UNH SeaTrek Program Visit

Today our class had the privilege of welcoming the UNH SeaTrek Program Docents into our school!  These talented volunteers bring with them a vast wealth of knowledge about New Hampshire’s rocky shore.  They also brought in a variety of smaller guests such as crabs, limpets, mussels, sea urchins, sea stars, periwinkles and more!  It was an incredibly fun, exciting, and educational event.  Enjoy the brief video below of their visit:

Blizzard Bag Day Two – Dr. Seuss Version

Good morning!

Hope this blog post finds you all safe and working well on your blizzard bags!  I wanted to share a video with you that includes a read-aloud, a bunny eating her breakfast, a Dr. Seuss discussion and more!

See you soon,

Mr. Smith

Snowball Slam Champions!!!


What a MAGNIFICENT job our class did by coming in first place in this year’s Snowball Slam!  The final total was 186 snowballs earned – that is equivalent to 1,860 chapters read!!!  AMAZING.


I was so proud of all of the students – they saw a goal, worked hard both as individuals and as a group, and came out on top.  The students were reminded before the winners were announced, that no matter the result, though, that the most important thing was being aware of whether or not they tried their best.  They knew they had, so they were glad.  🙂

Unknown to us during the competition, the winner is to receive a free book from MainStreet Bookends of Warner…how cool is that?!  I went there yesterday and chose three books for our class to vote on:

National Geographic Book of Nature Poetry

Animal Planet Atlas of Animals

DK Star Wars: Absolutely Everything You Need to Know




I also wanted to mention, in case you are in Warner this afternoon from 3-4 pm, I will be conducting a poetry workshop for kids in grades 2-5 at MainStreet Bookends of Warner (I think all student participants receive a 20% off coupon, too).

Lastly, there are always opportunities for me to get books through Scholastic or book fairs, so if you have a book or book set you want in the class library, let me know and I can see what I can do.

Hope you have a FANTASTIC February break!

Training to Think

Imagine a gym teacher welcoming her elementary school students to class and informing them that they are going to learn about basketball today.  Big and small cheers come from the students as they are excited to learn how to play.  There may be a groan or two heard, perhaps from those that prefer other physical activities, but for the most part the group is eager.


The gym teacher begins her class by talking about all the skills a person needs to play the game.  She then describes the basketball court, and the purpose of each line on the court floor.  After some more discussion, and a question and answer time, the gym teacher then fills the students in on all of the rules of basketball.

All this time students have been sitting on the hard gym floor, listening intently yet somewhat impatiently as they are enthusiastic about playing the game.  As the gym period comes to a close, the gym teacher reaches into a bag and pulls out a basketball.  This is it!  The moment the students have been waiting for!  But the gym teacher calmly explains to the class that the next time they meet they will be discussing the history of the game, as well as the composition of the ball.


A student raises his hand.  He asks when they are going to get a chance to play the game.  The gym teacher responds that there are not enough balls for the entire class to learn how to play, but that students need to pay close attention to the lessons because there will be a test in a couple of weeks on what they have learned.  And it is important for them to learn about basketball in case they get a chance to be on a team someday.

All of the students are discouraged.  Many students have lost interest.  Many will remember what they have learned, but the joy of the game…the desire to participate is lost.


This is what science class is like without hands-on activities.  Yes, instruction needs to occur.  Yes, facts need to be addressed.  But without the ability to participate in science – without the ability to learn science by doing science – interest is lost.  And when interest is lost, ability is lost, and when ability is lost, scientists are lost.

I am thankful that our school’s district is currently investigating how to make our science instruction and curriculum even stronger this year.  A committee I am proud to be a part of is currently working hard to ensure that each elementary classroom is providing as many meaningful science instruction opportunities as possible.

Recently our class has had the privilege of participating in a pilot program using Foss Science kits.  These kits contain a well-blended mixture of instruction, reading, mathematics, and hands-on activities that have not only taught our class vocabulary words and science content, but it has encouraged students to participate as scientists, peaking their interest and increasing their abilities.


After all, “Education is not the learning of facts, but the training of the mind to think.” – Albert Einstein

The Amaryllis Moment

I received an amaryllis for Christmas from my father.  Since it was winter time I figured it would be a cool experience to have our students watch it grow.  After taking the bulb, soil, and plastic pot out of the little cardboard box I set it on my desk for all to see.


Well, we didn’t see much for awhile.  But eventually, out of the dirt slowly grew a small, pale stem.  I watered the plant according to directions, kept it out of direct sunlight, turned it every so often, but still no flower.  Gradually the small green stalk started heading for the ceiling.  Some time after that a bud began to form.  Then one Monday morning, several weeks after it was planted, a bright red, pink, and white flower welcomed us to school in a glorious way.


One of the most enjoyable aspects of teaching is the “amaryllis moment”.  Sure, it is an incredible thing to behold when students are bursting at the seams to answer questions to concepts they only learned days, or even minutes ago.  But what is much more amazing and satisfying to both teacher and student is that amaryllis moment – that moment in time when a student who has been struggling with a concept for days, weeks, and perhaps even months finally understands.  Finally “gets it”.  Finally has conquered the matter that has troubled their brain, their time, and even challenged their self-esteem.

