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Have you heard the news?

Have you heard the news?

Yes, it’s true: I will be teaching only eighth graders this year. That means, for the first time in my eight years of teaching, I will not be teaching any seventh graders.

I will miss the priceless experiences that come with teaching seventh graders. I will miss their willingness to open their mind to new possibilities and their (relative) innocence. They’re not “kids” anymore, but they’re not quite “teenagers” either.

So how do I feel about teaching eighth graders? If I was ever going to make the move to teaching only eighth graders, this is the year. As a whole, it’s an enjoyable class that makes me laugh, think, wonder, ponder, and work to be a better teacher.

I watched so many of them grow last year from wolf cubs to more self-sufficient wolves asking better questions and digging for the best answers. It will be rewarding to watch them continue to grow as students, and most important, young people learning more about who they are and the kind of person they want to be.

I will place more emphasis on group collaboration this year. My goal is to talk less and “direct” and “guide” more. You know the old axiom: if you give a man a fish, he eats for a day; if you teach him to fish, he can feed himself every day.

OK … you know the drill folks. If you want to make a public comment, go for it! If you want to keep it private, let me know. If you have any questions, let ’em fly! Questions are the tools of the curious!

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Final fiction BDR of the school year

It’s not quite here, but it’s near, so don’t sit on your rear or just stand frozen in fear like a frightened dear. Get it in gear!

The final fiction BDR of the school year is due Friday, April 10!

Need a book? Check out my classroom shelf or let me help if you need an idea.


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Annual research project

My seventh graders will work from Thursday March 19 to Wednesday March 25 on a research project worth 250 points.

Their research is designed to help them better understand the 1960s in America as preparation for reading The Wednesday Wars in April.

Yes, students may work on this project at home by using Google Apps. The entire assignment will be paperless, with everything from the research to the final product conducted with Google Apps.

For more information on the project, click on the following links:


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Nonfiction BDRs – due date moved back

The deadline for the nonfiction BDRs has been moved from Friday, Feb. 27 to Monday, March 2.

So … NO EXCUSES, right?

Don’t be late!

Don’t hesitate!

It might be lead to a doomed fate!

That would not be great.

If BDRs are not in by Tuesday, March 10th, they will show as zeroes on next week’s report cards. While the grade can be changed later, late assignments will be reduced to 75 percent of their full values.


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2015 theatre parent letter Ths Phne 2.0

Welcome to the 2015 CMS theatre team!

I call it a team rather than a club because teamwork is essential to our success and one of the most valuable lessons anyone can learn from theatre. We call it theatre because, let’s face it, the word “drama” has a bad connotation for middle schoolers.
Right now, we’re committed to performing a play called Ths Phne 2.0. No, that’s not misspelled. It’s about how electronic devices and social media have taken control of our lives. It’s funny, quirky, and serious at times, and it teaches some worthwhile lessons.
There are parts for everyone, but some are smaller than others. At this point, I’m looking at the possibility of either writing in some roles, adding a second smaller show, or putting some of the actors together in short scenes. We’ve never been concerned about “stars” and “leads”; In T-ball terms, I want everyone to have a chance to step up to the plate and hit a home run.
As for props, everyone will need some sort of cell phone – but these phones do not need to work. They can be older phones that no longer work or have no service. They’re just props. If necessary, we will find a prop for anyone without one.
Participating in theatre is free. However, if a student loses a script, the student needs to pay $5 for a new one.

One of our parents, Wendy Chappell, has taken the initiative to come up with team t-shirts. They will cost $15, but it is not mandatory for you to purchase one. They will be purchased through the school. We’ll let you know when kids need to sign up and pay for those.

