Notes to Classmates Expressing Appreciation

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In advance of the state math testing that begins Monday morning, students took some time last week to write notes to each other. Children were asked to identify someone in the classroom who has helped them learn and explain why. We called this, Student Appreciation Week—something we borrowed from Teacher Appreciation Week, which we celebrated the week before.

The notes are great and I hope they remind students how their willingness to help a classmate is valued.

Example 2

Creating Our Mother’s Day Gifts

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Happy Mother’s Day!!

I had to avoid posting any of these pictures before today–Mother’s Day. The project started two weeks ago and was led by the district’s ELA Program Coordinator Kelly Rotter. The kids were great and Kelly came a second time to ensure the process was appropriately completed.

Day 1

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Day 2

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The Auction

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With money saved from the last two months, students participated in our classroom auction. Children got to bid on coffee mugs, office supplies, water bottles, t-shirts, golf shirts, wooden trains and other company giveaways.

We will have one more auction in June to celebrate the end of the year and all of our hard work.

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RoomD4 Completes its First Structured Academic Controversy

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Students participated in our first Structured Academic Controversy around the subject of school lunches. We read several articles (here) after which children were assigned a position to answer this question, should schools ban lunches from home? Naturally, some children did not want to argue that home lunches should be banned. It is important, however, that students be able to take positions that they might not agree. Likewise, it is something that will help them as they move through the grades and have to support both claims and counterclaims in their speaking and writing.

After students researched and rehearsed, partners got to debate other teams of two. It is impressive how well the students did and how they were able to convince their peers of why they might be right.

To: Students of Room D4 Re: State Testing

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Dear Room D4

Next week you start your state tests. You will get dozens of questions to determine how well you comprehended texts, understand different areas of math, and if you can compose a well structured piece of writing. The test will learn a few things about you but it will miss an awful lot as well.

The test will not uncover just what an amazing group of children you are. Every visitor—and I really mean every visitor—to our classroom commented on what great kids you are. This included the Water Color Society, UNR’s Dr. Steve Gehrke, the district’s consulting teachers, ELA Program Coordinator Kelly Rotter, Implementation Specialist Kate Crist, and attorney Austin Sweet. The staff at Marvin Picollo describes you as mature and kind and most recently the wildlife educators at Oxbow Nature Study Area noted how incredibly well-behaved and inquisitive you are.

The test will fail to see what great 21st Century learners you are and it will not fully grasp how well you communicate in groups, the creative spirit you bring to challenging problems, and how you collaborate on projects. Moreover, it will not see how appropriately you peer edit and how you’ve worked with Confidence Buddies, Word Study Colleagues, Writing Coaches, and Math Constructive Friends to ensure everyone is growing as a learner.

Paramount, the test will never get to know what fun and empathetic kids you are. You have entertained me all year with your humor, your stories, and your kindness. You have all exhibited qualities that make you fabulously likable and made it a pleasure to show up to school each morning.

Students of Room D4, I am thrilled that I got to work with you this year. I am absolutely certain that all of you are capable of doing great things. I have seen this first-hand and I have countless stories and artifacts to prove it. Your test will miss a lot of this but I want you to know, I didn’t.

Your teacher,

Mr. Grossman

Keep It or Junk It

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Today the students used the strategy “Keep It or Junk It” to help us get ready for a Structured Academic Controversy (SAC) we’ll be doing on this week. The Keep It or Junk It strategy has students working in small groups to identify key vocabulary from a text. This is followed by students working as a class to negotiate what the key vocabulary is and why. Words that are important are kept while words that are not are junked.

This list of words will be used for our writing and our SAC.

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Pictures from the RoomD4 Music Performance

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Thanks to all the parents who were able to make it to our music performance. The kids were great and even had an opportunity to improvise to the song, “Hot Cross Buns.”