Portland Public Schools
Portland, Oregon

MLC logoMetropolitan Learning Center

K x 12 student-centered education

2033 NW Glisan St. | Portland, OR 97209
Phone: (503) 916-5737

Caryn Cushman


Friday, March 8, 2013

Happy Sunny Weekend! 

ALERT - SPECIAL HOMEWORK CHALLENGE for NEXT MON., TUES., WED!  See link: OCEANS_CHALLENGE.docx  or read the following...


Please take time over your 3 days (Mon. 3/11, Tues. 3/12, and Wed. 3/13) next week to take on this challenge: 


·         Find a LARGE piece of paper (11in. x 17in., if possible, but work with whatever you’ve got…be resourceful…you could use the inside of a paper grocery bag) and take time to share on this paper (using words and pictures) all that you know and understand about oceansMUST BE DONE ON YOUR OWN WITHOUT ASSISTANCE FROM INTERNET, BOOKS/MAGAZINES, OTHER PEOPLE…this will all come from you!  - Integrity challenge   : )

·         Be neat and clear with your work.

·         Organize it in a way that makes sense to you.

·         Make sure your name is on it and the date.

·         HAVE FUN!

This is due the Thursday that you return to school after conferences (3/14/13)

Math and Grammar and Practice assignments are also due on Thursday, 3/14. 


: )








Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Homework Info:  Like every night, we have nightly reading (30 minutes), HOWEVER, instead of writing a Reading Response, our writing tonight will be....

Re-writing the paragraph you began today in class!  That paragraph is the first "body paragraph" for your persuasive essay.  (It is not the introduction paragraph...that is a different paragraph.)  As we have been talking about in class, the paragraph you are working on today is the paragraph where you present your first great reason or argument for your persuasive topic. Purpose of this paragraph - introduce your first reason, explain your reason, back your reason up with evidence.  Use words from the "Persuasive Words List" and your notes from your Persuasive Essay Planning Sheet (both should be in your Homework Folder) to help you make this a really strong paragraph!  GOOD LUCK!

Here is an example of the paragraph you are writing tonight (written by a 4th grader in Portand):

    "To begin, most kids have other things in their lives besides school.  Sometimes kids go straight from school to sports practice, after that they eat dinner.  Once dinner is finished, they go to yet another sports practice and get home at nine o'clock!  After two sports practices, they are too tired to do their pile of math homework."

I'm looking forward to seeing what you come up with to convince your audience!(Remember to tell your family who your audience is.)


Monday, March 4, 2013

Happy March!

We had an interesting, energetic, and productive day!  Some brief details:  Finalizing our topic for a persuasive writing essay, Developing solid opinion statements for this essay, charting our strengths/talents/areas of knowledge as we prepare for OAKS state testing, round 1 of OAKS State Reading Test, volume review and surface area dabblings in grade 5 math, FIRST VIEWING OF OUR COMPLETED AUCTION PROJECT (thank you Lauren, Mandy, and artistic 4x5 humans!!!), homework review....CONTINENTS!!

Tonight's Homework:

Nightly reading (20 - 30 min. tonight), but instead of a classic reading response, students are focusing their writing energy on reading through their continent research notes (doing this can count as part of nightly reading) or doing some additional Internet or book/magazine research on their continent in order to create a Top 10 List of Most Important / Interesting Facts about their continent. 


*Please scroll down for information on Spring Conferences next week, if you haven't taken a look already.

Thank you.


Tuesday, 2/26/13

FAMILIES -  Hi there!

Thank you for bringing in the final sums of your Read-a-thon money!  We are graphing and recording it to celebrate how much our class has raised.  We would love to have it all in by Friday.

PROJECT 2nd WIND - Our annual food drive for the Oregon Food Bank began yesterday.   Today, four kids in our class brought in a combined amount of over 25 pounds of food for hungry people in the Portland area.  Way to come together!  Keep bringing food in until Friday.  Students brought home flyers and bags for gathering food last Friday.  Contact Laura (our Activity Coordinator) with any additional questions about this food drive:  lbullock@pps.net

SPRING CONFERENCES - I am posting the schedule for our Spring Parent/Student/Teacher Conferences.  The conferences (on our MLC calendar http://www.pps.k12.or.us/schools/mlc/343.htm ) are on Tuesday, March 12 and Wednesday, March 13.  These conferences exist as a result of a waiver that we teachers pursue each year because we value checking in with families about student learning on more occasions than just in the fall.  As part of this waiver, conferences are held during scheduled school hours, the first one beginning at 8:30 am and the last one ending at 4:00pm on both days.  Please come sign your family up for one of the 20 minute conference slots.  Children do attend these conferences!  : )   They actually help lead them as part of the gradual release of responsibility between the fall conference and the fully-student-led portfolio presentation in late spring.  KCLC has some more availability for these 2 conference days (as school is not in session due to conferences.)  Please contact them:  http://www.pps.k12.or.us/schools/mlc/386.htm 

FINALLY - The School Auction!  First of all, MAJOR GRATITUDE to LAUREN NATHE for manifesting and guiding our class auction project.  We are creating an art piece comprised of 12 connected miniature dioramas (made inside altoid tins....Google Image it, pretty fascinating!!) with the theme of presidential elections, both United States and our MLC election this fall.  It is beautiful, incredibly cool, and has our 4x5 artists' hands and imaginations all over it!!  You must see it! 

ALSO - I have been asked to encourage you to buy your tickets for the MLC Auction in advance.  The auction is Saturday, March 9, from 6 - 11pm.  I am planning to be there!  Here is the link: http://mlcauction.com/

Finally, we reviewed how to write down homework assignments in our Homework Journal this afternoon.  Some students like to do this, others have our general routines (Reading Response M-Th nights, Grammar and Practice assignments assigned Tuesdays / due Tuesdays, Math packets assigned Tuesdays / due Tuesdays) memorized, and only make note of assignments that fall outside of that pattern...or they check the website for those unique ones.  Check it out in their Homework Journal if you like.  And ask them to tell you a little bit about the Earth's interior.  : ) 

Thank you for having awesome children!



Hi great people!

I'm back from jury duty.  It seems as though the kids had a great 2 days with our sub, Gabrielle.  I am really glad to be back.

Reminder:  This week, kids are going "old school" and writing their Reading Responses in their Homework Journals each night.  For a prompt, if they need it, students are using ideas and questions from the "Book Chat" handout that I had Gabrielle distribute on Tuesday afternoon.

THIS AFTERNOON, each reader/writer came up with a challenge for tonight...something that will take their good or great Reading Responses and make them even better!  Please ask your child about their challenge.  And, this is a GREAT TIME TO REVIEW THE HOMEWORK EXPECTATIONS sheet on the inside cover of their Homework Journals - a mid-year check in!

Thank you for beginning to bring in Read-a-thon money.  We will be collecting it through the 25th - that's this coming Monday!!  Zoinks!!!  Email me if you have any unique circumstances that will require some more time for collecting funds.  I am certain that we can figure something out.





Hi there!  Read-a-thon check in...this info. was sent home over a week ago, but here is a mid-way refresher:

The MLC 4X6 Readathon is

January 24th-February 15th

There are two goals of this fundraiser:

READING!  All students in the 4X6 will be reading up a storm and keeping track of all the pages they read.  We'll be talking and writing about what we are reading, making recommendations to others, and picking up books and other written materials that we might not typically go for at first glance. Every one of us will read at least TWO of the Oregon Readers Choice Award (ORCA) books so we can vote in this year's contest (this goal was set with Kiva last fall).  We'll all get to be better readers...how cool is that?!!

RAISE MONEY!  We believe it is important that students have learning opportunities and experiences outside of the school building.  The money we raise will reduce the costs to families for outdoor science and field trips we take this spring as well as our end-of-year activities. 

