Thursday, December 27, 2007

Winter Break Update and Letters from Paul!!

Check this out!!! We each got a letter from Paul on Christmas. What a great gift. Thanks Paul!

Hope everyone is doing well. I took a plane from Miami to Maryland today. What a great time in Miami. It was nice to get so much sun and heat. Also, since Miami is farther south than Seattle, there were far more hours of daylight. Ok, I'll stop bragging.

Thanks to Danny, Kevin and Benny for being in touch since our last day before break last week. I hope everyone is having a ton of fun over break. Don't forget to read lots . I'm now in the middle of Dave at Night, having just finished When Tia Lola Came to (Visit) Stay and A Single Shard. So nice to have so much time to read. Ahhhh.

Over the next few days I look forward to meeting a brand new baby named Dana, and spend a ton of time with my Mom and Dad. I might even go to one of my favorite places: Chesapeake Beach. More later :)


Monday, December 24, 2007

Have a FANTASTIC break!

Look at our future architects. You kids ROCK!

Happy holidays and greetings from Miami, Florida. I got here yesterday morning and so far I am having a great time with family. My Aunt Margie and Uncle Frank are great hosts, and it has been lovely to hang out with them and my Mom and Dad. My parents will take off tomorrow to go back to Maryland, and on the 27th I'll head up there as well. But for right now I'll enjoy temperatures in the 70's and remember the sun block.

Hope you guys are having a great break. I've been reading A Single Shard. My plan is to read as many of the Global Reading Challenge books as I can while on break. After finishing this book I'll move on to When Tia Lola Came to Stay. I am also reading a book about jazz, which makes me wish I could listen to jazz.
Ok boys and girls, keep e mailing and writing comments. It's been great to hear from you. Also-- check out our AWESOME graham cracker creations above!


Sunday, December 16, 2007

A Fun-Smelling F3, Astronomy,'s Almost Winter Break!!

Here's a very cool shot of a lunar eclipse. F3 students have been learning all about astronomy for the last week.
Wahoo! It's almost time to take a break from school, but for the next five days, we're going to have a TON of fun and do a lot of learning in F3.

Last week kids took a good look at Astronomy, learning about the phases of the moon and movement of the sun in the sky. Early this week, students will review last week's lessons, compare planets, and learn a bit about constellations. There will be an astronomy quiz
on Wednesday.

Also this week students will design plans regarding their graham cracker creations which they will make on Thursday. Kids will be drawing views of their designs from several directions, and I expect that the finished product on Thursday will reflect their design. Please please please bring in any candy or all shapes and sizes by Tuesday.

Over the break, I hope that kids read at least one of the Global Reading Challenge books and keep copious notes on the book chapter by chapter. Also, I will give some fun math activities for kids to work on if they wish over winter break. I will write a few messages during the break, and I encourage all kids to keep in touch wither by writing comments or by e mail.


Monday, December 10, 2007

Preparing for Gingerbread House Day, Research in Science, and Starting Global Reading Books!

Get ready for Gingerbread House Making Day by checking out the incredible creations at the Seattle Sheraton at 6th and Union downtown. I wish I could take the kids myself! Get inspired by going yourselves-- bring the whole family to Union and 6th to the Seattle Sheraton. It's well worth a trip-- try to make it there before the big day on December 20th.

Our Astronomy unit will be starting this week. Students will be learning about the patterns in astronomy as well as basic facts about the sun, earth, and moon.

We finally received our Global Reading Books last week and the kids have been reading away, taking copious notes after each chapter to become as familiar as they can. About two-thirds of the kids in F3 are taking part in the Global Reading Challenge. They have set up their own schedules with their reading partner to ensure that they finish their first book by December 20. Please ensure that your child has a nice quiet place to read in the evenings. I expect kids participating in Global Reading Challenge to read an additional two books during the December break. GRC kids will read all ten books before mid-March, when the competition begins.

