Tuesday, May 7, 2019

CASSPP Testing!!

Dear Parents,

I've been remiss in not sending this sooner. But...here it is....CAASPP testing!

We begin testing on May 13, just next week. We've begun practicing strategies for test-taking by taking online CAASSP practice tests. The test-taking strategies we review include process of elimination, re-reading the questions, looking for parts of a question you do understand, reading the questions first, using scratch paper, etc.  We will also review what to do when you are experiencing stress during the test-take a deep breath, skip a question and return to it later, or take a mental break. 

It is a lot. Instilling a balanced understanding of why we take this test is tough.....I emphasize that the test reflects how the school and teachers are doing, not necessarily how they are doing. That it is not reasonable to expect to know how to answer each question; in fact, they design the test to find what students know and what they don't know. 

As is true with any standardized test, CAASPP covers many of the California content standards (the common core), in one sitting. These tests provide a single snapshot of a student and don't measure many other skills like creativity, perseverance, sense of humor, friendliness, empathy, or the ability to develop a life long passion for learning. We (teachers and parents) can model a positive attitude regarding the test to keep the stress level low. An important message I will be emphasizing in our discussions is how proud of each and every one of them I am already. They have learned and grown so much this year and I have been blown away time and time again by their hard work and progress.

The best thing teachers and schools can do to teach content is present a rich and balanced curriculum all year. I feel so lucky to be a part of a learning community that has this foundational understanding built into our pedagogy.

Bring on the CASSPP!


P.S. If you have more questions, be sure to ask!

Monday, May 6, 2019

Lots of Exciting Events!

Greetings all,
There are a couple of upcoming events I wanted to let you know about. The first is the rescheduled visit to see the horse shoe guy do his thing by the stables on Horse Hill Friday morning. Tanner, the ferrier, is so super cool with the kids, it really is something I'd hate to miss. It doesn't look like rain this Friday! We will walk and be back at school around 10:30?
Second, the second annual Makers' Night is happening at Edna May 15th at 5:00. This is an event not to be missed. Fun times for all....seriously.
Third, we have been invited to tour the Islamic Center on Shell Road May 24th. Two, possibly three, of my former students (Shamama, Humna, and ??) are working on a presentation for us! Again, another walking field trip, there and back. 
Lastly, a request from me. If you have a favorite photo of your child, can you please send it to me? I only need a black and white copy, so you can email it to me. If you have a copy of a photo to send in, please do so. I will just copy it myself! I know it is last minute, but if I could get these by Friday that would be terrific....or next Monday works, too. 
As always, thanks for your support.

Sunday, April 28, 2019

First Week of May?

Dear Families,
I just returned from the garden faire. It was as fantastic as ever and rumor has it that several room 24 students got 'splashed' at the splash station. I stuck to bird houses myself!

Thanks to all of you that were able to attend and/or lead a circle at last Friday's Web of Inclusion lunch. For anyone else that's interested, the next one will be held May 16th at noon!

Our Horse Hill Broom pull with Marin County Open Space is this Thursday. Fortunately, the forecast is calling for temperatures in the 60's. Fingers crossed it stays that way! Thanks to Jim Welte for volunteering to join us! We will wash up afterward as best we can, but a good long shower at home is always a good idea! Greg Reza, our designated Ranger, tries his best to choose a spot free of poison oak, but you just never know! Long pants or leggings are a good idea for protection. Greg brings water for us and I will bring some snacks. Think of us Thursday morning toiling on the hill!

Thursday, May 2nd, is Kiddo! Donation Day. Thanks to the financial support from Kiddo! all third grade children have PE, Art, Music, a Library aide, a classroom aide, and poetry. Kiddo! also funds teacher grants (I received a grant for our 'Building Connection through Art'/Pathway Project currently underway) and our district-wide instructional technology coach as well as District-wide Global Studies instructor.

On May 2nd, we will be wearing our red, black, and/or yellow to represent Kiddo! As teachers, we are grateful beyond words for your support of Kiddo! Please donate to Kiddo! to the extent possible for your family on Donation Day so we can offer your kids the same great education for the 2019-2020 school year. Thanks in advance for your participation!
That's it for now!
Exploring with Magnets, part of our Force and Motion unit, thanks to Edna PTA for supplying the materials!

Sunday, April 14, 2019

A Blast from the Past!

Dear Room 24 Families,

Welcome back to school, our final trimester together! 

Over the break I met an Edna neighbor, Janis Bosenko, who shared the above picture with me. Janis was one of the original grass roots organizers focused on saving Horse Hill. The above is part of the original push to garner awareness city-wide. Mil Valley students of the day helped in the campaign, as you can see! Every store and restaurant in town had one on display with an empty pickle jar to collect money sitting close by, or so I've been told! Pretty cool!