Students will get pledges from friends and family acquaintances who wish to help them meet the Read-a-thon goals.  Supporters may choose to give a fixed pledge amount or pledge by the number of pages read.  Word of cautionMLC kids love to read!  A "penny a page pledge" will ensure that supporters help us without breaking their bank. 

Questions?  Check in with Caryn, Ned, Kelly, or Susan at any time!


ALSO, NEXT WEEK, WE ARE HEADING OUT TO THE THEATRE!!  I have received most permission slips and funds to see The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.  Please have them in by next Tuesday.  ($5 for travel and show...., please request a scholarship in writing if your family needs one.)  So far, 2 parents have let me know that they can chaperone.  4 would be a great number!  Please email me if you are interested in chaperoning.  It is so helpful for me to have it in writing...I am so focused on the kids and all that we need to do during the learning day, I don't want to forget important details that you might voice to me during those times.  THANK YOU!!!

READING RESPONSE tonight -  very similar to past nights! 

  • Date and Greeting
  • Friendly response to what your buddy shared and wrote about (at least 2 sentences)
  • Thoughtful answer your buddy's question (at least 1 - 2 sentences)
  • Share some information about the book you are reading at home or at school.  PLEASE INCLUDE AT LEAST 1 PREDICTION YOU HAVE ABOUT YOUR STORY!! 
  • AT LEAST 4 complete sentences for grade 4, AT LEAST 5 complete sentences for grade 5) MAKE SURE TO SHARE THE TITLE and AUTHOR of your book!!
  • A question for your buddy about reading?  (Their thoughts and feelings)
  • Closing ("Sincerely", "From", "Love", "Fondly", "Best")

Keep up the GREAT WORK on these journals!



Buddy Journal Guidelines for tonight....


  • Date and Greeting
  • Friendly response to what your buddy shared and wrote about (at least 2 sentences)
  • Thoughtful answer your buddy's question (at least 1 - 2 sentences)
  • Share your thoughts and questions about the book you are reading at home (AT LEAST 4 complete sentences for grade 4, AT LEAST 5 complete sentences for grade 5) MAKE SURE TO SHARE THE TITLE and AUTHOR of your book!!
  • A question for your buddy about reading?  (Their thoughts and feelings)
  • Closing ("Sincerely", "From", "Love", "Fondly", "Best")

Please offer back-up on your end for the format of a letter (punctuation and placement / spacing / organization).  THANK YOU!!  We're working on it here, and your help will amp it up.  Be sure to chek out those Buddy Journal Guidelines in the front of the journal.  ENJOY!!













Your young reader brought home their Buddy Journal again tonight!

Please ask them about it, and take a look through it together.   : )

We are practicing our Buddy Journal format right now....mostly in class.  (Soon, they will be engaging in this format independently as their Reading Response homework.)  Your child likely has a little more to add to their journal tonight.


  • Date and Greeting
  • Friendly response to what your buddy shared and wrote about (at least 2 sentences)
  • Thoughtful answer your buddy's question (at least 1 - 2 sentences)
  • Your new thoughts that you had about our reading today, When Marian Sang, by Pam Munoz Ryan (AT LEAST 4 complete sentences for grade 4, AT LEAST 5 complete sentences for grade 5)
  • A question for your buddy about the book we are reading?  (Their thoughts and feelings)
  • Closing ("Sincerely", "From", "Love", "Fondly", "Best")

Please offer back-up on your end for the format of a letter (punctuation and placement / spacing / organization).  THANK YOU!!  We're working on it here, and your help will amp it up. 

For right now, your student is only writing in their Buddy Journal about the book we are reading together in class.  Soon, they will transfer this same structure to their nightly reading (texts of their choice.)  While they are only writing about When Marian Sang right now, they are still doing their 30 minutes of nightly reading.  They just aren't writing about it.  Feel free to ask me any questions.


Thank you so much.



Tonight, your young reader brought home a "Buddy Journal."  We did most of the work needed for this homework task at school.  Some readers have decided to add a bit more thinking tonight.  They are writing thoughts and questions about a book we read together here in class, "How Marian Sang", by Pam Munoz Ryan, to another reader.   Again, they did most of what they need for their Reading Response tonight here in class.  THEY STILL NEED TO DO THEIR 30 MINUTES OF NIGHTLY READING, though they won't write about it tonight.

Look over the Buddy Journal with your child.  Support them in remembering to bring it into school every day....they are accountable to their buddy.  Enjoy!

Students can also begin their Grammar and Practice Book homework. pages 41 - 44.  It is due next Tuesday, February 5.  Math packets also went home today.  There was an error in the Grade 5 math packet.  The page of race car story problems was given last week.  Your child does not need to do this page again.  They can use this side of the paper as scratch paper for other work in the packet.


Hi there!


This week, students are bringing home a different text each night for their Reading Response.  This text is related to the learning we are doing about the continents.  The theme this time around is CULTURE.  Please chat with your child about how their text might relate or connect with the continents on our planet!  Also, feel free to support your reader with tese texts as some of them are pretty challenging.  (Follow the same format as last week for the Reading Response sheet, scroll down for details.  LOOK FOR THE FEEDBACK on your child's recent Reading Response for ideas on how to challenge yourself further this week)

CHECK OUT the "One of My Favorites" assignment that went home tonight.  Your reader gets to recommend a favorite book to another 4x6 reader in celebration of our 2013 Read-a-thon...which starts this week!  They will write a juicy and packed expository paragraph about a favorite book (needs to be at least 5 sentences).  THIS IS DUE FRIDAY MORNING, 1/25/13.  Please refer to the guide for the 5 sentences OR expand beyond the guidelines to make the assignment work for you.  (You can include genre, main characters, setting, plot, theme, conflict, fun and interesting details that make it an AWESOME book...reasons you recommend it, what type of reader you would recommend it for, etc....)  HAVE FUN!!

No Grammar and Practice work was assigned this week.  It is a catch-up week, to catch up on any missing assignments from that book up to So You Want To Be President?


*Families, please scroll down below this entry for yesterday's informational post.

Hi SCIENTISTS!!  (This is for our in-class Inquiry on the Earth's Interior, Thursday and Friday)

Even though we are studying the GEOGRAPHY ("...a science that deals with the location of living and nonliving things on earth and the way they affect one another) and continents of Earth , let's take some time to dig into the GEOLOGY (a science that deals with the history of the earth and its life especially as recorded in rock ) of our planet.

Here are 3 links.  Let's look at them in order:



Definitions above are from http://www.wordcentral.com/cgi-bin/student?book=Student&va=geology , Merriam Webster's web dictionary for kids.



Hi Dream Team 315,

I hope everyone is staying healthy and getting good rest.  There are some bugs going around!  We've been talking about the importance of handwashing before eating, after blowing our nose, and other important times.  Please offer follow up conversation support where you can!  : )

CONTINENT learning is going beautifully!  We are learning LOADS!!  Students are bringing home a different text each night for their Reading Response / Continent study, and they are returning to school with all sorts of interesting information to share.  PLEASE HELP YOUR CHILD REMEMBER TO BRING THEIR TEXT BACK TO SCHOOL EACH DAY...so that another reader can use that book the next night (great responsibility skill builder!)

The Reading Response sheet looks a little different this week.  Students are recording their thinking, their questions, and important information that they notice while reading in the big rectangular box on the left.  In the smaller box on the right, #1 is for the book title, #s 2, 3, and 4 are for important or interesting vocabulary words (continuing the skill from last week of finding 3 vocab. words from the text, copying them down and adding a definition for each), and #5 is for the reader's personal rating system.  They are rating each book on how interesting they find it to be, whether or not they like the writing, and if they would recommend it.  They get to choose their system on a scale of 1 - 5.  Some readers are using a 5 star system, some a 5 cupcake system, 5 kitty system - it's up to them.

