Dear Families,

I wish you all a restful three day weekend.  Ron, Anton, and I  will spend the weekend at our cabin above Fresno in the Sierra/Nevada Mountain range.  I am looking forward to a peaceful weekend in the mountains.  We will also be working on preparations for our hike to the top of Clouds Rest in a few weeks for “Hike For A Cure.”  As you saw in the e-mail from Cassie and Randy (Alana’s parents) a few days ago, Ron and I created H4AC in 2001 to raise funds and awareness for the disease our youngest son Anton was born with in 1998.  We have hiked to the top of Half Dome, last year Kaiser Peak, and this year Clouds Rest to raise funds for research.  In 2011 along with a few other families we founded the Histio Cure Foundation.  Feel free to visit our website if you are curious about the hike or foundation. 
I look forward to seeing you on Wednesday morning!  September 3rd is the first “Katie Day” on a Tuesday.  Katie and I each work every other Tuesday.

Colleen’s Update:
The learners had a wonderful second week of school together.   We continued to work on creating a classroom environment that will feel safe emotionally, socially, and academically.  We spent Monday and Tuesday discussing what our hopes and dreams are for the school year.  During our circle time meetings we made a list of our dreams and hopes and they were posted on our blog on Tuesday.  After recess on Tuesday the learners drew a picture and wrote about their personal dreams/hopes for the year. 
On Wednesday during our morning circle time meeting we wrote down what they felt they needed so they could learn, grow, and explore.
Here is the list of what they felt we needed:  
  • friends and strength
  • a reading, thinking, and muscle potion
  • for all of us to love each other
  • Colleen and Katie
  • to be able to play in the dress-up corner
  • love and care
  • calm classroom
  • to work hard
  • to have more time at our desk
  • to be able to play
  • friends all year
  • hugs, love, and to feel safe
  • seeds to plant in the garden
  • new markers for the writing center
  • to have fun and friends
  • lots of friends
  • our friends to not laugh and make fun of us
  • more time to play and friends
  • our parents
  • to be respectful
This is a very comprehensive list and these are their exact words.  I am so impressed at how insightful they already are in Kindergarten/First grade.  If I were to make a list for a successful classroom environment this is what I would have created.  Your children are wonderful and I am so excited to grow and learn with them this year.  When I was sitting on the rug with them on Thursday, I just felt so grateful that I have the opportunity to be their educator.  I know I will learn as much from them, as they will learn from Katie and I.
Through out the week we also spent time relearning and reminding one another about how we use learning tools, and that we need to raise our hand when we want to speak etc… We also had several conversations about the math culture in our classroom. I shared with them that everyone has a different amount of “think time” and it is important to me that everyone has the opportunity to be able to share what they are thinking during math time.  I taught them our special way to express (they move the thumb very gently in front of their chest) themselves if they have a strategy to share with us for a math problem.  We had several number talks this week and we started to explore and learn about different math strategies.   The first strategies they discovered were counting by 2’s and counting on from a certain number.  
On Wednesday morning Ron came for a special visit with our very calm and sweet dog named Hazel.  Ron read them the book “Bad Dog Marley”  but he changed the storyline to “Bad Dog Hazel” and as he read the book he changed the names in the story to our families names.  Then after recess we went to the garden and sketched pictures of their favorite parts of our garden on the covers of their garden journals.  We also met our gardening assistant Dylan Cohen (he is a current 4th grader at CLC and he was a learner in my class for 1/2 grade a few years ago) Dylan will be assisting/helping me with the learners in the garden each week.  
During the week we also sang songs, had PE, Spanish, and lots of time to play.  The children have free choice everyday, because I truly believe the most incredible learning actually takes place when they have time to explore and learn through play.
I will post photos of Ron’s visit, garden time, and Music time with Ruth.