Newsletter 12 – 11/17/17

Weekly Highlights

This week we got into some new and exciting topics. In P3, we spent four days talking about puberty. We’ll be talking about gender later on, so our focus here was mostly on what happens to you physically as you go through and experience puberty. We covered commonalities experienced by people during puberty, female bodies, and male bodies.

Below, you’ll find a list of some of the questions we addressed.  Some parts of puberty & growing up will not be addressed in our curriculum. As we move forward with the unit, we’ll send you a document of the questions we haven’t answered, so you can have these conversations at home in the way that you choose to.We are using the text It’s Perfectly Normal, by Robie H. Harris and Michael Emberley as well as Sex Is a Funny Word by Cory Silverberg to guide our discussions.

Kids have handled these conversations with tremendous maturity and honesty. That was also visible today when we debriefed the movie Wonder. We watched it Friday morning, and after, we had a conversation about messages it left us with. We also talked about the ways that the message “Our actions are our monuments” may impact and/or show up at school. Students discussed and brought forward some ideas of what they think needs to change at TPS, and we’ll start addressing those as soon as we return from Thanksgiving Break.

After break, we’ll be doing some work with Middle Way House on building healthy relationships. This work will mostly explore power, violence, and how to set boundaries in relationships. We’ll also be talking about what healthy and unhealthy relationships can look like and feel like, and some ideas of how to help yourself/your friends if you find yourself in a dynamic that isn’t great. Kalei will be working on putting the curriculum together with Middle Way House folks too, so please email her with any specific questions.


We are going on Thanksgiving Break! We will return to school on 11/27. Students may need to finish up book club work over the break, but there is otherwise no additional homework.

Questions to Ask Your Child at Home:

  • How did you feel about the movie Wonder? What lessons did it teach/share?
  • How has learning about puberty been? What questions have you heard and/or asked that have surprised you?
  • What questions do you still have about the human body?


Some questions asked & answered during health/puberty work this week:

  • How do periods happen?
  • Do boys basically have periods?
  • Will tampons get stuck? How much do they hurt?
  • How frequent do ejaculations happen? At what age?
  • Is it ok to feel sad a lot of the time?
  • When does puberty usually end?
  • Why do people have stuff [discharge] in their underwear? How does that happen?
  • What do pubic hairs do?
  • Why do wet dreams happen?
  • How do body fat and age impact when you start puberty?
  • How do growing pains happen?
  • How can we notice these changes?
  • What is puberty?


Newsletter 11 – 11/12/17

Weekly Highlights

This week in morning meeting we worked with the ideas of growth mindset. We talked about the windshield wiper method to de-stress. We imagined times that we get “stuck” and how these moments are like fog on a windshield. Eventually, the windshield is reducing our ability to see clearly and we have. We also talked about our current interests and hobbies – and reflected on those we’ve had in the past.

In readers workshop, we’ve been diagramming the plot of our books. We’ve been comparing conflicts/problems and breakthroughs as our stories move forward. Our read aloud Upside Down in the Middle of Nowhere has been an incredible model of a plot where the character continues to be challenged and rarely experiences a breakthrough.

We began conversations in our classroom about gender and gender stereotypes. Soon into them, we discovered that students are very interested and curious about bodies – we’re hoping you respond to Mr. John’s email earlier about our plans to talk puberty this upcoming week.


  • We are going to see “Wonder” on Friday. Please send in $6 for your child if you are able to. No child will be prevented from going based on an inability to pay.
  • We regularly use Google Classroom to send out assignments to students. If you have tech access at home, your child can show you how they log in by going to and signing in with their address.
  • The arts team has posted an update about 5/6. 
  • Art to Remember products online now include buttons, posters, and rulers
  • Repost of the snack schedule:

Last names Allen-Crouch – 8/14, 9/11, 10/23, 11/27
Last names Daniels-Lawson – 8/21, 9/18, 10/30, 12/4
Last names Leinenbach-Port – 8/28, 9/25, 11/6, 12/11
Last names Pulley-Wright 9/5, 10/2, 11/13, 12/18

Questions to Ask Your Child at Home:

  • Explain how the plot has looked in your book club book.
  • What is something you’ve gotten better at?
  • What stereotypes did you discuss in class?
  • How have you used Fresh Grade this year?
  • What new connections are you making?

Newsletter 10 – 11/5/17

Weekly Highlights

This week we worked on really moving up our responsibility. We had our first round of book club meetings that focused on inferring about who the characters are. Students met for 20-30 minutes once this past week and completed two written assignments about their book club reading.

We also started to move into some project work in our P3 unit about natural disasters. After putting final touches on research essays, students began to break into groups based on who may be more vulnerable in case of a storm or natural disaster. In small groups they discussed why some people may have more needs than others when a disaster strikes, and what might be done to address those needs.

Throughout the next few weeks, students will meet and do projects based on these vulnerable communities. We’ll have project time scheduled in a few times a week, and some students may also need/want to do work at home.


  • As one P3 unit closes down, we begin another. Over the next two weeks before Thanksgiving break, we’ll be doing some work around gender in 5/6. During our P3 times we’ll be taking on questions like “What is gender?” and “What are stereotypes about gender?” This quick study will gently touch on media/advertising influence, and also help kiddos develop a more comprehensive understanding of what makes them – them! Following Thanksgiving break, our work will be a little more focused on bodies (and puberty!) but we will follow up with details on that soon.
  • We are so very excited to share with you the opportunity we have to take our 3-8th grade students to see the movie Wonder on Friday, November 17. This is a movie adaptation of the amazing book Wonder by RJ Palacio. The book and the movie fit so well with the work we do everyday at TPS. Many students have read this book themselves or had this book as a class read aloud at some point in the past few years. What is even more exciting is that we will be going on opening day and viewing the movie before any of the regular show times begin!
    The cost will be $6.00 per student.  Every child will attend the movie, regardless of ability to pay. If you can send an additional donation, beyond the cost of your child’s ticket, that will be greatly appreciated.
    There will be NO concessions offered at our special viewing. Please do not send additional money for snacks/concessions with your child.

Questions to Ask Your Child at Home:

  • What have book clubs been like for you this round? How did your first discussion go?
  • What vulnerable population did you decide to focus on? What draws you to that group?
  • What have you learned about the natural disaster you studied?
  • You’ve been spending some time during dismissal playing the game “Rare Birds.” What has that been like?