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Friday, December 16, 2016

Cheers to 2016

What an incredible end to our year together!
STEAM a Palooza went off with a SMASH! It was an absolute blast, and I know that they all really enjoyed meeting and listening to the presenters, as well as participate actively. My brother, Jeff, who came in to talk and share engineering experiences- mentioned how impressed he was not only with the kids but with how many questions and how creative all of them were. I hope your kids come home today excited to share their experiences! I uploaded a few photos on the slideshow from what was taking place in my room if you want to take a look!

The students will have no major homework over break, other than to read and to log. I asked them earlier this week to keep track of how much they read- they should be reading 30 minutes at least for 10/16 days, so 300 minutes at a minimum. When they get back, we will be doing our second round of Fountas and Pinelle testing to see how much growth there has been, so even though we are on break, we never break from reading! I also encourage the kids to spend a little time researching their nonfiction topics and gathering more information. Doesn't have to be finished when we get back, however, we are in the drafting stage, and a lot of them are a little lost and disorganized.  A little bit of time spent researching here and there over break goes a long way.

Lastly, I wanted to thank you all from the bottom of my heart for your generosity and thoughtfulness. I was bombarded this morning with lots of gifts and cards, and a plethora of hugs! Your children are so kind, and it is really a gift that I wake up and thank my lucky cards for every day. I can't say that enough.

Other than that, I don't have a lot of announcements.  As always, please let me know if you have any questions or concerns.  I hope everyone has a safe, healthy, fun, and relaxing break. Please be safe if you are traveling somewhere (especially in this crazy weather we are having!!), and I look forward to seeing all of you in the new year!

Happy Holidays,

Tuesday, December 6, 2016


Good Evening Everyone! 

Sorry for the delay in information! I thought it would be a good time for a quick update on what the class is up to these days.


The last few weeks or so, in both Reader's and Writer's Workshop, the theme has been nonfiction. I am spending a lot of time working with the kids on reading non fiction, and strategies to help dissect information, as well as ways to read between the lines. After spending time in NYC this summer at the Teacher's College Reading and Writing Project Institute, I learned a lot more about ways to amp up non fiction, and how to teach it better. It was a mind blowing institute, and I am eagerly trying to find ways to incorporate what I learned with the kids. This means that I am going off the curriculum book a little bit, but it's already helping the kids read and see more while they are reading.

In writing, we are starting the  "Lens of History" writing project.Usually, I choose a time period and they pick the information, however, this year I asked them to chose what event or time THEY wanted. Now, considering they are interested in almost everything from Star Wars to Cold Wars and dinosaurs and black holes, this has taken a little bit of time and effort. I worked on creating a tool to help them make sure they have a good topic, which I passed out to them today. It's a 12-16 page packet (most of the pages are places for them to find and collect information for their writing), with lots of tools for them to use. I asked that they keep it at school so they don't lose it, but if you would like a copy, I can certainly attach it to an email/ put it on the resource page. 

This writing project will require some time spent outside of class looking up information, and gathering resources. If you could help your child with this process, that would be awesome! They will have them the rest of this week to get more information, as well as next week. 


On the Friday before Winter Break, December 16th, the 5th grade team has invited a few community members to join the kids on a new event called, "Steam-A-Palooza". In hopes to help enrich and motivate students in the S.T.E.A.M categories of education (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) we will have many speakers share what they know and how they use S.T.E.A.M in their profession. Some speakers will be familiar faces ( Brian Miles and Eric Engle to name a few), including my own brother Jeff will be attending. We will be taking part in this activity from 8:30-11:00. 

After the "Palooza", students will be having "math" with me, and then spending the last hour of the day with their W.E.B leaders in some fun activities. So all in all, Dec. 16 will be a very fun and exciting day for everyone. 


I usually do a holiday themed Read In, complete with Pajamas, a projected fire place on the white board, and a warm  cup of hot chocolate. We are having the last read in of the year (for 2016 that is) THIS FRIDAY from 8:20-10:20. 

 The students were also wondering if YOU would like to join us! If you are interested,please let me know if you can make it. Feel free to come and read with your kiddo! They would LOVE it!

