Friday, December 11, 2015



Creating a culture where children are safe to take risks, explore ideas, concepts, and try new experiences. 





As the year begins, and we establish a strong, supportive, and safe learning community our intention as teachers, is to create an environment where children feel safe. Safe to take risks, explore ideas, concepts, and experiences they haven't before. Room 36 has been working tirelessly to create just such a place.  The children demonstrate to me that our community is starting to feel this way when I hear them starting to get curious and grab an idea and run with it.  The first inkling of this happened around the question Catherine asked:


Why do people leave the people they love?
-Catherine, age 8
After that question was posed all of the children started building off and noticing where this idea appeared over and over again.  Then they ran with this idea when Victoria and Lily built on to this question:

Why is exploring the world important?
-Victoria, age 9

What is more important, exploring the world or being with the people you love? -Lily, age 8





Questions like:


How did they not get lost? -James, age 8

How did the Pioneers know where to go? -Quinny, age 8

What is the importance of history?  
-Victoria, age 9


Below is a full transcript of what happened when I brought this question back to the children in a community talk and then when they had further time to reflect through writing.  On top of the amazing dialogue they had below there has been a miraculous, contagious outpouring of "BIG" questions coming from the children.  This tells me that we are ready to roll. We are ready to dive into deep content and big ideas.  We are ready to take on more sophisticated research that is being driven by the children. One of the ways we are doing that is through the historical fiction novels the children have been reading in class this week and next.  Please ask your child about their book. There are challenging concepts, sad stories, and hard life circumstances that all of the characters face in the stories the children are reading. They will need your support to make sense of what they are reading. Next week, ask them to read to you from their book.  Share your thinking about the story with them.  Tell them what you are curious and wonder about Oregon history.

(remember to go all the way to the bottom to see this weeks photos!)




Community Talk:  What's more important exploring the world or being with the people you love?   12-3-15


Will- Both. Being with people you love is important, they would be helpful. They might even die for you.  But exploring the world is important too because that might be your dream.


Soren- People need to explore the world otherwise it would be unexplored and there wouldn’t be a use for it. People also need to stay at home and get an education.


Leoni- I think a little bit more staying with the people you love, but still both.  Start with people you love. Everyone can have jobs and help and then you aren’t just exploring on your own. Exploring the land is important and you can experience things you’ve never felt before.


Aaren- It depends on who you are.  Some might think it’s more important to explore the world, some think it’s better tobe with ones you love.


Ben- I can agree with Aaren. You wouldn’t just say, “Hey Mom, Dad, Henry want to go out right now and explore the world for the rest of your life?” You would need to get prepared and get ready.


Peter- It depends on your personality. If you are adventurous you might want to go out and explore, but if you like being home you might want to stay behind.


Catherine- It’s important to treasure your family.  My mom always says...


Peter- You only get one family.


Cat- Yeah, you need to treat your family the best. You are always going to have your family. Might not always have your friends. Treat family well when young so you will treat them well when they grow up.


Jonathan- I agree with Catherine, I am more of a stay at home guy, but both are important.  If you do want to go out and explore that is good, if you haven’t found the land yet, you are never going to learn about living off the land if you don’t do it. Both are important.  


Ms. Baker- Let’s try to think from Sam’s perspective. How do you think he would answer that question?


Peter- I think Sam wanted a new experience.


Uma- In the olden days you couldn’t still visit family if you left.  We can nowadays.  Both are important. Might want to stay with family.


Peter- Nowadays it is a choice if you want to go and explore. A long time ago, it wasn’t a choice if you wanted to explore you most likely wouldn’t see your family again.


Ben- I think it depends on the background.  Sam had a small apartment. He had 6 brothers and sisters and it would have been a better idea to leave.  It depends on where you are going, what you are doing or do you really need to do this?  Does it really matter to you?  Is the reason you want to stay away from people you love because they are bugging you or do you really want a new experience.


Peter- Back then they didn’t have airplanes so they couldn’t just go back if they wanted.  Now it is easier. Back then if you took a trip you probably won’t come back.


