19 September 2017

Dear Readers,

It’s important to have a reading spot. Try to find a place that is quiet, well-lit, and free of distractions. Oh, and make sure you have your stack of to-read books next to it.

But don’t worry too much about what your reading spot looks like because once you crack the book, you will be magically transported away. When you’re reading intensely, you will be so engrossed in your book, so lost in the world that the author created that when you look away from the page you will blink your eyes, shake your head, forget where you are, and slowly come back to reality.

And then you’ll look back into the book and get lost once again.

Sincerely,

Mr. Heimbuck

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18 September 2017

Dear Cartographers,

Today we will make our maps of Colorado. And we’ll make this model of land inside that invisible rectangle by using materials that came from that land:

  • 2 cups of flour from the Great Plains that stretch into Eastern Colorado
  • 1 cup of salt from mines like they have all over the state
  • 1 Tbsp of cream of tartar that came from the inside of wine barrels like they have in vineyards in Palisade, CO
  • 1 cup of water that came trickling down from the Rocky Mountains

Think about these resources as you’re forming your maps and ponder that big connection between the physical world we live in and the mental world we create out of it.

And make sure you keep a lot of flour on hand.

Sincerely,

Mr. Heimbuck

14 September 2017

Dear Students,

Our society gives more attention to the bad than the good. At school, bad behavior will get you lots of time and attention with adults, but good attention is often ignored. If you watch the news, you might think it’s common for strangers to snatch kids,  but that’s really not true.

There are dangers in the world, but I believe the good far, far outweighs the bad. What’s more, I think always seeing the world as a dangerous and fearful place creates its own problems: we refuse to trust others, we act selfishly because we think everyone else does, and we assume that we can’t do anything to make the world a better place. These negative attitudes are the biggest dangers we face.

So at least for today, look for the good, do your part to be a helper, and be confident that most of the people in the world are on your side.

Sincerely,

Mr. Heimbuck

13 September 2017


Dear Readers,

As writers we try to create a new world for our readers to live in using nothing but our words. We can create completely new places and people just by putting nouns and verbs together. That’s amazing.

And I believe that these word-worlds are the best place to live our lives. So my hope for you is that you spend enough time in the real world to pay a few bills, and then spend the rest of your time in these magical worlds created by words.

Sincerely,

Mr. Heimbuck

12 September 2017

Dear Language Learners,

This may sound strange, but I loved grading your spelling tests over the weekend. English has borrowed words from so many other languages that’s it often weird and confusing. But it’s also really rich for communicating ideas. Ideas just seem to live and grow inside of these words and it’s so much fun to string these words together in new and interesting ways.

My hope for each of you is that you learn the powers of language so you can use it to make sense of the world and also to make change in the world. Language is the best tool we have for that.

Sincerely,

Mr. Heimbuck

11 September 2017

Dear Talkers,

At school we talk to each other. To make sense of problems, to figure out how texts work, to find out what we believe. These things all come about through conversation. And conversation is more about listening and thinking than talking.

So we’ll continue to practice having conversations because we can only ever learn from other people and while reading their words on a subject can be very helpful, there’s nothing quite like a face to face conversation.

Sincerely,

Mr. Heimbuck

8 September 2017

Dear Strivers,

The things I really enjoy now–cooking, reading, writing, playing music–were really, really hard at the beginning. 

When you first play the guitar your fingers bleed and the sounds don’t sound like music. When you first start to cook the food is bad and you burn things and there’s always that fear that you might poison yourself. When you write, you have to get down a lot of bad stuff amidst the tiny percentage of good stuff. 

The key to success in all areas is exactly the same: failure followed by trying again and again. And even after you get pretty good at these things, the only way to get better is to keep failing.

Sincerely,

Mr. Heimbuck

7 September 2017

Dear Readers,

The internet tells me that yesterday was #NationalReadABookDay.

Boys and girls, that’s every day in our world.

Millions of people have read John Steinbeck’s book Cannery Row, but when I first read it (and when I reread it), it sure seems he wrote it just for me. That’s what good books do. They connect with you in ways that are so meaningful that you believe the author is living in your brain. Music, movies, television, and video games are great, but they just can’t match the personal connection that happens with books.

Sincerely,

Mr. Heimbuck

6 September 2017

Dear Learners,

You set your goals–like reading 40 or more books in a year–but you can only reach it by doing a bit at a time–one page at a time. As  you reach milestones, you clelebrate, but you know the real reward is in the kind of person you’ll be after you read those 40 books.

So figure out what you want to do, find out the steps you need to take to do it, and work at them one at time, each day, each hour, knowing that the hard work is always worth it.

Sincerely,

Mr. Heimbuck

5 September 2017

Dear Revisers,

There’s a story that the famous artist Michelangelo once said that carving an elephant from a block of stone was easy because you just knock off all the stuff that doesn’t look like an elephant.

Today we’ll begin looking closely at the stories we’ve been working on and knock off the stuff that doesn’t look like a story.

You all have stories to tell. My job is to teach you some tricks to tell them. These aren’t my tricks. Writers have been using these tricks since the beginning because they work.

And these tricks won’t just improve your writing. They might also make you see the world in a new and different way.
Sincerely,

Mr. Heimbuck