December 8, 2017

Dear Families,

We have had a busy, but fun week. Owen’s birthday celebration, owl pellets (ask your child), Hazel’s VIP, creating our day and night wall, a visit from Dave Gardner who just published his book “The Adventures of the Salty Little Sliders”, and much more. I know that this time of year can be CRAZY so at school, we try to keep it as mellow and simple as possible (while keeping it fun and engaging) because we know the littles feel the pressure and anxiety from the world around them, let alone the anticipation of the holiday season. SO…. That said, please read the SHORT “newsletter” below for a couple of IMPORTANT tid-bits about the upcoming weeks.

  • Don’t forget this weekend’s show of You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown. Lindsey’s company  “All About Theatre” is putting it on, and they’d love to see you there! Buy tickets here at school. (Lindsey is Olivia’s Mom).
  • Please let me know if you can drive your child (and others) to the Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History on December 14th. We will depart school at 8:40am and return by 10:30am.
  • Don’t forget to bring in canned food or monetary donations for the Second Harvest Food Bank. Our 6th grade friends are leading the way in this Service Learning project and it will continue through the end of next week. We have a collection basket and envelope in our classroom but you can also drop off your items in the front office.

DECEMBER EVENTS

December 14  9am Field trip: Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History. Depart school at 8:40am, return by 10:30am.

December 20  Starlight Sing 5:30-7pm in our classrooms- More detailed information will come next week.

December 22- January 5   NO SCHOOL

January 8 Return to school

January 12 In-service NO SCHOOL

That’s it for now! Please let me know, as always, if you have any questions!

Hope you have a wonderful weekend!

 

Sarah

Friends and Field Trips

Dear Families,

As many of you may know, Lori Getz was here last week. Not only did she spend some time with the parents (see link below if you were unable to attend) but also, she spent some time with the fifth grade class. As a follow up we asked the children what their takeaways were. For the most part children seemed interested in and/or worried about having devises in their rooms, which may be affecting their sleep patterns. Although I don’t believe this was Lori’s intended takeaway, it is important to recognize kids are feeling concerned. A few kids even mentioned they’ve removed their phones from their rooms. For what its worth, I did too.

Lori’s message was more about teaching children about technology and what happens to information they share such that they can make choices to use it appropriately. Some points are as follows:

  • Most social media websites require kids be 13.
  • By age 18 (exactly 5 years after they’ve signed up for a social media account) all information they’ve shared through social media will be in the public domain, including a map of where they live and have lived.
  • When using social media or texting, its important to ask, “Am I willing to lose control of this information?”
  • When trying to figure out if too much time has been spent on a screen, ask the following questions:
  1. Is there something else I need to be doing right now?
  2. How much time have I spent sitting still today?
  3. How is my posture and my ergonomic health?
  4. Is my behavior working for my family?

In this age of technology, I think it important we rethink our own habits and ways we use technology. It’s necessary for children have an understanding about what happens to information when being put on the Internet such that they make appropriate decisions in order to protects themselves and others.

Below is a link to the parent talk from last week.

https://tinyurl.com/ybp7pzhw

Our field trip last week was a success as well. Thank you so much to those who were able to deliver and pick up. Our experiments were guided by the question, How does matter change and flow through the environment. Later, discussions lead to a talk about the difference between physical and chemical changes in matter. Below are some images from the trip:

      

Middle school information night is tomorrow evening from 6-8pm. Please come and see for yourself how our exceptional middle school prepares adolescents to succeed in high school and beyond. Don’t miss this once-a-year event! Come hear from the talented middle school team of teachers, meet our students, and hear from alumni. Childcare is available at $5 per child.

Finally, Bill and I held a fifth grade town meeting to revisit our class charters. We found that our charters and the RULER program are being used n many positive ways. Children are asking those sitting alone to play, and children are using the Meta Moment to cool down when frustrated or angry. As a group we also noted areas where the charter may be needed. There was some concern around exclusion at the lunch tables. In order to help everybody feel included, we’ve asked fifth grade to mix it up during lunch and sit with different people. We hope children see this as an opportunity to get to know other children rather than a punishment. Most of them do. Here are a few pictures of the first day.