Cat- If I am thinking about how Sam did it. I think he cared about his family, I think he really thought about it. He thought, I’m giving up a lot, it is a huge huge risk. I think he thought about what he was leaving behind.  I think he also thought about all the new things he could experience. Now he can go anywhere without needing money or anything. He can survive.  


Will- He left with 42 dollars and he didn’t really need it.  Personally, he really didn’t go back into the city.  His family came to him.  That’s what he did. He didn’t want to go back to the city.


Leoni- I want to add on to what Aaren said. It really depends on who you are.  I am a lot more on the family side than the explorer side. If you were an orphan you could get another family.
But I think it is important to stay with the people you love.


Peter- You could make a new family that you love just as much!


Lily- Lots of people (explorers) come back.  A few of them stay but some come back.


Peter- I think you have to have a gift of courage to go out and explore. It think that is a real gift to be able to do that.


Aaren- Like Lewis and Clark they had that gift.


Uma - You would really have to have a good reason to leave your family. If there is no reason you want to go you shouldn’t have to. You should follow your gut and do what you want.  There are people that were made to move and leave. That happened to the Native Americans.


Will- The government did that.


Uma- They shouldn't have the right to do that.


Will- Maybe they had a reason.


Cat- I might challenge myself to go away from my family but not now.  I don’t think I could leave them forever. I think some explorers were like me and came back. Fur Trappers they took a risk and left their families. They made new families and became farmers. The left people they love and found new people to love.
Aaren- They started a new life.


Cat- I would leave people I love for a good reason, but never forever.


Will- I think it takes courage. I think Sam had a lot of courage. I don’t think anyone in this school would go out in the woods and try and do that. It takes courage and sacrifice.


Flynn- And strength. It’s a do or die situation. If you do it how Will just explained it. I heard that you leave or don’t come back or do and don’t come back and maybe die. The Pioneers and Lewis and Clark knew they were taking a risk. I remember in the the movie it said Lewis almost died on the 2nd day. It reminds me that people have done things for other people, risked their lives for other people.


Soren- Have to have courage to explore new lands no one has explored before, it can be really dangerous. Especially if you went by yourself.  I think it would be spooky for your family.


Peter- You have to make that decision gradually like Ben said. You have to plan. Make the decision gradually. Where should I go?  I might find new people to love.


Jonathan- I think… you can go Victoria.


Victoria-  I have heard a lot of you saying you need courage. I think it’s important to explore the world because you will learn a lot of history. You will learn a lot about the world just by going out an exploring.


Ben- someone said you don’t get education outside. I disagree with that. You can learn a lot by being outside. You can learn by making mistakes, you can learn from the animals. Once you make a plan and get started and get settled it's hard to turn back now you love the place you are and the things you’ve met. Even if you want to turn back it is really hard because you love the new place and know so many new things. It would be so hard to go back then.


Uma- I disagree I went to Ecuador and I knew a lot of stuff and I left a lot people I cared about. It was hard. But it can go both ways. I was more comfortable coming home here.


Flynn- You really need to want to do it if you are going to risk your life.


Jia- If you were going on the expedition and you weren’t used to going with a 1000 people you don’t know. You should meet them and say can I be your friend? Be a good sport about meeting new people you are exploring with or that you meet.


James- I would personally love to live off the land and kill animals to survive off of and hunt. I would love it!


Peter- You wouldn't go just because someone dared you.


James- I would do it.  


Peter- You would because that is your disposition.


Soren- If you can go and choose, or choose people.  You should choose people you can work well with.  It might not go well if you don’t have teamwork.


Flynn- LIke a brainbuddy.


Leoni- I want to piggyback on what Uma said bc I have travelled really far. If I go away for 10 months I’m happy to come home and be with all those things I’ve left.


Victoria- I have left and visited San Diego. I do miss my friends that I left. I can leave my friends but my family came with me and that is the thing I like.  That’s what I like, that they came with me.  I’m probably never going back. I like Oregon and I love it. Now that I have moved I have learned a lot, a lot about history, and how history has changed our life today.


Theo- My family travels a lot but we travel as a family. If you go alone and you find a place you like and you want to stay you might want to tell your family. They would be scared if you never came back.


