Tuesday, December 8, 2009


The Christmas elves arrived early in Room 137-our Smart Board was installed today!!!!  The technicians unexpectedly knocked on our door at 11:45 and the board was up and running by 2:00.  Wahoo!  The children and I thank you for this amazing gift and we look forward to discovering and sharing the many ways we can use this unique learning tool. 

A Holiday Book Ritual

As we count down the days to Winter Vacation, I try to share at least one holiday book a day with each IMA class.  Today we read, Who Would Like A Christmas Tree?  The reader follows a year-in-the-life of a pine before it goes home with a human family as a Christmas tree December.  Starting in January, the book shows how the evergreen supports different wild animals, birds, insects, and plants living on the Christmas tree farm.  The reader listens to each animal or plant describe how one pine tree offers the gift of life.  

This piece of literary nonfiction blends the magic of the holidays, habitat information, and clever drawings that give the reader a sneak-peek into the lives of local animals.  It is a book that could be enjoyed by readers of any age and will be read and reread for years to come. 


Friday, December 4, 2009


After reading all of your responses, we came to the conclusion that you are very busy during December! We had wanted to address any issues that your family may be having with the Pearson website sooner rather than later but with the Christmas program, a holiday party and all our busy schedules, we think it is in everyone’s best interests to postpone it. So mark your calendars for Thursday, January 7 at 6:30 – 7:30 PM. We will meet in the school computer lab. Please feel free to bring your children!!!

MATH FACT TEST WILL BE GIVEN WEEKLY -- Most students have passed all addition and subtraction tests with 90% accuracy. We will be starting multiplication tests for those who are ready on Dec. 11. We will try to test children each Friday. As they show mastery of one test, we will let you know in an email, and they will move on to the next test.
Unfortunately, the power point practice tests Mrs. Marlatt was sending out in emails are way too big. They are bogging down both our email and others. So we are going to try a new approach. We will burn the tests to cds. We can either loan the cd to you for an evening so you can copy the files to your own computer or we can sell the cd to you for $1.00 to defer cd cost. Let us know if you are interested in receiving a cd of the tests. We will include all addition, subtraction, multiplication and division tests on the cd so you will also have these available for siblings as they need them.

A Visit With Dr. Languis

Dr. Languis shared the Green Machine with the IMA community today.  Chapman was lucky enough to receive a solar and wind energy unit that will allow our students to work with renewable energy for the next year.  The free standing unit will let us study how solar and wind energy is created, stored, and then used to power common household items.

The Green Machine is a perfect addition to our Community Unit and our reading of the novel, The City of Ember.  Ask your child about today's presentation and what he or she learned. 

In addition to an energy discussion, ask your child about the job he or she selected as a contributing member of Imaville, our virtual community.  The children selected a job, created business plans describing why their job is vital to the community, and have created partnerships with other Imaville residents.  IMA investigated how and why laws are created and had so much fun looking at many of the crazy laws on states' record books, learning that strange events can trigger even stranger legal reactions. 

Our Community Unit has taken off in more positive ways than we ever imagined.  We will keep you posted on the learning and we ask you to keep asking your child about Imaville and how we are learning together.

To compliment our work with Dr. Languis, Mrs. Marlatt has set up a hotlist that the children will be visiting at school. Feel free to visit it at home and try the fun links that explain energy and resources. It is at http://www.kn.att.com/wired/fil/pages/listresourcefm.html

Report Cards

Your child is bringing home his or her report card today.  As multiage parents, you will notice a difference in the report card's format compared to previous cards.  The district adopted a new web-based grade book called Progress Book and our report card is blended with the grade book functions.  Due to the district's adoption, our 4th graders will be receiving letter grades for the first time in addition to the marks of AC, PR, and LP.

As always, after reviewing the report with your child, please contact us if you have questions, comments, or wish to schedule a conference. 

Third graders will be bringing home their Fall Ohio Reading Achievement Test results on Monday.  Please look for an information letter attached to the report. Please contact us if you have questions about the OAT results.  Our 4th graders did not take the fall test and will only be tested in the spring.