In the afternoon of the 20th, we will be making our own Gingerbread creations. This will be an art and math project that I hope parents can join us for-- I will need many adults to help between 11:00 and 2:30 pm. By Monday, December 17th, please bring in something to share with the class for the Gingerbread House Making Day. Graham crackers will be provided!

Thanks as always for your support!

Monday, December 3, 2007

Report Cards Coming Out This Week

Already the first trimester is over. It feels like the trimester has gone by so quickly. The kids have a lot to celebrate, and also have much to work on. Unit four math tests were taken just before the end of the trimester on Friday, and the result was a mixed bag. Your child will take home their test on Monday for you to look over it and sign.

If your student did not do well on the last math test-- that is-- your child received less than 75% on the test-- I invite you to bring them in early to school on Thursdays for help in math. We started last Thursday, and the students who did come seemed to benefit just in that thirty minutes of individualized attention. Please call me at school or write me a note if you would like your child to come on Thursday mornings at 8:30 for the math breakfast club.

You should know that Paul and his comrades got early holiday presents last week when our care packages arrived. What a success! We were on channel five news last week but unfortunately I have not secured a copy of the news segment. We were also mentioned in the Seattle School District Employee Newsletter.

Coming up this week, we will be finishing our Land and Water science unit. Next in science, students will be doing research on a earth/space, physical, or biological science topic of their choice to study for the next two weeks. I will work with students on finding appropriate articles on line and in books at the library.

Your child should have brought back paperwork regarding a study involving Maple's fifth grade students and researchers at the University of Washington. This study benefits teachers and students immensely, particularly in the spring, when students learn about the structure of a cell in the Microworlds unit.

Lastly, check out Global Reading Challenge books made public this week. About two-thirds of the students in F3 are participating in the Global Reading Challenge. They will be expecting to complete one novel before the December break, and two novels during the break. There are ten books in all that each team wil be required to read prior to mid-March.

Lastly, Erin and Jill will be with us for one more week this week. We look forward to having them in the class! Cheers!!

Monday, November 26, 2007

What a Success! Now it's back to work :)

Wow! What a tremendous success last Monday was in F3! With the help of volunteers, students in F3 were able to pack up 175 care packages. Karen Craddick took all these packages to the Georgetown Post Office, and all of the packages are now off to Ramadi. Good job F3! Read our latest letter from Paul! He's getting excited for all those care packages and asked us to write back with some specific information-- we'll have to work on that this week :)

Right now I'm in Boston again visiting my grandmother and Aunt Lorraine. My parents came up from Maryland too, so I've gotten to have a great time for Thanksgiving. I hope that all F3 families also had a great Thanksgiving.

Coming up this week, we're going to be working hard in math in anticipation of the end of the trimester which is this coming Friday. We will be completing our unit on division. Please make sure that your child is doing his or her math homework and checking over the work every night. A unit four math test on division will be on Friday.

We'll also be finishing up a major project: our camp brochures. Students will be bringing home a brochure they have been working on about their experience at Camp Seymour. Students will need to design the cover of their brochure at home. This will be due on Wednesday.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Getting ready for Monday, and... It was LOVELY to meet all of the Parents!

Check out pictures of Veteran's Day

Thanks for all the parents who came in to have a conference this past week. It was lovely to meet you, and GREAT to show off your child's work, and talk about how we together can help your child have the best fifth grade year possible.

I am really looking forward to Monday. We'll be making care packages from 9:45 until lunch time. By lunch time, there will be 88 boxes filled with 176 care packages for Paul's unit in Ramadi. Karen, Paul's wife, will be helping us out, and Don Mills of the American Legion Seattle Post #1 will be coming to celebrate the kids' hard work. Each student will get a canvas bag with which they will fill up to brim. From that bag, they will each make seven or eight care packages.

The items for the care packages were brought in from all over Maple as well as from Kimball Elementary School. What a great Beacon Hill effort to support the Marines in Ramadi.

In other news, the next math unit is on division. The unit test will be before the end of the trimester-- December. Overall kids have gotten better at the the math tests and I'm expecting them to do even better on this next test. Students will be making estimates when dividing with decimals, and using more than one way to solve division problems.

