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1/21/11 Family Letter
Sunday, January 23, 2011 8:25 PM


Brrr - greetings on a cold January afternoon.

The week that was:

Reading:  The kids worked in groups to think deeply about the main
characters from the books they've been reading and their attributes -
then wrote acrostic poems to describe them.  Next, they wrote a pretend
text message trying to describe the climax of the book clearly enough to
someone who was not there and needed to visualize it through their
words.  After that they worked to put together freeze-frame "tableaux"
to show scenes from the book and  shared these with the class/ audience
to speculate about what was happening.  They reported enjoying all of
these ways of thinking about the book together.  They also shared the
"big idea" of each book.  Here are examples of things they gleaned, and
shared, as "big ideas": 
- Little people can do big things
- Things will always turn out in the long run
- It’s OK to be different
- No matter what you look like you can always be friends
- Use teamwork and never give up

Word Work:  They practiced locating, finding interesting things about,
and spelling the second list of 25 states.

US History:  This week they did a pretend archeological "dive" into a
sunken ship from the 15th century to find artifacts.  The point was to
think about the motives for European exploration, the new technologies
(of the time) that enabled cross ocean navigation, and "new" products
found in the Americas that could be introduced back in Europe.  Please
ask about things they found on their "dive" - and why Explorers would
have thought these things were important enough to carry on the ship.

Science:  Today we explored "iceballs".  Ask about what this is, what
they noticed, what they wondered about, and what "good question" they
choose to investigate with their group.

We also practiced a bit of wildlife drawing in preparation for a
watercolor painting project we hope to find time for soon. (I thought it
would be today - I was wrong.)

For fifth graders in my math class:  we are studying fractions.  These
resources will help you help your child at home:

The Student Math Handbook for Investigations, pages 40 - 53. I invited
all the kids to take this handbook home early in the year.  If he/she
did not they are welcome to take one any day.  They may keep this at
home for reference/help all year. 

These websites are interactive and sponsored by the National Council of
Teachers of Mathematics.

Writing:  We had another victory in "publishing" for 204 this week! -
Ja'de Till entered a poem through John Caddy's Morning Earth poetry
website "invitation to write" based on a photograph of Bryce Canyon he
posted last week - and he chose her poem to send out with his daily web
poetry work today:)

If you are not yet familiar with John Caddy's work please visit

We practice good observation skills and writing Morning Earth poems most
every week.  

The week to come:

Reading:  This is my favorite theme of the year.  I call it the "Newbery
Fest" and we read titles which have won the Newbery Award.  This award
is given each January by a division of the American Library Association
to the author of the most distinguished contribution to American
literature for children.  These are the best of the best!  I have many
titles for them to share and enjoy including the winner and the
runners-up just announced this month.  If you are interested in learning
more about this, or taking a peek at winners throughout the years, this
website will help you.  It's a great place to find titles for at home
pleasure reading.

Word Work: Vocabulary and concepts connected to the study of early
explorers to the Americas.

US History:  They will read about early explorers and details of their
expeditions.  This will help them think about the impact these people
had on our land - both positive and negative.

Upcoming events:
1/24  First conference day - please see the latest schedule (attachment
- both pdf or Word)
1/31  CLIMB Theater presentation on bullying
2/4   Earth Adventures program (at Barton)  - about geology
2/7   Physics Circus program at Convention Center
2/10  Historical Perspectives play (at Barton) "Helen Keller"
2/11  "Mean" play at Youth Performance Company/Howard Conn Theater
2/16  Zydeco Music presentation at the Ordway
2/17  Please carve out time to come to our early morning Portfolio Share
2/18  Second conference day

Here's hoping you find wonder-filled moments in your weekend.  You could
always try blowing some bubble solution out in the cold as your child
did early this morning to see what happens. 


Kathy Scoggin
Barton Open School

"The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious.  It is
the source of all true art and science."
- Albert Einstein