Friday, March 24, 2017

Week of March 20th - 24th

TA’s Notes:
***Please do not send in any food to be shared among Voyager students***

Don’t forget that conferences are coming up for many families and that students should attend his/her conference!

Voyager Recycle Sale!
We are in need of more parent volunteers!  Students will help a lot but we also need parents to be there for pricing and organizing.  This is our one big fundraiser for the year and we really need support!  

We need items donated Friday night and volunteers for both days still.  Please consider this fun event which supports all Voyager students!

Voyager Spark students at 3D VT Competition in Randolph, VT

And the group took home 2nd place!!!

The Week in Mr. Merrill’s Room (⅚ Humanities):

This week students have been wrapping up the first half of Mr. Maika’s American Revolution Unit.  We have been learning about some of the causes of Colonial discontent and displeasure with the British.  We are very close to the outbreak of War!

To finish the week students have been working on creating a character that they will roleplay through 5 days of simulation starting on Thursday 3/23.  Their characters are colonists living in Lexington, MA in 1775.  So far students have been very creative with their character backgrounds and have embraced the opportunity to take on a new identity!

To chronicle the events of the simulations students will have created a journal for their character where they will write down their feelings and experiences.  At the end of unit they will be using their journal to craft a narrative writing piece that will tell the story of their character!

The Week in Ms. O’s Room (⅚ Math & Science):

Math 5:  Students began work on the properties of quadrilaterals and how they can be classified.  This classification process relies heavily on geometry language and so there was a lot of cross referencing our Math Antics videos where we collect geometry terms.  We solved riddles about geometric shapes and made our own, in order to practice using the attribute and name of geometric shapes language.  Today, I introduced the artist Paul Klee, whose work with geometric shapes made him famous.  Students are creating a cityscape, in which they use geometric shapes to create city architecture.  And as a bonus, they will include their favorite moon phase from our science unit to create a night scene!  Thanks to Liz Demas, our art teacher, for helping with materials and acting as a consult!

Math 6:  Some weeks I find that one lesson becomes 4!  This was one of those weeks, where the complexity of the task, relied on a lot of prior knowledge and proficiency to meet the goal.  The topic was percents and the context was which is the better buy.  Students have seen these kinds of problems before with ratios and percent bars with fractional pieces.  But these problems were particularly challenging for students and so we spent the extra time.  It was time well spent!  I think that students are learning how to reason on their own, draw on prior knowledge, and consider recent learning to figure out the math. I have chosen to do a lot of brain exercise in this unit anyway, encouraging long division, where others might just say, well use a calculator. I have done this because I think it has been good brain work.  So many kids have felt the learning curve, struggling and struggling and then having a breakthrough, and this has been awesome to see!  Decimal ops will wrap up soon, and then we dive deep into an algebra unit, Variables and Patterns.

⅚ Science:  We have finally wrapped up the Solar System unit.  It went on and on! A choice I made given the awesome math connections worth elaborating on!  Students worked on relative size this week, remodeling how to make balls of different sizes “appear” to be the same size, graphing this data, making predictions about other ball sizes by using the graph, and then using their eye to check whether the trends in the data held true. Students learned that a ball that is 2x bigger than another ball, must be twice as far.  This mathematical work was designed to explain two phenomena, why the sun and moon appear to be the same size, and why our star, the Sun, is so much brighter than other stars in the sky!  On to Properties of Matter starting Monday!

The Week in Mr. G’s Room (⅞ Humanities):
Students in both grades applied themselves to SBAC testing this week. Completing nearly three full days of continuous testing takes a great deal of discipline and perseverance and Voyager students comported themselves admirably. On Thursday and Friday, we had some time to make up work that we missed with last week’s snow days. Students are completing an infographic to explain a cause or important feature of WWI. Next week we will be beginning a WWI simulation activity to help us understand how alliances, geography, and new technologies influenced the outcome of the Great War.

The Week from Ms. Q’s Room (⅞ Math & Science):

This week the students completed their SBAC testing.  They worked hard and persevered through some rigorous problems. We finished the week with reviewing how to find a quadratic equation from a table and continued work on our partner quiz.. There was no IXL skill work this week.

