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Monday, December 21, 2009

Who should be the Time for Kids Person of the Year?


This is who Time Magazine chose, do you agree or disagree?

Monday, December 14, 2009

Dōmo arigatō, Mr. Roboto

We recently studied advances in humanoid robotics. Student designed robots that would make everyday tasks easier. Some students even went above and beyond and made robot models!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Does Age Bring Wisdom?

We are starting a unit on Generations and are focusing on the question, "Does Age Bring Wisdom?"
After viewing this photo essay,,29307,1848104,00.html
Fill in a
"Lesson Learned" sheet.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Japanese Internment

Last week we studied and debated Japanese Internment Camps after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. The students pretended to be camp internees and wrote letters about their experiences:

Friday, October 30, 2009

Asian American Dream- Escape from Vietnam

This week in Connections we have been focusing on the Asian American Dream. We have had 2 guest speakers. Mr. Zeng, our Chinese teacher, talked to the students about his America Dream and his journey from China to America. It truly was an inspirational story. A summary of his dream and a slide show will be posted soon.

Mrs. Tran, Christine's mom, came in today to tell her story. She escaped with her family from communist Vietnam in 1979 with her family at the age of 13. She told us about her life in the Phillippines and Jersey City. She also talked to us about the importance of education and how we as Americans take our freedoms for granted. To listen to her story, press play above.
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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Fun Theory

Can you think of a way to apply the Fun Theory to something in your life?

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Friday, October 9, 2009

You,Whovever You Are

Click here for a background about immigrants from all different countries.

Read the poem; next click on the small photos on the left hand side of the screen and read some of the different immigration stories.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Glogging our American Dreams

This week we are starting our American Dreams Unit and we are also learning to glog!

Here are some helpful links that you will need this week:


Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Guest Blogger: Sammie

Recently in Connections…

We have been busy in Connections. We just completed a “Quote Analysis.” We had to find a special quote that meant something to you or had inspired you in someway. The quote I choose was "Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you'll land among the stars!" It was really fun to have to write down what just maybe a sentence could mean to you!

One of my favorite things we did in class was the “Top Ten List.” I believe the idea was from The David Letterman Show! We had to make up a list about 10 things we love, do, or know the most. Like for example, my top ten best memories, or my top ten favorite things are. It was really fun! Some examples will be posted on this blog soon.

We have been learning about technology can make life easier, but it also opens up doors to other problems, such as internet addiction. We have been reading about internet addiction and how parents. students, and teachers can work together to help prevent it.

We have been fired up debating about one HOT topic: Obama's plan to add minutes and/or days to the school year. Students in Connections have alot to say about this topic.

Finally, this will be the most fun of all!!! On October 1, 09 the whole Topaz team is going to Stokes! We have to be at The Sparta Middle School at 7:30am Thursday! We arrive back at the middle school on October 2 at about 1:30! This trip is going to be awesome! I can’t wait!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Guest Blogger: Bridget

Hey everyone! This is Bridget from Mrs. Hartman’s section 5 class. Another summer has come and gone, but Mrs. Hartman has us doing some pretty cool stuff so far in Connections! Did you watch the “Did You Know” videos posted on this page? I can’t believe all the technologies we have today! We have also made our own cartoons. Our theme had to be about school, so some of the topics might have been: the lunch line, lockers, teachers and classes. Another project we worked on in class were letters to Mrs. Hartman. Not just any letters though, we had to pretend we were one of our 5th grade teachers from last year writing to her. These letters explained who we are as students, such as our strengths and weaknesses, and our personalities. Did you know that September 17th is Constitution Day? Well, I certainly didn’t know! I knew about the Constitution of course, because it’s a huge part in American history. In class we started writing our own amendments, to add to the existing list of 27. We also took part of the test that people have to take in order to become an American Citizen. Guess what? It’s also in English! Imagine if you couldn’t speak our language and wanted to pass! We are writing our own amendments to the Constitution. Our most recent task was to bring in a quote that is either inspiring to us or something that we try to live our life by every day. With that quote we are currently writing an essay explaining why we chose it.
All of this in 3 weeks! I L♥ve Connections!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Write on my Wall

Students, please click HERE to write on the wall. This wall will be shown to your parents at Back to School Night next week.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Celebrating Constitution Day

We are celebrating Constitution Day by studying the amendments and writing our own NEW Amendments.

