Newsletter 20 – 2/17/18

Weekly Highlights

Sorry for our delays in posting – all three of us have been struck down by varying illnesses…hoping you and your kiddos are feeling happy & healthy.
Last week – students completed their biography projects! They have adorned their cubbies outside our classroom with “busts” of Change-Makers – people who saw an injustice and worked to make our world more just and better for everyone.
This week – students began another round of Invitations. The invitations have continued to focus on social justice movements that have sought to increase access to power and opportunity to those who have been kept from it. This round, students chose one of the following groups:
  • Anti-War Movements
  • Zero Tolerance & Violence at School
  • Civil Rights & Racial Stereotypes
  • Land, Sea, Air – Environmental Movements
  • LGBTQ+
  • #metoo & Women’s Rights
Last week – students studied and wrote about how the setting of the story impacts the mood of a story.
This week – students studied and wrote about how authors develop characters through various ways in a story.
Last week – students continued to push themselves to memorize more African countries with the hopes they see Africa as a place that is MORE than just a continent.
This week – students took another quiz to see how much they improved. We will have them set a new goal based on how they did and do one final push to memorize more countries than they ever thought they could!!
Last week – most students started a new spelling group.
This week – students continued work in their spelling groups to recognize spelling patterns that continue to give them (or their teachers and parents…) headaches.


We have no school on Monday (Feb 19th). If you did not get a request for a winter conference and would like to have one, please email us. We are more than willing to meet with you to discuss the progress of your child.

Questions to Ask Your Child at Home:

  • What have you learned about linking evidence to text?
  • What invitations did you choose and why?
  • How are justice and power connected?
  • How have your classroom “habits” changed throughout the year [we did a survey about this on Friday]? What do you think are strengths and goals for you in the classroom?

Newsletter 19 – 2/4/18

Weekly Highlights

We dug into analysis of our short stories (that students read for homework) this week. We did some work around theme – the lesson of a story. We studied how to find textual evidence to support the themes we generated. In small groups, students met to discuss themes of their stories after trying it out on their own. We also had a really lovely discussion of our favorite childhood books (The Hungry Caterpillar was very popular!).


This week we worked to finish the illustrations that we created for our Books and Beyond project. We are in our final stages of publishing these pieces and sending them off to be compiled in a book! We will be sending home a release form for your child’s name and photograph to be in the book. Since most of the work is done as a group, your child’s group’s work will appear in the book, but details related to them do not have to. Please return this permission slip by Friday this week!

We are also tying up our biography projects, which you may have started to see in the cubbies right outside our classroom. The projects that haven’t been completed yet will get sent home as a part of homework this week.

Mr. Chris gave out roles for our play James and the Giant Peach. Our play will be April 17th – so we have a few months to rehearse and learn the lines, lyrics & choreography. We will be practicing whole class numbers throughout the school day – the songs are so good!

We’ve been studying the countries of Africa, and students are setting their own goals for learning the names of these countries. We are doing a “quiz” type piece on Fridays, and students try and add to their goals. You can find out how many countries your child hopes to learn on Fresh Grade.


  • If your child has completed their biography, they will have two short stories and a writing piece for homework this week.
  • If your child has not completed their biography, they will have one short story and their biography project to finish at home.

Questions to Ask Your Child at Home:

  • How did your Africa Country Challenge Quiz go this week?
  • What social risks did you take this week? How did the “big circle” for morning meeting go?
  • What was the short story work like? Did you feel prepared after reading the stories for homework?
  • What did you do to help your Books & Beyond team?

Newsletter 18 – 1/26/18

Weekly Highlights

This week we worked on three major projects and focused a lot on turning in work. Make sure you are able to access your child’s Fresh Grade portfolio (we can re-send invitations if you need them) so that you can track what they are/aren’t turning in as well.

Many students got to work on the drafts for their Books & Beyond stories. We have a variety of pieces all following the theme of “firsts:” loosing a tooth, making a friend, going to the playground, etc. Students identified themselves as primary authors or illustrators and the authors focused on drafting.