I can't believe 2016 is almost over, and that this school year is flying by so quickly, Thank you so much for all of your support and continued communication with me.Looking forward to many more amazing weeks to come.



Monday, October 24, 2016


The first round of parent-teacher conferences will be held on November 10th and 17th, from 3:45-7:45. I have time slots opened and available for pick up on SignUpGenius, which is a link I just sent everyone in their emails. 

Conferences will be only 15 minutes long, which is just enough time for me to tell you about your child's progress and what to look forward to,  and answer any questions you may have ahead of time. I usually have a list of things I walk through during that time, but by all means, it is your conference. If you have questions or concerns and would rather spend your time with me on those topics, please let me know ahead of time, so I can generate those answers for you. 

 Topics I will cover:
-How awesome your kid is(--->for real, I'm a huge fan) 
-Writing goals/ achievements
-Reading goals/achievements
-what we are working on in the future, so you are aware of what's happening!
-Possibly math goals and progress (Mostly for those in my math homeroom)

I am so excited to see all of you again- if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to ask! 

Friday, October 21, 2016


What an incredible week we have had this week. I hope everyone is enjoying these beautiful days of fall, and getting outside and eating a ton of apples! I know I am!

The kids have been busy this week, as we've had a crazy schedule. Mark Denning, a teaching leader from the Oneida Community, has come in to teach the kiddos about various topics in Native American culture. Over the last two weeks, he has talked to the kids about dancing, art, lacrosse, homes, and stereotypes, as part of ways to use our resources in our community and bring perspective and awareness in our social studies curriculum. The kids really loved it, as you can see in the many pictures I've posted on the website.

Along with our speaker, we have also been working very hard on setting up expectations for our first book club. The kids have been doing okay with it- but it's been a bit of a challenge getting the kids to really "interpret" the books they've been reading. As a way to help them move through the book and read it with a steady eye, I had the kids participate in a read in this morning, that went from 9:30-11:00.  We moved all of our classroom furniture out of the way and  brought some of the collaboration space furniture inside, and READ.

As a rule in my classroom, stuffed animal friends are always welcome to join us on read-in days, as they not only provide the comfort of a friend, but also, they can be good pillows. They spent all morning read to their fuzzy friends, and had a blast. This has easily been one of my favorite days so far.

Next week I am going to prep them on Word Study rituals, and then they are off on their own the following week. Sorry for the delay in rolling that out. More information to come on that soon!

Why is this entry called "Pineapple" you might be asking? Well, this conversation happened on Monday. 

Carlos: Ms. Davidson, I have a huge problem
Ms. Davidson: Oh, well, what can I do to help you with your problem?
Carlos: Well, you see, every time I see a pine tree I just have the urge to throw an apple at it, and when I do, a pineapple comes out. 


Monday, October 3, 2016


1 month down, 8 more to go!

Thank you to all of those who were able to make it out to Back to School Night two weeks ago, it's always wonderful talking to parents and filling you all in on what your kiddos are doing every day, and how awesome they are.  We are officially a whole month into the transition into 5th grade, and I am very proud of how well they have moved in! We are really starting to get into the grind, and every day the kids are gaining more endurance and grit to work hard. I hope that all of you were able to access the assignment notebook page that I created last week. If not, please email me and I can try to send a link. I will be changing this daily, unless I am not at school, then there is a possibility that I won't be able to.

On a side note,  as I am sure some of the kids told you, my wonderful cat Skittles wasn't doing very well last week, and after almost 19 years, Skittles passed away peacefully on Friday.  As I learned it is never easy to let a family pet go, I had never had that experience, and was overcome with a plethora of emotions all week ranging from guilt, helplessness, sadness and acceptance. This experience has really changed my perspective on losing a pet, as I always knew it was sad, but now I really know... I, like Harry and Luna, can see the Thestrals.

With that said, as heavy as my heart has been all week, I could not be more thankful for the level of compassion your children showed me today. I came to a pile of wonderfully crafted notes and cards, that were meant to show that they understood, and cared. Not only about Skittles, a cat they never met, but that they cared about my sadness, and I quote, "We'll do everything we can to cheer you up, so you can be happy again."