CMS theatre shirt

Also, please, please, please work together as a family to do all you can to pick up your children on time. I know some parents have work conflicts, so just communicate with me so I know what to expect.
When are we performing this show? A lot of that depends on how quickly and effectively we can learn this, but even more depends on when the SCHS auditorium is available. For now, let’s focus on a rehearsal schedule:
Feb. 17 and 19: 3:15-5:15.
Feb. 24 and 26: 3:15-5:15.
March 3 and 5: 3:15-5:15.
March 10 and 12: 3:15-5:15.
March 17 and 19: 3:15-5:15.
March 24 and 26: 3:15-5:15.
We will meet during spring break. Eventually, as we move toward the show, we’ll increase our rehearsal schedule. For now, this schedule will suffice.
Can students miss rehearsals? Eventually, math team competition and cheerleader and color guard tryouts will interfere with our schedule, and as long as students communicate with me ahead of time (a day or two), we’ll be OK. Illness, of course, is excused. In all seriousness, we can’t afford to miss rehearsals. I run this like a football team – you wouldn’t allow your kids to miss a football practice, so don’t miss a rehearsal unless it’s unavoidable. Whatever you do, please communicate with me.
Please save this schedule somewhere, or find it on my blog on the school website under the faculty and staff link. You can also email me at and I can give you my phone number.
Whatever you do, please don’t call the office. Those ladies up front work hard already, and I want parents and students to read and follow the directions I send home and contact me personally. Please don’t be that parent who calls the office constantly because you lost the information or simply won’t read it.
Thanks for being part of the team!
Mr. Scott

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After reading author Gary Paulsen’s Hatchet fiction book), we will now be reading his autobiographical Woodsong.

So why read two books from the same author? The Common Core emphasizes the use of both fiction and nonfiction literature. It also focuses on comparing and contrasting the two types. The thumbprint of Paulsen’s own personal life experiences are all over Hatchet, so reading the same other twice allows us to dig in to the themes and main ideas of both his fiction and nonfiction work.

The book explores Paulsen’s training for the Iditarod, a legendary sled dog race.

  • The Iditarod It runs 1,049 miles on ancient trails in Alaska. The trails were originally created by the native Indian tribes.
  • The record is 11 days, 2 hours, and six minutes. It was set by a woman, Susan Butcher, who has won the event twice.
  • Teams often race through blizzards causing whiteout conditions, sub-zero temperatures and gale-force winds which can cause the wind chill to reach −100 °F.
  • The trail runs through a harsh landscape of frozen tundra and spruce forests, over hills and mountain passes, and across rivers covered with ice.
  • It celebrates the history of mushing sled dogs, the most reliable source of transportation for people and supplies.




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“The Man in the Arena”

This is a poem written by the late President Theodore Roosevelt. It’s worth reading and learning.


It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.

The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly;

who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming;

but who does actually strive to do the deeds;

who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions;

who spends himself in a worthy cause;

who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat. 


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Theatre 2015

It’s that time of the year for theatre auditions!

Here’s the basic information, and I’ve attached a parent letter to the bottom of this post.

CMS Theatre 2015


When: Jan. 20, 22, 27, 29 from 3:15-5:15 (if you have to ask AM or PM, don’t come)

Where: Meet in Mr. Scott’s room (110)

What you’ll need:

*A willingness to come out of your shell and work well with others; a commitment to work hard – in and out of school

*Responsible grades (Fs and Ds and missing work won’t get you on the team)

*Excellent behavior (If you won’t take care of your business in class, the hall, the library, the gym, the cafeteria, and the bus, we don’t have a spot for you)

*A parent letter – see Mr. Scott for a letter you ABSOLUTELY MUST take home.


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Gary Paulsen project and books!

Welcome to 2015!

We will invest considerable time and effort in January on two books written by author Gary Paulsen.

One, Hatchet, is the fictional story of a seventh-grade boy who survives a plane crash in the Canadian wilderness, but he’s all alone and must learn to survive with only a hatchet and his limited experience in the wild.

The next book, Woodsong, is a nonfiction autobiographical account of Paulsen’s life as a an adult, living with just his wife and his sled dogs in the Alaskan wilderness.

Reading both books helps us in multiple ways, including:

The Common Core places more emphasis on nonfiction than it ever did before.

The Common Core also places more emphasis on comparing fiction and nonfiction.

It gives us a chance to see how an author grows over the course of time. Paulsen experienced a complex childhood in which he was often abandoned, and he ended up leaving home to join the carnival at age 14.

Hatchet is an excellent coming-of-age story for seventh graders, and Woodsong shows the impact of Paulsen’s childhood experiences on his adult life.

We will start this week with an Internet-based research project on Paulsen.

Here’s what we’re doing:






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