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


Make a Connection – Shrink the World


There are 7.4 billion people in the world, and you only know a handful of them. It’s time to do a little globetrotting and meet some of your student peers around the world. Today, your mission is to leave a quality comment on at least one of these blogs. You choose the destination, but your challenge is to ignite a two-way conversation. Be sure to leave the best comment you can. Read the other student blogger’s All About Me page–or a post that rivets your attention. Deliver complimentary comments. Notice the student’s efforts and creativity. Do you have something in common? Make the connection. Invite the student you visited to come see your blog. Then, ensure they can find you by leaving your blog’s URL. Always end with a question so they want to head your way and continue the conversation. Let’s get started with our commenting crusade!

Stop One: California

The One and Only Ruby (Ruby is in my friend Mr. Jewell’s class, and her blog looks amazing.)

Stop Two: Australia

Jack’s Black Board  (Take special notice of Jack’s post on why there should be more P.E. classes. I’m guessing many of you would agree!)

Liam’s Legit Blog (Like many of us, Liam only has a few blog posts, but you’ll notice how he used bold visuals to capture your attention. Sports fans will enjoy a trip to Liam’s Legit Blog.)

Stop Three: New Zealand

Caro’s Creative Creations (This colorful blog is bubbling over with blogposts. If you’re a high-volume blogger, you’ve found a friend in Caro!)

Stop Four: Spain

Candelia’s Blog  (If you like to answer quirky questions, like “If you were stuck on a desert with only your clothes, how would you entertain yourself?”, this is the stop for you.)

Stop Five: Canada

HankOnline (Hank–not his real name–likes acting, drumming, rock-n-roll, and spy movies. He sound like a pretty hip French Canadian to me!)

Final Stop: Scotland

Baeleigh’s Blog (Explore all of the pages she’s created…recipes, quizzes, photos, and more. Maybe she’ll inspire your own blog additions!)

Weekends were made for blogging.

With all the free time you have this weekend, check out these fun image makers. How might you use of of these tools on your blog? Show me. No, show the world!

  1. Image Generators such as
  2. Comic Generators like,  ToonDoo
  3. Photo Editors like Befunkyfd’s Flickr Tools
  4. Tag Cloud Creators such as Wordle



Our Student Blogs are Open for Visitors…Come On Over!

After giving another blogging platform a go earlier in the year, I’m back to Edublogs. I love Edublogs, and the autonomy that it provides my students delivers a learning experience unparalleled by other blogging formats. So, I’ve reunited with my one love–and set up  blogs for over 70 students  who are eager  to connect with  their peers around the globe. We just started our last quarter of the school year, but when it comes to blogging, my students are pumped up and ready for action.

I’ve asked my students to post a link to their blogs below. If you stop by for a visit, please stay long enough to visit a blog or two and leave a comment. In addition, you’ll find links to their blogs in the right sidebar. For most of my students, you’ll be the first comment they ever receive. Thanks so much for leaving a note of encouragement for any one of my amazing students.

Haiku for Poetry Month

Girl On Old Boat In Vietnam

Trey Ratcliff via Compfight

Summer beckons me

warm breezes, cold water

toes in the Atlantic sea

We wrote haiku poems in class today, and I have to share out a few from the nearly 100 that blaze a colorful patchwork of sticky notes across my bulletin board.

The swishing b-ball

The squeaking of people’s shoes

The cold, hard defense



The trees danced softly

together in the crisp breeze

laughing happily


A fish ate my shoe

then he swam off feeling blue

now I am shoeless


Skateboards, pennyboards

flip tricks and pure speed cruising

skulls and red and blue




Waves dance across the 

blue floor like ballerinas

in the Nutcracker.



Stretch into the splits

air whirling past as I turn

curtsy gracefully



Haikus are trouble

You must count on your fingers

Now my fingers hurt



The willow tree sways

with deep grace and sadness

the makes me love life.



Clouds form in odd shapes

Cats, dogs, hamsters, a bright face

What is up above?



Those furry felines

Twirling tumbling, and playing

They never stop meowing.



The crack of the bat

The smell of grass, sweat, and dirt

The cheers from the crowd.