You can't buy that kind of kindness and compassion. It blows me away. Thank you so much for teaching them this every day, as they have must have learned this from the models they have in their lives.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

FAQ at Back To School Night

A: I generally don't give out a lot of "homework." Most work we do is hands on in the classroom and/or students will have plenty of time to complete in class. The only homework provided regularly is AT LEAST 30 minutes of independent reading time, and maybe a math assignment from your teacher. Eventually, there will also be a short word work activity. 

Reading expectations?
A: Students should be reading 30-45 minutes 3-4 times per week OUTSIDE of school. They will have time daily to read in school. There are no reading lists for them to follow as research shows us that students will be come better readers when given choice. During certain parts of the year, students will be asked to read books that are in the genre we are studying, but they are welcome to continue reading their own texts as well.

Band is when?
A: Mr. Raye sent out schedules during the first week of school and lessons usually start the second week. Click here for schedule Large group rehearsals happen during EL time each week on Thursday or Friday, whichever is a "B" day

When is Orchestra?
A: There are two 5th Grade Orchestras this year, each meeting on a different day.
Orchestra A [Pauls, Muniz, Nagy, Bresser/Blanchard, Davidson] meets on the first A Day of the week (Mon/Tues), and Orchestra B [Longfield, Nygard, Pincombe, Conohan, Doll, Gussel] meets on the second A Day of the week (Wed/Thurs).

All small groups are during Literacy and large groups will be during EL time.

What is Bridges Math all about?
Some of the best info you can find is located here:

How can I be sure my kid is staying on track and not letting things fall behind?
A:  Talk to them - You can always ask students to bring writing, reading, science or social studies home with them and see what we've been up to. One of the goals in middle school is to really get the kids to be more independent for themselves and their actions.

Can you explain more about the device policy?
A: The Bring your own device policy exists to allow students and teachers enhance and supplement learning. Whether it's reading novels from an e-reader device, publishing writing on a tablet or chromebook or researching Native Americans during Social Studies, we use devices a lot. In our wing alone we have access to 3 chromecarts, a wired computer lab, 4-packs of Chromebooks in classrooms, and in some rooms, some other devices. That said there are times when they are all being used and they are not available. BYOD isn't for everyone; is is COMPLETELY OPTIONAL - Parents ultimately have the decision to sign it or not, after all, it's a huge responsibility for students. We as teachers also have final say whether they stay or not once they come in. Currently, I do not allow students to BYOD, as we usually use that for our argument topic in November to decide as a class if we should or should not. I also wait to bring in the BYOD as we work towards building the right community for it at the start of the year.  

- Thanks to Mr. Pauls for the  great questions and answers. 

Monday, September 12, 2016

Open House III

Finally, the first Monday of the school year!
The kids rocked today, and I think we are really starting to "find our feet" on our paths together.

Just a heads up, this Thursday is Back to School Night, starting at 6:00-8:00. The 5th grade team is planning on having three presentations from 6-6:30, 6:30-7, and 7:-7:30.

Session 1: Homeroom teacher 6:-6:30
Session 2: Math Teacher 6:30-7:00
Session 3: Homeroom teacher (repeat) 7:-7:30
7:30-8:00 Encore Teachers

If your child has me for homeroom and me for math, than plan on being here from 6-7 or 6:30-7:30. If you are unable to attend, let me know and I can send the powerpoint presentation to you for more information. I will be discussing our overall schedule for the year as well as expectations for parents (for example, what to do when your child is sick, snacks, passes, reading at home, BYOD, homework, etc)

Afterwards, please connect with one of your child's encore teachers, as they will love talking to you as well :)

If there is anything specific that you would like me to touch on, please let me know.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Round Three- Let's Begin!

I hope everyone enjoyed their Labor Day weekend! I won't be able to write a thorough summary every Sunday, but I can start us off on a good note! Most Likely this will turn into a "homework" update. Please note, I do not give very much homework, outside of reading at least 30 minutes every day, maybe some easy word work, and a math assignment, which will most likely be every other day.   If you have questions, please have your child send me an email about it!
Here is the plan for the week:

1. More routines and rituals around KMS. The first few weeks of 5th grade is going to be spending a lot of time breaking this down so that we don't have to revist behaviors and routines later in the school year too much. Plus, KMS can be overwhelming at first!  Expect the kids to talk about getting around KMS, and various bus, bathroom and hallway procedures, as well as other classroom routines and expectations, such as workshop "non-negotiables", and reading at home! 

