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Email Update 10/20/15

Hello families! Many things cooking here in Room 173. As we continue to build our community & get to know one another, our projects & related learning continue to take shape as we keep throwing ideas at the wall to see what sticks. Here's where we are right now:

Singapore Math: We're up & running with the program, about to have our first unit assessment. The first few weeks of (re)introduction to the curriculum have given us a pretty good sense of where the students are in their mathematical understanding, as well as a clearer plan for how quickly we can push through the 5th grade curriculum and get a jump start on the 6th grade materials. We're going to be fine-tuning our pace and assignment loads over the next couple of weeks; expect to see weekly assignments, often broken into daily chunks but with the option to move forward independently. Please check the class website for daily assignments if you have any questions, and please know that it is of utmost importance to your child's success that they complete their assignments as given & on time.

Applied Math: This is what we call all of the other math-related learning that's taking place outside of the scope & sequence of the Singapore program. For a couple of weeks, we were looking at how we collect, aggregate, and organize data in ways that allow us to glean & communicate meaning; this translated into a series of bar graphs representing the frequency of letters as they appear in the names of students in our class. This week we're continuing to discuss principles of scale & proportion as they are applied through human figure drawing. This skill set will serve us well in several contexts, including our character development for NaNoWriMo (more on that momentarily) and our documentation of our "Propose-a-Pose" project (also more momentarily).

Language Arts: Following the successful completion of our "I Am/iamb" poems and illuminated letters, we're swinging back to our study of Edgar Allan Poe's "The Raven." So far we've learned all about cadence, meter, and scansion, not to mention greatly expanding our vocabulary (as well as our vocabulary study skills). We're going to be continuing this process, now with a very clear & rapidly approaching goal in mind. For the upcoming holiday season, we will be studying the cultural practices & traditions surrounding Dia de los Muertos and Samhain, culminating in a very special class event. We'll be collaborating with Ms. Nelson, our Performance Arts teacher, to make detailed papier mache skull masks (to be decorated in the style & spirit of the chemical elements chosen for study by each student); these will be worn for a dramatic reading of "The Raven" set to take pace during our Monday Assembly on November 2nd. Additionally, we'll be taking video of the individual students reading the poem, then slicing/dicing/splicing it into a cohesive reading that we can upload & share with the world. We're hoping to have the time to train interested students on the video editing software available to us, ideally opening up this avenue of communication & presentation for future class use.

SPECIAL EVENT!! Somehow, the class managed to talk me into having an overnight event at the school (I know, it took a lot of arm twisting). So, here's what we're thinking: next Friday (October 30th) we simply stay at school once the regular academic day is done. We'll be working on our masks & presentations, recording our readings of "The Raven," engaging in some subdued celebrations in the spirit of Dia de los Muertos and Samhain, further exploring the works of Poe and other classic horror writers, officially kicking off our participation in NaNoWriMo, and maybe even getting some sleep eventually. We'll get up Saturday morning, make some breakfast, and then send everyone home mid-morning. Please look out for some permission forms in the next day or two, as we'll need them back ASAP. We'll also need parent volunteers, as many as we can get. If you're available (and crazy enough) to spend the night with us, terrific; if you can't spend the night, a few hours in the afternoon/evening/morning would also be a huge help. You can respond to this email with your availability and/or fill out the form that will accompany the permission forms.

And while we're on the topic, let's talk about...ANOTHER SPECIAL EVENT!! We've been presented with the amazing opportunity to attend a free rehearsal performance of Origins: Life and the Universe (http://www.astrobioconcert.com/) at Benaroya Hall on Thursday, November 5th. But there's a bit of a catch. The performance runs from 1:30pm-3:30pm, which puts our return past the end of the school day (not to mention being well outside the time range in which we can get SPS buses for field trips). So, we have an unconventional solution (shock!) that will hopefully work for all families. We will board the Metro bus (Rt 120) around 12:45 to head downtown for the performance. Afterward, we'll get back on the bus and return to STEM around 4:30. At this point, I will continue to provide supervision until you're able to come pick up your child (hopefully by 6:00, though we can make arrangements if necessary). Permission forms coming home soon. We'll certainly need a few volunteers for this as well, whether you can ride the bus with us from school or meet us downtown. Also, if anyone has connections high up in Metro, please let me know; I'd like to see the Metro become a more common and accessible option for school field trips, and we need some partners over there to make that happen.

