Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Classroom Notes


Team 20 had another busy and productive week. We visited The Children's Book Bank to learn more about The Children's Book Harvest, which we are helping coordinate for our school. We also learned more about the importance of diverse books, making many connections to our earlier book drive diversity inquiry. We volunteered by cleaning books so they are ready for new readers by cleaning covers, erasing scribbles, and taping torn pages. If kids would like to volunteer again, there are many book bank opportunities through Hands On Greater Portland. Here are some photos from our visit and more by team photographers.

Lewis’s new Little Free Library is now open! This project began by brainstorming the many steps necessary to bring this project to life. Kids created artwork and painted their illustrations on the little library. They organized a book drive, making posters, a bulletin board display, and advertising videos. As a capstone, we looked at the over 1000 books that were donated to talk about the diversity gap in children’s literature and collected some data around the questions, “How diverse is our book drive collection?” and “How are different races and genders represented?” Be sure to check out this video that kids made about how the Little Free Library works. Here are some photos of installing and filling the little library. Now we will shift into our role as library stewards.

Our usual routines have remained in motion. Word study continues. Kids have been tracking their thinking while reading and sharing this thinking with the rest of the team. Letters to our pen pals in Mrs. McCollister’s fourth grade in Madison, Wisconsin, were mailed. Kids finished typing their rough drafts in a Google Doc on their Chromebook and conferenced with another kid and myself to edit and revise their work. During Reed Science, kids made Irish soda bread, using this much requested recipe, while learning about the physical properties of matter. Speaking of science, we also began our salmon study. We learned about the components and setup of the aquarium, chiller, and pump that we are using and about maintaining a healthy environment for the 500 little salmon eggs in our aquarium.

We are beginning our Road Trip Project. Kids are hittin’ the road as virtual tourists, using literature and the Web as our road maps. They chose states (fifth graders) or regions of Oregon (fourth graders) and are beginning to collect data through reading books and websites in order to later share their findings with their teammates by creating a Google Slides presentation. Our state locations and capitals study continues this week with the Southeast quiz on Wednesday. We have been talking about a number of study and quiz taking strategies. More recently these included distributed practice (that it can be useful to practice multiple shorter times across the week, rather than just once a week for a long time) and about the point of diminishing return (that practicing for five or ten minutes is plenty and that practicing longer does not yield a significant gain). We also talked about how to use a word bank, how to check your work, and reflected some on what study strategies were really working.

Kids are definitely into books each day in our room. Many kids are opting for audiobooks during reading in our classroom, which means that they are listening to an audio version while reading the words in a paper version of the same book. We have a nice classroom collection of audiobooks. Kids can read along with these at home, too. Again, having the good ol’ paper version of the book and reading the words while listening to the audio is essential for this reading approach. This week we are beginning a new read aloud, The Tiger Rising by Kate DiCamillo. We are working on making predictions and backing up our predictions with evidence from the story.

We have had weekly visits from our school counselor, Mrs. Sunburg, about growth mindset, which is the idea that everyone’s smartnesses develop through effort, time, and good strategies.

There are a couple of flyers coming home today. One is a reminder of your day and time for next week’s conferences. The kids are working very hard, and I am looking forward to our talk together about all the fine things your child has accomplished! Second is a free pass for fourth graders to all federal parks, lands, and waters (e.g. national parks, like Crater Lake or Mount Rainier) from Every Kid in a Park.

Please follow us on Twitter @LewisRoom20 and at for regular updates and photos!


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