Meet My Bloggers

Cross platform applicationsCreative Commons License Tsahi Levent-Levi via Compfight

This is my second year sponsoring a blog club here at Eagle Ridge, but our numbers are dwindling weekly. I need to figure out a way to make blogging more exciting–maybe I should give away five dollar bills. Candy and Top 40 tunes alone aren’t cutting it. Ideas, bloggers of the world?

Right now, we’re participating in Edublogs’ Student Blogging Challenge…six successive weeks of challenges that educate and inspire us to be responsible, inventive bloggers.

What our club is missing in quantity is certainly made up for by the quality of the students with whom I’m lucky enough to share my Wednesdays.

Meet Tiki.

One of my talented seventh-grade bloggers, Tiki loves hibachi food and sleep. Connect with her at talkingwithtikitorch.edublogs.org

 

Meet Sid.

Once you’ve stopped by Talking with Tiki Torch, drop in and visit Sid at Sid’s Database. Sid is currently creating an interactive personality quiz so watch for that on his blog shortly. You don’t want to miss out on Sid’s blogging excellence.

Sid

I’ll share more Eagle Ridge bloggers next time! Until then, believe anything is possible when you believe in yourself.

Eat candy and enjoy life,

Mrs. Rombach

Thirteen Things You Probably Wouldn’t Know About Mrs. Rombach–Unless You Hired a Private Detective!

Create your own avatar at mybluerobot.com.

ThIrtEen: When my entire family traveled to Ireland and, one by one, took their lives into their hands to buss the Blarney Stone, I refused to risk life and limb to kiss a gray stone swimming with germs. I regret that decision now, but, at the time, my all-consuming fear of heights ripped all remnants of courage from my shaky limbs.

TwELvE: Brilliantly, I broke my arm running down a rain-soaked slide at Newport News park. My younger brother laughed hysterically as I pushed myself up, screaming wildly as my S-shaped right arm hung limply at my side. I have held that against him for a lifetime. He owes me pounds of Twizzlers as repayment–and I haven’t even gotten one red rope.

eLEveN: When I was twelve, my Mom let me paint and wallpaper my own room. I was orange crazy at the time, so my curtains were orange, I had giant orange poppies wallpaper on one wall, and three of my four walls were, you guessed it, orange.

tEn: I might have been a certified tadpole farmer, had there been such a profession when I was a preteen. Where I grew up, ditches lined every neighborhood road. During springtime, I was harvesting tadpoles from the swollen ditches, and transferring them to a litter box turned tadpole resort. There’s nothing quite like watching legs sprout from a black dot. The magical transformation transfixed me–as I witnessed hundreds of tadpoles jump out into the world as teeny frogs.

NiNe: Before there was Katniss, there was Mrs. Rombach, a 12-year-old national archery champion. If I can find the newspaper article, I’ll post it to prove my prowess with a bow and arrow (The aforementioned arm break, by the way, occurred after a weekend practice and officially ended my archery career.).

EiGHt: One Halloween–I don’t remember which year–there was a pumpkin shortage, and our family waited a few days too late to purchase our orange porch sitter. Instead, my older brother, Tom, designed an uber cool pulley system that dropped a white-sheet ghost on the unknowing victims who dared to climb our front porch steps. The ghost was out of commission early in its haunting career–a jammed pulley, if I recall correctly–but the memory sticks with me. My older brother, who would rather have been making mischief with his teenage posse, saved the day–or at least our Halloween night.

SeVEn: At sixteen, I served as a friendly, front-end cashier at Squire’s Galley restaurant in the England section of Busch Gardens-Williamsburg. Yes, I smelled like hamburgers and french fries all day–and all summer long.