Feel free to support your child with the reading activities.  Some of the texts are challenging.  They are also great conversation starters!!

Learners are all encouraged and welcome to do a little more than is expected of them.  Some students have found some great websites that they visit a couple nights a week to learn more about their continent.  Some have taken a particular interest in the flags, countries/capitals, plant/animal species, endangered species on their continent and are bringing in information to share.  EXCELLENT!!  MUSIC - Each week, we are listening to some music from each of the continents.  If you have something cool for us to listen to, BRING IT IN!!!

This is a great time of year to review some of the homework basics that are posted on the inside of Homework Journals.  Open that thing up and give it a look-see together.  Remember that Homework Journals and Homework Folders need to come to school each day.  Monday - Thursday nights, we have reading response (continent texts, see above).  AND, each Tuesday, Grammar and Practice book assignments are due PLUS Math Homework.

Our Read-a-thon begins this Friday.  In anticipation of finding some GREAT BOOKS for this event, please check out the following link to learn about this year's ORCA book nominations.  http://www.olaweb.org/orca  MLC 4x5 students are setting a goal to read an amount of books in our division that would challenge them (Junior Division).  We will also be voting for our favorite ORCA book in March.  In order to vote, students need to read at least 2 of the books in our division.  This is a really fun activity for kids to share with each other.  It also results in connecting kids with some new favorite books, genres, and authors!



Monday, January 7, 2013

Hi there!  First of all, here is the MUSICAL MYSTERY link (the mystery music that we listened to this morning....ask your family to listen to it first and predict what they are listening to...and have them predict where they think it came from) http://siberiantimes.com/culture/music/features/the-amazing-siberian-ice-orchestra-playing-on-the-worlds-deepest-lake/

..... next HOMEWORK:

Continent Reading - Tonight, you brought home a book or magazine to read through by yourself or with a family member.  Read through it and do the Monday portion of this week's Reading Response sheet (we received them in class this afternoon.)   Some of the reading is challenging so ASK FOR HELP IF YOU NEED IT.  You can use context clues to figure out what your 3 vocabulary words mean, or you can use a dictionary.  PLEASE take good care of your book/magazine and BRING IT BACK TO SCHOOL TOMORROW.  Someone else will need it tomorrow night!

If you have the magazine, please read the article on GOLD on page 8, I believe.

Enjoy learning!




Welcome back, families!

Happy New Year!  I sooooo loved having a chance to hear a bit about the different adventures that students had over winter break.  What a treat to see their bright faces for the first time on 2013. 

Today, we embarked on yet another learning adventure...an exploration of the seven continents of the world.   For the month of January, please plan to learn what you can about the continent you selected this afternoon.  There will be some guidance from me (of course!) but much of this school and at-home project will be generated by your own curiosity and interests.  You will be using many of the same research skills and techniques you utilized during the Camp Hancock project.  You will also have at least two other people from Dream Team 315 on your Continent Research Crew.  It will be fun to share and compare your findings!

Plan to spend 20-30 minutes a night, twice a week, learning about your continent.

You started generating a list of questions you had about your continent.  If more questions come to mind for you, write them down in your Homework Journal.

Tonight, you are gathering a half page's worth of information about your continent.  Take great notes and remember to write down where you located your information.  Bring in what you find.

Here are some questions that students came up with today:

  • How many countries are on this continent?
  • How many oceans does it border?
  • What wildlife / animal species live on this continent?  Which species are most common?
  • What are the different climates of this continent?  Does the weather vary?
  • How many different languages are spoken on this continent?
  • Who are the major historical figures?
  • What is the population?
  • What are the famous natural features?
  • Are there endangered species on this continent?  What are they?
  • What are some of the different flags from this continent?
  • Does this continent border other continents?

That should get you started!  Your research does not have to address these questions.  You may learn things that do not connect to your questions.  That is totally fine!

I am excited to see what you bring in tomorrow!

Be sure to tell you family about our assembly this afternoon.  We will pass out the items that Bottle Bill left for us tomorrow.  : )




























Jai Ho!  12/14/12

Hi families.

We had a fun and celebratory day in our pjs.  We performed our 2 dances for Kathleen in the office since she was not able to come see us yesterday at our Solstice event.  That was a blast and she LOVED it!

Our book exchange and breakfast party went well.  (Thank you Andria for helping set up and serve on the fly!)  THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR bringing in books and treats for our festivities today.  We had a great time and we couldn't have done it without you!

EXCITING - Kieran's dad, Kevin, caught the 4x5s on film at Solstice yesterday.  Here is the link.  ENJOY.  And THANK YOU SO MUCH, KEVIN!!!


I hope the link works.  You are in for a treat!

Wishing all of you a very happy holiday.  I feel so fortunate to work with and learn with your children.  I am very excited to see where our learning takes us in the new year!




Happy MLC Solstice Eve!

Many things going on tomorrow.  We have our Science Symposium (Camp Hancock Science Presentation - please finish up your expository paragraphs tonight), and we have our MLC Solstice celebrationYOU ARE INVITED TO OUR SCIENCE SYMPOSIUM!  Please come if you can!!  It will last from 10:00 to 11:15.  It would be fantastic to have your presence there, and we will all learn a lot from these researchers.

To practice your dance, look at the links below on yesterday's post.  COSTUME:  Girls - black pants/leggings or a black skirt that you can dance in, black shirt (long or short sleeves are fine), bright scarf to tie around your waist.  Boys -  dark pants or dark jeans, darkish button down shirt (lighter shirt is ok if you don't have a darker one - NO PROB!), solid black t-shirt underneath.  : )  FUN!!

Many people have signed up to bring something to our Cozy/PJ Breakfast Celebration this Friday.  THANK YOU!!  If you haven't had a chance to check out the sign-up sheet outside the classroom and are able to contribute something, we are still in need of bowls, cow-milk (we've got someone bringing rice milk), and spoons.  Beyond that, if you are feeling inspired, festive, and breakfast-y, please bring in whatever great idea you have.  THE BOWLS AND SPOONS WILL BE KEY THOUGH with a cereal party.

BOOK EXCHANGE - We've been so busy with our rehearsing and our preparations for the Science Symposium, that we have not talked much about this.  PLEASE DO WHATEVER YOU CAN TO MAKE THIS NON-STRESSFUL.  In other words, don't go out and buy a book.  Find a well loved, no longer being read book at your home, wrap it up in a brown paper grocery bag, draw a smiley face on it and call it GREAT!!!  Please have that for Friday morning.  I will bring some extras just in case some people forget, so that everyone gets a book.  If anyone out there is able to wrap up one or 2 extras as well, that would be grand.

THANK YOU, FAMILIES!  I LOVE working and learning with your kids each day, it is such a gift, and I feel so very fortunate.


 P.S.  For any additional information about the expository paragraphs, please scroll down to look at past entries.

WOW!!  What a day!  12/11/12

Please ask your child about the film we saw this morning, Chasing Ice.  Also, have them tell you a little about our follow-up discussion groups with other 4th, 5th, and 6th graders. 

The majority of our day was dedicated to our experience with this film.  After that, we had a rehearsal for our Solstice performance.  This did not leave time for the turning in of homework...so THANK YOU everyone who had it here and ready for being so on the ball!  : )  It is and EXTRA BUSY time of year, and a fun time of year. 

Please finish up your Camp Hancock Science Topic presentation paragraphs (expository writing that we have been working in the last 2 weeks in class) tonight.  If you did not bring home your writing because the end of the day was a busy whirlwind, then take deep breaths and focus to finish up what you have here at school tomorrow morning....I've got the notecards here for kids who want to use them.  A bunch of students brought some home to work with.  THEY ARE HERE FOR YOU.  Some students are printing them out at home, some are sending them to me to print out, some are printing them out by hand.  Do what works best for you.

