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


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.


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

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



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



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

The Great Mail Race

The Great Mail Race

Hello, blog. I missed you!

Wouldn’t you know it takes snail mail to get me back to posting on my much-missed blog!

A few weeks ago, our school received two letters from middle school participants in The Great Mail Race: Fruit Cove Middle School in Florida, and Godwin Heights Middle School in Michigan. Thank you to Vivian and Arnav whose letters landed in my teacher mailbox.

What is the Great Mail Race? An engaging way to have your students write authentic friendly letters to peers around these great United States. Students choose to type or hand write a letter to a class in another state. Easy-to-follow guidelines are posted on the website, as well as lists of teachers and students who are craving mail.

In our classroom, we’ve opted for the element of surprise. Students identified the middle schools to which they’d write by searching “state name + middle school” on Google. Some wanted specific towns or cities, like “San Diego, CA middle schools” or “Salt Lake City, Utah middle schools.” Digging up middle schools was a breeze. Navigating the school websites and locating an English or Social Studies teacher to whom the student could write required slightly more investigation. Still, my awesome sixth graders figured it out and got busy writing their letters of introduction.

I’m really excited that this writing project landed in my mailbox. The students researched the schools, and went to work drafting letters that showcased our school,  our state, as well as their individual interests. Next week, we’ll print out the letters from Google Docs, tuck them in envelopes, and use our best sixth grade handwriting to pen the addresses. Then, we’ll wait (impatiently, of course) for our shipments to come in.

I’ll report back on our responses, too, when they begin trickling in.

Boy, it’s nice to be back in the blogosphere. 🙂

Mrs. Rombach



Fish in a Tree: Six Word Memoirs

Thank you, Lynda Mullaly Hunt,

for giving my sixth graders a community-building novel

with characters of the utmost character–

authentic young people with whom we’re all identifying.

photo credit: nerdybookclub

photo credit: nerdybookclub

I typically read two chapters of Fish in a Tree daily–before we have independent reading. Each day, I look out into the eyes of my students, and I see engaged learners who’ve begun to feel as though Ally, Keisha, and Albert are classmates, even friends. (Shay, for the time being, isn’t well-liked, but I have a feeling  we’ll start to understand that mean-spirited young lady soon enough.)

Today, after we wrapped up our typical two chapters, I introduced six-word memoirs as a way to give all the Fish in a Tree characters a voice–and show what we know about characterization. Students crafted their own six-word memoirs in their choice of character. Then we shared out, trying to guess which character “authored” the memoir. I’m posting some of these inventive memoirs that crystallized fictional characters in a way that made this teacher mighty proud. Any fellow FIAT devotees who happen upon our blog, we encourage you to try your hand at naming the character behind each six-word memoir. By all means, leave us a comment with your guesses.

When it comes to teaching, there isn’t impossible, only possible. Thank you to all of the gifted authors who enter our classroom and in a few hundred pages alter how we view one another and our world.

Can you guess which Fish in a Tree characters “penned” these six-word memoirs?

1. I am the queen bee, loser. – Sam

2. I am alone. You can’t help. – Michael

3. I am not who she says. – Derek

4. One day, fish will climb trees.  – Zoe

5. Mean is cruel. Add some sugar. – Mackenzie

6. Stuck in a spider’s web. Alone. – Thiviya

7. There are mean people in life. – Amanda

8. Cars and tools are my life. – Ananya

9. Ally is smart. She’s something else. – Cecilia

10. Mr. Daniels is the kindest person. – Bryan

11. I don’t know what I’m writing! – Minahil

12. Star Trek. Star Trek. Star Trek. – Sean

13. Pickle color is my new style. – Kayla

14. The world of chess is unpredictable. – Alexa

15, Stuck under a hovering black cloud. – Rylie

16. Am I doing the right thing? – Spencer

17. Everyone is equal. There’s no favorites. – Owen

18. There’s more inside her, I know. – Rachel

19. Wooden nickels. Silver dollars. Love coins. – Jordan

20. Mental capability isn’t defined by writing. – Marissa

21. Dreams are determined by your will. – Kayce

22. Old things have lots of value. – Andrew

23. Broken. Being fixed by Mr. Daniels. – Ella

24. Why do people pick out differences? – Amanda

25. You can do it. I believe. – Ashrita

Until the next chapter,

Mrs. Rombach




Spooky Creatures in the Classroom

Just when I thought it was safe to go back into the classroom, the Play-Doh monsters arrived.