Jonathan- I agree with what most people have said.  If you leave people you love you can find someone else to love. If you stay with the people you love you might also meet more people to love. It can’t compare though, as I said before. It depends on who you are. Sam found not a person to love he found Frightful, Jesse Coon James,


Aaren- the tree…


Quinny- Back in the olden days like in Laura Ingalls Wilder’s time, when they moved west it was because of Pa’s job. It was hard. Pa had to leave for his job. If you really want to explore the world it has to be something you really want to do and you need to be prepare, but Pa wasn’t he had to for his job.


Cat- But Pa sometimes wanted to move. Pa had an itchy foot and he wanted to move west. It was Ma who would say no, not safe for girls, they need an education.  Thy had to move because when grasshoppers came and ate crops they didn’t have what we have now and once crop gone he had to go.  Now we have ways to solve it. Pa didn’t want other settlers around. Ma and Mary liked being in town with people. Laura and Pa didn’t want a lot of people around.


Lily- I think it is hard to move without your family. It is the only one you’ve got.  It’s like Catherine said. No one will love you the same.


Ada- If you do move away. I agree with Lily. Don’t do it when younger wait until you are older.


Quinny- Like Sam’s mom said you are going to be with your family until 18 then you could go back.


Peter- If you are going to go back, don’t give up. You have to make a decision.


Ask Me Abouts:

What are you wondering about history?  What are you curious about?

What things does your historical character have to trade?

What things do they want to get when they trade?

What historical fiction book are you reading?

What surprises you about your character that you are reading about?

What are some of the ways that we can measure things in our house?


Announcement From Ms. Thomas!!!

By popular demand here are instructions for your students so that they can log in from home.

This is a sharable link for the parents. 




Photos of the Week



Wednesday, November 18, 2015



Why do people leave the people they love to set off into the unknown?                                                     -Catherine age 8




Last week, as we read about Sam Gribley being lonely and far from his family in My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George, Catherine wondered, "Why do people leave behind the people they love?" This sparked a lot of conversation and wonderings amongst the children.  They could not understand why anyone would want to leave home, especially not knowing what would happen or where they were going.

In 3rd Grade, that is precisely the idea we are wanting the children to grapple with. Our guiding questions as we explore Westward Expansion are: 




How do you prepare to do something new?  
How do you move long distances through unknown lands? 
How do you survive in those unknown lands? 
How do people learn from other people? 





Leaving your home is the story of the Native People who were moving to escape diseases that spread even before the arrival of Explorers such as, Lewis and Clark. That is the story of the Fur Trapping bands that were exploring Oregon Territory in the early 1800's trying to carve out a living off the land, and it is the story for so many of the Pioneering families who set off over 2000 miles into the vast unknown to claim land.

This week the children started to imagine themselves into those perspectives. They tried on clothing and looked at artifacts that Explorers, Fur Trappers, Native Americans and Pioneers would have worn and used.







Soren- I want to experience feeling like what it would be like when Lewis and Clark came and built their fort on Chinook land without asking.

Leoni- I want to write in a journal and pretend like I am exploring this land.


Flynn-I want to be a member of the Chinook because I feel in sync with the tribes and the surroundings in Oregon.









The children will spend the next few weeks refining their ideas and learning more about these different cultures before they make their final character decisions.

It would be helpful to ask your child:

-Why did you choose that historical character?
-What is it that you want to learn about (Fur Trappers, Explorers, a certain tribe, or the Pioneers)?
-What do you think a child from that cultural perspective would have done to help his or her parents? 
-What chores or responsibilities would they have had?




Also, during Grandparent and Special Friends day or while you are away visiting family over the upcoming holidays please help your child make time to interview you and their extended family to see what they might answer to such questions.

(See the attached interview sheet under Parent Resources at the top of the blog page.)

Have your child ask you, your family and friends:

-Why do people leave the people they love?
-Why did my family come to Oregon?  
-When did they come here?
-Who did my family have to leave behind?
-When did your family move to where you live and why?
-What do you think it takes to set off on your own and leave loved ones behind?



Photos From the Week

Friday, November 13, 2015

Storm Water Run Off: Using Our Power for Good and Inquiry


A few weeks ago the children noticed oil covering the surface of the wetlands. They were curious where it came from and assumed that it was harmful to the animals and plants in the wetlands. That led us to go canoeing to explore the wetland's lake and see if the oil was all over or just in one spot. We discovered that the oil was everywhere!  





