Group Blog Project

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Passport Club

Dear Families,

This coming Wednesday (November 14th) is our next Passport Club Check Date. It has been so much fun watching the students get excited over geography. If you need another map to study for next week, please let me know. In addition, there is a link in the helpful websites column which will take you to an online quiz. This quiz will help prepare the students for next weeks Check Date. Have a great weekend!

-Mr. Pfaff

The last Passport Club Check Date before the winter break will be on Dec. 19.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Specials Calendar

Dear Families,

I have just posted a calendar for Oct. Specials Rotations (under Calendars heading- left column), displaying our specials rotations for your planning and convenience. When you open the document you will realize that there is a letter (A-H) posted for each day of school during the month. For clarification, this is what each letter represents in the rotations for our class:

A- Technology
B- P.E.
C- Library/Media
D- Counselor
E- Technology
F- P.E.
G- Library/Media
H- Music

I will try to continue posting these calendars for future months, so that you are better able to anticipate our daily specials schedule. I hope this helps.

-Brian Pfaff

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Behavior Contract

Dear Families,

Today you will find a behavior contract in your child's backpack to review, sign, and send back to school. To give you a little bit of background and clarity, it has been a challenging first month of school. On one hand, I have enjoyed getting to know the class (thank you for the great letters about your children), and feel like we have so many strengths and unique talents to celebrate. Unfortunately, I have also had to address the class repeatedly for behavior that damages the learning environment for all. Thus far I have noticed: inattentiveness during lessons, lack of respect/interrupting lessons, off-task behavior during independent work time, and for inappropriate touching/ voices during transitions. We have practiced several times appropriate expectations, as well as listing them on poster boards for review and clarification. The same issues seem to keep coming up. I would like to request your help and support in this area, and ask you to read through the contract with your child, discussing the importance of following each criteria. In the future you may hear me refer to one or a few of the criteria should the concerns become more pervasive. I look forward to clarifying any questions or concerns you may have about the contract during conferences, but ask that you sign and return it with your child at your earliest convenience. Hopefully these issues don't overshadow a lot of daily successes that we are having this year. I really enjoy this group, but felt it necessary to ask for your help early on so that together we can create a positive classroom environment for all.

Thank you,
Brian Pfaff

Friday, September 21, 2012

Volunteer Calendar


Firstly, thank you for offering to help in our classroom this year. More than ever, your help is an invaluable part of our learning community. With the organizational help of Susie Wilson, I have posted a draft of our October calendar for you to view. Please let me know if you have any changes or questions about the calendar. If you turned in a volunteer application but do not see your name on the calendar please let me know as well. In addition, before you can volunteer in the classroom you need to complete a quick background check. This can be found on the Beaverton School District home page. Please click on the "hand print" icon to complete the short background check. Please disregard this if you have already completed the background check. Thank you, and have a wonderful weekend.

Homework due on Monday!

-Brian Pfaff

Monday, September 17, 2012


To clarify a couple points about homework:

-all homework is to be turned in on Monday in homework folder provided (unless there is no school, then it is to be turned in on Tuesday)
-your Reading Log should come back each week, so that I can see what books you are reading
-this will be the last week that I copy homework  for those families that have indicated that they can print from home, so starting next week (9/24) you will need to print your own homework
-if you can print homework from home, but keep getting homework copies from school, please let me know as soon as possible and will stop doing so
-Tic-Tac-Toe spelling activities need to include challenge words (10 vocabulary words)
-challenge/vocabulary words can be found on the blog or printed on the back of the writing homework bi-fold
-spelling tests are always on Friday, so spelling homework should be completed before the Friday test
-however, do not turn in the spelling homework (Tic-Tac-Toe) early, but make sure it is with the homework that is turned in on Monday
-if you have questions with some of the math homework, you can try and click on the Everyday Math link under the "Helpful Websites" heading

Hope this helps,

Brian Pfaff

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Welcome Back To School!

September 13, 2012
Dear Parent(s),

Welcome to another school year!  My name is Brian Pfaff and I will be your child's third grade teacher.  I am so excited to be working with you and your child this year. I look forward to getting to know your child and to the adventure we will have together this school year.

We know that good teaching begins with making your child feel at home in our classroom. We want all of our  students to come together as a learning community  made of  unique individuals, each with his or her own learning styles, interests, history and hopes.  Would you help us with this by  taking a moment to write about your child?  What is your child like?  What are the things that you, as a parent, know would be important for us to know?  What are your child's interests?  We want to know how your child thinks and how you see your child as a learner and a person.  Please take a moment to write us and share your thoughts and insights.  You can either mail this letter to me at school, send it with your child or email it.  The mailing address is:

Teacher's Name c/o Sexton Mountain Elementary
15645 SW Sexton Mountain Drive
Beaverton, OR 97007

Thank you for taking the time to do this!  If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to call (503)672-3560.  We look forward to working with you this year!

-Mr. Pfaff

Monday, June 11, 2012

Portland Musical Performance Tuesday June 12 @1:45

This is an important reminder that the culmination to our Portland social science unit is a musical performance that you'll not soon forget. Friends and family members are welcomed to join us for this exciting musical representation. The performance will start promptly at 1:45 in the cafeteria. Bring your cameras and sufficient applause for this historical journey through the ups and downs of Portland's past.

Since tomorrow is matching day at school, students are encouraged to wear a white shirt (hopefully with collar/button up) and blue jeans to school.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Important Reminder

Our fieldtrip is this Tuesday, May 29.  Buses will leave school at 9:00.  Please make sure your child is at school on time, appropriately dressed and has a lunch in his or her backpack.  Students will be carrying their own lunches.  After the tour, we'll be meeting at Pioneer Square for lunch just after noon.  (Our tour ends at noon and then we'll find an open area on the steps to eat.)

Bring in your white t-shirt for Camp next week.  I have some extras in various sizes but the class decided the fairest thing to do was to ask everyone to bring one and if someone forgets or if the family isn't able to get one, we'd cover it.  We will be tying the shirts on Thursday.

Mr. Parker's Bring Your Family to Music day for our class is Friday, June 1, from 11:10 - 11:55 in the cafeteria.

Our fabulous Portland musical is on Tuesday, June 12, at 1:45.  Your children are so talented and adorable.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Poetry Homework

Each of the poetry prompts below asks you to choose a different kind of subject. The prompts are designed to get you thinking about what matters to you and why, and then to express your feelings through poetry. Choose one to write idea to use for writing an ode.

  1. Someone you love. The most traditional odes are written to extol the virtues of a loved one. Who do you love? Tell them why with a poem.
  2. Someone you admire. You don’t have to know or love someone to pay tribute to them. Write a poem honoring one of your heroes, someone who has, from a distance, made a difference in your life.
  3. An inanimate object. You can write a silly poem about how much you admire your toaster or you can write a serious piece declaring the magnificence of an inanimate object with more meaning (something like a book, perhaps?).
  4. An abstract concept. Can you pay tribute to love itself? Write a poem honoring something that can’t be seen or touched: honor, passion, curiosity, or loyalty. Or music.
  5. Someone you despise or view as a villain. What happens when you look at your enemy and search for his or her merits? Can you see the good in someone you see as bad?
  6. A total stranger. Has a total stranger ever helped you? Have you ever thought about all the people in this world you’ve never met but who affect your life?
  7. A place. The beach, the mountains, the vast sea, and deep space are all great places for tributary poems. Write about the city you love, the town you call home, or your favorite vacation destination.
  8. Be a fan. Write a poem to your favorite book, movie, song, or TV show.
  9. Satire. Turn your tribute on its head and write a tongue-in-cheek piece. Tell bad drivers, rude customers, and evil dictators how grateful you are for what they’ve done. Do it with a wink and a smile.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Lewis and Clark Writing Homework

As students write their realistic fiction account of one day with the Corps of Discovery (using the timeline link on the right for guidance), keep the following information in mind:

To appreciate the work of these men, let us remember the conditions under which they wrote. Most days of the voyage involved hard physical labor, working canoes upstream, loading and unloading bulky equipment, hunting and butchering, tanning leather, making moccasins, cooking, chopping and shaping wood, caring for horses and searching for strays, mounting guard, portaging around falls and rapids, all while exposed to every kind of weather and to the attacks of insects and grizzly bears, with the constant danger of physical injury from accidents. At the end of such a day, perhaps while others were dancing to Pierre Cruzatte's fiddle, a journal keeper would have to write by the light of a campfire in notebooks somehow kept safe from the elements. According to Lewis, seven of the thirty-odd men had the perseverance and the sense of destiny to try.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Testing Information

 Dear Families,

In a short time, our class will be starting their state required assessment in reading and math. The tests will be given the second (reading on 9th and 10th) and fourth week (math on 25th and 26th) of April.  Both are multiple-choice tests that will be completed on the computers over the course of a few days.

