MUSIC Dave duMonde

We've been testing on ukulele in each of our Music classes all this week. As a teacher, it's so rewarding to see how far they've come in learning a musical instrument! While some students catch on quickly playing chords and songs in no time, others take a little time just to remember how to hold the uke correctly; they forget that their thumb always needs to be pressed on the back of the ukulele neck; they have a tough time learning where to place their fingers for the chords. Many struggled through the test material with mistakes, but nonetheless, they made it! It's a learning process, and this week has been remarkable--despite the anxiety of the "big" test, it's so cool to see students breathe a sigh of relief and light up with a sense of accomplishment when they finish playing the last note of their aural assessment.

Many new purchases later, we've got a little uke culture happening at Selma. Every recess has seen several students hanging out with their brand new ukuleles playing newly learned songs, showing each other tricks and practicing together. We even have several songwriters in our midst (psst--our Songwriting unit is coming up soon!) and we've recorded a few songs in the "studio" (my office). As we move past learning the basics about melody & rhythm, we'll begin to see students stretch out into their creative space, writing songs, learning cover tunes and adding music to their projects in other classes. What a thrill to have a creative culture at our school!

Enjoy this lil' ditty by Ada, Mae & Ella...


Spanish & Student Support Team

Spanish Miguel Alvarez

5th Grade - In Spanish class students are learning how to say and write various parts of the body. We learned the Spanish version of the song head, shoulders, knees, and toes! The students love engaging with the song and are so happy when we sing it. We used our constructivist skills to create our own unique monsters by describing the parts of their body in Spanish. Students were even able to describe some of their monsters' attributes and ways of being all in Spanish. Some of the monsters were very scary, creative, and funny. I love when I see art & music merge with Spanish. For our cultural aspect of the class​ we are learning about Meso-America and connecting it with their colonization projects. We are realizing how much impact colonization can have on civilizations and how these empires dealt with the change. 
6th Grade - In 6th grade Spanish, students are learning classroom items. This gives me the wonderful opportunity of using the words in class. I can say "please take out your pencils, please take out your notebooks, do you need a piece of paper?", etc., ​and students would understand the instruction by finding the connection with the word. Students are working very hard on their Spanish-​speaking country projects. One of the key differences between our project and a traditional country project is the way they will be presenting the information. They have to use their creativity and resources to avoid presenting their research on ​a powerpoint or poster. ​Students are planning to create​ cooking shows, travel channel programs, travel brochure
​s​, newscasts, dances, games, and many more wonderful ideas!​ I am excited for the final ​outcome. Culturally, we are learning about the Mayans and how they adapted to their environment; ​this connects with the theme of their signature projects. 
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Student Support Team Dallas Washburn

The student support staff continues to provide accommodations and modifications to ensure all students have access to the curriculum. In 5th grade ELA, we are continuing to read the novel “Blood on the River” and students are starting to conduct research on a Human Rights Figure for our informational writing unit . In 5th grade Math, we have started to teach the concept of multiplying decimals, including estimation, to ensure answers are reasonable.

Music & 5th Grade History

MUSIC Dave duMonde

It's amazing to see a kid pick up a musical instrument for the first time and light up when they play their first song. This has been happening in 5th & 6th grade this month on ukuleles! We've learned so much together--tuning our ukes, playing notes, chords and the pentatonic scale, and we're working on "La Bamba." Several of you have already succumbed to your kid's request to buy their own ukulele. Well, you've made a great investment!

The ukulele test is at the end of this month: February 26 - March 2. All students will demonstrate their knowledge of the material we've been covering in class on an individual playing assessment. They know their only opportunity to learn and practice ukulele is in music class . . . and I'm there to help. All the material students need to know is posted on the Music Google Classroom. As long as students use their time wisely during class, they'll do well on the test. It's exciting to see students develop a love for music on ukulele!

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In 5th grade history we have been studying early explorers. After researching information about different explorers, students created captains’ logs from the point of view of the explorers. Students wrote about the explorers’ experience during the exploration, as well as their interaction with Native Americans. Students created journals and dyed the pages and burnt them to give a sense of authenticity.