ELECTIVE SIGN UPS TOMORROW.  Bring in your form all filled out.

Practice your dances (see links below.)

Jai Ho!



Hello!  Grammar and Practice Books are due tomorrow, as are math packets!  We've been working on our expository paragraphs in class for the last 2 weeks, the final drafts of those are due Wednesday. 

ALSO....please rehearse Gangnam Style and Jai Ho!!  At least 3 rounds of Gangnam Style each night until Solstice.  YOU CAN DO IT!!!  : )  Here are the links:

Gangnam Style


Jai Ho


Great rehearsal today - keep up that beautiful positive energy!




Hi Families,

Here is a link to part of the exact dance and song that we will perform next Thursday at Solstice:


This can be used to help your child rehearse at home.  Please check out (lengthy) entry below for more important information about field trips and activities next week....homework too!

Thank you,




Hi Team!

If I could sum up in a word what we are experiencing right now with regard to all of our school activities it would be....brackish.

What?  Brackish??  Not what you were expecting?  Well, let me explain.

Brackish water is a mixture of fresh water flowing out to the sea and tidal salt water rushing in from the ocean.  In a sense, we are in that state of brackish mixing as we wrap up work from the first trimester while embarking on the new activities of the second trimester.

Although this may not technically be the correct use of this word, my mind may also be thinking about different states of water as we experience  seasonal change; puddle jumping during our break times and watching the skies put on a show through the classroom window. I'm also thinking a lot about the earth's water as I look forward with excited anticipation to the fieldtrip we are going on next Tuesday, December 11th.

The 4X6 Team will be seeing a special showing of a very important film at Hollywood Theater, beginning at

9:30 a.m. on 12/11/12

Chasing Ice


I am excited about this film for several reasons.  First, it does an excellent job showing the highs, lows, challenges and triumphs of science field research, something I think is an essential component when teaching science inquiry concepts to students.   Second, it clearly shows the effects of climate change happening on this planet by photodocumenting glaciers over time, and discusses why this is a problem.  Finally, it is a visually beautiful film.  The still shots alone are a feast for the eyes.  I am not a bit surprised this film is an Oscar contender. 

It is my hope that many of you (parents!) can attend this film with us.  The ticket price is $4 and students are bringing an extra $2 for the MAX ride.  You can meet us at MLC on Tuesday morning and take the MAX with us or meet us at the theater by 9:30 a.m.

If you can go, please also consider returning to MLC and facilitating a small group discussion about the film.   There will be guiding questions available and we are hoping that enough volunteers will be here that we can keep the group sizes to 6-8 students per group.. These discussions will begin after lunch at 12:30 p.m. so you would have time to go and grab a bite to eat beforehand.  We plan to finish by 1:30 p.m.

As we watch the skies darken overhead and prepare for the coming of the Winter Solstice, the 4X5 Team has been talking about the various ways that people around the world celebrate light and the holidays held during this time of the year.  We are in the process of reading a book about Diwali, the Hindu "Festival of Light" holiday that was just celebrated a couple weeks ago.  A popular holiday in India, Diwali is often celebrated with dancing.  We were lucky to find Prashant Kakad, a local Bollywood style choreographer and dancer, who is teaching us a dance that we will perform at MLC's Solstice Celebration on Thursday, December 13th!  We are able to have Prashant work with us thanks to our Young Audience/Run for the Arts funds.

Prashant visited us this afternoon and will be with us again on Thursday and next Monday.  We watched a video of Prashant on YouTube before his visit today and you can watch it at home and practice the Jai Ho! dance steps he taught us (found at the end of the video) by doing a search on YouTube for Tedx Talk by Prashant--Bollywood, the Timing is Right.

For the MLC performance next week, please wear dark colored clothing.  Boys: dark blue jeans and a t-shirt, with a button down shirt layered over it.  Girls:  black leggings or an easy to dance in black skirt, a black top, and a colorful scarf to wrap around the waist.  Comfortable shoes, of course!

On Friday, December 14th, our last day together before our winter vacation, Team 312 will be having a

Pajama Party and Read-In

Students are encouraged to wear their comfy-cozies and bring favorite books to read.  They may also bring a blanket or sleeping bag and a "stuffy".  

We will also enjoy some food together mid-morning,  Breakfast is the theme and there will be a sign-up outside of the classroom door.  Think cereal with milk, fresh fruit, muffins and juice.  Paper products will be needed, too (napkins, bowls, plates and utensils). 

Friday morning we will also have our annual

"SCARY BEAR Book Exchange".  This popular event is easy and fun!  Simply browse your bookshelf at home for a book or two you are ready to pass on.  Wrap them up and bring them in.  We will each choose a package, unwrap it, and be surprised by what we find inside. 

Everyone gets to go home with a new (to them) book!

So, that's a lot of the new (fresh water) aspects of our "brackish water" time together.  The "saltier" parts of our week have to do with finishing up some of the fantastic work we started first trimester.  Students are putting finishing touches on 2 paragraphs they are writing about electives and just getting started on the 2 paragraphs that will be added to Camp Hancock display boards.  We will also be getting all of the work samples from 1st trimester into our portfolios and making sure the goals we set at conferences are clear so we'll be ready to move forward when we get back together on January 2, 2013.


Math packets went home today, Tuesday.  4th and 5th graders, your packet is due Tuesday, 12/11.

Grammar and Writing Practice Books will go home on Wednesday and are due next Tuesday.  Pages 25-28 focus on Regular Plural Nouns.

The 4X6 Roots and Shoots elective is holding a Food, Gift and Sock Drive for two organizations in town that help people in need.  The Food and Gift Drive is for the William Temple House and the Sock Drive is for Outside-In.  Donations can be placed in the bins by the office between now and December 14th.

Finally…..HUGE congratulations on completing your Camp Hancock Visual Displays!  I look forward to continuing to learn from you in the days ahead.









































Hello families!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

I am just back from a doctor's appt. that I had to sprint out the door for after school!  Fortunately, kids were totally attentive when we went over tonight's homework together at the end of the day.  We repeated the expectations to a neighbor, asked clarifying questions, and received instructions both verbally (at least 3 times) and in writing.  WOW!!


Write one paragraph (at least 4-5 sentences) telling about one of your two electives this last term.

Topic sentence (share the main idea), 3 supporting detail sentences (at least), and a conclusion sentence (wrap it up.)  Those are the basic expectations.  As always, you have an opportunity to go above and beyond in any way you can imagine or see fit.  : )  

ALSO......if you feel that you need more information about your topic....get it!  Keep on researching.

That's it!



Welcome back from the WEEKEND!

Tuesday, 11/13/12 

Homework tonight:

Work for 20 mintes on one of the following having to do with your Camp Hancock Research Project:

  • Gather more research (interesting facts or information about your topic)
  • Create a rough draft labeled diagram or illustration (with caption) about some important aspect of your topic
  • Work on a poem about your topic

*  Grammar and Writing Practice Books are due tomorrow!  (Both classes gave an extra day for those to be completed!)

Hopefully this evening (after our staff meeting...5ish) Susan and I will be able to find a workable solution for the materials for the Visual Aid portion of this project.  The quality of the paper our district has been buying these last 2 years is pretty poor (tears easily and the color fades), and we did not have success in our search for poster board this last weekend (found bright rainbow poster board at Michael's - the price was pretty high.)  If you have any ideas, please send them our way.  THANK YOU!!


Thursday, November 8, 2012

Moving right along with THIS side of the election....

Yesterday and today, we have watched and listened to a number of concession speeches.  Yesterday, we viewed Mitt Romney's, today, we listened to Al Gore's from 2000, and Hillary Clinton's concession to Barack Obama as the Democratic Party's nominee for the 2008 election.  We listened for and took notes on the words that stood out, and the words that struck us in these speeches.  Today, we spent time noticing what was said in the beginnings, middles, and ends of these speeches.  Students did some thinking and noticing on their own, then they partnered, up and did a whole group share talking about their observations. 

TONIGHT - your young citizen is writing a portion of Lauren Strong's concession speech.  They get to choose to write either the beginning, the middle, or the end of the speech.   Per usual assignments, 4th graders need to write at least 4 complete (thoughtful, juicy) sentences and 5th graders need to write at least 5 complete (thoughtful, juicy) sentences.  Many students are interested in writing more than the expected amount of sentences for their speech portion.  A couple of students asked if they could write the entire speech and then just circle their favorite part.  THE ANSWER IS YES!!  : )

There is no official research homework tonight though most students are interested in pursuing more information about their topic.  That is GREAT and it is only going to help them.   Tomorrow, students will get more information and specifics about the Visual Display portion of their Camp Hancock Research Project.  In the meantime, I told them today that because there was some confusion about  starting research on Friday, October 19 or Monday, October 22 (when a bunch of learners began their research) we will be setting back the due date by about 3 days.  We will discuss it in detail tomorrow and I will post the info. on this class page!

Grammar and Writing Practice Book assignment is due next Tuesday.  See details in postings below.

Thank you!


CONGRATULATIONS on an EXCELLENT, THOUGHTFUL, ENERGETIC CAMPAIGN that was FULL OF HEART!!  While we did not win this election, we won many votes, and many minds and hearts with our beliefs and our message to the citizens of the United States.  JOB WELL DONE>  : )

Congratulations Luna Morrisen of the Global Alliance Party!  WWP members were excellent sports today upon hearing the news.

Tonight, one piece of our homework is to answer this question:

Should Lauren Strong accept the offer from the Luna Morrisen to be the Secretary of Health and Human Services?  (This would mean that Lauren Strong would be a member of the presidential cabinet.)  Would accepting this job help to take action on our beliefs about WELFARE?

Grade 4 writes at least 4 complete sentences.  Grade 5 writes at least 5.  Students emphasized the need to explain why you think what you think when answering this important question.

GRAMMAR and WRITING PRACTICE Book work was also assigned - due next Tuesday (I believe pages 21, 22, 23, and 24.)

RESEARCH - Many students asked to continue their research tonight for the Camp Hancock Science Learning project.  THAT IS GREAT!!  Do you have more that you need to learn about your topic?  If so, then dig for some more facts and details.

THANK YOU, FAMILIES, for having such inspiring and awesome children!  Please ask them to tell you about Mitt Romney and Barack Obama's Concession and Vistory speeches tonight.  As active citizens, we watched both speeches, listening for important words and messages.



Congratulations, members of the WORLD WELFARE PARTY/STRONG CAMPAIGN for excellent participation in the Presidential Debates this afternoon!!

The teamwork each Welfare Party member demonstrated these last few days has been inspiring.  JOB WELL DONE!!  Voting is tomorrow!


Grammar and Writing Practice Books due tomorrow (see postings below for specifics on page numbers)

Math Packets due for both 4th and 5th grade

Continued research for our Camp Hancock Science Project (see specifics from past homework postings for more details.)

KEEP INFORMED ON THE U.S. PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE AS WELL.  Feel free to bring in any interesting information for Election Day tomorrow!

Also, Fall Conference Schedules will go up this afternoon!





Thursday, November 1, 2012


Due to our current focus on getting ready for the debate on Monday and Election Day on Tuesday, the research phase of your Camp Hancock project should be completed by next Wednesday, November 7th.  Remember, you are reading and recording interesting information about your topic in your Homework Journal, and citing each one of your sources.  Enjoy these few extra days of discovery!

PLEASE COME TO THE PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE this coming Monday, November 5 at 2pm in the MLC auditorium.  All four parties will participate in this important debate. 


Talk to your child about the debate question that their plank group is grappling with in school.  Students brainstormed individually, and then gathered and discussed possible responses within their plank groups today.  Here are the questions (possible sub-questions are italicized.) 

Foreign Affairs:  What is the role of the United States in the global community?

Do you feel that the United States has a leadership role in our global community?  If so, what are our responsibilities?  Besides money, what makes the United States "rich"?  What do we as a country have to give others?

Economy:  What will your party do to promote job creation, and keep the unemployment rate at 6% or lower?

What do people need?  What do people use?  What is a problem that needs fixing? (Ideas for job development)

Environment: We have just witnessed the havoc caused by Hurricane Sandy along our east coast.  Scientists say that extreme weather events like Sandy are the byproduct of accelerated climate change.  What will you do to slow our changing climate?

What do scientists say are the causes of climate change?  Why are these things happening?  What could be done differently?

Social Services: Poverty and Homelessness are at their highest levels since the 1960s.  What will your party do to reduce poverty and homelessness?

What do you think are reasons people are homeless or in poverty?

Health Care: You have all stated that you support a National Healthcare System.  Our question is:  How can you keep people independently healthy in the long term?

What does it mean to be healthy?  What does a healthy person do?  When should these habits start?  Are there successful programs in place that could be continued or improved upon?

Education:  To transition from healthy bodies to healthy minds, what is your party's view on the education system in this country?  What will you do to keep kids in school and promote life long learning?

If the goal is to have schools be places where kids realize that learning is something that is so great they will never want to stop doing it, then what should schools be like and how will you make that happen?  How can we support schools in becoming such places?

I'm excited to hear more of your child's ideas about these important topics!

Thank you.



Monday, 10/29/12

Tonight, students are recording at least 3 things that they already know about their Camp Hancock Science topic OR they are recording at least 3 things that they find out tonight about their Camp Hancock Science topic (they may do a combination of their own background knowledge and new information that they find while researching.)

If you have not yet done so, PLEASE GO OVER THE PACKET THAT WENT HOME ON FRIDAY, OCTOBER 19 TOGETHER so that you and your child can get clear about what we are working on right now.  We went over it in class that very day, and students were asked to take it home and share it with you.  LOTS OF IMPORTANT INFO. IN THERE!  (PLEASE NOTE THE 2nd TO THE LAST SENTENCE OF THE PACKET!)  Also, on Friday, October 19th, students confirmed their science topics in class.  They wrote their topics up on a chart in class over a week ago, and seem very excited to learn more about their focus area.  I know that we had a sub for the following 3 or 4 days after the packet was handed out, so be very patient and compassionale with yourselves wherever you are in the process, and find a place to jump in with vigor!  : )   Please know too that I will continue to check in with learners to see where they are at (while holding appropriate high expectations of their abilities) and make any necessary adjustments to our schedule for when things are due.  THE MAJOR GOAL THIS WEEK IS FOR EACH STUDENT TO CREATE A SOLID KNOWLEDGE BANK ABOUT THEIR TOPIC...to enjoy learning as much as they can so that they will be ready to start creating a learning product!  : )

If, for some wacky reason, you cannot find the packet....here is a link to it!  Hancock_Science_Project.docx

And here is another version:

Hello 4X5 MLC Science Enthusiasts!

It has been a week since our return from OMSI’s Camp Hancock.  This week, you have spent a bit of time thinking back on your trip by creating a Memory Map of special moments and brainstorming some of the science and cultural topics you learned about during your visit to the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument.

In the upcoming weeks we will be continuing our learning journey by talking and writing about our memories and new understandings of our natural world.  Some of this work we will do together at school and some you will be doing as your main homework project.

The guidelines for the “at home” part are outlined below.  We will talk about this assignment often in class.  You and your parents should use this as a reference during the next 4 weeks when you are working on this project at home.

4X5 Camp Hancock Homework Project:  “Digging Deeper” into a Science Topic of My Choice

October 19th - November 16th, 2012

Part 1:  Picking a Topic and Learning More through Research

Part 2:  Sharing What I Learned with Others:   Brochure and Presentation

Overview:  Your primary homework for the next 4 weeks is to pick ONE topic or idea from your visit to Camp Hancock and “dig deeper” through research and further exploration.  You will then share what you have learned by creating a large, three-fold stand-up brochure that will be on display at school.  Be ready to teach large and small groups about your topic, using your visual display and talking points. 


October 19-November 2:  For the next two weeks, you will focus on discovering all you can about your topic and writing down what you have learned in your Homework Journal.  (See the attached Note Taking Tips).  You should locate at least 3 resources.  These can include but are not limited to books, magazines, the Internet, video and audio resources and personal interviews.  An encyclopedia is a great resource! Please try and find information from different resources.  In other words, try not to just use ONLY the Internet. 



It is very important that you record in your Homework Journal where you found your information!  Write these details (your sources) at the top of each page in your journal where you have recorded your research notes.


We will “check in” here at school about the research you are doing at home so plan to bring your Homework Journal back to school with you every day.


November 2-November 16   Focus on organizing what you’ve learned into categories and thinking about what you want to tell people about your topic.  You will write a juicy, detail-packed expository paragraph which will be included in your display, as well as a “TOP 10 LIST” of important things people need to know about your topic.  During this week, you will also be creating an eye-catching visual display.  This 3-fold brochure will be one of your main ways of showing what you know.  You will see examples and receive brochure paper and a guideline for creating this visual display.



Homework “To Do” Tips and Plan


Big projects are fun challenges that require time management and self-discipline!  Here are some helpful hints to think about and plan for as you complete your project.


·        Work on your project a little bit every day.  30-45 minutes is an appropriate amount of time.  Weekends are O.K., too!



·        Gather your resources first.  Books, science magazines, Internet websites, personal interviews and visits to science museums and centers are all options.  Kiva can help you, and your parents will probably need to help you some as well!  A visit to your local library is highly encouraged. 



·        If you use the Internet, select credible sources.  Web addresses that end in “gov” or “edu” are good choices.



There are many resources out there!  Here are a few to try:


John Day Fossil Beds National Monument                   http://www.nps.gov/joda/


Oregon Historical Society                                                http://www.ohs.org/

OMSI Instructor, Spaceman Dan’s site                  http://www.spacemandan.net/



·        Regardless of where you get your information, WRITE IT DOWN IN YOUR HOMEWORK JOURNAL!  You can use as many pages as you need.  As you take notes, remember to write down what source the information came from.  We will practice this important skill in class this week. 



·        Put great effort into writing your notes in a neat and organized way. 



·        Ask for help if you need it!  If an adult offers advice, consider taking it.  Parents and teachers have all done research before and may have suggestions that will help you along the way.



·        Be curious and creative!  If you read something that causes you to question or to wonder about it, go searching for the answers.  Look for opportunities to put your our special touch on the work you create.



                                      Note Taking Tips


Expository Text (non-fiction) is organized into paragraphs. Each paragraph usually has aTOPIC that it is explaining/describing.  Often, the TOPIC is stated in the FIRST SENTENCE (Topic Sentence).  The other sentences in the paragraph provide you with DETAILS about the topic (Detail Sentences). 



If you remember this, then you can read for both the TOPIC and the DETAILS in every paragraph!


Consider reading each paragraph TWICE.


1)      First time, just for pleasure and understanding.


2)      Second time, to pick out the TOPIC and DETAILS.



When you are ready to write notes about the information in the text, think about the 3-5 most important words in each sentence.  Write those down.


Here’s an example.


                                                            Clarno Formation


The Clarno Formation, the oldest formation found around Camp Hancock, has been dated to 55-35 million years ago.  It primarily consists of mud flows (lahars) that started in the Clarno Volcano Range that lined the present John Day River valley.  Unlike today, the Pacific Ocean lay only 100 miles west of Clarno.  Without the Cascades Mountains, there was not rain shadow effect.  Combined with the fact that the world’s climate was overall warmer, the result was subtropical rain forest.  Over 100 inches of rain fell annually, allowing the lush, broad-leaved plants to grow quickly over the volcano slopes.


There are 6 sentences in this paragraph.  Here’s what notes could look like in a Homework Journal.

Clarno Formation

1)      Oldest formation, 55-35 mya


2)      Mostly mud flows called lahars from Clarno Volcano Range


3)      Pacific Ocean was only 100 miles away


4)      No Cascade Mts=No rain shadow effect


5)      Warmer climate means sub-tropical rainforest


6)       100 inches rain every year/ many fast growing broad-leaved plants


Important!  During this research month, the reading you are doing about your topic and the notes you write will take the place of your 30 minutes of nightly reading and your Reading Response homework!  : ) 


We look forward to learning from you the week of November 19th!


As always, please email me with any questions, or stop in.











































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































Science Topics and "POWER SENTENCES!"























































Hi families,

We had a busy, fun, and productive day today and tonight's homework reflects that.

Camp Hancock Science Topic FINAL List / TOP 3! - We brainstormed a list of topics to which we were exposed at camp last week.  Students wrote their favorites down in their Homework Journals.  

Science Topic Criteria:

  • Must be something your child learned about at Camp Hancock
  • Must be related to science
  • Must be specific enough for a student to have a clear research focus.  (For example, instead of having "Outer Space" as a topic, please narrow things down.  Some past successful outer space topics have been black holes, Mars, Jupiter, the Earth's moon, and meteor showers.)   
  • Must be "mainstream" enough that your young researcher will have success finding plenty of resources for their topic.  Many students are hopping online tonight to get a sense of how many website and book sources they might be able to find in the coming weeks.
  • Must be something about which they are TOTALLY PSYCHED!!  : )

They need to have their top choice written down, with 2 back up choices.  If they have 3 favorites and they would be happy with any of them, that's fine too!  Bring them in.

Power Sentence - Students are preparing Lauren Strong's "stump speech."  They met in their plank groups today and each child chose (or negotiated) an issue from their plank's TOP 5 PRESSING ISSUES list.  They will write their "Power Sentence" about this issue.  We discussed Power Sentences in class and played around with a few.  Here is a link to look at some Power Sentences from the past: Power_Sentences.docx  Some students nearly begged to write more than one sentence....they may write up to three.  This sentence communicates the World Welfare Party's opinion about this issue, OR, their plan for how to improve it.

Nightly Reading (30 min.)  No Reading Response tonight.

Thank you!


Greetings families!  10/17/12

Homework tonight -

Nightly Reading (30 min.)  There is no Reading Response tonight, only reading.

Hancock Learning List - Tonight, your 4th or 5th grader is thinking back on some of their "science learning" (anything we learned in our field study groups, interest groups, or our evening programs which were herpetology and astronomy/the night sky.)  They are to think about these experiences, and to think back on their week and COME UP WITH AT LEAST 7 science THINGS THAT THEY LEARNED at Camp Hancock.  The 7 things that they come up with can go in any of the categories on that front page, "Hancock Learning List."  We came up with a bunch of examples in class.  Be neat and specific.  : )

*FOR MATH AND GRAMMAR/WRITING PRACTICE HOMEWORK, please scroll down to end of message.

The links to subject/predicate Schoolhouse Rock videos:



5th Grade MATH - The official 5th grade math homework assignment went home today.  It has to do with Order of Operation.  A small packet was assigned yesterday, however, after my math training last night, I learned that based on some changes in the district curriculum plan this year, we need to focus in a different math direction this week.  Please pardon the bump.  We talked about it a fair amount today to clear up confusion.  THE PACKET THAT WENT HOME YESTERDAY HAS BECOME A CHOICE OPTION; IT IS NOT DUE (all students already did some work on it...and chose in class if they wanted to continue with it or not.)  The page on Order of Operation that went home today is due next Tuesday (10/23/12.)  It is double sided, and includes a small attachment slip to remind mathematicians of the Order or Operation.  : )

Grammar and Writing Practice books were assigned yesterday.  This week, we are doing pages 9 - 12 (Please see above links for back up learning on subject and predicate.)  These are also due next Tuesday (10/23/12.)

