CRMS Update 3/23/15

posted Mar 23, 2015, 10:10 AM by Marcy Reynolds

Dear CRMS Families,

Dates to Remember:

Charter Information Night, Tuesday, March 24, 6-7pm at the Middle School Library.  Please encourage anyone you know who might be interested in our charter school programs to come to the info night.  All homeschool support teachers will be there to describe their programs.  Feel free to drop by yourself, if you’re around.

No Math Tutoring this week (due to the field trip).

Ano Nuevo and Marin Headlands, Wednesday, 3/25/15 (more info. below)

California Academy of Sciences Field Trip Thursday, 3/26/15  (more info. below)

Spring Break, March 30-April 6:  There will be no classes the week of March 30 -- you don’t need to keep homeschooling records that week.  Monday, April 6 is what is called a “non-instructional day”, so you don’t need to keep records on that day either.  I hope you have a wonderful holiday!

Sewing Machines (and support of those who know how to use them, if possible) are needed Weds. April 8 & 15.  We’ll set them up during lunch (12-12:30pm), then the kids will use them starting at 12:30pm and continue (if they have time) until 2pm.


I sent home a two-page reading on coffee and the amazing planaria flatworm.  It would be great if you could read it with your child sometime before we meet again on 4/9 to help the kids orient to our next lab investigation (with planaria).

Please look over your child’s timeline for their project presentation and help them stay on schedule.  Many kids expected to get a lot done this week (especially if they were not attending the field trips), and some were planning to work on it next week as well.


Rhonda sent out a really informative and succinct summary describing the state testing in the Charter News on Friday.  If you didn’t receive it in your inbox, please let me know and I’ll forward it to you.  I described how I plan the testing to go at CRMS this year in the last update.  If you need me to resend that, or you have any questions or concerns, please let me know.

Summary of the week:

Project Presentations:  The kids worked in pairs, showing each other what they had done so far on their project presentation and receiving feedback.  The kids all completed their timeline (or equivalent) and picked a date for their presentation.  If your child has had a slow start, they’ve just had a little inspiration from peers, so now’s a good time to help them keep going.

Sewing & Photography:  Thanks to all the parents who came with sewing machines and the knowledge of how to use them.  Sewing with a machine is a skill that could take a whole semester.  With our quilting project the CRMS kids get a little taste.  About 1/3 of the kids sewed the border on their quilt square, so we expect it to take three more Wednesdays for everyone to finish.  Those who didn’t sew worked on photography.

Overnight Trip Planning:  Those going on the overnight gathered while the sewing and photography were happening to plan the trip.  The kids agreed upon a menu, chose cook groups, chose bunks, and discussed some fun games to play while we’re at the Marin Headlands.  Each participant in the overnight (parents and kids) needs to fill out a liability release form for our night hike.  If you haven’t returned it to me yet, please bring it with you on Wednesday.  Towels and linens are provided by the hostel.  Pots, pans, etc. are stocked in the hostel kitchen.  We’ll receive an orientation when we arrive.  Please pack: lunch, snack and water for Ano Nuevo and the trip north; a wind breaker (it could be cool, so dress in layers), an extra change of clothes (in case you get muddy/wet), any toiletries you need; any books, board games, card games you might like to share (I’ll be bringing Frisbees, soccer balls, and cones); a flashlight; teddy bear; favorite blanket; pajamas required.  Plan to meet at the CRMS classroom at 9:45am on Wednesday so we can be loaded up and on the road by 10am.  Here are the rides:  Sheryl’s Car: Aidan, Hannah R., Hannah S.  Lou’s Car: Faith, Jeanette, Carrie.  John’s Car: Justin, Henry, Garvey.  B.J.’s Car: Evan, Brendan M.  Marcy’s Car: Sag Wagon.  Perhaps each car driver could bring an empty grocery bag for when we shop in Half Moon Bay.

Cal Academy:  Those driving up to meet the overnighters at Cal Academy, please arrive at the CRMS classroom by 8:15am so you can load up and be on the road soon after.  We need to all meet at the Cal Academy entrance at 10:15am in order to enter together as a group.  We’ll have a little less than an hour to explore museum exhibits and have a snack (chaperone groups can choose when is the best time for them), before our plant lab scheduled at 11:30am.  When we enter I’ll let you know exactly where and when to meet for the plant lab.  The plant lab will go until 1:00pm at which time the chaperone groups can have lunch and explore the museum for another hour.  We will be loading into the cars at 2:15pm in order to make sure we’re back at school to meet families picking up their kids by 4pm.  Here are the rides for Cal Academy: Andrea’s Car: Erin I., Brendan B., Riley.  Blair’s Car: Ari, Elena.

Garden:  Some kids worked on clearing the beds, others worked on the scale model, and those who had just run a mile, rested.  I encourage you at home to reinforce the use of multiplication and division to figure out scale.  Most of the kids are getting it, but need more practice to commit the process to long-term memory.  Our garden scale is 1 inch = 1.7mm (or 1 foot = 2 cm).  If we have 20 inches in the garden, how many millimeters would that be on the map (20 x 1.7)?  Now what would we do to convert that number to centimeters to make it easier to measure (divide by 10)?  Thank you, Bruno, for taking the seedlings home and working on the irrigation during the next couple of weeks while we’re all away.

P.E.:  We played soccer on Wednesday.  On Thursday, while half the kids were in the garden, the other half worked out with Kacia, doing stretches and running around the track.  It was great to be joined by the Fall Creek 5th graders as well.

Neuroscience & Plant Medicines:  We compiled and discussed our Spikerbox data as a whole group, using the data to take our best guess as to which plant extracts acted as nervous system stimulants and which acted as nervous system depressants.  We noticed how some stimulants clearly raised action potential activity in the nerves at first, but then seemed to lower it later.  Continuing the discussion to the use of cayenne (or capsaicin) as a pain reliever led to an introduction to neurotransmitters.  Here are the neurotransmitters we discussed and our shorthand for what mental states they’re associated with: Substance P = Pain; Serotonin = Mood Balance; Norepinephrine = Action/Alertness; Dopamine = Interest; Oxytocin = Connection.

The kids took the Neuroseeds post-test.  Following up on the neurotransmitter discussion, I told the kids that we were about to take a test, and they self-reported on whether that idea brought on feelings of challenge, interest, boredom, or overwhelm.  I read the questions aloud and each child wrote their own answers.  Then at their table the kids went through the test questions one-by-one, discussing/debating which answer was best and finally agreeing as a whole group.  The tables then shared out to the whole group and we compared and discussed our answers as a whole class.  Research shows than unless people are emotionally overwhelmed by test taking that they learn more taking tests than any other time because the brain is at an optimum level of alertness.  My hope is that the kids can come to see this for themselves and use that self-awareness to optimize this state of alertness and use it to their advantage.  A big surprise was that several of the kids wanted me to “grade” their test (!).

Wish List:

Two liter plastic soda bottles, or water bottles. We’re going to need them as cloches in the garden to help keep the pests off of our seedlings.  Thanks!



The Eating Disorders Resource Center of Santa Clara County is hosting their 6th annual Every Body's Beautiful Essay Contest is now accepting submissions, through March 27. If you find your child is slipping into judging themselves and others based on the Hollywood version of beauty, this might be a great excuse to bring some critical thinking to the issue.   I wrote the EDRC to make sure that they would consider essays written by kids in Santa Cruz County, and the answer was, yes!.  Sixth-twelfth graders are invited to submit essays and have the chance to win cash prizes. Please see flyer for more information.