2.  More getting to know you activities such as : Book Histories and writing journal decorations! We are going to present a project hopefully on Friday about our book history. For example, when I was in 5th grade, I remember reading these books: BFG, Charlie and the Chocolate Factor and Chicken Soup for the Soul, etc. I encourage you to talk to your kiddos about their most influential books, and the worst books you remember. (BFG is my life changer. I'll be telling the kiddos alllllll about it this school year, and showing them why it's my favorite book as a read aloud!) Share your book histories with your kiddos! They will love to tell me about it the next day!
We are also planning on decorating Journals with magazine clippings, personal pictures, etc. on Tuesday, Wednesday and finishing up on Thursday. Please bring materials for the kids to use, as I only have so many magazines. 

3. Spelling inventory. I will be assessing the kiddos in their spelling skills and placing them in Words Their Way groups hopefully by next week, so we can get the ball rolling! 

4. Fountas and Pinelle testing will hopefully start Friday, or early next week! Once we get workshop rolling, it will be easier for me to get them started. 

Please have ready this week:
Student Information Card
Magazines for your kids to use and cut up

Friday, June 10, 2016

The end is just the beginning.

I can't believe the day has finally come.  All week I have been thinking about how the last day of school was going to go, and even with the ugly weather forecast, I think our class had a marvelous day (for the most part).  The final minutes were awful- trying to cram in the final goodbyes for the summer as tears were shed and hugs were being dished out left and right. Then the bell rang and out the door they went.

I am so proud of each and every one of your children, as they have grown so much in so many different ways throughout this year. 5th grade is one of the most challenging years because it is one of the most difficult points of transition in their young lives, and I believe they all did spectacular.  I am going to miss everyone of them very much next year, as it will never be the same. This may be the end of our year together, but is just the beginning of a beautiful and marvelous relationship in the days to come, as I will always be cheering for them from the 5th grade wing.

Once again, I want to say thank you to all of my parents. Without your support, understanding, flexibility and faith, this school year wouldn't have gone as well as it did. I know there were some challenging where your child might have told you some interesting stories, as no school year is ever without. But thank you for not only helping your child process and understand, but also believing my intentions were always good.

Summer Events:
I will keep all of you posted on those events here on the blog.

This summer I plan on being at the Middleton Public Library to read from 1-3 on Tuesdays- if that changes I will update it on the blog. I invite everyone to come and read with me. Usually we check in with each other and are so excited to chat again, reading doesn't always get accomplished (:P) but it's usually a good time.

Also, I will be returning from Brazil on July 3rd- and the BFG movie will be released on July 1st.  BFG is my all time favorite book (changed my life as a 5th grader), and was a read aloud this year. I am going to try and go see it in theaters on July 5th - you are also welcome to come and bring your kiddo to watch the movie with me! I will try and bring enough snozzcumbers for everyone to enjoy.

date TBD.

Feel free to email me over the summer if you have any questions or concerns coming up.

Monday, May 9, 2016

The Final Laps

I can't believe it is May already, and we are just a few weeks shy of these kiddos no longer being 5th graders! I am blown away and how quick the finish line is coming! I hope everyone had a wonderful mother's day, as I know the kids were SO EXCITED to bring you their crafty gifts on Friday! We had so much fun making them! They were trying very hard to not only make the gifts personalized, but also, to keep it a secret! I hope that they gave them to you! If they didn't- ask them! They might have forgotten it here! 

Here is a calendar of things to come for this month- as you can see it is much less filled up in comparison to April. 

The big things were are trying to tackle are the following: 
1. Memoir writing is due THIS FRIDAY. Hopefully, everyone can get their's printed and turned in on time, so we do no need to take away any extra time from Fantasy Reading/Writing, as that has been the unit the kiddos are chomping at the bits for. And I am so excited to start it with them!Please help them at home if they have some typing to work on! 

