• Summer Reading!

    Posted by Jen Kravitz on 6/17/2019

    Dear families,

    Happy summer! I hope you all have something fun to look forward to in the coming months. As I begin reflecting on the year and preparing for the next, I wanted to let you know that I will be sending home a summer packet sometime between this week and the first week of July (by mail). This will include information on summer work I hope the kids will be able to do with you, as well as their summer reading book! I will be expecting every student to have read their book by the first day of school and be ready to share what they learned from it. They can read on their own or with an adult. 
     
    In August I will also send a welcome letter and school supply list to all students. 
     
    Thank you for an amazing year! We all learned a lot from each other. I am so grateful for the support of all of you, whether through volunteering, sending in food, or just being a great parent for your child. I wish you all the best this summer and look forward to seeing you in the fall!
     
    Sincerely,
    Mindy
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  • Final Newsletter of the Year

    Posted by Jen Kravitz on 6/9/2019

    Dear families,

    We have had a great few weeks and we have just one more! It will be filled with fun and reflection on the year. Please read through my notes and the week's schedule, as kids will need to be prepared for special events and I am hoping to see many of you during the day this week!
     
    First, I will be sending home lots of school books over the week and we clean the room, ending with a big clean out Friday morning. It would be great if you could look for these items from your child, as they would make great summer review (we never use all the math or spelling pages). It is also very helpful to send your students with an extra bag so they have something sturdy to carry it all in!
     
    This Week's Plans:
    Monday: normal day!
    Tuesday: Guest speaker on the Revolutionary War (especially battles in VT) and the creation of our government. Last band lessons.
    Wednesday: Inquirers Camp In! Please see details below.
    Thursday: All Out Day! Please see emails from Jen for details. Progress reports go home.
    Friday: Classroom cleaning and organizing, 6th grade promotion (1pm).
     
    Inquirers Camp In: 
    As a final celebration we will be having a class trip to the school grounds! We will have a day filled with games, bonding, food, and water! We need lots of help from you, the amazing families.
    Please let me know if you can bring or send: hot dogs, hot dog buns, marshmallows, graham crackers, chocolate bars, roasting sticks, condiments, paper plates, napkins, fruit (watermelon and grapes?), or lemonade mix. 
    I am very happy to have many of you already signed up to help during the day. Thank you! Please let me know if you would like to join us but have not been in touch yet. 
    Outline of the day: 
    Morning: set up tents, outdoor group games, snack and making lemonade
                     Improv games with Kymberly
                     Choice time to include card games in tents
    Lunch: bonfire, hot dogs, and s'mores
    Afternoon: All School Fun Run / ice cream social
                     Water games
    Kids need to bring: 
    • snack
    • water bottle
    • hat and sunscreen
    • layers of clothing depending on weather
    • swimsuit and towel
    • shoes for running and sandals/shoes that can get wet
    • OPTIONAL: tent, camping pad, sleeping bag
    It's going to be a great week! Please be in touch with questions and comments.
    Best,
    Mindy
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  • Inquirers Updates!

    Posted by Jen Kravitz on 5/19/2019

    Hello all,

    We had a big week week, filled with testing and special projects. We got out in the garden, played with the chicks, and reenacted part of the Battles of Lexington and Concord. Your children did an AMAZING job persevering on the SBAC tests. They all worked hard on their reading and writing questions. I got to read a host of short stories, essays, and opinion pieces on Thursday and Friday as they finished their literacy tests. 
     
    This coming week we will be doing the SBAC math tests on Tuesday, Wednesday, and maybe Thursday if needed. A HUGE thank you to everyone who sent in snacks or will be sending them this week. The kids really appreciate it and it makes the testing days a little special!
     
    Another important note: we are changing the sharing schedule for the last few weeks of the year. I will send separate emails with new share days for those who can share on Monday. Everyone else can find out tomorrow. 
     
    Best,
    Mindy
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  • SBAC Testing This Week

    Posted by Jen Kravitz on 5/13/2019

    Dear families, 

    This week we start SBAC testing in the third and fourth grade. We will start with the ELA (reading/writing) tests tomorrow and aim to finish up by Friday. We will do the Math tests starting next Tuesday. 
    The most important things you can do for your child are to make sure they get enough sleep and a good breakfast (at home or school!). They also deserve and need lots of encouragement! It is a long two weeks of hard work. We have been practicing for the past week and I am confident that all of them will do well!
     
