Not Ducks, Not Beavers

. . . Platypuses!  Go Platypuses!

The Daily Platypus is the place to go for updates on what’s happening in Room 15. News about upcoming events, information about lesson subject matter, and photos from field trips and events can all be found here. You can also download the nightly homework sheet (see below), peruse the daily schedule, and see your child’s actual work on his or her own personal webpage.  The Daily Platypus Twitter page is just a click away as well. It’s a up-to-the-minute way of communicating with parents about what’s going on in class. Bookmark The Daily Platypus and stay connected with Room 15!

Homework-Wk of 9/13

Here’s the math homework for this week: Monday, September 13; Tuesday, September 14; Wednesday, September 15; Thursday, September 16.  Students are also to read each night from their new play scripts (Jack & The Beanstalk, Peter Rabbit, When Leonard Refused to Say the Pledge). Ideally, students will read through the entire script independently but practice their individual lines with coaching from an adult. Finally, students are to complete any unfinished work from class, namely the All About Me essay final draft.

Homework Policy

Each Monday-Thursday night, Room 15 students are expected to read for twenty t0 thirty minutes from an assigned or independent reading selection (play script, chapter book, or free choice) and complete a homework sheet, usually in math. Students hand-write their list of duties on the back of the math sheet. They’re also required to get a parent’s signature or initials on the sheet, which indicates the parent has seen the work and is aware of the student’s progress. These initials are required for s student to get credit fro their homework reading.

I attempt to adhere to the “ten minutes per year in school” rule of thumb, so homework is designed to take 50 minutes in all. The math sheet is supposed to review concepts covered the same day in class and should take no more twenty to thirty minutes to complete. Note that these math sheets are generally not returned. We often correct them together as a class, and I scan them looking for students who may need additional help, but they’re otherwise viewed as “practice.” They also serve as the student’s “ticket to recess.”

Additionally, certain classroom work might also be assigned as homework over and above the 50 minutes. If a student has been unable to complete an assignment in a reasonable amount of time during the school day, they’re expected to complete it at home.

I won’t assignment regular homework for weekends, but students who have fallen behind may have catch-up work. I also encourage families to utilize a weekend from time to time for trips to museums, forest hikes, and other stimulating activities.

All homework is to be maintained in the student’s binder. Our efforts to maintain reasonably organized binders represents a transition to middle school where “binder management” is of significant importance.

Students are encouraged to do extra credit work. I encourage them to create projects suited to their own interests, to bring completed projects to class, and and to share them. We have a bulletin board dedicated to such projects and I show students how to publish their work on their webpages (in JPEG or PDF formats, for example). I’ve found that kids who create projects on their own are often the most fulfilled academically. Their interests also tend to spread throughout the class.  For example, one year I had a student create a project loosely based on forensics and fingerprints. This was long before the days of CSI and the rest of the class was fascinated.  Soon, many of the students were imitating the first, creating similar projects of their own.

I am always willing to modify the homework to suit the individual needs of families and students–please contact me if you need assistance in this regard. And finally, though I believe homework is  of significant value, I also believe families need the freedom to set it aside when it creates household strife. If a particular assignment is proving difficult to the point of tears (or worse), feel free to set it aside and write me a note. I’ll try to provide the student with some extra coaching and the encouragement necessary to try again either in class or at home the next night.

If you have any questions about my homework policy, please feel free to call.

Thursday is Back-to-School Night

I am blessed with another great group of kids in Room 15!  Perhaps it says something about our community, or maybe the generosity of the teachers passing on their students, but families just keep sending me great kids.  Thanks!  I look forward to meeting parents this Thursday, September 17th, at Back-to-School Night. The event goes from 6 to 7 p.m.

Keep checking back on the website for information about our daily schedule, the classroom discipline plan, the major areas of study, homework downloads, and much more. Nearly everything we do in Room 15 appears here, so bookmark us today!

