Friday, May 27, 2016

Letters To A Child In the Past From a Child of 2016 and Bridges In Mathematics

As the end of the year is rapidly approaching the children and I are putting the final touches on a culmination writing project intended to capture their understanding, empathy, and connection to Oregon in the 1800's.  Here is the invitation the children received...

Your Charge: You are invited to begin a conversation, through writing letters, between yourself and a child character from the past.  You are to write to this child as yourself in 2016, and then to imagine writing back to someone else from the perspective that you have been dressing up as, or acting as, in the 1800’s.

Your goal:
·   To learn his or her story and pass it on
·   To have empathy for his or her experience of what life was like in the 1800’s
·   To think about what questions you have about what happened in the past
·   Gain greater understanding of why it is that people leave behind a place or people that they love

Guiding Questions:
  • What do you want to know about this child from the past?
  • How did this child and his or her family survive off the land and overcome the challenges of weather, geography and climate?
  • In what ways does your child of the past feel in awe of the wonders of Oregon?
  • How did other groups of people at the time experience some of the same events as your child of the past?

  • How can you represent at least 2 different perspectives through your letters?

Slideshow of Opening the Time Traveling Mailbox

This past week, on Monday and Tuesday, I attended a training on the new math curriculum, Bridges in Mathematics.  It was a fabulous training and I am so excited by the refined and engaging approach to teaching math.  I came back to class on Wednesday eager to show the children some of the new math strategies I had learned, that help to organize their thinking and build a deeper understanding of the relationship between numbers when multiplying and dividing.  The new tool for their mathematical tool belts is called, a Ratio Table. 

A ratio table looks like this...

Problem #1: There are 31 children in Dante's class. Each table in the classroom seats 4 children. How many tables are needed?
Problem #2 : Emily and Linnea help out on their uncle's farm. One day the hens laid a total of 85 eggs. How many cartons of a dozen eggs could they fill?

The goal of our current and new curriculum is to expose the children to multiple strategies to support the children to develop mental math strategies, to build off what they already know, as well as to eventually understand the standard algorithm.  We do not teach the standard algorithm for 2 and 3 digit multiplication in 3rd Grade. It is often brought up by a student who has already has been exposed to it so we talk about it as one of many possible strategies.  It will be taught more directly in 4th and 5th grade. It is one of the ways, to solve 2 digit multiplication problems and, at times it can be the most efficient, depending on the problem. Often the children are able to use other strategies,  such as partial products or the ratio tables, more efficiently and accurately. 

A recent problem that I gave the children was: 
                             25 x 14

The first solution offered by one of the children was to think of using quarters.  The student said, "Well, I know that is like saying 14 quarters.  I know that 10 quarters is 25 x 10 and that is 250. So now I know I just have to think about 4 quarters and we all know that is 1 dollar, or 100 so the answer is 350."  All of this was done in his head.

Below is an example of Mr. Arensberg teaching, what is a called a number string, it is intended as a way to support the children to build their mental math strategies and to use what they know to solve more and more sophisticated problems.

Friday, May 20, 2016

The Big Week Is Here!

The big week has finally arrived!  The students have been so focused and determined, working on timing of entrances and exits, working to respond on stage to the emotions of the other actors, and to improvise when a line gets dropped.  They have been feeling themselves into the minds of their characters, wondering what life might have been like in the 1800’s if they had been a Pioneer, Fur Trapper, Chinook, or Kalapuuyan.  We have done so much work behind the scenes in order to write a collaboratively written production based on historical facts and understandings.  

This is the first year of discovering a new process of play writing in 3rd grade. The children have embraced it whole heartedly and as a parent shared with me this morning, "The children have so much ownership over this play!" We, as a school, have embrace an inquiry based model that compels us to take risks as teachers and children, to try something new led by best practice and student inquiry. There is so much that you don't see in the 26 minutes that Room 36 3rd Graders are on stage.  The final performance is merely a snapshot of an all year process of developing an understanding of history and acting as an entire community.  

