Newsletter 26 – 3/28/14


This week was our very first back from spring break. The whole blog team agrees that it has been a little hard getting back into the groove of things, but we are managing. On Friday we went to the Lotus Blossoms Bazaar at Binford elementary school. Also this week we are having empathy week, you will have to go to the P3 section to hear more about that. At the Bazaar, students were able to make independent choices and visit tens of stations that explored world culture. Masks were made, food was sampled, and many students saw their names in multiple languages. 



In P3 this week we have been doing something called Empathy Week. While in Empathy Week we try to feel empathy for others. On Tuesday we did an experiment where everyone was put in a random online chat room. Each chat room had 2-4 people in it. You did not know who you were talking with in the chat room, so you had to try to feel empathy for the other people in your chat room. Before that, on Monday, we all made maps of importance. They were webs of what were important to us, and what they connected to in other sections of the map. Then, everyone color-coded their map according to things they were comfortable, risky, and dangerous with sharing. On Wednesday we chose our Invitations.As the name suggests, Empathy Week will only be for this week. We are going to enjoy it while we have it! On Friday, students shared experiences of empathy by reflecting on the book The One and Only Ivan. 

   IMG_3824 IMG_3825 IMG_3826

Readers Workshop

In readers workshop in the first week back from spring break we have been learning/ reading fantasy books from our section of the library. In morning meeting the teachers put up a message that said “what is your favorite fantasy book?” Many people replied “ Harry Potter” “ Animorphs” and many more books. We launched the unit by reading the book Jumanji by Chris Van Allsburg. After lengthy discussion, students were excited to get to independent reading. The next day, we explored a variety of fantasy books, eventually coming up with elements of a fantasy story: magic, laws of science are broken, animals act unnaturally, there is a journey, quest or adventure, and things happen that wouldn’t in real life. On Friday, students selected reading partners that they will be meeting with throughout the unit. 

  IMG_3791 IMG_3792 IMG_3793 IMG_3794 IMG_3795 IMG_3796 IMG_3797 IMG_3798

Writers Workshop

In writers workshop this week, we did a first try of fantasy writing. We’ll be using this rubric as a way to assess where we are going as writers.


In Ms. Kalei’s group this week we compared our definitions of similar and congruent. We worked with 2-d and 3-d structures, and talked about what it means if a figure is “2 times the size of…” another. In Mr. Jim’s group we, took a pre-assessment for our sixth unit of study and started practicing numbers that have decimal values.


Questions to Ask Your Child

  • What did you do at the Lotus Bazaar?
  • What fantasy book are you reading? What makes it fantasy?
  • What are you studying in math right now?
  • What is the “question” in morning meeting? What questions were there this week?
  • How has empathy week gone? What invitations did you do?

IMG_3827 IMG_3829

Upcoming Readers Workshop Unit – Fantasy

Dear Families,

We are embarking on a 5-6 week study of fantasy. This unit will be broken into two parts, the first will be a fantasy study, students selecting their own just right books, and learning about fantasy-related concepts. The second part will be fantasy book clubs. I’ll be writing about the first part here.

Over the course of this unit, we’ll be drawing from many picture books to analyze elements of fantasy fiction. The planned schedule is below, each bullet point represents a lesson. Some key words are underlined.