You are doing a great job bringing in your Chinook Book money and forms.  Keep it up!!  Due Friday.

Thank you, families.




Monday, October 15, 2012

Homework - Nightly Reading (30 min.)  No reading response tonight...just the reading.

Hancock Memory Map - See the inside of Homework Folder for the Camp Hancock Memory Map.  This is a pre-writing activity.  Students are locating (at least 4 for grade 4, at least 5 for grade 5) places on the map where they have special memories from camp.  Students are hi-lighting those areas (neatly...just like we modeled today in class), and creating a key on the opposite side of the page.  On the key, they will list the name of the location and some specific details about the memory they have there.  This is a great opportunity for students to work on the homework goal of, "Doing a little more than what is expected of me.", perhaps in the form of adding very descriptive details, or in the form of color coding and organization.


Thank you!


Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Hi families -

Tonight's homework is very similar to last night's homework.

Nightly Reading - 30 min.

Nature Response - See Notes from yesterday for details (this is instead of writing their Reading Response.) 

The DEBATE - Please watch at least 15 minutes (or more if you can) of the debate tonight (if you are able) with your child.  They have a Presidential Debate Bingo card for the event.  If you are not able to view any at home this evening, perhaps watch a snippet on YouTube or some such resource in the next few days.  (Not sure if you got the "heads-up" about the debate in last night's posting.) 

We worked on some of their Grammar/Writing Practice book at school today.  Nothing in that book is due tomorrow.  We worked on 2 pages in class today (pages 5 and 6), and they are choosing one of the remaining 2 pages from the Lewis and Clark and Me section (these remaining pages are pages 7 and 8) to complete by Friday.  IF THEY WANT TO DO A LITTLE MORE THAN WHAT IS EXPECTED, THEY MAY DO BOTH PAGES 7 and 8.

That's it so far!  I have extra packing lists at school for Camp Hancock.  Please have your child pick up an extra if you need one.

Thanks, families!


Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Homework:  (It's a little different this week.  I've collected all of the Homework Journals so that I can take a look and see where each child is at in their nightly work and goal setting.  We went over the changes in class today IN DETAIL, and I had kids write down the specifics for tonight's homework on a paper that is in their Homework Folder.  Take a look!)

Nightly Reading - 30 minutes

Nature Response (this is INSTEAD OF THEIR READING RESPONSE) - In preparation for making observations at Camp Hancock next week, we practiced making observations of the outside/natural world this afternoon.  Students are to spend 10 minutes outside observing the natural world (in whatever form it takes in your neck of Portland.)  They will write down their observations and are welcome to sketch them as well.  Grade 5 - write at least 5 phrases/sentences of observations.  Grade 4 - write at least 4 phrases/sentences of observations. 

MATH - Both grades 4 and 5 were given one page (double-sided for 5th, I'm not certain for 4th) of math homework that is due on Friday.

THANK YOU for sending in Hancock forms and money!  I have almost all of the necessary stuff that I need for this trip.

The first round of presidential debates are tomorrow night.  PLEASE SEE IF YOU AND YOUR CHILD CAN WATCH AT LEAST 15 MINUTES OF THE EVENT as a learning tool for our current curriculum.

Thanks families!


Tuesday, September 25

Hello -  What a beautiful afternoon!

New Homework - We just cracked open our Reading Street Grammar and Writing Practice Books for the 1st time. (These books are one of the ways that we are tackling our Schoolwide Improvement Plan which focuses on writing.  More specifically, the plan focuses on Organization and Conventions.  We nurture the love and practice of writing for many different purposes and audiences in our classroom throughout the year, and these books are part of an effort to have students become even more fluent with their writing conventions.)  These Grammar/Writing Practice Book assignments are given on Tuesdays and due the following Tuesday.  Students have 7 days to do 4 pages of practice.  It will be a great opportunity to make decisions about how to manage time.  "Will I do 2 pages on Tuesday evening?  And then 2 more on Thursday?", "Will I try to crank them all out on a Wednesday?", or, "Will I spread the four pages out over the seven days?"  Who knows!  We practiced parts of each page together this afternoon.  Students are very familiar with these books from 3rd grade.  They seemed to treat them very fancily and to take pride in their initial efforts. 

Due tomorrow - Reading Response (see your Homework Journal insert for instructions)

Due next Tuesday, 10/02 - Grammar/Writing Practice Book, pages 1-4

Thank you so much families for getting your Hancock forms and money in!  If you have not yet had the chance, please send along your filled out permission slip and OMSI Health form along with payment for the trip (or a scholarship request in writing) as soon as you are able.

With gratitude,


Monday, 9/17/12


Reading Response (see Homework Journal insert for details)  ALSO, look for the Pink "When I am Writing About My Reading" help sheet that came home today in your child's homework folder!!!  (We will glue those into our journals tomorrow morning.)

Political Party Plank - Please look at your child's congratulatory Plank sheet for the Welfare party (it's a half sheet.)  Students will research or reflect on their political plank tonight, writing down 4 (4th grade), 5(5th grade), or more (above and beyond) things that they find out about their political plank.  This can be facts OR it can be concerns or major issues connected to that plank.   For example, if your child's plank is Healthcare they could write down what they think the most important issues are concerning healthcare in the United States of America.  (Internet, background knowledge, interviews/conversations, encyclopedias are all great!)

Thursday, 9/13/12


Thursday greetings!  (Class info. if you are interested.  Scroll down for Homework check in.)

All 4x6 classrooms recently joined up for a meeting to celebrate and share some of our learning about political parties and the preamble of the Constitution of the U.S.  Students looked closely at the words of the preamble and determined which ones seemed to stand out as particularly important.  From those words we narrowed it down to even fewer words, as we considered which ones might be significant enough to be the basis of a political party.  Some of the options selected were union, justice, tranquility, defense, welfare, and liberty.  We placed the words in a hat and each class drew a word.  AND THE POLITICAL PARTIES WERE BORN!!  We are the Welfare Party.

Throughout this week, we have been doing a word study on Welfare, beginning with student background knowledge, then leading into dictionary work (definition, synonyms, antonyms), and finally, an exercise in personification inspired by The Book of Qualities by  J. Ruth Gendler.  Students have created line drawings accompanied by free verse poetry personifying Welfare.  What would Welfare look like if she/he were a person?  What would she do in her spare time?  What would he wear?  How would she move?  What would he collect? etc...  They are BEAUTIFUL!!!

During our read aloud this afternoon (See How They Run, Goodman and Smith) we looked at some of the history of political parties and campaign funding (this may sound fairly dry, amazingly, this books makes political topics and history very accessible....even for me!!... with humor and fun illustrations.)  Wouldn't you know it, when students were asked what issues they thought were most important in the U.S.A. today, and which would they spend money on if they had the same amount of dough as political campaigns in the past 60 years, they developed the planks of our political party's platform.

The Planks of the Welfare Party are:  Social Services, Foreign Affairs, Environment, Economy, Education, and Healthcare.

This afternoon, your child nominated themself to be on one of these political plank committees.  (They chose top favorite and two back up choices.)  Tomorrow they will find out which committee they will be working on.  Ask them what their top choices were and why!  : )


We are well on our way to establishing great homework habits this year.  Keep up the great work!  Transitions can be tricky, yet empowering!  Please keep referring to the Homework Journal insert (glued inside the Homework Journal) for solutions, strategies, and specifics for homework.  Email me with any additional questions.  In case your child's became detached somehow, here is the link (have them ask me for another copy for their journal at school): homework_journal(1).docx

Reading Response (see Homework Journal insert): 

Grade 4 - Write at least 4 complete sentences for your Reading Response. 

