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News and Notes Email - Sept 11, 2009


The week that was:

Word Work: The vocabulary/content focus this week was continued thinking with the concepts inherent within the FISH! philosophy designed to strengthen respect and communication within our 204 Learning
Community this year.

What is the FISH! Philosophy? The FISH! Philosophy includes four simple, interconnected practices:
"Be There" is being emotionally present for others.  "Play" taps into children’s natural way of being creative, enthusiastic and having fun working with ideas. "Make Their Day" is finding simple ways to help or delight friends and family in a meaningful, memorable way. "Choose Your Attitude" connects to taking responsibility for how one responds to what life brings each day and practicing the opportunity to “change your mind” as needed.

Please ask your child to bring home their Word Work notebook so that you may see the work they did last week and also so they can show you the topic and assignments for the coming week. It would be a positive weekly practice to review your child’s Word Work assignment on Wed.
evenings each week before it is due and turned in each Thursday. I would appreciate your help with scanning their work for accuracy and helping them to review and correct as needed.

P.O.W. (Problem of the Week): This week I had the class work on observation skills in several ways. The P.O.W. was a series of 4 drawing exercises where they focused on drawing a series of pictures with increasing detail and complexity.

Writing: The class worked on composing their own Morning Earth poetry from observations in nature and wrote up their “best of” poem of the week in the computer lab for the beginning of their 2009-10 collection.

Reading: Each child is reading a book from a collection of books I gathered with the intent of reinforcing reading as an important skill and an enjoyable life-long activity. (From the Me-Museums I notice A LOT of super readers and another group of students who will enjoy sharing their love of books with each other - yippee!) They are being asked to practice “good reader” strategies (monitoring for understanding, asking questions, making connections, visualizing, making inferences) as they proceed. Please check in with your child as to what book they are reading and what they’ve enjoyed about the story to this point. I am having each child read a page of their choice from this book group book aloud to me as an initial assessment tool.Some children have some reading to catch up on this weekend to be sure they are at least one-half done with their book - please check in with your student to see what's up with them on this score. (Some are already done with one book and on to another . . .)

First Book has launched its annual, online "What Book Got You Hooked?" campaign asking readers to share their memory of the first book that made reading fun - I think this would be a great discussion for you to have at home with your child also. If you are interested in looking at lists of books that inspired others and in being part of the on-line question please see 

Math: Please ask your child which math class they were assigned to and what they were working on this week.

Science: We investigated the concept of balance by constructing either clowns or frogs out of tagboard, and adding pennies and washers to get them to balance on a pencil tip, yardstick, or dowel rod. This is the beginning of a connection to our Barton School theme of “Balance” for 2009/10. They added their Hopes and Dreams for growth this year on the back of their clown or frog. In addition we did an introductory activity on the water cycle. 

Thanks to all of you able to join us for Family Information evening last night. If you were unable to come I will contact you regarding scheduling a conference time together. If you’ve thought of questions you wish I’d have answered please let me know.

Yes, we did watch President Obama’s speech for students.

Weekend Homework: Each child is asked to prepare a list of 15-100 words that describe them. (ex: daughter, sister, pianist, gymnast, etc.)

Also, look for a green sheet sent home telling about the homework and requesting funds for several classroom materials.

 6th grade parents - if you take the Star/Trib look on the back of the Variety section today. I noticed that a gallery in town is having an exhibit where artists took books and turned them into another type of
 art - this should bring memories of your child's "Text Messages" project last year . . .

The week to come:

Word Work: The topic will be plants and words that go with our science unit "Experiments with Plants".

Reading: We will continue to focus on “good reader” strategies as each group strives to complete their first book group this week. 

P.O.W.: I have borrowed a set of beaver skulls from the Science Museum of MN - they will practice observation and sketching skills as they work to draw an accurate and detailed skull. 

Science: We will begin our "Experiments with Plants" unit. In this unit they work with the idea of a "fair test" and variables to plan and conduct experiments to determine how specific variables affect the growth and seed production of a fast growing Brassica plant. I could use one or two volunteers in the room on Thursday morning between about
10:30 and 11:45 to help all the planting go smoothly. If you're available please let me know.

Oct. 5: Big River Journey Paddleboat trip
Oct. 12-14 204 YMCA swimming days
Oct. 24 I have twenty FREE Science Museum of Minnesota tickets from Tix for Tots for this evening. If your family would like to take of advantage of these tickets (good for admission and the Omni theater –
but not the additional special admission necessary for the Titanic exhibit) please let me know the number of tickets you’d like and I’ll get the specifics and voucher to you. I maintain my “status” (ability to get tickets for free) by truly using the tickets requested. Please be sure you are available to use the tickets whenever you request them.
Oct. 26-28 Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center Middles Team Camping trip

Have a wonder-filled weekend.


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