ESY in February

Edible Schoolyard (ESY) Mimi Bonetti & Nickey Bennett-Reed

Highlights from ESY this past month have included weighing our waste on campus, identifying ways in which we can be better Climate Champions, assessing family activities (they were spying on you!) and students began implementing some of their ideas on campus. We will continue exploring Climate Change and little ways we can make a big difference here on campus as well as at home and beyond.

Meanwhile in Kitchen we re-imagined scraps, wilts and weeds as we used food that might otherwise have gone to waste in delicious recipes for banana bread, croutons/ bread crumbs, carrot top pesto and even carrot ‘raisins’.  Look for the recipes on the ESY Google Classroom site (5th grade code: 4v07wuq, 6th grade code: xxd7v0- join the fun!) and continue to challenge students to rethink food waste at home.


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6th Grade Pali & PE

P.E. Coach Keith
Here in P.E. we are kicking the new year off with a sport that I really enjoy. If you are guessing Golf, then you are almost right, sort of. Our 5 week basketball unit is in full gear and we are now getting into our basketball tournaments. Students are learning how to dribble, shoot and pass a basketball, as well as various rules of the game. Students are taught to share their gifts with each other, so with our advanced players, I have given them the task of teaching as well. Basketball is a great motivation for students to continue developing team work skills, which is our overall goal. Students continually working together as a whole in sharing the many gifts that they have.   
We have also started training for our Jog-athon!! With this being heart smart month, I am challenging students to add a jogging lap each time we meet, hopefully building stamina and motivating all to participate. FEB 10th!!!!!
“One finger can't lift a pebble” 
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6th Grade At Pali Institute
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SPED & Spanish


The student support staff continues to provide accommodations and modifications to ensure all students have access to the curriculum. In 5th grade ELA, we are reading the novel “Blood on the River” and students are working on creative projects to increase their awareness and understanding of the colonization that happened in Jamestown, VA. In 5th grade Math, we have started to teach the concept of integers and students are making number line banners to increase their understanding of positive and negative numbers.

SPANISH Miguel Alvarez

6th Grade
   What is culture? this is the question the sixth grade Spanish class will be answering with their fresh off the printer Spanish project. Students will be working in groups and researching and presenting culture from a Spanish speaking country. Focusing on the art, history, lifestyle, cuisine, etc. of a Spanish speaking country of their choosing. They will create dances, travel brochures, a travel show, and even cook a dish from the country to represent culture. My goal is for them to know what the culture from their Spanish speaking country is. Once they know this, the project is a success. In regards to grammar and vocabulary, students have been learning school items in Spanish and how to read, write, and say large numbers (one million and up)
5th Grade
   5th grade Spanish students have been learning emotions in Spanish. They are able to greet and ask how someone is doing and how to respond with various emotions. This is key to being fluent in Spanish. We also began learning parts of the body in Spanish. They will be able to describe what part of their body hurts and even sing head, shoulders, knees and toes in Spanish! Their current project is to create their own monster and label its parts of the body. They will also describe their location and tell me what their monster can or cannot do in Spanish! To work on our conversational Spanish, students are able to ask and respond to what their favorite color is? if they like a certain color and have learned the definite and indefinite articles in the Spanish language. 

Music Class

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Music has been quite an adventure during first trimester. We've been learning all about rhythms . . . feelin' the music, hearing the music, and reading the music. Music is defined as organized sound; Rhythm is the foundation that organizes those sounds into musical patterns.

This week, we've begun diving into melody and harmony by way of learning ukulele. Fun! After exploring the origin of the uke (It comes from Portugal--ask your student about the meaning of its name in English), we learned how to hold the instrument and strum it correctly. We even learned how to play a few notes and chords on the first day. By the end of our two-month unit, your student will be a real musician, able to play some songs and will know notes, chords and scales!




The ukulele is a perfect instrument for any young person to start learning the art of being a musician. As our students have discovered, a ukulele is NOT a mini guitar, just like a violin is not a guitar. It's a whole different (little) beast. Ukes have only four strings which are uniquely tuned, and we traditionally don't use a pick to play it.

Don't be surprised if your student asks you about getting their own ukulele. And it might be a great idea--a good uke costs around $55.00 at the music store or on Amazon. But regardless, we have ukes that students get to use while they're here at school.

