CRMS Update for 3/28/16

posted Mar 28, 2016, 9:07 AM by Marcy Reynolds

Dear CRMS Families,

This is our last week before spring break.  If you thought time was passing quickly already…it really speeds up after spring break.   So I encourage you not to schedule too much during your break and to really enjoy it!


Electricity Use Homework:

Step 1:  Most of the kids got a start on filling out the Energy Use Analysis sheet and translating a month’s worth of electricity usage into appliance-on hours.  Please help your child finish this if they are working on their own bill, or, if they were using someone else’s bill to complete another sheet based on your latest power bill.  In class I had made cards showing how much power different appliances draw.  Since I didn’t have enough cards for everyone to take home, you can use a link such as the following as a guide:  If you have time, even better would be finding out how much power the specific appliances draw in your home and using that information to complete the analysis.

Step 2:  Gather up as many power bills that you can for the last year, fill in the kilowatt hours used each month and also the therms used (if you have natural gas) and then take an average for year (or for as many months as you find records).

The kids should all have the tally sheets in their binders, but some binders were left behind and some kids were absent, so I have scanned and attached them to this email.  Please have your child bring these completed sheets to class next week.  Thanks!


Writing Homework:  See “Writing with Meg”, below.


Writing Study Hall with Lou: Tuesdays, 2:30pm-4:00pm, at the Fall Creek office (aka The Annex). 

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

Ukulele Club Meeting: Thursday, 3/31, 2:15pm-3:15pm: Budapest, Riptide, Don’t Worry, Be Happy. New songs to be sent out soon. Next Ukulele Club meeting after the break will be on 4/14.

Spring Break: April 4-8.  I hope you have a wonderful break.

Next Book Club Meeting: Thursday, 2:15pm-3:15pm, 4/21:  SKY JUMPERS #2: THE FORBIDDEN FLATS by Peggy Eddleman.

Next CRMS Parent Meeting: Thursday, 4/28, 2:15pm-3:30pm.


Summary of Class Activities:

Writing with Meg: The kids started with a free-write.  Following up on the previous week, the kids shared what they knew about some mythological creatures.  Meg described the difference between folk tales and fairy tales and invited the kids to come up with elements for their own fairy tale.  Here are the elements: 1) Hero, 2) Villian, 3) Something Magical, 4) Setting, 5) a Lesson that is learned, 6) Plot, 7) Resolution.  Most of the kids have started picking the different elements for their stories and have started writing in their journals.  Meg invited the kids to keep writing throughout the week, if they were inspired to do so.


PE: The kids took turns peddling the paddle boats on Loch Lomond.  I know it was a workout for me!  Several of the kids mentioned that they were sore the next day.


Project Presentations:  We kicked off our spring season with two inspiring presentations: one was on the Syrian refugee crisis and the other on boat design and performance.  Some kids were so moved to hear about the refugees, that they decided to run a bake sale on their behalf.  They started a sign-up sheet for those who are interested in participating in the bake sale.


Mindfulness:  We practiced a couple minutes of mindful hearing and breathing.


Gardening:  Sheet mulching:  Almost all hands were working on the sheet mulching project, laying down cardboard, shoveling, wheel barrowing, clearing rose prunings.  Three kids also started on weeding and refreshing the succulent


Trout Project:  We packed up 11 little fry and took them to Loch Lomond for release.  In the morning, the kids paddle boated around the lake, investigating little coves.  Most of the kids stopped for lunch on the island, where we saw a nesting Canada Goose.  In the afternoon Ranger Judie and Jessica talked to us about the history of Loch Lomond, the watershed and water use in Santa Cruz.  Half the kids went with Jessica and did water quality testing on the lake.  They tested pH, dissolved oxygen, temperature and turbidity.  The other half went with Judie and gradually added lake water to the fry’s water to help them become accustomed to the warmer temperature, different smell, and different chemistry.  While we waited for the fish to adjust, Judie led a discussion about the habitat.  Once the fish were ready, the kids scooped them up in plastic cups, submerged the cups in the lake water and watched the fish swim away.


Book Club:  Andrea led a discussion on Sky Jumpers, which all the kids really seemed to like, so much so that they wanted to read the next book in the series this month.


Mop Up:  This is the term I use for finishing up whatever projects are left dangling. Most of the kids worked on finishing their partner bios, partner poems, or bio photos.


Parent Meeting:  We checked in on how the homeschooling was going and shared successes.  Katie Snyder, was in attendance and is always a great resource for hidden field trip destinations.  She suggested a Vietnam Memorial in San Jose and the New Shakespeare Sanctuary in Moss Landing.


I mentioned that we’ll be participating in the SBAC testing on Wednesday and Thursday mornings the last two weeks of April.  Last year it worked very well to weave the testing into our regular day.  That way, those who finish early have other projects to work on, and those who take more time don’t feel pressured.  For those who would like their kids to get some practice with the testing format you can go to this link: and click the green student interface button at the bottom of the screen. I suggest that you begin at a much lower grade level, so that your kids can become familiar with the format before having to face challenges with the content.


We discussed the trip to Headwaters Outdoor School and I passed out an equipment list that John Kiersted has given to his 6th grade class (I’ll put copies by the classroom door, for those who weren’t at the meeting).  BJ suggested that a cheap and easy way to make a ground cloth and pad is to buy Tyvek house liner from Home Depot (or other hardware store) to use as a ground cloth and then put a piece of insulated foam (foil on both sides, also available at home depot) on top of the Tyvek for a pad.  Both of these products are available to purchase by the foot off of large rolls.  For those who want to purchase a simple fixed blade knife in a plastic sheath, I can still get you one for $12.  If you are purchasing your own knife, the blade should be fixed or locking and be no longer than 3-3/4”.


Based on feedback from the families, I suggested the cost per person to attend Headwaters be $250.  This is $100 less than the actual cost and will use half of our funds, which will leave some left over for our end of the year activities and to start next year.  The parents in attendance approved this proposal.  Please make your check out to Headwaters Outdoor School for $250.  If you cannot afford to pay this much, please pay whatever you can.  If you can afford to pay more, you are invited to do so to help cover those who can’t.  The decision was made to offer the same $100 discount to parents accompanying the trip to help offset the expense for gas, etc.  So far the following parents have offered to drive:  Molly, Sandra, BJ, and Annette.  This means that, as of now, we have seats in cars for 16 kids.  I have attached a permission slip to this email.  Please fill it out and return it to me after the break with your payment so that can get a better sense of who is coming.  Thanks!


It is time to turn in your intent to return form (attached) to help all the programs in the charter plan for next year.  Feel free to fill it out and bring it to class, or drop it off directly at Holly’s office.  Thanks!


Wish List:

*Large pieces of cardboard for sheet mulching project.  Feel free to simply throw any big pieces of cardboard over the garden fence if you happen to bring them by the school when we aren’t there.

*Old electric frying pans/woks that you no longer want for melting wax, or a loan of electric wax melting skillet for batik project.  If you have any tjantings, or any other batik supplies, we’d love to borrow those as well.

*Weed Wacking  If anyone would like to come by the garden any time before Thursday, it would be great to cut down the weeds in the paths of the upper half of the garden.  It makes it a lot easier to lay down the cardboard for sheet mulching.




Class Photos:  After this week I’ll be returning the photos to Julie in the Annex, so please come by and get one, if you want one.  The class photos that were professionally taken at the beginning of the school year are available for purchase for $15.  If you are interested, please fill out the info and put the money in the envelope (by the entrance) and hand it to me.  I can give you the photo(s) immediately.