    Finally, it's fun and encouraging to have special snacks for the students. I will bring some for tomorrow and other days as needed, but it would be lovely to have families pitch in. Simple things like popcorn, fruit, cheese sticks, etc.. Would anyone be willing to send some in, this week Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and next week Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday?
     
    Thanks so much! They're going to be amazing!
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  • Inquirers Newsletter #18

    Posted by Jen Kravitz on 5/1/2019

    Dear families,

    Apparently I got my numbers off with these newsletters, but here we are! Amazingly there are only 7 more weeks of school! It will be busy and fun. State testing is coming up, but so are new units and great field trips (and hopefully good weather!). 
     
    I am including an update on school work, but this newsletter will largely be pictures and video from our African (Guinean) drumming/dance and our folktale plays. Please let me know if you have any questions about testing, or anything else coming up, or you can't access the photos/videos.
     
    Academic Update: 
    In math we are in the middle of a big, important unit. For the first half, our guiding question is: What strategies can we invent or use for efficient, accurate multiplication and division? We are looking at bigger and bigger numbers! Fourth graders are expected to be able to multiply 2 by 2 digit numbers using ratio tables, the area model, doubling/halving, or equations (ex: 23x49). They are also learning to divide large numbers by a single number (such as 8,456/8) using similar strategies or known facts. Third graders are working particularly on multiplying single digit numbers by 2 digit numbers (ex: 8x24) and revisiting fact families. As the unit moves along, we will all be reviewing fractions and fourth graders will be looking at how division, fractions, and decimals all connect!
     
    We just wrapped up a unit on inventors, where students read about a famous inventor, artist, or thinker and wrote an essay about him/her. We also explored some basic concepts of force, motion, and energy through science experiments and testing. Students had to invent improvements in various scenarios.
     
    Our new IB/literacy unit has the theme How We Organize Ourselves, with the central idea: Democracy is sustainable through active participation of its citizens. We will be looking back through local, state, and American history to think about how our democracy was founded and how individuals actively participated to make that happen. Students will be reading historical fiction about the Revolutionary War and Native Americans living at that time. We will be focused particularly on what happened here in Vermont, such as naval battles on Lake Champlain. Students will be debating and persuasive writing as well. 
     
    Upcoming Events: 
    5/2 Thurs: PYP Info Night (Shoreham) - 6pm
    5/7 Tues: Early Release - 1:10pm
    5/10 Fri: Grandfriends Luncheon
    5/14 Tues: SBAC testing begins for 3/4
     
    Photos/Videos: 
    Folktale plays:
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  • Inquirers Newsletter 17

    Posted by Jen Kravitz on 3/31/2019

    Dear families,

     
    Welcome to April! It's going to really start to be mud season now, so please make sure your children keep bringing in their boots and an extra pair of pants. It's so easy to get wet and dirty on the playground! Thank you!
     
    The kids performed some amazing skits on Thursday. I am getting a tutorial from Jen tomorrow on how to get video on to YouTube with the right settings, so I'll share that link as soon as possible! I am so proud of their hard work and creativity!
     
    We are wrapping up a geometry unit and moving back into multiplication and division in math. Fourth graders will really be focusing on solving problems with 2-digit numbers, while third graders will be strengthening their math fact knowledge (times tables) as well as getting into larger problems with some 2-digit numbers. After April break we'll be going back to fractions for some review and extension. 
     
    TWO IMPORTANT DATES: 
    • This Friday 4/5 at 5:00pm: Spaghetti Dinner and Bingo! Please come! We could also use a few more prizes, so if you have not sent something in please consider sending a small toy, book, or gift certificate. Thank you! Hope to see you there!
    • Thursday 4/11 5:30-7:30 pm Student Led Conferences: More info to come, but please plan to be here for half an hour that night with your child. 
    Thank you everyone!
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  • Inquirers Newsletter #16

    Posted by Jen Kravitz on 3/14/2019

    Dear families,

    It has been such a busy time here at school! We have been skiing and working really hard on all kinds of projects! Below is a brief update on class work, as well as some VERY important upcoming events.
     
