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].