Category Archives: Students

And We’re Reading

Oh, how I love a class that loves to read!


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And We’re Back!

Mean old Miss McMillan gave her students homework on the very first day of school! Seriously! I asked my new students to complete two Google Forms to share their opinions on two questions: What is a fair teacher? And what makes a great classmate? I took their responses to those two questions and created two separate Wordles. In case you don’t know, Wordle takes the words you enter and creates a word cloud with the words used most often being the largest. For example, in the first Wordle below, A Great Classmate, you can see that the most popular responses from my students were “helpful” and “kind”.

A Great Classmate

A Great Classmate

I really enjoyed their responses to “What is a fair teacher?” I think I can fulfill these requests. 🙂

What is a fair teacher?

What is a fair teacher?


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A Fair Teacher

A Fair Teacher

On the first day of school last week, I asked my students to complete a Google Form that asked the question, “What is your definition of a fair teacher?” Here are their answers, in the form of a Wordle. (In case you didn’t know, the words that repeat most often appear larger in the Wordle.)

I hope I can live up to their definition!



August 25, 2013 · 2:38 pm

We Made It!

We survived our first day of school! Let the learning begin!

I thought I’d share a little bit about what our day looked like. Students walked in to discover a few items on top of their desks: a pencil that says “You are awesome!”, a Welcome bookmark, their new planner, and a letter from their teacher. If you didn’t get a chance to read the letter, here’s what it said:

Dear Seventh Graders:

Welcome Back! Now that you’re finally in seventh grade I have to tell you something:

I’m so excited to get to know each and every one of you!

Not a day passed this summer when I wasn’t thinking about you and our seventh grade classroom (I hope you noticed I said “our” classroom because this space belongs to all of us!) I know I haven’t gotten to know all of you yet, but I do know at least two things about each and every one of you:

  • You Matter! and
  • You Are a Genius!

I believe it is vitally important that every student who walks through the seventh grade classroom door understand that they matter to me. But it’s more than that…you matter to so many people in your life. Stop for a moment and think about it.


How many people can you think about? Parents, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, grandparents, friends, classmates…and every single person here at our school. We ALL know that YOU matter! You are a person of tremendous value and you are loved. Never forget that!

Seriously…don’t forget it!

You Are a Genius! Each and every single person in this classroom has genius within them. You may not have found it yet, but I know it’s there and it’s my job this year to help you find it. So, start thinking about it…what is something that you are really good at? What can you teach all of us this year?

Have you figured it out? It’s important that you recognize your genius and here’s why:

We’re going to change the world!!!

So, repeat after me: “I am a genius and the world needs my contribution!” Keep repeating that to yourself all year long.

Welcome to Seventh Grade! It’s going to be an amazing year!

Miss McMillan


After showing the class the brief video at the top of this post, I shared a greeting with them that I created with a cool new website I found this summer: Welcome back to school! (made with geoGreeting). Then they got to learn a little bit about their new teacher. I’m sure it was oh so exciting.

We discussed my expectations for my students and then I asked them to think about their own expectations for their classmates and for me. They should be completing the two Google Forms I created to collect their ideas. Can’t wait to see what they come up with!

One More Thing.

I ask my students to be willing to push themselves outside of their comfort zones when they’re ready. To get them started thinking about this, I ask them to…Be Brave:

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Are You Ready?

Well, ready or not, here it comes…The First Day of School! Your teachers have been at work for a week now, getting everything ready for your arrival tomorrow. And we…can’t…wait!!! A school just isn’t a school until it is filled with students.

If you’re wondering what you will need for tomorrow, read on, my friend. Along with all of your school supplies, you will want to make sure to have:

  • a silent reading book (yes, even on the first day of school there may be time for some reading).
  • a snack (your body needs to readjust to not being able to eat whenever you want; I’m sure you’ll be hungry by the time recess rolls around).
  • a great attitude (hey, we’re in this together for an entire year…let’s make it a great one!)
  • a smile (learning is awesome…be happy about that!)

Let’s Do This!!!

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You Have Questions…

Thank you to all those who have already completed the 7th Grade Survey for me (I’m still waiting for 15 more…hint, hint, nudge, nudge). As you will recall, the final question for that survey is “What questions do you have for me?” Since most of you have included a question or two, I thought I should start answering them. [Sidenote: You’ve been asking some really interesting questions, by the way! Keep ’em coming!!]