Along the way, I have tried to highlight the various steps the children have undergone to create this production, and I fear that I have not done the children justice in capturing all that I could have.  I want to take you on a photo journey of what we have experienced along the way to help you better understand how the students arrived at this point in time, to perform the play. These are just a few of the photos that capture our search for the stories of Oregon.

“Our play is like finding a box of hidden stories and we blew the dust off some of the stories, other stories we found we left dusty by not telling them in the play.”  
-Lily age 8

Slideshow of Our Journey to Write the Play!

Reflections from the Children After Dress Rehearsal...

How do you feel on the outside, how do you feel on the inside about our play?

Jonathan-On outside I feel proud and happy too!  On the inside I feel proud, excited and I don’t care if I mess up.

Victoria- On the outside I feel happy  and proud. On the inside I feel like doing a handstand because I am so happy and excited.

Cat- On outside I am excited. On the inside I feel excited to be a star in my own way. I am surprised we came so far. I was a little doubtful that we could write our own play. I thought the 3rd Grade had always had a pre-written play and I couldn’t believe we could write our own, but look we did!  I am nervous that people might not take our message seriously and that people won’t appreciate what we’ve accomplished. I am sad it will be over soon and I am excited to be done and do what’s next. It has been really fun.

Charlotte- On inside I am worried I’ll forget my lines. I’m not good at keeping lines in my head. I am scared and nervous because I have never done a play before. On the outside I can’t wait until it happens. I feel really happy and excited.

Uma- I am okay. I like pressing buttons for music. I am happy. I wish we had more time to do our play.

Jia- I feel really happy on the outside. On the inside I am nervous about forgetting my lines and not remembering things.

Lily- On the outside I feel happy and good about it.  On the inside I feel nervous, forgetful, scared and overwhelmed. It would be better if we had more time to do our part and more time to know our lines.

Ben- On the outside I feel really great about how we are doing. I feel pretty good about my lines. I feel a little nervous, but not as much after the dress rehearsal. I know we will do great. I have most of the lines memorized for the whole play. You all did so well today! On the inside I feel like my drawing, I feel like what if I forget a line. I will do what Charlotte did, just keep going. What if I switch the wrong slide at the wrong time?

Peter- On the outside I’m ecstatic for the play since we have been studying all of this all year. On the inside I worry that I will forget a line. I feel pretty confident.

Soren- On outside I'm feeling courageous and hopeful that we will all do great. On the inside I feel nervous that someone will miss a line.

Ms. B- On the outside I feel proud and happy too! I also feel serious and focused. On the inside I feel I will always remember all of you for helping me learn how to write a historical play with 3rd Graders. I am grateful to all of you for teaching me how to do this!

Flynn-On the outside I am excited about having a pro-stage, big audience and a projector.  On the inside, I’m nervous, a little scared, I have some anxiety that people might giggle at me and a little stress that my pants might fall down.

Will- On the outside I feel very frightened about it, that people will misunderstand. They might think it is weird or not understand it at all. I’m afraid that people will just think this is entertainment and won’t realize this has a message and history. On the inside, I feel horrified.

Some students chose to pass and keep their feelings to themselves. Others shared what they wanted to work on for the next performance...

Ben- I felt good about sound and volume, I did pretty well at stepping into my character’s mind. I think I could work more on that. I can slow down and memorize lines and clear voice and emotion.

Quinny- I think I did well with a loud clear voice. There were a lot of parts where I am reading off of something or listening, I could work on emotions.

Leoni-  I felt like I spoke loud and clear. I want to work on stepping into my character and speak slower and more clearly. Looking at other actors more.

Catherine- I think it really helped to perform in front of people, you have to be thinking ahead. I sometimes didn’t do that so I messed up. It was fun but, scary. I didn’t always feel safe.  I sometimes felt that the audience or people backstage weren’t focusing and appreciating all the work going into this.  Be louder, face the audience.

Flynn- I felt good about being loud and my enunciation. I felt like I was in my character.

Uma- I felt pretty good.  I had good expression in my voice. I need my 2nd part memorized. My first I have memorized.