Would YOU be able to pass this test?

Photo Credit:

Did You Know Update

Friday, September 11, 2009

Comic Relief

This week students wrote comics with a "Back to School" theme:
Check out this one by RS:

xxxb3cc4when this boy's locker doesn't open, he resorts to some pretty crazy stuff...

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Topaz Team Travels

Topaz Team Travels
Check out all the places our students have visited this summer!

View Topaz Team Summer Vacation in a larger map

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Did You Know?

+SO What does it all mean?

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Welcome to 6th Grade Connections!

Welcome to 6th Grade Connections! My name is Erica Hartman and I will be your teacher this year. Check out this blog to see just a LITTLE of what we did last year. I look forward to meeting each and everyone of you. I also look forward to your help- on writing this blog! Fasten your seat belts-6th grade is going to be a WILD ride!

Parents- Please read our blog frequently to see what we are up up to! We welcome your comments and participation:)

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Thursday, June 4, 2009

2 Cool Google Tools

Check out Google Squared and Google Similar Images- it may be a bit late to use them for this year's projects, but they are definitely great for next year!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Should there be summer homework?

We recently held a heated Socratic Seminar on whether or not summer homework should be assigned. We researched and read articles written by homework critics, Nancy Kalish and Alfie Kohn, as well as editorials written by parents, students,and teachers. Students assumed roles as parents, teachers, authors, principals, and children and debated the topic. End result- most students agreed that summer reading should be optional because we read everyday (texts, cereal boxes, signs, etc.), BUT math homework (just a little bit!!!!!) over the summer should be mandatory! Interesting outcome!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Thursday, April 30, 2009

We Caught an EGG!

A couple of weeks ago, we were contacted to "catch an egg" by a group of third graders from Saltsburg, PA. It was a cross country egg toss and the objective was:
"To design and construct a protective structure within a cardboard box that will prevent damage to an egg or eggs which will be mailed to another classroom. An egg without any visible cracks or damage is scored as a success."
Each group had to construct a case for an egg and mail it. Then my students had to open the package, LIVE on Skype. Click here for the rules. We received the package at 1:19pm today and Skyped at 2 pm. The box was very carefully wrapped with warnings on it such as "FRAGILE" and "OPEN WITH CARE." The 3rd graders stuffed the box with broken popsicle sticks, cut up straws, and twine. They also created a paper box inside, placed it in a ziploc bag, and secured it with rubber bands. We couldn't wait to open it! Sadly, the egg was cracked, but it was a good try Saltsburg Elementary!

We blame it on the postman! Better luck next time. My students were very empathetic and we were all genuinely upset! However, we are starting to write children's books and now we found a class to send them to for review. It's all about CONNECTIONS.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Counting Down

In our Environmental Law project we were looking for graohs and we came across chartle today and decided to test it out. Our favorite so far is the "Googlemeter"

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Make Earth Day Everyday

This is our team mural; we created it in Science class.
Check out this link to great Earth Day Pictures by the Boston Globe

Our classes used to create a wall of usable tips for "going green."

We are also completing a group project using Google Presentations. Each group is researching one environmental act or amendment and will present their findings at the end of the week.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

New Drawing Tools in Google Docs

Google Docs released new drawing tools and my students were quick to incorporate them into their writing. We recently went on an overnight class trip to the School of Conservation @ Stokes State Forest. When we came back the students wrote stories about their trip from the point of view of an object (living or dead) from Stokes.
Here is a link to one student example: Rainbow Bridge by Michelle K.
Here is a second example by Madeline A. from the point of view of a deer.

