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Town Time, Star Student, and Academics...Oh My!

September 14, 2019

Greetings Families,


Brace yourselves for a long blog post full of awesomeness!  


Before I jump into academics, there is a hot topic buzzing around our classroom that I want to touch on: TOWN TIME.


For years, I've been implementing a classroom economy that not only addresses state standards, but it's super fun.  We call it, "Town." It is a robust classroom management system that enables students to learn financial responsibility through fun, experiential learning.


Each student has a classroom job, and they get paid $5 a day as their salary. And yes, I pay them in real moolah....Melissa Moolah, that is!




The "Melissa  Moolah" comes in all denominations, (ones, fives, tens, twenties, fifties and of course, hundreds) and students get paid every Friday.


So, what is this Melissa Moolah good for, besides making us laugh to see my face on the bills? That's where the "Town Time" part comes in. 


About every 6 weeks or so, on the Friday before break, we have TOWN TIME. This is when students open up a business and sell items for Melissa Moolah. In the past, we've had a huge variety of businesses such as bakeries, hair salons, nail salons, art galleries, odds and ins, arcades and more. 


Students decide ahead of time what sort of business they would like to open. Then on the Friday before break, which will be Friday October 11th they bring in whatever it is that they are selling:  cookies, brownies, (PLEASE NO NUTS IN ANYTHING!) stuffed animals they no longer want, their own art work or origami, whatever game they created to charge people to get the drift.  In the afternoon, we open up TOWN where students can buy and sell their items.


Just like in life, students can choose NOT to open up a business and either purchase goods or just have a regular Free Choice time like we have on every single Friday. 


In the past, I have had parents donate items for our "School Store" for students to purchase and we're open to that this year as well.  We like to keep these items to things like pencils, cool erasers, cool pens, makers or other schoolish items. The Dollar Store in Gunni has awesome items as does Oriental Trading Company.  Again, we try and keep school store items a little more functional and a little less, "this is going to end up in a landfill in two weeks and remain there for the next 100 years."  


As the year goes on, it is my hope to really expand this into opening up classroom bank accounts, developing a business plan, marketing strategies and integrating technology as these are part of social studies standards.


IF you have any questions or concerns, please reach out to me.  I truly believe that everything is "figureoutable" with a conversation.




In other news, we have now started STAR STUDENT in our class!  I normally wait a bit to get this going, but when I explained it to the class, they were chomping at the bit so here we are!


Star Student is a one of the wonderful tools I use to create a strong classroom community/family.  Here's how it works:  On Fridays, I randomly choose a student to be the next star student.  If students have something going on like a family trip (For example: Phoebe is going to her great-grandma's 105th birthday this week!!!)  they can opt out for that week.

When the student is chosen, they take home the Star Student trunk(it's an old Samsonite suitcase that has been used by every class I've ever taught) that includes a poster for them to complete over the weekend and instructions for what happens each day of the week that they are Star Student.


Your responsibility as parents is to help them choose 3 items to place in the trunk to share with their classmates.  These items should have some meaning behind them such as a gift from a grandparent or a stuffy they've had their whole life or a souvenir from a trip.  Be sure they do their best work on their poster.  And lastly, write a letter to the class about your child.  Some parents choose to come in and read the letter, but if that's not possible, I can read it for you.  Hakuna Matata!  Oh, I also included a plastic sleeve for pictures, but you can email me pictures instead as no one seems to have printed photos anymore. All this info will be in the trunk as well.  Last week, Emma White was our Star Student and this week it's Jackson Moore!!


Okay!  Phew!  We're caught up on that and if you're still reading, I thank you!  Here's a little of what's going on with our academics:



Our comprehension focus for last week and the next two week is Visualizing. 


During this unit, the students visualize to make sense of poetry and fiction. As they visualize, they informally use schema (background knowledge) and make inferences. They also begin an informal exploration of point of view as they consider the thoughts and feelings of characters in relation to their own. During IDR, the students continue to self-monitor their reading comprehension and begin to confer with me individually about their reading lives and about the books they are reading. They practice visualizing in their independent reading and write in their reading journals. Socially, they practice acting in fair and caring ways and analyze the effect of their behavior on others.


How you can help at home: During family read time, share what you're picturing in your mind while reading a certain passage.  Ask your child to share what they're picturing. Take it a step further by seeing how detailed you can get with your visualizations.  Can you picture what the person is wearing?  What kind of shoes? Are the shoes dirty, ripped up or perfectly neat?  You get the idea.  


Also, Skills groups will be starting next week.  For more info on that, please click here to read Sally Hensley's letter.  



We're finishing up a three-week unit on building a writing community.  The students begin to see themselves as contributing members of a caring writing community. They hear and discuss examples of good writing and begin to learn about the writing practice of professional authors. They explore prewriting techniques and write freely in their writing notebooks about things that interest them. They learn cooperative structures that they will use throughout the year, as well as discussion prompts to help them listen and connect their comments during class discussions. Finally, they begin conferring with one another about their writing in a caring and responsible way.  


How you can help at home:  Sharing your own stories and memories can spark memories for your child.  Just this week, I talked about how their was a rainbow that looked like it was ending at our house on the day we looked at it to buy it.  This sparked a whole slew of rainbow stories!  I guess we're all just a group of lucky charms!!!



I am so excited for what we're doing in math this year.  We've got Mrs. Pennie in our class every day to help us with our math workshop.  Each day, students will participate in a short mini lesson and then head off to centers!  These centers will include a station that  has a differentiated activity that supports the concept, a station for applying the concept and a station that is a game which reinforces the concept.  This is not only super fun for the students, but it provides them with a small group experience in a whole group setting AND they get two teachers for the price of one!  Woohoo!


This week, we'll be exploring more with time and multiplication.  For more info on this unit, click here for the family letter.




Lastly, while I'm not sending home any official homework, we are practicing bringing our home folders back and forth from home. Sometimes they'll be totally empty, but sometimes they won't.  Please be sure you are encouraging your child to empty their folders at home daily and to put them back in their backpack to bring to school each and every day.


Thank you so much for reading this novel of a blog.  Here are a few pictures from our field trip to RMBL.  Gorgeous, right?  Maybe we really are a bunch of lucky charms!



À bientôt,






















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