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


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! 🙂



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



Going the Extra Mile with Book Trailers


There are no traffic jams along the extra mile.

– Roger Staubach, Dallas Cowboys Hall of Fame Quarterback

You never know what extraordinary work you’re capable of until you create it. This inspiring collection of book trailers was created by Mrs. Emerick’s Making Waves sixth graders. Mrs. Emerick visited our class blog and left a delightful end to my story. I decided to peek inside of her classroom, too, to see what her sixth graders are busy producing. I found a batch of creatively designed book trailers (produced on Animoto).

Could this be a resource you’ll tap into for your Persuasive Writing project? Do you see yourself creating a book trailer like one of these? Wait until you see the complete menu of persuasive possibilities!  No matter what format your Persuasive Writing project takes, I’ll be looking for each of you to go the extra mile.

Reach beyond what you should do. Instead, imagine what you could do. Then, identify a way to do it–brilliantly, imaginatively, and passionately. To borrow a line from Kid President, you’ve been pep talked! Now, take a walk through a gallery of kid-produced book trailers. Is there a book you’d like to read? If so, leave a comment saying so. 🙂