Congratulations on having a real live musician now living in your home! Be sure to get their autograph.








5th GRADE SCIENCE Michael Weng

In science, students traced their shadows when we came back from break. This led to conversations and our unit of study on Earth and Sun. We have learned about how the earth rotates around the sun and what causes day and night. The 5th grade team is looking forward to applying our scientific knowledge into our Colonization Project this trimester.

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ESY (Kitchen/Garden)

If your motto around this time is ‘New Year, new you’, ESY is with you!  We are dedicating the month of January to reimagining the way we all think of waste here at Selma and beyond.  This is a part of the bigger picture of how we impact our planet and climate change and little ways we can all evoke big change.  We began by showing our students a short film Our Climate, Our Future (see the Alliance for Climate Education for more info).  We have challenged everyone to a ‘DOT’ (Do one thing) to promote change in the way we use (or not use) our resources.  Next, all classes (on all campuses!) will participate in weighing campus waste.  We will weigh it all again after our month long pursuit of reimagining waste to see how we did.  We always encourage students to refuse first when applicable, then to reduce, reuse and recycle.  This is the focus of ESY this month. What is your DOT?

In the Kitchen Classroom we will turn what would be wasted food into delicious recipes and look at how we can reuse ‘scraps’ either as food, by regrowing them in the garden or last resort, tossing them into the compost to reuse in our gardens.  We like to  remind students that even if you don’t have a garden at home you can still compost your kitchen and yard waste in the green trash bins the city provides which is used for city compost.  Maybe starting a compost at home can be your DOT?!

In Garden we will be turning items that would typically be thrown into the trash into useful items for the garden and our campus. We will also dive deeper into our recycling program here at the Selma campus. Is repurposing your DOT?

Spanish in December

Spanish Miguel Alvarez
Quinto Grado (5th Grade)
Exciting things are happening in 5th grade Spanish. Students are just wrapping up their Shapes unit. Students are able to spell (including placement of accents =) , pronounce, and translate numerous shapes in Spanish. Some of those shapes include spheres, stars, diamonds, etc. Students previously learned colors in Spanish and we were able to connect both by creating our own color/shapes monsters, designed only by shapes and colors! Each monster had a sentence in Spanish describing each shape and color in their body. Students created some amazing monsters! We also continue to travel around the wonderful Spanish speaking countries and learning about their culture and cuisine. Students are able to taste the culture, there is no better way to be engaged in the culture than with food. In the next few weeks we will be introducing emotions in Spanish. Students will be able to describe how they are feeling and add skills to their conversational Spanish.
Sexto Grado (6th Grade)
Students in 6th grade Spanish are learning how to say various animals in Spanish. Students are able to name lions, raccoons, ostriches, tigers, bears, gorillas, etc in the target language. They are also able to have dialogue on animals, for example they are able to ask and respond to what can they find in the zoo? what animals do they prefer? where does a specific animal(s) live? and what do they eat? Lastly, students took their knowledge and designed their own crazy zoo. Their crazy zoo had animals of all shapes and colors. I had students describe the animals using color and adjectives in Spanish. I told many of them to consider a career in zoology and architecture. Next unit students will be learning numbers beyond a million.

5th Grade - December

5th Grade History - Sarah Perkins
In History class, the 5th graders are preparing to take another journey into the 15th and 16th Century. After studying what Native American life is like in the Americas, we will now begin learning about the early explorers. Using Christopher Columbus as a model, students will gather information about an explorer from France, England, Italy, or Portugal. Students will compile research about the explorer’s life and their motivations for sailing to the New World. Then, students will use this information to write captain’s logs from their explorer’s perspective. The logs will focus on the country sponsoring the trip, what life at sea was like, where they landed, the interactions with Native Americans, and what impact their trip had. We can’t wait to share this fun project with you!

5th Grade Math - Ian Jewitt
In 5th grade math we have been studying area, perimeter, multiplication strategies, and place value. After working with the concepts for a few weeks, we started learning how the Chinese number system worked. In Chinese, students need to use multiplication, addition, division, and place value skills to understand the system. Afterwards, we used our knowledge of Chinese numbers to show the various skills we had been studying and we created scrolls. The Chinese scrolls show various skills in both Chinese and English.

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