CRMS Update for 9/24/15

posted Sep 25, 2015, 6:48 AM by Marcy Reynolds

Dear CRMS Families,

What a sweet week with the kids.   All the kids immediately found friends and clearly enjoyed being together.  And look…and update sent to you on Thursday! I think this may be a first.  Usually I won’t be able to complete writing the weekly (or almost weekly) updates until Sundays.  I hope you all have a wonderful weekend.


Marcy Reynolds

Coast Redwood Middle School

(831) 512-9331


Class Hours: Wed. & Thurs. 9:30am-2:00pm.  There was some confusion about that this week.


Home Practice:  I have asked the kids to do some of the mindfulness practices at home this week.  They can log their practice in their new binders.  Please have your child bring their binder to class each Wednesday and bring it home each Thursday.


Homework:  Continue working on the project presentation planning packet in your child’s binder.


Mt. Hermon Field Trip, Wed. 9/30:  We’ll meet at the Mt. Hermon Ropes course/Adventure area.  From Felton, drive down Graham Hill Rd. Just past the Sherriff station on the left is a fork that leads uphill to the Mt. Hermon conference center.  Drive past the offices and conference center to where the big grassy field and big building are.  Pick up and drop off will be a the picnic tables on the parking lot edge of the field.  Normal class hours: 9:30am-2:00pm.  Please make sure to pack lunch and water and have your child dress for outdoor adventures!


Drive for Schools:  This has been a great annual fundraiser for us.  The kids have already started to brainstorm what kind of special activity they would like to reward themselves for raising $500, $750 or $1000.  The tickets cost $5 each or a book of 6 tickets for $25.  Checks should be made out to the Charter Family Booster Club.  I have encouraged the kids to fundraise outside of their immediate families, since families already contribute so much!  Please have your child return the completed ticket stubs and money to me as they collect them so that Julie (who is processing it all) is not overwhelmed at the end.  The final date to turn in stubs and money to me will be Wed., 10/14.


Benches:  Lisa found out that we could get two benches for the kids to sit on in the shade for $4.30 per child.  If you’d like to contribute to the bench project, please bring your contributions to Marcy.

Monthly Attendance:  It was great to look at everyone’s month 1 attendance and see all the rich educational activities happening outside of class!  When printing the planner sheets/learning log, please make sure to check “include titles” on the print dialog box so that your child’s name, month and school year end up at the top of each page.

County Fair:  The report from folks who visited the county fair was that our class medicinal herb quilt was up and won first place!

Benchmark Assessments:  Thanks for turning them all in.  We’ll begin grading them on Monday.

First Week of Class at CRMS:  After all of the prep to get things ready for the start of the school year, it was such a treat to see you all and for the kids to finally get together!  The kids have written down notes about what we did together either in their online planner or on a piece of paper (if they don’t have access to the online planner yet).  Please check over what they wrote and use it as a jumping off place for discussion.  Also, please transfer the information to the online planner (if it is on a piece of paper) or make sure that they entered it correctly in the online planner.  Below are my summaries of our activities:

Mindfulness:  It was so sweet to start our mindfulness class with mindful hearing, listening to the parents outside working on clearing the dirt in front of the classroom to start the process of beautification.  It really made it feel like a community morning.  I introduced the value of mindfulness practice in much the same way as I did in my email to you last week.  We tried out and discussed three practices this week:  mindfulness of hearing, mindfulness of eating (the mindful bite), and mindfulness of breathing.

When guiding the mindfulness of breathing practice I basically read the script that I used for the recording they’ll be using for home practice. The thought, especially for children, is that if the practice isn’t closely guided that they’ll go off track, but the longer we practiced, the more the kids seemed to relax and quiet.  During the processing I was happy to hear the complaint that I talked to much.  This is good news, indicating that the is are already able to focus on their own.  During the week, if possible, please encourage your child to practice every day or every other day, either with the recording or without.  I have given them a log sheet in their binder where they can track when they practice.  The first column would be for practicing the mindful hearing or mindful breathing with the recording, or without.  The second column is for mindfulness in daily life practices.  The daily life practice I gave them this week was the mindful bite (mindful eating).  Here are the links to the two tracks I recorded for your child to practice with this week: (not posted on website).

Gardening: The kids worked with Lisa, and then Charlene to clear the front of the classroom dirt patch and plant succulents.  Thanks to all who sent succulent cuttings and rocks!  Our hope is that if we fill the empty spaces with rocks then the cats will no longer use that area for a toilet.  Keep the rocks coming!  It would be great to get a variety of different rock types in there so that we can look more closely at them as we get into the geology part of our earth science study.

The kids also worked in the main garden.  We started the straw bales decomposing, which is the first step in straw bale gardening.  We also cut back roses and blackberries to the fence line and pulled up some Bermuda grass from the corners of the beds.

Seasons: We celebrated the fact that our first day of class was also the first day of autumn by looking into the astronomical source of the seasons, namely the tilt of the earth.  This is always trickier to visualize than it seems because there is really not a up and down in space.  We modelled the orbit of the earth around a flashlight sun as a whole group and then I asked the kids to try and draw a diagram of it.  As they worked at their tables to figure out how to draw it all, I took them aside, group-by-group and had them create the demo with the flashlight and globe as well.  I also showed them some ways that other artists had diagrammed the process.  There is a natural tendency for the kids to change the tilt of the earth so that it always points toward the sun, no matter where it is in its orbit.   If this were the case in reality, we’d have endless summer in the northern hemisphere and endless winter in the southern hemisphere.  Since understanding how this works will be foundational in understanding how climate works, we will keep coming back to it.  Feel free to ask your child to explain it to you so that they can become more aware of the aspects of the process that are not clear to them.

Justin and John put up the sundial that Justin made in the garden.  We checked out the sundial and learned how to read it.  We also measured the length of the shadow cast by the gnomon so we could compare it to measurements we’ll take near the winter solstice.

Project Presentations:  The kids worked in pairs and threes to support each other in brainstorming ideas for their project presentations.  We will discuss it again in class, but it is to a point where you can pick it up and continue it at home.  Please have your child keep the planning packet in their binder and bring it back to class next week.

School Counselor:  We were visited by Jennifer Sims today who introduced herself and led the kids in an activity on boundaries.  Rhonda introduced Jen in the last Charter Newsletter.  Jen will be available to charter kids on Mondays.  If you think your child would benefit from meeting with Jen, then you can send her an email at: Jennifer Sims

Book Club:  Andrea had her first meeting with the kids this afternoon and led a discussion on Holes.  Change: For the rest of the year the book club will meet on the third Wednesday of each month.  The kids voted that they would like to read My Side of the Mountain as their next book.

Math Tutor:  I am very pleased to announce that Aaron Shaw will be at the Coast Redwood Middle School classroom every Thursday from 2:15pm-3:30pm (or later, if need be).  This tutoring will be done in a math study hall format. Your child should come prepared with math work to do and can stay for as little or as much of the study hall time as they’d like.  Aaron will be there to answer questions and provide explanations as needed.  Because of math tutoring, both the Ukulele Club and the Book Club will change their meeting day to Wednesdays.  More info on the Ukulele Club will be shared next week.

Wish List:

*Interesting rocks for the garden.

*If you have them, please bring one or two rinsed, waxed, cardboard ½ gallon milk containers.  April (Jeanette’s mom) will be using them to start the kids on their first hydroponic veggie growing experiment.

*Manual option SLR cameras for use by the kids.