Wednesday, March 9, 2016

New Website

 I am currently building a new website called grammarcloud that is a combination of all that I have implemented in the classroom over the years.  My school has provided me with amazing professional development that ranges from project based learning, implementation of digital tools for enhancing grammar and writing, as well as the application of thinking routines after studying at Harvard's Project Zero. I recently received my master's in Instructional Design and Technology where I am applying design techniques blended with my expertise with grammar and writing to create instructional tutorials for a deeper cognitive learning experience.  I would like to offer support for those who are working towards creating a digital classroom blended with making thinking visible.  My website is a work in progress, but I hope to develop it over time and help those who are interested.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Thursday, March 27, 2014


I am trying this free assessment from QuizMaker that provides an HTML code for embedding it within a blog. I created a few sample test questions to try it out. So far, it seems like a quick, easy way to create quizzes for the teacher and learner to receive immediate feedback.

The Sentence

The Sentence



    E-mail address:

  1. What is the purpose and function of subordinating conjunctions?

    They join two independent clauses for a compound sentence

    They create a complex sentence by joining a dependent and independent clause

    They create fragments

  2. What is the sentence combining strategy needed for the following: My jacket is from Italy. It is made from leather.

    Sentence combine using one word

    Sentence combine using a group of words

    Sentence combine using a conjunction

  3. Which of the following is an example of a comma splice?

    My family enjoys the beach we all soak up the sun.

    My family enjoys the beach, and we all soak up the sun.

    My family enjoys the beach, we all soak up the sun.

Thursday, June 27, 2013


During Summer Adventures at PDS, we have been learning about what it means to write a well-written story in our creative writing class. has enabled all of the participants to make their writing come to life with digital images that help tell a captivating story. So far, we have written stories independently and collaboratively based on preference and interest, and we have taken on a challenge of participating in the Storybird contest and writing according to the theme of acceptance. We are finishing the week with a story that is written in poem form. Below are a few examples of the fascinating stories that we have written so far, and more will be added as soon as they are completed.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The 5th grade recently participated in the Exchange Club’s Crime Prevention Essay Contest, and three boys were selected as a finalist. Edward Smith, Rob McFadden, and Jack Billups proceeded to the next phase of the contest as the Law Enforcement Officials and the Exchange Club members interviewed them on Wednesday, March 6th. 

Edward Smith was selected as the winner among hundreds of participants from Memphis City, Shelby County and other private schools in the area and was given the title of Junior Assistant FBI Special Agent in Charge.  He was honored at a luncheon at Southwest Community College on March 14 where all of the ranking Law Enforcement leaders presented the students with badges and a cash prize. 

It is an honor to have Edward represent PDS as the winner of the Exchange Club's Crime Prevention Essay Contest.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Freelance Writers

My students have been working on freelance writing where they apply their grammar skills in context and then submit their final work to writing contests.  The following are examples of some of their work:

GenreTitleAuthorParticipated in the following Contest:
Adventure, FictionHuntedThomasAuthorstand
FictionThe Guardian
Guardian Part 2
Action/Adventure, FictionThe adventures of Carl and Whiskers: The EscapeJack F. and KyleAuthorstand
Short Story, FictionTroublesome WillyHenryAuthorstand
Mystery, FictionThe Silent CowbellSean G.Authorstand
Adventure, FictionThe ThiefCharlieAuthorstand
Mystery, FictionAll a MysteryGusAuthorstand
Mystery, FictionCrime at the PentagonRussellAuthorstand
Mystery, Action, FictionHopeRobert A.Authorstand
Short Story, FictionBudSpenceAuthorstand
Action, Historical FictionWartimeBenjaminAuthorstand
Short StoryThe Silver HeartTreAuthorstand
Mystery, FictionThe HauntedSeanAuthorstand
Short StoryThe Elf on the ShelfFoxAuthorstand
Short StoryBlood BucksSterlingAuthorstand
Short StoryThe Renowned RoomateRob M.Authorstand
Mystery, FictionMuseum RobberyJerryAuthorstand
Action/ComedyDay OffJamesAuthorstand
Short StoryThe ApprenticeReidAuthorstand
Action/ AdventureMy StoryColeAuthorstand
Short StoryThe Wal Mart Shopper StalkerRob M.Authorstand
Realistic FictionFreelanceSethAuthorstand
AdventureA Sacred TownDaltonAuthorstand

