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 El Captain in a few weeks for “Hike For A Cure.” As you saw in the e-mail from Cassie and Randy (Jace – kinder in our class and 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, Kaiser Peak, Clouds Rest, and this year to El Captain 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. http://www.histiocure.com and http://www.hikeforacure.com

I look forward to seeing you on Tuesday morning!
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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 hopes and dreams and they are listed below. On Tuesday the learners drew a picture and wrote about their personal dreams/hopes for the year.

Here is the list of our hopes and dreams for the school year:
I HOPE…

everyone is nice to each other
everyone makes a new friend
we have lots of art
we have lots of time in the dress-up corner
everyone can be nice even when someone is being unkind
we have lots of field trips
I wish we could have school everyday
that our classroom feels like a “home” for everyone
we can go to the beach for a field trip
we can have more sunflowers in the garden
we get to play lots of double dice math games
for a good year and we meet lots of new friends
to have more roll-n-write
we stay safe all year
that no one gets hurt
for a calm classroom
for a good school 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 to learn, grow, and explore:

friends and strength
eat lots of vegetables
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
exercise
to have more time at our desk
to be able to play
friends all year
hugs, love, and to feel safe
be strong, and healthy
a calm classroom to do math and reading
people to get along and no fighting
raise our hands before we talk
a calm classroom
the classroom to be silent sometimes

These are two very comprehensive lists and the words above are their exact words. I am 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.

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.

During the week we also sang songs, read books, made classroom graphs, had PE, Spanish, garden time, 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.

Colleen