                      

                      

Jonnie’s ‘Learning Zone’- Weeks 12, 13 & 14

Quote of the Month:

“A person who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new!”

Hello Families,

It has been a wonderful few weeks!

Week 12 was spent in the Discovery lab creating 3-d characters and writing stories about them. The children always love going with Krissie and learning about technology.

There were only 2 days in week 13, but they were days filled with love. Grandfriends day was great fun and family and friends were thoroughly enjoying themselves. The children showed off their classroom, while the adults emmersed themselves into the life of a 1st grader. They broke geodes, viewed crystals, painted, read, melted crayons, made puppets, and participated in mindfulness. It warmed my heart watching the interactions and seeing their smiles as they spent time together.

 

 

Family Culture Shares are still a favorite in our class. Here are Mikala and Rhiannon telling about their unique and special families.

 

Week 14 we said goodbye to our ‘author, continent, and artist’ of the month: Gerald McDermott , Asia, and Shorya Mohanot. During the last week of the month we always spend time reflecting on our learning and what it is we enjoyed the most.

Mark your calendars for this Sunday December 10th at 5:00- Jan Brett (our new author of the month) will be in Santa Cruz, at the MAH talking about her new book ‘The Mermaid’. This event will be hosted by Bookshop Santa Cruz and should be a blast. Jan is a legend and the kids will enjoy seeing their ‘author of the month’ in person!

Last thing: we are collecting food or money for Second Harvest Food Drive. This is a nice way for children to think about others who are ‘less fortunate’ during this season of giving.

Have a great rest of the week.

Alright…. on to the details of ‘The Learning Zone’.

Growth Mindset, Mindfulness, & Social Emotional Learning:

Growth Mindset Quote of the Month:

‘Feedback helps me improve”

  • Growth Mindset- In December we are focusing on the mindset ‘Optimism’ and in having a good attitude towards learning. This is important when challenges become more difficult. It is very easy to say, “this isn’t fun” or “I don’t like this” when things aren’t going well. Being optimistic towards our learning (and others as well) is a necessary mindset to posses. This helps in being receptive to feedback and in achieving our goals.

 

  • Mindfulness – is becoming more extensive as the children learn to be present in the moment. We have practiced mindful seeing, breathing, eating, hearing, and walking. They are becoming aware that mindfulness is a tool to use to help recognize feelings & thoughts. It is helping them understand that they are in charge of their thinking and feelings and that they can be empowered. Ask your child about how they calm their ‘amygdala’ (the fight, flight, or freeze part of the brain that is in charge of emotions)
  • Social- Emotional – Our VOICES program: This month our social emotional ‘literary reads’ are talking about ‘Conflict Resolution’ and are great catalysts to opening up dialog amongst the children.  There can never be too much conversation about how to respond to ‘hurt, angry, or sad’ feelings.

Mathematics:

We are completing unit 3 and will be assessing their learning this week. They have been working on number models (number sentences), parts and totals (number bonds), number stories, matching pairs, ways to count, skip counting, & frames and arrows. Unit 4 will emphasize  measurement, data collection, graphs, shapes, base 10 blocks, and more doubles and addition.

‘Just living the math dream’!

Printing, Sentence School, & Writing Workshop:

Printing, correct formation, sizing, and orientation are still a focus. We are writing sentences and recognizing subjects, verbs, and now adjectives. We are also adding to our punctuation repertoire, such as commas and quotations.

We completed our 1st unit of Writing Workshop and celebrated with a spectacular ‘publishing party’! The children invited their 3rd grade buddies and read their books to them while snacking on a healthy fruit treat. It was captured by our marketing directer and put on our Gateway Facebook page. The children felt so special.

We will embark upon our Non-Fiction unit of study beginning December 11th and it will continue through January 2018. Stay tuned!

Reading Workshop & Word Study:

Our reading unit of study is ‘Non-Fiction’ as well, and we will be reading many ‘informational’ books. This will last throughout January.

