Homework: I assign homework every M-Th consisting of a short math review of what we did in class that day and twenty minutes or more of independent reading. It’s not a lot, but getting it done every night builds positive habits that will help the kids succeed in middle school and high school. Also, I encourage you to limit video gaming and social media. It’s SUPER obvious in class that kids with limits tend to be good students whereas kids without limits usually struggle. It’s also really evident that kids without a consistent bedtime struggle in class, and it’s usually a digital environment that’s keeping them from hitting the sack.
The Daily Platypus: Nearly everything you need to know about our classroom appears right here on The Daily Platypus, our classroom webpage. You can watch math tutorials, print forms, view special events, and much more. To get to the webpage, go to District6.org and follow the links to schools, CPE, and classrooms, or simply go to dailyplatypus.org. We use the webpage a ton, so check it out tonight and bookmark it! (Note: As the District transitions to a new platform, there may be occasional issues navigating to The Platy.)
Sending home completed work: As a parent, I quickly grew tired of receiving piles of old work from school. Consequently, I send home only items of significance. Daily practice work will not be sent home. We do, however, verify completion and correctness on such practice activities. Ultimately, our goal is to work toward purposeful products that you and your child will be proud of. These we’ll share at Spring Portfolio Exhibition (different than the school Exhibition) and various performances and events throughout the year.
Conferences: Fall is goal setting. These conferences are scheduled for mid-October. Sign-ups will be posted under the “Conferences” tab soon. Spring is Exhibition, which is usually scheduled for late April. More information on that as the year progresses.
Content: Emphasis on the “Three R’s” along with History, Science, and Art. The three most significant areas are multiplication facts, the sentence, and reading fluency. I teach an extensive “survey of history.” History can be controversial, and though we may at times touch on political subject matter, know that I work hard to be “politically neutral” in my instruction. The kids keep notes and printed matter in a spiral notebook; you’re welcome to inspect your child’s journal at any time. Any time you have a question or concern about what we’re studying, please feel free to contact me, or even better, come watch!
School Supplies: Imagine going to work as a plumber without any tools! When students show up to school without school supplies or with poor quality materials, they’re unable to work successfully. Please periodically check with your child to make sure his or her tools are in good working order. If you’re having financial difficulties, please let me know. We can help.
PE & Fitness: The CPE staff works hard to stave off ever-growing childhood obesity rates by having students participate in daily fitness (two laps around the school block) and regular PE. It’s important students come to school appropriately dressed for physical activity every day. They’re welcome to change into tennis shoes prior to fitness and PE. Our daily fitness run is just 12 minutes…two laps around the block. We don’t run when it’s below freezing, raining, or when the air quality index exceeds 100. Rest assured, we do take into consideration physical ailments such as asthma or illness, but students will not be excused without a note or call from home.
Community Service: We have a couple of community service projects we do: The Nepal Project (in which we support an impoverished student to attend school), the Adopt-a-Street Program, and the Jo County Tree Plant. More on those to come.
Report Cards: D6 has moved to a new A-F report card for 4th and 5th graders. It’s easier to understand and it holds students to the same standards they’ll have to deal with in middle school. Still, we focus on “learning from mistakes,” and we strive to create a classroom culture where kids are comfortable taking academic risks. Students who put forth their best effort, maintain a positive attitude, and complete work will do fine. We’ll explain in greater detail during goal-setting conferences in October.
Snacks: We’re constantly in need of reasonably-healthful snacks to share with the class. If you’re willing to donate snack items, simply send them in. Please avoid those with high-fructose corn syrup and those heavy in sugar. The best snacks tend to be bags or boxes of Goldfish, pretzels, Cheez-its, or graham crackers. No need to provide individually-packaged snacks. Thanks in advance. Students are also welcome to bring their own personal snack to be eaten at morning recess.
Attendance: Oregon has one of the highest absentee rates in the nation, yet attendance is another area for which our school receives a “grade.” Given the “high stakes” of these standards, our policy is to insist on regular student attendance unless the child is truly ill. Parents are also asked to call the school on days when your child will not be attending. Note that the state standard for an acceptable attendance level is 92%. That means a student can only miss 5 days per trimester! Tardiness has also become a chronic problem at CPE in recent years. We jump right into essential learning activities each morning, so being on time is critical.
Journaling: My students sometimes do some journaling but the topics are usually pretty innocuous: “If I Were President I would…”, or “Create a list of ten things that taste good.” The kids know the journals are private except for parents, so you’re always welcome to look at their work.
Field Trips: I seriously doubt there’s another school in southern Oregon that gets outside as much as CPE 5th graders. We are planning all our usual 5th grade trips (and then some): the Outdoor Ed Coast Trip, the Jo County Tree Plant, Crater Lake, Lava Beds (more time for caving), the Rogue River Preserve (x2), The Mini Marathon, Roxy Ann Peak, Table Rock, Valley of the Rogue bicycle trip, Elk Creek bicycle trip, and the Jacksonville Cemetery. These are all fun trips, but know that they’re all built around specific in-class content, from simple stuff like health and fitness or Oregon history, to complex subjects such as geology, biology, and forestry. We’ll posts the dates as soon as I know them. Remember, you must have an up-to-date Volunteer app on file with the office to be a chaperone. Let me know if you need help navigating that. We prefer taking “known” parents on the Outdoor Ed coast trip, so be encouraged to attend some other trip or to help out in class earlier in the year.
Early departures & the intercom: when students leave school early they miss important classroom activities. Also, their departure often necessitates an intercom call from the office, which disrupts the entire class. Instead, we encourage families to wait until after school to schedule appointments so that kids don’t miss class time. If an early departure is unavoidable, we ask that you send a note indicating a specific time student is to meet you in the office so we can minimize interruptions.
Ways to Help: You can help by providing class snacks, join my e-mail list, and avoiding early departures & intercom interruptions. Providing your student with a durable water bottle and healthy snacks is also helpful. Volunteering as a class helper or chaperone is also awesome (remember, you won’t have opportunities to do so in middle school). Finally, model a positive attitude about school. If you have complaints, bring them directly to me rather than expressing them in front of your child. Thanks in advance for all your help!
Contacting me: We’ll use the District’s ParentSquare platform to communicate with parents, but you may also contact me via email, via our webpage (DailyPlatypus.org), and via the assignment calendar students carry in their binder. Please get in the habit of regularly checking all three, especially the assignment calendar. The school’s phone number is 541-494-6500. I’m generally there between 7 and 4ish. I check my e-mail at first recess (10:15 am) and again after school, so feel free to contact me at email@example.com. I will always do my best to reply as quickly as possible, though classroom demands sometimes prevent a quick response. If you haven’t heard back from me after 24 hours, feel free to pester me again. Thanks!