Jonathan- I felt that people needed to speak louder because backstage I couldn’t hear people.  I also thought people need much more expression like they were actually there.  Think about the flood scene and image it is actually happening to you.  It is more entertaining.  

Peter- I did okay with loud enough. In the flood scene I could have acted more scared. I like it when it all came together today. I think once we memorize all our lines and a few more rehearsals we will get it!

Ada- I thought I could be a little louder and slower. I get nervous and I start going really quickly then I mispronounce things.

Charlotte- I think I did a good job on memorizing one of my hard lines. Next time, I can work on getting my voice louder and more clear.  I felt really good but I heard that someone was making fun of another class.

Jia- I felt like I memorized all my lines but one. I could of spoke louder. (Class- You were loud Jia! You were perfect!)  I felt a little nervous because I thought I would mess up but I didn’t really.

Lily- I felt like I memorized most of my line, I keep mixing up one line with another line. I need to work on not saying, wait no.  I felt really nervous because we had a crowd that stayed there the whole time. I felt like I was going to make a mistake.

Aaren- I felt like I did ok. I felt like I had my lines memorized.I spoke loud enough some of the times. I need to face the audience more of the time. Point my feet out!

James- I noticed that me and a lot of other people need to do is speak more slowly. When you get nervous you speak fast. I really need to work on not goofing off backstage.

Theo- I need to work on not goofing off backstage. I need to work on slowing down and saying my lines where I am supposed to say them. Make last line loud and clear.  I felt good seeing it come together.

Leoni- I thought it was really great, but kind of long. I really loved how we did it with all those facts. It was kind of interesting and it is hard to teach something and have it be inspirational.

Catherine- It is hard to teach something really important and be
entertaining at the same time and not have it be boring.

Day 2:

Lily:  I feel like our play is like finding a box of hidden stories and we blew the dust off some of the stories, other stories we found we left dusty by not telling them in the play.

Flynn- We would need 200 hours to tell them all.

Theo- Only get cues from teachers.

Quinny- I couldn’t hear my cues so we need to be louder.

Uma- A lot of people were talking so I was worried they would miss their cue.

Catherine- I couldn’t hear my cues either.  People could be seen who were backstage.

Victoria- Be loud on stage so people can hear cues.

Flynn- Not moving around so much backstage. Makes extra noise. More expression in voice.

Will- Look at audience when talking. Speak clearly with my whole mouth.

Charlotte- Speak louder. I need to work on line I forget. Practice after school.

Quinny- When someone in the audience smiles at me, it's hard not to smile back and I lose my character. What should I do?

Ada- Imagine you are talking to your dog.  

Ben- Look past them. Remember what Thatcher said, "Look at the Aardvark on the wall."

We hope you will pass on the hidden stories we blew the dust off! I also hope that you will share your families stories with your child!

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Costumes By Tomorrow! Mt. Hood Climb Service Day Photos!

Dear Families, 

First things first:  All costumes to be at school TOMORROW by 8:45 am!

Children are welcome to come to school dressed in their black tops and bottoms, with black or dark colored shoes, no neon please.  

What to bring tomorrow!!

-A brown paper bag with handles with your child's name on it

Put in the bag:
-Your historical costume from earlier in the year 
(Pioneer, Explorer, Fur Trapper, Native American- we will be sharing items around to help everyone have one item to add to their black)
-A uniform to change into, including shoes and socks if needed

Wear to school:
-A black top (feel free to turn a black shirt with a logo on it inside out and cut out the tag)
-black bottoms (pants, shorts, leggings, skirt)
-black or dark colored shoes

After our first dress rehearsal tomorrow, they will have time to change back into their uniform. Please let me know if you have any questions!!

Mt. Hood Climb Service Day

Today we headed out to give back to the OES community to find out if there might be oil and other pollutants in our lake.  From the canoes we took water samples and from the shore we took soil samples and picked up trash.

While on the water children saw, Blue Herons, baby ducklings, ducks, and many other birds.  From shore we saw hundreds of alvin, young fish, that we think might be trout alvin. At first we thought they were tadpoles, but were delighted to think there might be trout spawning in our very own wetlands.  Mr. Arensberg shared with us that that was a sign of a healthy water way, and pretty clean water.  

