PBS Kids: A Writing Contest!

I just learned about this opportunity, so the deadline is practically here, but I know lots of ACE kids who love to write and might have something they’d like to enter into the PBS KIDS Writers Contest!

WHRO invites Kindergarten through 5th grade students to create a great story, illustrate it and enter it in our PBS KIDS Writers Contest!  The 2017 Writers Contest is now open. Deadline for receipt of entries is Friday, March 24th at 5:00pm.
Download the Rules [PDF] | Download the Entry Form [PDF]Please send entries to:
WHRO’s PBS KIDS Writers Contest
5200 Hampton Boulevard
Norfolk, VA 23508

All students entering the contest will receive a special PBS KIDS Certificate.  A first place and honorable mention winner will be named in each grade level.  Winners and their families will be invited to a special reception and studio recording of the WHRO Young Storytellers awards program.  We appreciate your help getting students involved with this fun and creative contest!


  • Contest aligns with Virginia Standards of Learning writing requirements: K.12; 1.13; 2.12; 3.9; 4.7; and 5.7.
  • Helps develop 21st Century Skills including critical thinking, personal initiative, effective written communication, curiosity and imagination.

You can find all of the details and previous winners here.


A Note of Thanks

Over the past few weeks my life has amped up because of my role on the Odyssey of the Mind Board of Directors and my part in running a Math Kangaroo center.  As hectic as things have been, nothing could have been accomplished without the help and support of parents and staff.

First of all, I’d like to thank Jess Sabo and Brian Kulok for sorting out all of the t-shirts, pencils, certificates, and souvenirs by testing site.  Their organization and willingness to give up a chunk of time in the middle of the day was a tremendous help!

I’d also like to give a shout out to Motrya Manalac, Dawn England, Brooke Davis, Christine Stillwagoner, and Jillian Johnston for giving up their classroom spaces so that the Math Kangaroo competition had a place to unfold.  All five of these ladies graciously agreed to let me fill their rooms with unknown kids and parents!  An extra nod of gratitude to Ms. Johnston for jumping in to help lay out all the t-shirts, certificates, pencils, and testing papers on Thursday.

Thanks also go to Jeanne Seabridge and the ESOL Advisory Committee.  When we realized the Library had been double booked, Jeanne graciously agreed to relocate her meeting.

I also appreciate Bridget Kraft and Debbie Liang.  They took on the Math Kangaroo registration desk, greeted everyone warmly, and kept things running smoothly.  Bridget even jumped in to run an unexpected testing site when a parent and his child showed up late, rather than have a child be disappointed.

Lisa Mueller, Lisa Allan, Shelly Skomra, Rob Carey, Layton McCann, Scarlett Williams, Mary Kelly, and Karin Ritchey all proctored testing sites.   They kept a watchful eye on the students and helped everyone stay calm and focused.

I’m doubly grateful to Lisa Mueller, Lisa Allan, Shelly Skomra, and Rob Carey because not only did they show up on Thursday for the Math Kangaroo event, but they ALSO dedicated an entire Saturday to Odyssey of the Mind.  They cheered on some of TJ‘s teams, ran the front desk at the competition, and supported every last minute need I threw at them!  (And there were plenty of those!!)

A final note of gratitude to Paul Swanson.  As a principal, he’s called on to do all sorts of things and the demands on his time are myriad, so it means even more that he showed up at the Odyssey of the Mind competition to show support for all of our teams.

If I’ve forgotten anyone I apologize.  But please know that I’m extraordinarily grateful to work in a community where support is always just around the corner or up the stairs.

William & Mary Summer Enrichment

During the summer, the Center for Gifted Education at the College of William and Mary offers a series of classes for highly capable children called the Summer Enrichment Program (SEP). SEP is a challenging program with an emphasis on inquiry-based learning. The program offers courses in science, math, humanities and the arts for children in grades K-12. The courses are held on William and Mary’s campus, and take place from June 26-30 & July 10-14 in both morning sessions and afternoon sessions.
Check out this general flyer:   William and Mary Summer Enrichment  You can get an idea of the courses on offer by clicking here:  SEP Brochure 2017 Summer
If you have any questions about SEP, you are welcome to email Lindsey Bauserman at ltbauserman@email.wm.edu or sep@wm.edu. More information can also be found through the Center’s website at www.cfge.wm.edu.


Winner, Winner!

The Continental Math League testing at 4th and 5th grade is now complete. Throughout the year, close to 200 students in fourth and fifth grade chose to participate in the Continental Math League and a whopping 61 of those students earned a perfect score at some point throughout the year!  Here’s a listing of those students:

TEST 1Tucker Albaugh, Charlie Alexander, Adam Belouad, Ashwin Colby, Turner Crockett, Christopher Draper, Abby Fred, William Hladky, Jeremy Katen, Paige Kessman, Elbetel Kiros, Grace Kummer, Elliot Lam, Sam Norton, Fletcher Saaty, Olivia Thenhaus, Alex Vennebush & Eli Vennebush

TEST 2Tucker Albaugh, Edward Bogoslovskiy, Quinn Drennan, Davy Gaskins, George Salmoiraghi, William Sutton & Eli Vennebush

TEST 3Tucker Albaugh, Edward Bogoslovskiy, Gavin Donnelly, Christopher Draper, Ginnie-Li Heretick, Noah Horowitz, Jeremy Katen, Elliot Lam, Carlos Ortiz, Jose Perez, Carson Ramey, Kate Snyder, William Sutton, David Ting, Maureen Tremblay, Alex Vennebush, Eli Vennebush & Carter Williams

