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.

My People

My People by Langston Hughes
The night is beautiful
So the faces of my people.
The stars are beautiful
So the eyes of my people.
Beautiful, also, is the sun.
Beautiful, also, are the souls of my people.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Beats for Brilliance Funded

Our proposal to purchase drums for the special education classes at Bella Vista was fully funded on Donors Choose. This is serendipitous, as Mr. Osuna is a percussionist who has lots of ideas about body drumming and making drums. We'll be making beats soon.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

New Oakland teacher blog

Follow the insights of new teachers in Oakland on this blog, "My First Year":

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Ms. Shepley and Ms. Conklin profiled

Ms. Shepley and Ms. Conklin are profiled on the TEAMS/Americorps web site. Read about how we became teachers and previous service learning projectshere:

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Blog for new Special Education teachers

Council for Exceptional Children now hosts a web blog for new teachers of special education. Check it out for useful resources:

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Ms. Conklin out on Friday October 19th

Mr. Osuna will be here to ensure students have a great day. The substitute will be Ms. Broome, a former Bella Vista teacher. Schedule will remain as follows: Morning Meeting, Reading, Recess, Math, Lunch, Quiet Time, Big Book and Language Arts, English Language Development, Social Skills with Ms. Shepley's class.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Intervention Specialist Mr Osuna

I received a call from our future Instructional Assistant Mr. Osuna that he is tentatively scheduled to come in this Friday, October 12th. Many thanks go to our superstar room mom who has worked tirelessly to coordinate with Programs for Exceptional Children.

From a 5th grader: 1st Grade Rocks!

I am a helper of Ms. Conklin and I am in 5th Grade. To see the work assignments, Go to Portable F. Ms.Conklin gives Art and nice personality!

Math goal for December

In conjunction with the first grade circuit, we have a class math goal that all students add and subtract to 12 by December 1st. Strategies to remind our students: 1) use objects: sticks, cereal, raisins, blocks, cubes, pennies 2) use your fingers for simple addition to 10 and subtraction from 10 3) draw a picture 4) use the number line to count on or back!

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Things that go!

Today we started our third unit in Reading, "Things That Go." We'll be learning about transportation and how people move about the earth. We will also learn about the way people used to travel "back in the day" and how they'll travel in the future.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Free Speech Therapy / terapia de lenguaje gratis

Click this link for free speech therapy at the Oakland Scottish Rite Temple:

Haz clic sobre el siguiente enlace para aprender mas sobre terapia de lenguaje gratis en el barrio de Lake Merritt:

Padres pueden llamar a este numero para que su hijo/a este ingresado/a a la lista de espera: (510) 839-1513.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Oakland Tribune mention

Our blog was noted on the Oakland Tribune's education blog for October 4, 2007. Check it out here.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Back to School Night

Back to School Night is Thursday, October 4th, 2007 from 5:00 to 6:30 pm.

Ms. Conklin, our Second Step Coach, School Psychologist and Speech pathologist will give short presentations in Portable F around 5:30pm.

Please meet in the auditorium at 5!

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Our friends next door /nuestros vecinos

Meet Ms. Shepley and Mr. Johnson, our neighbors in Portable G. They teach second and third grade. Our classes work together weekly on art, garden and social skills.

Les presento Ms. Shepley y Mr. Johnson, nuestros vecinos en la sala G. Ellos ensenan el segundo y tercer grados. Nuestras clases trabajan juntas cada semana en el arte, el jardin y habilidades sociales.

Cultivating Natural Curiousity

We received a grant from BP A+ for Energy to create an edible garden and solar project at our school. We work in the Bella Vista garden every Thursday afternoon and will be monitoring how we grow here:

Halloween Party at Portable F

We will have a Halloween Party on Wednesday, October 31st in the afternoon. The annual Halloween parade for all of Bella Vista will be at 12:45. More details soon; hope you can join us!