NaNoWriMo: National Novel Writing Month is November and will soon be upon us. I wasn't originally planning on NNWM for this class, but where they're taking their Elemental character development makes it a logical way to go. As we spend some time over the next week and a half fleshing out our plans, we'll let you know what the month is going to look like. First and foremost I'd like us to take weekly trips to parks, libraries, and other locales conducive to creative writing; there will be (yet another!) field trip permission form coming home soon that will cover this month's worth of field learning opportunities.

On the subject of paperwork, many of you know my feelings when it comes to round after round of forms to send home, fill out, and return. Try asking your child "what does Mr. Gluck hate more than anything else in the world?" (the answer should be "paperwork," or depending on the amount of extended learning I've given that day, possibly "children"). I'm working to redesign some forms to streamline the process as much as possible. For example, the aforementioned weekly Metro trips in November will all be covered on the same form. Field trip forms typically require all medical & contact info as well; I'll be collecting that once, and then sending home a "short form" version of the permission slip from that point forward. If your contact or medical information ever changes, please be sure to let me know ASAP.

Tangentially wandering over to walking field trips, we had our first excursion to the Delridge Branch of Seattle Public Library last week. The good news is that we're nearly at 100% library card ownership! The bad news is that some of those cards have standing fines on the accounts that are preventing some of the kids from checking out books. I highly recommend logging in to the SPL website (www.spl.org) and managing the account from there. If there is a financial issue preventing you from clearing the fines, please let me know and we can likely work something out with the friendly neighborhood librarians. In general, we'll be going to the library every other Tuesday, and we'll post the dates on the class calendar (on the class website).

Mindfulness: Ask your kids about our breathing exercises, our Stone-Tree-Bear sequence, and our new "Propose-a-Pose" program; I'm interested to know what pieces of our practice they're bringing home & sharing. You might hopefully see them this week trying to balance on one leg while facing the sole of their raised foot and the palms of their hands in opposite directions. Or better yet, join us some morning (Monday-Thursday, 930ish) and see what it's all about. Be prepared to fall over. A lot. And laugh while you're doing it.

Outdoor Education: What began as extended lunch recess has morphed into much more. The original idea was to give the kids an adequate amount of time (a full 30 minutes) after lunch to transform some of their potential energy to kinetic, followed by an uninterrupted afternoon work period (skipping the mid-afternoon 15 minute recess). Due to some challenges of this year's school-wide schedule, we've been heading up to the field for organized games. Through games like Zombie Tag and Predator & Prey, we're learning collaborative strategy development, problem solving, conflict resolution, alternative communication, and a whole host of other skill sets that directly transfer to our studies in the classroom. It is really amazing to see how quickly this community has found its balance, and that's reflected clearly in both the quantity & quality of learning that we've been able to accomplish in just the first month of school.

The aforementioned challenge of the school schedule has also presented up with an interesting opportunity. The primary (K-2) students come on the playground immediately after the 3rd-5th graders, and we've noticed that the younger students could benefit from the presence & guidance of some of their older peers. We're working towards developing a Recess Buddies program, where our 5th graders will give up one of their 15 minute recess blocks once a week to serve the school in this mentorship role. More on this as it develops.

All this, and I've barely scratched the surface of our STEM project work! Well, to avoid adding another 5 pages to this update, I'll attempt to be brief (and probably fail spectacularly). We're studying the elements! And the Periodic Table! The students have each selected an element to study, and much of our work will center around this specialization. Over the course of the next few months we'll be honing our research skills as well as learning what it means to develop a scientific & historical contextual narrative, telling stories instead of just listing facts. This will culminate in a series of podcasts, videos, multimedia presentations, and who knows what else. I'm particularly looking forward to the stories that they'll be writing for NaNoWriMo around their pseudonymous characters (what will happen when Palladium Pug faces off against the Oxygen Octopus??!!) and the costume design & fabrication that we appear to be heading toward. Really, I'm just trying to stay out of the way so that the students have the space to take their ideas and run with them. There's obviously so much more to this than I have the energy to describe (and that you have the patience to read); head on over to mrglucksclass.net for daily updates in greater detail.

