CRMS Update for 4/1/16

posted Apr 1, 2016, 6:50 PM by Marcy Reynolds

Dear CRMS Families,

An era of online accounts and passwords…


Account #1

As you all know I have been striving to teach about climate change in an empowering way, empowering the kids to understand the science, and also empowering them to see that what they do can make a positive difference.   As part of the latter piece, we are participating in a challenge offered through the Green Ninja program.  The Green Ninja program is a project is based at San Jose State University and includes faculty from the College of Science, College of Humanities and the Arts, and Spartan Film Studios.  The challenge is to reduce our home energy use as a class.  I’ve written more about this below, in the summary section.  What I want to mention here is that in order to track their energy use and participate in the challenge, each child logged on to: and created an account and password.  No personal details were shared beyond the child’s name (and even that could be a pseudonym).  I encouraged them to choose a password that they had not used for any other account and that was easy to remember.  Those who had their paper power bills with them started entering their daily home energy use from 1/29/16-3/29/16.  Our conservation period started on Wednesday, March 30.  For those who no longer have paper bills, you can log on to your PG & E account (or create an account) to see your household energy use each day.  I showed the kids my account so they could see how to navigate to the usage page.  Yes, this is another online account with another password…but it is a pretty cool site.  Here’s the link to register, if you’d like:   If you don’t want to set up an online connection with PG & E, your child can find the daily energy use graph on their the monthly paper bill.


Account #2

I spent part of last summer searching for a way to do the yearbook so that the kids could have direct access to their pages enabling them work by themselves or in teams to design their own layouts.  The best option I came up with is a company called TreeRing.  It appears that the kids will be able to be much more involved in the layout and the company also plants a tree for each book sold.  Each family will purchase their book directly from TreeRing and the cost will be much lower than last year (about $20).  I was hoping that we would all be able to share photos without each of us having to create a separate login, but no such luck.  If you have any photos you took of the kids this year that you think they might like to use for the yearbook, you’ll need to create an account for yourself.  Actually, I think that even if you are just interested in purchasing a yearbook, you need to create an account.  All the kids will need to create accounts so that they can work on their individual and group pages.  I have set up a folder for each field trip we took and for each student.  This should allow the kids to share photos they’ve taken of each other as well.  I am not planning on using the TreeRing layouts (which seem a little hokey to me).  Instead we will create our own in class.  In addition, it looks like each child will have a double page spread that will be unique to their yearbook.  This seems like an opportunity to include more photos from your child’s year of homeschooling outside of class time.  When you set up your account, you will be prompted to purchase the book, add “memories”, “bling” and “signatures”.  I advise you just to click the “Next” button at the bottom of each screen to bypass it all.  If you’re in the mood to add photos that you’ve taken during class or field trips, great!  Just click the “Add Photos” icon and transfer them to appropriate folders.  If you’d like advice on how to do this from Google Photos, then I can send you the tutorial I created to use with the kids when we return from break.  In order to meet the deadline, we will need to hit the ground running with this project when we return from break.


I do apologize for all of this online account making.  It is unpleasant and time-consuming, but seems like the best way to do some of these things that we want to do.


Despite all of the to-dos I just gave you, I do hope that you can enjoy some unscheduled restful and fun family time during the break.  I look forward to seeing you again the week of April 11.


Marcy Reynolds

Coast Redwood Middle School

(831) 512-9331


Month 8 Attendance Paperwork Due 4/15.

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 Meetings: Thursday, 4/14, 4/28, 5/12, 2:15pm-3:15pm: Budapest, Riptide, Don’t Worry, Be Happy. Practice strums.

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

SBAC Testing: During class time, mostly in the mornings on 4/20, 4/21, 4/27 & 4/28.

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:


Fe Fi Fo Fum:  We attended the Quail Hollow Homeschool play performance this week.  The kids did a great job.  It was fun to see siblings and others that we know in the play.  It was also very nostalgic for the 8th grade CRMS kids who performed in that play when they were BC Homeschool students.   It is always great to see live theatre!