Our 7th graders toiled long and hard on their SBAC tests. We began a survey project at the end of the week.  In this project students will write a relevant survey question, collect data, analyze it, and create graphical representations.  Students will write a conclusion based on their data which includes ratios, percentages, and measures of central tendency of a sample group. There was no IXL skill work this week.

Science 7th/8th
This was a very abridged week due to SBAC testing.  Students completed their reading and responses on photosynthesis and cellular respiration.  We reviewed the similarities and differences between plant and animal cells, and talked about what seeds need to grow and flourish.  We began a seedling experiment in a closed system to conjecture whether plants would grow and the mass would change over time. Next week we will be back to a regular schedule.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Week of March 13-17

TA’s Notes:
***Please do not send in any food to be shared among Voyager students***

March 31st: No School
Voyager Recycle Sale Set-Up 5:30 - 8pm
April 1st: VOYAGER RECYCLE SALE!!  8:30am - 4pm
May 5th- Voyager Dance

After school with Ms. Sherman:

The Week in Mr. Merrill’s Room (⅚ Humanities):
This week we are working on the Road to the American Revolution Unit!  Students are reading My Brother Sam is Dead to get an idea of what life was like for people in the Colonies during the Revolution.  They should have read through Chapter 10 by Friday 3/17!  
After our mid-week vacation we played a Mercantilism simulation where students played the parts of France, England, and Spain and their Colonies.  Students traded with each other to acquire valuable resources and score as many points as possible in the process.  By the end of the game students started to see that the Mercantilist system heavily favored the ‘mother’ countries and put the Colonies at a disadvantage.
On Friday students learned about the Proclamation of 1763 and the restrictions on Colonial expansion in the wake of the French and Indian War.  In the afternoon students participated in a Taxation simulation so that they could learn about one of the major causes of Colonial discontent in the leadup to the Revolutionary War.  During the Taxation simulation the students really got into it and really felt unfairly treated.  Here are some pics!

The Week in Ms. O’s Room (⅚ Math & Science):

Short but sweet today...

Math 5:  Geometry Everywhere! Geometry language is flying all over the place.  You will see in Math learning logs that students are logging geometry language so that we can use the language regularly in our turn and talks and in our investigations of spatial math.  The Math Antics videos are excellent for introducing the language and providing visual representations for those terms.  Check them out!

Math 6:  Decimal Multiplication and Division are a dog for students. If you can, please practice whole number multiplication and division at home.  This is the most difficult step for understanding how decimals operate and would be worth the extra help at home.  Mastery is important here!  

⅚ Science:  We have had a ton of fun modeling observable phenomena in our Solar System.  We had the challenge of drawing explanatory models of the moon phases and also trying to understand why the Sun and Moon appear to be the same size even though we know they are different sizes.  We used the railroad track and telephone pole phenomena to look at relative size of objects and why we perceive them differently than they actually are.  See some modeling photos below!

 We had a busy week of modeling the moon phases through explanatory models on paper.  

The Week in Mr. G’s Room (⅞ Humanities):
This week we are working on infographics related to the start of WWI and preparing for SBACs on Monday. For next week, the best things that students can do to get ready is to get plenty of rest, eat a good breakfast and bring some snacks to school. Also, students done early with their tests will have to have a book to read. For some students this will be a significant amount of time to dive into a book they are really enjoying. We’ll be collecting recommendations in class, and students should bring a stack of at least three books to school. Coloring books or drawing paper are also a good idea for students who like to draw.  

The Week from Ms. Q’s Room (⅞ Math & Science):

Even though we had an abridged work week, the 8th graders showed some excellent focus and grit while learning how to find a quadratic equation from a table.  Essentially, students used the second difference to find the “a” in our ax2 + bx + c, the coordinate from the table where x is “0” to find the “c” and then used what we had  ax2  + c to find the missing “b”.  We finished the week with a Partner Quiz.

In our short week, the 7th graders have spent some time reviewing changing ratios to percentages, finding equivalent ratios, and comparing ratios to find out which term is greater.We finished the week with a check-up on the first investigation.