This rainy Thursday, as we were headed to put Catherine's poem in the new poetry box that James repaired we noticed oil in the parking lot that was running into a drain that appeared to lead right to the wetlands! 

The children followed the path of the oil and then the drains and manhole covers to see where the pipes led and were very concerned that something needed to be done to prevent the oil from getting to the wetlands.  





We are in the process of contacting resources at school to help us test the water, learn more about what is being done about the oil leaking from cars and buses on campus, and to see if we can be helpful.


Right after we followed the path of the oil we put Catherine's poem in the new poetry box. As we were walking away Jonathan said, "We should put something in the box about the oil in the wetlands."  Will said, "Can I write a story about the oil and what people can do about it?"  





Finding opportunities that naturally arise from the children to use their power for good is an over arching goal and part of the mission of OES...


Our Oregon home matters: Perched on the Pacific Rim, nestled between the ocean and the mountains, bordered by both natural wetlands and urban development, we nurture intrinsic curiosity about complex environments and people of diverse backgrounds, creating intentional connections and collaborative, sustainable solutions.


Moments like these create a sense of agency in the children to care about their place, OES, Portland, Oregon... the world! 

If you have resources, ideas or suggestions to help us move this project further we would welcome your input, ideas or time.  Just write us an email. We will write you back!

Warmly, Room 36


Friday, November 6, 2015

First Community Meeting 11-2-15





This week Ben brought a problem he was having at lunch to me. Seeing this as the perfect opportunity to start off our Community Meetings, I asked him if he would be comfortable bringing the problem to the class. He agreed that that would be a good idea. During a class meeting we sit in a circle facing one another and Ben calls on those who are willing to offer suggestions. The goal is that eventually everyone will feel ready to gift their ideas to those in need.  
Below is the transcript of that conversation...


Ben- People at my lunch table are talking unkindly about people who are not there and I want to know what to do? I am worried if I tell them not to do it it will make them feel guilty.
Clarifying:
Victoria- Has anyone said anything to them yet?
Ben- No, no one has said anything yet.
Soren- Is it always the same people.
Ben- Yes.
Ms. B- Are you worried if you speak up that they will make fun of you?
Ben- No, I am afraid they will feel guilty or that the people they are talking about will get their feelings hurt.
Catherine- Why are they making fun of this person?
Ben- I don’t know.  It is a bunch of people.
Uma- Have you sat with people making fun of?
Ben- Yes, I don’t want them to get in a fight.  I didn’t really want to tell the person so it doesn’t hurt their feelings. That’s why I am asking you.
Solutions:
Uma- Ask someone here to sit with you so they can help you.
Peter- I might see if it is still going this week then get help from a teacher if still happening.
Lily- Tell them that what they are saying could hurt someone’s feelings. Does the person know?
Ben- No, they are at different tables so they don’t know.  Being at different tables.
Theo- You could ask them a question: Why are you making fun of this person?
Leoni- It might be hard to go up to them and say that? So, you might want to ask the teacher if you could have a private talk with the teacher, then the teacher could keep an eye then the teacher could talk with them if they see it.
Victoria- I know you are afraid to talk to them, but you could say, “Hey, I’m not trying to get you in trouble or be mean but, how would you feel if you were being teased?  Why are you doing that?”
Peter- I probably would try not to get too involved yourself, you could make it bigger and bigger. Sometimes it can make a problem worse if too many people get involved.
James- Maybe just tell a teacher.
Flynn- I agree with Peter.


Next Steps:
Ben- I want someone to help me talk to them.
All- I will!
Ms. B- Let’s meet and talk Ben before lunch today and I will help you find a problem solving buddy.

Ben reported back to the group that the problem kind of went away because they hadn't done it this week but he shared that he felt prepared if it started up again.

As a part of our Community Meeting I went through the problem solving strategies that the children had been introduced to in the younger grades. These will be helpful tools for them throughout the year and great options for at home too!

