Learning Spanish!

I just discovered that the Seattle Public Library subscribes to a service called Mango Languages. I sure wish I had known that when I was attempting to learn Chinese! I’ve just started the Spanish program and I’ve been thrilled to discover that I’m learning already. I knew you said Mucho Gusto when you’re telling someone you’re happy to see them, but I didn’t know the proper response was El gusto es mio! There are 100 lessons and I’m on lesson 2. When I finish this one, you know I’ll move on to Russian! 🙂




Ladies and gentlemen,

I am pleased to announce that this summer I will be able to bring you on a trip with me, as I did last summer! This summer, we’ll be traveling to London and Scotland! Upon learning more about our itinerary, I immediately went to the Tate Modern Web site (this is the site we used to watch a movie about Jim Dine‘s studio), and I discovered that we’ll be able to see Roy Lichtenstein’s WHAAM!, as well as one of his wall explosions! You can see the pop art the Tate Modern has (including some pieces by Claes Oldenberg!) here.

Lessons from Hatchet

We finished reading Hatchet last week, and although I’m usually more of a My Side of the Mountain kind of girl, my students’ enthusiasm made me enjoy it a ton more this time around. (Also, the student who checked out My Side of the Mountain this week in library — AND is actually reading it — is my current hero)

A few days ago, my partner Toby found this link for us. When Toby was in 5th grade, he wrote a song about Hatchet with his friend Lena. He says he can’t remember all the lyrics, but when he does, I’ll pass them along to you. 🙂 Parents, I screened this article to make sure it was 4th-grade-appropriate! Please enjoy 10 Wilderness Survival Lessons from Hatchet.

You can also read Gary Paulsen‘s introduction to Hatchet and chunks from the story here, at Google Books.

If you’d like to write to Gary Paulsen, his address can be found by clicking on his picture below!

(He looks so serious, doesn’t he? I bet he’d be able to give Man vs. Wild a run for his money!)



We have been doing body breaks about every half hour during this entire school year. I’ve noticed a huge improvement in my students’ attention, and they seem to be much more comfortable when they do need to sit for longer stretches of time. Here are some good Pilates links if you want to try some exercises at home!

Teaching Pilates to Kids

Doing Footwork on the Mat

This fall, Adrienna van Elswijk visited our classroom to teach us some basic exercises. I’m hoping that she will come back in the spring, and this time bring her chair!


Under the Sea

Hi there!

I apologize for my lengthy time away from this site. I have about a million things I’ve told my students I would upload, but I’ve run into a bit of technical difficulty.

I recently discovered that I am not permitted to have an online wish list for our classroom’s needs, nor can school Web sites link to teachers’ blogs. Yet teachers largely do not have access to any district-approved Web site support. If I want to put anything online, I need to go through our office manager, who is super crazy busy and has many larger fish to fry than uploading an html page. Upper grades may use a forum-style option to engage in a dialogue with their classes, but that’s not really accessible for my students.

What to do? Well, I’ve taken the wish list down for one.

I wanted to share this information with you because I thought I had a pretty good handle on our district’s Internet policies, but it appears that I don’t, and I wanted to make sure you don’t make the same errors I did. I’ve talked with several district people in the tech department, but the ultimate answer seems to be “just don’t post anything.” I completely understand that the Internet must be a big can of worms for the folks in charge, but I also know my students are hungry to access the content we’ve talked about in class.

For example, this week we read an incredible book called The Fantastic Undersea Life of Jacques Cousteau. My students were amazed, and thrilled to discover his Web sites: http://www.cousteau.org and http://www.cousteaukids.org .

I discovered that we could become a sponsored classroom and receive a year’s worth of sea life magazines and teaching materials for free! If you’re a classroom teacher, I highly suggest you contact the organization. I spoke with Edna, who was just a dream. We can’t wait to receive our first issues of the magazine!

I want to be able to share this kind of information with my students and with other teachers. I’m hoping the district creates more comprehensive, open classroom Internet policies, but until then I will respectfully continue to keep my content in compliance.

Thanks for supporting our class!