Lots of stuff happening

Students should have lots to say about school!!! Lots. A few weeks back Mrs. D (former paraeducator) dropped by to read William’s Doll, The Book With No Words, and the Story of Ferdinand. She said she’d never seen two nicer classes.

Next week we finish up the Bridges portion of geometry, and end with our non-bridges culminating project: developing the floor plan of a house. I call these the “Mouse House,” and you can see some models in the other second grade section. After seeing this project grow over five years (it actually started in the domain of measurement but later became a part of teaching surface area) Ms. Welle had the bright idea of how to add walls simply. I hope we can start and finish these in the week leading up to Spring Break.

March 11 is Passport Club check in. Extra maps in the library. I have one, maybe two left. First come first serve on the extras.

Mt. Tabor announced! Details coming. Right now we are just collecting permission slips. This will be our fourth year WALKING to the park. No one thought it could be done, but it can. Have you seen the kids at recess?! This is our end of year celebration in the park. Mt. Tabor is also a major bird habitat, and we happen to study habitats in May. Start thinking about joining us June 9th. We can take as many volunteers as possible. We aim for around 10 per class. Signup will be outside the door in a few weeks and we can take extra volunteers, but we also need commitment.

Enjoy the sun. Wait, I see clouds.









English Homework info and philosophy

Hello parents,

I’ve had a lot of questions about homework lately. Hopefully I can clear up some things.

My first rule of teaching is: Parents are the student’s number 1 educator and I facilitate to serve student and parent needs. We were raised on the idea that more homework leads to higher achievement, but research shows that it’s just not true. So here’s the deal with homework:

English homework is sent home every Thursday. Students even have time to place it directly into their backpack. Homework is due the following Wednesday. Occasionally homework is place in mailboxes if “the day gets away.” This is rare. I try to do it early in the day.

English homework has been sent home consistently since October, excluding holidays.

Students were also given a laminated reading log to monitor their own progress in December. Students are asked to read for 20 minutes a day.

Please remind your child to write his or her name on his work. Credit is only given to homework that is turned in on time with a name.

Research indicates that homework has little influence on student achievement. With our 45 minutes of planning/contract time (2:30 to 3:15) I prioritize class assignments over creating and checking homework. It’s there, it can be cool, lots of students like it, but it is ver low on my priorities because, well, class time is when I’m teaching and that’s where I need to my mind and energy.

I believe homework is valuable, and it is part of the school’s mission statement, but enrichment (music, sports, art), reading, parent-child verbal interaction, and cooperative play are more important. Look to Scandinavia as evidence. Parents who talk and engage with their children seem to do the best in school, and it seems very obvious that Richmond students have lots of fun with their parents. (Remember some students really DO need additional tutoring or practice reading, and it is important that those children have that additional time since we do not have it in class nor have a reading class for students.)

After five years in second grade, this is why I’m not a stickler for homework at this age level. We have tried HEAVY loads of homework and we had the same results in achievement.

Upper grades will demand a lot with homework. You should prepare yourself for much more work in the upper grade levels. Right now, just practicing getting something in on a deadline is probably the most valuable piece of English homework. More practice never hurts, either.

English homework is supplemental to the rich life you lead, but life itself and authentic learning experiences (an instrument, building a table or computer, drama class) are more valuable. There is nothing I can provide that you (teacher and parent) that you cannot do better. Let me add that I learned more about being an educator from being a student in ballet class than I ever learned in graduate school. Last year I began talking film classes and again, that enrichment has helped me teach writing. I think playing in bands for 20 years has helped me understand how to work closely with three other teachers. None of these things had anything to do with the homework I was assigned in school, that I did out of compliance rather than scholarship.

Try to do assigned homework. Don’t stress about it. Make sure you know what your child is reading and talking about what they are reading. That’s what will really help them.

ALWAYS do your Japanese homework!

We are moving quick in class in a good way!


Assigned 1-29-15 (but not passed out to Blue class)


Memorize a poem of any length, come back to class next week and recite it. You’ll need to find your own poem. You must recite someone else’s poem, not one you have written. Good luck!

Looking for A/V parent volunteer to LEAD long-term project

Hello families,

Last year I planted the seed for my A/V program by buying a small mirror-less mirco 4/3 camera that students could use to shoot photos or video. This year I’d like to continue this program, but it really would benefit from another teacher(parent) to lead.

Volunteer requirements:

Knowledge of cameras/photography
Knowledge of composition/with personal aesthetics
Knowledge of recording sound/using microphones
Able to lead small groups and teach students how to use camera responsibly and possibly sound equipment and lead them through practice exercises, develop long term project for class to develop in the spring

Access to more equipment is a bonus.

Last year students filmed the last three weeks of school. I edited it, and we watched it on the last day of school. It was very powerful. I’d like to grow this idea and I’m looking for a collaborator.


Thank You!

You guys are so generous!

Cards, sweets, goodies were so fun to open over break. My favorite notes said,”Mr. D you are sometimes funny.” This made me laugh out loud. So generous. Thank you.

From January to June is MAJOR school!!!

Book fair donations

Thank you to our many families that bought a book for the class. Student have been enjoying them all week. :)

Reading test on mac books, Reading Poems, Writing class poem, Subjects and Predicates

I think both classes are a little relaxed by the introduction of a workbook: it’s not abstract, it doesn’t require high level thinking, and is mostly independent. There’s probably a sense of, “I get this, I can do this, and I can finish this quickly.” It has its place. And that’s good, but I’m constantly pushing students outside of their comfort learning zone.











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