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Beginning With Vocabsushi

I have been looking for a way to enhance the vocabulary of my fifth graders and now I have am about to implement the best way to do so! I ran across Vocabsushi and immediately knew that I had found what I have been looking for. It offers each student an individualized program that will adapt to their specific needs. After a pre-assessment, each student will be assigned to his own vocabulary level and will be exposed to an unlimited number of words to practice as they read the words in the context of newspapers from around the country. The features in Vocabsushi include sentence completions, definition matching, and each word contains the part of speech, definition, and an MP3 recording of the pronunciation. Each student can monitor his own progress of how many words are being learned over a period of time, as well as which words need more practice.
I really love the feature of being able to select current articles from various newspapers from New York Times, Wall Street Journal, ABC News, Boston Globe, and many others, as they bring global awareness to the classroom and broaden perspectives.
Assessment is available by creating practice quizzes, teacher-assigned quizzes, as well as taking exams to determine which words have been mastered to eliminate from your vocabulary list.
In the past, I have assigned 10 words every other week through Vocabulary for Achievement (when they aren't doing spelling) where they apply them in different ways through analogies, synonyms, antonyms, and in context. That means that they only learn 150 new vocabulary words a year vs. hundreds through Vocabsushi. I am so excited about all that this adaptive learning program has to offer and I can't wait to see the progress that my students make. Below is a vimeo that offers a brief introduction to Vocabsushi.

Rapid (muted) Demo of VocabSushi, iPhone app, and VocabBomb from Vocab Sushi on Vimeo.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Global Virtual Classroom

Bullying 101 Website

In September, the PDS 5th graders began a collaborative project through Global Virtual Classroom (GVC), a project of the Give Something Back International Foundation.  Its purpose is to enhance 21st century skills and allow for cross-cultural communication, collaboration, and technology skills.   We were partnered with Heng-Shan Elementary School in New Taipei City, Taiwan and Percy Julian Middle School in Oak Park, Illinois. Together we agreed to build a website on the topic of bullying since it is a current and relevant issue as well as a world epidemic.

Connecting with a diverse group of students from schools around the world was a very rewarding experience.  Twiducate, a private social network, was used for introductions where the students learned about each other’s language and cultural differences.  They also used a private wiki called Students Meet World where all of their collaborative work was shared for uploading to the website.  They saw purpose in what they were doing as they set out to answer their guiding question of “What are the impacts of bullying on our society and what can I do to prevent it?”  

After many months of brainstorming, researching, collaborating, and creating many different end products, the boys thought critically and creatively as they demonstrated how they could make a difference by bringing awareness to bullying through our GVC website.  Their work reveals deep thinking as the they used various thinking routines, created on-line surveys and quizzes of the information they learned, wrote original slogans, filmed role-playing, and reflected on their journey along the way.  They used technology such as glogs, iMovies, Google docs, Haiku (Learning Management System), Excel for graphing statistics, and much more.  One group even designed a pen with the words “Control, Escape, and Delete Cyber-Bullying” and collected money within their group to purchase the pens so they could raise money for the Boys and Girls Club of Memphis. They spoke to all fourth, fifth, and sixth graders about their experience and collected over one hundred dollars in donations so far.

In addition to the great work the boys contributed to the website, the US Attorney, Ed Stanton and Debra L. Ireland, Assistant United States Attorney agreed to come to PDS to speak on the topic of Internet safety and cyber bullying.  The boys learned about Internet safety tips and how to conduct proper and ethical behavior when using technology in addition to learning strategies for putting an end to cyber bullying.

The Global Virtual Classroom project was a competition that involved sixty-four schools and twenty-two countries from around the world, and over twenty-two websites were submitted covering an array of topics. The 5th grade PDS boys earned the Silver prize in the primary school category that included a plaque and a $1,500 cash prize.  They plan on adding their portion of the prize money to what has already been collected for the Boys and Girls Club of Memphis to help to further raise awareness to bullying.

Kim Trefz
5th Grade English Teacher

Monday, October 10, 2011

Adv. or Prep?

In the following lesson,  the students are practicing using the same words as different parts of speech.  One sentence will contain a word functioning as a preposition and in the other sentence, the same word will be used as an adverb.

Choose five words from the list below.  Write two sentences for each word.  In one sentence use the word as an adverb.  In another similar sentence, use the word as a preposition.  After writing the sentences, choose your best example and add to wall wisher for further analysis. Go to and create an account using your current user name and password.  After you have finished, click on this link to add your example sentences:  Adv or Prep?

Prepositions of Choice
above under down
around on before
along in across

Example for using the word off.
Tom pulled his boots off.  (off has no object and therefore is functioning as an adverb.)
Tom picked up his boots off the floor. (off has the word floor as its object and therefore is functioning as a preposition.)

1.  Adverb
1. Preposition
2. Adverb
2. Preposition
3. Adverb
3. Preposition
4. Adverb
4. Preposition
5. Adverb
5. Preposition