  • Why did you decide to teach seventh grade? Well, to be perfectly honest…I didn’t. I had always planned on teaching high school history, but God had a different plan for me…and I listened. I was working as a teacher’s assistant down at St. Isidore’s when I got a call that they needed a teacher to finish out the school year at CTK. And I’ve been here ever since!
  • What will we be learning in social studies this year? Seventh grade social studies focuses on world history. We begin, briefly, with the fall of the Roman Empire and work our way up to about the 1500s, with stops along the way in Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and Europe.
  • Will we be doing many group projects? I firmly believe that being able to work well in a group is one of the most important skills you will learn in middle school. So, yes, you will have many opportunities to work with your classmates on assignments and projects. And, in case you’re wondering, I don’t give group grades…I give individual grades. I don’t believe that a student who does more than their fair share of the work should receive the same grade as someone who does no work. Do you?
  • How can I be successful in your class? Ooohhhh…great question! I suppose I could give you the standard teacher line: “Do your work. Turn in your work. Study, study, study!” But I’m going to assume you’ll do that anyway. So my answer to that question will take a slightly different route: 
    • Ask Questions. If you aren’t sure about something, ask someone who probably has the answers. It might be me…it might be Google. But ask your questions sooner rather than later. There’s no sense in putting off the learning!
    • Learn to Love Learning. If you can find something fascinating about everything you learn, school will be easy! But more importantly, you will live a long, happy life with a strong, healthy brain!
    • Have fun! Learning is cool! Come to school every day with an open mind and a positive attitude and we’ll have an awesome year!
  • On a scale of 1 to 10, how cray cray would you say you are? Well, since the person who asked this question has an older sibling who has been through my class already, I’ll just respond with, “I believe I’ve already answered your question.”

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A Year of Discovery

Our Discovery Journal

As our school theme for this year is Discovery, I spent some time this summer looking for some ideas on how to incorporate it into my seventh grade curriculum.

Ok, honestly, it didn’t take me all that long to figure out. Being a member of the Discovery Educator Network, I knew I needed to include Discovery Education in our work in class on a daily basis. I also wanted to make sure that my students were pausing to reflect on their learning each day, so the two thoughts came together as our Discovery journal. A tremendous “thank you” goes out to Mrs. Johansen from Discovery Education for sending each of us a supercool notebook that functions as our Discovery journal!

Here’s how it works: Each day, students (and the teacher) will write at least one thing they discovered that day. It can be something academic that they learned in one of their classes that day, it can be something new that they learned about one of their classmates, or something that they discovered about themselves, in or out of the classroom. It’s important to note that all of their comments in their Discovery journals need to be positive. We’re not focusing on the negative this year!

To give you some ideas of what we’re discovering this year, I’m asking each of my students to add a comment to this post and share at least one thing they’ve discovered since the beginning of the school year (was the first day just last week?!)

Please feel free to join us! What is one thing that you discovered today?


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Welcome Back!

Welcome Back to School! And welcome to Seventh Grade!! After only a few days with my new students, I know we are going to have an absolutely, amazingly awesome year! How do I know this? Well, I’m a teacher. I just know. 🙂  If you’d like specifics about how I know it’s going to be a fantabulous year, let’s start with Our Rights and Responsibilities.

To begin our year together, I asked my students to answer the following question: What are your rights and responsibilities in our seventh grade classroom? They worked on their lists individually at first, and then they discussed and added to their lists at their table groups. While they were working in their groups, I started asking students to write some of their ideas up on the ActivBoard to share them with the entire class. I think you’ll agree that, so far, my new students have some great ideas! Here’s what we have so far:

Our Rights

We have the right to…

  • learn in our own way
  • read what we want to during silent reading
  • ask questions
  • be creative
  • wear anything [that follows] the appropriate dress code
  • have recess twice a day
  • pray
  • have water at our desk
  • say the Pledge of Allegiance
  • choose our own supplies

Our Responsibilities

We have the responsibility to…

  • keep our books in good shape
  • respect our teachers
  • manage good grades
  • know right from wrong
  • stand up for our friends
  • stay safe
  • do our schoolwork
  • be reverent in church [I know a certain math teacher who will love that!]
  • listen to the teacher
  • show up on time
  • keep our desks and lockers clean
  • pay attention in class
  • stay organized
  • write in our planners
  • use our rights appropriately
  • assist our classmates
  • treat classmates with respect

The idea behind creating these lists was to start thinking about what our three main class rules should be for this year. Yesterday, each group had to synthesize all of these rights and responsibilities into three possible rules. On Monday we will vote for the top three and those will be our class rules that we all agree to abide by this year.

One item worthy of note: I found it amazingly awesome that every single one of the notecards the groups handed me contained the word “respect”!

So, do you agree with me now? It’s going to be a wonderful year!!


P.S. The video at the beginning of this post is a Google Search Story that I created to welcome my seventh graders to a new school year.


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Be A Leader

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The Results Are In

More than 100 people from around the world voted in our Photo Captions Contest last week.  I’d like to thank everyone who took the time to vote on our captions and share with you the winning captions.

Congratulations to the students whose captions were chosen!

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