When we returned to the classroom we tested for nitrates and nitrites.  We will be testing for oil tomorrow with the help of Ms. Rossi from the MS.  We found that the levels of nitrates and nitrites in the surface of the water from the East, West, and middle of the lake registered 0 today.  We are excited to see what the results of the oil testing will be.

 Once we learn more we will report out to the OES community any of our recommendations!

Thank you to all of our volunteers! We couldn't have had such a fun and successful day without you!!

MHCSD 2016 pics

Friday, May 6, 2016

3rd Grade Play Details and More Overnight Photos

Dear Families, I am resending this information today and putting it all on the blog so you will be able to find it and refer to it as the date of the play approaches. I also wanted to send you some new photos from camp, thanks to Ms. Kucera and to wish all of the mother's out there a very happy Mother's Day! We had so much fun making special gifts for you today! Thank you to Kristina for planning and Nan for coming to help support! Enjoy your weekend celebrating!


In preparation for our upcoming 3rd Grade play we wanted to send you some of the details. All performances will take place in the Gym.

Performance Dates in the Gym:  

Wednesday May 18th  
8am call (all students need to be here by this time), 9am performance
6:00pm call (all students need to be here by this time),  7:00pm performance

Dress Rehearsal Schedule (children must be here on time!)
Th May 12:  8:45-10:45 in gym
Fri May 13:  8:45-10 in gym
Mon May 16:  8-10:45 in gym
Tues May 17:  8-10:45 in gym

We’d love to keep costumes relatively simple because some children are in more than one scene playing more than one character.  We would like each child to wear solid black bottoms and a solid black top, black or dark shoes if possible. They can wear short sleeves or long, but no colors.  Any extra pieces to the costume will be provided by us, or be taken from the historical costumes that they already have.  Costumes will need to arrive at school in a brown paper grocery bag with handles and your child’s name on it by Thursday the 12th of May.

How to Help Your Child Practice:
-read the play with them, don’t let them sit still while they say their lines, ACT IT OUT!
-encourage them to improvise if they forget something, it’s okay if they don’t remember exactly word-for-word but get the overall message
-make time to listen to them practice their lines
-you can help test their memory by reading the “cue” line right before their line
-it’s okay if they don’t remember exactly word-for-word but get the overall message
-encourage them to read through the entire script for their nightly reading, not just their parts
-if you think your child may need notecards send us an email

The Why Behind Our New Play Format:

All of the children helped to write the various scenes in their classroom’s section of the performance.  Some of the children wrote their own lines as well as contributed to the lines of others, based on their research of the historical period.  All of the children worked collaboratively to come up with messages, content, and staging of the play.

As you read through the script with your child this week there are a few things we would like to address.  What is written here has been written almost entirely by the children in each classroom as a collaborative effort.  Each individual scene was written in collaboration between 4-5 children, with the whole class offering feedback, suggestions, and even at times writing themselves in to help with the clarity of the story line.  The ideas and dialogue have emerged through improv guided by Emily Stone, our performing arts director.  Each scene came from the students work over the course of the entire year based on field trips, research, classroom discussions, letters from the Chinook tribe, visitors with first hand accounts of Vanport and Japanese Internment, local plays, video clips, and other outside experts.  Many of the concepts and ideas are in the play because they were pieces of the children’s research that they were most passionate about.  Some of the historical ideas are included because they link one scene to another or are needed to keep the story grounded in the time period, and to give the audience enough accurate historical background information.  

The enduring understandings we want for all of the children through the Third Grade Performance, as related to social studies, are to...

1.Experience the joy of co-creating and connecting with your peers and people from the past

2.Use strategies to discover the many stories and perspectives from Oregon’s past; and to see the relevance to the children’s  lives and the future

3. Nurture an understanding of the interconnectedness of people to their environment and to one another

4.Explore different ways to communicate a story and commit to expressing it to an audience

Thank you for your support throughout this process. This has been an exciting, rewarding, and learning filled new endeavor for us all!

The Third Grade Team