Science 7th/8th

This week we finished up our yeast experiments and focused on the process of cellular respiration and compared it with photosynthesis.  We looked at the similarities of the equations and talked about where the energy came from and went. Using blocks we created glucose molecules and diatomic oxygen molecules and placed them in a cow mitochandria, took them apart and rearranged them to form carbon dioxide and water molecules.  Energy from the glucose molecule was released.  Students have a reading assignment with highlighting and questions due next week.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Week of March 6th - 10th

TA’s Notes:
***Please do not send in any food to be shared among Voyager students*


ALL Voyager Parents -- Sign Up HERE!

The Voyager Recycle Sale is Saturday, April 1st!  This is our one big fundraiser to send all Voyager students on an overnight at Camp Abnaki.

Our goal is for every family to donate at least item of quality to this fundraiser.  (Drop-offs prior to 3/31 can be arranged if needed)

All items can be dropped off at WCS on Friday, March 31st between 6 and 8 pm.  The sale is Saturday, April 1st, 9:00 am - 2:00 pm.  

Save the date and volunteer for a shift.  We need lots of help from Voyager students and families to make this a success!  Help is needed setting up on Friday evening, we have 2-hour shifts on Saturday throughout the sale and baked goods & drinks are needed for students to sell as concessions.  Lots of great opportunities to help out!  

If you are new to Voyager (parents of 5th graders) please make an effort to join us, this is a wonderful, community-building event and everyone has a blast. It draws a huge shopping crowd and has become a Williston tradition.  It is a great way to clean out and recycle your unwanted items and find new treasures!!!

7th & 8th graders will start taking the SBAC’s (Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium) starting Monday, March 20th and this will continue throughout the week.  Please make sure students get plenty of sleep, eat a healthy breakfast and come to school ready to give it their all!

⅞ Conference Schedules:

The FAP Big Basket Raffle!
Collections for the 17th Annual Big Basket Raffle and Silent Auction are underway! This is one of FAP’s biggest fundraisers of the year, with proceeds funding FAP programs that support all WCS and ABS students, families and staff. Items donated by our Williston School District families will be made into beautiful themed baskets that will be raffled off at the BIG BASKET RAFFLE on Saturday, March 25th , 2017.
Mr. Merrill- Dog Days
Ms. O’Brien- On the Water
Mr. Godfrey- Gift Cards Galore
Ms. Quatt- Java Lover
Students will have the opportunity to enter individual raffles for a chance to win a special activity or experience with staff from both buildings to help raise money for FAP grants, field trips, etc. We have over 25 opportunities, with over 100 winners total, between ABS and WCS!

  • Tickets will be sold the week of March 13 – 17th at each school
  • Drawing on Friday, March 17th and winners notified Monday, March 20th

Each student will get one free ticket and additional tickets will be sold for 25 cents each (suggest limit of $5). During the week of March 13-17th students at ABS can purchase tickets outside the gym between 7:45am and 8:30am and at WCS during lunches. The winners will be chosen on Friday the 17th.

** Click HERE to sign-up to help sell tickets mornings at ABS **

Contact Shani Varricchione/FAP with questions

The Week in Mr. Merrill’s Room (⅚ Humanities):
This week we kicked off our US history unit with a study of three countries (Spain, Britain, and France) that played a big role in the race to establish colonies and control of North America. Students participated in a play about the Jamestown colony, a role play of first contact between the French explorers and Algonquins, and a reenactment of the battle between Samuel de Champlain and the Iroquois. This battle set the stage for the next 150 years, with the Iroquois siding with the British and Algonquins with the French and culminated with the French and Indian War ending in 1763. This is important background information for the focus of our unit - the Revolutionary War.

Here are links to short videos of the reenactments.