1.5. Fountas and Pinelle Testing is starting this week- so be ready for some new letters! Hooray! 

2. Spelling work is due every Friday, even though it is not listed on the calendar. 

3. WEB Field trip on the 18th at 11:35- please have the permission slips turned in by this Friday as well. If everyone has theirs turned in, I will try to reward them accordingly! 

4. This year on the last day of school, we are going to spend most of the day at the Middleton Pool. There will be some overlap with the 6th graders, but they are a great group and I know everyone will have fun. Permission slips will be coming out soon (probably next week), and we need some lawn games to have available in case the kids don't want to play in the pool. Please sign up on this SignUpGenius account if you would like to bring in some fun games! 

As always, please shoot me an email if you have any questions or concerns. 


If you are wondering about Madison Radical games, here is the home (Breese Stevens Field) schedule:

May 13 vs. Chicago Wildfire
May 21st vs. Chincinatti Revolution
May 27th vs. Minnesota Windchill
June 4th  vs Pittsburg Thunderbirds
June 11th  vs. Detriot Mechanix
July 10th@ Home vs. Indianapolis Alleycats

Monday, March 28, 2016

Back from Break

Welcome back from Break! 
I hope everyone had a blast! I definitely noticed a few of the kiddos returning with quite the tan! 

Here is a calendar for the month, as many of you requested to see. The plan is to be ready to start writing our last beast, memoirs by the last week of the month. This is ideal, but we are interrupted by the FORWARD state exams next week. 

With that in mind, please do not take your child out for any appointments or extracurriculars during the mentioned times. If it's impossible, we can make it work, but it's always easier this way. 

The calendar is set up Monday- Sunday. 

Couple things to take note other than the State exams:
1.  Human Growth and Development classes are this week at the end of the day. Please talk to your kids about what they are learning, as I am sure they have questions.

2. End of 3rd quarter is on Friday! Can you believe it! Grades will be coming out the following week.

3. The American Ultimate Disc League (a Professional Ultimate Frisbee league)  season is near and Madison's very own Madison Radicals are playing their first game of the season versus Minnesota Wind Chill on Saturday, April 9th, and Breese Stevens Field! It's a blast, and kids under 12 get in free! If you have nothing to do that day, come on down!

4. Colonial Day is coming!
With all of the talk about colonial life in social studies classes, with the impending American Revolution coming up, the entire fifth grade is partaking in Colonial Day! In the morning, we are hosting events for the kids to take place in our rooms and do various activities.  More information will be coming soon.

Monday, March 7, 2016

March Madness

This month has some pretty exciting events coming up. As per request, I am updating the blog with a plan for the week. Eventually, I'll create something for you to see the weeks ahead- but that's going to take a little bit of time after conferences are over.

So far this is the plan. If you've noticed in red, the kids are I are working on redoing our classroom contract. In an effort to help speed up our progress in writing and reading, there are a lot of us struggling with staying on task and using our time appropriately. Unfortunately, there is only so much I can do, so as a way to refocus ourselves, we are going back to the basics and spending a lot of time this week going over our expectations of ourselves and of each other. I am confident that this conversation will be continuing out throughout the whole month of March, being that Spring Break is in between, and should be the true test of their learning.

Parent Teacher conferences have been going very well, I appreciate everyone coming in after work and spending time with me! It's been a blast getting to see everyone again and gush about your child's progress this year. I will be going through a sheet I had the kids fill out with a bunch of information of a reflection on their progress so far this year, but as well as some test scores and writing samples.  Keep in mind the last time we talked, we've only legitimately completed one writing unit and are currently in the midst of another beast- the argument essay. I have been asking the kids since last week to do some research at home, as we don't have the luxury of getting Chromebooks out every day until May to look for facts. So if you're looking for some homework to make sure your child does,  please, ask your child about their topic they are writing about, and help them find some facts! They need at least 9 (3 for each reason)! Most of the topics are pretty straight forward and easy to find if they focus on what their job is.
I do not think that we will be completing the argument essay before Spring Break, but I would like to be ready to publish when we get back at the very least.

