Sunday, September 21, 2014

Grasshoppers, logos, assessments, and fine behavior!

What a gorgeous day we have on hand today! I hope, wherever you are, you are enjoying it.

Last week was one I wish I could bottle and save; I think we are beginning to hit our stride. High expectations for routines are more consistently being met and I am pleased to say that the Gang is gelling most excellently into a fabulous community unit.

Looking forward to the week ahead, we have some key dates to consider:

  • School Pictures: 10:25am on September 23th
  • Open House: Classrooms open 6:30-7:30pm, Silent Auction at 6pm: September 25th
  • School Picnic: 11:30 on September 26th

Also at Open House, Ellis Music will be in the building from 5-6pm for families to pick up rental instruments. At the school picnic, we will have recess first and then the fifth and sixth grades will eat at approximately 12:10pm. If you would like to eat lunch with your student, you may purchase yummy picnic fare for $5.

Congratulations to community member Sierra P., whose Alice in Wonderland-inspired design for the Walk Around the Pond t-shirt will appear on this year's shirt! Remember that Walk Around the Pond is on the afternoon of October 3rd and you are welcomed to join us. Hopefully, we'll have weather like this!

We have Four Winds on Monday of this week, which is really exciting. Our volunteers Karen Parker and Kristin Blanchette have done some great work to link Four Winds with our existing Ecology work as well as our makerspace mindset. I am stoked to see what gets cooking when all of these forces combine. The rest of our Science work this week will focus on getting our Eco Tower projects complete and ready to share with you at Open House. The kids have been really gung-ho about creating their own versions of these ecosystems using various clear plastic containers from the makerspace. We have a couple of class pets, a pair of grasshoppers, living high off the hog (or rather, the carrot stick) together right now. The Eco Towers will soon be residences for crickets, pill bugs, and snails in the terrarium portion, as well as guppies and various aquatic plants in the aquarium section. We really can't wait to get this project going! Ms. Pierpont was able to go shopping for initial materials over the weekend, so thank you again for sending in $5 with your junior naturalist so that we could buy everything.

September's makerspace challenge will come to a close this week. The kids were tasked with designing and building their logo--a sculptural representation of themselves--out of recycled materials. It has been so much fun to watch them puzzle through this! Our goal is to have logos ready for you to see at Open House. We will do a formal share and reflection as part of Genius Hour this week and October's challenge will be revealed next week...

I hope to finish initial reading assessments this week so that the students and I can begin meeting to set reading and writing goals for the start of the year. Due to setting up literacy routines as well as our weekly schedule, which poses some challenges with our afternoons that I am still trying to iron out with creative thinking, it has taken me a bit longer than I would have liked to collect this data, but it is such an important job. We have been taking weekly writing assessments in the form of three minute writes; the students are writing for three minutes and then counting the words that they wrote. Everyone is growing every week! This type of data is called "progress monitoring" and we do it to chart continuous growth. The students played around with editing their three-minute writes to start collecting their own data about whether or not they are following grammatical rules and to make sure that they are writing pieces that make sense. It has been eye-opening for them to read and reread their writing, as well as share it with a peer who does the same thing. We always want kids to be thinking about their thinking, being aware of what they know and can do, and most importantly, know what they don't know and work to gain new knowledge.

I'll stop here for now. The sun is calling my name! Please keep in touch. I hope to see you all at Open House on Thursday evening!

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