Starting next Thursday morning the 29th, I'll be meeting with a group of students for a math breakfast club. I let you know at your know at your conference if I expect to see your child on Thursday mornings. Make sure students are coming to school early enough so that they are ready to do math at 8:30 in F3. Also, I invite parents to bring in muffins or orange juice to share. There will be six students on working with me on Thursday mornings.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving. I'm thankful that I have such a remarkable F3 family to work with this year. Cheers!

Monday, November 12, 2007

It's a BIG Week Ahead!!

175 Care packages... two packages per box...

Wow! What a big week ahead! First off, I am excited to get to sit down with all parents and guardians of students in F3. We'll have a chance to review your child's work in class, as well as discuss how they can have the most successful fifth grade year possible. Please be on time for conferences as each one is only 20 minutes long.

What else should you expect at the conference? We will each sign a contract regarding student, teacher, and parent responsibilities, You will have time to become familiar with this website, and a website that is connected to the math curriculum used at the school. If your child did not pass one of the WASL tests last year, you will sign a student learning plan. You will have the opportunity to ask any and all questions about the fifth grade curriculum and how your child is doing academically and socially so far in fifth grade. I very much am looking forward to each and every conference.

Also this week is the long awaited Veteran's Day Project. Students at Maple from kindergarten to the other fifth grade classes will be bringing in tons of items over the course of the week. On Monday, November 19, student in F3 will be putting together 175 care packages for all of Paul's unit. Paul's wife Karen will be there to help on Monday, but I would LOVE additional help. So if you can come in anytime between 10 and noon on Monday, I would GREATLY appreciate it.
Lastly, students will be pleased to know that Erin and Jill will be joining us again for another week in F3. They will again be working with small groups, the whole group, as well as tutoring individual students. It's great to have you back, Erin and Jill!
I am writing this message on a Saturday evening here in Boston. I am here visiting my grandmother, Mima, and my Aunt Lorraine. I will be back in Seattle on Tuesday afternoon-- and look forward to seeing the class on Wednesday morning!
P.S. Check out the latest letter from Paul by clicking on the link to the left! He got our care package!

Monday, November 5, 2007

A GREAT time at Camp Seymour and a Busy Week Ahead

We had a GREAT time at Camp Seymour this past week. Students enjoyed classes about reptiles, forest ecology, rock climbing, canoing, and orienteering. Not only did they have FANTASTIC classes, students also enjoyed going on night hikes, warm campfires, cups of hot cocoa, and an AWESOME Halloween-- complete with a very haunted house (actually it was a haunted yurt). It was pretty great to be around the kids as they were experiencing one new thing after another.

I am thankful to most all of the kids who treated each other, the naturalists and teachers with respect. I think that EVERY student learned a lot about the environment, themselves, and cooperating with others. Good job F3.

We got a letter from Paul just a couple of days ago! He recently received our care package. He said that everything arrived okay except for the chocolate-- that melted. We'll have to keep that in mind for next time.

Coming up this week are some public speaking opportunities for the kids to spread the word about the Veteran's Day Project to all of the other classrooms at Maple. Also. students will be working in groups of five to create their own Camp Seymour brochures. Students will be pulled out to create podcasts of their family project. So much going on in F3!

Please respond to the final notices about parent conferences as soon as you get them this week. I am looking forward to our conferences next week.

Monday, October 29, 2007

We're Going to Camp!

Check this out! We will be sending this video along with Paul's care package.

In other news, we're going to camp in just a couple of days!!! Wahoo! It should be a TON of fun. We'll be having classes in marine life, reptiles, completing rope classes, and canoing. YAY! Make sure to get to school in time with everything in tow for camp. Don't forget your sleeping bag.

An important note: Make sure NOT to bring any electronics including cell phones and ipods. I know this may be difficult, but the truth is that in a case of emergency, parents can call Camp Seymour, and teachers can definitely contact parents. A few days without a phone will work out just fine--no worries.