We are so proud of each child and marvel at the growth and enthusiasm each child brings to the community each day.  Thank you for your continued support.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Reminder: Holiday Performance

Just a quick reminder:  The Holiday Performance of, "Holiday Moose-ical" will be on December 10th at 7:00 p.m. at school.  More information will follow.  The school hopes to have DVDs for families to purchase the week after the performance. 

The children are SO excited to share this amazing story with you!  If your child needs assistance with transportation to the evening performance, please let Mrs. M or Mrs. S know and we will make arrangements.

See you soon!

The City of Ember

The IMA 4th graders started The City of Ember weeks ago and our 3rd graders started this amazing novel just this past week.  Mrs. M and I are sharing this story from 11:30-12:00 each day during our class read-aloud time.  The story directly supports our current Community Unit and allows the children to view another society as they construct Imaville and live their daily lives.

The children are intrigued with this novel and the discussions would rival any book club hosted by adults.  The third graders are using the novel to discuss choices, challenges, and the way each character deals with conflict. We are also discussing the idea of "truth" and the idea of truth as a static or dynamic idea.  The children discovered how the students of Ember were given textbooks, but the IMA students questioned the truth or the accuracy of the facts found in these books. 

Parents are asking how they can support their child's experiences with this novel.  Our first request:  we beg you NOT to see the movie until after we finish sharing the novel.  Our second idea: if you would like to read and discuss the book with your child at home, we highly recommend this for home reading.   The characters, their city, and the challenges each character faces in the novel would make excellent discussions at home.  Ideas like community, a future career, character traits, and citizenship qualities are just a few of the topics you could discuss.  We just ask that you do not read ahead so we can all make predictions and discover the surprises together as a class.

If you decide to read, The City of Ember, at home, let us know if you need help getting a copy of the book. The children are captivated by this novel, so join the fun and read it at home. We promise-you will not be disappointed.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Thinking About The Fiction We Read

Our fiction reading during September and October explored characters.  "What do we know and understand about ______?"  became a common launch question.  We learned to observe characters and notice their "outside" and "inside" details so we could have discussions about characters and their traits.  We learned how the work of illustrators supports our thinking.  We found that using the details helped to understand a character.  Students discovered that paying attention to the details helps us enjoy our books and allows for meaningful discussions.

Our next adventure with books involves plot.  We will explore how a character is affected by the challenges, conflicts, and choices encountered in a story.  Students will identify how characters form and maintain relationships with others.  Linking what we know about characters, our book discussions will explore what happens in the lives of our story characters.  This literature study ties into our community unit and explores how an individual or a group affects the community. 

The discussions promise to be exciting and we cannot wait to hear what the children are thinking.  Ask your child about the characters you encounter in books during home reading and enjoy the book talks.

Happy Reading!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Why We Spend So Much Time in the Habitat

Have you ever read Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv? You can access an excerpt from the book at http://richardlouv.com/last-child-woods. It is a very interesting read on nature deficit disorder. The theory says that within the last few decades, our children have become video game and structured activity driven and they no longer have the  time to play and explore outdoors. The worry is that we will raise new generations of children who have not made a personal connection to nature and they will not see the need to be stewards of the environment and our planet. Check out this book sometime! It was a recipient of the 2008 Audubon Medal and labeled as a "must read" by the Boston Globe.

Friday, November 6, 2009

New Math Homework Choice

This week I will be attaching a step sheet inside your child’s Home Learning Notebook (Homework) to help you assist your child with online homework. If you have access to a computer at home, I think this is a new, fun approach to homework for your child. It offers me a way to more effectively individualize homework based on your child’s needs. It offers you a chance to see how topics are taught so that you can reinforce learning at home. The online homework will offer your child review lessons on topics we have covered in class as well as fact practice.

This online homework is meant to give your child easy access to valuable lessons. However, I will still offer a paper version of math practice activities to any family that finds online homework does not meet the needs of their home or to any family who does not have an easy, available access to the internet at home. If you would prefer to have paper homework, please let me know.

