Monday, October 20, 2008

Welcome Back! Hello! and Happy Autumn!

Hello friends!

I am Ms. Hughes, the new teacher of the Bella Vista Portable F Superstars. This year, we are a 1st/2nd combo class with 11 wonderful students and two hard-working teachers, myself and Intervention Specialist Ms. Gonzalez. I am new to Bella Vista but this is my 2nd year teaching in Oakland Unified.
I am excited to have a great year and share our educational adventures with you, the readers!
Recently in class, we have been talking a lot about Autumn and getting really excited for Halloween. We have been reciting the following poem to get ourselves in the mood:
"Come" said the wind
to the leaves one day
"Come over the meadow
and we will play.
Put on your dresses
of red and gold.
For summer is gone
and the days grow cold."

Keep checking up on us for more updates about our exciting adventures and achievements!!!

-Ms. Hughes

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Download Summer School Options

Family Resource Network is at 5232 Claremont Ave., Oakland, CA 94618 and can be reached at(510)547-7322. They have posted a 2008 Recreation Resource List for children with disabilities and special needs. Go to this Web site ( and download Summer School Options from the left hand bar.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Art Trees

Since January, students have participated in various team-building art projects, including the art trees pictured here. The latest tree features adjectives and nouns the students brainstormed as leaves.

Yoga mats arrive

We've started doing Yoga postures after morning meeting and phonics skills.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Ocean Beach Clean-Up June 6

Last Friday, we visited Ms. Shepley's class to learn about pollution, marine wildlife and how we can help our streets and beaches clean and healthy. On June 6th, we'll be headed to Ocean Beach, San Francisco to help with Beach Clean Up Day. This is the second year in a row students at Bella Vista have participated in protecting our beaches.

Last of of school quickly approaching

The last day of school for students is June 12. Many thanks for the beautiful art project and photo album that our room mother put together to commemorate an amazing year! Many parents have questions about next year's placement. Regarding summer school options, class visits or placements, please contact:
Program Specialist: Eric Peterson at
Elementary Coordinator: Christie Anderson at

Talent Show June 4

We'll be performing bongos at the Bella Vista Talent Show on June 4th. The performance will take place in the auditorium. Students should wear white shirts and black or blue pants or skirts.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Join us for a Multicultural Celebration

On Wednesday, March 19th we will perform at Bella Vista's annual Multicultural Celebration. A Potluck dinner will be served at 5:00pm. The performances will begin at 6:00pm in the auditorium on the first floor. Students should wear white shirts and black pants or skirt.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Unit 7: Keep Trying

Keep Trying is meant to give students many examples of why persistence is so crucial in achievement.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Yoga for Youngsters Funded

I am thrilled to announce that a recent Portable F proposal, Yoga for Youngsters, was funded! We will be learning breathing techniques, as well as muscle and spine strengthening postures. With this program, students will learn positive, kinesthetic ways to develop focus and calm.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Unit 6: Journeys

Journeys aims to help students explore concepts of geography and travel. In the spirit of James Joyce, we'll employ a simplified version of concentric circles. First we need to understand we are in a place or a location. Then we can expand out to the classroom, the city, the state, the country, the continent, the world, the universe. This concept is embedded in the story, "Me on The Map." Understandably, it can be very abstract to young children! And yet, our new model solar system already has students asking questions about planets (No pluto in this line-up!) A lot of students in our class have traveled to places near and far (from Lake Merritt to Tahoe to Chile.) We'll be talking about that as a way to use prior knowledge to make connections. Also look forward to drawing and writing journals which our amazing room mom is getting for us. We will start a daily morning journal time where students will create a message and reflect upon it.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The Drum by Nikki Giovanni

To continue our morning poetry and complement our regular drum lessons led by Mr. Osuna, we've started a new poem, "The Drum" by Nikki Giovanni.

