Between Friday and Tuesday, we’ll be working together to bedazzle our blogs by adding posts, pages, widgets, and a your choice of interactive media. Before I launch into the NINE (9) items your blog should include by December 5, let me introduce a few more tools that are sure to make you blog crazy!

Be sure to leave your comments and questions. As you do, decide which of these three tools you’d like to embed in one of your future blog posts.

What is the best book you’ve read so far in 6th grade?… at

By December 5, you should have the following items on your blog:

(1) An All About Me PAGE. Note this should be a PAGE. If you’d like to also make it your first post, that’s fine. However, you need to have an All About Me PAGE. This page is always visible on the front page of your blog. You’ve already written your All About Me PAGE in Google Docs. Simply copy and paste into a new PAGE. To do so, highlight the entire text of your Google Docs. Hold Control/C to copy. Click the mouse in the text section of the Edublogs PAGE. Hold Control/V to paste. Graphics and fonts may not transfer exactly as they appear in Google Docs.

(2) Your first assigned POST. In the dashboard, open All Posts, Add New. Using the school-themed prompts provided, write your post. Be sure to carefully proofread. Click on Save Draft as you’re working to safeguard your writing. After you’ve thoroughly checked over, made revisions to improve your writing, and changed fonts if desired, click on Review and Submit. It may take Mrs. Rombach 1-3 days to approve and publish. Please be patient. 🙂

(3) Activate ClustrMaps widget. Add to blog sidebar.

(4) Activate Google Supreme Fonts (Dashboard>Plugins>Google Supreme Fonts>Activate).

(5) Create a virtual pet and insert Text widget/embed code to side bar. (see classmate or Mrs. Rombach for help if you missed this in-class project).

(6) Activate Compfight Plugin (Dashboard>Plugins>Compfight>Activate)

(7) Add Categories: Classroom Blogging Assignments, Reading, Writing, Book Reviews, Middle School, and any others you wish.

(8) Add one of the following interactive widgets:  AnswerGarden, Voki, or Padlet. (click to on each title to connect)

(9) Leave a complimentary comment on three (3) other classmates’ blogs (any block).

Water, Water Everywhere…but Not a Drop to Drink

 Stop and drink.

You can turn on the faucet and clear, clean water rushes out. You have plenty of water to drink, to bathe, to cook, and to wash clothes, dishes, and cars. We sprinkle our lawns with clean water. We fill Nerf guns and summer pools with clean water. For us, clean water is everywhere.



As we read A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park, we now know that for south Sudan and for so many other countries around the globe, clean water is a luxury more precious than gold or cattle. As we continue to journey with Nya and Salva across the barren landscape of a war-torn Sudan, I thought it was a good time to remind ourselves how vitally important water truly is–to all of us.

Today in your small group, watch each of these two videos. Please use the headphones provided. After each, complete the questionnaires you’ll find stacked on the table.


How much water should you drink each day?


What happens if you go without water?

After watching these two videos, complete the questionnaire on your table. 

If time permits, leave me a comment. Did you learn anything new or surprising?

Do your best work!

Mrs. Rombach