Primary illustrators worked to finish their biography busts, which you will start to see in the hallways toward the end of the week. Students used a graphic organizer to collect facts, quotes, and a symbol to represent their biography subject. Next week, we’ll reverse roles, so the illustrators will be working on creating the drawings that go with their stories and authors will complete biography projects.

Our last big piece this week was working on our invitations. We’ve been studying a variety of topics through invitations, all connected to the theme of “movements.” Invitations is an inquiry-based model, where students are given a variety of resources to deepen their context, foster their curiosity through conversations with their peers. Since this experience is so much based on the groups discussions, it’s really difficult to summarize all the incredible work that has been going on. Here are a few things that were shared with the whole class:

  • “As we were studying [women’s rights], it was sad to see how protesting has happened but there are still issues and every time there is change there is still so much that has to change…”
  • “I wondered about what people would think if they traveled from the past. I wonder what people in the future think about us right now.”
  • “We read about child labor. There was a kid who worked in a coal mine all day and made something like 75 cents a week. He was five.”
  • “There was an AIDS crisis. The government didn’t respond at first but I am not sure why.”
  • “There is so much plastic floating in the ocean.”
  • “We didn’t realize how much genocide is still happening. It seemed like something that had happened in the past but it is still going on today.”
  • “We looked at maps and found that the closer a country is to the equator, the more likely they are to have child labor happening.”


We have updated our virtual learning plans. In the case that we have more snow days, ice days, inclement weather days, etc., you can find our plans here. We will send home paper copies this week.

Our homework structure will be the same as last week. On Monday, your child will be assigned two short stories and a writing assignment to complete about one. The reading and writing pieces will be due on Friday.

Questions to Ask Your Child at Home:

  •  What invitations have you been participating in?
  • What is a thick question you have been pursuing during invitations time? What is something you’ve learned?
  • What role do you have for your Books & Beyond story? What work did you do this week?

Newsletter 17 – 1/21/18

Weekly Highlights

This week we wrapped up editing on our persuasive narratives. If you are curious to see these pieces, you can check them out with your child by asking them to log into Google Classroom – we have been using this platform to organize all the student work that is produced digitally in our class.

We also started a quick turnaround project that we intended to complete over MLK day. We are making busts (think of the brass sculptures of famous and/or celebrated figures in history) of people that have made lasting social change. We assigned students a person to read about (a lot of biographies were pulled from the two books pictured below) and they are going to be creating a visual piece that you’ll be able to see in our hallways in the next week or so!

We also started our work with Books and Beyond. Books & Beyond is an IU foundation that works to promote English literacy in a primary school in Rwanda. Our class is writing stories that will be published in a volume that will be sent over the summer to this school. We started brainstorming ideas this week for what our stories will be.


-This week, students will bring home short stories to read as homework. They will have hard copies and we will try to make them digitally accessible through Google Classroom if possible. We will use these stories the following week in our next literacy unit (which will focus on short story analysis).

-We are seeking donations for any bar-stool type seats that you may have lingering around in your basement or garage. We are trying to increase the diversity of types of power spots available in our classroom. Please let me, John, & Rebecca know if you have any that you’re willing to donate.

Questions to Ask Your Child at Home

  • What invitations did you choose for your study in P3? Why did you pick that invitations?
  • What story is your group going to write for Books and Beyond?
  • Who are you reading a biography about? What have you learned about them?

Newsletter 16 – 1/14/18

Weekly Highlights

This very short week was packed. Apologies for my long-form writing below, but we did quite a bit together!

We came together and reviewed many of our community routines and rules. We referenced our agreements (Push yourself into the risk zone, Create a calm, peaceful environment, & Show kindness, respect & support) regularly as we re-entered from a few weeks away. We went over a few things that we had gotten really great at doing:

