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].

Newsletter 15- 12/17/17

Weekly Highlights

This week we spent time working on narratives, and the stories we’ve created are amazing. Students planned out the beginning, middle, and end of their stories quickly and then had some craft instruction on a lead. We set these stories up so that they will be done by tomorrow afternoon (hopefully)!

We also started to test out a new spelling program in 5/6. We’re going to try this week and see how it goes, and right now the whole class is doing the same thing. We are hoping to move to small groups and/or individualized lists within the few weeks after winter break.

We talked in P3/Health/Pre-Teen Hygiene this week about crushes and managing feelings. We had a panel of local birth workers – a doula, a midwife, and a person from All Options Pregnancy Center come in and talk with us about their different roles in pregnancy. On Friday, we talked about some of the things that make up Human Sexuality and sorted these ideas into the categories of: closeness, health, identity, and violence. In partnerships, students tried to place behaviors/ideas/things into these categories and/or overlap them in categories. We had a few whole-class discussions – particularly around the words vulnerability and risk-taking.


Copied from the TPS Update: Our K – 5/6/7 classes will be attending Cardinal Stage Company’s production of “Peter Pan” on Thursday morning. This includes all students except for our 7/8 class. The discounted tickets are $6.50 each. If you have not yet sent in ticket money for your child/ren, please do so early in the week. As always, no student will miss out on this opportunity regardless of ability to pay. Let teachers know if you need confidential ticket support. And for families who are able to contribute to support attendance by other students, we are always grateful!

A project of 7/8 that we are participating in this week: 

Spirit week is coming! Your child can participate to build community and collect personal care items for the Shalom Center. We’ll collect any personal care items in our classroom in a large box. Items can include soaps, toiletries, socks, feminine hygiene products, disposable razors, and anything else you think someone experiencing homelessness or poverty might find beneficial. We’ll deliver the items before we go on break so that people can benefit from them right away.

Each day has a theme.
Monday: Dress Alike Day (Groups of students choose to dress in a similar style/fashion
Tuesday: Color War between grades: 8th-Blue; 7th-Red; 6th-Purple; 5th: Green
Wednesday: Pajama Day
Thursday: Throwback Thursday (choose an era from the past and dress for the time!)

We talked as a community about Dress Alike on Monday, and came up with some group possibilities – fancy dressing (suit, bowtie, etc.), Harry Potter, different shoes, animal prints, and camo.

We are getting so excited for our annual Variety Show, which will take place on Wednesday, December 20, from 8:30-10:30a at Rhino’s! All family members are invited to join us, but we ask you to please, please remember to be good neighbors and TPS community members by parking only in designated and approved locations. These locations include: the free overflow lot for the Convention Center, the free spaces at 3rd Street Park, and the 4th Street Parking Garage (free for the first 3 hours). You can also use the paid metered spots along Walnut. Please DO NOT PARK anywhere in the extended Rhino’s parking lot, or in the TPS lots behind our building or along the mural wall. Thanks!

Questions to Ask Your Child at Home:

  • What is respect/empathy? What does it look like, feel like, & sound like?
  • What are some of the social, cognitive, physical, and emotional changes of puberty? [this is on a google doc they did in classroom]
  • How did you do with the homework deadline [Friday 12/15]?

Newsletter 14- 12/10/17

Weekly Highlights

This week we focused on JOY in morning meeting. Students reflected on their favorite things to do, activities they would like to try, and the way they feel when they are happy. We took a lot of opportunities to be playful and silly, including our time on Friday when students drew a picture of themselves as an animal.

We went to the library to watch the 3/4 play – Willy Wonka.

We built in more work with commas – specifically looking at and learning about appositives. We finished up our friendly persuasive letter correspondences. We used a graphic organizer to plan out our arguments and supporting facts.


We will be attending  “Peter Pan” on Thursday, December 21.  We ask families with children attending the performance to please send in $6.50/child to the front desk or to the classroom teacher by December 15. No TPS child will miss the experience, regardless of ability to pay.

Snack Schedule:

Last names Allen-Crouch – 1/9, 2/5, 3/5, 4/16
Last names Daniels-Lawson – 1/15, 2/12, 3/26, 4/23
Last names Leinenbach-Port – 12/11, 1/22, 2/19, 4/2
Last names Pulley-Wright 12/18, 1/29, 2/26, 4/9

Questions to Ask Yourself at Home

  • What is a way you experience joy?
  • What did you learn about pregnancy & fetal development this week?
  • How did you connect facts (qualitative & quantitative) to your persuasive letters?
  • What is happening in your math group lately?

Newsletter 13 – 12/3/17

Weekly Highlights

This week we mostly focused on the curriculum through Middle Way House and our new Writers Workshop unit.

Our work with Middle Way House focused on a few different threads: gender, power & control, unhealthy/healthy relationships, and bystander intervention. Students learned and worked through much of this with our facilitator, Sam. They connected students with ways to get help for themselves or for a friend. We also learned about consent and the times in the 5th/6th grader’s life when we may need to get consent (hanging out, playing a rough game, hugging). A huge takeaway from the 5/6 teaching team was that our students have many, many questions about violence, relationships, and gender. The bulk of each 90 minute session was spent on the complex ways students are envisioning the world around them.

A summary, sent by Prevention Educator Sam, is below:

Question Themes We Heard This Week
  • violence at home and at school
  • stranger violence (shooting)
  • accountability (what to do if you’re causing harm)
  • suicide and self-harm
  • fear of reporting harm or not knowing who to report to
  • friendship (breaks and endings)
  • definitions or word meanings
  • gender stereotypes, gender identity, and sex

If you have any followup questions for TPS teachers, please email us and we can help.

In CPR, we have been studying trust. After defining what trust is and feels like, students reflected on the adults they have in their life that they feel they can trust. We also explored trust as a class, doing some activities to bring our own trust for one another, together.

Our writing work is a combo – we are learning to write persuasive letters as well as teaching conventions. Students are choosing two perspectives that disagree on an opinion. They are writing a friendly correspondence that justifies each position. We are also working in small groups to learn about commas.


We will be going to see Peter Pan on December 21st. Please send in $6.50 for your child to attend. No child will be excluded based on an inability to pay. Donations for others welcome. We’ll be collecting this money for the weeks leading up to Peter Pan. We are so excited to see this Cardinal Stage production.

Please send Ms. Kalei or have students bring in pictures of pets this week. We’ll be doing some work with animals and joy on Friday.

Questions to Ask Your Child at Home:

  • What was a takeaway for you from this week with Sam? (Students responded on Fresh Grade to three separate prompts related to Middle Way House, they may need to look at their portfolio to remind them).
  • What are the two perspectives you are writing about in Writers Workshop?
  • What is a situation in which you may need someone’s consent?
  • How can you intervene when you see bullying?

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?