Spirit Month:
Unfortunately, due to the field trip we are taking this Friday, the kids will not be able to take part in any Spirit Night themed activities. So to make up for that, I am running a Spirit themed infused month, that includes 2-3 activities each week for the classes to complete before spring break. The kids will be doing everything from taking class pictures, dressing up, creating cheers, taking selfies, and the list grows on. Hopefully, next Friday, UW Band members will be joining us and playing for us as well.

Missing Dog:
After the READ IN last Friday, my stuffed Golden Retriever, Leliah went missing. If anyone sees her or knows of her whereabouts, she's a good dog: doesn't make a mess when eating, doesn't bark or use the restroom in the house. Please let me know, she is surely missed.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Hey F-E-B! RU, A.R.Y?

Happy Tuesday everyone! I apologize for the major delay in updating... it's been a hectic few weeks.
This month is the month of argumentation, kindness, and technology. 

We are working on our argumentative writing and reading units. I hope the kids have talked about it with you, they are working on two different projects right now. During reading, they have chosen a topic with a few other kids and are working on honing skills in developing strategies while reading. They are not writing about this topic- they are just practicing research skills. Some of the topics include animals in captivity, football and head injuries, healthy food, and using fidgits. The kids are using one of my favorite informational text resources, NEWSELA, to help find articles that not only help them with their research, but also help them read text at their levels. 

 During writing, the class is working on writing a letter to me on whether or not our class should adopt the BYOD (Bring Your Own Device)  policy at school. When we originally started this discussion, the for and against line was down the middle. On Monday however, I polled the class again and the opinions were surprisingly against BYOD. Even with some of the other classes using BYOD, many of the kids are recognizing the strain more than the success. I was quite surprised.  By Friday, the kids should have figured out most of their claims and supporting evidence, and they will be writing a letter to me stating their opinions clearly. I encourage you to talk to them about it, and see what they think should happen. 

February is also the month of RAK, or Random Acts of Kindness. As a class gesture of kindness, last Friday the kids and I went up to the 8th grade wing and surprised the 8th graders with " High Five Friday." They had a ton of fun spreading the silliness and love, and are eager to do it again. Also, coming home are the "Boom Boom" cards. They are cards with RAK kids to do, register online and pass it around. If you see them at home, remind them to register it online. We are trying to get the most RAK at KMS. 

As an effort to push our education beyond the 21st century, I am trying to incorporate new uses of technology in the room. Last month we used a form of testing called "Plicker" and this month we tried Kahoot! Which is taking over education slowly and surely. Another resource the kids checked out today was The kids created a sign in and are updating their own personal libraries with books they have read, and what to read, as well as write reviews.  One of my favorite parts about Goodreads, is that it also has a way of connecting readers together by inviting friends, as well as provide book recommendations. I highly encourage you to check out the site, and create the library with your own kiddos. Keeping in mind this website is a resource for ALL ages of readers, I've asked the kids to be mature about the books, as I am sure they will see titles that are odd, just like they would see in a grocery store or at Barnes and Noble. This is the only time that I will ask the kids to use and join- if you feel uncomfortable with the kids using the site, feel free to delete their account. I am hoping that this will actually help answer the age old question," What books can I read next?" and encourage them to embrace reading outside of school. Please let me know of your thoughts :)

Lastly, we have two permission slips coming home. One is "Share the Reading", and the other is for the "Wizard of Oz". In February, the school is having an incredible event where the middle schoolers are invited to the elementary schools to embrace reading and model to the younger kids their own personal reading life. They spend about an hour at the schools working with the other kids, reading to them and talking to them. They also get a little time to say hi to their previous teachers if time permits. It's an awesome experience- I hope many of our kiddos join in the fun. On top of that, KMS is holding a reading challenge. Everyday the kids are to log ALL of the minutes they read, and then turn in their logs at the end of the month.

In March, I am planning another amazing school spirit month. Last year, we crammed a bunch of activities in one week, however, due to our field trip to Wizard of Oz on the day of Spirit Night (which unfortunately does not include 5th graders), we are spreading out the activities over the course of the month. This was a huge hit last year, and I am looking forward to these events for the kids.