When the amaryllis blossoms it is a sight to behold – like a firework exploding then freezing in time.  When children display grit failure after failure, watching the timid or even shocked smiles that spread across their faces and then freezes in that moment of understanding and satisfaction at the realization that they have just overcome that difficult concept – it is SO much more amazing than any flower blossoming or firework exploding.

And I’m just the soil in this analogy.  Or perhaps the water?  Or I suppose the gardener.  It is the amaryllis itself that truly has to do all the work.  It is the young student who has to block out all of the discouragements and distractions to finally break through the soil and prevail.


The amaryllis moment requires time, patience, endurance, and a brave determination that says, “Yes, I will succeed no matter how long it takes me and no matter how discouraging my failures become.”

CONGRATULATIONS and CREDIT are due to all the kids out there who stick with “it” every day no matter the trial so they can grow – so they can learn, and know more, and be more.  And when the next challenge wields its ugly face, they will be prepared to rise even higher than before…

Mrs. Guerrette


Our school is full of talented, hard-working individuals.  Our third grade class is no exception.  We have had the privilege of having three paraprofessionals working with our class this year, as well as with Mrs. Scarpa’s students.

One of these skilled educators is Mrs. Carrie Guerrette.  This year is her first year working as a teacher in our classrooms, but she is no stranger to our school and community.

Carrie recently graduated from NHTI with an associate degree in Early Childhood Education.  Prior to going to college she worked in the health field as a medical assistant, licensed nurse’s assistant and a phlebotomist.  She is also currently our school’s ChiPS (Children, Parents and Staff) organization president.


Mrs. Guerrette is a wife, mother of two girls in first and fifth grade, and owner of a dog named Toby.  She enjoys coaching soccer, reading, traveling, spending time at the beach and she always enjoys time with family near and far.  The thing she is most passionate about is volunteering in her children’s school and in the community.

We are proud to have Carrie as a staff member now, and the third grade students and teachers are particularly grateful to have the opportunity to work with Carrie on a daily basis.  Thank you Carrie for all that you do in helping make our students’ learning experience great!

An Adoption from the SPCA

cat 3

A couple of weeks ago our class visited the Pope Memorial SPCA in Concord.  Yesterday a special adoption occurred involving one of our very own students and a beautiful rescue kitty!cat

Zoe, a wonderful eight and a half year old black and white cat was adopted from the SPCA by Jonah and his Mom, Jessica.  What a special event for both the O’Brians and Zoe!  Zoe was a “lonely heart” cat meaning she had been at the SPCA for more than 45 days.  The O’Brians were not only given a precious pet but were also provided with bedding, toys, food and litter from the SPCA.  What a GREAT organization.

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I am so thankful for Jonah and his Mom taking on the important responsibility of taking care of this great animal that needed a forever home.

If you want to help out the SPCA and their volunteers there are many ways:  donate items, volunteer your time, spread the word about their great facility, or adopt an animal that needs food, shelter, and love.


Whole Child Field Trip


Several weeks ago our students were engaged in an activity that involved learning about voting as a citizen’s responsibility.  Another responsibility of a citizen is to perform meaningful actions for their community.  We put two and two together and had students vote for a community service project.  The students almost unanimously voted to raise donations for Concord, New Hampshire’s Society of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA).


After students made flyers, posters, and boxes the donations from our school community started pouring in.  We collected several bags and cans of cat and dog food, many fleece blankets, as well as A LOT of other items on the SPCA’s wish list.

As I was discussing with my Principal on how I was going to get the donations to the SPCA, he pointed out that it would be a very affordable and easy field trip.  How thankful I am for that suggestion!  Our field trip last Tuesday was perhaps the most meaningful field trip I have ever been a part of, and it only took an afternoon.


Why was our field trip so meaningful and successful?  Because this educational experience was not just about academics and ensuring that our children were applying what they learned.  This field trip was personal.  The students were emotionally invested in their citizenship project.  The opportunity to have firsthand experience to witness the many animals needing assistance, as well as the many volunteers who work hard out of pure kindness and empathy for the animals was incredible.


The Whole Child approach to Education includes five main tenets that I believe our school and district follow on a consistent basis.  These third and fourth tenets were included in our citizenship unit and our community project, and spell out why I think this field trip was so successful and meaningful:

  1. Each student is actively engaged in learning and is connected to the school and broader community.
  1. Each student has access to personalized learning and is supported by qualified, caring adults. (like the volunteers from the SPCA)

I wanted to share some facts we learned about the SPCA in Concord that I found particularly meaningful and memorable:

  • They take in approximately 1,500 homeless animals each year.
  • Last month alone they helped 110 animals find new homes.
  • Each day they need to do 10-12 loads of laundry.
  • Volunteers at the SPCA make no money, and the organization needs volunteers at their facility 365 days a year.
  • The SPCA relies heavily on donations to help provide the animals with the best care possible.
  • The SPCA doesn’t just take in animals – they also help families struggling to take care of their pets with provisions.

The Pope Memorial SPCA of Concord-Merrimack County is definitely an organization that ROCKS.  Please take the time to check out their terrific website: