February 19, 2018

Campaign Season in the Classroom

Dear Families,

It only makes sense that while our country is engulfed in a presidential election, our class is learning about the ins and outs of campaigning. We are deep in a presidential election simulation of our own. We have split into six different political parties and assigned roles in each group. There are campaign managers (minus the coffee addiction), presidential candidates (minus the unique hair and collection of pant suits), publicity managers (minus access to Adobe Photoshop), and speech writers (minus Wikipedia). Each group is working on learning about their political parties’ stance on six issues: education, foreign policy, immigration, role of government, second amendment, and the environment.

I want to pause and say that this has been a very challenging topic to teach for a variety of reasons. As a team of teachers, we choose the issues because we felt they were the most relevant to our students. We chose to have six political parties because when our country was founded, there were not just two political parties that dominated the landscape. Without even addressing the strange nuances of our government (electoral college, gerrymandering, lobbying, filibuster, campaign finance laws, media coverage, political donations), this is a very tense election season fraught with negativity, disrespect, and straight-up scalp-scratching, head-tilting, and chin-rubbing confusion.

In the classroom, every child and every family may have different opinions and they have to be respected. After all, it’s in the first amendment of our constitution. Throughout our studies, I have been very pleased with how actively the students have listened to each other, the amazing dialogue that has occurred, the inquisitive questions that have been asked and the conversations they resulted in, and the overall effort students have put forth. They have been phenomenal!

Next week, our election simulation will culminate with speeches and a vote. Students will have an opportunity to decide which candidate they would like to vote for.

I’d like to formally invite you to a Writer’s Celebration on Thursday, November 17th at 2:45pm. This is a time for you to come in and join us for a small snack, listen to some stories students have written, and celebrate the success your child has experienced in writing. This marks the end of our realistic fiction writing unit!

As we look toward the future, our writing studies will focus on research-driven opinion essays. Our work in reading will highlight the vast area of non-fiction. As for social studies, we’ll be starting a massive geography unit where students will participate in a simulation we’re calling The Amazing Race, taking them around the world to all seven continents. We’ll learn about the highest and lowest points on each continent, notable geographical attractions, cultures, famous people, food, and more.

The end of the first trimester is Thursday, November 18th. Progress reports will be sent home on Wednesday, November 30th.

Lastly, the dates of our overnight field trip in the spring have changed due to a scheduling conflict. We will be going to Dry Falls State Park in Dry Falls, Washington on Tuesday, May 23rd and returning Thursday, May 25th. Please disregard the previous dates I may have shared with you at conferences. If you’re interested in chaperoning this trip, there’s room for everybody so request the time off now.

Have a great weekend!

Mr. B


Idiom of the Week: Comes the Territory


Vocab Words of the Week: Assure, Doubtfully, Accusingly, Anxiously (use them at home!)

Dan Barnard About Dan Barnard

Dan Barnard hails from the Green Mountain State of Vermont where he grew up skiing, biking, and exploring the nooks and crannies of the woods. He learned to drive on his parents' station wagons, learned to ski at Smugglers' Notch, and developed a love for traveling by participating in school trips to France and New York City. He worked in many jobs ranging from ski instructing to babysitting to an after-school program that helped him decide he wanted to be a teacher.

He enrolled in Wheelock College in Boston, Massachusetts and earned a BA in Humanities with a focus on history and a concentration in Elementary Education. After working for two years in a suburban Boston community as a fifth grade teacher, he decided to move west to discover the beauty and bounty of Oregon. He worked for four years as a third, fourth, fifth, and sixth grade teacher in Mosier, Oregon. While working in Mosier he enrolled in graduate school at Portland State University and earned a MS in Curriculum and Instruction from Portland State University.