Diving Deep

Dear Families,

We have been thoroughly enjoying our nonfiction reading unit. I am extremely impressed with the passion of the students as they read books on topics that are of interest to them like natural disasters, whales, famous people like Milton Hershey and Roald Dahl, and the Titanic. We’ve spent a lot of time this week working on identifying the main idea of a text. This may sound easy, but it’s not. Nonfiction books are complex and it’s not always crystal clear what the author is trying to say. One strategy that we’re working on is when we read, a reader should always ask themselves, “What’s the main idea? What’s going on?” Then, when we form a guess and we can change our guess as we read. This keeps us engaged in the book and focused on the point the author is trying to make.


Our read aloud book, Rad American Women: A-Z has proven to be quite a conversation starter. There is a pattern of prejudice, sexism, and racism prevalent throughout the book. For example, we read about Jovita Idar and Lucy Parsons. Idar fought for the rights of Mexican Americans and women while Parsons led the charge for an eight hour work day. Students were shocked to learn that it was the norm for workers to work 16 hour days. I loved hearing them shout, “THAT’S NOT FAIR.” I didn’t love hearing them interrupt, “When’s lunch?!” We also read about Maya Lin, who at 21 years old and still a college student, won a contest to design the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. We had interesting conversations about workers’ rights, benefits, and what a memorial is. We visited the Josh Lucas Memorial Stadium behind the grade school and discussed how memorials come in all different forms, from practical uses like a football stadium to monuments and statues. We also have been watching some pretty cool videos, like this one with Hazel Scott throwin’ down on the keys and this one with Flo Jo setting world records.


Our work in writing is paralleling our work in reading. We’re learning how to be journalists and we started by writing and publishing a news report. I’m in the process of taking their news reports and putting them together in a newspaper to share with every family. This will probably be done after Thanksgiving break…at some point. Since I’m the editor of The Barnard Bulletin, I can set my own due dates. It’s great. We’re now working on writing feature articles. These types of articles are more in-depth, contain more complex main ideas, are longer, and discuss a topic in greater detail. Some examples of topics the students are writing about include pollution, McDonalds, airplanes, wildfires, shelter dogs, service dogs,  and killer whales.

Please remember the weekend expectations: silent read, record the reading on the reading log, and study your spelling words. Good news and bad news on that front; the bad news is I didn’t get a chance to scan the words to include in an email to you, but the good news is that I made sure all students had their words packed before I dismissed them this afternoon. Well, I was going to dismiss them regardless because I wasn’t about to bring them home this weekend. Otherwise they would be assisting in changing a slew of dirty diapers this weekend at my house, and I mean a slew. Man, babies can poop…


I will not be publishing a newsletter next weekend. Also, there will not be new spelling words assigned next Tuesday. Thus, enjoy Thanksgiving break and please put an emphasis on relaxing, eating, relaxing, eating more, and doing some reading.


Mr. B

Idiom of the Week: Make My Skin Crawl