PE: Banana Tag


Project Presentations:  We heard a couple of great presentations this week, one on Return to Freedom horse rescue and one on NASA’s work on a manned mission to mars.  After using the presentation rubric, creating their own rubrics, the kids are now giving each other supportive feedback via letters.  Each child is filling in a letter template to let the presenter know what they really appreciated about their presentation and suggestions they might have for improvement.  The kids are doing a good job on giving each other quality feedback.


Energy Tracking:  Thanks to those of you who were able to follow through on the homework!  I think that most of the kids have a sense now of which appliances use the most electricity and what their average household energy use is.  We averaged all the household averages for electricity use and our class average was 596 Kilowatt hours per month.  The kids created their own Green Ninja Energy Tracker Accounts and started inputting their baseline numbers.  I showed them the Green Ninja: Footprint Renovation cartoon ( (which they loved) and we picked out all the conservation tips.  Many of you already do a lot to conserve, so as we talked about taking on the Green Ninja challenge we discussed how in some households we might reduce energy use only by a percent or two, while other households might be able to reduce by 10% or 20%.  We talked about simple ways we could reduce energy use, including deciding what you want to eat from the refrigerator before opening the door, making sure doors close, turning out lights that aren’t needed, putting on sweaters instead of turning up the heat, only using the oven, clothes or dishwasher if full, hanging laundry to dry, etc.  I am not asking any family to go out and spend money on this project, but if you were already budgeting to change your lightbulbs to LEDs, install weather stripping or any other energy saving home renovations, feel free to take advantage of the motivation of our challenge time the next couple of weeks to get it done.  If we do well we could earn t-shirts or a pizza party and a sense of accomplishment.


Solar Pump Project:  I am so pleased that Aidan’s stepdad, Matthew was able to come to class this Thursday and kick off our solar pump project.  Not only does Aidan’s family do solar installations as a business (, but Matthew also teaches about it at San Jose City College, so the kids were riveted when he started talking about electrons moving down wires, volts, amps, energy, power, work, etc.  He uses Google Earth Pro. ( for his business and showed the kids a bit about how they could use it for the solar project.  The kids were amazed at how Google Earth can allow you to have a bird’s eye view and then also transition to street view.  He also demonstrated how a solar panel can power a bilge pump, giving Aidan a good shower as he tried to apply enough pressure to the outlet to send the water up 15 feet into the air.  The kids came up with questions that they would need to answer to design a system that would pump water from a rainwater catchment system near the Nature Academy greenhouse up to a holding tank in the NA garden, and then down to the CRMS garden.  While the rest of us worked in the garden, six kids went with Matthew to measure distances and angles and tank volumes to figure out how strong a pump we would need as well as the amount of pipe we would need.  The plan is for a different group of 6 students to be able to work with Matthew each week on different phases of the project.


Gardening:  Sheet mulching:  Most of the kids were working on the sheet mulching project, laying down cardboard, shoveling, wheel barrowing.  This was our main PE activity for the week.  We are making a dent in our huge mulch pile.  We’ve finished mulching the paths on most of the lower garden, but still have the upper 1/3 of the garden to do.  Please keep the cardboard coming!  Feel free to drop by anytime and throw big pieces of cardboard over the garden fence.  Thanks to the work of Elizabeth and Erin W., the succulent garden was weeded, shade cloth laid down, and gravel put over the top.  If you can believe it, we could still use more gravel and rocks, if anyone would like to bring some by. 


Batik Project:  I roped in my friend Cecily Cahill, Zambian native who now lives in Ben Lomond, to help us learn Indonesian Batik.  This week the kids experimented with designs on paper and used white crayon and watercolor to experiment with wax resist.


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


Mop Up: For our mop up time, the kids worked on finishing their partner bio posters and getting them ready to post on the classroom door.


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.

*Gravel and river stones for the succulent garden.

*Straight branches to build trellises for the peas.  Some of the kids mentioned that they had good trellising materials at home that they could contribute.

*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, 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.