  • Transitioning to a whole class lesson – this happens many times throughout the day, often taking two-ish minutes for students to gather  necessary materials (which are posted on the board) and get to their assigned seat (which we call crewlines).
  • Responding to the chime – Our across-the-building signal to be silent, stop your body, and track the person who rang the chime
  • Taking a break – self-determined and teacher-determined. We work hard in 5/6 to make sure students are starting to recognize when they have energy that asks them to take a break. For some, this may look or feel like distraction or loss of focus whereas for others, it may feel like stress or being overwhelmed. The range of options for taking a break is pretty endless, as long as students communicate in some way what they need, and how they are taking care of it. Often breaks take about a minute or less. If a longer break is needed, a conversation with an adult will accompany that need.
  • Cleaning our room – “Room Rescue” – we have moved into a system where each child has an assigned job that is a super-specific task. We believe helping kids have a concrete outcome (rather than the ambiguous “the room is clean”) to strive for during this time helps them get it done in an efficient, safe way.
  • Coming together for meeting. We had one whole class meetings and two small group meetings this week. CPR – or Circle of Power & Respect – asks children to warmly welcome one another, share about their lives, and play games and/or have fun. One reflection we did was a habit that we want to get rid of from 2017 and something new we’ll do instead in 2018. Your children, as always, amaze us with their ability to be reflective.

In P3, we’ve shifted out of our study on puberty. Our next unit is on movements – specifically social movements. For the next few weeks we’ll be studying movements through a structure called invitations. Invitations “invites” children to explore a topic with a wide range of resources – photos, books, art pieces, biographies, stories, audio pieces. There is no standardized outcome for students during invitations, other than that they have conversations with one another and express curiosity about what they are digging into. This week we focused on an invitation about Rwanda and Africa, because we are starting an IU project with folks from Books & Beyond which brings books to kids at a school in Rwanda (books that we author!). Students had a lot of questions about Africa, and Rwanda specifically, and got into these questions with their groups – working on building conversational habits and “going down the rabbit hole,” with one another. Next Friday, we’ll be introducing the other invitation options students will be able to sign up for: LGBTQ Movements, The Civil Rights Movement (1960s & 70s in U.S.), Immigration, Child Labor, Educational Movements, Land, Water & Wind, Genocide/War, Rwanda and Africa, Language, and Women’s Rights. Students will sign up for these sort of like passions, and will stick with their topic for 1-2 weeks. This intro to P3 is also integrated with Ms. Sara, who will be hosting the invitations work in her space in the next weeks as well.

In writers, your children finished persuasive narratives just before winter break. Though our writing unit touched on some of the stuff that goes with persuasive writing, we really were focusing on punctuation, spelling, capitalization and usage. On Thursday, students received their narratives back with some old-school editing. We wanted kids to visually see the places that they still needed to edit – particularly because many felt like they’d caught everything they needed to find. Students started to go into google docs and add these edits in. We are hoping to try something new with Fresh Grade so you can see their processes too, which I’ll update you on in our next newsletter.


We hope everyone enjoyed the snow day and found the virtual learning experiences engaging.  Please remember that tomorrow is MLK Day and we DO have school.  This year we will be gathering together as a whole-school community toward the end of the day in honor of Dr. King. We will be at Rhino’s All Ages Club (next door to TPS) from 2:40-3:15p. We’ll bring our voices together in Civil Rights Era songs, we’ll hear some of Dr. King’s most inspiring words, and we’ll hear from a community speaker. All family members are welcome to join us for this brief and special assembly! Children may be checked out at the front desk of TPS following the gathering, if you’d like to then take your children a bit early (but remember that you MUST sign them out!). As a reminder, parking at Rhino’s is prohibited. Metered street or parking garage spots are great options.

Questions to Ask Your Child at Home:

  • What is something you feel like you were able to jump right back into in 5/6?
  • How did it feel seeing your classmates? What did you learn about other peoples’ breaks?
  • What did you notice in your edited narrative? What’s something you need to keep in mind in your next writing piece?
  • What’s a goal you have/something you’re looking forward to for/in 2018? [Students answered this in the morning message if they need a reminder of this].

Newsletter 15- 12/17/17

Weekly Highlights

This week we spent time working on narratives, and the stories we’ve created are amazing. Students planned out the beginning, middle, and end of their stories quickly and then had some craft instruction on a lead. We set these stories up so that they will be done by tomorrow afternoon (hopefully)!

We also started to test out a new spelling program in 5/6. We’re going to try this week and see how it goes, and right now the whole class is doing the same thing. We are hoping to move to small groups and/or individualized lists within the few weeks after winter break.

We talked in P3/Health/Pre-Teen Hygiene this week about crushes and managing feelings. We had a panel of local birth workers – a doula, a midwife, and a person from All Options Pregnancy Center come in and talk with us about their different roles in pregnancy. On Friday, we talked about some of the things that make up Human Sexuality and sorted these ideas into the categories of: closeness, health, identity, and violence. In partnerships, students tried to place behaviors/ideas/things into these categories and/or overlap them in categories. We had a few whole-class discussions – particularly around the words vulnerability and risk-taking.


Copied from the TPS Update: Our K – 5/6/7 classes will be attending Cardinal Stage Company’s production of “Peter Pan” on Thursday morning. This includes all students except for our 7/8 class. The discounted tickets are $6.50 each. If you have not yet sent in ticket money for your child/ren, please do so early in the week. As always, no student will miss out on this opportunity regardless of ability to pay. Let teachers know if you need confidential ticket support. And for families who are able to contribute to support attendance by other students, we are always grateful!

A project of 7/8 that we are participating in this week: 

Spirit week is coming! Your child can participate to build community and collect personal care items for the Shalom Center. We’ll collect any personal care items in our classroom in a large box. Items can include soaps, toiletries, socks, feminine hygiene products, disposable razors, and anything else you think someone experiencing homelessness or poverty might find beneficial. We’ll deliver the items before we go on break so that people can benefit from them right away.

Each day has a theme.
Monday: Dress Alike Day (Groups of students choose to dress in a similar style/fashion
Tuesday: Color War between grades: 8th-Blue; 7th-Red; 6th-Purple; 5th: Green
Wednesday: Pajama Day
Thursday: Throwback Thursday (choose an era from the past and dress for the time!)

We talked as a community about Dress Alike on Monday, and came up with some group possibilities – fancy dressing (suit, bowtie, etc.), Harry Potter, different shoes, animal prints, and camo.

We are getting so excited for our annual Variety Show, which will take place on Wednesday, December 20, from 8:30-10:30a at Rhino’s! All family members are invited to join us, but we ask you to please, please remember to be good neighbors and TPS community members by parking only in designated and approved locations. These locations include: the free overflow lot for the Convention Center, the free spaces at 3rd Street Park, and the 4th Street Parking Garage (free for the first 3 hours). You can also use the paid metered spots along Walnut. Please DO NOT PARK anywhere in the extended Rhino’s parking lot, or in the TPS lots behind our building or along the mural wall. Thanks!

Questions to Ask Your Child at Home:

  • What is respect/empathy? What does it look like, feel like, & sound like?
  • What are some of the social, cognitive, physical, and emotional changes of puberty? [this is on a google doc they did in classroom]
  • How did you do with the homework deadline [Friday 12/15]?

Newsletter 14- 12/10/17

Weekly Highlights

This week we focused on JOY in morning meeting. Students reflected on their favorite things to do, activities they would like to try, and the way they feel when they are happy. We took a lot of opportunities to be playful and silly, including our time on Friday when students drew a picture of themselves as an animal.

We went to the library to watch the 3/4 play – Willy Wonka.

We built in more work with commas – specifically looking at and learning about appositives. We finished up our friendly persuasive letter correspondences. We used a graphic organizer to plan out our arguments and supporting facts.


We will be attending  “Peter Pan” on Thursday, December 21.  We ask families with children attending the performance to please send in $6.50/child to the front desk or to the classroom teacher by December 15. No TPS child will miss the experience, regardless of ability to pay.

Snack Schedule:

Last names Allen-Crouch – 1/9, 2/5, 3/5, 4/16
Last names Daniels-Lawson – 1/15, 2/12, 3/26, 4/23
Last names Leinenbach-Port – 12/11, 1/22, 2/19, 4/2
Last names Pulley-Wright 12/18, 1/29, 2/26, 4/9

Questions to Ask Yourself at Home

  • What is a way you experience joy?
  • What did you learn about pregnancy & fetal development this week?
  • How did you connect facts (qualitative & quantitative) to your persuasive letters?
  • What is happening in your math group lately?