Newsletter 20 – 1/30/15


We will now be posting weekly homework to the blog at this page:

Performing Arts Update

January 26, 2015

Dear 4/5 Parents,

Attached to this letter, you will find a costume breakdown for our Going West musical theatre performances that are less than three weeks away. If you are unable to locate an outfit for the show or have any other questions at all, please feel free to contact me at

Performances will be held at the Ivy Tech/Waldren Auditorium on Tuesday, February 17th Mr. Jim’s HOPES cast will perform at 6pm and Ms. Kalei’s DREAMS cast will perform at 7pm

There are TWO separate casts performing, because we were over the room capacity by more than 70 audience members last year- wow! Students in the 6pm HOPES line show should arrive at 5:45pm. Students in the 7pm DREAMS line show should arrive NO EARLIER than 6:45pm, in order not to disturb the first performance. Parents are more than welcome to attend the dress rehearsals that same day, if they would like to see the other cast perform. Just let me know, so I can alert security at the theatre. See you on February 17th!

Mr. Chris TPS Performing Arts Specialist, K-8 

Math Workshop

This week in Ms. Kalei’s group we reviewed our geometry assessment. We started our next unit on fractions, decimals and percents. In this unit, students will write, compare, and compute with these partial numbers. They will explore multiple models for representing tenths, hundreths, and thousandths. We will do multiplication and division with decimals. We will learn multiplication and division with fractions later in the unit.

This week in Mr. Jim’s math group we finished our study of geometry. We took our assessment. Students had to work with reflection and rotation of geometrical figures. We dealt with symmetry, types of angles, plotting coordinates, and all things spatial. Next week we will start our unit on probability and working with data.

This week in Ms. Kandi’s group we began a new unit on probability and data analysis.  Families should have received a letter explaining this new unit in more detail.  We discussed the meaning of the word probability.  We then discussed the likelihood of rolling a 4, an even number, and a number less than 7 in a single roll of a die marked 1 – 6.  After some experimentation and discussion, students developed working definitions for the terms impossible, unlikely, as likely as unlikely, likely, andcertain, placed them in order along a “probability line”, and entered a variety of everyday events along that line.  Students received a home connection to practice using a chart to show all the possible outcomes of a situation.  Students played a game called the Tile Choice Game, which involves randomly selecting tiles from a bag that contains 6 yellow, 4 blue, and 2 green tiles.  Students made observations and predictions about the likely outcomes of the game and then played it in partnerships.  Students then discussed the actual results, as well as the theoretical probability of drawing each color of tile.  They then used this information to assign numerical values between 0 and 1 to the terms they placed along the probability line earlier in the week.  At the end of the week students created bar graphs to summarize the results from the Tile Choice Game.  This allowed them to compare the theoretical probabilities to the experimental probabilities.  This activity also helped them understand that larger sample sizes produce data that comes closer to matching theoretical probabilities.

Readers Workshop

In readers workshop this week, we continued our study of historical fiction. Our teaching points were:

  • Readers look out for symbols.
  • Readers consider the symbolic arcs of their books.
  • Readers find power in picture books and novels.

Additionally, students participating in book clubs have this assignment due on Monday.

Writers Workshop

In writers workshop we studied poetry. We talked about strong emotions in poems. We talked about the different forms of poetry we are learning to write. We discussed how we can be inspired to write new poetry.

P3 Workshop

In P3 this week we finished our studies of regional groups of Native Americans.

Newsletter 19 – 1/25/15


We had such an amazing time during MLK Jr. Day! We discussed his life’s work, studied photos, and sang songs. We also made care packages for the Shalom Center. These were specifically for families with small children. They had: 2 diapers, 2 coloring books, 2 crayons, a juice box, a baby food package, and a personalized card. We are so grateful to MLK Jr. for his courage and passion.

Readers Workshop

This week we started a book for the read aloud called The Watsons Go To Birmingham by Christopher Paul Curtis. The Watsons live in flint michigan. The main character is a boy who has one older brother named Byron and a younger sister named Joetta. Their mother is from Alabama, and their father is from flint. The mother wants to move back to Alabama but the father wants to stay in flint with his sister. They are in the middle of a snowstorm so they are leaving their house to go to his sisters house which is much warmer than thier house.

One teaching point: Readers consider the scope of challenges a character faces (self, family, community, state, country, world).We did a sheet where wrote a quote of joy our book club book, a quote of injustice, and explain why.We also wrote wrote what we thought this quote by Bayard Rustin meant, “We are one, and if we don’t know it, we’ll learn it the hard way.”