The format of the test is the same as last year. In order to practice navigating around the computer tool and to practice 3rd  grade level content and strategies listed below, you may access the practice tests in the following way:

  • Go to
  • Click “students”, then “practice test”
  • Login as guest in grade 3
  • Choose "reading" or "math"
Please note, you may need to download the free browser, Firefox, from

We strongly encourage parents to sit with their children during the practice test as a confidence building measure and as a way to reinforce these test-taking strategies:

  • Pre-read the passage (scan, titles, headers, captions, etc.) and then the questions and answers.
  • Read/Reread the passage carefully to completely understand it
  • Identify the question type:
    • vocabulary, understanding, interpretation, read to perform a task, +/-, < >, measurement, data analysis $, time, geometry, fractions etc.
  • Eliminate answers you know to be incorrect
  • Answer the question and determine the exact spot(s) in the passage where you can support your answer (reading).
  • Double check your thinking (use a calculator or Conversion Table/Formula Sheet if applicable)

And, here are three proven tips for maximizing success on tests:

  • Have a positive attitude and best effort.
  • Get plenty of sleep
  • Eat a good breakfast and lunch

If you are interested in the detailed test specifications, you may find them under "Reading and Literature, 3rd  Grade" and "Math Knowledge and Skills, 3rd Grade" here:

Thank you so much for your continued support and dedication to your child’s learning and success.

-Mr. Pfaff

Thursday, February 23, 2012


Spring is fast approaching, but since we are still in the winter months it is a good chance to be aware of possible pest problems that occur with greater frequency in public schools during this time of year. As a refresher, head lice is one such pest that can be spread whenever there is direct contact with the head or hair of an infested individual. Lice can also be spread through the sharing of personal articles, like hats, towels, brushes, hair ties, and hooded jackets. There are brochures available in the office that can provide greater information and detail about diagnosis and treatment.  I just want to take this opportunity to share with you the procedures that we follow each year to ensure the health and safety of your child at SMES. Students are keeping their jackets, hats, and other personal articles contained inside of their backpacks at all times, with the exception of recess time. In addition, students are not permitted to share or exchange articles of clothing with classmates at any time. We have on site staff who are available to discretely inspect students if any question arises about a possible infestation. Your help in inspecting your child weekly would be greatly appreciated. Here are the procedures for doing so:

1. Under bright light begin looking at the back of the head just above the neck area.
2. Part the hair section by section and look closely for head lice or nits (eggs). Eggs will usually be located near the scalp.
3. Depending on the length and thickness of the hair, it should take between 5 and 15 minutes to properly inspect a child's head.

If you suspect your child is infested with head lice please notify the school nurse. In addition, the entire family should be inspected for head lice as well. My intent isn't to frighten anyone, but to provide up front information about a problem that occurs each year in schools across the nation. This way together we can do our best to deter the spread of this pest and keep this learning environment safe for children to learn and be their best. Thanks for your help and understanding.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Valentines Day

I apologize for being out much of this past week. Pneumonia is tough enough to spell much less to try and teach through. I am finally feeling myself again after a very difficult week. Thank goodness for antibiotics. I really appreciate all of your patience through this. My plan was to have the following information sent home earlier last week. Since that didn't happen, we are forced to deal with a much shorter time line. I have posted information regarding Valentines Day in the right hand column under Writing Homework. Everything you need to know, including the class list, can be found in that document. If you need more information please email me ASAP.                                                               I hope that this next week is a happy and healthy one for all Sexton Mt. families.

Friday, January 13, 2012


I apologize that the math homework this past week didn't have the story The Doorbell Rang to go with it. In the story, the grandma makes a dozen cookies to start with. So for the sake of the first story problem, start with dividing 12 cookies onto two plates. If this proves to be a little easy for your child, try 24 or even 72 cookies. Hope this helps, and again I apologize for any inconvenience.                                               

Next week will be lesson #14 for spelling and vocabulary.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

What's New in 2012

People of the Longhouses, a storyline unit weaving together learning targets from different content areas, wrapped up this past December with a dramatic ceremony. Chief Atotarho of the Onondaga nation had been fueling the fires of animosity between the different tribes for far too long. Then a man known as the Peacemaker (Mr. Mori) arrived from the north with ideas of bringing peace amongst the five tribes. After serveral informal meetings, the elders of each tribe decided to create a list of laws for a great peace-making ceremony. Each tribe also brought arrows to bury, symbolically letting go of the resentments and frustrations that kept them at war for so long. Cheif Atotarho eventually changed his ways, and the Iroquois Confederacy was formed with representatives from each of the five nations.

Currently, we are shifting gears to geography, and will be starting our winter storyline unit soon. We are creating maps of the world, and learning how to give and interpret cardinal directions (north, south, east, and west) on those maps.

In math, multiplication and division will be a major focus for the month of January. An informational family letter was sent home with each child today (January 4).This should give you some specific information and vocabulary to support the learning going on at home.

In the fall, Mrs. Spidal supported the writers in the class through addressing written Conventions and Word Choice. This trimester we will turn our attention to improving our writing in the areas of Organization and Ideas/Content in our writers' workshop. If you start seeing scores on your child's writing samples, they will relate to Organization and Ideas/Content. Right now we are learning how to use the scoring guide to improve our writing in those areas (the scoring guide can be found under Templates in the right hand column). In the coming months, peer editing techniques/tools will be utilized, as well as taking a closer look at the process of revision.

Thanks for your continued support from home!