Our reading rule of the month is:

“A CVCe (consonant -vowel-consonant + e) words usually has a long vowel sound.” (silent e)

I am apologizing ahead of time for the “Magic E’ song that your child will be singing and humming incessantly for the next month…

We continue to practice our ‘Chunk Spelling’.  The chunk families that we have been practicing thus far, and which are going to be practiced this month are:

September

at, et, ot, & ug

October

ip, ig, in, op, & am

November

ap, un, ed,

December

og, ill, ack, & ash

Please practice these chunks with your child.

Cookie:

Cookie has begun her 2nd round of visits….whoo hoo! When she is not playing with her friends, she spends her time responding to children’s letters. They love writing to her and dropping them off in her mailbox. Come check out Cookie’s binder; the letters are quite darling.

Word of the Week:

The word of the week is: ‘ hullabaloo’   (a bunch of commotion)

(words so far have been: shenanigans, rapscallion, hornswoggle, bamboozle, lollygag,  bumfuzzle, jargogle, doppleganger, gobbledygook, balderdash, & skulduggery)

Science:

Yes it is happening….Crystals and Rocks. One word to describe their interest is…EXCITEMENT! Drop mic!

We will be researching the rock cycle and will be learning about how crystals form. We will be making crystals too. The children will learn about and use the scientific method to conduct their exploration and their research will be logged into their little lab book.

For example: What is your…

Inquiring Question: What do you think will happen when you mix Borax and hot water? or What are rocks made of?

Hypothesis: I think….

Experiment: Let’s try….

Conclusion: What is the result of your experiment?

This should be fun….

Also, as the season is changing we are talking about how animals adapt? Do they migrate, stay, or hibernate? Our classroom has a ‘hibernating cave’ (where the children will ‘put to sleep’, for the season, a few of our classroom stuffy’s). We may also build a small mock habitat showing the other various places animals chose to hibernate.

Geography/Environmental Project Based Learning:

Europe continues to be our continent of study and we will look more closely at Norway, France, and Ireland as a few of our families come from these places.

Our ‘project base learning’ is trash. We are talking about trash and its effects on the environment; in particularly, plastic. We have decided as a class to stop using plastic straws when going out to eat and are beginning to discuss other ways in we can help the environment.

Author of the Month:

Our new Author of the Month is Jan Bret.

Artist of the Month:

Kieron Williamson

Explore Time & Design Lab:

The creations keep happening. They look forward to design lab everyday.

Thank you for bringing in such great materials.

Also, we are in need of toilet paper and paper towel rolls.

“Play Is the Highest Form of Research”- Albert Einstein

Reminders & Updates:

Important Dates:

December 10th- Jan Brett @ Bookshop Santa Cruz @ 5:00

December 22 – January 7 – Winter Break

Monday, March 16 & March 19 – Spring Conferences

April 2 – April 6 – Spring Break

Have a great week

Very Warmest,

Jonnie

 

December 5 Family Letter

December 5, 2017

Dear Families,

We are revising and editing during our Writer’s Workshop time, adding to our fictional series stories! Before the winter break, writers would like to share their creations! Please come and join us on Thursday, December 21st at 9:00 for our Writing Celebration! I hope you can make it.

In math we are learning about Fact Families. I am sending home the first set of fact triangles with a family letter on how to help guide your child in using these at home. We have sets in the classroom that your children practice with as well. Please have your child keep these at home and study them often! Automaticity with this set of facts will help your child to be more efficient in solving math problems as they get more difficult and become multi-step. Thank you for your help with this.

This Friday is Match Day! We talked as a class about including all in this spirit day. Rachel and I will both wear blue jeans and white-shirts for whoever would like to match us! If other students have planned outfits matching with friends, the rule is to include all who want to match you and your friends.

Take care and enjoy your week.

Jen

 

 

December 4th Newsletter

 

 

Dear Families,

We hope you are getting a chance to appreciate these beautiful fall days. We’ve been enjoying this stretch between Thanksgiving and the winter holidays. In class, we have been singing songs that remind us of the change of seasons, such as The North Wind Down the Chimney Blows. Perhaps your child would like to sing this to you and show you the hand motions (complete with the rattling of windows and doors). This class has so much fun together! We have also been reading books that take place in wintertime, in anticipation of our winter holidays.