Tools For Problem Solving Updated Link

Ask Me Abouts:
-What is your gift? How did you choose it?
-How does an explorer of the world do research?
-What characters or parts will you want to include in the play from what you know so far about Oregon History?
-Tell me what has happened to your bean experiment.
-What happened to Coyote and the salmon in Chaplain Jennie's story she told?
-What did you want to ask the actor, Andy, when he came to visit?  What did he inspire in you?
-What do you think you will see and do when you go to Ft. Clatsop on Tuesday?


Photos from the Week




Friday, October 23, 2015



The 3rd Grade Team has been wondering:

How will we write a play that helps tell some of the unknown stories of Oregon history?

We decided to begin by immersing the children in wonderful places that are rich in historical stories.





What historical stories did you find and imagine when we were at the Cathapotle Plankhouse?


Peter- I discovered that they could make ink from the oak galls, Lewis and Clark were walking down a path. They are out of ink for their journals. They see Cathapotle people and they show them how to make ink from the galls.


Quinny- I imagined a little boy who lives in the plankhouse. He has 6 siblings. It is hard to live in there, it is so crowded. A man comes through the door forward because he doesn’t know to come in backwards, everyone is scared because they don’t know him.
Ms. B to Quinny- I am curious to see how you resolve that misunderstanding?


Lily- In my story a girl’s parents die when she is little. The tribe takes care of her, she asks to go outside and she goes off and wanders off into another village. She went in forwards to another hut because she thought it was her village. People were scared of her, not notice that she was a little kid. They almost killed her, I am acting as her, next I will write that the tribe felt sorry for her and take care of her, they adopt her.


Leoni- I am thinking about a boy who lives a pretty normal life back then. Someone comes in forwards and everyone freaks. They got their spears ready then stop because that person didn’t mean harm, didn’t recognize him because he fell in the mud,
Ms. Baker to Leoni- I wonder how you might explain more clearly why they did not recognize him?


Jia- I’m a girl who is very hungry. My father goes on hike to get oak galls to get ink for my mother who is writing a letter and runs out of ink. The girl was trying to find her father to see what he was up to. She found him and said, what are you doing?  He said, I’m getting galls for ink for mom. They were still talking and the girl told her dad then that they needed to go to find food.
Ms. Baker to Jia- I wonder what you will do next? Jia- I will add that she needs to tell her dad why she is hungry and that they are running out of food.


Will- I imagined an ant story, a boy was drawing the ant, the boy was thinking about the ant’s ancestors and wondered, was it here when the Cathapotle were here? The ant says yes!  The ant went into Cathapotle houses then went on to donut rock- weight for fishing- the boy was holding the rock and the ant was there and talked to him.
Ms. Baker to Will- What will happen next? I can’t wait to hear more.


Soren- I wrote about a boy. He has lots of family members who are busy in his house. He goes out one day with a cousin and dad. They go to a lake and see birds circling looking for fish, the birds dive down and they watch them. One comes out super fast and it has turned blue. They go to the Tyee and tell him the story and he tells people to ask another tribe.
-Ms. Baker to Soren: This reminds me of a Porquoi tale. Soren:Yeah, it is about how the blue heron came to be Lily: It reminds me of that book, How the zebra got its stripes.  
Ms. B:Soren, I wonder if you might want to look at that to get more ideas for your story.


Flynn- My story is short. I am a boy of the Chinook tribe. There are 70 people in the house. The dad is a hunter, the mom gathers roots, the bro is a throw nuts at my head person, and I am a fire tender and a fisher, I also help my parents. I once caught 600 fish and then I lost them in the fire…. They lasted for a whole year, my dad killed a cow.
Ms. Baker to Flynn: I wonder if you might want to do some research to find what kinds of big game were in this area at that time and I know a story of cow wandering away, we might want to look at that together.


James- My story is like Flynn’s. I am a cathlapotle child. Inside my house there are 2 fires that burn 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. There are smoke holes. (He explains in great detail how the water evaporates before landing inside) It is cramped. They all sleep in same bunk as family. James did math of how many people there would be in each bed if the house had 70 people in it.