Please note – The online assignments may look daunting but I still expect your child to practice math on only 4 different nights during the week and for 20-30 minutes each night. So they do NOT need to complete every assignment! Students should continue to record what they have done in their Home Learning Notebook as they have done all year. 

Thank you so much for being open to new possibilities and for supporting our efforts at school. Your help is very important to your child’s success!

Discovering Ideas and Opinions

The IMA kids are writing a variety of articles to publish in their upcoming magazine.  Conducting surveys and presenting the results has quickly become a writing form that interests the children.  A writer creates a purposeful question that will help the writer and our readers better understand our learning community.  Favorite recess activities, birthday treat options, and literary genre selections are a few of the recent survey topics.  Once the question and purpose are established, the writer conducts interviews, collects the data and creates an info-graphic to share with others.  The final step is analyzing and writing observations about the results.  Children also add their opinions describing how they might use this information in the future. 

The integration of math and writing makes Mrs. M. happy while Mrs. S jumps for joy over the authentic writing.  The children LOVE getting to know one another while gaining valuable literacy strategies based on their friendships with peers.  We must say this is a win-win-win situation!  The IMA kids look forward to sharing their publication in the near future. 

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Wonder Questions

Children ask thought-provoking, important questions and we are taking advantage of students' curiosity with a ritual called Wonder Questions.  Whenever possible, students develop questions based on their interests.  Their questions guide their independent reading and research with the goal of sharing their answers with classmates.  Students use books, magazines, people, other printed resources, and the Internet to answer their questions.  While they find joy in self-directed learning, students are fine-tuning research skills, nonfiction reading strategies and informational writing strategies. 

After a series of guided lessons, the children realized that Wonder Questions cannot be HUGE questions.  Wonder Questions need to be more focused so a person can investigate the wonder.  A question such as, What is a garter snake?, is a HUGE question.  A Wonder Question focuses on a smaller aspect of the topic.  How does a garter snake fit a mouse into its mouth and swallow it whole at mealtime? is a focused question.  This question surfaced right before we fed Fred the Snake.  Observations and reading helped a child answer this question.

Wonder Questions let children know that learning can be fun, purposeful, and challenging.  They've discovered that a Wonder Question often leads to even more questions and learning.  We are so impressed with the enthusiasm and determination of the IMA children to make Wonder Questions a part of their learning lives.

You can make Wonder Questions a part of your home reading lives as well. A pet, an upcoming trip, a question sparked by a documentary, or a spontaneous question can lead to many priceless opportunities with your child.  Enjoy your time together and let us know about your Wonders!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

What does your house say about you?

On Friday, we expanded our Community Unit to include the question:  What does your house say about you?  The kids and I (Mrs. S)  read, The Big Orange Splot, a story that makes you consider how a home, both inside and out, reveals aspects of a person's interests and choices.

After the discussion, we began designing our own Dream Houses.  Using a house inventory, the children decided on a house shape, room selections, and backyard features.  They mapped their home and yard while developing a key for their maps and designs.  As we continue our work next week, the children will develop drawings of their homes as viewed from the street.  Each child's home reflects an enormous amount of creativity and consideration for what he or she would truly want and need in a home.  The discussions between children, the sharing of ideas and the feedback received provided priceless learning opportunities.

Now that brainstorming and designing shaped our Dream Houses, the children will be given a budget in order to purchase land, construct their home, and pay taxes in our virtual community.  Some children may need to revisit their designs once they know their budget. Using the Smart Board, Mrs. M. designed a map of our community's land and now the children will need to "move in," build homes, and develop the jobs, government, and services to run their town.  The land has a river, different kinds of geologic formations, and other Ohio-based habitats such as forests, prairie meadows, and swamps. 

