6 Tips from a 6th Grade Teacher – Mrs. Rodemeyer

Name: Carole Jean Rodemeyer
School: Lincoln Alternative School
Grade: 6th
How many years teaching: 20

What’s your favorite subject to teach?
If I could only pick one, it would be Language Arts, because you can go anywhere (real or imaginary) in books, and you can learn all the other subjects along the way.

What are 3 great books for 6th graders?
Giver, by Lois Lowry. It makes the kids imagine a totally different way of life while seeing that kids everywhere face issues of growing up and becoming independent and accepting the consequences of their choices.

Charlotte Doyle. This is another “growing up” story set is a time and location that the kids will never experience, so they can safely try out possible solutions to the problems without actually having to live with the consequences of those decisions. It is also good because it has a girl hero in a traditionally male environment.

Egypt Game. This book encourages the use of imagination, improvising, and changing an environment to suit your own needs. It explores different kinds of family relationships, which can be an issue for some students. It also provides a safe discussion forum for students to express many different feelings.

What the 5 things every teacher should own?
A full coffee thermos, Wireless Eggspert for classroom games, Grading chart, Sense of humor, Extensive classroom book/music library.

What’s your teaching motto?
Kids are people too! You need to listen to them and respect them, and they will usually reciprocate. Also, improvise.

If you could give a new teacher any advice – what would it be?
Acknowledge “good” mistakes – yours and theirs. Show the students how everybody can learn from the mistakes of one person. Allow the students to learn their way. They are going to learn somethings despite you, so lead them in the direction you want them to go while letting them think it was their idea. Let the kids get frustrated, and allow them time to solve problems on their own, or in small groups. Have them explain their thinking, and acknowledge their individual critical thinking skills.

What is special about the 6th grade?
The kids are changing from children to adolescents. They need both nurturing and independence. (They don’t know what they need, it’s up to the teacher to figure that out from minute to minute!) It is a time for the kids to try out new personas, to see who they want to be. If you really listen to them, they can be very open and honest with you. It’s a privilege to earn their trust, and have them share themselves with you.

What have YOU learned from your 6th grade students?
I’ve learned that each child knows what works best when they want to learn something new, and they can tell you if you have enough sense to ask! They have taught me the usefulness of electronic devices, even though I am not always comfortable using them myself. Most important, I’ve learned that kids need to act like kids, at least some of the time! (It helps if the teacher does, too!)

Spring Into Summer: 3-Step Terrarium in a Jar


The perfect combination of craft project and botanical fun, terrariums are not only easy to make, but also easy to keep alive! With a few supplies, you and your kids can put together a lovely terrarium, perfect for displaying in a sunny window or giving to a grandparent or teacher as a gift. Follow the simple steps below to make your own today!



  • A glass jar, vase, or container with a wide opening
  • Succulent soil
  • Pea gravel
  • A spoon or small shovel
  • Small succulents with exposed roots

Creating Your Terrarium:


Pour the pea gravel into your container until it covers the bottom 2 inches.


Layer your succulent soil on top of the gravel, covering the next several inches of your container.


Determine where you’d like to put each of your succulents, then dig a small hole in the dirt with your spoon and place the first succulent’s roots in the hole. Repeat until all of your succulents are in place, patting the dirt down firmly around each plant.


Now for the fun part! Customize your terrarium with rocks, crystals, hand-made signs, small animal figurines, or other decorations. Be sure to place your terrarium in a sunny spot, where it will receive at least 5 hours of direct sunlight every day. Water your terrarium ever two weeks and be sure to pour slowly! The gravel provides good drainage, but no more than an inch of water should accumulate at the bottom of your container.

Do your kids love digging in the dirt? Have you tried a terrarium or are there other gardening projects you’d recommend to your fellow parents? Let us know in the comments below and be sure to tag any photos of your family terrarium with #GoGROW

It Runs in the Family: 5 Set of Successful Siblings!

It’s National Siblings Day! We thought it would be fun to learn more about some of our favorite sibling duos who have achieved greatness together, separately, and sometimes even in competition with each other!


Venus Williams and Serena Williams

Professional tennis players Venus and Serena Williams have competed around the world, winning the most gold medals in Olympic tennis history. The William sisters are famous for playing doubles tennis, where they work together, as well as singles tennis, where they often play against each other. Since 1998, Venus and Serena have competed against each other in 27 professional matches. Now that’s what we call sibling rivalry!

Fun Fact: Serena Williams has lost 9 matches in her 15 U.S. Open appearances. The only person to beat her twice is her sister, Venus (2001 and 2005).


Mark Kelly and Scott Kelly

Identical twins are already pretty incredible; but Mark and Scott Kelly have proven that the sky’s the limit! These smart siblings, known for their amazing achievements in science and space exploration, have both traveled into space as NASA Astronauts. Most recently, Mark and Scott have been the subjects of a very important research study that will give the scientists at NASA a better idea of how long-term space travel affects the human body. Mark, who recently returned from a 340-day mission, actually grew 1.5 inches while in space, but has since returned to his pre-mission height.

Fun Fact: Mark and Scott’s parents, Richard and Patricia Kelly, are both retired police officers.


Ann Landers & Dear Abby

Born on July 4th in 1918, Pauline Ester Phillips and her twin sister Ester “Eppie” Pauline Phillips were American advice columnists and writers, who did just about everything together, including getting married in a double wedding ceremony when they were 21 years old. In 1955, Eppie began writing a popular newspaper column called “Ask Ann Landers”, where she gave advice to readers of the Chicago Sun-Times. Just a year later, to Eppie’s dismay, her twin sister Pauline started her own advice column under the name Abigail Van Buren and quickly became a newspaper celebrity . Her column, “Dear Abby”, made a lasting impact on the publishing world.