    In math we wrapped up a unit on fractions, where fourth graders also focused on decimals and third graders did lots of measuring. We are now in a new unit on angles and geometry, where we're learning about different types of angles and how to measure them. We'll also be reviewing circle vocabulary and using our knowledge to make accurate compass roses. Finally, we will also be reviewing area and perimeter before the end of the month. 
     
    In literacy we are in the midst of a unit on folktales from around the world. While we read a variety as a class, the students are also reading through a set of Native American folktales in small groups. They've been doing a great job working on their comprehension and inference skills. Next week we will move into scriptwriting and performance, as students write and perform their own versions of some famous folktales. 
     
    In Inquiries we have started a new unit with the theme How the World Works. Our central idea is "Changes to inventions impact society." We are looking at this historically by studying famous inventors (and learning some essay writing!) while also looking at the engineering design process and learning about forces and energy.
     
    Upcoming Events: 
    Fri 3/22: Spaghetti Dinner and BINGO Night!! Please come to raise money for our garden and field trips! Dinner is $10 for adults and $5 for kids and starts at 5pm. Bingo starts at 6:30 and is $0.50 per board per round. Families in 3rd through 6th grades are asked to send in prizes. PLEASE consider sending something in, such as gift certificates, small toys, etc. 
    Fri 3/29: No School
    Wed 4/11: Student Led Conference Night, 6-7:30pm. Your child will have a presentation ready for you about their work and progress this year. Please plan to come for half an hour, starting at 6, 6:30, or 7pm. More information on this night by the end of the month. 
     
    Thank you! Please contact me any time with questions or concerns.
    Best,
    Mindy
     
    Addendum: We have been doing some mindfulness with the singer JusTme this week. Several kids asked me to share the link to his video. It's great stuff! https://vimeo.com/yomind
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  • Inquirers Newsletter 15

    Posted by Jen Kravitz on 2/10/2019

    Dear families,

    I hope you had time to enjoy some sun this weekend. We have more clouds and snow in the forecast!
     
    This week I want to update you on two things in particular. First, thank you all SO much for participating in family interviews, whether you yourself were interviewed or you helped connect your child with someone else. It has been an absolutely amazing process watching the kids learn how to be expert questioners and get excited to learn more about their families. If you were interviewed, I hope you enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed our practice sessions! This week students will be choosing 2 or 3 anecdotes/moments from their interviews to turn into short narratives. In this process they may realize they need more information, so there may be more follow up questions coming to you this week! If at all possible I will send the narratives home with the kids for break to share with you all.
     
    Second, we have been doing a lot of work in class on community building and stress management. Our class is a wonderful, large group of learners with many different tastes and styles. This sometimes causes friction, so it seems like a good time to think as a group about how we can support each other and build a community of people who care about each other and know how to help. I firmly believe in the adage that stress is community business, in that it affects all of us. In light of this, we are trying a few initiatives. These all come from research I have done as part of graduate courses or learning I have done locally with colleagues. 
    Every morning we have some kind of check-in, whether written or oral, so that we know what "zone" everyone is in. Ask your child to explain the zones (blue, green, yellow, and red) if you want to know more. We are also engaging in collaborative problem solving more frequently, where the class is asked to tackle a problem as a group. I have also been teaching the use of "affective language" and trying to use "affective questions" in our problem solving work. This simply means using language that identifies feelings. For example, "When you poke me, I feel ____." Or, "How did you feel when you did that?" Research shows that building emotional bonds strengthens community and empowers both those causing trouble and those experiencing trouble to feel more like part of a solution. Along with this we continue to talk about strategies individuals can use when they are stressed - from using a fidget, to taking a break, to drinking more water! We are also taking several mindfulness breaks as a class during the day. Ask your student to show you a kind of mindful breathing they know.
    If you want to know more about this work or any of the learning I've done, please feel free to ask! 
     
    Upcoming Events:
    Tues 2/12: 2pm Band Concert (open to all)
    Wed 2/13: Mindy out (possible weather as well...)
    Thurs 2/14: Skiing
    2/18-22: Feb break
     
    I'm sorry there are no pictures this week - I'll be sure to send some by vacation. 
    Best,
    Mindy
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  • Inquirers Newsletter #14

    Posted by Jen Kravitz on 2/4/2019
    Dear families,
    We are off to a quiet start this week - many students are out sick. There seems to be some strep throat going around, so please help your children remember good hygiene and take throat symptoms seriously! We are working on more hand washing at school.
     
