Civilization Rap Alex, Ben, Katelyn M, Megan, PJ


We have started our study of ancient American civilizations: the Aztec, Inca, and Maya peoples.  We began our study by learning about what civilization is and how agriculture is important to civilizations.  Alex, Ben, Katelyn M, Megan, and PJ came up with a great rap describing what civilization is.  Listen to it by clicking on Civilization Rap, above.

Great Year Start and a Weekend Trip!

We’ve had a super start to the year.  I am loving both my homeroom group and Ms. Donahue’s class.  I have noticed a lot of kindness between our students and  good sportsmanship at recess.

I am planning to take a trip to the ocean on Saturday, September 8th  to collect some sea creatures for our aquarium.  We will  be going to Kettle Cove near Portland and explore the tidepools.  I hope we can find some sea stars, hermit crabs, mussels, periwinkles, dog whelks, barnacles, fish, prawns, and maybe even a sea anemone.  We’ll also find a bunch of other creatures that won’t do well in an aquarium.  I need the eyes of some of my 6th graders to help us find these creatures, so I am hoping some will be able to join us.  If you would like to come you will need to find a ride with your parents or carpool with a friend.  Low tide is at 11:00 so we will meet at the PES parking lot and leave at 9:00 AM.  We’ll be back by 3 PM, but if you would like to stay later with your family you are welcome to!  I recommend stopping to see Portland Head Light!  I will be sending home a notice about this trip.  Please let me know if you are planning to come.

Welcome Class of 2019

August 26, 2012

Dear Sixth Graders and Parents,

Welcome! I’m looking forward to working with each of you this year. There are a few things I want to share with you about the start of our year.

Visit my Blog! I will be using my blog to keep in touch with you and your families. You can subscribe to the blog to get an email any time I post a new entry using the “Subscribe by email” box on the left side of the blog.

Here is what our schedule looks like.

Mr. Light’s Homeroom Schedule

We are starting with a science unit.  We will learn about classification and the adaptations of organisms as we focus our study on sea life.  We have an exciting start to this unit.  On Tuesday we will be looking at the adaptations of lobsters and learning about scientific illustrations with Mrs. Johnson!

Parents, please be in touch with me.  Contact me any time you have a question or concern.  My email is [email protected] or you can call me at school.  If you need to reach me in the early evening, call my home (674-2194).

I’m looking forward to meeting you all Monday!

Mr. Light


Fixing the Shakes

Night View with Shakes

Sometimes my tremors can have great side benefits! I love this photo taken from the Brooklyn Bridge at night! The colorful talll lights on the left are the Empire State Building(s). (The shaking resulted in a double image.)

Life with the Shakes

As my students, family, and friends know, I have tremors.  They have progressed over the last 10-15 years and interfere with many of the things I do.  Eating is an adventure – food falls off my spoon or fork on the way to my mouth, and the place where I ate is easily spotted by the mess left behind.  Our ever-patient custodian, Carol, knows too well how the tremors can leave a trail when I carry a cup of coffee or tea through the hallway!  Writing, typing, cutting have all become challenges.  All of you, students, colleagues, and of course family have been very helpful to me.  Erica found clickable whiteboard markers so my hand doesn’t have marker all over it after I put the cap back on!

Deep Brain Stimulation Surgery

Well, I’ve tried many treatments for the tremors, but none of them have worked for me, so this summer I am going to have surgery.  (It’s called deep brain stimulation and I’ll tell you about it in a later post.)  I’ll go to Stanford Medical Center in California for the surgery.  They have a lot of experience with this surgery; my surgeon has completed over 900!  Another benefit is that I’ll be close to my sister, brother, son, daughter, son-in-law, granddaughter, and several cousins!

Name my Blog!

I plan to blog about my experience and am putting out a call for blog names.  So far, my brother Dave has suggested “Shake Down” and Maureen, my daughter, proposed “Fixing the Shakes in Quake City”.  If you have a good idea for the title, let me know by commenting below.  When I get the blog started I’ll link to it from here.


New York City Trip


Historic Photo of the Brooklyn Bridge

Historic photo of the Brookjlyn Bridge Click on the image to link to the site.