Fun Fact: Both Pauline and Eppie had daughters who followed their footsteps and have their own advice columns.


Orville and Wilbur Wright

The Wright brothers’ passion for airplanes was launched with the gift of a model helicopter toy from their father in 1878. Orville and Wilbur later opened a bicycle shop, the Wright Cycle Company, which made them plenty of money to fund their early aeronautical experiments. The fearless duo tested and perfected their glider designs for several years. After several failed attempts, the Wright brothers soared to success, working together to design, build, and fly the first fully practical airplane in 1903. Neither Wilbur nor Orville took individual credit for their innovations, choosing instead to share all of the awards and accolades they received.

Fun Fact: Orville and Wilbur had promised their father, who feared losing both sons in an airplane accident that they would never fly together. The father made a single exception, however, on May 25, 1910, and allowed the brothers to share a six-minute flight near Dayton with Orville piloting and Wilbur the passenger. After landing, Orville took his 82-year-old father on his first and only flight. As Orville gained elevation, his excited father cried out, “Higher, Orville, higher!”


Malia and Sasha Obama

This set of spunky sisters is probably a lot like your own children… except that these teens have lived in the White House since 2009! Their father, President Barack Obama, has served as President of the United States for the majority of 17-year-old Malia’s and 14-year-old Sasha’s (born Natasha) lives. But, when the girls are not traveling to Europe, Africa, and Asia and meeting the likes of the Pope and Queen Elizabeth, they’re doing everyday teenager things. Sasha is super-sporty and loves soccer, basketball, gymnastics, and dance. Malia is in the process of choosing a college and has spent time interning on the set of television shows and volunteering with the Smithsonian’s National Zoo.

Fun Fact: First Daughter Malia is a true patriot. She was even born on the 4th of July!

A Day in the Life… with Elementary School Librarian Mrs. Rose!

Your name: Mishell Rose
School name: Bonsall West Elementary School
Number of years working as a librarian: 10 years + multiple years of volunteering at local public libraries.

1) What is the typical day in the life of an Elementary School Librarian?
Each day I host about 6 different classes and read stories based on the grade or events happening at school. When I’m not with reading with students, I’m helping students check in and check out books and catalog (create a computer record) and prepare (book jackets, labels, call numbers, date due slip) new books; repair or discard damaged books. On average, I interact with up to 400 books every day!

2) In your experience, what is the best way to encourage reading with kids who aren’t typically excited about books?
I work hard to get to know my students so that I can recommend books that tie in to their interests. I once asked a shy student in a rabbit skin hat whether he liked the outdoors. He did, so I suggested Hatchet by Gary Paulsen, Hoot by Carl Hiassen, and a biography of Daniel Boone. All three books were a hit!

3) How do you see the Library at your school make a difference in the life of your students?
The ability to choose their OWN books enables kids to decide what they want to learn about and exposes them to new ideas, ways of life, and cultures, with no pressure or grades associated with their choices.

4) What are your favorite books for 1st graders?
Chester by Melanie Watt, Elephant & Pig (series) by Mo Willems

5) What are you favorite books for 3rd graders?
My Weird School (series) by Dan Gutman
I Survived (series) by Lauren Tarshis

6) What can parents do to support their local school Libraries and Librarians?
Volunteer your time or money and let your administrators know how important it is to you that your child has a place to go where they’re not judged or graded and can make at least a few decisions on their own!

7) What was the funniest excuse you’ve heard for a late book return?
The excuses are sometimes funny and sometimes bittersweet, like the book I received via US Mail from Okinawa. One of our military families accidentally took it with them when they moved!

8) What is your FAVORITE part of being a school Librarian?
I love helping my students connect with reading and find favorite books. I also love connecting with them! I am one of the few faculty members who gets to see all of the kids in the school every week—I don’t lose touch with them when they move up a grade, so I get to know them really well!

Engage, Engage, Engage! Make Any Lesson Interactive with Hot Dots® Make Your Own Kit


From YouTube clips on the Elmo projector to blogged book reports, technology is playing a major part in modern student engagement. And the brand new Hot Dots® Make Your Own Kit makes it easy for teachers to turn any lesson into an interactive activity! Perfect for challenging students who are moving at a faster pace than the rest of the class, providing practice for students who need a bit of extra help, and as a totally independent and engaging center activity, the Hot Dots® Make Your Own Kit makes any lesson interactive!

Just by placing a “hot” Hot Dot sticker next to the correct answer on a multiple choice question and a “cold” dot next to the other choices, teachers can turn any quiz, worksheet, or activity into an interactive lesson. Students simply press one of several Talking Hot Dots® Pens to a dot for an immediate audio and visual response including lights, sounds, fun phrases, and music. (Note—audio can be turned off for a quieter classroom environment-lights will still denote whether a student’s response is correct or incorrect.) The Hot Dots® Make Your Own Kit is perfect for:

  • Patterning Activities
  • Upper and Lower Case Matching
  • Picture Word Matching
  • Numeral Quantity Matching
  • Math Facts
  • Word Problems
  • Telling Time
  • Fractions and Equivalents
  • Spelling
  • Phonics
  • Vocabulary
  • States and Capitals
  • Geographic Locations
  • Any content you want to customize!

The Hot Dots® Make Your Own Kit is perfect for creating customize flash cards, worksheets, tests, quizzes, posters, wall maps, and more. You can even use the dots to turn an existing multiple choice test into a more engaging interactive version. How would YOU use the Hot Dots® Make Your Own Kit in your classroom? Let us know in the comments below.