Category Archives: Bell Crew

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

B Crew News: Nov. 17, 2013

Expedition News

Title: Building Community

Guiding Questions:

  • How do we build community?
  • How do we contribute to community?

Case Study #2: On the Job!

Learning Targets:

  • I can describe the behaviors of a good crewmember.
  • I can identify the SIERRA norms.

We have been “On the Job” now for several weeks, working on our second case study. This portion of our expedition focuses on the uses of tools as well as on the building process.

The kindergartners have become experts on particular tools and have honed both their writing skills and their drawing skills as a result of their studies. They have learned how to peer-critique each other’s drawings and effectively incorporate the feedback into second and third revisions of their drawings. Through their non-fiction writing, they are being introduced to our kindergarten informative writing rubric. The criteria being evaluated are as follows: naming a topic; providing two or more facts; using evidence from a source. This week we will put together a book, entitled Our Toolbox, which spotlights their factual writing as well as their initial sketches and final drawings.

The kindergartners have also put their tool expertise to work by building geo-boards from start to finish. Each child cut, sanded, painted and nailed his/her own board to use for math exploration. They were extremely proud of their hard work!

Last week, we worked with three experts to better understand the steps of the building process. Jenna Shropshire and her son, Sutter (SELS student, Seaborg Crew), visited our classroom to teach us about the sequence of steps in creating a project: sketch, blueprint, model, build. Jenna brought actual drawings from Faulkner Architects firm and Sutter shared the building sequence he and his crewmates went through as kindergartners two years ago when building the SELS balance beams. Your children were thrilled to have the opportunity to learn from Sutter and Jenna.

Later in the week, our crew went out into the field to visit the Faulkner Architect office. We saw a variety of models and had a chance to see how their CAD computer can create 3-D images. Next, we were very fortunate to work with expert, Seamus Gallagher, a local contractor and SELS parent. Seamus, with a large book of blueprints in hand, led us through one of his houses and showed the students how the 2-D drawings matched up to the 3-D building. There we were amidst masons, plumbers, builders and more machines and tools than you could count. It was a huge thrill for us all! Many thanks, again, to our experts and to all the chaperones and drivers who made the day a great success.

Crew News

  • SIERRA norms: Daily “behavior” learning targets focus on one of the norms, and we each challenge ourselves to demonstrate that norm throughout the school day. Talk with your child about ways in which they have upheld the norms with their actions or words. Empathy (making an effort to understand how someone feels/walking in their shoes) and integrity (doing what’s right even when no one is watching) are two of the most abstract and difficult norms for young children to grasp. Be sure to make time to highlight both of those norms when you notice them being used at home!
  •       Indoor shoes/slippers are recommended:  Sending a pair of indoor shoes or slippers to school for the winter makes the learning environment more comfortable.  Send in a pair of rubber soled shoes for your child.

Dates to Remember:

Nov. 20: Minimum Day; 1:00pm dismissal

Nov. 25-29: Thanksgiving Break; no school

Dec. 5: Gratitude Dinner