Grade 5 - Write at least 5 complete sentences for your Reading Response. 



Please have your child bring a swimsuit or something to splash around in, as well as a dry change of clothes and a towel.  COMFORTABLE WALKING SHOES are important!  We will leave as close to 10am as we can, and hopefully be back by 11:30. 

I have 1 volunteer to go with us so far.  Can you come too?  Let me know.

Thank you, families!



Tuesday, 9/11/12

Hi families -

I am fresh from a meeting and just now able to get this info. up.  Sometimes it takes a while to register on the website.


- Reading Response - Students are doing their nightly reading (please see insert inside Homeweork Journal for specifics) and writing a reading response.  Possible prompts for tonight can be found on the half sheet that was glued into the journal yesterday afternoon.  Also, any ideas your child has for responding to their reading will work.  Last night, some students chose to write a list of questions they developed about the story they are reading, some wrote in the form of a book recommendation, and others chose to compare a book they are currently reading to one that they have read in the past  (one student drew up a Venn Diagram to document the similarities and differences they noticed in the 2 texts.)  It is always fine to do a re-telling of events in the story or non-fiction book they are reading - and many students did that as well.

Grade 4 - Have your Reading Response be at least 4 complete sentences.  (Please review the other expectations in your Homework Journal insert.)

Grade 5 - Have your Reading Response be at least 5 complete sentences.  (Please review the other expectations in your Homework Journal insert.)


- Interest Inventory Survey / Summer Lists -

Please complete the sentences on the Interest Inquiry Survey.  (This is a pre-write for a writing activity we will begin tomorrow.)  AND, please think up at least 5 entries for each list on the backside of that paper (Summer Lists.)

Finally, supply money requests and Chinook Books envelopes went home today (Chinook Book is one of our major 4x6 fundraisers.)  Please look for the information letter inside the envelope for answers to initial questions.

Thank you families,



Monday, September 10, 2012

Homework Journals went home tonight!  Please read over the insert on the inside cover with your child and have them sign the space at the bottom to show their understanding and their intention.  homework_journal.docx

A BIG INFORMATION PACKET was also sent home tonight with information about our upcoming trip to Camp Hancock, a breakdown of IMPORTANT DATES, a breakdown of costs for Camp Hancock, as well as a volunteer sign-up sheet to show your interest in chaperoning for the trip.   Please look through those as soon as you are able. 2012Initialcamphancockletter.doc , Hancock_costs_and_chaperone_slip.docx .

Tonight, your child is reading for 30 minutes and following the instructions on the half sheet that they glued inside their journal as a guide for their Reading Response homework.

Please turn in your Opening Day Packets and Registration Forms as soon as you are able. 



(You can scroll down to view past posts from this school year.)


September 6, 2012

Hi there!  We had a fun day today which included doing some word work with 'constitution', mixing up with different groups of kids and getting to know more people (Sticker Challenge!), thinking about and creating symbols that tell about ourselves, MATH (different things for grade 4 and grade 5...ask your child), discovering things we have in common with other kids in class (lunch time challenge with star group), read aloud, DEAR Time (Drop Everything and Read), homework sharing (we learned about each other and talked about an activity that last night's assignment is building toward), IMPROV GAME (Tiger, Peace, Karate...we also did some Qi Gong), and finally, we had a discussion about the term political party.  This is a pretty incredible group of individuals.  They are kind, caring, creative, and fun. 

Tonight's Homework:

 -  Campaign Journal #1 -  Political Parties

Tonight, your child will choose 2 of the 3 questions listed in boldface on the sheet.  Please discuss the 2 questions with them and ask them about their thinking.  Perhaps have them do some research online or in any book resources you may have.  Students need to write a response of at least 4 complete sentences (grade 4), or 5 complete sentences (grade 5) for each of the two questions that they choose.  If they would like to respond to all 3....go above and beyond, they absolutely can!

 -  Watch the following link (Schoolhouse Rock version of the Preamble of the Constitution of the United States of America.  This link repeats the Preamble over and over.  Please just watch at least 2 rounds.  It may help with memorizing it for Monday.) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nKJ6oZlw5no&safe=active

*  It's a great video but, please feel free to notice and discuss with  your child who seems to be represented most in the video clip, and who may not be represented enough....or at all.  If you were to re-create this video today, what could you do to help it better represent the make up of our country?....or to help more people be included?  Some kids brought in some valuable background knowledge or newly learned information about the history of The Constitution today that connects to some of the learning we will be doing in the next 2 months.  GREAT STUFF!

Please complete and bring in your Opening Day Packets as soon as you can!

Thanks so much.


September 5, 2012


We had a lovely, sunny, and FULL first day of school.  It was such a treat starting the process of getting to know your child this year (newly upstairs 4th graders AND 5th graders who just keep growing and changing!)

There are a few things to share tonight about homework and our opening day packet.  More information will be sent out tomorrow and Friday addressing important dates, supplies/supply money, lockers, general homework practices, 4x5 trips, etc..   Susan and I will attempt to get all necessary information out to you this week and in the coming weeks but, as always, please email me with any questions.  ccushman@pps.net


1 - Tonight, students are gathering information about their first 5 years as part of a "How did we get right here.....to this moment?" inquiry.  (Why are we here at school?)

Students can use their background knowledge of what they know about themselves from that segment of their lives AND/OR they can interview people who knew them during that time.   Some of the questions that came up in our brainstorm were:  "What were my first words?", "What was I like as a baby?", "When did I take my first steps?", "What made me stop crying?",  What was my favorite thing EVER?", and "Can you think of any silly / funny stories about me?"  4th and 5th graders can choose from these questions, or ask them all if they like. 

Bottom Line Expectation: 

4th Graders use at least 4 complete sentences to share 3 or 4 things about themselves (can be anything, they get to choose) from birth to 5 or 6 (or when they arrived at MLC.)

5th graders use at least 5 complete sentences to do the same thing.


Many learners planned to illustrate some of these moments.  Some are choosing to create a timeline, some are sharing in story form while others are sharing in list form.  As long as you use complete sentences, you can be as creative as you like with your format.

2 - Tonight, students are looking at the vocabulary of The Preamble of the Constitution of the United States of America.  We examined the word constitution today, and looked at David Catrow's We the Kids.  While we do have a goal of memorizing the Preamble by Monday, tonight, students are just familiarizing themselves with the vocabulary.

Gotta go to a meeting!


September 3, 2012  -  Welcome to SCHOOL!

This picture shows me cheering on planes as they prepare to land at the International Airport in Anchorage, Alaska this summer. 

I cannot wait to hear about your summer adventures!  More than that, I cannot wait for the learning adventures we will have in 4th and 5th grade this year at MLC!!  See you on Wednesday.


Teacher Info:

My name is Caryn Zambelli Cushman, and I have the distinct honor of teaching 4th and 5th grade at MLC.  For me, this means that I get to learn from and with amazing human beings all day long!

My favorite element of teaching and learning is the chance to seek out and celebrate all of the different individuals and cultures represented in our classroom as well as seeking out and celebrating different cultures in our world.  We are building relationships - with ourselves as learners, with each other, with the world in which we live.  It is a delightful and worthy work in progress!  Please contact me with any ideas you have for how you think we might expand multicultural learning in the classroom.

I love art, music, THE OUTDOORS, reading/writing, backpacking, butterflies, owls, soccer, knitting, fly fishing, LEARNING, playing games (cards and board games), practicing my Spanish, and spending time with my friends and family.