Writers Workshop

This week in writers workshop we have started a new unit…POETRY!!! Normally in morning meeting we have jokes but to match our writers unit we have a poetry session. We have learned some new types of poetry – haiku, free verse and rhyming aa bb cc dd. The teaching points for this week are: Poets use specific language to paint a mental image.

P3 Workshop

This week in P3 we did more History Of Us and issues. In History Of Us we read about Plains (a native american tribe) and Mound Builders(also a tribe).  In issues we thought about joy and injustice in our world looking at Indy Kids articles. We wrote what we think is injustice and joy on two posters.

Math Workshop

This week in ms. Kalei’s math group we have been doing are math assessment for geometry. We have been working on geometry for two to three weeks now,  and we have finished doing the geometry unit. We have also started working on geometry, perimeter, area, volume, algebra, and much more. There are 36 cards with different questions on each card. All of the cards are different so we need to answer all of the cards in one little numbered box for each card.

This week in Mr. Jim’s math group we have been doing more geometry like symmetry and angles.we also have been working on learning how to make 3d shapes and also our problem solving sheets with our problem solving groups.our problem solving are where there are 3 or 4 people that we work as a group on  our problem solving papers.

This week Ms. Caitlin was absent for Thursday and Friday, so on Thursday Ms. Pam helped us (!!!!!) and on Friday we worked in the class library by ourselves. Almost everyone is done with their projects, so we will be starting new ones very soon! We are working on negatives and positives on a number line, and adding/subtracting/multiplying/dividing negatives and positives.

In Ms. Kandi’s group, we began the week by thinking about a story where 2 squirrels find a hidden cache of nuts in the hollow of an old tree and then have to share their treasure with increasing numbers of friends and relatives.  As they listened, students enacted the divisions using base-10 pieces.  Guidance was provided for discussing the traditional long division algorithm.  We then returned to the area model for division introduced earlier in the year.  After briefly reviewing the model, students used base-ten area pieces, along with sketches, to explore dividing 120 by a series of 1-digit numbers and by 11.  At the end of the week students worked on a post-assessment to show what they have learned about division.

Book Buddies

In book buddies this week, they shared their published books they made. It was very amazing to see their books that they worked on them very hard. It is also amazing to see because, we shared our earth science comics with them and now it is their turn to show us what they made.

Performing Arts

In performing arts this week, we got our scripts and we highlighted the parts in the songs and in the speaking parts. We also marched to the courthouse and sang our rehearsed songs in a peaceful protest. The songs we sang were “Singabahambayo “ “Oh, Freedom” and “Peace Like a River” and “We Shall Overcome” When we highlighted our lines, we went over the script so that way everyone could get used to their parts.

We also made a beautiful blend of “Peace Like A River” and “Oh Freedom”. They are polyphonic, and they sound amazing together!

Visual Arts

So far in arts we have have been working on mono prints. we have learned different art elements. we have had restrictions to what we are able to do but its still fun.We are going to start working on set design so fun! I hope all you folks are excited for the play.  We should have an existing set so make sure  to watch for it.


IMG_5146 IMG_5149 IMG_5150 IMG_5151 IMG_5152 IMG_5162 IMG_5163

Newsletter 18 – 1/15/15


  • We did some winter NWEA tests this week for midyear data collection.
  • We worked on representing our community with paper buildings that have things we need as a community (friendship, etc.)
  • Snack Schedule

Week of 1/19 – Last names that begin with R-W
Week of 1/26– Last names that begin with A-H
Week of 2/2 – Last names that begin with I-L
Week of 2/9 – Last names that begin with M-P

Writers Workshop

In writers this week we finished persuasive essays.

Readers Workshop

This week in Readers Workshop we continued to work on our yellow sheets. The “yellow sheets” direct students to ask “What do I think?; What do I want to know?; What did I learn?” The picture book book club did some research on slavery on pbs times of slavery.

The teaching points: Readers puzzle through historical language. Readers compare and contrast their book with nonfiction sources. Readers find moments of joy and injustice historical fiction. 

P3 Workshop

This week in P3 we talked about race and words. We learned that “people of color”are words that we use today and learned about what people used to say. We also wrote down what we think about words

Math Workshop

This week in Mr. Jim’s math group we have been doing more on angles and geometry. We did more with coordinates. We worked with rotating and reflecting shapes. We worked with geoboards. 

In Ms. Kalei’s group this week we spent a lot of time working with volume. We first made observations about a centimeter cube and talked about how we measure what is on the inside. We built boxes out of paper and calculated the volume by filling it with centimeter cubes. The paper boxes weren’t perfect size which let us use some half centimeter measurements! Later in the week we calculated the volume of a kleenex box in cubic inches and then calculated a box two times the size. 