The IMA students are very excited about this project to say the least.  Their town will serve as an anchor for learning about government, economics, mapping skills, civics, and problem solving.  The town's events and problems will inspire writing in many forms.  Our reading work continues to explore the ideas that individuals make a difference in a community and communities are influenced by its members.  The projects will create infinite learning opportunities and both the children and teachers are ready to see what happens next!

We will keep you updated as the town evolves.  We are planning a Learning Celebration for December and will let you know the date very soon for planning purposes. Thanks for your continued support!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Happy Halloween!

Our Halloween Party was a success!  The costumes, the snacks, and the beautiful weather added to our celebration.  Thank you so much to all of the families that contributed snacks, paper goods, and water bottles.  The water was a perfect drink after our sunny parade weather!  Look for news about our next IMA Learning Celebration and our party right before our winter vacation. 

And the rumor is true....the IMA kids will be dissecting owl pellets right before the Winter Party!  This owl pellet tradition is unusual, but always fascinating and memorable.  Mark your calendars so you can join us for the special event.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Flying Solo

Talk to your child about the book, Flying Solo, by Ralph Fletcher.  The 4th graders just finished this book and the 3rd graders are just starting this story about a classroom dilemma.  Students arrive at school one day only to discover that their teacher is absent and they do not have a substitute.  Will they tell their principal or run the classroom themselves for the day?  Share some of the following questions over dinner:
  • Why did Ralph Fletcher explore the idea of "flying solo?"  What does that mean?
  • How did the children think they could work together all day without guidance?
  • How do you think the IMA class would handle a day without a teacher?
  • How does this book tie into our Community Unit?
We will keep you posted on the discussions, questions, and debates that emerge from this read aloud!

Check out more information about this book:

More information about Ralph Fletcher:

Saturday, October 24, 2009


The IMA children planned their first party and the results were amazing.  They brainstormed and planned a menu and shared ideas about Halloween party activities.  What they want to do most is visit with their friends.  Team Smith requested ice cream and fruit kabobs with water.  Team Marlatt requested brownies, gummy worms, and water.  Interesting menu items to say the least!  Each team decided upon one optional party activity:  Team Smith kids want to decorate mini-pumpkins and Team Marlatt will create Fortune Tellers. (Fortune Tellers are the folded paper Cootie-Catchers we made back in the day!)  On Monday, the kids will sign up for their party jobs.  The jobs are either for set-up, serving, or clean up. 

If the weather cooperates, kids will be able to explore the Habitat with their families and friends during the party as well. We hope you can attend the IMA gatherings and celebrate the fun times that Halloween creates for children. 

Thanks to our IMA parents who volunteered to send in items listed on our email request for donations.  You will get a confirmation email from us regarding your donation.  You can send in the treats or craft items on the day of our party.  We have plenty of other gatherings this year that will need your kind donations, so please do not send in last minute, surprise bags of candy, cookies and other treats for the Halloween gathering.  We appreciate the kind gifts, but the extras end up being bagged up and sent home. 

Enjoy the weekend and keep checking our blog for updates!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Poetry Friday

Today is Poetry Friday, a weekly time set aside to read, share, and enjoy poems, songs, rhymes, and riddles.  Poetry Friday is:
  • a connected community of readers
  • giggles
  • a memory's sigh
  • finding the extraordinary in the ordinary
  • art showing dreams
  • a new place to travel as a reader....
How was your Friday?

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

A Community and Its Government

As the IMA children prepare to develop and run their own community, they are learning about our own local, state, and federal governments.  They are researching how our governments are organized and how laws are made.  The children are also investigating how local government provides different kinds of services. 

Ask your child:  How does a bill become a law?  Who makes the laws?  Who has a say in the bills before they become laws? 

Students developed laws in the classroom, so you can find out what they learned from their own law-making experiences. 

Enjoy the discussions!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Favorite Characters

Dear IMA Families:

Characters and their unique traits have been the focus of our Reading Workshop discussions over the past 2 weeks.  Consider a family conversation about favorite story characters.  Here are a few starter questions for your Character Conversations:
  • Who is one of your favorite characters? 
  • Why is this character a favorite?  
  • What do you know about this character and how do you know the details about this character? 
  • How is this character similar or different from you?  
  • Would you be friends with this character and why?
Take a minute and have a character conversation.  You may be surprised by the discussion!