We have just had an AMAZING week at school. I was joined in teaching by Erin and Jill, two pre-service teachers in school at Seattle University. Erin and Jill will be certified by the end of the school year. In the meantime, they will be spending two more weeks with us-- one week in November (during conferences) and one week in December. I will be contacting some of you to ask your permission for having one of these teachers sit in on your parent/teacher conference.

Other news: Podcasts of family stories will start appearing on the website after camp, big thanks to Maxie's mom for gathering all the first aid materials and putting them together for us this week! Now each student will have their very own first aid kit. Thanks! Also, make sure that anything you would like to send to Paul for his next care package should be brought in by Tuesday, October 30.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Classroom Visits by Authors and Scientists, Upcoming Podcasts, and our Veteran's Day Project

We will be recording our Family Project essays and publishing with podcasts in the next few weeks!

This week was full of fun in F3. All of F pod got together on Monday morning to hear again from Tom (from the Marine Science Afloat Program) to follow up on what we learned about the Puget Sound Watershed while we were sailing in early October. Kids came up with fantastic ideas of what they could do to help Puget Sound stay clean. One of the ideas is to clean up after your dog. (In fact, we learned that the very best way to handle dog poop is to put it in the toilet so that it will go through sewage treatment.)

The next day (Tuesday), kids in F pod heard from published author Nathan Kumar Scott. He read from his book Mangoes and Bananas, and shared some fascinating facts about what it means to be published.

Nearly all the students completed typing their family project this week. Thanks to all parents for helping out with getting the information available. I have been enjoying reading all of the projects. This coming week, students will be able to polish up their essay and their map and family tree pages, and work on their podcasts. That's right! Students will be broadcasting their family project with an audio recording. Only first names will be used. Each week, I will make several of them available to listen through the website. For all you public radio listeners out there, this will be a mini Storycorps project. If you have any concerns or questions regarding the podcasts, please contact me. More information and our first podcast will be coming next week!

Our Veteran's Day Project has gotten the go ahead from the Maple staff and from Paul so we're going ahead with it! We are going to involve all of Maple School by asking students and staff to bring in enough care package items for ALL of Paul's unit (175 Marines) to receive a package in time for the holidays. Many folks outside of Maple are also being asked to help out. Veteran's Day is November 11th. Please encourage your friends and family to bring in any items to Maple the week of Parent Conferences, November 13th. We will be sending the care packages out before Thanksgiving.

Lastly: Camp is coming up in about a week and a half!! Bring in those permission slips and the funds!

Monday, October 15, 2007

A Phone Call from Iraq and an Upcoming Family Project Due Date

An example of a family tree. I will show students many options this week.

So how cool is this: Lcpl. Paul Craddick called us at 1:05pm on Wednesday, October 10th. It was SO GREAT! We all gathered around the phone and listen to Paul tell us what he's been up to--for about 25 minutes! What did we hear? First off, he and all the Marines in his unit are safe and sound. Also, he has seen a lot of the remnants of the war so far on his missions. He told us that many of the buildings he passes have bullet holes in them. But the most amazing part of the phone call was when Paul responded to each of our letters. He thanked one student for drawing an American flag on her letter and answered several questions one by one. It made each student feel pretty special. Thanks Paul!

The big due date this week is for the Family Project. All students should have had their interviews completed by Monday. The rough draft of their essay should be written by Monday the 15th. This week, students will do the map page and the family tree page of their project in class. I encourage students to bring in a special photograph to have scanned into the computer to go into their final project. By this Friday, October 19th, all students will have their essays typed and on the student drive at Maple. Any work typed at home should be sent to school on a floppy disk, a jump drive, or in an attachment sent by email to me at

Parents: if you haven't done so already, please send back the parent conference notice that I sent home on Wednesday. If you hadn't already signed up for a time to meet in November, I set aside a time to meet with you. If there is a conflict with the time, please call me at Maple.

