Class Notes for March 30-April 3, 2015

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I hope everybody had a good Spring Break. It will be good to get back in the swing of things. We’re in the home stretch and we have a lot to accomplish before the end of the year. I am ready to hit the ground running for these next couple of months.

Volunteers are needed for our walking field trip on the morning of Tuesday, April 21 to Reed College’s Cooley Gallery to look investigate the work of photographer Emil Otto Hoppé, an important figure in portrait photography in the early- to mid-20th century. Education Outreach Coordinator Gregory MacNaughton will visit our class a day before we go to Reed to give us a better understanding of what we will see. It’s a great way to spend the day with some very cool kids and see some amazing photography.

Put on your walking shoes and join us as we have another Reed College field trip on Monday, April 27. This field trip is sponsored by the Science Outreach folks down at Reed. They will show us some chemistry demonstrations, we’ll get a tour of the nuclear reactor, check out some of the biology labs, and get a campus and dorm tour. We will leave the school at 9:00 a.m. and return after eating lunch on the campus. We should be back to Lewis around 1:30. Once again, chaperones are needed for this trip.

You can sign up for one or both of these field trips at

As mentioned in the last class notes, Smarter Balanced Assessments will be administered in April. I will let you know the schedule as soon as it it finalized. I wanted to point out again that there is a Portland Council PTA parents’ forum on testing scheduled for 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, April 1st at Cleveland High School. No fooling.:)

Make sure you have May 11-13 on your family calendar for Science Camp at Camp Magruder on the coast. Students will leave the morning of Monday, May 11 and return the afternoon of Wednesday, May 13. I am really looking forward to this event. More information will be coming home in the next few weeks to help you and your child prepare for the trip.


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Class Notes for March 16-20, 2015


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The play’s the thing this week at Lewis School. Please consider attending the school’s production of “Jack and the Three Sillies” on Thursday and Friday nights at 6:30. Four of our Room 24 students are involved in the play and it promises to be a fun family experience for all ages. Tickets are available online at

We are nearing the end of our unit on division and fractions. I would like to see as many students as possible finish the Fractions section of Front Row Math. The link is on the sidebar of the class homepage. We will do some review of the unit after spring break, finish the last couple of lessons, the take the post assessment.

Speaking of taking tests after spring break, I wanted to let you know that third, fourth, and fifth graders will begin several weeks of federally-mandated reading and math tests from the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium. Testing will take place across the school week, with reading tests taking place during one week and math tests taking place the following week.  All testing will take place before lunch.

Rather than seeing the test as a one-time, high stress event, I will try to fold the experience into existing classroom knowledge. During the first week after spring break, I will talk with the kids about different types of genres in reading, establishing “the test” as a unique type of genre. We will talk about how good readers change their reading strategies to match the genre. This emphasis on strategies has been and will continue to be an important part of our classroom throughout the year.

We will look at and practice taking Smarter Balanced tests. This is a very different test from the former OAKS test. Here is a link to some practice questions: If you have any questions about the test, do not hesitate to ask. Also, a recent Lewis Elementary School News ( mentioned a Portland Council PTA parents’ forum on testing scheduled for 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, April 1st at Cleveland High School.

Have a great spring break!


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Class Notes for March 9-13, 2015

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If your child has not turned in the permission slip for the Youth Philharmonic field trip on Wednesday, March 11, please get it in on Monday at the latest. Thanks!

Scholastic book orders for March are due by Tuesday evening. You can order for your child online at Our class code is H8TVP.

I Am Malala (Young Reader’s Edition) is our current read aloud and it is getting rapt attention from the class. This is the inspiring autobiography of the youngest person to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Malala Yousafzai of Pakistan was shot by the Taliban in 2012 for speaking and writing about her right to go to school. I am humbled by her courage and selflessness. Her plight helps put some perspective on problems we might have in our lives.

This year’s Lewis Elementary School play, “Jack and the Three Sillies,” is in the final stages of rehearsal and will be ready for public viewing next Thursday and Friday, March 19 and 20, at 6:30 p.m. Be sure to get your tickets early before they are sold out. Tickets are being sold online at We have a few dedicated actors and musicians from Room 24 who are involved in the play. Break a leg!

We are into fractions in math. Continue to practice the standard algorithm for long division with your child if necessary, and find ways to mention ways you use division or fractions in daily life. One of the divsion methods we use is Divide, Multiply, Subtract, and Bring Down. Repeat as needed.

We had so much going on last week that we didn’t make any progress in the Colonial simulation. We’ll be wrapping things up this week and next.

The other 5th-grade teachers and I will be getting information to you about Science Camp (May 11-13) in the near future. It’s not too soon to round up a sleeping bag if your child doesn’t have access to one.

Next Friday, March 20 is our Read-Thon Day and our 5th graders are encouraged to wear comfy pajamas and bathrobes during the day. Most of the day will be dedicated to reading. According to last year’s 5th-grade teachers it was a great day.