Sand scatters the beach

Waves crash on the sandy shore

Blue water shimmers



Always Write Never Poems Inspired by Shel Silverstein

photo credit:

     It’s National Poetry Month, which means my students and I are writing poetry together in class. This past week, we wrote Never poems, inspired by Shel Silverstein’s uproarious poem of the same name. We also sketched out concrete poems.

     This coming week, I’m excited to take full advantage of a middle school poetry packet I found on and purchased on (I love this site!) I think we’ll write haiku, Diamante, and found or blackout poems this week.

     What are you doing in your classroom for National Poetry Month? If you’re willing to share your ideas, leave me a link to your website or blog! There are countless teacher resources, including a Dear Poet letter-writing campaign on  Looks like a fabulous way to engage our students. Check that out here.

     Now, it’s time to celebrate National Poetry Month with a student’s poem. Here’s Rachel’s rendition of Never.


Inspired by Shel Silverstein

By: Rachel P.

I have never escaped a prison cell

Or killed a fly with a gun

I have never thrown a hotel phone

Or reached out far and touched the sun

I have never held a three headed frog

Or worked for a captain as a cook

I have never ridden on a pig

Or cut up an award winning book

I have never held the hand of a mermaid

Or cried tears made of cherry candy

I have never sang to a monkey in a tutu

Or met a spider who says I’ll come in handy

I have never lived a real life version

of a book called Green Eggs and Ham

Or bought a plastic flower vase

filled entirely with jam

I haven’t done most of the things

that I dream to do

But maybe this year I’ll try one . . . or two

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




Welcome to the wonderful world of blogging!

Today, you’ll open your very own student blog. This is a place where your voice can be heard, your writing read, and your ideas and observations shared with the  world.

Some of you are undeniably pumped about blogging. You’ve asked me “when” ever since I mentioned we’d be blogging. Others of you probably aren’t too thrilled about any kind of writing, especially one that’s new and unfamiliar. Well, you know how I feel about the importance of fostering a growth mindset. We can’t stick with what’s comfortable and easy and expect to grow into the very best version of ourselves.

As we embark on this year-long journey, let’s celebrate the successes and overcome the pesky difficulties. I may be the teacher, but sometimes you’ll untangle the technology faster than me. I promise to deliver my very best. All I ask is that you do the same. Let’s explore and learn together.

Now, borrowing heavily from a post by Susan Lucille Davis, an Edtech blogger, here are six reasons why blogging makes us better writers, communicators, and citizens of the world.

Which one of these six reasons has you most interested in blogging and why? Leave a comment below. 🙂

1. Blogs are authentic.

With a blog, students reach real rather than pretend audiences. When someone from New Zealand or Kuwait is reading your writing, the quality of your work matters more. You’ll raise the bar for your own learning when the audience extends beyond the teacher, the classroom, and the grade.

2. Blogs allow students to give voice to their passions.

Blogs are an immensely versatile, energizing medium. In some ways, blogs are the new “show and tell,” allowing students to share their own infectious love of learning.

3. Blogs invite feedback.

As students unleash their passions, they must learn to respond to and learn from readers in the form of comments. Testing our ideas on others is an important part of our growth. Plus, feedback and connections with visitors makes students accountable for the quality of their work. Students value sincere, thoughtful responses.

4. Blogs provide opportunities for regular writing practice.

Blogs were never meant to be a one-shot deal, like an five-paragraph essay or book report.  Instead, blogs require a commitment to writing, to learning, and to growth over the long haul.

5. Blogging allows students to experiment with multiple media formats.

No other medium so seamlessly blends text, image, sound, and video to communicate a message as effectively to this wide an audience. As bloggers, students learn to consider the impact of the artfully placed photograph, video, audio insert, or infographic. Essentially, blogs allow students to learn how to write with every medium at their wriggling fingertips.

6. Blogging broadens students’ perspectives and connects them to the world.

The first dot from someone outside your home country that appears in your Clustr Map is a big moment. The world suddenly opens up to you. Next, you might find from someone halfway across the globe who’s interested in collaborating on a project or commenting on a recipe.

Blogging for a world audience shifts a writer’s perspective, builds empathy, or concern for others, and reveals new ways of seeing humanity.  