Lastly: be prepared. Wednesday will be a fun day. :)

Monday, October 8, 2007

The Pledge, Marine Science Afloat, and Laptops

Checking out the sea life on board!
Last week started off on a very high note: students in F3 decided to say the Pledge of Allegiance every day at school at 3:05-- right before they leave for the day. The idea to say the Pledge came after reading Paul's first letter to us and reading that it meant a lot to him that the students said the Pledge the day he left to go to the Middle East.

We went on a FANTASTIC field trip on Wednesday. The only bummer was that a few of us got a little sea sick. But otherwise, we had a great time! We went on the Goodtime II and we were taken from Pier 55 to Alki by Marine Science Afloat. The crux of the trip was learning about watersheds and meet the fabulous creatures of the Puget Sound, and learning what we can do to keep the Puget Sound clean.

As many of you learned on Curriculum Night, fifth graders have access to laptops this year. The students were introduced to the computers on Friday. We'll be using these laptops to type out final copies of writing, to look up information in science and social studies, and to work with some educational programming. We will be using the laptops once or twice a week.

Coming up this week we will start writing the essay portion of the Family Project. All interviews should have been completed by today. We'll be continuing our learning about land and water-- primarily through reading. And in math, we'll continue our unit on estimation.

One last note: please get the camp forms and money orders or checks in this coming week. I am planning for ALL students in F3 to take advantage of this incredible opportunity to spend a few days at Camp Seymour together. Remember, we leave for camp on October 31!

Monday, October 1, 2007

An End to an Exciting and Invigorating 1st Month in F3

Where in the world did your family come from before coming to the United States?
What is your family's story?

Thanks to all students for making this such a great month in F3. The fifth graders have been working hard and are starting on a new project that will take us through to the middle of October. Students will work on their Family Project. (Please click on the link for due dates and other important information. The objective of this project is to gain a initial idea as to how the United States was formed. Later on in the year, we will learn about early US history, but for right now, we are going to learn about what prompted our families to come here to this country. By now your child should have talked to you about this project and by October 8, their interviews should be complete. Interviews must be done with an older member of the family.

I apologize to all parents who I missed seeing on Thursday night. I left Maple that afternoon with the intention of just taking a nap, and ended up staying home both that night and Friday with a cold. I am feeling better now and look forward to seeing all of the students on Monday morning.

As another reminder, please make sure to come to Maple for one more Thursday on October 4th for curriculum night. I look forward to talking with all parents about the curriculum we'll be covering this year, particularly the HIV/AIDS curriculum and the Family Life and Sexual Education unit.

Lastly, please read our latest letter from Lcpl. Paul Craddick. He just arrived in Kuwait this past weekend, and will be heading to Ramadi in Iraq in the next several days. I will talk to the students regarding the Pledge of Allegiance and how often they would like to say it. As a school, we only say the pledge once a week, however the students and I may choose to say it more often in honor of Paul and his fellow Marines.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Prime Time in F3

When your child gets home from school today, please take a look at their unit one math test. I am expecting students to review their tests with you tonight (Monday). We'll be moving onto Unit two in Math which will have a lot to do with estimation to solve problems.

We will be starting our first science unit this week, Land and Water. Students will be learning all about groundwater, erosion, the water cycle, and various landforms. It will be a messy and fun science kit. Please let me know if you can help with the science kit inventory or clean up.

It was so great to meet so many of you this past Thursday at the Annual Multi-Ethnic Family Dinner. Thanks for coming and bringing such amazing food. I can't remember the last time I felt so full. I hope to see you again the next two Thursdays. This week on the 27th we will be meeting in the F Pod to talk about fifth grade camp. At the meeting we'll be answering all of your questions and showing slides of Camp Seymour. I really hope you can make it. I expect every student in F3 to go to camp, as I believe it is truly a highlight of fifth grade. Not only will the kids have a fantastic time with their classmates, they will also have academic learning experiences they could never have in a classroom.

Next Thursday, October 4, come back again for curriculum night. I'll be talking to parents about what we will be doing this year in F3. I hope you can make it. There will be cookies :).