SIx: For possibly eight consecutive Halloweens, my witchy green face, smeared with Dad’s thick, hunting camouflage paint, cackled across the neighborhood. From my wickedly black hat to my flowing, Mom-crafted robe, I was 100% Dorothy’s nemesis. Each night, after collecting our Halloween loot, my brother and I dumped our bounty on the living room floor and spent an hour trading candies. I loved bartering for Baby Ruths and Butterfingers, my chocolate dream team.

fIVe: I am the proud, adoring mom to five fabulous kids (Don’t I sound like a mom?) who are now ages 14, 17, 19, 21, and 23. They make my life complete.

FOuR: Minions make me HAPPY. They’re all over my classroom. Last Christmas, I tried (unsuccessfully) to convince my husband to order me a full-size minion costume–the kind a college mascot would wear. My children joined forces with my hubby to boycott the purchase–at least for this year. Muhaha!

tHReE: Before my career in the publishing industry, I dreamed of dancing on Broadway. I never took one dance lesson, so this dream was never a possibility. That said, I definitely believed in the impossible when I danced in front of a full-length mirror at home, breaking into some Tony award-winning moves while the BeeGees blasted from my record player. Did I mention I can’t sing either? It’s important to have dreams–even if they stay only dreams.

twO: My favorite number is two. I’m not sure why and when I picked the number two, but I’m a Libra. Maybe it’s because I like balance.

ONe: I’ve dated–or been married to–my number one husband, Mike, for a total of three decades. I’ve spent more time with him than without him–and for that, I consider myself extraordinarily lucky. He’s a cool guy to hike with, sip coffee with, or to ramble down some unfamiliar road with in a top-down, Minion yellow Jeep!

As the sponsor of the Eagle Ridge Blog Club, I’m happy to post this year’s All About Me. What’s one thing I should know about you?

Mrs. Rombach http://mrsrombachreads.edublogs.org

Rule Number One: Read The Rule of Three!

photo credit: Amazon.com

photo credit: Amazon.com

four-stars_0Before reading The Rule of Three, I didn’t have one Eric Walters YA novel on my sixth grade bookshelf. Shame on me! After gulping down the 405 pages of this high velocity book, I’m ready for a refill. Here’s why: Eric Walters knows his audience well. He understands the challenges we middle and high school teachers sometimes have convincing a student to read, much less finding a book that will hold a young man’s attention past the first three chapters. Rest assured, dear teachers, there will be no abandoning The Rule of Three.

Sixteen-year-old Adam Daley is going about a typical high school day–eyeing a pretty girl, ribbing his best friend Todd, and trying to get a little classwork done. Without warning, a catastrophic power outage turns their world dark. Not only is electricity lost, but everything from cell phones to modern-day cars are rendered useless. Everything comes to a standstill in Adam’s hometown, and–as they eventually discover–across the globe.

Humans can survive three minutes without air, three days without water, and three weeks without food. Author Walters nimbly goes to work decimating creature comforts. Within hours, looting begins. Within days, widespread panic consumes the region. Riots over food and water erupt. Chaos ensues, but Adam, his police chief Mom, and former CIA agent neighbor design a radical plan to protect the people within their hastily constructed barriers.

What if today, in your neck of the world, the electrical grid went dark, computers died, and communication satellites shut down? What if the only operable vehicles were antique automobiles, gas-powered go-carts, and the occasional private airplane? Eric Walters plants the terrifying seed of possibility in the minds of all his young (and not-so-young) readers. How would we as a nation react? Probably not unlike the citizens of Walters’ fictional world.

I highly recommend The Rule of Three for both middle and high school audiences–particularly young males searching for a high-octane adventure in paperback. The book reads like a video game. Yes, there is violence and death, as to be expected when fighting for survival, but its content is not overly graphic or disturbing. I would say other dystopian novels dip a little deeper into the violence well. As of January 2016, Walters delivered a second and third book in this series. Go get ’em: Rule of Three: Fight for Power and Rule of Three: Will to Survive.

 

 

Six Word Memoirs – A New Year with Eighth Graders

Blossom outside of your comfort zone.