We are taking a little break from field trips at the moment, as we wait to get through what will hopefully be the rainy season. When we called MAH to book our Evergreen Cemetery trip for February recently, they told us that they had decided to skip January through March field trips, and not book any trips until April, because they had had to cancel too many trips last year. With that in mind, we have requested a May date. We will keep you posted and hope to confirm this trip soon.

We also will be going to Wilder Ranch in the spring. We usually go on this special trip in the fall. Each year, we place our name in a lottery for this very popular Kids Ranch Day field trip. If we get selected, we have to take whatever date is offered. This year, we did get in, and our date is April 27th.

As we look ahead, this will make a really busy and exciting spring for us. In addition to the Evergreen and Wilder trips, we will be walking to Neary Lagoon on March 23rd, as part of our Ocean Day/Wetlands study. (More about this in a future newsletter.) We also have walking trip to the Santa Cruz Municipal Wharf planned for springtime. More about this trip later, too, and the date is also to be determined. It will be a spring full of adventure for sure.

Your children have been doing lots of problem solving in math these days. Today, everyone used counters to find multiple solutions to a puzzle about table and chair legs. Tonight’s homework is along these lines, but related to bikes and tricycles. Please help your child to find something around the house to use as counters: Cheerios, dry pasta, dry beans, Lego cubes, etc. Along with five other Gateway teachers, I (Kaia) attended the Asilomar math conference over the weekend. I learned a great deal and am returning to the classroom energized and inspired with some new kinds of math puzzles and challenges.

In nutrition this week, we will be studying the vitamins contained in different fruits. On Friday, we will be preparing and eating a large fruit salad. Look out for an e-mail about fruit contributions to help us make a colorful, healthy fruit salad. Thank you in advance!

Have a wonderful week!

Julie and Kaia

Class Update

Dear Families,

We hope you had a joyful and restful Thanksgiving break. The grandfriends’ luncheon last Tuesday was a beautiful way to begin the time. A special thanks to Caryn, LeighAnn, Sarita, Louise, Angela, Mercer, and others for helping turn our classroom into an inviting space. It was very special to see the fourth graders so happy to share the food that they prepared with Caprice in Life Lab.

 

This coming First Friday is extra special. Some of our middle school students will be performing two scenes from Melissa, So Far, the stage adaptation of the novel George by author and new playwright, Alex Gino. If you are able to attend, I encourage you to do so. First Friday begins at 8:45 and usually runs until 9:00 or a little after.

Kurt will be attending a math conference on Friday and Saturday. Erika Sanchez will be in the classroom for him.

 

Next week is our next Disco intensive. Most of each day will be spent with Krissie and Kurt as the students learn how to write code and program micro, the class will be learning how to write code and program microcontrollers to turn control components like leds, speakers, and motors.

Writing class with Kaia will happen as usual next week. Our recent focus is on the process of reading closely and editing. Students are editing for capitalization, punctuation, spelling, and grammar. We are using editing marks and trying to locate a specific number of errors in sample writings (created by Kaia). Fourth graders really enjoy finding errors and correcting them, particularly when the text is not their own. The next step is applying these editing skills to one’s own writing. We will be doing extensive practice with this as well.

Finally, a reprint for the GFN:

Please join Gateway School’s ensemble for the annual Downtown Holiday Parade this Saturday, December 2nd from 9:30 am – 12 noon. We will sing songs and spread joy all along Pacific Avenue.

Wear your festive winter wear to help spread the magic of Gateway. Please wear long sleeve shirts; we will provide Gateway t-shirts to wear over your long sleeve shirts.

For more information and to sign up to attend, visit this link.

Parade is celebrated rain or shine.

Have a great week!

 

Best,

Kaia and Kurt

November 29, 2017

Dear Families,

I hope this newsletter finds you well after a likely busy Thanksgiving break. The class has been sharing their tales from the days off from school, and I’ve heard all about your travels, some ouchies that happened, the food that was consumed, the family visited, and the games played, even pets that were acquired!! The students were very tired Monday and Tuesday, but were ecstatic about being reunited with friends, and just wanted to PLAY. Tuesday morning, we played on Kindy Island for one whole hour for our first snack time. They were over the moon.