This week students will start working on their Family Project. I will be helping students come up with questions to ask their family members about early family history. This week we'll also start gathering materials for making our own first aid kits. I'll be asking all students to chip in by bringing in one of the materials on the list in bulk-- such as band aids or gauze. We'll be putting the first aid kits together early next week.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Sweeter than Apples and Honey

Here are pictures from Paul's first visit!

The class continues to be a joy to be in. Last week, students in F3 had a fantastic time learning all about prime and composite numbers, writing often in their communication notebooks, and best of all, meeting LCPL Paul Craddick and his wife Karen on Tuesday, September 11th.

Paul came in to F3 to talk about his future deployment to Iraq starting on September 28th. The students loved meeting Paul and asking many questions about his fears and goals about Iraq. He gave students a list of his favorite foods and candies, which we will be using in order to send Paul packages throughout his seven-month deployment. Already the students have written Paul a first round of letters which we'll be sending to his base in North Carolina so that he gets them before he leaves.

Paul told us that his job will be to protect rebuilding supplies being driven across Iraq. He will be the driver of the convoy while four other Marines will be protecting their vehicle and the trucks they are traveling with from IEDs.

In other news, as you have noticed on the class calendar, the next three Thursdays look pretty busy. I'm sorry about the timing of all these meetings, but I guess we'll have them all over with by the beginning of October! This Thursday I look forward to meeting all of you at the Multi-Ethnic Family Dinner Night which starts at 6 pm. Next Thursday we'll see each other again for a meeting about fifth grade camp. And on Thursday October 4th, we'll have curriculum night-- I promise cookies to all parents who come to this one. :)

Monday, September 10, 2007

A Fantastic First Week!

Hey everyone! What a great first week we had in F3! Students and I got acquainted over discussions about desired superhero powers, writing in communication notebooks, making a class quilt, and some tough math lessons.. I am so happy to be at Maple and I am thrilled to be the teacher of this wonderful batch of students.

I just wanted to write a quick note to tell parents and remind students about a very exciting visit that will happen this week in our classroom on Tuesday, September 11 at 12:30pm. Paul Craddick, a Marine who is about to begin to serve his first tour of duty in Iraq, is coming to F3 to meet our class and talk about his future deployment and answer any questions to kids may have. We will be keeping in touch with Paul during his deployment by way of email and good old letter writing. During the months Paul is gone, we will periodically send care packages to him. I will be asking all students to participate in sending Paul some gifts from home. (We'll be sure to ask him on Tuesday about his favorite kind of candy.)

Also coming up this week is the deadline to get your Scholastic Book Orders in-- that's on Friday. Please also remember to bring in $5.30 to pay for the year-long subscription to Time for Kids.

Thanks to all parents who filled out ALL that paperwork last week. There are still several students however that did not turn in the paperwork for F3. That includes the Internet release form for this website and a parent survey. Please bring these in as soon as you can.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Welcome to the 2007/2008 School Year!

Hello! I am Marcia Ventura, and I will be your child’s fifth grade teacher this year. I have taught in the Seattle School District for eight years and this year I am returning to teaching after an invigorating one-year travel leave. I’m lucky to be here at Maple and very excited to get off to a great start this fall.

Fifth grade is a very exciting year for students. At this moment they are one year from starting middle school, and as such, it is critical that throughout the year, students become academically and socially ready for that transition. Instruction, especially in the areas of reading, writing, and math, will be rigorous to ensure that readiness.

What will students learn this year? In science, they will work with microscopes, learn about erosion and ground water, and even become engineers. In social studies, your child will learn about early US history and the principles this country was founded on. We will also be studying the evolution of the civil rights era of the 1950s and 1960s and the affects that it continues to have in the world today.

As you know, Maple is an open-concept school, and because of that, students will not only have me as their teacher, but they will also learn from Ms. Koeller and Ms. Litvack, the two other fifth grade teachers. The three of us have worked hard in preparation for the start of the school year and will continue to work closely together throughout the year.