Book Challenge Competitors

Welcome to Summer!

A chance to read in your hammock, around a campfire, on a lawn chair, down by the river . . . .

I spent the weekend catching up and finally planting my garden, but I do want to take a minute to congratulate the students who met my 35 book challenge. It was not an easy challenge and . . .

Amato Halenda

Grady Harris

Brandon Pursell

read at least 35 books. Nice work gentlemen.

I know it wasn’t easy and many of you came close to reading 35 books and were able to meet my second goal in this challenge which was to read more books than you had read the year before.

I am sure you will keep reading over the summer to keep up your reading stamina. Please, email me with book suggestions.

The summer reading program at the library has already started. There is a program for the students who have just completed 5th and 6th grades and a different one for those who have completed 7th and 8th.


Happy Reading!


Student Top Book Lists for 2017-2018 School Year

7/8th Grade

Title                                                                   Author

Piper Parish Kayla Cagan
Orbiting Jupiter Gary D. Schmidt
All the Wrong Questions Lemony Snicket
A Dog’s Purpose W Bruce Cameron
Ghost Jason Reynolds
Emerald Mile Kevin Ferdarko
Airman Eoin Colfer
To Kill A Mockingbird Harper Lee
Hidden Figures Margot Lee Shetterly
The Supernaturalist Eoin Colfer
Summoner Series Taran Matharu
Frightful’s Mountain Jean Craighead George
I, Funny James Patterson
Boxers and Saints Gene Luen Yang
Only You Can Save Mankind Terry Pratchett
Year of Yes Shonda Rhimes
The Hunger Games Suzanne Collins
The Salt to the Sea Ruta Septys
Eleanor + Park Rainbow Rowell
Refugee Alan Gratz
Turtles All The Way Down John Green
Girl in Pieces Kathleen Glasgow
Body of the World Eve Ensler
A Long Walk to Water Linda Sue Park
The Outsiders SE Hinton

5/6th Grade

Title Author
House of Hades Rick Riordan
Blood of Olympus Rick Riordan
Magnus Chase Rick Riordan
I Am Number 4 Series Pittacus Lore
Wishtree Katherine Applegate
The War that Saved My Life Kimberly Bradley
Orbiting Jupiter Gary Schmidt
Maze Runner Series James Dashner
Poetry from Scratch Jennifer McCarthy
Explorers the Mystery Boxes Kazu Kibushi
Hunger Games + Catching Fire Suzanne Collins
The Wild Robot Peter Brown
The Cryptid Hunter Series Roland Smith
Orphan Island Laurel Snyder
The Ranger’s Apprentice Series John Flannigan
Fire Star + Ice Fire Chris D’Lacey
Eagle Strike + Ark Angel Anthony Horowitz
The Wild Robot Escapes Peter Brown
Making Bombs for Hitler Marsha Forchuk Skrypunch
Drama Rein Talmager
Roller Girl Victoria Jamieson
Dragon Rider Cornelia Funke
The Harry Potter Series JK Rowling
Fish in a Tree Lynda Hunt
Keys to the City Lisa Schroeder
Pugs and Kisses JJ Howard
Nest Esther Ehrlich
A Light in the Attic Shel Silverstein
The Land of Forgotten Girls Erin Entrada Kelly
Donut Go Breaking My Heart Suzanne Nelson
11 Birthdays Wendy Mass
Jerry Fink and the Meaning of Life Wendy Mass
Twilight Series Stephanie Myers
Divergent Series Veronica Roth
Free to Fall Lauren Miller


Week at a Glance May 14

Hello Families,

This coming week is our LAST academic preparation week!  We will build a structure that allows for students to finish: projects, math, expo projects, the community project, art, music, film and tinker classes.  We will balance this last minute work time with cleaning the building and preparing for our last camping field trip to Pueblo.

This week’s lunch order link: Lunch this week

Let us know what upcoming details you need to feel strong finishing this year!


We got this!!!

Have a great Mother’s Day!

Showing Thinking about Reading

This year a professional goal of mine was to work on how to better teach students how to think about their reading. Throughout the year, I have read books about reading workshop such as In the Middle by Nancie Atwell; The Book Whisperer by Donalyn Miller; That Workshop Book by Samantha Bennett; and most recently, Disrupting Thinking: Why How We Read Matters by Kylene Beers and Robert E. Probst.

Through these books, I feeling like I am finding ways to better engage myself and students in reading. With their 35 book challenge, I feel like students have read more than they have in previous years while in my class. And, as I understand:

the more they read the better they will become at reading.

Now that students are reading more, we can have more content to discuss and they can more easily show their thinking while reading.

I was disappointed to miss Kylene Beers and Robert E. Probst’s session at the CCIRA reading conference but when I was there, I picked up their book. Last week, I had the chance to read it; and, as a result, I have been challenging students to think about how reading changes them as readers using Beers and Probst’s Framework for reading:

When we read we think about what is . . . 

In the Book

  • What’s this about?
  • Who’s telling the story?
  • What does the author want me to know?