We’ve shared a mere week together, and yet I couldn’t be more thrilled to spend the next 175 school days with these extraordinary young people…fresh-from-summer eighth graders who  unanimously–and vocally–lamented their return to school.  School is boring, they jeered. Mmmm.  It’s all about perspective, isn’t it?

When we’re going to school, neck deep in as many social crises as homework assignments, we think school stinks.  That changes, of course, when we reach the end of our academic pursuits. Then, it’s work day in and day out. Summer breaks become extinct as T-Rexes. Snow days are a frosty memory.  And BFFs…they scatter across the continent like dandelion seeds lost in the wind. That’s when we realize how school was not only pretty great, but it shaped our future selves.

Right now, as we sail into another jam-packed year, I’ll keep the crystal ball tucked away in my teacher wardrobe. Instead, I’ll focus on treasuring these first few relationship-building weeks.  I hope my students see how much they matter to me–and to one another. I hope we’ll find this classroom a place to let go of fears and courageously step beyond what is comfortable and known. I hope we’ll grow into a thriving community of learners who have each other’s backs, who listen with both ears and hearts, and who choose to notice the goodness, no, the greatness, in every classmate. School is life..and I sure as heck don’t want to ever say I lived–or taught–a boring life.

six word memoirs image

So, let the sharing begin today with six-word memoirs/teen...six carefully chosen words that tell a personal story. Here is a sampling of the wisdom, humor, and ingenuity that’s currently taking up residence in room A6.  Nothing boring about these young writers!

Can we just use more words? – Jack

Live your life. No one else’s. – Tyler

I write to escape my reality. – Prenya

The stars will be my guide. – Kaitlyn

Don’t be ordinary. Be extraordinary. – Ann Marie

Always believe in what you do. – Matt

One deed will take you far. – Jacob

Open the doors to your life. – Naeem

My dog is smarter than me. – Michaela

Dancing makes me feel more alive – Kylie

Better looking version of my brother. – Makai

If I’m weird, you’re too normal – Ashley

You will remember me working hard. – Sean

Life isn’t fair, but it’s okay. – Destiny

I’m Gucci down to my socks. – Nick

Don’t be a pretzel. It’s twisted. – Lauren

Hiding behind a book, just watching. – Maddie

Tennis and robotics are my life. – Siddhant

Take it slow; don’t grow up. – Aidan

I dance to tell my story. – Daniella

Our world is changing. What’s next? – Pranav

I am not a morning person. – Malak

Watch me. I make mistakes too. – Kasie

 

 

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.

www.photosforclass.com

www.photosforclass.com

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.

www.photosforclass.com

www.photosforclass.com

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

www.photosforclass.com

www.photosforclass.com

 

Virginia Born and Bred

     While I haven’t lived in Virginia all of my life, the Old Dominion is where I’ve spent most of my life. Raised in Yorktown, Virginia, where the Revolutionary War was won, I’ve traveled all over this great state, but still have more to explore: waterfalls to stand in awe of, mountainous overlooks to hike, winding country roads to traverse, lazy rivers to float, local eateries to share a meal, and friendly folks to meet all along the way.

     Our state tourism board has it right: Virginia is for lovers…of the outdoors, history, adventure, sports, music and craft festivals, pastoral rural landscapes and bustling city centers. Plus, we enjoy the beauty of all four seasons!

     Earlier today, my husband asked me where I see myself in 10 or 15 years. Only one place…Virginia!  I love teaching middle school students on the weekdays and taking my Jeep out for a spontaneous “just because” backroads tour on weekends. Today, I’m sharing an Animoto video I created with a few Virginia highlights. Okay, my favorite sixth graders, I challenge you to add an Animoto video to YOUR blog! 🙂

 

 

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

-Marty

 

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

-Sydney

 

 

Waves dance across the 

blue floor like ballerinas

in the Nutcracker.

