November 29

Paradigm Shift

Today I shared a few videos with our class. Here’s the first video, sent to me by Mr. Hitchner.

I thought the video of this fourth grade girl was impressive. The jump is a Nordic Ski Jump. She is at least six feet in the air as she jumps off the end of the ramp. She probably travels more than 20 feet. What’s really interesting is how she thinks through the process of facing her fear as the camera rolls. She really “Gives It All She’s Got,” so to speak (our current reading theme).

As she steadies herself, she asks questions. “Is it faster on the inrun? Is it any steeper?” Once she collects enough information in her brain she just does it. But it’s not as simple as Nike would have you believe. To face her fear, she thinks about many things like how long it is, don’t snow plow, so on and so on before going for it.

Here’s another video.

In this video we saw that there are often distractions that make it difficult for us to learn. The man poses an interesting idea, “What would you do if money were no object when you grow up?” What would you want to do with your life? This begins to help us to think more creatively about the choices we might make in life as we get older. I gave the example of being a photographer. I explained, “I love teaching, but I might become a freelance photographer. I could travel the world and take pictures of things that interest me, like sharks. Money gets in the way because it’s very hard to sustain this type of living, unless you’re really good at what you do.

The last video I shared today.

Failure happens. It’s pretty simple. Michael Jordan was not always the best player on the basketball teams he played with. He often failed. However, he learned to perservere, or to overcome those failures. He learned from it. If we don’t challenge ourselves to take risks, it’s hard to gain profound knowledge and know-how.

All of the videos have something in common that we all need to make to turn that corner and become life long learners. In all cases, they require you to make a paradigm shift. You have to see things differently, like the picture below.

Adapted from

Last, you have to act. Seeing things differently is not enough. Michael Jordan would not be able to really make game winning shots successfully without actually putting himself in that position and acting it out.

What paradigm shifts are you ready to make in our classroom?

November 12

Week in Review #4

It’s been a while since we’ve had a review of our classroom activities. Here’s an update of what we’ve been working on in Portable 35.

In reading, students are now finishing up their work with Nature’s Fury. Thursday we took the test for Theme 1. We’ve learned about comparing and contrasting, predicting, making inferences and sequencing events. For instance, kids watched a short video called “The Black Hole” to learn more about predicting and inferring.

After watching 56 seconds of the film stop it and make a prediction. What’s the man going to do with the Black Hole?

In math we’ve finished Unit 2, estimating sums and differences. This unit was also a review of adding and subtracting decimals. The results of our test should be coming home soon. Make sure to watch for your child’s Take Home Folder. A great way to review the skills in this unit is to watch the personal tutor online at Math Connects online. If you want to improve your math score and retest, look for the tutors that cover problems you missed.

For science, students in Portable 35 are learning more about environments. After trying to understand the Range of Tolerance of brine shrimp in salt water for Dr. Bryon, kids are now working on a project for Farmer John having to do with Range of Tolerance.

Exploring the Range of Tolerance for Farmer John’s crops with salt water irrigation.











Farmer John needs to irrigate, or water, his crops. However, the state expects a drought next year and has asked him to use less water from the local river so that salmon will be able to run to their spawning grounds. Farmer john lives on land near the Puget Sound. He wants to know if he could use freshwater mixed with salt water. What’s your prediction? We set up 4 irrigation sources and kept everything else the same. We’re running another controlled experiment. Can you tell me what the manipulated variable is? Here’s a hint. The manipulated variable in an experiment is the one we changed. This is your challenge for the week. Good luck.

November 8

Outdoor School Meeting 2012

Wow! We had a super meeting for our Outdoor School back in October. Several of our Challenger families turned out to learn more about our trip to Islandwood this school year. Here’s what you missed if you couldn’t make it.

Who: Challenger Students

What: Challenger students will be taking an overnight field trip to Islandwood Outdoor School.

Where: Islandwood is an Outdoor School on Bainbridge Island that will help our students learn more about environmental science that’s connected to state standards for science.

When: We will be taking the field trip February 4-7th.

How: We will take a regular school bus and ferry ride to the island.  Once we arrive at the Island students and teachers will be driven a short ways to Islandwood on another school bus.

Mr. Rodgers decides to sneak some pizza while nobody is looking.











Common Questions and Answers:

Who gets the top bunk?

Campers sleep approximately 4 to a room. There are bunk beds for the students. Students will work out their sleeping arrangements together in a fair and diplomatic manner. Teachers will be on hand to help those that need it.

Is Islandwood safe and secure?

Islandwood goes out of their way to make sure that everyone has a safe and fantastic visit. The camp is surrounded by a fence and all entrances have gates.  These gates are locked in the evening. The cabins are locked as well. They are locked in the day time and evening. There is a key pad for teachers to use in order to gain entrance. Furthermore, Islandwood has back-up generators in case of an emergency power outage due to weather. Also, the fire department is less than a mile away.

What’s the cost for kids this year?

Our cost this year will be $125 per camper. This covers everything in terms of transportation, food, housing, etc… Also, chaperones are asked to pay this amount too. If finances are something you’re concerned about, please let your teacher know so that we can work out some type of plan to help cover costs. We’ve never had a student stay back due to costs.

Will there be a fundraiser?

Yes. In order to help families with the cost of the trip we will have a See’s candy fundraiser. Students will sell candy bars and receive 50% of the profit to pay for their Outdoor School tuition. The other 50% goes to See’s Candy.

Will children be able to bring electronics?

Students will not be able to bring electronics. No MP3 players, phones, etc… This is policy is similar to the one we have at Challenger.

Will students be able to make and receive calls while they’re at camp? 

No. From our experience, calls make students more likely to be homesick and upset. This disrupts the purpose of Outdoor School. We will contact parents if there’s an emergency. Also, parents can contact their teacher if there’s a family emergency at home.

What if my student is sick?

If your child is sick before camp and is unable to attend, you will receive a refund for any payments you made.

What if I don’t want to go?

All students attend camp. There may be special cicumstances for a few families. If so, your teacher will talk with your parents about those situations to work out a solution. We understand that students may have some anxiety as far as going to Islandwood, but we want to assure you that it’s a fun and safe place. Parents, please contact your child’s teacher if you have any concerns.

What do I bring?

We will send home a To Bring To Islandwood list. Be looking for it in your Take Home Folder.

What if I don’t have all of the gear I need for Outdoor School?

Islandwood has a gear room where kids can check-out coats, water bottles, etc… to make their stay more enjoyable.

Can I bring snacks to camp?

No. All food will be provided.  Students, teachers and chaperones will eat well. Islandwood has fantastic chefs that will be cooking whole foods for our students. Also, if you have a special diet, Islandwood can accomodate you. Let your teacher know if you have any special dietary needs.

Can I bring a camera?

Absolutely! However, no phone cameras or game system cameras. Also, you are responsible for its care. If you’re going to bring one, we recommend some sort of inexpensive camera. The camp staff will take some pictures of our classes while we’re there and provide us with these pictures to share later.

What forms do I need?

We will be sending home all of the forms this week. Make sure to read through the packet and return the forms that apply to your situation. The cover sheet explains which forms are mandatory and which are not.

Let me leave you with a video of Islandwood that may help some of you start to understand what it will be like to be at Islandwood for Outdoor School.