Over April vacation I went to NYC with my history class, Teaching American History through Biography.  Read my blog here:  New  York City History Tour

Manhattan Skyline from the Ellis Island Ferry. Brooklyn Bridge is visible on the right.


Here’s an article that Prentiss wrote.

6th Graders Visit the West Paris Cemetery in Search of Soldiers

A Grave Rubbing

A Grave Rubbing

It’s quite interesting watching about 30 ten, eleven, and twelve year
old’s running around in graveyard. It’s not  everyday that we are
so into what we are doing in school. But that day it was exciting. We were
learning about dead people from years and years ago….
In class the 6th graders are studying the Civil War. Since Veterans’ Day was coming up on Wednesday, Mr. Light thought it would be cool if we
went and looked for people from West Paris that were in the Civil War, or
World War 1. We could also find any other interesting people and write
them down on our paper with their location so that we could find them

Lieutenant Ezra Stephens of the War of 1812

Lieutenant Ezra Stephens of the War of 1812

So off we went. We were all split up in out own separate groups, looking in different areas of the cemetery. One group was in the back, one group in the front and so on. Another group thought that they had found the grave of Agnes Gray! I thought that it would be cool to take a picture of
some kids around that grave.  (ed. note: Turns out it was another Agnes.)

Some of the graves that my group found were quite interesting. We found
a lot from the Civil War era, but not so many from World War 1. Also my
group found someone that was a lieutenant from the War of 1812! They were very old.

Veterans of the Civil War - Father and Son?

Veterans of the Civil War - Father and Son?

On Friday the 13th, what was left of our class went to the cemetery again. We did rubbings of some of the stones. We used crayons and we taped large pieces of paper on to the stones and colored them. We could then see the writing clearly
and we could bring back look-alikes to the classroom!

This was a very fun field trip and I would like to go back again. And if you want
to find people from West Paris that lived long ago, check this place out!

Honoring a recent veteran

Honoring a recent veteran

A Christmas Carol at the Public Theater

We got a lot of positive feedback about the possibility of going to A Christmas Carol at the Public Theater in Lewiston, but unfortunately it looks like we won’t have enough money to make it happen.  They haven’t sold out of tickets yet, so if you want to try to pull off a fundraiser in the next few days, let me know.

Here’s a link to their website.


The class is creating a wiki.  This is a collaborative writing exercise.  For our purposes, it is a place for students to share their work.  They are invited to add book reviews, poetry, and other pieces.  We have had just a couple of lessons on using the wiki at this point, but kids have started to publish their work.

The address is listed on the links page.  It is  Visit us!


I LOVE YOU GUYS!  I don’t think that I have ever had every single student and parent/grandparent/guardian show up for conferences before.  Imagine my delight at the end of the day Sunday when I had met with all 30 families!  I knew this was a special class from the get-go, but now you have all shined a light on one of the reason’s it is such a great group of kids!

Every child worked hard with the support of an adult and myself to develop a goal and a series of steps to meet that goal.  Now we have to keep focused on these goals and action steps to be sure that each of us moves toward our goals.

I have also had the opportunity to sit with a mentor and work on my goals.  Having worked with you and heard your reflections on class, I have made some new goals.  I want to share some of them with you, so here are some of mine and the ways I will work toward them.

  • Always treat each and every one of you with respect.  When I make a mistake, find a way to fix it.
    • Pay attention to the signals you give me.  Listen carefully to what you say.
    • Ask for your help by respectfully letting me know when you notice I make a mistake that bothered you or someone else.
    • When I become aware of a mistake, apologize and find a way to put it to rights.
  • Improve my teaching of literacy skills.
    • As my students know, I am taking a class about effective literacy teaching.  I will work hard to apply what I learn to my classes.  The main focus of this is to use the workshop model when I teach.
    • Have Mrs. Liimatta and Mrs. Ellsworth observe my teaching and conference with me about what they see.  (Just as you share your work and conference with Mrs. Toita, a peer, a parent, and me!)
    • Visit other classrooms so I can apply what I see to my teaching.  (Just as you read mentor texts to apply what you read to your writing!)

Thanks for being such a great community of learners!!

Mr. Light