I'm sure I'm forgetting a dozen things that I wanted to communicate, but those will just have to wait until next time (i.e., when I remember them 5 minutes after sending this email). Until then, as always, please feel free to come to me with any questions, comments, concerns, etc., and keep an eye out for permission forms coming home this week!

Thank you for all of your ongoing support.

 

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Welcome to 5th Grade!!

Hello families of Room 173!!

I would like to take this opportunity to welcome you to our learning community, and to tell you just how excited I am to be able to work with your family this year. As we build upon the successes and challenges of our first three years here at STEM, there are bound to be a few questions, and this letter is intended to answer as many of those questions as I can. In addition, the PTA has provided a range of important forms on their website, and if you have not already done so, we would greatly appreciate it if you could complete these as soon as possible. If you are unable to complete the forms online, please let me know and I would be happy to provide hard copies for you.

In the classroom welcome packet (sent home Friday 9/18) you will find several informational forms to fill out and return as soon as possible. I apologize for the redundancy in gathering some of this information, but it is very important that I have accurate records, and our wonderful front office staff have better things to do than be badgered by me when I need to get in touch with you! The Walking Field Trip Permission Form is of utmost importance, as we would like to start getting out of the building as early as next week. 

Curriculum
We will be working closely with the other 5th grade class, led by Ms. Martin, in order to ensure that your child receives the best possible instruction tailored to meet his/her individual needs and interests. Specifics regarding our Project Based Learning approach and curricular resources employed will be shared over the next few weeks, as well as at our Curriculum Night/Open House in early October. Stay tuned!

Home Folders & Planners
Your child will have a Home Folder that s/he will take home every day and return to school every day. The folders will be distributed next week, unless students choose to use their own. This will carry important notes from school, weekly & daily Extended Learning assignments, and books. Please help your child remember to bring his/her folder to school every day. Additionally, we will be using the same planners that the 4th grade classes used last year; we are waiting for them to arrive, and when we receive them, students will be expected to fill them out & carry them with them every day.

Extended Learning Policy
Extended Learning Assignments [XLA] are an integral part of your child’s learning experience, and my expectation is that students will complete all work within the given time period. Assignments will frequently be assigned on a daily basis, on most days consisting of a mix of math practice, language work, and project research. In addition, students are expected to spend at least 30 minutes every evening engaged in independent reading. We will provide more specifics & clarity on Extended Learning as we decide, as a community, how this system will work best for us.

Classroom Supplies
In Room 173, nearly all learning materials are shared within the classroom community. If your child has a special pencil box that s/he would like to use, that is fine, but all crayons/ markers/pencils/etc. will be added to the general classroom supply. Students will receive mechanical pencils & lead from me, though they may use their own if they prefer. In terms of other useful classroom supplies, we always need more tissues and sanitizing wipes (NOT baby wipes, please!!). Simply put, if you want to donate something to our classroom, we’ll find a way to use it! Anything that you can contribute is appreciated.

We have also asked for each family to provide $35 that will go into a general classroom supply fund. If you have already sent this in, thank you very much! 

Snacks
Snacks are a very important part of life, and our classroom is no exception. Donations are always appreciated, especially when said snacks are of the healthful variety. We have a general “no frosting” rule in our classroom; if you wish to celebrate your child’s birthday with us, a small, special treat may be arranged with me directly. Fruits and vegetables are always the ideal, and we have a refrigerator in the classroom to accommodate. I am interested in getting our class a subscription to one of the many fresh produce co-op services available, and will be asking for sponsorships for this and other classroom needs in the near future.

In the next week or two, you will receive an invitation to join our class calendar on Google, and here we will have a system for signing up to bring snacks for a particular week.

