Holguin Crew

September 15 Newsletter

     Welcome to our crew’s first newsletter. We are off and running on a new school year! It has been great re-connecting with all the children, and also getting to know our new students. I have been very impressed with how much our students remember from last year and how easy the transition back has been.


     We have started learning and practicing the Daily 5 in class. The idea of the Daily 5 is for students to work independently on reading, writing, and word work, while I work with individual students or small groups. The training for this takes time, so that once I do start reading groups, all children are able to successfully read and write on their own, at whatever their ability is. So far I have introduced Read to Self and Work on Writing. The kiddos have built their stamina to a little over 10 minutes for both areas.

     Our class is focusing on learning reading strategies for comprehension, accuracy and fluency. At this point, it’s done through read-aloud books where I continually model and practice the strategies.

     We have also started our word wall. The word wall is similar to last year’s. However, the words that go up now need to be memorized for both reading and writing. The rule is that once a word goes onto the word wall, it must ALWAYS be spelled correctly. Our current word wall words are: and, at, can, day, have, like, of, the, with. Another way we use the word wall is to look at spelling patters and how knowing one word helps us spell others. For example, we used "day" from the wall to help us write and spell play, stay, May, bay, hay, etc...


     The past two weeks, children have been guessing what our new expedition would be. Slowly, I gave out clues and some of the guesses included: flowers that eat bugs, animals that eat plants, bugs, rain, the sun, dirt, trees, weather, and the Earth. Finally, on Wednesday they discovered what it was after tasting muffins full of carrots, zucchini, raisins, and coconut flour. They were very excited and have already started generating questions about where our food comes from. We have our first fieldwork next week to a wonderful learning farm in Nevada City, it’s a great place to kick off our year-long look at Farm To Table.

     As part of our expedition we will be learning about maps. We will be specifically looking at how elevation and climate affect what can grow in different areas. However, we will need to start at the beginning with what a map is, what they can tell us, and the basics of making one. Over the next few weeks you will see homework assignments around constructing basic maps.

 Notable quotes:

Me: “Where do you think brown sugar comes from?”

Zac: “It comes from cookies. You take the cookie and grind it up and then add flavor.”

Me: “What about white sugar?”

Max: “It comes from salt. After the salt is all grinded up you add the sweet part.”

 Reminders: Please DO NOT send sugary food to school. We have children eating rice crispy treats and pudding as their morning snack, which does not help them focus. All kinds of dessert foods should be saved for home. Thank you for your help with this.


Kiddos need bring water bottles EVERY day.

Important Dates:

Wednesday, September 18: Fieldwork to the Food Love Farm

Tuesday, October 1: Fieldwork to River School

Friday, October 11: Fieldwork to the Food Dome

October 14-18: Minimum days all week for goal setting conferences

April Newsletter

Language Arts

     At this point in the year, all students are reading in groups and taking books home weekly. The children love to read and are very proud of themselves! Please keep up the great practice at home!

     Besides reading groups, we are studying about word patterns to help us spell, learning to hear the long and short vowel sounds, and continuing to add new sight words to our Word Wall. Working on rhymes is also a weekly practice.

     With the stories we read, we are still working on identifying the characters, the setting, and the problem/solution. This skill is still challenging for many students. Our crew is also working on everyone being able to answer questions about books we read.


     We continue focusing on recognizing, writing, counting, and comparing numbers 11-30. We have also been learning to show how we solve story problems using pictures, words, and numbers. Our crew has been practicing adding and subtracting, making reasonable estimates, and recognizing more complex patters. This month we are also discussing measurements and different ways we measure time, weight, temperature, and length.


     I am slowly introducing the Habits of Learning, which are learning practices connected to our SIERRA norms. We are specifically focusing on producing high quality work all the time, and respecting other students during class work time.

     Reading books and discussing how we can demonstrate our SIERRA norms at school is still a weekly (sometimes daily) practice.

Expedition News

     Even though our winter seems to have been cut short, we continue focusing on our Winter Matters expedition. We have studied about why we have seasons in general, and winter in particular. We looked at the different kinds of snow crystals and how they are made. We have just finished reading and writing about animals that migrate. Next up is how animals that do not migrate survive the winter.

Important Dates

April 16-18: Goal Setting Conferences

April 17: minimum day

April 25, May 2, 9, 16: swim lessons at the high school




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On top of all the teaching and learning, I'm struck by the joy in the faces of all the children as they go about their quest for knowledge. Thanks to all the courageous and energetic people who had the vision to make this school a reality. With all the challenges the world faces today and predictions of disaster, these committed teachers/staff, these engaged families, and these beautiful children are a beacon of hope.

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