Also, for Valentine's Day, please do NOT send your children in with any sort of Valentine candy or toys. Due to our policy in relation to allergies, and my attempts to keep the kids healthy, not to mention the equity questions, it's a no go in the classrooms for any toys, candies or trinkets. If your child wants to bring a valentine card in for the class, it has to be all or none. 

Hopefully that helps answer any questions you might have. Here's to having some snow finally melt away this month (hopefully)!!

Thursday, January 7, 2016


Welcome back to school! I hope everyone had a joyous holiday break! I certainly enjoyed the time to reset, recuperate, recover and reflect, and watch a lot of Star Wars. I also enjoyed the time to catch up on some Netflix shows, decorate the house with a little holiday cheer and reunite with my wonderful family.  

But alas! Now we are back to the daily grind. On Monday, the kids seemed a little tired, as they were getting back on their daily schedules. Even with the challenge, they did a marvelous job keeping a positive attitude and giving it their best! Everyday we are getting better and better. 

Currently, we are a little behind on the informational unit. Because of this, I had to cut the unit down a little bit more so than usual so we could focus more on the essentials of informational writing, not so much the accessories. I've asked the kids repeatably to use some of their time at home to research for more evidence and facts to support their ideas. Some of the kids seem to have jumped on that opportunity to work on it at home a bit, and some not so much. We are going to be typing up our drafts next week and hopefully polishing it up and presenting it after MLK day. I encourage you to ask your kids about their writing progress so far, and check in with their work. A lot of the kids think they have a lot, but once they start typing, it will shrink and most of them will be a little disappointed. 

In reading, we just started working on our argumentative research. The next writing project coincidentally is an argumentative essay, so we are working on understanding how to build a strong argument and the components of such. The kids have been divided into groups that are trying to argue pro/con a certain issue. Together, they should be able to create a pretty convincing argument. 

We just finished up our short explorers unit, and took our first "Plickers" test. A Plicker test is a really neat way to take a test or quiz without pens or paper. Kind of like in college professors would have us use a clicker to answer, the kids are given a number and a card with a weird QR like code, which they use to answer multiple choice answers. If they answer a question "A" then they turn the card a quarter turn until the A is facing up. I then use my iPad and scan the room, and the answers will then pop up on my device and record it. The kids loved it! I am looking forward to using this strategy again. 

So now that Social Studies is over, we are now beginning the Mixtures and Solutions unit in Science. To start us off, today the kids and I worked on understanding the Scientific Method briefly. Then I pulled out some borax and glue (apparently every teacher has these materials in stock in their classrooms) and told the kids we are making Oobleck. Through trial and error, and changing some variables, we are going to make some interesting slime. The first attempt however, got a few laughs, and will soon be visiting the trash can. They are really excited to try and figure out how to do it, as am I. So if you know how to do it, please DO NOT TELL them, and do NOT let them figure it out online! We're using the good old trial and error method. 

On some side notes, 
#1, the assessment window is open through the end of the month, which means that I will be retesting the class with Fountas and Pinnell (new reading letters coming soon hopefully!!) and MAPS math testing will be taking place. 
#2, for Word Study, I had to use a harder spelling list for assessments, which means that some kids went down a level for words. No worries, we'll keep working hard on it! 
#3, Percy Brown,our equity coordinator is coming in to talk this Friday with the kiddos about concepts of equity and racism in the morning. We have talked to Mr. Brown a few times this year and we are all very excited to talk with him! 
#4. Gayle Rosengren, author of What the Moon Said  and Cold War on Maple Street is coming in on the first week of February to talk to the kids about writing and inspiration on her books. If you are interested in purchasing any of the books, the kids took home a pink form for you to fill out. 
Lastly, #5, the Mindfulness Study. 

If you have not replied back with the large golden brown envelopes filled with the mindfulness packet study permission forms, please do so immediately. My class will be starting in the study very shortly and I want to make sure we do everything legal and correctly. It's going to be a lot of fun- I've truly enjoyed working with the researchers so far.  

Let me know if you have any questions or concerns. 2016 is looking to be a great year already (knock on wood!)

Jennifer Davidson 

P.S. Thank you so much to all of the families for the wonderful and thoughtful gifts your children gave me before break. I felt very grateful and blessed to have such a wonderful and loving community.