FUN = New Math + Connections

We needed a break from our current unit, "Forbidden Foods" so when I came across Craig Damrauer's site, New Math, I thought what better way for a language arts teacher to incorporate math and equations in the classroom? Before we even looked at the site, we reviewed the components of equations and I asked the students for some examples of equations. I got everything from:
1+1=2, butter+fly = butterfly, and 2x=18. Then I told the students we were going to do some "New Math" and they groaned. At first they didn't get Mr. Damrauer's newest equation- "March+Optimism=April." However, after discussing what optimism means and how horrible the weather was here in Sparta in March, they GOT it and begged for more. Some they were able to get right away, others they really needed to analyze. Check out Mr. Damraurer's other equations to see for yourself. Next, my 6th graders wrote their own and put them up on the Smartboard. Here are some of our best equations:
time*love = relationship
evil + annoying = little brother
school = learning-fun
hotwheels^5 = race car
black eye = fist + face
log cabin = lincoln logs^5
fish tank^2 = aquarium
dog = human-opinions
school=jail-life sentence
sarcasm= saying it-not meaning it
words + thoughts + memories = lyrics
|+|+|+|= square
cupcake-frosting= muffin
15 minutes + lizard = Geico
me + you = never
nerves+urge= game time
disaster = money/economy
After class, I decided to email Mr. Damrauer the equations and guess what? He loved them and wants more.
I only did this with 2 classes, can't wait to see what my other 3 classes do. Will post more equations tomorrow, but I have to admit my favorite one by Mike V. in Section 2 was "Connections = Mrs. Hartman+Fun"

Thursday, April 2, 2009

History's Unsolved Mysteries

Big Foot, NJ Devil, Mothman, Vampires OH MY! We recently finished our research unit on History's Unsolved Mysteries. Each student created a Google Site on their topic and embedded their research paper using Google Docs. Some students even went crazy and embedded surevys and presentations about their topics using Google Forms and Presentation. We also found some very interesting Gadgets to add to our sites such as creepy crawly spiders and maps.
Here are some example sites:

Robert the Haunted Doll

Have fun exploring!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Letters to Baghdad

A little before Christmas,I received an email from a Sparta mother whose son was stationed in Baghdad over the holidays. The Amber team students jumped at the idea of sending him cards and they especially wanted to let him know who won the election, what football teams were winning and how the economic crisis was effecting the world.
Last week, Lt. Robert Forrester emailed me thanking the students for the letters, but even better, he wanted to come in and talk to them about his experiences in Iraq.
Here is the slide show Lt. Forrester made and some pictures from today's event.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Military Madness

Let me start out by saying that my post today surprisingly, is not about technology. Its about the good ol'fashioned skills of letter writing and sewing!
The theme of this month has been "military madness." At the end of January I found out a Leslie A. earned first place in a holiday card contest for Veteran Hospitals sponsored by the NJ Elks called the "Kids Care Holiday Cards." Leslie A. embroidered felt and turned it into a holiday card using cardboard backing. It was the most beautiful holiday card I had ever seen. The message on the inside was even more beautiful than the outside if that is possible. The pictures I have here don't do it any justice. When we submitted it in November, I kept hoping to hear from the Elks, but surprisingly they didn't notify winners until after the holidays. We had forgotten all about it.
Winning this contest was a great honor for Leslie. Sometimes as teachers we get so wrapped up in grades and homework and progress was nice to recognize Leslie for the great talent she possesses.

Another surprise was an email I received from Mr. Forrester. Before Christmas we adopted him as our soldier overseas and wrote holiday wishes to him. We could only hope that he received our letters before Christmas. We never expected to hear back from him. Then I received an email from him this week:

Classification: UNCLASSIFIED

Caveats: NONE

Mrs. Hartman,

While I was over in Baghdad over the holidays, I received a HUGE bunch of letters from your students! Well, I made it back a few weeks ago, and wanted to see if maybe I’d be able to stop by personally to thank the class for the great gift! I actually took them around and showed a lot of people, and it made them all smile. I even have a slide show I put together for a Boy Scout troop I talked to with some pictures and stories and whatnot that I’d be more than happy to share with your class and/or anyone you would care to invite. Anyway, just an option, but I’d definitely like to stop in some day to say “thanks!” if possible!

Please let me know!"

Our soldier is coming in next Wednesday and the students can't be more excited. They have touched the lives of other people and made connections to people they would never have met. Our theme this marking period is "Be the Change" and my students have definitely achieved the objectives.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Socratic Seminar

In Room 171, we take our Socratic Seminars very seriously.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Happy New Year

We are excited to be back at school and working on our Be the Change Unit. We are thinking of small ways to change the world in as little as 5 minutes a day just like this school in Australia:

Currently, we are working on several projects such as designing a 21st century "green" classroom, raising money for solar cookers for refugees in Africa, creating a marketing plan for our eco-friendly bracelets, and studying inaugurations over the past 100 years.