We also introduced our literature group book - My Brother Sam is Dead.  A nice summary of the book can be found below.
This young adult novel, which successfully captures the pain of the Revolutionary War, is a fine example of historical fiction. The American Revolution was a war that divided families (English loyalists versus eager Patriots) and one of the families being torn apart is the Meeker family. Young Tim sees his 16-year-old brother join the militia to fight the British, while his father tries to remain loyal to the crown. Their hometown of Redding Ridge, Connecticut is a Tory town, and it is a constant struggle for the family to remain neutral. As the war progresses, Tim has to learn some very hard lessons: Life does not always follow the easiest and happiest course. Readers will be drawn in by compelling characters, and also by the novel's well-crafted historical backdrop. The Collier brothers have written a story that reaches across historical boundaries, and has become a modern-day classic.

My intern, David Maika will be taking over the class for the next two plus weeks to teach his solo unit on the Revolutionary War.

Dear Voyager House Parents,

My name is David Maika.  I am Aron Merrill's student intern for the 2016-17 school year.  I've been working with the 5th and 6th graders from the very beginning of the school year and have loved every minute of it!  Starting on March 13 I will be doing my 2 weeks of solo teaching.  I am in UVM's Middle Level MAT program and specialize in Social Studies.  I will be teaching the 5th and 6th graders about the American Revolution.

The first week of the unit will provide students with the background and causes of the Revolution.  The second week we will be conducting a 5 day simulation of the Revolutionary War.  Students will create a character that they take through the simulation and will be keeping a journal where they write about their character's experiences.  At the end of the unit students will use their journals to turn what they've learned into a narrative piece about their character.  By the end of the unit students will know the causes of the American Revolution, the major events of the Revolutionary War, and will understand why Americans fought for their independence and what the human cost of the war was.

I am very excited to begin my solo teaching and look forward to being in front of the class every day!  If you have any questions for me please feel free to contact me.  My e-mail is I check it frequently!

Thank you,
David Maika

The Week in Ms. O’s Room (⅚ Math & Science):

Math 5:  This week we began a new unit in Geometry.  I heard a lot of “YES” exclamations and so I better get this right!  We spent our week keeping track of new vocabulary that we are learning in this content area, because there is so much.  Ask your Voyager about coordinate points, coordinate grids, looping, linear relationships, x and y coordinates, and lines, segments, points, and rays.  There is a lot to learn.  This unit will involve a project so be on the lookout next week for a project summary and plan.  Our focus this week was on naming points in space, specifically using an x and y coordinate name (x,y).  Students had lots of practice plotting points.  We also spent most of our exploration time later in the week on growing cube sequences.  Students were building arrangements, predicting future arrangement patterns, and then graphing the pattern in order to say something about how it is growing or changing over time. Bridges takes the extra step to graph these patterns, an excellent precursor to higher level algebra.  There are lots of stretch opportunities in this work for kids on both ends of the spectrum of comfort with geometry.  

Math 6:  We spent 4 days on one concept this week and it was time well spent.  The kids kept asking me why it was Decimal Ops 2.3 Day Two and then Day Three!  I spent extra time on multiplication of decimals!  I think it was worth it!  Although photos that I send home may be hard to understand, the ideas that students are generating in class are truly deep!  The public record below demonstrates just how versatile students are when looking at decimal multiplication.  This work has required some solid whole number multiplication and division, so it has given us another opportunity to practice these operations with whole numbers. We began decimal division today, Friday, and will assume a few days of work with this next week.

⅚ Science:  Science has been very dynamic this week!  Students reviewed concepts of gravity on Earth early this week and are working to generalize to explain how gravity might affect objects in space. Specifically the goal this week has been around modeling observable phenomena.  We tackled the day night model, which drew a lot of ahh’s as students tried to figure out how the Earth moves to get the sun to “rise” in the East.  We must be rotating counterclockwise for this to happen!  You may notice that your child has an E and W on their hands.  They were helpful in modeling this for the group!  Long block this week was a big class with lots of group discussion and modeling with moons on skewers!
Photos below.

The Week in Mr. G’s Room (⅞ Humanities):

This week in 7/8 Humanities we have been studying the causes of WWI. Students are working on presenting their ideas using graphs, maps, and visual images, creating infographics of the war.

The Stock Market Game continues. This week students have been reflecting on the collaborative process and assessing themselves for their group work. Friday students present their first Stock Report to the class.

The Observer has put out a call for student work and several Voyager students have submitted poems, art, and other pieces for publication.

