Category Archives: Brisbin Crew

New Year, New Expedition: Sierra Scientists!

Happy New Year,  All!

After a nice holiday break, we are back and raring to go!  Our first week was spent getting back into the swing of things, and setting goals and focus for the end of the semester and a new expedition.  Here is what is going on in the Brisbin Crew right now.

Sierra Scientists, Go With The Flow!

Students are in the thick of their BBK for our new expedition.  Our first labs were to create a scientist drawing, then hold a DAST (Draw a Scientist Test) workshop to collect data.  Our results were quite interesting!  We then began reviewing the steps in the scientific method by participating in a somewhat famous “Peanut Butter and Jelly Lab.” Students wrote in paragraph form the steps needed to make a PB&J sandwich, and then I took some examples and followed them to the letter.  The students found that their sandwiches were turning out quite….interesting based on their notes.  This is where we talk about the importance of detail in procedure documentation in science.  Finally, we have set up our science lab books to document our learning.  Next up, learning about matter in a series of inquiry labs, then onto chemistry (mostly of water), river studies, and how water shapes land (geologic studies), and finally human impacts.  If you know of any experts that could enhance our curriculum, please contact me!  We are always looking for professionals in the field of study we are working in to show students what “real life” looks like!


Students in both grades are wrapping up chapter 2 in the Bridges curriculum.  Also, Mrs. Akers and I have really been working hard in delivering extra attention to the standard algorithms.  5th graders have been working really hard on learning double by triple digit multiplication, and have multiple quizzes.  Once every student masters this, we will move into long division.  It is our goal to have 100% of 5th grade students mastering borrowing, carrying, multi-digit multiplication, and long division before they hit 6th grade.  We can do it!  As far as Bridges goes, students are learning how to produce ratio tables and double number lines when dealing with fractions.  Difficult concepts, but the students are practicing their grappling skills as they work through these ideas every day.  Their assessment will be at the end of this week or early next.


We are finishing up our Letters About Literature submissions, and will postmark them tomorrow afternoon.  Students chose a book they connected with recently, and wrote a letter to the author following a book review format.  Encouraging students to use specific structures when describing the experience of reading the book (i.e., synthesizing, NOT summarizing), students have had the opportunity to go deeper in their understanding of how the book really affected them.

Next up we will do an multi- lesson on-demand writers workshop that is based on the ideas and word choice writing trait.  Following that, students will write a narrative.

In grammar, students have been working on different types of pronouns.  We are also on the 3rd syllabic spelling rule “Double Vowels -ai, and -ay.”  Their next list will be given to them this week.  Also, students will be working daily on correcting sentences (Daily Oral Language), and figurative language study.

As usual, student should be reading good fit books.  I conference with students regularly to track their progress and check in with the titles they are choosing.  We have voracious readers in the Brisbin Crew!  Our book club is still working on “The Ballad of Lucy Whipple,” and we plan to finish that in the next few weeks.


We continue to track our Habits of Work by writing a goal each Monday to set the tone for the week.  Then we check in on Wednesdays and reflect on Fridays.  We are also trying to do more work reflecting in our portfolios.  Also, we continue to work in Second Step curriculum- this week we talked about empathy by learning about our monthly design principle: Diversity and Inclusion.

Dates to remember:

  • No all-school minimum days in January
  • Monday, January 11- Board Meeting
  • Monday, January 18- MLK Day, no school

Great to see all of my students smiley faces last Monday- they are my buddies, and I missed them!  I am really looking forward to an amazing 2016!


Julie Brisbin

The Legacy: Mining Practices Then and Now

Happy Holidays, Brisbin Crew!

Students have been exploring how Californians used technology to obtain gold in more efficient ways through many different mining practices.  These mining techniques each made impacts on the land as well as California’s economy, and students have gone on fieldwork to mines and met experts who have taught them about these practices.  Seeing working mines in action, students also have met teams members who have shared with them their specific jobs; at Teichert Mine we met the Mine Manager, Biologist, Geologist, Mining Engineer, and Equipment Operator. Continue reading The Legacy: Mining Practices Then and Now