Newsletter 7 – 9/24/16

Weekly Highlights

This week was the start of many new things. Much of our morning time this week was spent on NWEA testing – a growth-based assessment we take at the beginning(ish) and end(ish) of each year. Students took the language, reading, and math tests this week. Some kiddos that were absent or test in small groups will still have assessments to finish up, but the majority of them are all done with this round.

Thank you to all who attended the publishing party. We work to have publishing parties during the school day so kids can celebrate, but please let me know if you’d be interested in an after-school time publishing party at some point this year. We know many of you have work that you can’t leave during the day! After looking through kids writing – both drafts and final pieces – we think an essential part of our curriculum is to teach and talk about punctuation. For the next few weeks, kids will be working in small groups to build more fluency with ending punctuation, capitalization, and commas. We’ll eventually/hopefully get to some more sophisticated concepts with parentheses, hyphens, and semi-colons (oh my!) but want to make sure the basics are covered first.

In Readers Workshop we’re going to be doing a combination of research and study groups (non-fiction book clubs-ish) for the next few weeks. We have a heaping helping of texts about the American Revolution and 13 colonies and kids are going to be reading through these texts, exploring several levels of analysis, and meeting in small groups to talk about what they are reading. A few pictures of book covers are below, but this is not a comprehensive list. 61kxc2bgnbl-_sx258_bo1204203200_ 51yytmpxnhl-_sx258_bo1204203200_ 51mktjviv5l-_sx258_bo1204203200_ 9780531219713 9780881035520_xlg


Conferences are upon us. Mr. Jim and I will send home a letter on Monday with our schedules for conferences, but we are open to before school, after school, and weekend times as needed. We are so excited to sit down with you soon and set some goals together for your student(s).

Also – last week to order from Scholastic using our online code. Your orders help us get points that we can spend on books for our classroom library. If you use the code LVRCJ at this link, you’ll order through our class and we get credit. I’ll be placing the order late next week, so please order if you are able to – and thank you!

Questions to Ask Your Child at Home

  • What is your group story about in writers workshop? What kinds of punctuation/capitalization have you learned about so far?
  • Tell us about the carrots.
  • What perspectives are you studying in P3?



Newsletter 6 – 9/16/16

Weekly Highlights

This week was all about urgency and deadlines! We spent most of our week getting through the final stages of our writing pieces and finishing up/reflecting on our reading paths. We saw a lot of kids work hard and work extra in order to meet the deadlines, which was a new step in maturity and responsibility. Woohoo! We’ll have a writing celebration on Wednesday 9/21 at 8:30 which you are welcome to attend in the 5/6 classroom.

Another piece of work we did was taking the throughline perspectives and applying it to some issues of exclusion in our community. We talked a lot this week about “in-groups” and “out-groups.” We did a snowball share where kids shared an in-group/out-group dynamic they’d observed in our classroom in the past few weeks. We were, in many ways, surprised and not surprised by what came up. We talked about intentional exclusion (i.e. not allowing someone to play a game, using hurtful language and/or mean jokes) and un-intentional exclusion (sharing inside jokes publicly, sitting at a table with friends) and how both kinds can have negative consequences. Up next, we’ll discuss the more “gray” area situations – where it is unintentional and possibly unavoidable (ex: there are a limited amount of seats at a table, at some point, they all fill up!). We’ll also do some work thinking about diversifying our sub-communities and how to connect to one another.


One major push from our librarians this year will be to bring new titles into our library. We are certainly trying to build new perspectives into our text & text sets and are looking for some help from you! You can go online and order from Scholastic Reading Clubs giving our class points to spend toward new books. You can also order titles that you’d like to donate or direct toward our class. Both options are amazing and helpful to us! Our class code is LVRCJ and can be used at any time. However, if you can order in the next few weeks (i.e. before September 30th), we can get all these extra add-on points that give us even more books. Of course, this is not at all required. Below are some titles we hope to purchase.