Victoria- I wrote the perspective of a Cathapotle girl. I have a pet doe, my tribe is fasting. It is hard to find food even though my father isTyee. We are fasting to get more food. The doe is named Hazel. We were walking down a path, spotted a blue heron, neither of us made a sound, 2 men coming towards us but they do not notice the blue heron trying to take acorns off a White Oak. A Scrub Jay on the tree is trying to protect acorns because it’s his food.  He bit the men, the heron was gone, another plank house is in the distance there was a boy outside….
Ms. B to Victoria: What will happen next? We can’t wait to hear what happens when the girl and boy meet.


Ada- I imagined a Cathapotle girl and her friends playing and then one day one of the plank houses burn down with people in it, some escape. The tribe works together to rebuild.
Ms. B to Ada: I wonder what will happen next? I also think you might find it interesting to do some research to see why sometimes the Cathatpotle did burn their house down.  Why do you think they would do that?


Catherine- As we left off from when I read to everyone earlier, I,(the acorn) was on the ground, bad place for an acorn to be. Hooves are coming toward me. I saw a deer. (Catherine talks about everything that eats acorns and then not get eaten and have several close calls) In the end a Cathapotle girl will come and crack him open. That’s my plan.


Uma- My family lives altogether with one married older sister. They all sleep together. All the relatives live here all their lives, tend the fire, banging on the house, everyone always enters in backwards.  What is the horrible noise? They all go running out to attack.
Ms. B to Uma- Can you explain in more detail what the knocking is and what it makes them think before they go rushing out?  That might help it to be more clear to your audience.


Ben- My story I found was about how the Cathapotle/ Chinook had to work together. They could do anything by teamwork. It would have been hard if one person alone had to survive back then. Just imagine trying to make a plankhouse alone!


Theo- My story is from the perspective of nobody in particular. The Tyee is sick. The people run to the river to see if there are people to trade with, to find medicine to trade for. They can’t find OR grape or snowberry, one kid knows they way back because they were lost. Eventually they will find OR grape medicine to help him.


Charlotte- Once there was a little girl who lived w/ 60 people. There was a fire kept in the house for 24 hours, 7 days a week. There is no chimney open for smoke to go out, so the smoke goes out through a hole in the roof.  The old oak (I think it was between 300-1,000 years old) tree is so happy in their village and there are oak galls on the old oak tree. The little girl’s name is Charlotte. There was an attack, everyone died except Charlotte, there was no where to live but with the animals so she survived with the animals like Sam Gribley that we are reading about in My Side of the Mountain.


Jon- Everyone always went in backwards to the plankhouse. In my story someone went in forwards, then he came in w/ a spear. He was a tough fighter and destroyed all of them but one kid who ran away to another tribe. 20 yrs later Thomas Jefferson sent Lewis and Clark to Oregon, so they set off to the Missouri River. They stopped at the Rocky Mountains and went hunting for elks… after hard times they finally got to Oregon.

Aaren- What I learned yesterday was what oak galls are good for, making ink. Can you believe that they used that ink for the Bill of Rights and the Declaration of Independence.  I didn’t know what part you could eat from the acorn until we cracked it open,and found the soft part inside. I cracked open the oak gall and it was fuzzy and sticky inside.




What things do you notice that the stories you found had in common? What should we do with these stories?



Will- I think we should make those into one story. We should put going into house forward into that story.
Lily- There should be deer and elk in our play. Those were important animals in the area.
Jon- Since only girl and a boy survive. We could put in our story that they find each other and make friends.
Ben- The stories we collect we could add a few things in to make it more realistic so it is more real historical facts for our play.
Uma- The acorn/ ant/ gall could connect - I like the ideas of the perspective of something not human in our story.
Quinny- I notice that a lot of people say it is hard to live in a crowded house.
Catherine- I think we need something threatening, a sickness, fire, people attacking Good stories have a problem, if we share our stories we can find things that connect our stories and give each other ideas for our final play.



Responding to Our Field Studies


Photos of our Field Studies



Next week we will have our conferences! Please take some time before your conference to talk to your child.  
Ask them...

-Are there things you would like me to ask or let Ms. Baker know?
-What are ways that we can help and support you to face your challenges?
-What are you most proud of that you have done in 3rd Grade so far?
-Is there anything you want Ms. Baker to show us when we are there?
-What do you think Ms. Baker will celebrate about your work in 3rd Grade? 
-What do you think she will want you to work on?