TEST 4:  Tucker Albaugh, Billy Asel, Edward Bogoslovskiy, Sammy Fried, Robert Fritsch, Jarrett Jardine, Preston Lieu, Nathan Prichard, Lucy Rhee, William Sutton, Mya Taheri, Vedika Thapliya, Alex Vennebush & Eli Vennebush

TEST 5Wendy Abstone, Yahya Ahmad, Tucker Albaugh, Charlie Alexander, Billy Asel, Adam Belouad, Edward Bogoslovskiy, Ethan Bong, Sophia Carney, Elena Clark Wilson, Ashwin Colby, Mercer Colby, Wes Crawford, Turner Crockett, Christopher Draper, Sam Ettinger, Jack Freas, Abby Fred, Robert Fritsch, Tilly Gale, Ginnie-Li Heretick, Jeremy Katen, Paige Kessman, Elbetel Kiros, Ben Kozbelt, Joe Kritenbrink, Preston Lieu, Calvin Mayer, Ben Mossburg, Molly Mostow, Noah Peng, Lucy Rhee, Fletcher Saaty, Henry Singh, Kate Snyder, Lydia Sturgill, William Sutton, Charlie Taylor, Vedika Thapliya, Olivia Thenhaus, Alex Vennebush, Eli Vennebush, & Domanic Zacharias Martin.

Our top three scorers in 4th grade were:  Eli Vennebush, who finished with a perfect score of 30 for the year, Alex Vennebush, with a score of 29, and Edward Bogoslovskiy, with a score of 28.

Our top three scorers in 5th grade were:  Tucker Albaugh, who earned a perfect score of 30, William Sutton, not far behind with a score of 29, and Jeremy Katen, who rounded out the top three with a score of 26.

Team scores are based on the top 6 scores from each round of testing.  With 6 questions per test, that means a perfect score is 180.  Our fifth graders ended up with a final team score of 167; our fourth graders ended up with a final team score of 177.  I’m not sure where those numbers will take us, but after the fourth test, our fourth graders were ranked third in the nation, so I suspect some good news will be coming our way!  As soon as I know anything, I’ll post it here!




A Visual Journey

So just what does a week in the ACE resource room look like?

Sometimes it looks like Word Masters Challenge practice using these handy bridges…


Sometimes it looks like hunkering down to solve a Quick Think problem on divisibility…


Sometimes it looks like planning for a video about the rain forest…blog-rainforest-plan

Sometimes it looks like organizing top secret notes in preparation for a debate…


Sometimes it looks like typing up an original pangram…


Sometimes it looks like starting a new obsession…

Sometimes it looks like a poster showing everything you know about symbolism…


Sometimes it looks like solving problems to hone your spatial reasoning skills…


Sometimes it looks like finally getting your name on the Masyu Hall of Fame…


Sometimes it looks like piecing together a mural…


Sometimes it looks like we’re working hard, sometimes it looks like we’re having fun, sometimes it looks like a little bit of both!



Small Group ACE Update

3rd grade Level 2 ACE Math students have moved on from the unit on logical thinking and are now tackling tasks requiring spatial reasoning.  We’ve already tried our hands at Slitherlinks (tricky little puzzles requiring a great big amount of forethought!) and played the game Bloxorz (a big hit – find it at http://www.mathplayground.com) and are in the middle of creating our own tessellations (dragons and schnauzers and cats – oh, my!).  Throughout the unit, there will be loads of opportunities to explore problems requiring spatial reasoning using a variety of hands-on materials.

3rd grade Level 2 ACE English students, meanwhile, have been launched into our Word Play unit.  It’s oodles of work, but tons of fun!  We started by reading a short biography of Duke Ellington, listened to his music, and then crafted poems to capture the essence of his work.  Try to read these two stanzas by one third grader without tapping your foot!



King of the Keys.



Slick steppin’ ease.”

4th grade Level 2 ACE English students are winding up their look at symbolic thought in literature.  Some have written three paragraph essays detailing the symbolism in The Happy Prince, while others have created posters summarizing the symbols encountered throughout the unit.  And a few of the kids have managed to do both!  Next up: a unit on debate.  Once we’ve learned the elements of a debate argument, we’ll start preparing for our first debate.  The topic: Would it have been better to be a passenger on the Titanic or the Hindenburg?  Should be interesting….

4th and 5th grade Level 2 ACE Math students have continued their incredible work with math problem solving.  On that front, I just received news that our fourth graders are fourth in the nation in the Continental Math League!

And last, but not least, 5th grade Level 2 English students are learning all about tropical rain forests in preparation for our claymation unit.  The kids have learned about the four layers of the rain forest, the flora and fauna that make up the rain forest, and, perhaps most importantly, they’ve been learning about the threats which face rain forests, as well as some of the great strides made in recent years to protect them.  Once they are well versed in all things rain forest-y, plans will commence for our original claymation productions set in, you guessed it, the rain forest!




Geography Bee Update

Wow!  TJ students rocked the semi-final round of the geo-bee-colorNational Geographic Geography Bee once again!  It’s true!  Not one, not two, but eight fourth and fifth graders made it through seven rounds  in the classroom without missing a single question!

Congratulations to fifth graders Jack Ackerman, Nils Andersson, and Ketevan Gallagher, and fourth graders Grace Kummer, Lucy Hladky, Charlie Alexander, Eli Vennebush, and Jonathan Katen for achieving this impressive feat!

After dodging all of the illness running rampant through TJ, we were finally able to hold our Final Round of the National Geographic Geography Bee this past week.  The finalists spent close to an hour answering questions in my room on Monday afternoon.  In the end, it was Eli Vennebush who came out on top and was named the TJ School Champion.  He’ll take a test  next week to see how he fares compared to the other school champs throughout the state of Virginia!