February 19, 2018

Building Literacy Skills at Home and School

Dear Families,

We had an interesting conversation at one of our class Morning Meetings this week. The topic was our weekly spelling words that we should be studying throughout the week and weekend. Well, it might serve as a complete shocker to hear that some students are not studying their words consistently at home, and by some I mean about 75% of the class. During the conversation, I made the correlation between studying and success, noting those that study their words are strengthening their literacy skills. Students have words to study that meet their literacy development and help them strengthen their skills, meaning the words are neither too easy nor too hard. When students study their spelling words, they are able to better see the connections between sights and sounds of letters, in addition to strengthening their written language and reading skills. I’m tweaking the schedule slightly and I’m having us study our spelling words on Wednesdays and Thursdays before they’re sent home for the weekend. Please help your child strengthen their literacy skills AND build strong study habits by requiring them to practice the spelling of these words five to ten minutes on the weekend and on Mondays. It’s totally doable. Now, let’s shift gears and talk about the weather.

It’s been crazy, hasn’t it? It’s irony in the finest form that we’re studying the weather in research groups in reading. Students have been building an arsenal of skills that they can use when reading nonfiction like summarizing, note taking, building connections, questioning, and synthesizing. They BLEW me away this week with how well they’re learning how to take notes.

The same can be said for writing. We’re revising our argumentative thesis papers by gathering more evidence about chocolate milk. Should it be banned from school cafeterias is the question that’s being addressed, and there’s a range of opinions. Students worked really hard on gathering more evidence supporting their belief. Next week, we’re going to revise our letters with more evidence, more of our own thinking, and more analysis.

Teaching nonfiction has certainly inspired me to read more nonfiction. I’ve recently read, and highly recommend, the following books for parents:

  • Astoria by Peter Stark
  • Band of Brothers by Stephen Ambrose
  • The Lost Continent by Bill Bryson
  • The Port Chicago 50 by Steve Sheinken

A huge congratulations go out to Alex Davidovici, Nick Jones, Olivia McGrew, Alexa Gentry, Max Eichman, and Aiden Gordon for competing in the Geography Bee on Wednesday and Thursday. I’m extremely proud of these students for wanting to participate in this event. Dyson Oldright from Mrs. Handy was our school’s winner. He took a qualifying test for the statewide Geography Bee.

Idiom of the Week: Music to One’s Ears

Vocab of the Week: project, retreat, instinct, level

~Mr. B

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.