Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Classroom Notes

Greetings!

The kids returned on Monday excited and ready to get back into the swing of things. I mentioned to someone that the kids were so dialed in that I could have put anything their way and they wouldn’t have even blinked. The time spent establishing systems and routines during the fall paid its reward during February and March and continues today. This allows the kids high levels of independence and ownership and they’re giving me high levels of responsibility to begin the exchange. On Monday, we did several drama activities to reacquaint ourselves with one another. We began with a series of quick-sketches, which led into some creative dramatics in small groups. The kids were a hoot during the “freeze frame” activity. The sort of activities from this morning serve a vital role in shaping our classroom as a community. They serve as a way for kids to communicate about their lives and families, to interact and problem solve with peers, to move and speak in front of others, to have fun, and more! 

This week, we began the Write_On Challenge to write 30 letters in 30 days for the month of April. To launch this project, we watched the Write_On Challenge video, talked about “why handwritten,” brainstormed who we could write to and reasons to write, talked about letter format, and created an editing/revising checklist. Egg Press, a greeting card company, design studio and letterpress print shop based here in Portland, Hello!Lucky, and Mohawk Paper generously donated over 2,000 cards to Lewis fourth grade classrooms. Each day, kids choose from a variety of card designs, including some we made ourselves. You are welcome to join us in this letter writing project! We have plenty of cards available.

Formal state standardized testing begins on the morning of Monday, April 17th. This coming week, a major emphasis school-wide (and likely district- and state-wide) is helping kids become familiar with the testing format and procedures. We will take a practice test so kids can become familiar with the online interface, item types, and the supports that will be available as they take these tests across many days in April. Parents interested in opting their child out of state testing can complete a form in the Lewis office. You must do so before testing begins. If you have any questions that I can answer for you about the upcoming standardized testing, please let me know. There is a lot of information out there and I encourage you to be informed.

We are examining how to measure angles in a variety of ways during math. Multiplication practice is taking shape. Thank you for supporting their practice and use of strategies at home. If you haven’t stopped by our blog to look at the strategies, here’s the link. We are continuing our study of Oregon history, learning about westward expansion with a focus on Oregon Trail and watching a PBS film on the topic. Kids are taking some notes to guide our conversations.

Last, but not least, is a reminder about our upcoming field trip to the Oregon Historical Society on Thursday, April 13th.  I will send a reminder about who ordered a school lunch on the day prior.  We will wear team t-shirts.

Mark

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