The Week from Ms. Q’s Room (⅞ Math & Science):

This week we began each math session with SBAC questions.  We analyzed what was being asked, discerned what answers were clearly wrong and looked for the best possible answers.  As the week went on we looked at tables, graphs and equations and decided what type of function they represented.  We established our class records for all the things we have learned about quadratic functions and reviewed graph and table landmarks.  We took a pause from our work to discuss our class culture and how we could improve our communication and focus.  We explored quadratic equations that have coefficients greater than 1 and how to factor those types of functions.  We ended the week with a practice partner quiz.  Next week we will have the “real” thing and will complete our investigation looking at projectiles.

Part-to-part and part-to-whole proportions were a major focus for the week.  We looked at proportions in recipes, reviewed percentages, multiplication and division of fractions and figured out how to find an unknown “x” in a proportion.  At the end of the week students took a Check-up for the first investigation.  We began each class this week preparing for our SBAC testing by reviewing questions.  We reviewed how to eliminate answers and hone in on the best response.
Science 7th/8th
We began our new unit this week by discussing what it means to be “alive”.  We categorized different items by living (biotic) or non-living (abiotic)  We had a few sticky “wickets” such as eggs, seeds and viruses.  We had a reading, vocabulary and discussion about the characteristics of life. During our long block class we performed a lab experiment with yeast.  We tested different levels of sugar, yeast or warm water to see what condition would allow for optimal growth of our yeast organisms.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Week of February 20th - 24th

TA’s Notes:
***Please do not send in any food to be shared among Voyager students***

No School: Monday, February 27th - Friday, March 3rd

ALL Voyager Families:
The Voyager Recycle Sale is Saturday, April 1st!  Save the date!
This is our biggest, most fun event of the year.  A giant indoor yard sale!!!!  Please start to gather anything you'd like to donate...household items, old artwork/posters, furniture, rugs, sporting equipment, books, toys, gently used jeans, dresses, jackets (any clothes must be clean, properly folded and ready to 'sell') costume jewelry, tools, working electronics.  What a great activity for the upcoming February break!  Spring cleaning!

The FAP Big Basket Raffle!
Collections for the 17th Annual Big Basket Raffle and Silent Auction are underway! This is one of FAP’s biggest fundraisers of the year, with proceeds funding FAP programs that support all WCS and ABS students, families and staff. Items donated by our Williston School District families will be made into beautiful themed baskets that will be raffled off at the BIG BASKET RAFFLE on Saturday, March 25th , 2017.
Mr. Merrill- Dog Days
Ms. O’Brien- On the Water
Mr. Godfrey- Gift Cards Galore
Ms. Quatt- Java Lover

FAPAC February 2017 Meeting Highlights Information
The FAP Advisory Council held its monthly meeting on February 9th.  FAP is Williston's equivalent of a parent-teacher organization.  We meet each month, our meetings our open to all, and you will receive an email like this every month with highlights of the meeting and a link to the FAP website for the full minutes.  Check the full minutes in a PDF format by clicking here.  Due to a technical difficulty there is not video recording for this month’s meeting.
You can now follow us on Facebook and Twitter (@FAP_Williston)!
Below are the meeting highlights:
FAP Annual Fund
We are accepting online donations for the Annual Fund until the end of February.  Cash and check donations are still welcome after the end of the month.  Alternative online donation sites are currently being researched.  The link to donate to the Annual Fund can be found here.
Upcoming Events
Big Basket Raffle: March 25th @ WCS
Fliers are going out to teachers on February 13th and the baskets will be in classrooms on Feb. 17th in both schools.  We have a list of around 250 businesses that we reach out to and have about 60 businesses committed so far, including Disney Tickets for the silent auction.  Reminder to all that this is an Adult Only event.  The Swift House will be hosting a Fun Night that children in grades k – 4 can attend during the event.
Williston Runs for Education: May 20th
This year is the 5th Anniversary for this event!  Eighth grader, Sophia Cross, will work on this even for her 8th Grade Project.  We are excited and grateful that Long Trail Veterinary Center is returning as Presenting Sponsor and Champlain Orthodontics is coming back as Fun Run sponsor.
Administrative Report
Penguin Plunge – The Penguin Plunge team raised over $11,000 this year.  A special thanks to Sam Beatson for being willing to dye his hair pink if they raised $7000.  Then he also took pies in the face in support of fundraising efforts.  CVU had over 150 plungers and raised over $51,000.
Renovation Project – Tom Barden has been hired as the owner's project manager working with ReArch working as the construction firm.  We are looking at a very aggressive timeline for completion of the project in 16 months, starting in June of this year.  The construction firm has expressed interest in communicating with parents and use this as a learning project for students.
Safety Team Update – The WSD Safety team is partnering with Emergency Management and Homeland Security.  They are going to come in and plan and facilitate a realistic crisis scenario.  Parents were reminded to read the School Bell about what to expect as a parent in the case of a real emergency.