Communication
By far, the best way to reach me is via email (drgluck@seattleschools.org). I will endeavor to return all messages within 24 hours, whether by email or by phone (206.252.8483). In addition, if you are on Twitter, please follow us @MrGlucksClass for news, home extension activities, and whatnot. 

Our class website at MrGlucksClass.net is a one-stop-shop for all information regarding what we’re learning, extended learning assignments, lesson resources, classroom calendar, and many other pieces of information. We might end up using one or more other online platforms for various aspects of communication and file sharing, and we will update you on details as soon as we figure them out.

On this note, we will not be sending out specific media releases this year, as SPS has asked us not to; instead, families have the opportunity to opt out via the FERPA form (available on the PTA website or in the front office). I have included in this packet a copy of our social media policy, which describes what type of content might be published and how we will be using various publishing & communications platforms. As the FERPA form covers a very broad range of information, if you choose to opt out I would like to speak directly to discuss what specific permissions you might allow for the purposes of our classroom communications and projects.

Please check your child’s Home Folder every Monday and Friday for important notices and forms, especially during the first few weeks of the year. Additional information regarding field trips, special events, and volunteer opportunities will be coming soon.

Questions? Comments? Concerns? Please feel free to get in touch. If you would like to speak with me in person, I am happy to schedule a meeting with you and can typically do so on short notice if necessary. If you choose to come to my classroom unannounced, I will do my best to accommodate you but cannot guarantee that I will be free to talk.

Finally, on the issue of attendance and scheduling, I understand that family life is busy and often chaotic, with unexpected events and changes cropping up now and then. For the sake of your child’s experience in our community, it is very important that I know as soon as possible if your child is going to be missing any portion of the school day. This includes needing to be picked up early; we will be taking many walking trips around the community, and unless I receive prior notice (by noon at the very latest) I cannot guarantee that your child will be on the school grounds. 

Again, thank you so very much for joining us on this adventure. It’s going to be an awesome year!

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February Update featuring The Machine!

We would like to present to you: THE MACHINE!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gNopVnc70fg

What began as something of a new year warm up, a big fun engineering project to get us back in the groove of the school day, quickly transformed into an all-consuming beast of a problem-based learning  experience. The parameters were simple (and, per usual, intentionally vague): using the materials available, construct a path for a tennis ball to follow. Together, we planned the assessment tools by which we would measure success. We assigned point values to all materials (with a quick lesson in drawing 3D shapes) and developed the scoring criteria: completed projects would be measured in length, height, time taken for the ball to travel, and of course STP (Smooth, Tight, and Pretty, as all well-fabricated structures should be). The planning stage included a variety of loops, jumps, and the occasional ring of fire, all of which quickly fell to the wayside as the students realized that creating a direct path would be difficult enough as it was. Then, after about a day and a half of construction, one team asked another if they could combine their projects in a Voltron-esque attempt to take the top prize. Well, this conversation quickly spread around the class, and soon enough we found ourselves facing an entirely different challenge. With each of the four groups focusing on one side of the square, the students committed to building a singular structure that would allow the tennis ball to travel in a full circuit around the classroom. To be honest, I did not see that coming; for as much as I enjoy giving my students a fantastically challenging task and watching them squirm, I hadn’t realized that they were ready & able to collaborate at such a high level. These kids surprise me every day, and it’s one of the best parts of my job (along with recess & snacks). Summary: Watch the video, and pass it along. We’re doing amazing things here and we like to show off.