On the day before Halloween, outfitted with an Amazon-delivered box of 32 plastic jars of Play-Doh, I launched a hands-on creature creation lab that kept my sixth graders busy for half the class period. First, they came forward and collected their individual 3 ounce jars, and then they got busy molding their Play-Doh creatures–all of which were based on our previous day of monster-sized brainstorming. They got 15 minutes for this artistic endeavor.

While spooky music set the scene, the kids chattered and crafted outlandish creatures–some spine-tingling monsters and others cuddly critters that you’d take home to Mom and Dad. What I loved most was watching a roomful of inspired young authors put their pencils to paper and have to be told to stop. You read that right…told to stop. Many students wrote 2-3 pages and complained loudly when I called time so we could share out our stories. Better still, many returned this week to report that they’d finished their spooky tales.

Will this creature feature become a perennial event in my classroom? You betcha. Give it a ghost of a chance in your classroom, too. You’ll be amazed at the spirited writing that results.


Character Visualization – Teachers Write! Day #4

Teachers Write!

photo of Tracey Baptiste credited to:

photo of Tracey Baptiste credited to:




The Teachers Write! challenges continue, including my own struggle to find time to write. I’m thankful for the timed element of today’s challenge. I have bathrooms to clean, so the teacher-writer in me is slightly slammed for computer time. I am committed to catching up the pack, though, so it’s now or never. Today’s guest author is Tracey Baptiste. who penned 2015’s middle grade book, The Jumbies, a spooky adventure set in the Caribbean, where Tracey grew up.

Exercise 1: Visualization

Picture your character walking through a door that is far away. All you can see is the shape of their body because there is a bright light behind them. When they step through the door, describe what they are wearing. (Write all you can in 2 mins.) As they move further into the room, describe the objects that you can see around them. (Write all you can in 2 mins.)

Slightly faded black Einstein t-shirt with fluorescent graphic of wild-haired Einstein, stonewashed, faded and a little too short blue jeans, showing wear on knees, hint of neon orange socks peek out from beneath frayed jeans bottom, grey and black Nike trainers

mahogany desk, probably purchased at a yard sale, that’s missing one copper drawer pull, Apple computer with NFL channel showing Top 100 players of 2015, dusty globe at the corner of the desk, a few books stacked beside the computer mouse, each with a torn book mark (all are partially read), swivel chair that squeaks when it turns to the right, an oriental style rug on the floor that’s fading where the sunlight streams in from the windows, a pair of Adidas black and white soccer slides askew under the desk, Starburst wrappers, two pennies and one lone Skittle on the desktop, a black and white dog nestled beneath the desk, its head resting on the back end of the soccer slide, the active chirps of birds coming in through the screens

As they stand in the middle of the room, people begin walking toward them. Describe who these people are and what their relationship is to your character. (Write all you can in 4 mins.)

Older brother, Connor, six foot four, towers over Braeden, his little brother. Obsessed with Magic the Gathering card game, regular at downtown DC hackfests, relatively quiet, but has a wicked sense of humor, adventurous. Likes to give his little brother a hard time, in a loving, big brother kind of way. Has serious asthma, which keeps him from venturing far from home. Knows Braeden idolizes him, and likes to show him off to his high school buddies now and then. Happy to share with Braeden on his terms.

Mother, Chase, blonde, book editor and athletic trainer on the side. Comes in to let Braeden know his time his up for YouTube/computer. Gives him a choice of either cleaning his room or cleaning hamster cages. Braeden ignores her until her tone of voice changes from sing-song to serious. He chooses to clean his room, since he can close the door and stretch out on his bed listening to music until Mom comes to check again.

Exercise 2: Becoming Your Character

Put yourself in your character’s shoes and answer the following interview questions as if you are them. What do you love the most? What do you hate the most? Who are you jealous of? If you could do anything right now, what would it be? What is your biggest secret?