A Note About Calculators (& more)

If money is tight this year–at it is for many of us–you can bypass purchasing a TI-30X calculator. Although our math instruction is built around this specific model, students are welcome to use ones from our class set. They can also purchase them from the school at anytime during the year (generally for less than at the store). They will be expected to have this model calculator at Scenic next year (and through 8th grade).  For all your other supplies, used items are fine. If you have any questions about school supplies feel free to contact me or simply wait until Wednesday night (Sept 8th) to complete your purchases. We hope to have all our supplies labeled and in use by Thursday so that we can jump into our curriculum immediately.  Thanks!

Welcome to Room 15!

I’d like to extend a welcome to my new students and their families: Orfanel A., Joel A., Roger A., Jocelyn A., Martha B., Adrien B., Sal C., Madelyn D., Jasmine D., Nicole F., Makaila G., Jenna H., Kale H., Tanner K., Rodney K., Levi K., Ryan K., Mackenzie L., Levi L., Kylie M., Chase N., Alex P., Austin P., Samantha R., Anthony R., Bailee R., Mackenzie R., Konnor S., Savannah S.

If you have access to Facebook, please (with parental supervision) sign up to join The Daily Platypus Facebook Page.   Also see below for information about school supplies.

And to the dozens of wonderful CPE 5th graders I would have liked to have also had in class but don’t (mostly because their current teachers wouldn’t give them up), I look forward to pestering you in the halls!

School Supply Deals

Many of the best school supply deals seemed to have dried up, but Bi-Mart has much of what Room 15 kids will need at decent prices: 70 page spiral notebooks, 8/$1; 1.5″ Trapper Keeper binder, $5.99; Avery Glue Stic 2 packs, 3/$1; Fiskars scissors, $1.29-1.99; Chisel tip dry erase markers, 50 cents off; and Ticonderoga pencils, $1.49 per dozen.

Wherever you buy your supplies, avoid cheapo brands. Instead, stick with quality labels such as Ticonderoga. The quality of your child’s tools makes a tremendous difference in class.

You can also utilize used supplies. There’s nothing wrong with last year’s scissors, ruler, pencils, and many other items (assuming they weren’t the cheapo brands). Be sure, however, to get the official TI calculator (see below), as students will need it through 8th grade. We have many lessons designed around this specific calculator and it is the only calculator allowed on the state math test.

Be sure to read below for more tips about school supplies. If you need the official CPE school supply list: click here. If you’d like the Room 15 version identifying all the stuff you don’t need and preferences for the rest, click here.

Don’t Waste Your Cash on School Supplies

Wasn’t it just yesterday we let out for summer vacation? And yet the big box stores are already hocking school supplies. Here are some good deals and some helpful tips to help you save money on this year’s supplies:

Target (from 8/1/10):  Rose Art colored pencils, $.50; 12-pack Ticonderoga, $2.; recycled Fiskars scissors, $1; rulers, pink erasers, pencil sharpeners, 20 cents.

Office Depot (from 8/1/10): Copy paper, $1; protractors, 5 cents; Scissor two-packs, 99 cents; TI30SXII Calculators, $12.99; 4-pack Expo markers, $3.00; DON’T BUY Office Depot brand rulers (they don’t show metrics), glue sticks (they don’t work at all), or pencils (merely food for the pencil sharpeners).

Staples (from 8/1/10): Avery 5-tab dividers, 59 cents; Avery 3-pack glue sticks, $1

Fred Meyer (from 8/1/10): 2-pack pink erasers, 49 cents; Avery 3-pack glue stick, $1.39; Earth’s Choice 1.5″ binder, $2.49; Jansport backpack, $14.99.  DON’T BUY Office Works pencils, not even for 33 cents a pack.

Fred Meyer (from 7/25/10):
* 24 pack Crayola crayons—25 cents
* Protractors, rulers, Pink Pearl-type erasers, cheapo scissors—33 cents
* Avery 6-pack glue sticks—buy one get one free (Avery is one of the better glue-stick brands, and kids go through glue sticks like crazy)

Staples (coupons in 7/25/10 MMT):
*500-sheet ream of copy paper—1 cent!
*Ticonderoga pencils, 12 pack–$1 (this really is the world’s best pencil, well worth the money)
* TI-30SXIIS calculator–$13.99 (this calculator is required through 8th grade; buy it once and use it for four years!)