Something new that we’ve started this week is our leveled literacy groups. Sarah, Becky and I will each be teaching a group of students from 9-9:30 Monday through Thursday for the next 6 or 7 weeks. In these groups, we teach early literacy skills: Letter names, letter sounds, blending, segmenting, reading three letter CVC (consonant, vowel, consonant) words, snap words (irregular sight words), and many other skills such as word building and spelling. We have grouped students according to their ability so each student gets the instruction that they specifically need, and so that their instruction is within their ZPD (Zone of Proximal Development) which is basically a super dorky education term for the “just right” learning zone- not too easy, not too difficult.

This is the one of the ways that we “differentiate” our instruction in the classroom. All of the students are at varying levels in their language acquisition, their mathematical thinking, their social skills, their physical abilities etc. This is one of the concrete ways that we can specifically target students needs, make sure they’re getting what they need, and challenge them where they need depth.

The students love being with students from both classes, and they all know they are doing work, but don’t know who is doing what. We call it “literacy time”, and along with direct instruction, we infuse our instruction with games, sorts, collaborative projects, and many varying materials. Sarah and I love talking about this, so if you are curious, please come and chat with us!

LOOKOUT FOR LEARNING!

  • Sight (aka “snap”) Words: the, are, to, have, a
  • Mood Meter & Charter-Meta moment- what to do when you feel yourself experiencing a strong emotion.
  • Specials: Music, PE, Life Lab, and Art
  • Writing Workshop: Writing for Readers
  • Differentiated Language Arts Instruction with Sarah, Becky and Hannah
  • Numbers 1-20
  • Number talks- what are some ways to represent different amounts?
  • Handwriting: H, K, L, U, V
  • Animals of the night investigation: owls etc.
  • Seasons
  • Investigation of light and shadows

 

NOVEMBER/DECEMBER EVENTS

December 14                             9am Field trip: Museum of Natural History.

December 20                           Starlight Sing 5:30-7pm in our classrooms

December 22- January 5       NO SCHOOL

January 8                                 Return to school

January 12                              In-service NO SCHOOL

As always, please let me know if you have any questions!! See you soon!

Love,

Hannah

November 29, 2017

Dear Families,

I hope this newsletter finds you well after a likely busy Thanksgiving break. The class has been sharing their tales from the days off from school, and I’ve heard all about your travels, some ouchies that happened, the food that was consumed, the family visited, and the games played. The students were very tired Monday and Tuesday, but were eccstatic about being reunited with friends, and just wanted to PLAY. Tuesday morning, we played on Kindy Island for one whole hour for our first snack time. They were over the moon.

Something new that we’ve started this week is our leveled literacy groups. Hannah, Becky and I will each be teaching a group of students from 9-9:30 Monday through Thursday for the next 6 or 7 weeks. In these groups, we teach early literacy skills: Letter names, letter sounds, blending, segmenting, reading three letter CVC (consonant, vowel, consonant) words, snap words (irregular sight words), and many other skills such as word building and spelling. We have grouped students according to their ability so each student gets the instruction that they specifically need, and so that their instruction is within their ZPD (Zone of Proximal Development) which is basically a super dorky education term for the “just right” learning zone- not too easy, not too difficult.

This is the one of the ways that we “differentiate” our instruction in the classroom. All of the students are at varying levels in their language acquisition, their mathematical thinking, their social skills, their physical abilities etc. This is one of the concrete ways that we can specifically target students needs, make sure they’re getting what they need, and challenge them where they need depth.

The students love being with students from both classes, and they all know they are doing work, but don’t know who is doing what. We call it “literacy time”, and along with direct instruction, we infuse our instruction with games, sorts, collaborative projects, and many varying materials. Hannah and I love talking about this, so if you are curious, please come and chat with us!

LOOKOUT FOR LEARNING!