Please contact me at if you have feedback or questions on FAP.  Thanks.
Have a wonderful Winter Break!

Pictures from Poetry Slam:

The Week in Mr. Merrill’s Room (⅚ Humanities):
We have entered week 3 of the stock market game. So far, our overall strategy of investing in stocks and creating a diversified portfolio has “paid off”. The top 5 teams in our region are from our class. Teams continued to research other potential investments this week, while checking their portfolios to be sure they have met the investing requirements for the game.
Students also finished the Everfi Financial Literacy program and their “Race to Savings Success” posters which will be mailed to the Treasurer’s office for the contest.
When we return from the break, we will be kicking off our American history unit. We will be focusing on the 13 colonies and the causes of the Revolutionary War.

The Week in Ms. O’s Room (⅚ Math & Science):

Math 5:  We spent our week using the area model to multiply fractions.  See the public record below!  We advanced from fractions by fractions to fractions by mixed numbers over the course of the week, continuing to reinforce that the dimensions of a rectangle, when defined, can help us find the area of the rectangle, and therefore, the product of two fraction factors.  

Math 6:  This week we focused on decimal addition and subtraction in both straight calculation and  in context.  We used estimation to determine, is our answer reasonable?  We also focused on equation writing, especially in single line equations, as a way to solve unknown values.  If you didn’t here from your kiddo, 6th graders participated in a studio classroom, in which I taught, and they worked, in front of 8 teachers and administrators.  They did a great job, being their best math selves!  

⅚ Science:
We worked to complete gravity tests and our word maps (yes, they were due two weeks ago) and took a short gravity test.  We are moving on to Gravity in the Solar System after break.

The Week in Mr. G’s Room (⅞ Humanities):

The Week from Ms. Q’s Room (⅞ Math & Science):

The 8th graders are showing perseverance and grit as we work to understanding triangular numbers. Triangular numbers are a pattern of repetitive addition. Such as 1, 1+ 2, 1+2+3 etc.In a visual model they can look like stairs.
The numbers of squares 1,3,6,12,20 in the figures above have a difference of 2,4,6 and 8.  If we were to graph the figure number and the number of squares, it would create a parabola.  We also looked at different visual models used to explain “high-fives” at the end of a game and how many total high-fives were made in several different situations.  
Students had a Check-up which was returned this week.

We began our “Comparing and Scaling” Unit with a look into advertisement and how statistics are used to communicate information about a product. We took a taste test of several popular lemon/lime sodas and created some class statistics.   We are reviewing ratios and percentages and comparing different ratios of juice mix to water to see which one is the most “juicy”.  Students took a final entrance task and received feedback on their scaling projects.

Science 7th/8th
Just about 40 years ago, NASA launched Voyager 1 and 2 to explore planets within our solar system and to venture out into interstellar space.  Within both of these crafts are the Golden Records which have greetings in many languages, music, sounds, images and information of how to find our planet.  This week students learned about the Voyager Mission and then were asked to submit 5 items that they would like to have placed on a new record.  They then described and defended their selections to the class. (Images from

Incidentally, 40 light years away, a new solar system was found that has 7 earth-like planets revolving around a sun.  These are rock-like planets could have water and  be habitable for life forms.  This is an exciting astronomical event.  Here is the link to the news: Exoplanets Discovered