This week in Ms. Caitlin’s math group we have been racing through the packets! We have been working on absolute value, and lots of positives and negatives. Three students shared their projects, and a few more people are almost done.

We began this week by solving story problems that all involved dividing 29 in ways that result in remainders.  When discussing our solutions and strategies as a class, we explored the fact that the context of each problem dictates how the remainders should be handled.  We kept track of division strategies so we could reflect upon the various methods we already have for solving division problems.  Students practiced doing division with and without remainders by playing a new game in which getting a remainder is an advantage, because the team whose remainders add up to the highest amount wins.  This game, called Remainders Win, came home this week as a home connection.  We also learned a game called Line ‘Em Up, which helped us practice multiplication skills and develop efficient strategies for doing division with divisors to 9 and dividends to 100.  At the end of the week we moved into the realm of division beyond the basics, asking students to deal with such problems as $72 divided by 3 and $56 divided 4.  The story problems capitalize on students’ interest in money and their inclination to work with it in chunks rather than dealing out the dollars one by one. 

New Student Interview

Interviewer  Iris Kreilkamp (intrepid blogger)

Here is an interview with Monica, our new student:

I: What do you like best about our school?

M: You can join committees, wear hats, and chew gum.

I: Why did you come to this school?

M: I was driving by, and told my mom that I wanted to go to this school, and she said Icould.

I:Have you been enjoying it?

M: Yes!

Performing Arts

In performing arts, we have been researching some of the most important people and topics of Going West, and practicing many of our songs. We are all super glad that we got our parts, and are all grateful to Mr. Chris for working so hard to give us our perfect parts.

Visual Arts

Lately in class we have had task, a game where you write a thing that somebody can creatively interpret, and then you grab one yourself.

Book Buddies

In book buddies this week we did not have a topic to discuss Our book buddies are still getting better and better at their reading. For instance, this week my book bud read a book that he thought he could not read. It is amazing to see our book buddies make progress like that because, we are supposed to help them sound out words and seeing them read that much means we have done our job!

Morning Meeting

This week we have been doing a lot of “pass the something” games. (Pass the Chicken, Chase the Bunny)

Questions to Ask Your Child at Home:

  • What did you build in your symbolic 4/5 community?
  • What does injustice mean?

Newsletter 17 – 1/9/15


This week we have started school (obviously) and have been doing Intensives. Intensives is something we usually have after a major break instead of Passions. Each time it is about a certain topic (ie., multiplication, nonfiction, grammar) and this time we are doing language mechanics: punctuation, capitalization, spelling, etc.

Another major thing is Capstone. Capstone is a individualized project each student will work towards finishing at the end of the year. Students choose something they are very passionate about, and make a 3-part presentation about it. If you want to learn more, ask your child or stay tuned for future issues with a Capstone section.

We have a new student, coming in on Monday! She is in 5th grade and is very excited. Your kid will probably tell you plenty about her, and we hope she feels happy and welcomed here!

Readers Workshop

This week when we read Joey Pigza he went to Pittsburgh, to get a brain scan. He is going to get a dog when he gets back home. Joey has a lot of problems but he is starting to find the answers.

We are moving into a study of historical fiction. Please look at this post to learn about our historical fiction unit!!! The teaching points this week were, readers envision a time period, readers narrow their definitions of historical fiction.

In our book clubs, we are working on a sheet where you are answering these questions:what do I know?What do I want to know?What have I learned?We are also working on making mental movies of our text.

Many students have made selections for book club books. They chose from several authors. Please look at the descriptions below to learn more about these books.

Writers Workshop

This week in writer’s workshop we worked on the persuasive prompts  that Mr.JIM gave to us.The prompts are should all students be required to do eight hours of community service ( cleaning,sweeping etc) For every  school year? Should all students be required to play the field games on friday? and starting next week we will be studying poetry.

P3 Workshop

This week in P3 on Friday in issues we talked about the new student who will be joining us on Monday. We talked about how to welcome her go to featured to learn more. At the beginning of the week we made posters about the agreements,they are T.R.U.S.T,Treat others will,Respect,Use your strengths and talents to help others,Safe and Think before you speak.We have also been working on community building after two weeks apart.

Math Workshop

In Ms. Caitlin’s math group (formerly Ms. Pam) worked on projects. We are all very close to finishing! We have also been working on clearing out our folders so we have no fix and finish. Our packets have been about ratios, decimals, fractions, and percentages. We have been very angry at Rowena and Polly. These people are way too interested in the science of trail mix. If you are confused, please ask your child (if they are in Ms. Caitlin’s groups) who they are.