Onward & upward! Next order of business: You (hopefully) received a permission form this past Thursday describing a quickly-approaching field learning opportunity. Another class had been scheduled to attend this Friday’s performance of Don Quixote at the PNB, but had to offer up the tickets due to a scheduling conflict. Ms. Graves & I wasted no time jumping on the opportunity, which presents a number of challenges. The first is getting enough parent chaperones to sign up in time. We already have 3 on the hook, and we’re looking for 3 more. The second is transportation, as getting a school bus for an excursion is an expensive gamble even with the required two weeks’ notice. The solution? We’re taking the Metro. We can get on the 120 right outside the school, and it will drop us off at Seattle Center. This option is also considerably cheaper (with 2 classes going, it’s about 2/3 the cost of a school bus for the day). The best part is that, if our class can demonstrate the personal & communal responsibility necessary to take Metro into the city, the number of field learning opportunities available to us grows considerably. The students have been reminded of our expectations, and we had a very clear conversation on Thursday about the impact of classroom behavior on each student’s ability to participate in Friday’s trip. Additionally, we will be having a conversation today about dress for the occasion, so stay tuned for that (I’m hoping for a fancy dress day!). Because of the short notice, we don’t have time to put in for sack lunches from the cafeteria, so please send your child with a lunch & a snack on Friday. I always bring food just in case. Also, if you either need a scholarship or can provide one for another student, please provide this information with the permission form. Summary: Let me know ASAP if you want to chaperone for the ballet this Friday. Also, get that permission slip in by Tuesday!! That’s tomorrow!!

And finally, it has been said (accurately, mostly) that I am not the most adept at ongoing parent communications, even at the best of times. Call it a combination of nature & nurture. The same personal challenges that help me to connect with many of our students (being a poster child for ADHD, for one) also often result in difficulty attending to anything that’s not immediately in front of me (e.g., regularly sitting down to write emails and make phone calls because hey what’s that shiny thing over there). I am the type of person, and specifically the type of teacher, that finds success by throwing myself fully into whatever I am doing, often at the expense of less-immediate responsibilities. My self-identity as a teacher has always centered on the fact that teaching was, and continues to be, the driving force in my life. This has typically meant 60-70 hour work weeks, including weekend sessions in the classroom preparing lessons with an abundance of hands-on experiences. In the past year, I have found myself both a new house and a partner, and am still trying to figure out this thing that everyone keeps telling me about called work-life balance. As I’m not willing to sacrifice many (or any) aspects of the intensive collaborative curriculum that I build with my students, other pieces of the daily work of a teacher have slipped through the cracks this year. I am not trying to make excuses for slacking on an important part of my responsibilities as a teacher, but attempting to provide a bit of context & share some of my life with all of you. I accept that some of the misunderstandings that have cropped up this year have been the result of my lack of direct communication. You all, as a community, have been incredibly supportive of our work here despite the dearth of feedback from me, and frankly you deserve better. As such, I am committed to following my own directions to my students, to define my priorities and act accordingly. I am committed to my role in ensuring that consistent two-way communication, one of the cornerstones of student success, is taking place in a manner (and with a frequency) that guarantees that everyone involved in this journey feels heard, respected, and invested. Moving forward, please know that I am always open to discussion about your child’s experience in our classroom community (with the understanding that face-to-face meeting time still needs to be scheduled in advance). And as my students can tell you, I’m not nearly as scary as I pretend to be. Occasionally socially awkward, yes, but not scary.

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SpaceOwls collage

Finally found a couple of hours to patch this together! Click here for a mid-res version (17MB) of the 2013-2014 STEM SpaceOwls collage project (from the spring art auction). Email me directly if you'd like the high-res version (77MB).

Feel free to share, but please link the image back to our website. Thanks!

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PTA Direct Give Update

Dear Families, 

As you know, the K-5 STEM PTA is currently running a Direct Give to support every child and teacher here at school. I would like to ask for our families to support these efforts as the money raised will directly impact our classroom and programs. We need to raise money for the things that the District doesn't pay for such as library books, leveled reading libraries, guided book sets, science and art supplies, music, safety equipment, playground equipment, garden supplies and more. Your donation is 100% tax deductible and will make a huge difference in the educational experience of our kids. Please consider giving what you can and donate at:

 http://k5stempta.org/direct-give-2014-feather-the-nest/

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October Update

Hello families!

A few weeks ago, returning to our classroom after Performance Arts, we found waiting for us a trio of visitors. The first we all knew as Mr. Ostrum, our principal. The second was his boss, Israel Vela, the Executive Director for the West Seattle region. The third gentleman, I didn't immediately recognize. Fahima, our concierge for the week, greeted them with "welcome to Mr. Gluck's class, how may I help you?" She reported back that they were just there to watch, so we got right back to correcting our spelling/vocabulary pretest. They left after a few minutes of observation. Checking my email at lunch, it dawned on me that the third guest was Interim Seattle Schools Superintendent, Dr. Larry Nyland.