I love football, which some might consider wierd since I don’t play the sport. Mom was terrified I’d end up with a head or neck injury like her brother and Dad so when every other guy in my class was wearing shoulder pads and helmets to crash into their scrawny neighbors, I was playing flag football (if I was lucky) or just tossing around the pigskin with my Dad or older brother. Despite the physical absence of tackle football in my life, I’m a diehard fan of the gridiron. Pittsburgh is my team; my Dad’s from Pittsburgh so the entire family claims allegiance to the black and gold. Still, I’ll admit to cheering for the Seahawks during last year’s Super Bowl. When ESPN was broadcasting the combines, my butt was parked in the corner recliner, remote control in hand–not because I had any intention of changing channels but to claim ownership of the TV. NFL draft day? I had a countdown on my iphone to remind me when to turn on the TV. Seriously, I’m obsessed. Player positions, teams, stats, I guarantee I know more than any kid in my 6th grade class. To them, though, I’m not a player so I don’t “get” the game. Ha. J.J. Watt, number one player of 2015, that defender can kill it. Marshawn Lynch is a beast. Did you know Andrew Luck congratulates every guy who tackles him? Don’t even get me started on AB, Antonio Brown, number eight on this year’s list. This Steeler is freaking amazing.

I hate all the excuses the politicians and so-called-adults make for why we can’t do something about climate change. Monster storms. Debilitating droughts. Rising sea levels. Contaminated water supply. World-wide food shortages. This is the stuff that swirls around my head when Mom sends me up to bed to get some sleep. Right. How about I get started on solving the most pressing world issue to face mankind instead? Except I’m 11–and can’t even ride a bike down to my best friend’s house because I outgrew my brother’s hand-me-down Raleigh.

Who am I jealous of? Kids who are taller and more athletic than me. I know I’m smart, and I’ve accepted I’m nerdy in a cool and approachable kind of way. However, sometimes I just want to be the best soccer player on the field instead of the one who loses sight of the ball just as my foot is about to connect with the leather. I wish my eyesight was close to 20/20 without the thick-lense glasses. At least Mom insisted I pick out a new set of frames for sixth grade. I must say, I noticed a few more girls looking my way. If I could do anything right now, I’d be standing atop Blarney Castle in Ireland, about to bend down to kiss the Blarney Stone for the second time in my life. Ireland is an adventure I’d embark on any day of the week. What’s my secret? I have an identical twin brother. Or did. He only lived a week after we wore born. I don’t tell anyone because it sounds creepy, but sometimes I feel Brent’s presence. Even though there’s no way I remember him, I get the idea he’s here with me for a reason. I’ve never told anyone–not even Mom or Dad–about how I talk to Brent. They’d probably lock me up in a mental institute.

Exercise 3: Flip the Switch

Imagine that a bad guy with an opposite-ray dropped into your book from hyperspace. The opposite-ray hits your character full in the face and now they are the complete antithesis of the person they were before. Now answer the same questions above again. What do you love the most? What do you hate the most? Who are you jealous of? If you could do anything right now, what would it be? (I don’t include the secret question because presumably will be the same.)

I am obsessed with HGTV, and have already dreamed up every detail of my designer house. I detest all this talk of climate change. It’s inconvenient, intentionally scaring the crap out of little kids like me, and I happen to believe it’s all cyclical. FOX News confirms it, and that’s good enough for me. I’m sketching rooms I want to create, not worrying about shrinking rainforests and rising sea levels. What am I jealous of? Jackson Millner’s family bank account.  They have five new cars in the driveway and their kids aren’t even of driving age yet. They jet off to a Carribean vacation one week and then announce a European tour the next. I don’t even have to look online anymore to preview the newest Jordans hitting the streets; Jackson Millner is wearing them into school the day after release. If I could do anything right now, it would be convince my mother to replace the outdated countertop in our kitchen with poured concrete or cork. It’s quite embarrassing to invite a friend over and have to excuse away our laminate. 

Exercise 4: Conversion

Take any scene from your current WIP that includes the character you’ve been working on. Strip away all of the setting information, the emotional tag lines and write it as a play with only the characters’ words and any stage directions that move your character into a spot that helps your plot to continue, such as: Moves to door. Door swings open and hits them in the face. Now see how the words your character uses without any props conveys their emotions, or DOESN’T convey their emotions.

Love the 4th exercise, but I’m plumb out of time. Those bathrooms are not cleaning themselves so it’s upstairs I go. It’s catch-up day; no additional time for editing. 🙂 Wow–what a learning experience this was. Difficult…but eye opening. 🙂 I can definitely use these ideas in my classroom. Thank you, Tracey Baptiste!