The Drum
daddy says the world is
a drum tight and hard
and i told him
i'm gonna beat out my own rhythm

vocabulary focus: daddy, world, drum, tight, hard, beat, rhythm
high-frequency words: i, the, is, a, and, him, says, out, my

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Ms. Conklins in Guatemala and Egypt

My younger sister will be working with young children as a Healthy Schools Facilitator in Guatemala. She has created this blog to chart her experiences with students in Guatemala. I hope we can do at least one pen pal exchange between students before the year is up.. My older sister works in Cairo, Egypt with Save The Children, an organization committed to ensuring that children worldwide have access to food, education and nurturing environments.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Oysters in New York

What did you do on your winter break? I visited my good friend Ann, who is also a teacher. She works at the New York Harbor School in New York City with students in high school. It was so cold in New York! I visited her field class on a learning lab about oysters. The students diagrammed and measured oysters and had a filter competition. Students are learning how oysters help keep estuaries (places where salt and fresh water meet) healthy. We tasted oysters at the South Street Sea Port Museum.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Garden progress

Don't forget to check in on our garden blog, where all sorts of growth is happening!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Holiday Party

A holiday party is in the works for Friday, December 21st at 1:40pm at Portable F.

Unit 5:Weather

Our new Open Court Reading Big Book theme is Weather. Please chime in with ideas for art projects or learning games!

New Intervention Specialist

It has been really nice to see everyone for parent conferences. All the testing we've done in the past few days indicates the students are on an amazing achievement trajectory. It is my great pleasure to introduce Ms. Alexandra Gonzalez, our new Intervention Specialist. Ms. Gonzalez has a great deal of experience in the classroom. Together with myself and Mr. Osuna, Ms. Gonzalez will be assisting to lead small group work and 1:1 interventions in math and reading. She will be working with our classroom all day to support academic and social achievement. We'll have a picture up soon!

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Kids magazines

Magazines offer a great opportunity for literacy development and are relatively inexpensive. You may want to consider purchasing a subscription to one of these. I'm looking into purchasing subscriptions for the class.

National Geographic for Kids:
Zoo Books:
Time for Kids:
Highlights for Children:

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Looking into schools

This post was inspired by a parent asking about long-term special education options in Oakland. In Oakland, Special Day Classes are spread around the district. That means if students remain in a Special Day Class placement, they move every few years to a new school. In Oakland, grades 6-8 are together in middle-school Special Day Classes, and 9-12 are together for high-school Special Day Classes. It means that after elementary school, students may be in an multi-grade Special Day Class.

My conversation with the parent led me to brainstorm about learning communities where students could possibly remain through 8th grade. Below I am beginning a list of schools it may be worth contacting to find out what their programs look like. These will be schools I may not know any specifics about. But, they seem inspiring in their commitment to expeditionary learning and alternative pedagogy. Please chime in with suggestions!

Lighthouse Charter

Thursday, November 22, 2007

It's long vowels time

From now until June, we'll be mastering the long vowel sounds and spellings. Initially, most students have challenges differentiating between when to pronounce short and long vowel sounds. Its important to remind students that vowels have two sounds: one like their name and another short vowel sound. We can often tell which sound to make by looking at the way a word is spelled. Here are some words that correspond to the long vowel sounds we'll be learning:
Long A: cake, bay, a,
Long E: peek, treat, Steve
Long I: sigh, my, I, try,
Long O: so, spoke, coat
Long U: flute, blue,

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Educational gift ideas?

If you are purchasing gifts for the holidays, here are educational gifts ideas students may enjoy: flower pot with seeds and soil; puzzles; legos; recorders (any instrument); puppets; world map or globe; watercolor paint; kids yoga DVD; books on tape or CD; colored pencils and drawing paper; crayons and coloring books; play dough; linker cubes; wooden blocks. Here are places to peruse items. Please feel free to add more.
Kids Gardening Store:
(there are so many cool things on this site!)
The Ecology Store, Berkeley:
Elephant Pharmacy, Berkeley:
Lakeshore Learning:
Able Play:
Amazon Children's Books:

Tuesday, November 6, 2007


We still love "My people" by Langston Hughes, but we've started a new poem during morning meeting. "Orgullo: Pride" is by Alma Flor Ada and is in English and Spanish. Here it is:

Orgullosa de mi familia,
Orgullosa de mi lenguaje,
Orgullosa de mi cultura,
Orgullosa de mi raza,
Orgullosa de ser quien soy.

Proud of my family
Proud of my language
Proud of my culture
Proud of my race
Proud to be who I am.

Unit 4: Our neighborhood at work

We've started "Our Neighborhood at Work," the fourth unit in our reading curriculum. We'll be learning about jobs in our community.