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Eat Your Colors

We inaugurated our Healthy Eating curriculum, "Harvest of the Month" with a lesson to "Eat Your Colors" (that is, eat the beautiful and bright colored fruit and vegetables available locally in California) With this program, we will be periodically tasting fruit and vegetables throughout the year. Last week we tried red, yellow and green peppers and tomatoes. For more information, visit

Our morning meeting goes to town

I will present on our morning meeting at this conference in San Francisco. All are invited. The event is free, and free child care is available!

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Who do I contact?

Questions related to obtaining a security guard on the playground: Eric Nelson, Network Executive Officer at OUSD:

Questions related to Special education personnel: Iris Wesselmann: 510-879-8221;

Questions related to Special education class sizes: Christie Anderson: 510-879-8226;

Questions related to Durham Bus Service should be directed to District Transport: 510-879-8526
and/or Durham Bus Service: 510-562-0803

Portable F Parents are amazing!

I have met or spoken to every parent! Everyone has contributed in the past month. While we are waiting for our new Instructional Assistant Jesus to get his paperwork processed by OUSD, many parents have volunteered their time and support to ensure the classroom continues to run full speed ahead. I would like to extend my deep appreciation for all your help with reading, math, lunch, recess and homework folders! Muchisimas gracias also to the parents who have called downtown to advocate for our students, provided treats, brought supplies, donated funds and provided computer equipment.

Supplies we'd love to have

  • Empty egg cartons /Cartones vacios de huevos
  • Empty cleaned yogurt containers /Cartones vacios de yogur
  • Empty toilet paper rolls / Rollos vacios de papel higenico
  • Empty paper towel rolls / Rollos vacios de papel de la cocina
  • Brown paper bags from the grocery store / Sacos de papel de las compras
  • Pine cones /Conos de los arboles pinos
  • Buttons / botones
  • 1 pack blank white index cards (100) / 1 paquete de cartas en blanca (100)
  • 1 pack of beads / 1 paquete de granos para un collar
  • 1 pack of felt material / 1 paquete de fabrica
  • 1 set of watercolors / 1 paquete de pintura sencillo
  • 1 pack of clay / 1 cuadro de arcilla
  • 1 pack of googly eyes / 1 paquete de ojos de arte
  • 1 pack of plain white paper plates / 1 paquete de platos de papel blancos
  • 1 Favorite book / 1 libro favorito
  • 1 Favorite puzzle /1 rompecabezas favorito
  • 1 Elmers glue bottle / 1 botella de pegamento
  • 1 bottle of Glitter / 1 botella de granos brillantes para el arte
  • 1 Black and White Marble Notebook for writing notebooks (try to get the large lines!)/ 1 cuadro blanco y negro (intente de conseguirlo con lineas anchas)
  • 1 Roll of Lysol Disinfectant Wipes to reduce germs on tables, door handles/ 1 rollo de trapos desechables de limpieza
  • 1 packet of pipe cleaners (long furry bending things) 1 paquete de limpiadores de pipa
  • 1 box of tissues / 1 caja de tejidos finos

No school on October 12, 2007

There is a teacher development day on Friday, October 12, 2007.

OUSD Calendar 2007-8

Cut, paste and print for your records!

National Association of Parents with children in Special Education

The National Association of Parents with Children in Special Education is a national membership organization dedicated to rendering all possible support and assistance to parents whose children receive special education services, both in and outside of school. NAPCSE was founded for parents with children with special needs to promote a sense of community and provide a national forum for their ideas.

Sign the Oakland Special Education Petition

Join the CAC

Oakland parents of students receiving special education services formed the Community Advisory Committee to discuss special education in the district. Stay informed by contacting Tom Donovan at:

Adopt our classroom

Adopt-A-Classroom ( is a non-profit organization that offers an easy and accountable way for you to donate funds to my classroom and make a real difference for our students. All donations are tax-deductible. 100% of the donation goes to my classroom. Adopt-A-Classroom takes $0 out for administration.

Click here for more information: Marijke Conklin Adopt-A-Classroom Homepage

Oakland Public School Parents

I just became aware of a group for parents of students in Oakland Public Schools. Parents are invited to review the posts in this Yahoo group to see whether they would like to join.