Jon's Weekly Update 12-8-11

posted Dec 8, 2011, 10:42 AM by Cynthia Friedman

1. READ-A-THON! is going strong? I haven't received any reading logs yet. We're tying ribbons on the fence for every 30 minutes the kids read. If we get enough ribbons tied to the fence, maybe we can block the arctic wind rolling through the classroom!

2. BOOK EXCHANGE! Bring in age-appropriate books for the book exchange!

3. Last chance to get your Christmas tree is this week. Saturday: U-Cut out at the farm. Sunday: pick out a tree at Ridgeline's front parking lot.

4. FOOD DRIVE: Bring in non-perishable foods for our Joy of Sharing Food Drive and Food for Lane County Food Drive.

5. ELECTIVES are not going to happen after Winter Break if we don't have some volunteers. Friday Mornings: 10-11:45. You name it!

We're hitting the groove. Our access-skills work is going strong. (Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic are still the foundation!)

Now that these systems are settling into place, we're opening up our 'higher order' pursuits. We are in our second week in BANDS (a 'tribal' role-playing simulation the students and I are creating from scratch!). Students worked out their basic, hand to mouth survival needs in their bio-region last week.

This week the BANDS are sorting out their Cultural Identity. One student came to me on Wednesday and asked, "Can each of us just make up our own Cultural Identity for the group? We don't agree about anything." Short answer: "No." It's working! I'm amazed at how completely the students are embracing this simulation.

We're working hard on our writing. I'll admit right up front that I'm being a stickler about grading these Assertive Sentences (please see the criteria in Jupiter Grades). Please know that every student in the class knows that I am eager to sit down and work on their (just) three assertive sentences a day with them. All they have to do is ask. We've done class lessons, but 'one on one' is where I can make a difference.

Writing an argumentative assertion is the foundation for essay writing. It has to be clear and to the point. They have to NEED to back up what they're asserting. We're getting better, but it's slow going. One thought at a time, well explained... This is all in preparation for their essay about "Little Tree" next week.

I'll close by saying that I am GIDDY about our Ukulele Mornings. Despite all initial resistance, the students have embraced these 30 minutes in the morning completely. Students are practicing at lunch and begging for more songs to learn. Students are taking ukes home to practice. Ukulele Mornings are here to stay, as long as I'm here.

If your student is begging for an uke for Christmas, I'd recommend a Concert sized uke. has some good deals right now. Makala, Kala, Lanikai, and Cordoba(!) are all good introductory brands between $35 and $100. Sopranos are a little cheaper, but the Concerts sound more like an instrument, less like a toy. Sound is more important than flashy looks, where instruments are concerned. I play a Tenor because of the deeper, richer sound and the longer scale (more notes to play)...

Have a great weekend (last short one for a while...)

Jon and Carrie