I will send home permission slips for our Horse Hill Broom Pull happening on May 2. Technically it is a walking field trip and doesn't require the permission slip, HOWEVER I send it home anyway. On this day we give back to our local open space under the supervision of Open Space ranger, Greg Reza, a.k.a. Gorilla Greg (if you've ever done outdoor ed with kids, you will understand the 'nature inspired' moniker). We work with heavy tools to pull out the broom and come in close proximity to poison oak, both of which require some adult supervision. Hopefully some of you can join us in our effort. This is really why I am sending home the form....I need you!

Our study of our Edna/Alto neighborhood continues. This Thursday Mike Moyle from the Portugese Cultural Center in Sausalito will come and talk about the Tunnel Dairy, the Alto Dairy, and the Wye Dairy, all within a stone's throw from Edna. Each of them were where they were due to the proximity to the train, which ran on the multi-purpose path behind Edna. Weather permitting we will try to walk up there on Tuesday and try to imagine the differences. From about 1830-1950, almost 90% of dairies in southern Marin were operated by Portugese immigrants from the Azores Islands. They wound up here after following the whaling ships, and then following each other in a chain migration. Mike is an amazing asset to our studies! I've learned a ton from him. He is a history enthusiast to be sure.

Our third grade science rotation finished the week before break. Each third grade class is now focused on our physical science unit, Force and Motion. It is big time fun--we build, experiment, rebuild, and experiment as we develop our own ideas about the obstacles and energy required to get something to MOVE. Some of this will be done with our kindergarten buddies, too. 

We continue our study of nonfiction text by reading and writing about the main idea and supporting details, with a little bit of cause and effect thrown in for good measure! Believe me, this is easier said than done!

In math we are working with fractions--comparing fractions, placing fractions on a number line, and justifying our work with equations and words.

Please take a peek at our important dates. There are a few fun things coming up on the Edna campus!
Thanks for everything.

Sunday, March 3, 2019

Your Kids are Amazing!

Dear Parents and Families,

First of all let me apologize for not including the DATE on the permission slip for our adventure to the Mill Valley Library and Old Mill Park. Our scheduled date is Thursday March 14, leaving at 8:50 and returning to school around 12:00. Moving too fast, I guess, and didn't catch that one! I am still looking for more parent drivers....although there are still more permission slips to collect. Maybe all is good. I will keep you posted.

Secondly, I want to share an extraordinary learning moment from last week. In class we are reading Riding Freedom by Pam Nunoz Ryan. I've used this book for many years; it hits the sweet spot for both teaching and learning in a variety of ways. The story itself is historical fiction and based on the true story of 'Charley' Parkhurst, a woman who lived her life disguised as a boy and then a man in order to live the life she dreamed of in the last half of the 1800's. She ultimately moved west, settled in Watsonville and drove a stage coach, an often treacherous vocation at the time and place. She was a tough and determined woman to be sure! She is given credit for being the first woman to vote in the state. It wasn't until her death that her true identity became publicly known. The book prompts many questions--does her vote count as a woman since no one knew she was a woman? why was it so necessary to disguise herself as a man to live her dream?, etc. Finally, your children feature in this story.
For the first time since I've used this book came the question, "What is the difference between a tomboy and transgender?" I may have shared at Back to School Night that one of my new favorite words is zeitgeist? This was certainly a 'zeitgeist' moment. The question from a child that clearly reflects the moment we are currently living in. Wow. If this doesn't keep us all on our toes, I'm not sure what will!
I wanted to let you know how I answered the question and provide a resource, if you are interested, for further discussion at home. In the moment, the first thing that popped into my mind was my own early elementary school years. I explained that when I first started elementary school girls had to wear dresses, but girls still wanted to play sports, run around, climb the play structure, etc. At that time, if you were such a girl, you were called a tomboy. You were interested in 'boy' things and were a girl--a tomboy. I then shared a story of a child I know, a boy, who loved 'girl' things. We weren't sure if there is such a term as a tomgirl? For the definition of transgender, I kept it pretty simple and used our story, or at least the author's perspective, to guide us. Being transgender is a deeper wish to be the other sex. Did the author's story lead us to believe that Charley had a deep wish to be a man? (no) or did it seem that it was a decision based more on safety and survival? (yes) Interestingly, I found an article from the time of Parkhurst's death, 1879, that referred to 'her' as 'he' and 'him' throughout, at a time they knew he was a she. This use of pronouns also came out in class with the kids being uncertain about how to refer to Charley. Again, we looked to the author and she uses 'she', etc. when Charlotte is thinking of herself and 'he', etc., when the outside world is looking at Charley. We will probably never know how Charlotte herself felt, but the story provides some guidance.
So, now for the resource. There is a book for kids about a transgender boy called I am Jazz by Jessica Herthel. It is based on the real-life story of Jazz Jennings. You can look at it here.
Finally, your kids are amazing. Their openness and willingness to look at the complexities of life is inspiring.
Any questions be sure to email!
P.S. I've rescheduled our Horse Hill visit (although minus the ferrier at this point) for March 13th. If anyone is available to accompany us on our trip, we will leave around 8:45 and return around 11:00.