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Soon we will be sending home conference letters. Look for them toward the end of the week!

Questions to Ask Your Child at Home

  • How did you feel about meeting the reading and writing deadlines this week?
  • Talk to us/me about in-groups and out-groups. What came up in your morning meetings this week?
  • What have you been discussing in your latest P3 unit?

Newsletter 5 – 9/10/16

Weekly Highlights

We talked this week about taking breaks – when we take them, why we take them, and how we take them. We framed this conversation around how everyone – adults, kids, pets – has to take breaks from what they are doing sometime. We can call this taking “space” or taking a minute or taking a break, but really what we are doing is trying to figure out how to re-engage. Tying this work to our throughlines, we discussed how breaks will differ based on who we are and that there is no “better” or “worse” way to take a break. Everyone practiced taking a break in the way they felt most comfortable with – grabbing a drink of water, moving their physical posture, tapping their pencil, etc.

We also finished up our final P3 reflection for our design unit. We used one form of the design process as a way to talk through and reflect on our steps in this unit. We’ve been adjusting to the new design quite well.


Questions to Ask Your Child at Home

  • Your writing deadline is next Friday, how do you feel about the status of your piece?
  • When do you need to take a break? What kinds of breaks do you like/need to take?
  • Your Reading Path is coming to a close (on Tuesday), how have you pushed yourself in this reading unit?
  • Tell me about small, medium, and large conflict.


Math Night

Meet your child’s math teacher, learn about the ways we engage with our students as mathematicians, and come away with strategies for how you can support your child’s math success during this brief evening event on Thursday, September 22, from 6:30-7:30pm. The evening will be in two-30 minute sessions so that if you have children in more than one math class you can at least get to two of the sessions. Your TPS child is welcome to join you in their math class for this event. Unlike many of our “open house” structures, where it makes sense to float through, this evening is more of a presentation – so you will want to be in the classroom from the beginning to the end of the 30-minute session. Email MS. HEATHER with questions that you want to have specifically answered on this night.

Newsletter 4 – 9/4/16

Weekly Highlights

In Readers Workshop we started thinking about our characters identities. One of our throughlines of the year is – I feel good about my many identities and know they don’t make me better than people with other identities. As our class develops and grows more fully into the meaning of this throughline (and our agreements) we are starting to look for connections with our characters. This week this work manifested in creating identity maps for our characters. We first did so with our read aloud of Rollergirl, and you can see the map the class generated during our discussions of the main character Astrid and her new friend Zoey.

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Students started to map the identities of the main character in their Reading Path books, considering multiple aspects of these identities – not just character traits. They then brought in mapping of a second character because our next step in this work is to recognize how having different identities brings different perspectives to a conflict.

Another component of our week was getting onto our Fresh Grade portfolios. We use Fresh Grade (it’s an app, a website, and so much more) to keep track of assignments, to have online conversations with kids about their work, to capture the final pieces and the in process pieces of workshops, and a lot of other stuff. We’ll show you the ongoing Fresh Grade portfolios at our fall conferences (if not sooner). Kids will have a time at least once a week where they login and respond to a prompt about the week – sometimes it will be academic and sometimes it’ll be more social-emotional. This past week we asked them to write about their first reading path book, summarize the book, and write a bit about the characters.

Upcoming Dates & Deadlines

  • September 5th – no school! Labor day!
  • September 6th is TPS skate night at Western Skateland from 6:30-8:30
  • September 13th is the deadline of the second Reading Path book
  • September 16th is our personal narrative deadline for writers workshop – we will be working in class to get this piece published in the next two weeks
  • Fall conferences are going to start in a few weeks – we’ll send you more information soon

Questions to Ask Your Child at Home

  • Which personal narrative story are you thinking about publishing ?
  • Which kinds of feedback in P3 have been the most interesting for you to give/receive?
  • What do you think the final classroom design will look like – what worked from your group? What didn’t?
  • How are CPR and Morning Meeting similar/different?