Don’t forget to leave a comment! Which of these six reasons has you most interested in blogging and why? Leave a comment below. 🙂


If You Give a Student a Writing Prompt…

If you give a student a writing prompt, she’s going to imagine herself writing a thrilling short story. When she imagines herself writing a thrilling short story, she’ll realize she needs to open a new blog post to get started. When she opens a new blog post, she’ll see a blank white page craving words. When she sees the empty  white screen, she’ll type in her writing prompt. When she types in her writing prompt, hundreds of words will rain down on her page. With every keystroke, a thunderstorm of creativity will flash across her screen. When she stops to read and admire the amazing story she’s written, she’ll decide she needs a photo to accompany  her brilliance. Once she’s added a perfect, properly credited photo to her story, she’ll consider  all the student bloggers who are staring at empty pages, unsure about what to write . When she imagines her peers in the blogosphere struggling to  conquer  writer’s block, she’ll decide she needs to end her blog post with a supremely clever writing prompt. We all know what happens if you give a student a wickedly wonderful writing prompt: He’s   sure to write a thrilling short story.

Thank you, Laura Numeroff, author of If You Give a Moose a Muffin, for providing the inspiration for my  opening paragraph.

Dear students, your  writing inspiration comes direct from Mrs. Donofrio’s Hey Kids! student bloggers.  Like us, our  Florida-based counterparts are  ticking down the days until summer break. They’ll be drafting blog posts based on your wild and wacky writing prompts–and you’ll be doing the same here today. Wherever your story goes, focus on delivering your very best descriptive writing. Allow your one-of-a-kind voice and writing style to take centerstage on your latest, greatest blog post.

Click here to view and choose one of the Hey Kids! writing prompts. Then, get busy blogging. 🙂  If you’re a teacher who’d like a copy of these prompts, please  leave me a comment with your email address.  I’m happy to share, but can’t do so through our school Google account.

Will we share these stories in class? You betcha! 

See you at The End.

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.

Student Blogging Challenge Week #8: Let’s Travel!

Let’s Travel..It’s Time to Explore the World!

Imagine you’ve just graduated from high school, and you have several months of freedom before college starts. Wanderlust, the down-in-your-bones hunger for travel, is consuming your every thought. So, you’ve decided to spend all your graduation gift money on a whirlwind trip abroad. Where will you go, who will you visit, what will you see and do during your globetrotting adventures? For this week’s challenge, take us to the places highest on your travel bucket list. Or, if travel doesn’t float your cruise ship, write a post about any country that mesmerizes you.

Better yet, follow in Namitha’s footsteps and devote an entire post to offering encouragement and hope to the earthquake survivors in Nepal. To read more about the earthquake, click here.

Please use one or more web tools you haven’t used before Glogster, Storybird, Flipbook, Bitstrips, Kizoa,, or Animoto – there are lots of tools to use  here  and the Edublogs staff  has put together a great list including how to embed the end products into your blog.

Planning your trip

  • Find out the requirements for passports, visas, or work permits for 3 countries you would like to visit.
  • Create a map showing your proposed journey. Try this mapmaker or this one.
  • What will you need to pack? Remember weight limits when flying. (Try writing using enumeration/listing text structure!)
  • How will you travel?
  • Where will you stay?
  • Create a realistic budget for a day of your journey. What will you spend money on?

On your way

  • Check out international signage for toilets etc, signs on roads – find pictures to share!
  • What will my money buy?- explore exchange rates – How much is a cup of coffee in 3 different countries?
  • Contacting Mom and Dad – know your time zones; explain how to use Skype or similar tech, or insert an international clock!
  • Flight times – using 24 hour time – how long are flights between major cities?

Visit at least one country in each continent (include Antarctica in Oceania)

  • Make a collage of where you visited. Try this collage maker, which is free and doesn’t require registration.
  • Teach us some of the language of at least three countries. For example, how would you say “How much is a cup of coffee?” in Mandarin or “Where are the toilets?” in Bengali?
  • Create a story of your journey.
  • Interview some of your employers or relatives you visit.
  • Create a playlist of 9 pieces of music or dance from your journey – not in English.

Home sweet home

  • How will you tell your friends about your journey?
  • What were the highlights and lowlights of each country?
  • Where would you visit again and why?

Add travel photos

Images make every post better. Remember only to use free photos or clipart that are licensed under creative commons. Use Compfight or Getty Images.

I can’t wait to travel to the far corners of the world with you. Let’s pack our bags and get moving!

*Here’s another student’s travel blog post to visit for inspiration!

Mrs. Rombach