Friday, September 5, 2014

September 5, 2014

Dear Families and Students,

The first week of school was a load of fun. This group of students is absolutely terrific! Everyone was cheerful, helpful, kind and curious throughout the week. We are all getting to know each other now. There is a good feeling in the air. We will continue to settle into our daily schedule over the next few weeks. 

Yesterday, I asked the students to brainstorm what they think they should be able to expect from their teachers. In groups they made five posters where students wrote their ideas anonymously. Major items were: lots of parties, making learning fun, kindness and just the right amount of homework. To my amusement, one student wrote "clean." I would have to agree. I like teachers to be clean also. One of my favorite parts about working with young people is that they say the funniest things. 

One of our purposes this year is to build connections between our classroom and communities out in the real world. Last year my 5th grade class built Barn Owl nesting boxes to help with a community study on the local population of Barn Owls. 

This year, my class will work with the city of Wilsonville and CREST to install three nesting boxes, two on school campus and one in a nearby meadow. In the spring, we will gather data on new owl families that take up occupancy inside of them.


Through rigorous academic work, purposeful service-learning projects, leadership activities and creative projects, I hope to make this a meaningful year for each student.  Everyone at Lowrie wants to make children feel welcome, safe and eager to engage in learning.

I am looking forward to meeting with parents soon to build a strong connection between home and school. To help us stay in touch throughout the year, please make sure that the office has your current email and phone number. You can reach me at my school email: or leave a message on my voicemail: 503) 673-7700 exten) 5729.

A packet will go home each Thursday. All work is due the following Thursday. Late work will be accepted, but emphasis is placed on turning in work on time. Weekly homework will include math, reading and writing, primarily.

Our school Planner is meant to keep parents and students "on the same page" regarding homework.
We also use the Planner to note three or more specific lessons/activities that have taken place each day. Such notes will circumvent the typical reply to the question "What did you learn at school today?" Please ask to see your 5th Grader's notes from their first week of school. Signing the planner on a weekly basis is optional, depending on your child's needs.

Mark your calendars!

Back to School Night: Thursday, September 18 6-8pm

Fall Goal-Setting Conferences:
Evening conferences - Monday & Tuesday evenings, October 6 &7, 
from 3:00 - 7:30pm

Daytime conferences - Wednesday, October 8,  8:30 am - 3:00 pm

These conference spots will be available for sign-ups online. The principal's secretary, Maria Horton, will provide a link to conference sign-ups on Lowrie's home page a week or so before conferences begin.  

Alternative dates: I can meet after school on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. If you are eager to have a conference before the official October dates, appointment slots are 2:30 pm or 3:00 pm. If we meet on an early date, we will not meet during the official conference week. Your 5th Grader is encouraged to participate in Fall Conferences. It is best for students to help set their own year-long goals. If you need privacy and would like to meet without your 5th Grader, that is perfectly fine as well. 

Email me at if you are interested in making an early appointment. 

To get kids excited about math, I recommend 
"One Grain Of Rice: A Mathematical Folktale" for ages 4 to 9 (, 
"The Math Curse" for ages 6 to 10 (, 
"Infinity and Me" for ages 5 to 8 (, 
"The Red Blazer Girls" for ages 9 to 12 (

 Thank you for having exceptionally wonderful children.

Karena Marcum
503-673-7700 ext.) 5729

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Beginning a new school year


After a wonderful summer full of rest and recreation, my colleagues and I are all geared up for a new school year with our incoming 5th Graders. We'll ease into the school routine with math games, art projects, social activities and fun read-aloud books. Over the next few weeks, the students and I will learn a lot about each other. When everyone feels better acquainted, we will write and share our hopes and wishes for the upcoming year.

5th Grade teachers are focusing on two overarching themes to explore with our students throughout the year: leadership and gratitude.

Leadership: 5th Grade is a time for students to step up into new roles, take on new responsibilities and become more independent. Students build confidence as they contribute in a meaningful way to the smooth running of school systems.

 Last year, Mr. Meigs, Mr. Hillan and Ms. Emily ran the Leadership Team meetings. They met on Wednesdays during morning recess. The meetings lasted a half hour during which discussions and planning occurred.

5th Grade Leaders might choose to run the Student Store, help with arrival and dismissal, facilitate school-wide events or contribute to Morning Meeting assemblies. The Leadership Team conducted school-wide surveys and helped in the decision making process that followed. 5th Grade Leaders generally set a great example for other students.

Gratitude: There is much to be thankful for in all of our lives, even when problems develop at school or at home. Focusing on the positive helps keeps things in perspective. My students will be writing about gratitude on a regular basis, choosing one thing at a time to describe and ponder.

If you come across something you would like to share with our class and other parents, please reply to this page.  A short story, a poem, a mathematical puzzle or activity, an intriguing video… I will consider anything you find worthy of your child’s educational experience.
Check out these web sites:  Beauty of Mathematics and Chocolate Out of Nothing