Office Depot (from 7/25/10):
* 6-pack notebooks (70 pages)—50 cents
* Acrylic rulers—5 cents (make sure it shows inches and centimeters)
* 500 sheet ream HP office paper—95 cents
* Fiskars scissors—$3.00
* Ticonderoga pencils–buy one get one
* Expo dry erase markers–buy one get one

Target (from 7/25/10):
* TI-30XIIS Calculator–$9.00 (the official D6 calc, and in various colors too!)
* Binder bundle (1.5” binder,  dividers, pocket, ruler)–$2.50 (this is all the binder my students need)
* Elmer’s 6-pack glue sticks–$1.00 (Elmer’s is okay, but avoid all generic store brands)

This year we’ve tried hard to minimize the school supply requirements, but know that your child’s school supplies are his tools for success. Going without leads to failure, and going cheap just means you’ll have to replace later. If financial difficulties prevent you from buying supplies, some assistance is available.

No need to buy wet wipes, hand sanitizer, or paper towels—we have plenty stocked up; no need to buy three dozen pencils. Buy just 2 dozen; better yet, if you’re buying Ticonderoga, buy just 1 dozen!

Student binders need not be fancy, just functional.  If they come with a pocket, it’s helpful, but if not, add a pocket folder. You also need to buy dividers. Middle school is all about binder management, so binder organization in 5th grade is a step in that direction.

If you need the official CPE school supply list: click here. If you’d like the Room 15 version identifying all the stuff you don’t need and preferences for the rest, click here.

Already Missing My Kids!

Despite the 4-day school week, the over-emphasis on standardized testing, and the crowded conditions, it has been an absolutely fantastic year in Room 15! Thank you so much for sending me such wonderful kids. I will remember this group as being one of the best classes I’ve ever had. Add to it the pleasure of working with Mrs. Odell (our student-teacher), Tanishia (our HS Spanish intern), and all the other great people at CPE, and I have to concede that I am already missing my classroom.

Congratulations to Presidential Scholars Melissa, Emma, Maddie, Katryna, Leo, Julie, and Bailey. They were selected for their commitment to excellence in the classroom, high test scores, and good attendance, as well as for their behavior and attitude.

Thank you to Kendra, Julie, Alejandra, Natalie, Matt, Melissa, Emma, Aubry, Ryan, and Cindy for your cards and gifts. Your sentiments are most kind. Thank you Cielo for being so gracious.

Finally, I hope everyone had the chance to see CPE’s Year-in-Review and 5th Grade Baby Picture Program. If you’d like to borrow a copy to see it again (or for the first time), e-mail me at and we’ll see what we can do.

Have a great summer and stay in touch!

Baby Picture Program

Family members are invited to attend many of our year-end events including the Year-in-Review and 5th Grade Baby Picture Program at 8:15 a.m. on Wednesday, June 16th. You’ll want to bring some Kleenex. All baby pictures were returned on June 1st.

Here are all the big events for the remainder of the school year:

Tue., June 1, Science Fair Projects due in classroom
Wed., June 2nd, 1 pm, DARE Graduation (Music Room)
Thursday & Friday, June 3 & 4, Science Fair (Gym)
Fri., June 4, DARE Day (Family Fun Center)
Thu., June 10, Lava Beds Expedition–contact us if you’d like to chaperone
Fri., June 11, Classroom Play Performances, Times TBA
Fri., June 11, 5th Grade PTO Party (after school in courtyard)
Tues., June 15, Roller Odyssey trip
Wed., June 16, 5th Grade Baby Picture Program and year-end awards assembly (Gym)
Wed., June 16th, Roadrunner Day (5th grade vs. staff softball game!)
Thu., June 17th, Last Day (Two-hour early release); Next year’s class placements are tentatively scheduled to be posted; Report cards go home.