Category Archives: Bell Crew

Making the summit!

October 2

Fieldwork Dates

  • Oct. 9– Geography Fieldwork
  • Oct.28– SELS Summit Day

Expedition News

Title:   I Love the Mountains!

Guiding Questions:

  • How do challenges make us stronger?
  • What is special about our Sierra Nevada Mountains?

Case Study #1: Trailblazing!

Learning Targets:

  • I can use the SIERRA norms to overcome challenges.
  • I can design a realistic goal for myself.

 Case Study #2:   My Sierra Nevada

Learning Targets:

  • I can describe the characteristics of local landforms.
  • I can identify local mountain peaks.

 Case Study #3: Weather or Not I’m Prepared

Learning Targets:

  • I can determine how the weather will affect my outing in the mountains.
  • I can explain how the mountains affect local weather.

The first graders are off to an exciting start with their study of the mountains! Thanks to mountaineering experts, Elizabeth Scott (14 years old!), Andy Scott and Mike Davis, the first graders have learned how to prepare for an outing in the mountains (gear, weather, itinerary, food/water, route) as well as how to set and attain personal goals.  Andy Scott taught the children how to break a large goal into smaller, more manageable parts. He highlighted this strategy as one used by mountaineers who attempt to summit enormous mountains such as Mount Everest.  Armed with this knowledge, the first graders were able to tackle the daunting task of summiting Donner Peak.  They identified three, short-range goals along the route, and everyone made it to the tip-top of the rock “crown”.

Next week, we will be applying our new goal setting skills to the realm of the classroom. Our crew will be identifying academic strengths and pinpointing areas in which to improve. This will serve as useful preparation for our upcoming goal setting conferences. In addition, our crew will “take our show on the road” to kindergarten next week. The first graders will make a presentation to their younger schoolmates on goals and goal setting. This presentation will, in turn, prepare the kindergartners for their first experience with goal setting conferences.

Writing time has been very closely linked with our mountains expedition this fall. The first graders have been busy exploring the form of narrative writing. Our focus has been on sequence and expanding upon a topic. Following writing guru, Lucy Caulkins, we have written “small moment” stories about our hikes. The children learned to take an interesting moment in time and make it come alive. There were several stories about licking “lolliTops”–complete with wrappers, sticky lips and yummy details! Ask your first grader if you don’t yet know what a “lolliTop” is.  :)

Your youngsters have also been busy reading up a storm! I am amazed by how well they have adapted to our Daily 3 literacy time. They practice reading and word work with great seriousness of purpose and independence. Parent volunteers have been a wonderful addition to literacy time. Volunteers act as a living “listening center” by reading aloud to small groups of children. Research tells us that children benefit from many models of fluent, expressive reading. Thank you, volunteers, for reading to our crew each week! If you are interested in signing up for a day, please contact me. We would love to have you! Also, book bags and sight word lists will be coming home shortly. An email will follow next week with more information.

Last, but not least, we have been delving deeply into the world of numbers during math time! Our new Bridges curriculum is rich with opportunities to explore the concepts of “big” numbers, skip counting, addition and subtraction. Ask your youngsters to describe the number racks they made with beads and pipe cleaners. (It is somewhat akin to an abacus–in style.) They have been busy being “number detectives” and trying to determine missing addends in various equations. They are beginning to “see” combinations for the numbers 1-10. This is a necessary precursor to one of our first grade goals, mastering +/- math facts to 10.

All in all, we have had a fabulous start to the year in the Bell Crew. Your youngsters are truly starting to develop a sense of “crew” together. They depend on each other, they support each other and they even cheer one another up the mountains!

Hooray for the B Crew!

 Crew Dates

  • Oct. 9– Geography Fieldwork
  • Oct.28– SELS Summit Day

 SELS Dates

  • Oct 13-17 – Minimum Day Week; Goal-setting Conferences
  • Oct 22 – Minimum Day
  • Oct 28– SELS Summit Day
  • Oct 31 – Bear Walk; 9:45-11/11:30 am

May 2014

Expedition News

Title: Down by the Banks

Guiding Question:

   What makes a pond a pond?

Case Study #1: At the Pond

Learning Targets:

  • I can describe the characteristics of a pond.
  • I can explain the similarities and differences of plants and animals at a pond.

Case Study #2: Hop to It!

Learning Targets:

  • I can describe the physical features of a frog.
  • I can observe the metamorphic changes in the life cycle of a frog.


We are mid-way through our pond study, and the kindergartners have learned a great deal! They are now experts in the differences between ponds and lakes and can explain the meaning of a photic zone—the key trait of a pond. They have learned about several other zones of the pond as well—the littoral zone (near the pond’s edge), the limnetic zone (central part) and the profundal zone (muddy bottom). Additionally, the kindergartners have made extensive scientific observations of the plants and animals that live at the pond. Much of this work has taken place on our two fieldwork outings to the Glenshire Pond; other observations have taken place at our classroom “pond” (aquarium).

Your children have had endless opportunities throughout the spring to use their reading and writing skills, and the changes in their work since the fall are impressive. Each child has grown tremendously in his/her ability to independently sequence and record sounds in words. Their weekly sight word work at home and at school has made a wonderful difference. It is exciting to see their growth in reading, too. We have used our pond/frog poems to practice new reading strategies (skip it/read on) and decoding skills.

Most recently, we have begun exploring the complex and beautiful world of poetry. The kindergartners have learned to use a “poet’s eyes” to see the world in a “fresh, new way.” We have read poems, listened to poems and tried our hand at writing poems. In conjunction with our poetry mini-study, we have conducted a study on author/illustrator, Eric Carle. Each student will be choosing a plant or animal from the pond. They will be making an Eric Carle-like collage and a poem of their organism. Our final product will be a Poetry Reading at Celebration of Learning on June 5th (time TBA). That evening, you will be invited to witness the presentation of the original works of poetry and art as well as to  listen to several of the poems that provided them inspiration. It will be an exciting night to showcase the kindergartners’ achievement! We look forward to seeing each of you there to celebrate a wonderful year of learning and growth.



Crew News

  • Eric Carle Paper-Making: Monday, May 19– PLEASE WEAR CLOTHES THAT CAN GET MESSY!
  • Sand Pond Fieldwork: Friday, May 23– THIS WILL BE A FULL DAY–9:30-3:25pm
  • Poetry Reading: Thursday, June 5, Celebration of Learning– presentation time TBA




  • Memorial Day: Monday, May 26–NO SCHOOL
  • Celebration of Learning: Thursday, June 5, 6-7:30pm
  • The Great Skate/Rolling into Summer: June 6, Northstar, 4-8pm
  • 8th Grade Graduation: June 12, Regional Park, 5:30-7pm
  • Last Day of School: June 13