-Bhavya

 

Stretch into the splits

air whirling past as I turn

curtsy gracefully

-Cecilia

 

Haikus are trouble

You must count on your fingers

Now my fingers hurt

-Rohit

 

The willow tree sways

with deep grace and sadness

the makes me love life.

-Nia

 

Clouds form in odd shapes

Cats, dogs, hamsters, a bright face

What is up above?

-Marissa

 

Those furry felines

Twirling tumbling, and playing

They never stop meowing.

-Sean

 

The crack of the bat

The smell of grass, sweat, and dirt

The cheers from the crowd.

-Tyler

 

Sand scatters the beach

Waves crash on the sandy shore

Blue water shimmers

-Jack

 

Always Write Never Poems Inspired by Shel Silverstein

photo credit: mysapl.org

     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 www.oneteachersadventures.blogspot.ca and purchased on www.teacherspayteachers.com (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 www.poets.org.  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.

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

Advantage Alexander: Kwame Scores Another Power Shot with BOOKED

photo credit: boswellbooks.com

photo credit: boswellbooks.com

 

     Through his two best-selling verse novels, The Crossover and Booked, author Kwame Alexander is telling us something very important: Kids connect with poetry.

     As a teacher, I find that my students, with round-the-clock schedules rivaling our President’s and hypnotizing little black hole screens, aren’t reading much outside of the classroom. I’m working overtime to change that, but it all boils down to the book. Does it hook my student? Is it “cantputdownable”? Could it potentially cause Mom or Dad to holler about reading past your bedtime? Will my student open the book to sneak a few sentences when there’s think time in the classroom? For The Crossover and Booked, the answers will always be “yes”.

     Over the past two years, I’ve found myself recommending verse novels to all my students–regardless of their reading ability. From kids who just can’t seem to finish a straight-up prose novel to those reading a book a day, verse novels deliver universal appeal. Kwame Alexander gets it. My middle grade students crave the heavier subject matter. Even in sixth grade, they’re already deep thinkers. They just don’t want to start a book that’ll take them 2-3 weeks to finish. In come verse novels, the year-round champions of my classroom bookshelf. The topics are thought-provokingly real. The characters are multi-racial, multi-dimensional kids dealing with the same junk that’s cluttering up the mind of any 12-year-old: fitting in and standing out, school struggles and successes, romance, self esteem, bullying, friendships, and tough family issues like chronic illnesses or divorce. Despite weighty topics, the pages of a verse novel b  r  e  a  t  h  e  with white space. In Alexander’s case, the black words artfully placed on the vanilla page pulse with the rhythm of humanity.  The laughter and tears his stories generate are 100% authentic. Did I fall in love with Booked? Definitely–just like The Crossover!  Yes, I have a book crush on literary fraternal twins. 🙂

     What’s all the fuss about Booked? Nick, a middle school, travel team soccer standout, has a linguistic anthropologist for a father. Big plays are Nick’s forte, but his professorial pop is obsessed with big words. In fact, he insists that Nick read a dictionary (his Dad’s) every day before he does anything else. That anything else includes soccer or hanging out with his best mate and fellow soccer phenom, Colby. Nick’s daydreaming about the girl of his dreams and an invitation-only soccer tourney in Dallas, but trouble is brewing in paradise. Bullies are on his back, and Mom and Dad’s perfect marriage isn’t storybook after all. Life is messy, and Nick’s is no exception. What is exceptional about this verse novel is that Alexander’s meticulously crafted words magnetize us. I was hooked on Booked from page one. Twenty-four hours later, I ordered another copy for my classroom bookshelf. I know exactly which book I’ll be promoting on Book Talk Tuesday. I plan to have a drawing to see which two lucky students will be the first to read Booked!

photo credit: kwamealexander.com

                       I found an NPR interview with Kwame Alexander that I have to share. “How to Get Kids Hooked on Books? Use Poetry!” Check out the transcript by clicking here. Or, simply listen to the audio here!