    Following is a quick update, some photos, and some very important information about our current project. 
     
    In math we are launching into a unit on fractions. We've done some comparing fractions, finding equivalent fractions, and lots of fraction story problems. Fourth graders will continue adding and subtracting, then move on to decimals. The third graders will be working more on comparing fractions and using fractions in measurement. 
     
    In literacy we are starting new book groups with an immigration theme. Ask your student about the main character in their book! We have stories that range from slaves escaping to freedom, to a Vietnam War refugee, to an animal adventure that includes migrating wildebeest. They will have some reading to do at home this week, starting Tuesday.
     
    Our big project during our inquiries time right now is the family interview. Students have been honing their interview skills through games and practice, and are now ready to formally interview a family member. This week, their homework is to interview a family member to discover interesting stories. The family member (or family friend) should be older than the student. Students will come home today with some questions prepared, but their main skill is in asking follow up questions to draw out a story. Please let me know what day this week might work for your family to do this. I will be sending home iPads so that you can record what is said during the interview using a voice-to-text feature. If you have a computer or tablet with a microphone at home, you can use that device by having your child sign into their Google Docs and using the voice-to-text option. 
     
    Please let me know if you have questions about this interview or need help recording it. I am happy to have you come in to school to interview here if that's easier. Thank you for your help!

    Upcoming Events: 
    2/4-2/8: Inquirers family interviews (homework - see above)
    2/5 Tues: Early Release 1:10 pm
    2/7 Thurs: Ski day/band rehearsal. Band concert 7pm in Salisbury
    2/8 Fri: Community Supper
     

    Have a great week!
    Mindy

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  • Inquirers Newsletter 13

    Posted by Jen Kravitz on 1/13/2019

    Dear families,

    I hope you are staying warm on this chilly weekend! At least we have more beautiful snow. 
    The Inquirers we very busy this past week. We've been flying through our nonfiction work, as well as jumping into telling personal stories and finishing up our latest math unit! Students also spent time this week thinking about traits that make a successful learner and citizen of the world. They created posters to go along with the IB Learner Profile attributes. We will continue to discuss these through the year. (See attached for the first seven!)
     
    This week in math we focused on measurement, but especially time and length. Students practiced pacing out meter lengths and calculated distances in meters and kilometers. The fourth grade also focused on calculating elapsed time, particularly in regards to differences in race records. The third grade worked hard on polishing up their rounding and problem solving skills. Coming up, we'll be starting to look at fractions!
     
    In our theme and literacy times we've continued thinking about migration and what causes it. We read an article about waves of immigration to America, and heard a story from a youth whose family immigrated here. The kids are continuing to research their own country, with an eye towards creating a travel brochure. We are also starting to think about how you take notes from your research and turn it into a nonfiction paragraph. See attached for our giant model. Finally, students watched a documentary episode about the salmon migration that happens on the west coast. This week we'll be working with college students to think more about animal migration.
     
    Family Interviews: 
    The students are also continuing to think about their own personal histories. Last week they told and wrote stories based on an important person in their lives. This week, they'll start thinking about how to interview a family member to get their story. Starting at the end of the week and going into next, students will be asked to interview someone outside school. This can be a parent, older sibling, caregiver, extended family member, or family friend. Students will have questions prepared, but may need your help recording answers. Linda Kautzman and I are working on a technological solution to this. Please help your student with this task to the best of your ability. This does not need to be a family migration story or ancient history. It can be just anecdotes from more recent life that help our children learn a little more about themselves and their families. Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns. We can be flexible in making this work for everyone. Thank you so much!
     
    Upcoming Events: 
    1/14-17: College students visit once a day for science work
    1/16 Wed: Fort Ticonderoga history visit at school
    1/17 Thurs: Rock Climbing Team practice
    1/18 Friday: Winter Concert, 6pm. Please come!
    1/21-22 Mon-Tues: No school
     
    Happy Monday!
    Mindy
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