CRMS Update 3/8/15

posted Mar 8, 2015, 10:13 PM by Marcy Reynolds

Dear CRMS Families,

Dates to Remember:

Math Tutoring with Victor and Mr. Paine:  Wednesdays, 1:45pm-3:00pm. We had a great turnout of students last week…let’s keep it going!

WASC Visit, March 8-11.  We had our first visit with our WASC committee this afternoon and took a little walk into fall creek.  They seem like a really friendly and dedicated group of educators.  If you should run into them over the next few days, I think you’ll like talking to them.

Parent Meeting, Thursday, 3/12/15, 1:45pm-3:00pm.  This will be a great time for us to get together to talk about how homeschooling is going, share ideas, check in on class projects, and make decisions about spring activities and allocation of funds.  We’ll also talk about our participation in the state-mandated testing coming in April & May.  I look forward to seeing you there.

California Academy of Sciences Field Trip Thursday, 3/26/15Marin Headlands, Wednesday, 3/25/15.  Thanks for all of your permission slips.  Our overnight has been officially approved by the school board, so we are good to go.  Next week we’ll start organizing rides, meals, etc.


*Ethics of Animal Research --decision time.  Your child should have a copy of the Spikerbox Background Reading and Ethics in Animal Research handouts from the Neuroseeds curriculum that we are dipping in to. Please read these over with your child.   I will be teaching about how neurons work in class this week, so don’t worry if you/your child doesn’t understand the parts about action potentials, neurotransmitters, etc. yet. 

We will be starting the animal research part of the curriculum this week so I would like the kids to come to class with a well thought out decision about whether and to what degree they would like to participate in the Spikerbox activity.  Since we have talked quite a bit about it, your child might already have a clear opinion.  I don’t want anyone to feel that they are being forced to participate in animal research, if it is against their beliefs.  That said, I don’t want anyone to miss out on a really cool activity demonstrating nervous system function just because they are unsure.  I will put together an alternative neuroscience activity for those who don’t want to participate in the hands-on lab.

*Project Presentation –scheduling time.  Please have your child bring their completed project presentation planning packet (or equivalent) to class this week so that we can share ideas and pin down presentation dates.

Summary of the week:

Cross Stitch:  April worked with part of the group on their cross-stitch in the Nature Academy garden.

Plant Medicines:  I taught most of the rest of the group how to make medicinal plant extractions (decoctions & infusions), using standard laboratory tools.

Garden:  Those who had finished both their cross-stitch and their extractions worked with B.J. in the garden taking measurements of the beds, paths and perimeter as the first step toward making a scale model.

On Thursday, I asked the kids to draw the garden from memory.  We then went out in the garden and saw how closely what we remembered matched reality.  The kids adjusted their drawings, so now each child has their own drawing of the garden plan.  The kids who measured the day before worked on converting their measurements to the scale we are using for our map (1 foot= 2cm).  Most of the kids were able to plant the seeds of their medicinal herbs in flats.  I heard this comment a lot…”I can’t believe [my herb’s] seeds are so tiny!”.

Thanks to Molly for bringing some backup herbs dug from her garden.


The last students shared the information they found on the nervous system of their animal.  The kids wrote answers to questions about animal research.  They brainstormed in their table groups different ways humans use animals.  They predicted what percent different uses were of the total.  I showed them a slideshow (well, only part of a slideshow due to technology breakdown) on the actual percentage of use –95% of animals used by humans were for food, which did not include hunting.  I then shared with them statistics about the types and percentages of animals used in research (.3%) and why they are used, even with improving computer modeling. 

Here is a link to the Powerpoint presentation, if you are interested: Animal Uses PowerPoint Presentation (You need to have Powerpoint on your computer to see it.)  I explained the 4 Rs of ethical animal research: Replace, Reduce, Refine, and Respect. 

I also showed them a short video compilation of clips from interviews with people whose job it is to take care of lab animals from the This was a lot to squeeze into the last hour of the day on Thursday, but that we did, and we will pick it up again this week.

We looked at a diagram of the olfactory bulbs in the brain and saw how they intertwine with the structures of the limbic system and the hippocampus, associated with primal emotion and memory.  We did an activity where we pretended to be wolf pups trying to find our pack by smell.  Each pair of students was given a food-based fragrance, which they used to find the rest of their pack and their den.

We followed up the next day with a discussion of the primary structures of the limbic system including introducing the fight/flight/freeze, and rest/digest nervous system responses.  We discussed how brain research shows us that we tend to register the negative immediately, but take longer to register the positive.  We talked about using noting and reframing to help balance out anger, frustration, and anxiety.  The kids mapped the newly learned structures and their functions on a new brain diagram.

Mindfulness:  This week we focused on mindfulness of emotions/thoughts, based on what we learned about the limbic system.  To help the limbic system calm, we can engage the prefrontal cortex by simply naming the emotions/thoughts as they arise in our awareness.

P.E.:  We played soccer, including warm-up drills, on Wednesday, and hillside Cat & Mouse on Thursday.

Wish List:

65cm Gymnastik Balls (or similar).   We have one and it works out really well as a seat for far-side computer use because it is comfortable and can roll completely under the table to create a clear path.  I thought some of you might have one or two that you’re not using right now that I could borrow for the rest of the year.  I’d like three more.  They are fun for indoor P.E., too.

Industrial Sewing Machine (and someone who knows how to use it).  One of our heavy pillows has a seam rip.

Vests for PE  It would be great to get some colored vests to help the kids identify who is on which team when playing competitive sports.  Do any of you know of a reputable source?




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.


See you Wednesday!

Marcy Reynolds

Coast Redwood Middle School

(831) 512-9331