Mrs. S.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Way To Go Purdue!

Way to Go Purdue!!!!  Buckeye fans....bear with us while we enjoy the unexpected victory.  Go Boilers!  When you see Mrs. Werling, make sure that you mention Purdue's win!

IMA's Classroom Magazines!

The IMA students and I our are currently working on our first classroom magazines.  The children decided that we will have 2 different publications.  One of the magazines will feature people and events going on at Chapman.  The second magazine is a "Wonder Magazine."  It will highlight information about our experiences in the Chapman Habitat.  The science oriented "Wonder Magazine" will also showcase informational articles reflecting students' interests in the natural world. 

Each student is responsible for writing and publishing at least 3 articles;  students will publish their 3 articles in either of the IMA magazines.  Last week students who decided to write about Chapman community members and events developed purpose statements and interview questions for their magazine articles.  Several children already conducted interviews or have scheduled interviews for the coming week. Several children are taking photographs to support their articles.  Children writing informational articles planned and started their research.  Writing Workshop is buzzing with so much energy and enthusiasm!

Keep checking in for more information about our magazines. We will let you know the names of the publications soon.
Who is Mrs. M?
Whoa - Mrs. S. writes a lot -- I am a more brief and to the point kind of gal!

Mrs. M is: a mom, wife, grammy, life long learner, teacher, photographer, country girl, gardener, nature lover, laugher

Do you have a family? I have a husband, three grown kids and 2 grandchildren-one girl and one boy.

Do you have any pets? 2 cats

What is your favorite color?
My favorite world colors are green -- it goes with nature! And red because it is showy. And yellow because of sunshine.
My favorite color for clothes is blue jeans!

What is your favorite book? Usually the one I am reading -- there are so many good ones out there!

What is you favorite animal? Tigers are awesome. But I love to take pictures of any kind of nature!

Do you have any hobbies? Photography and gardening
Who is Mrs. S.?
Interview Questions can uncover facts about a person, helping you know the person on the inside and the outside. Who is Mrs. S?

How would you describe yourself?
Mother, wife, sister, daughter, learner, teacher, adventurer, animal lover, outdoors person, non-shopper, and big eater

Do you have a family?
Yes. I have a geologist/engineer husband and an elementary age daughter.

Do you have any pets?
I have a Chesapeake Bay Retriever named Jessie. I have too many classroom pets to list....Come and visit my classroom to see them all! We may have a new pet-you just never know what may find its way into our classroom!

What is your favorite color?
My favorite world color is green because it makes me think of being outside. My favorite color for clothes is black because it hides the dirt from playing outside! Dirt just seems to find me...

What is your favorite book?
I cannot name one book, but I can tell you some of my favorite authors:
Annie Barrows (Ivy and Bean series)
Jean Craighead George (animal stories of all kinds!)
Deborah Wiles (Favorite characters)
Nic Bishop (Amazing Photographer!!!! And he loves animals...)
David Schwartz (He is so clever.)
Steve Jenkins (How can cut paper be so amazing?)

What is your favorite animal?
Yikes, another tough question. I love dogs, horses, and chickens. I love all kinds of pocket pets. My favorite wild animal is a wolf. I admire how they live in a pack and care for one another. I think the circle of family and friends is important.

Do you have any hobbies?
I love to go hiking with my family. I love to dig in the dirt and garden. I love to read all kinds of books, except horror books. They creep me out too much. I am trying to learn new recipes and I can say that I am an expert salad maker.

That's all the questions for now, but more interview questions will come soon!


Welcome to Our Learning Community! We will be using our blog to let you know what is happening in both Intermediate Multiage Classrooms. You will find out about books we are reading, units of study, student-selected research projects, and special events. This blog is a new learning adventure for us, so stay tuned and see what we create!