February 19, 2018

Week of November 4th

I apologize in advance for the length of this post, but it has been an eventful week!

On Monday, we traveled down to Mt. Hood Community College to see their production of Alice in Wonderland. The cast did a superb job and the scenery and props were quite creative. Our kids definitely enjoyed the show. Thank you to all who helped pay for the tickets and to those who were able to chaperone. We appreciate your help!

The end of the trimester is rapidly approaching, and you are invited to a celebration. We will showcase some writing as well as five readers’ theater plays. We have just begun working on our lines, so please don’t expect a polished presentation, but it should be worth seeing. Mark your calendar for Thursday, November 21st, from 2-3:30 p.m.

We will open the celebration with the five plays, which highlight several events in the life of Herbie Jones, a character in a series by the same name. Then, each student will share his/her writing with family members and anyone else who would like to hear it. We hope to have three stories completed by that date.

We would like to conclude the party with juice and cookies. Please let me know if you can supply some goodies, drinks, plates, cups, or napkins.

On a more somber note, minor misbehavior of several students has recently escalated to the point where it was interfering with the learning of their classmates and threatening the sanity of their teacher. After a class discussion, we have instituted a tally system to keep track of such distractions and remedy the situation. Consequences for the Troublesome Tallies begin with just a reminder, include increasingly longer time-outs to think about choices, and climax with a letter home to parents after five tallies in one day.

This letter will be written by the student and will include details of the problem as well as a plan to make the situation better.  If you receive one of these letters, please discuss the problem and then sign and return the letter the next day.  Everyone can check in with their children daily by simply asking, “Did you get any tallies today?” Two thirds of our class will be able to honestly answer, “No!”

As I mentioned last week, we have finished our introductory project with EPals and have reached out to other classes around the world. Seven of our students have been matched with students in Turkey, thirteen of our students have new pals in Kenya, and three more kids are anxiously awaiting letters from Puerto Rico. The picture below is of our Kenyan buddies’ classroom in the Kibera slum of Nairobi.

Kenyan Classroom

We decided that it would be polite to answer every message within two-three days. In order to keep messages flowing back and forth in a timely manner, many students need to put in some time at home. Please encourage your child to check his/her EPal account every couple of days. When helping your child with replies, you may want to follow my example for editing, outlined below.

We have been writing one or two letters each week since the beginning of the school year.  I was still being run ragged providing editing assistance. Therefore, I have instituted a NO EXCUSES policy for items that students have sole responsibility for editing. These include:

  • Capital letters at the beginning of every sentence, for proper nouns, the word I, the Dear in the greeting, and Sincerely or other closing
  • Proper ending punctuation for every sentence
  • Commas at the end of the greeting and closing of a letter
  • Correct spelling for words that are in their student dictionaries

When called over to a student’s desk, if necessary, I remind them to check our NO EXCUSES chart and call me back when they have fixed the obvious errors. This has freed me up to concentrate on spelling of difficult words and proper sentence structure.

Some items were sent home earlier this week that deserve your attention. One was information about the Reading is an Investment program. Students can keep track of their reading at home. Once the log is filled, you can send in the registration form or enroll him/her online. Ten lucky winners from each congressional district will receive $529 in their college savings plan. See https://www.oregoncollegesavings.com/news/readinginvestment.shtml for details.

Student profile sheets were also sent home. Thank you to those who have already updated names, addresses, and phone numbers. If you have not yet done so, please check over the form, make any changes, sign and date the back, and return it next week. Thank you!

Lastly, we are in need of several white sheets and/or pillowcases for an art project. If you have any that you no longer want, please send them in.

Enjoy your long weekend. Thank you to all the veterans out there!

Susan Handy


  • Monday, November 11th – Veterans’ Day Holiday
  • Wednesday, November 13th – Picture Retakes
  • Friday, November 15th – Friday School
  • Thursday, November 21st – End of First Trimester
  • Thursday, November 21st – Celebration in our classroom 2-3:30 p.m.
  • November 28th-29th – Thanksgiving Holiday
  • December 20th-January 5th – Winter Break
About Susan Handy