In Mr. Jim’s group we have started a new math unit on geometry. We started our new unit with angles and coordinates.We will do a lot more on geometry later in the unit.We all made an angle compass out of paper and a pyramid also out of paper.we have not had any math practice since we got back from break because of our intensives.

In Ms. Kalei’s group we started our study of three dimensional shapes.In our table groups we got a nets and had to cut them out and write observations about them. Students named the faces, edges, and vertices of each 3-d shape. They noted whether the faces, edges, and vertices were parallel, perpendicular, or congruent. 

In Ms. Kandi’s group we began the week by completing a fractions of a foot scavenger hunt.  Students looked for items that are about as long, tall, or wide as each fraction of a foot (1/4 ft., 1/2 ft., 3/4 ft.).  This activity supported our study of fractions and measuring.  Students completed a similar activity for homework.  We then created colored tile arrays and expressed the amount of each color as a fraction of the whole array.  Throughout the week we worked on a post assessment for the fraction part of our unit.  At the end of the week we made a shift in focus from fractions to division, although we have been discussing the connections throughout.  First, students discussed the meaning of division and thought again about how it relates to fractions.  Then we did an activity based on the book A Remainder of One to model and record the division that takes place in the story.  

Performing Arts

We auditioned for musical and acting parts for our play, “Going West!” We are all very, very excited to do set design, acting ,singing, etc. We read from the script to get used to it a bit more and sang all of the amazing songs that we are all trying to memorize! You might hear your child hum the tunes from the songs, so you should also help them memorize the songs!

We will get them on this Friday, so be sure to ask your child what they got! If you can, over the weekend and in the days leading up to our play, please help your child memorize their lines.

Visual Arts

This week in visual arts we have been doing visual resources projects, that is when you get to have one bin of stuff and you get to use everything in it to make a visual art project. For example if you had a bin of scissors and it had an eraser in it you’d get to have the bin that holds the erasers and the scissors and also the eraser to make a project, you put all the pieces together but you can’t use anything that’s not in the bin of scissors, but you use the scissor bin and interpret it any way you want, then the fabulous Ms. Sara will snap a picture of it. After that you do a reflection on how you used flow in the piece, and how it was to work with other people on this or by yourself.

The next class we did in visual arts is… TASK!!! Task is a thing that is super fun. What you do in task if you select a piece of paper and you write a task on it, which means you write something that’s way more than crazy on it and you put it in the “New Task” bin. Then you shake it up and draw from the bin, then you have to do that task, but the fun thing about this activity is you get to interpret the task that you get in your own fun way!

Book Buddies

In book buddies we told each other how our breaks were, because we had not seen each other for so long. I noticed that over the break our book buddies [well mine did] went up a couple reading levels than the last time we saw them. It really makes me proud to see my book buddy that could only read a little at the beginning of the year accomplish something like that!

Morning Meeting

Good morning we have done the laughing tissue it is where the teacher gets on an high spot  in the classroom and when they drop the tissue we laugh and then we  stop laughing and we do that over and over and sometimes we do it when we have been sitting for a long time and we have been listening to the teacher and we need to move that is an game that we play. Another game we play is number freeze is where you have to get the number that that person chose. and you have to get that number of people to get up and that person will say freeze and they freeze and then they count and if it is the number that that person said then we pick an different number and if it was wrong then we try again. This week one of the greetings we did was high 10 then you put up 10 fingers and high five two times. You say good morning __________. They will say good morning __________ .

Questions to Ask Your Child at Home:

  • What picture books did you read in historical fiction? What did you learn?
  • How did it feel being back at school this week?
  • What side did you take in the persuasive writing prompts? What were your arguments?

Historical Fiction in Readers Workshop

Dear Families,

We are moving into a study of historical fiction. Students defined historical fiction as:

  1. Blends fact and story
  2. The events might have happened in real life.
  3. The plot takes place in the past (sometimes around important historical events)
  4. Characters are fictional but they are examples of/stories of real people

By its nature, historical fiction generally sets characters in turbulent times. The times are explored through the eyes of the character. We are reading books that deal with slavery, poverty, racism, sexism, and other kinds of oppression. These topics have often been explored in children’s literature through historical fiction. In our discussions, these topics are going to come up.

The theme for the unit is “joy and justice.” As we studies times of great injustice, we also look for the moments of joy. Many of our books have elements of humor and we’ll make sure to emphasize both the joys and sorrows of looking through history. We will use several picture books as mentor texts (possibly) including, Unspoken by Henry Cole, Encounter by Jane Yolen, Harvesting Hope by Kathleen Krull, Rose Blanche by Roberto Innocenti, Freedom Summer by Deborah Wiles, Brave Girl by Michelle Markel, The Other Side by Jacqueline Woodson, and others.

