CRMS Update for 2/8/16

posted Feb 8, 2016, 2:21 PM by Marcy Reynolds

Dear CRMS Families,

I hope you are all enjoying this beautiful, sunny Chinese New Year Day.


Marcy Reynolds

Coast Redwood Middle School

(831) 512-9331



*Writing Suggestions from Meg (see summary below)

*Project Presentation Planning & Research (see PPs below)

*Permission Slip due Thursday (attached)

*Ukulele: Learn chorus from Lava (attached) & Island strum technique

*Book Club: Finish Dragonflight by next Thursday

*Knitting:  It is still cold at night.  I’m sure those in need would still appreciate a wooly, handmade hat.  Our second finished hat was celebrated in class last week!


New Writing Study Hall with Lou: starts tomorrow, Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2:30pm-4:00pm, at the Fall Creek office (aka The Annex).  Bring your writing projects and Lou will give help and instruction as needed.  Writers are welcome to come for as little or as much of the time as fits their schedules.  If you have no writing projects, but still would like to attend, you can jump off of what we did with Meg last week and journal-write.


Project Presentations:  Please have your child bring their Project Presentation Planning Packet with them to class on Wednesday, regardless of how far they have gotten with it.  The kids will be sharing their ideas and how far they have gotten with each other, picking their dates to present to me and to the class.


Math Study Hall with Aaron Shaw: Wednesdays, 2:15pm-4:00pm.


Ukulele Club Meeting: Thursday, 2/11, 2:15pm-3:15pm.  Please see Ukulele Club summary below for what to prepare. 


CRMS Parent Meeting: Wednesday, 2/17, 2:15pm-3:30pm. 


Book Club Meeting: The next book club meeting will be on Thursday, 2/18, 2:15pm-3:15pm.  Because we didn’t get to discuss it in January, our February book will still be Dragonflight, by Ann McCaffrey.


Month 6 Attendance Due: Friday, 2/19.  Non-Instructional Days: (no need to keep records): 2/8, 2/15


Tech Museum Field Trip: Thursday, 2/25, 9am-3:30pm, $15 per person. Permission slip attached.  We will have a couple of hours to enjoy the museum exhibits and then, after lunch, participate in the “Green By Design” lab. Here’s a description:


Harness the power of wind and sun! Students work as teams to investigate the power of solar cells

and create solar-powered cities. They then build their own wind turbines.


Drop-off time in the morning will be 8:45am.  Pick-up time in the afternoon will be 3:30pm.  Please return the permission slip with payment to me by this Thursday, 2/11 so that I can arrange rides.  Thanks!


Other Semester 2 Dates (Please write these in your calendars, since I won’t be taking the space to include the whole list in every update):

*CRMS Parent Meetings: 2/17, 3/23, 4/28, 5/18

*Book Club Meetings: 1/28, 2/18, 3/24, 4/21, 5/19

*Ukulele Club Meetings: 4/4, 4/11, 3/3, 3/10, 3/17…as the kids decide from there…

*Spring Break: 4/4-4/8

*Shasta Field Trip: 5/2-5/6

*CRMS Last Class: 5/19

*CRMS Promotion Ceremony & Celebration: 6/8, 11am-2pm

*Attendance Due Dates: 2/19, 3/18, 4/15, 5/13 & 6/9


Math Manipulatives:  We now have some copies of the Foundations teacher’s editions for checkout.  We also have some math manipulative kits for check out.


Summary of Class Activities:


Circle Check-In:  We shifted from starting Wednesdays with mindfulness class to our more typical circle check-in format, with kids tuning in to their subjective experience, sharing how they were doing physically and emotionally and sharing something they enjoyed since the last class.


Asking Questions:  The kids completed a “get to know you” activity to find out things about their classmates that they didn’t already know.  They then worked in their table groups to generate interesting questions for partner interviews. We discussed the difference between open-ended and close-ended questions, and they were encouraged to write open-ended questions.


PE: Faith did an excellent job leading the kids in dribbling and passing basketball drills.  The kids worked in groups of 3-4, with one experienced basketball player in each group.  The kids who were new to the game built confidence in their skills, and even better…they had fun!  The kids who were experienced were challenged to step into a leadership role.


Climate Science: As an introduction to our first laboratory experience of 2016 I shared with the kids that research has found that the way most kids (and adults) learn best is through concrete experiences, then working with images that are representative of those concrete experiences, and finally moving to abstract concepts.  We learn better when these three elements are involved, even if we do them in reverse order.  This is why science lab experiences are important, even if learner already knows the concepts that the lab illustrates.  Given this, why do we often skip over the concrete and even the pictorial?  The kids knew why: time and money. 


The lab: In their table groups the kids measured the difference in rate of heating and cooling of water and air.  They wrote down temperature readings at regular time intervals and while they waited for the next reading worked on coloring their climate maps.  We’ll be graphing and analyzing the data we collected this week.