  • There are many kinds of fantasy stories…the thing they all have in common is that the events/characters within them are not things that happen in the origins of or current world.
  • Readers think about how the book they are reading fits into the genre they are studying.
  • As you read a fantasy story, you should let your mind wander to all the places it may go, playing a mental movie of all the juicy action as it takes place
  • Fantasy readers understand that their first task is to figure out what kind of setting their story takes place in. Readers look for clues about the time period and the magical elements, in particular, using the covers, blurbs, and details from the beginning of the story for their research. We know that the setting will have physical and psychological implications on the character and the story.
  • As readers move through fantasy books, they will notice some stories have multiple plot lines, many characters, and unresolved conflict. Often readers find it helpful to keep track of all these details using graphic organizers.
  • Readers identify the predictable characters, archetypes, in their fantasy story.
  • “Readers, today I want to teach you that in the stories you are reading, the characters face dragons as well. Not just literal dragons, which some fantasy characters do encounter, but metaphoric dragons—these are the conflicts inside a character’s soul, which haunt that character. Powerful readers learn to think metaphorically about these ‘dragons.’” [Lucy Calkins]
  • Readers lookout for imagery, which is when things we read put pictures into our head and those pictures have all the shading marks, dimensions, lines, etc. included.
  • Personification means giving human qualities to animals or objects.
  • Readers note objects that represent something else (symbolism) because in fantasy nothing is as it seems, so if an author spends time detailing something, that something is important.
  • Readers pay close attention to the plot because the hero’s journey –quest- is an allegory for our own life journeys – they search for theme using work from previous units.

The Indiana academic standards for 4th and 5th grade call for study of character’s motivations, character traits, and setting. Students learn to define and find examples of simile, metaphor, personification, symbolism, and imagery. Students identify the main conflict or problem in a story, they also speculate on the theme. We will cover these concepts as well as other reading and writing standards.

Newsletter 25 – 3/8/14


We are now done with ISTEP and spring break is here!  Everyone is very excited for going off on vacation. Also, Please remind your child to practice your HONK Jr. scripts! We have way too little time for HONK rehearsals, so, here is Mr. Chris: “kids, please please please memorize your lines!!” Sadly we do have homework over spring break as well, so remind them to do that too. We have really been enjoying the riddles, so we will give you some more. On Friday, we saw the play Pippi Longstocking at the Ivy Tech Waldron. Students were excited about the physical comedy involved and many came away with set ideas for Honk!

P.S. “kids, please please please memorize your lines!!”

Readers Workshop

Hello book minions! In readers we are doing independent reading and learning about doing book reviews. We have a paper that helps us do our own review on the books we are reading. The reviews are inspired by Spaghetti Book ClubWe have been doing different readers subjects for the past week because we have been doing ISTEP.  Our class has not had teaching points ever since we were doing ISTEP prep and ISTEP. Our next genre of study will be revealed after we come back from vacation!


In P3 we are officially finished with our Indiana Legislature simulation! Not everyone is so excited about that… Today we had an assessment on the Indiana government, to see what we learned about it. One of the questions was asking how a bill is passed, and what the process is. Once student finished the assessment then they made a poster about how a bill is made into a law. As our simulation wound down, a review of the laws that were vetoed/passed by the governor

  • Longer recess by reducing transitions  – VETO
  • Playing a variety of games on a rotation during recess – PASS
  • Snack on 2-hr delays – PASS

Writers Workshop

In writers we will be working on writing a story. First, you create a character that defies the stereotype of their “group” or “species”. Then, we take the characters on a journey (the story) where who they are is tested. Finally, teach the reader a lesson or moral. These are two examples: It’s okay to be different and Stand up for who you are, always. I wonder what all these characters will be and what makes them unique. I’m sure all of them will be great and wonderful stories. I can’t wait to get started on these stories! To see some of the published books (we’re in the process of scanning them), follow this link:

Math Workshop

In math I.S.T.E.P is over hip hip hooray. We did such a great job so keep up the good  work. I hope to see people get back into the run of things. Now we are doing math stations,the stations are: 1 measurement 2 math history 3 line designs 4 place value 5 problem solving 6 mathematical books. Students rotated throughout these stations over the course of the week. 

Questions to Ask Your Child

  • What did you think of Pippi Longstocking?
  • What picture book did you create this week?
  • How are you feeling about ISTEP, now that it is over?
  • Which math stations did you get to do?
  • Did you get a copy of your homework log? 

IMG_3680 IMG_3681 IMG_3683 IMG_3684 IMG_3685 IMG_3686 IMG_3692  IMG_3694 IMG_3696 IMG_3697 IMG_3695 IMG_3689 IMG_3690 IMG_3691 IMG_3698