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Class Notes for March 2-6, 2015

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We are wrapping up division for a while and head into the land of fractions for the next couple of weeks. The class will focus on adding, subtracting, and understanding equivalences between fractions. We will review long division from time to time in class, but practice at home is still a good idea.

We have started a new read-aloud book by and about Malala Yousafzai, the young Pakistani woman who stood up to the Taliban and lived to tell about it. She is the youngest person to have been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

Please consider setting aside the evening of either Thursday, March 19 or Friday, March 20 to attend the Lewis Play production of Jack and the Three Sillies. The group has been working hard lately to polish the production. Four members of Room 24 are involved in the production. Tickets will go on sale next week.

The Lewis Food Drive is under way and continues until Friday, March 6. Information has gone home describing the kinds of items needed by the Oregon Food Bank. Please donate to this worthy cause if you can.

Our field trip to the Portland Youth Philharmonic takes place next Wednesday, March 11. The exact times have not been nailed down yet as we are waiting to hear back from Tri-Met. Thanks to those who have volunteered to go along with us. I already have filled the spots and will get back to those who asked to go. Space is limited at the concert hall and we have been asked to take only two chaperones.

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Loooooong Division!

We have been working on long division most of this week and we’re starting to get the hang of it. There is a useful series of videos on the Khan Academy that do a great job of breaking down the process of doing long division. Plus the videos have the distinct advantage of being able to be paused something that the kids have a hard time doing with me. The first video in the series is embedded below, but the whole division section is at

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Class Notes for February 23-27, 2015

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The Lewis Family Dance on Friday night was a great success! It’s so much fun to play music while people are dancing their hearts out. It’s definitely one of the high points of the year for me. To top it off, over $500 was raised for the Science Camp scholarship fund. Win-win!

These next four weeks before Spring Break are the longest uninterrupted stretch of time during the year and are a good opportunity for students to practice getting ready for middle school. If your child is not already taking responsibility for starting, working on, and completing homework without being reminded, now is a good time to give it a try. By all means help if your child asks for it, but let them initiate the help session. It’s never too early to foster good study habits.

The Colonial simulation is taking longer than planned, but there’s some good learning going on. Several of the fates the “colonists” have endured really did happen to the early settlers along the Atlantic coast, including snowstorms like that are going on back east right now.

Unit Four in math is going well. We are learning ways to approach division problems by taking the problem apart and constructing a multiplication menu by thinking about how many (for example) groups of 12 there are in 252 or how many groups of 12 it takes to build up to 252.

We have started working with Ms. Kathleen in the Learning Garden. Half of the class goes with Ms. Kathleen while the other half is reading or writing. We do this on Thursdays, so appropriate clothing, especially shoes, is important.

In spelling, some students have found it helpful to take a practice test on Thursday afternoon so they know which words to work on. We will be focusing on Greek and Latin roots starting next week. Knowing the etymology of words is a powerful vocabulary booster.

There are some interesting stories being written during writing time. The most recent prompt was to write about a squirrel who has designs on world domination. Students have taken off and are running with this one.

Other upcoming events include a trip to downtown Portland on Wednesday, March 11 to attend a concert by the Portland Youth Philharmonic. I’ll send out more info as we get closer, but I know that we will need at least two chaperones to help out.

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Class Notes for February 17-20, 2015

It’s starting to feel a lot like spring out there, but the calendar says that’s not officially happening until March 20. Guess we’ll have to put away the sunscreen for a few more weeks.

Thanks to parents who contributed goodies for our Valentine’s Day celebration. A good time was had by all. Hopefully there were no stomachaches afterwards.

In math, geometry is behind us for a while (the scored Unit 3 test went home with students last week) and the class is heading into a review and expansion of multiplication and division concepts, as well as a little fractions work later in the unit. As usual, keeping up with homework and working hard in class will pay off.

Our colonial simulation is moving along nicely. Colonies are preparing to expand and to start trading with the Native Americans and other colonies. They are learning that Fate is not always kind, as when inclement weather cuts down on the amount of food available.

Our class is on safety patrol this week. Please check the schedule to see when your child has duty. For the safety of younger kids coming to school, it’s very important that the morning people are in place and on time. Thanks!

Be sure to make time for the Lewis Family Dance on Friday. The action starts at 6:30 with the Lonesome Teacher Trio and Friends providing the music. Mr. Jamesbarry has been busy teaching the dance moves to the kids the past month or so and he will show everybody how to do the necessary steps before each tune on Friday. You can have two left feet (like me!) and still be able to do these square, circle, and line dances. It’s all for a good cause, too: proceeds help the 5th grade Science Camp scholarship fund.

Other upcoming events include a trip to downtown Portland on Wednesday, March 11 to attend a concert by the Portland Youth Philharmonic. I’ll send out more info as we get closer, but I know that we will need at least two chaperones to help out.


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