  • Sight (aka “snap”) Words: the, are, to, have, a, was
  • Mood Meter & Charter-Meta moment- what to do when you feel yourself experiencing a strong emotion.
  • Specials: Music, PE, Life Lab, and Art
  • Writing Workshop: Writing for Readers
  • Differentiated Language Arts Instruction with Sarah, Becky and Hannah
  • Numbers 1-20
  • Number talks- what are some ways to represent different amounts?
  • Handwriting: K, L, U, V
  • Animals of the Night Investigation: Owls
  • Investigation of light and shadows

NOVEMBER/DECEMBER EVENTS

December 14                           9am Field trip: Museum of Natural History 

December 20                          Starlight Sing 5:30-7pm in our classrooms

December 22- January 5       NO SCHOOL

January 8                                 Return to school

January 12                          In-service NO SCHOOL

As always, please let me know if you have any questions!! See you soon!

Love,

Sarah

Changing States of Matter

Things are hopping in B-5. Among our many other classes and activities, we have been learning about the Earth’s atmosphere in science lately. The students seem fascinated about how something we can’t see, and largely take for granted, can have so many different characteristics and layers, and how utterly dependent we are upon it. We’re mapping our way from the Troposphere up through the Exosphere and the excitement in the room is palpable. Also in science, today we took a field trip to the Seymour Discovery Center to learn how matter changes and moves through various phases in different environments. Using the sea otter and coho salmon as indicator species, the students worked in teams to learn about food chains, varied ecosystems, species adaptation, and how various factors can affect the health of different plants and animals. It was an engaging, experiential learning experience and the kids gave it a unanimous thumbs-up this afternoon during our debriefing session. A big thank-you goes out to our parent volunteers who made it all happen: Carla Erwin, Donna Hoffmanfriedes, Nick Folger, Jose Chavez, and Sherie L’Heureux. In late March we will go back for another science lab, hopefully on our bicycles. You’re welcome to join us!

Speaking of changing states of matter, it is hard to believe that next year is the start of middle school for our 5th graders. With that big transition in mind, Gateway will be offering prospective middle school parents an informative information night next week. On Thursday, December 7, the faculty will tell you about our fine middle school program. With re-enrollment looming in the early months of 2018, this meeting will help you see all the benefits Gateway offers its older students.

The middle schoolers are starting their annual science fair projects and we’ve been asked by one of them to volunteer to be part of his experiment next week. Look for a parent permission form coming home soon that gives your consent for your child to participate. (The short test includes students in 1st, 3rd, and 5th grades and will test their language use by age group.) If your child doesn’t want to participate, or you don’t want them to, no worries on this end; I’ll have alternate activities available for those students. We need to have the permission forms back no later than next Tuesday, the 12th.

Finally, thank you to our hard-working parent volunteers who have been correcting our Wordly Wise vocabulary workbooks on most Friday afternoons. The students really appreciate getting the quick feedback on their efforts. If you’re able to help out, please don’t be shy; we can use all the hands we can get.

 

November 27 Family Letter

November 27, 2017

Dear Families,

I am so proud of your children for hosting grand friends last Tuesday. The students were so respectful and kind with their elders. I am very proud of their Spanish performance, as it was focused and sweet. After the performance, small groups of students and grand friends decorated gratitude rocks together, played math games and read poetry. I enjoyed meeting all of the friends.

Writer’s Workshop time has been very productive. We are working on realistic fiction series, adding sparkle words, and dialogue and are about to have a revision party! Please send in any empty cereal boxes, as we will use these to store our series in. Thanks.

Today I assessed the children on Unit 2 and we will begin Unit 3 in math on Wednesday. Please refer to the parent letter by clicking on this link. http://everydaymath.uchicago.edu/parents/2nd-grade/em4-at-home/unit_3/

This week we will start forming our animal head shapes for our masks. Each child will work with an adult as they decide on materials and strategies to secure them to our already paper-mached human form. Since this process will be concentrated and lengthy, we hope that each child will form their animal head sometime in the next few weeks. Thanks to Val for helping each child! Also, please email me if you would like to come in and help children do this tricky step. Times are random during the day!

Our voyage of reading boats is making its way around our classroom! This is so exciting and lets me know that reading is happening at home. We will have a celebration, with sorting and estimating when the voyage is complete.

Please remember to bring in cans of food or cash for the Harvest Food Drive.

I will be out of town this Friday and the following Monday on a family trip that has been planned for some time. Wendy will be guest teaching for me and Val will also be here to help.

Enjoy your week.

Jen