Sunday, June 9, 2019

Last Week?

Dear Parents,
It is hard to believe we are here, the last week of school. Your children, and therefore you, have taught me much this year. This chatty group of kids designed and built amazing arcade games, ventured out and learned about their community, practiced and performed a play, mastered subtraction with regrouping and multiplication, and learned to function as a group. I think we’ve all felt the tension that exists between maintaining a strong commitment to academic work, while also cultivating strong community ties. Whether we’ve dug deep to stay focused on the task, or dropped everything to console a friend, we are a classroom community.

This could never happen if it weren’t for your belief and trust in me. Allowing the year to unfold, believing in the system of school, and letting your children form their own relationships with the adults on campus takes a certain leap of faith. I understand that, and truly appreciate it. Believe me, your children have provided me with many moments of laughter! They are funny, smart, and see the world with a child’s innocence. They have taught me much, but it is almost time to let them go forth and teach others!

Some Last Week Reminders:
June 11th: Hauke Park End of Year Third Grade Bash! Leave school at 12:15 to walk to the park! Anyone want to walk with us?
June 12th: Woody's Ice Cream Social, Third Grade is dismissed at 1:40 to line up with their green ticket! One ice cream per green ticket!
June 13th: Last Day of School! Dismissal is 12:40.

Thanks for everything,

Monday, May 27, 2019

Thirteen More Days?

Dear Families,
I can't believe we are this close to the end of the year! And, with so much still going on, time seems to accelerate. Here are some nitty gritty details you may need to keep track of....

Tomorrow night is the chorus concert at MVMS beginning at 7:00. The kids have worked hard for this one! A note will come home tomorrow from Ms. Robertson with details.

Wednesday is early dismissal, 12:40, because there is a district wide staff lunch!

Friday afternoon, 3:00, is an informal retirement good-bye to our beloved Ms. Harvey! It will be right outside the multi. There is also an 'assembly' beginning at 9:15 that morning. Each grade level is singing a special Harvey song....pretty cute. You are welcome to come to either or both!

Wednesday, June 5th, 8:50 is our little playlet! Seriously, it is short, but the kids do love it. Maybe we will see you there!?

Thursday, June 6th is Open House. I cannot for the life of me figure out when it begins. I will keep you posted!

Friday, June 7th is third grade Economy Day. The kids can bring in their 'goods' or 'services' whenever they want to, although most will bring them in the morning of! Some ideas from years past: origami whatevers, simple sewn items, bookmarks (one year Ms. Harvey bookmarks were a BIG HIT), reconfigured crayons (melted, etc), Caine's Arcade style games, bracelets, comic books, bike trail maps (this student would interview you to determine what kind of rider you were, FYI....he gave me the bike path!) You get the idea, but if not just ask!

Tuesday, June 11th is our third grade end of year bash at Hauke Park! I will need a volunteer to drive our rocket launcher to the park AND someone to buy and bring popsicles to the park. We go after our in class. We have discovered it is MUCH easier this way...promise. Again, I will get back to you with the specific time.

Wednesday, June 12th is the ever popular Woody's Ice Cream Social after school. An Edna favorite for sure.

Thursday, June 13th, is our last day and dismissal is 12:45.

Are you exhausted thinking about all of this?
We're almost there.

Shamama and Humna are explaining a few things during our tour! We loved going to the Islamic Center!

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

CASSPP Testing!!

Dear Parents,

I've been remiss in not sending this sooner. 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.