After lunch, we gathered at circle. I told the class who the visitors were, and they were suitably impressed. One student commented that it was a little strange that they were waiting in our empty classroom when we arrived. I realized then that, as I explained to the kids, Mr. Ostrum was so impressed with us that he brought Mr. Vela & Dr. Nyland to our classroom to show us off and, not finding us there, made these two very important & very busy gentlemen stand there and wait for us.

Why am I telling this story? Because this class is amazing, and was recognized as such only three weeks into the school year. As a teacher, I don't think that I've ever before had the opportunity to work with such an independent & strong-willed group of students. These kids have come together as a classroom community faster than any previous class I've taught. I'm a believer in the four stages of team building [forming, storming, norming, performing], and while I know we'll still have bumpy patches down the road, this class is already moving forward by leaps and bounds.

Many of you will remember my remarks from Curriculum Night regarding my policy of making my classroom a "parent-free" zone for the first month, where I shared my belief in the importance of creating a safe environment wherein students can be comfortable confronting their own failures. The first month is crucial for building our classroom community, and during this time my students & I are deciding who we will be this year. This covers a lot of ground, including the setting of academic and social expectations. We learn how to function as a team, including how to walk in a line. We learn how to transition between spaces and between activities. We learn that when Mr. Gluck says "give me five," students have about 3 seconds to "give me ten." We learn that this response is mandatory, immediate, and universal. We learn that we all will be assessed and evaluated on a daily basis, and that we must learn how to participate in this process in a constructive manner. We learn that we are responsible for our own experience. We learn how to sit up straight and take three deep breaths, in through our nose, out through our mouth, all the way down to our diaphragm. Everything else that we learn, for the rest of the year, will be refinement.

Snacks! Yes, snacks. We'll need & want a number of things over the course of the year, and the one constant will be snacks. You will soon be receiving information from Stacey Upton, our Room Parent, regarding a subscription-based fruit & vegetable delivery service that we would like to utilize. Your children will be pushing their minds & bodies harder than ever before, and this amount of energy burns a staggering amount of calories. Lunch is too far away from both the beginning & the end of the school day, and we rely on you to help us fill the spaces in between. We are working to determine the best course of action regarding the scheduling of snack sponsorship; in the meantime, please feel strongly encouraged to bring healthful snacks for the class whenever you'd like. And regarding my standard for "healthful," I generally draw the line after Cheez-Its and fruit snacks.

While we're on the subject of sponsorships, my policy is this: whatever you can give, we'll take it. That goes for field trips, learning materials, volunteering, and pretty much everything else. I've taught in classrooms with dirt floors, two students to a desk and three to a pencil, and we made do with what we had. We here at STEM are not hurting for instructional materials, and while funding could be better (nationwide), we've yet to develop a black market for art supplies. That being said, sometimes a project will take us in new & unexpected directions, and maybe we'll need a 300 terawatt laser generator. For example.

What are we studying? Well, all sorts of topics, skills, and random bits. We're studying spiders from at least eight different angles. We're discussing the nature of numbers, numerals, digits, and symbols in general. We're developing context, both literal & literary. We're learning how we'll be learning this year. We've only just transitioned from basic training, having passed three essential milestones as a community. First, the class voted together, nearly unanimously, against a decision that I was promoting regarding our choice of read-aloud material. Second, they took the Silver Spoon, the trophy awarded weekly to the class with the cleanest lunch table [Update: two weeks in a row! Spooooooooooon!]. Third, they made their first communal decision in directing the course of study in our spider project, working toward our first production piece (we're creating storyboards for the myth of Arachne, establishing our understanding of narrative elements). What this means is we're ready to introduce the world to our community, and our community to the world.

So! What do you need to know? No, seriously, I'm asking. I'll share a bunch of random information with you here & now, but please contact me with any questions, comments, concerns, etc. Let's get started.