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Welcome Back!

Dear Parents of Room 24,
Welcome back to one of my favorite times of the year! The kids know our routines so well at this point and their minds are hungry for more learning! I love it.
I was so bummed that our Horse Hill walk was cancelled before break and it looks like more rain is in store. It is the 'good news/bad news' aspect of being able to learn about our own backyard- it is close and available, but we can only get there when it isn't raining. This is true of our Mill Valley unit of study generally. Rain cancels field trips.
Our next field trip is to the Mill Valley History Room in the basement of the Mill Valley Library. This won't cancel! It is a very short visit, only 30 minutes. Our scheduled visit is Thursday, March 7. We need to leave school by 8:55. Our visit is from 9:15-9:45, with Ms. Diamond's class immediately following. I would like to stay and tour Old Mill Park and the Dipsea steps with both classes. There's plenty of history right there in the park! This will probably take us until 11:20-ish. Finally, I would love for drivers to take the kids to the various plaques around town to take photos for a project later in class.
Yes, this is a lot in one day. I'm hoping, however, to get it all done in one day, so we don't need to gather drivers again on another day. Hopefully, you will agree with me;)! I'm hoping we would be back to class by lunch, or maybe a few minutes after 12:00. Fingers crossed we can get drivers AND it doesn't rain. Thanks for your help and flexibility in any case.
The permission slips will be in tomorrow's homework folder!
Also, here is the link to the Edna library page if you need new Young Authors' Fair forms, etc. It is an exciting opportunity for our students but the deadlines are strict! The first deadline is March 13 when stories are due!! Edna Library Page
More details soon,

Monday, January 21, 2019

Dear Parents,
Two photos from our field trip on Friday. On top we are looking at photos of pathways of swimming mice, some with Alzheimers and some without. They are looking for a hidden 'dock'. Those Alzheimer mice on the left are having a super hard time finding anything. The below photo is Hannah trying to keep her dry ice soap bubble intact! All that AND time spent in the Buck educational lab looking at the difference soap makes in getting germs OFF of our hands! Wow! What a day. Thanks to everyone who drove us there. It was super interesting.

I can't remember if I mentioned the grant Jackie and I received from Kiddo!? It is a collaborative art/poetry project between 3rd graders in Sausalito, San Rafael and Mill Valley. The theme is pathways....although no Alzheimers in this one! Loosely based on the ancient Japanese art form of Renga, each student in each class begins their art and poem and sends it to the next school. When each of us receives art/poetry from another student, we will add onto it, being thoughtful to interpret best intent! Here are some examples of the art and some poetry:
Run over the bridge and down the stairs.
Go to your destination, be careful, you might fall off
It sure looks like a far way to go
I will wait for you, and good luck!
Leap from lily pad to lily pad
be careful for the flowers
they will blow you up with water
when you come down you will be at the bridge
I’ll meet you there.

The project is about to begin its journey to Sausalito, while we should receive something from San Rafael by the end of January!

In math we have created lots of graphs! The data we collected was the gender breakdown of room 24, third grade Edna, third grade MVSD, Edna, MVSD, Mill Valley, California, and the U.S.A. Then for good measure we graphed the gender composition of the House of Representatives, U.S. Senate, Supreme Court Justices, and the Executive Branch Cabinet. No surprises there, however we discovered that while there are slightly more women than men in Mill Valley, California, and the U.S., there are more boys in every category in the Mill Valley School District. We have no idea why, but it was fun to research and think/talk about.

Room 24 continues to get good reports from their science teachers--first Ms. Shern and now Ms. Fisher!

I've been in touch with my Horse Hill contact, Suzanne Gooch. We are currently scheduled to visit the hill on February 15 to see the horse shoe ferrier (is that redundant?) do his thing. We will need to leave PROMPTLY in order to be back in time for chorus, but more about that later. Rain would cancel....and any chaperones are welcome.

It supposed to be clear next week. Personally, that makes me happy.
Enjoy the day,