Globe Project:  Well, two weeks in an unheated, damp room over the holidays did not benefit our papier mache globes.  Even some that were quite round before had developed dips.  Undaunted, we moved forward.  I asked the kids to take a good look at their globes and consider whether they wanted to proceed with applying their climate map to it, or to turn their climate map into a separate paper globe and transform their papier mache globe into an asteroid, moon, or other celestial object.  Most of the kids chose the latter which led to an online investigation of the shapes of different asteroids and moons.   The kids all found an asteroid that most closely fit the shape of their papier mache globe, using duct and masking tape to help sculpt their globe to match more closely.  This week they’ll learn more about their asteroid, analyze color, and hopefully begin to paint.


Writing with Meg:  Scott’s mom, Meg, who is herself a writer, has generously offered to lead the kids in writing explorations on Thursday mornings.  For our first session, she encouraged the kids to consider that the best writing comes from the personal experiences which are unique to each one of us.  No one can tell the same stories in the same way that we can.  She acknowledged that writing can be hard, and we can feel resistant to it.  She encouraged us to push through that resistance and just do it because expressing those unique stories is worth the effort.  She had brought writing notebooks for each class member and introduced, “first thoughts writing” where we write what comes first to our minds, without editing.  She suggested some topics to help get started, then asked the kids to write for 10 minutes without stopping.  At the end of the 10 minutes she invited the kids to read aloud what they wrote, if they wanted.  Several kids shared and it was clear that each expression was unique!  Suggested Homework: She asked the kids to write down two more journaling ideas in their notebooks that they could write about at home before next Thursday.  She encouraged the kids to take some time to pay close attention to their environment, their senses and their feelings and to write about what they experience in that moment.


Gardening:  The kids collected data on their lettuces and weeded the lettuce beds.  Some kids gathered cut oak logs recently cut in the nature academy garden for possible mushroom cultivation.


Photography:  Sheryl was with us this week and talked to the kids about light, aperture, shutter speed and setting f-stops using manual mode.  She also figured out how to reset the cameras back to their original settings which will be a life-saver as the kids start to fiddle more with the settings.  Thank you, Sheryl!  All the kids got to work in small groups with Sheryl taking photographs around the school.


Ukulele Club:  Thanks to all who participated in the Ukulele Club last Thursday!  It is not easy to work on learning together without a teacher in charge, but I think you’ll find that it is really worthwhile.  Last week the kids practiced playing “This Land is Your Land” together.  Most of the kids had practiced the chords, but it is clear that more practice is needed transitioning from one chord to another.  Elli, Jeanette’s sister (who has done a lot of ukulele), suggests practicing one chord over and over separate from playing songs to get comfortable strumming, and also to get more relaxed and smooth with chord changes.  The kids discussed several different strums and it was agreed that it might be helpful if the strum was identified along with one version of the song so all could be practicing the same way.  At Elizabeth’s suggestion, the kids decided to learn the chorus from Lava (attached), using the Island strumming technique and have it ready to go for our meeting on this Thursday.  Jeanette is going to work on getting the music for another song so everyone can all be working on the same version of the song for our next meeting on 3/3.


Science Fair:  Congratulations to all who participated in the Charter Science Fair!  I was hosting on Friday evening and so got a chance to look at all of the great projects.  For those who weren’t able to participate this year, I encourage you to participate next year, even if only to come and see what other students have done; it’s inspiring!  For those who did participate, please don’t forget to pick up your project boards this week and to include your great work in this month’s portfolio samples.


Wish List:


*Parent Help in the Classroom:  

I need parents to come be present at the math tutoring while I’m involved in staff meetings on 2/10 & 2/24.  Please let me know if you can help.  Thanks!


We still have a need for parent help on the following dates.  Please let me know if you can join us.

Parent Helpers Needed: 2/11, 3/2, 3/23, 3/24, 5/12

Snacks Needed the Weeks of: 4/20 & 5/12


*Please keep ahold of your power bills for this month, and for the months to come.  If you still have them, it would be great if you could set aside your bills since September.  In class, your child will be learning to read and understand the bills and will use the information as a jumping off place for understanding power usage across the globe.


*CO2 Meter:  Ever since the summer I’ve been asking every place that I can think of who might have a carbon dioxide meter available to loan if we can borrow one.  So far no luck.  So I thought I’d ask you…do any of you know someone (business or individual) who might have one or more CO2 meter(s) that they’d be willing to loan us for a couple of observations?


*Please check in with your child and make sure that they have a cup to use for water and tea.  Even if they bring a water bottle, I would like them to have a cup to use in class.



Parent Education: Marth Kaufeldt on Feb. 10, 5:30pm-7pm, Begin with the Brain.  Please come if you can, learn about brain-based teaching techniques.  Also, we’d love to hear from you what topics you would find most helpful.  Please complete this 6 question survey so that we can hear your input: