OMSI!

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First of all I want to thank our parent volunteers Sean, Amy, Ezra, and Tom who went along with us on what turned out to be a great field trip to OMSI. They did a great job keeping track of the class in a large open space.

We started out at the planetarium where the students got an amazing overview of the solar system and then we went to the animation station. After lunch, the class visited many different stations in the Turbine Hall that featured flight, air pressure, chemistry, light, sound, technology, electricity, water power, and skills of logic.

I am so proud of this group. Two incidents involving bus drivers help explain why I feel this way. One of the TriMet drivers told me as the class got off on the Hawthorne Bridge that they were the best class she’s had on a bus. Ever. Another bus driver felt comfortable enough with our class that he decided to tell a couple jokes over the speaker system.

I hope to get a few student entries in the next few days to round out this post.

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Class Notes for November 24-28, 2014

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November has always been a chopped-up month for school, with or without conferences. Last week seemed like the first time we have had five days in a row in a long time. Teachers appreciate the continuity of having longer stretches of time so we can work on projects with the kids without interruptions. November has always made that a challenge.

The high point of last week had to be what we did last Friday afternoon during bike safety. The neighborhood ride to Woodstock Park via some of the muddy alleys between 46th and 40th Streets was either “awesome” or “epic,” depending on who you talked to. Another word that would describe the ride was “wet,” as in soaking wet. It poured down the whole way, but that didn’t stop very many kids from totally enjoying the ride. Smiles and laughter were the order of the day.

There was plenty of practice at four-way stops and uncontrolled intersections, where the kids worked on their principles of right-of-way. There were also mud puddles galore, which I avoided with my skinny-tire bike and many of the students plowed through. The saving grace, weather-wise, was the fact that the temperature soared into the mid-50s by the time we were into the ride. The kids came back to school wet, happy, and a little bit tired. Shoes and socks were off in a flash, coats were hung over chairs, helmets were put away, and goodbyes and thanks were said to Emily and Laurie, our bike safety instructors.

We are starting on our study of Native Americans of North America. There will be a home project coming home this week that involves making a model of a habitat for a specific Native American group. At school, students will be working on a research project about their group.

We have a walking field trip to Reed College next Friday, Dec. 5. We’ll leave Lewis at 9:00 and return by noon for lunch. Our destination is Cooley Gallery, where Education Outreach Coordinator Gregory MacNaughton will guide us through the new exhibit. Let me know if you are interested in walking down with us.

Homework is due Dec. 5. The spelling test will be the same day. We are getting close to the end of Unit Two in Math and will take the post assessment shortly after we return from Thanksgiving weekend.

I hope your Thanksgiving is filled with family, friends, and gratitude, not to mention good food. I know that I am thankful to be working with each and every one of your children this year.

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Vampires Don’t Wear Polka Dots

Students of Rooms 23 and 24 put on an entertaining evening performance of “Vampires Don’t Wear Polka Dots” tonight. Each class acted in two scenes of this humorous production involving a new teacher from Romania who has what the kids in her class think is a Transylvanian accent and several mischievous students who want to find out if she is a vampire.

Both classes worked closely with artist-in-residence Michael Wehrli of New Moon Productions for six weeks to get things just right for tonight’s performance.

I was proud of the job every one of my students did and I know Ms. Sarah was, too. Lines were spoken clearly, students were focused, and everybody did their best to have fun up on the stage.

Here are a few pictures I took of both classes performing.

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Class Notes for November 17-21, 2014

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To say that last week was hectic would be an understatement, even though we only had two days of school. We packed in a lot of activities and projects into a short amount of time. There was Drama with a capital “D” when the snow (or no-snow) day happened on Thursday. We had to quickly reschedule the in-school performance of “Vampires Don’t Wear Polka Dots,” the play the kids have been working on for six weeks with Michael Wehrli. Friday morning’s performance went well and I expect as I write this on Sunday night, that Monday evening’s performance will go even better.

We started bike safety with instructor Emily. The class is learning more about being a safe and responsible cyclist. We continue this week and build up to a ride over to Woodstock Park on Friday at 12:50. Parents are welcome to ride along with us if you have time and a bike. Just let me know.

Be sure to check out the salmon art in the hallway down by Rooms 16 and 17. We’ve gotten some nice comments from passers by and teachers.

We start up our unit on Native Americans this week. The unit will culminate in a home project that will involve building a shelter representative of the group that your child is focusing on. More information will be coming home late in the week. The project will be due on Tuesday, Dec. 9, giving students three weekends to work on it.

I am still missing a few OMSI field trip forms. The trip is coming up this coming Tuesday the 25th of November, so please get them in as soon as possible.

Homework has been coming home on Friday and that seems to be working well for everybody. A half hour of daily reading is part of your child’s homework in addition to the regular math and spelling work.

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Dramatic Changes

Oh, we had great plans for today! The weather, or more accurately, an overreaction to the weather, caused the two-hour delay and finally the closure of school.
Mr. Lauer and Michael Wehrli have rescheduled the Drama events as follows:
If we have school on Friday (tomorrow!), kids will perform for the school at 10:00 a.mNo evening performance on Friday.
If we don’t have school or it’s a two-hour late opening on Friday, this in-school performance will be moved to Monday.
Monday, Nov 17 at 6:30 p.m. is the evening performance. We hope you can make it to that performance. Kids should be at school at 6:00 p.m. to meet Michael in the cafeteria on Monday.
Students will need to bring their costume on Friday. If it’s a costume that is not “weather friendly,” please send along a change.
To recap:
School performance on Friday.
Evening performance on Monday.
I appreciate your flexibility with this schedule change.
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Salmon Art on Display

Room 24’s exhibit of Salmon is on display in the hallway between Rooms 16 and 17. Stop by sometime and take a look.

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Kids’ Questions for a WWII Veteran

Last week I showed the students of Room 24 some of the letters my dad, Edsel Colvin, wrote to his dad during World War II. The kids had questions for Dad after they looked at the letters. The questions ranged from the specific (“What was your sergeant’s name?” and “Were you in Operation Market Basket?”) to the general (“What was the process the letters had to go through?”).

This weekend I went over to Madras to visit my parents and had the chance to interview Dad, 91, while I was there. Here are the edited transcripts of the interview the student’s name in parentheses:

(Alexander) What was your sergeant’s name?

Francis Hudak. He was from Joliet, Illinois. He was just very, very fair and a great guy.

(Sevyn) Did you enjoy fighting in the war or would you have chosen something else if you had the chance?

I would have chosen something else if I’d had the chance. I don’t think anybody enjoys fighting in a war.

(Sandra) What was the name of your general?

My general was Anthony McAuliffe.

(Sandra) What was the process the letters had to go through?

Well, we wrote a letter, the letter was given to your platoon lieutenant who read it and anything he saw in there that might divulge where you were or any information that might help the enemy he would censor it out by using a black marker or maybe even cut it out with a razor blade. Then that would be sent on. The letters were called V-Mail. You would write a letter on regular stationery and then it was sent in to be photographed and reduced and sent so it didn’t take up so much space.

(Claire) How old were you when the war was over?

I was 22 when the war was over in 1945.

(Isaac) What was the name of your squad?

We didn’t actually have a name; we had numbers. We were in the second squad of the second platoon in Company L of the 410th Infantry Regiment, 103rd Division.

(Sean) Were you in Operation Market Basket?

No, that happened before I was in Europe.

(Isaac) What kind of gun did you use?

It was an M1 semi-automatic.

(Fred) Have you ever driven or been on a Sherman tank?

No, but it was a common tank. They didn’t let us ride in or on them.

(Miles) Did you ever ride on a jet during the war?

No, actually the Americans didn’t have jets during the war. The Germans had jets right near the end of the war.

(Mr. Colvin) How did you get over to Europe at the beginning of the war?

We went from Camp Howze in Texas by train to Boston, then took a ship to Marseilles, France. It took about 12 days and a bunch of guys got seasick on the way over. I was one of the few that didn’t.

(June) What was it like for you when you first got in to the army?

First I went to basic training at Camp Roberts in California. After that I was fortunate enough to pass the test and get into the Army Specialized Training Program at the University of Oklahoma.

(Joe) Did you read books at your campsite?

We actually didn’t have a campsite when we were over in Europe in France and Germany, no, we didn’t have time to read and if we did, the books were in French or German.

(Elliott) What kind of shelters did you and your team build?

You had a buddy; mine was Sergeant George Prohaska and the shelter we would build, we’d dig a hole about three feet deep called a foxhole. Then we’d line that hole with branches of trees, then we’d cover it over with branches so you couldn’t see it from above.

(Melanie) What convinced you to write a book about your letters?

My son. Your teacher. (We’ll listen to the recorded version of this answer in class.)

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