Throughout the unit students will keep track of information that they think they know, questions they are having, and information that they have learned.

Some possible teaching points are:

  • Readers envision the time period (look at how characters dress, talk, the setting, daily life)
  • Readers puzzle through historical language.
  • Readers look for problems their character faces – big and small (realms of influence, what are the problems the character faces within themselves/family/community/world)
  • Readers pay attention to how time passes in a text (specifically considering flashback)
  • Readers consider how age influences perspective (compare/contrast structure, how are the children and the adults minded differently)
  • Readers look out for symbols (objects/items that represent something beyond their face)
  • Readers compare their world to the world of the character.
  • Readers consider how the different parts of the book symbolize bigger ideas (how does the beginning/middle/end symbolize or generalize the arc of this time pd)
  • Readers think deeply about passages in a book (close reading in book club meeting – give them the passage before that section of reading and ask them/let them come across it in the text)
  • Readers think about the personal journey of their character.  – What do I think? What do I do? How does this communicate who I want to be?

Students that are not in LLI are in book clubs. You can find out more about the book club choices below.

Bud, Not Buddy – It’s 1936, in Flint, Michigan. Ten-year-old Bud may be a motherless boy on the run, but he’s on a mission. His momma never told him who his father was, but she left a clue: posters of Herman E. Calloway and his famous band, the Dusky Devastators of the Depression! Bud’s got an idea that those posters will lead to his father. Once he decides to hit the road and find this mystery man, nothing can stop him.

Elijah of Buxton – The first child born into freedom in Buxton, Canada, a settlement of runaway slaves just over the border from Detroit, Elijah is best known in his hometown as the boy who threw up on Frederick Douglass. (Not on purpose, of course — he was just a baby then!) But things change when a former slave calling himself the Right Reverend Zephariah W. Connerly the Third steals money from Elijah’s friend Mr. Leroy, who has been saving to buy his family out of captivity in the south. Elijah joins Mr. Leroy on a dangerous journey to America in pursuit of the disreputable preacher, and he discovers firsthand the unimaginable horrors of the life his parents fled — a life from which he’ll always be free, if he can find the courage to go back home.

Inside Out, & Back Again – Things are changing in Hà’s world, as the Vietnam War comes closer and closer to her home in Saigon. Her friends and neighbors are leaving, her oldest brother is speaking out against the North, and the likelihood of being reunited with her father — who has been missing in action for nine years — is growing dimmer. When Saigon falls in 1975, Hà and her family are forced to flee on a navy ship and, after spending months in refugee camps, end up moving to Alabama. There, Hà struggles to deal with everything from learning the language and customs to handling the bullies who make fun of her at school. Will she ever feel at home in this strange new land? And will she ever see her father again?

Mighty Miss Malone – Twelve-year-old Deza Malone has a close and loving family, and she’s the smartest girl in her class in Gary, Indiana. But times are tough, and it’s hard for black men like Deza’s father to find work. Desperate to help his family, Deza’s father leaves town to look for work, and soon Deza, her mom, and her older brother, Jimmie, are setting off in search of him. Along the way, they experience many Depression-era hardships, including living in a shantytown and riding the rails, all the while never giving up the hope of being together again.

One Crazy Summer – Eleven-year-old Delphine has it together. Even though her mother, Cecile, abandoned her and her younger sisters, Vonetta and Fern, seven years ago. Even though her father and Big Ma will send them from Brooklyn to Oakland, California, to stay with Cecile for the summer. And even though Delphine will have to take care of her sisters, as usual, and learn the truth about the missing pieces of the past. When the girls arrive in Oakland in the summer of 1968, Cecile wants nothing to do with them. She makes them eat Chinese takeout dinners, forbids them to enter her kitchen, and never explains the strange visitors with Afros and black berets who knock on her door. Rather than spend time with them, Cecile sends Delphine, Vonetta, and Fern to a summer camp sponsored by a revolutionary group, the Black Panthers, where the girls get a radical new education.

Picture Book Book Club – Students in this book will study a range of historical periods as they delve into a deep look at picture books. They will study slavery, World War II and The Civil Rights movement. They may also look at historical fiction based biographies.

Riding Freedom – Charlotte Parkhurst never acted like most other girls. She climbed trees and fought with the boys and worked in a stable. She had a way with horses that was like nothing folks had ever seen. In the mid-1800s, some people didn’t think it was proper for a girl to behave like Charlotte, and they tried to stop her. But Charlotte was smart, and she came up with a plan that would let her live her life the way she wanted — a plan so clever and so secretive that almost no one figured it out.