Extended Learning
This is the foundation of our practice. We are developing the skills of life-long learners, and that means recognizing learning opportunities in every area of our lives. Students are expected to spend at least 30 minutes a day engaged in independent reading. Additionally, students are expected to spend 30 minutes a day engaged in learning outside of the classroom. Sometimes there will be specific assignments, especially in math & word study. The rest of the time, the sky's the limit. If a student can appropriately justify & document her learning, it'll count. As mentioned earlier, we are constantly refining our understanding and application of this process. This week, we will be testing out a new format for our weekly documentation, so please look for that in their Home Folder. The HF is red, and is expected to be carried home by the student every day, returning the next. In here you will find the Extended Learning Log [ELL], the reading log, and any other communications/items that need to be there. The ELL is to be signed by both the student and the parent at the end of a week, to be turned in on Monday morning.

Sharing Our Learning, Getting In Touch
website: mrglucksclass.net
Twitter: @mrglucksclass
Google: mrglucksclass@gmail.com 
(more on shared calendar, Google Drive, etc. forthcoming)
Email: drgluck@seattleschools.org
Phone: 2062528496
Messenger Pigeon: *coooo* *cooo* *squawk*

Volunteering
Want to come help out? Terrific! We have all sorts of roles for family volunteers, ranging from organizing & labeling library books to joining students in small group study. I will share your availability (as you described on the family information form in September) with Stacey Upton, who will oversee the family volunteer schedule. Please email her directly at kal_stacey@yahoo.com to schedule a time to come in! Also, please be watching for more information regarding expectations for volunteers in our classroom community.

Sponsorships & Donations
Sometimes, we need things. Sometimes we want stuff. There are many ways in which you can support these wants & needs.
• Water: We have a water cooler in the classroom, because hydration is important and the nearest fountain is a three minute round trip. We are looking for one or more parents to take on our water delivery service, usually running $40-$60 a month depending on season.
• Web hosting: Our class site costs $200 to host for the year. I've paid this out of pocket, because I very much want our class to learn how to create & curate an online presence, including creating portfolios of our work. A one-time donation to cover this cost will be rewarded with a thank-you from the class in the form of something made out of papier mache and/or construction paper.
• Technology: We want your unused tech. Got an old smartphone? Camera? Laptop? Printer? We'll take it. We're trying to get to a 1-to-1 ratio of students to web-capable devices, but in the meantime, anything you can send our way will be used in the process.
• Plants: We like plants. They clean the air and create a lively atmosphere. Especially hanging plants.
• Art supplies, office supplies, books, board games, tools, and anything else not nailed down: We'll take it, and if we won't use it, we'll find someone who will.
• Cooking & baking equipment: We have an oven. We're going to use it.
• Socks: For puppets, erasing whiteboards, and everything in between.

Immediate & Upcoming
Things to know & think about in the very near future, in no particular order:
• We need toilet paper tubes! Look for bags coming home, and please (if you can) take the bags to your workplace! We need around 2000. Seriously.

• Snacks!! Please!!
• We’ll be ramping up for NaNoWriMo as this month progresses. Much writing will be happening, as well as dramatic enactments. On a related note, please let me know if you have any sewing/costuming experience that you are willing & able to share.
• Students are now officially allowed & encouraged to bring in live spiders.
• We will soon be starting our biweekly walks to the Delridge Library. Library card applications will be coming home this week. If your child already has their OWN library card, please send it in & let me know if A. I can hang onto it or B. you’d like me to make a copy & send back the original. It’s important that I have all of their cards on file in some fashion.

• Every student should have a water bottle, for use both in class & on walks. And on that point, please start putting together & sending in a spare set of clothes for your child to be kept in storage here. At some point this year your kid is probably going to end up in a mud puddle, and math is no fun when you have cold & squishy socks.

Lastly, I am constantly updating & adding to the class website [www.mrglucksclass.net]. The “about” page now includes a class calendar and a link for various forms & logs. If you think of something that should be on there, please let me know!

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Welcome to the 2014-2015 school year!

Hello families of Room 147!!

Wow, what a way to discover that my printer is out of color ink! You probably noticed on the note that came home on Friday that my email address was intended to be included at the end of the letter. I failed to proofread the final print, and therefore did not notice that my email address, formatted as a hyperlink, was displayed in blue, which did not print due to my aforementioned lack of color ink.

Why am I starting my introductory letter with an explanation of my failure? Because this process is one of the pillars of our experience in Room 147. Hopefully, your child has come home speaking of failure and mistakes; if not, they soon will be. Our culture tends to instill in us the belief that failure is a bad thing. That “failure” is the opposite of “success.” In our little learning community, we know better. We know that being able to recognize, take responsibility for, and thoughtfully explain our failures allows us the opportunity to learn from them. We know that is only through this process that we are able to push beyond our boundaries and grow in our capacity as life-long learners.

I would like to take this opportunity to welcome you to our learning community, and to tell you just how excited I am to be able to work with your family this year. As we build upon the successes and challenges of our first two years, there are bound to be a few questions, and this letter is intended to answer as many of those questions as I can. In addition, the informational packet sent home last week contains several important forms, and I would greatly appreciate it if you could complete these and return them to me as soon as possible if you have not already done so.

Curriculum
I will be working closely with the other members of the 2nd and 3rd grade teaching teams in order to ensure that your child receives the best possible instruction tailored to meet his/her individual needs and interests. Specifics regarding our Project Based Learning approach and curricular resources employed will be shared over the next few weeks, as well as at our Curriculum Night/Open House in early October. Stay tuned!

Home Folders
Your child will have a red Home Folder that s/he will take home every day and return to school every day. This will carry important notes from school, weekly & daily Extended Learning assignments, and books. Please help your child remember to bring his/her folder to school every day.

Extended Learning Policy
Extended Learning assignments are an integral part of your child’s learning experience, and my expectation is that students will complete all work within the given time period. Assignments will frequently be assigned on a daily basis, on most days consisting of a mix of math practice and word work. In addition, students are expected to spend at least 30 minutes every evening engaged in independent reading. They will soon be provided with a reading log, which is to be filled out and signed each night.

Classroom Supplies
In Room 147, all learning materials are shared within the classroom community. If your child has a special pencil box that s/he would like to use, that is fine, but all crayons/ markers/pencils/etc. will be added to the general classroom supply. In terms of other useful classroom supplies, we always need more tissues and sanitizing wipes. Simply put, if you want to donate something to our classroom, we’ll find a way to use it! Anything that you can contribute is appreciated.

We have also asked for each family to provide $35 that will go into a general classroom supply fund. If you have already sent this in, thank you very much!

Snacks
Snacks are a very important part of life, and our classroom is no exception. Donations are always appreciated, especially when said snacks are of the healthful variety. We have a general “no frosting” rule in our classroom, with the exception of times when we will make it ourselves from scratch. If you wish to celebrate your child’s birthday with us, a small, special treat may be arranged with me directly. Fruits and vegetables are always the ideal, and we have a refrigerator in the classroom to accommodate. I am interested in getting our class a subscription to one of the many fresh produce co-op services available, and will be asking for sponsorships for this and other classroom needs in the near future.

Communication
By far, the best way to reach me is via email (drgluck@seattleschools.org). I will endeavor to return all messages within 24 hours, whether by email or by phone (2062528496). In addition, if you are on Twitter, please follow us @MrGlucksClass for news, home extension activities, and other assorted tidbits.

As our school year gets up and running, we will decide as a class what our online presence will look like. This will include, at the very least, an account with either Dropbox or Google Docs, which will allow us to share information quickly and universally. For example, a weekly Extended Learning Log will be kept up-to-date with assignments and other pertinent learning supports. Again, stay tuned! We run on systems here, and we understand that throwing everything at the students (and at you) all at the same time does not create conditions for successful implementation.

Everything Else
Please check your child’s Home Folder every Monday and Friday for important notices and forms, especially during the first few weeks of the year. Additional information regarding field trips, special events, and volunteer opportunities will be coming soon.

Questions? Comments? Concerns? My door is always open!

Again, thank you so very much for joining us on this adventure. It’s going to be an awesome year!

Sincerely,

Mr. Gluck

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