In your Head

  • What surprised me?
  • What does the author think I already know?
  • What changed, challenged, or confirmed my thinking?
  • What did I notice?

In your Heart

  • What did I learn about me?
  • How will this help me to be better?


I have found when I, personally, read using this framework, it has connected my more fully to what I am reading as well as has allowed me to not be bored if there isn’t as much action in a book.  Now, I am trying to figure out what an author wants me to know, or what I have noticed in terms of language or character development.

Through Beers and Probst BHH Framework, it works to show students that reading is a place to turn to for information. I feel like this aligns with our mission at Crest to create lifelong learners and have students eager to want to learn more.

“. . . [O]nce you have found that reading can change how you view yourself then you are more likely to turn to reading again and again, anticipating the possibility that the book will give you some new idea, some new perspective, some new vision that may change who you are slightly or dramatically” (p.59).

This framework is used with both fiction and nonfiction, so it gives students a chance to put themselves in someone else’s shoes which is one of our six-facets of understanding we want to teach students.

Beer and Probst also talk write about instead of something being “best practice”, because of course we always want to do what is best, they use a term “next practice” which illustrates the idea of what we, as professionals, should be trying next. I like this concept because everything changes, so quickly with our advanced technology. And, I would consider how I am learning to have students think about their reading is a “next practice” and moves away from purely asking students to answer comprehension questions.  Sometimes, trying something new can be scary and exciting and also, empowering.

I hope that all this academic jargon makes some sense. What it comes down to is that I am learning new ways to help students think, write, and discuss what they are reading, so they can connect more to their reading and be excited about it!

Week at a glance May 7

Wow! The Crest Academy is full of talented dancers! I am so proud of the students that participated in this weekend’s Salida Dance Recital.  I also had the pleasure of visiting the Swing Dancing class on Thursday.  So much fun!  A big round of applause to all of you.

This coming week is our spring intensive.  Several students are going to San Diego, there’s a boy scout project campout starting on Tuesday for the 7/8 boys, a few students are exploring summer employment and studio tours, and the 5/6th graders will be learning about gardening.

This is the link for lunch this week.  We will have a regular lunch schedule this week.

Monday is a standard day, Tues-Thurs we will be in and out of the building, it you need more specific details please send Jill or Samantha an email and we will fill you in.

Have a great week!

Week at a Glance

Good Afternoon! What nice weather we are having today!  A special thanks to Deb for her last blog about our Omnivore’s Dilemma presentation at the Agricultural Summit and thanks to both Deb and Samantha for co-presenting!  I am super-stoked to announce that The Crest Academy won a Llama pack trip in the Silent Auction!! We will start planning our back to school fall trip now, I see fuzzy llama’s in our future.

This week at a glance will be in writing only (no Video).

April 30 Lunch Menu

5/6 Week at at Glance PDF

7/8 Week at a Glance PDF

Mrs. Bass will be handing out Permission slips tomorrow for working on the Holman Farm on Tuesday.  I will send a remind tomorrow to get it signed.  Sorry for the short notice.  We will be sure to get this form in our back to school packet.




Omnivore’s Dilemma Young Readers Edition (PBL Inquiry Unit)

As humans, we can eat anything, so how do we know what to eat?

This is the Omnivore’s Dilemma. 

As Crest Staff, we dove into looking at The Omnivore’s Dilemma (Youth Readers Edition) by Michael Pollan as a resource for a project-based inquiry unit to share about Project-based Learning at the Agrisummit hosted by Guidestone. This text was a mentor resource that Jill used a few years ago to teach her 7/8th graders.

This is a sample unit, we will look at teaching as one of our whole school inquiry units next year or in the near future as we add a inquiry-based block to our schedule which will be a c0-taught interdisciplinary class. 

Through the four sections (Industrial, Industrial Organic, Local Sustainable, and Hunting & Gathering) in the book, many guiding questions arise. Topics range from what to eat to where our food comes from to how we can eat healthier. Because the topics vary multiple subjects and standards are covered through this inquiry unit such as but not limited to Health, Nutrition, PE, Economics, , Geography, History, Earth Science, Biology, Chemistry, World Cultures, and Business. In addition, this unit would cover, primarily the 6 facets of Understanding (explanation, interpret, application, perspective, empathy, and self-explanation), empathy as students explore what it would be like to put yourself in the shoes of a farmer, rancher, hunter, gatherer, gardener, chef, economist, and, of course, consumer of food.

Here are some challenging problems and questions that guide the book and will help us sustain inquiry, create authenticity, and  reflection for our unit.

Part I: The Industrial Meal: Food from Corn

Guiding Questions

Where does food come from?

How do I decide what to eat?

How does fertilizer and run-off affect the oceans or other bodies of water?

Are farms/gardens worth the value?

Why can humans eat anything?

Is food about family, friends, and community?

Should a meal be prepared and eaten quickly?

What is the purpose of a meal?

Part II: Industrial Organic

Guiding Questions

What makes something organic?

What are the stories behind food/food products?

How different is organic industrial from industrial food?

Is industrial organic better than industrial?

What is the cost (monetarily + environmentally) of food?

Why buy organic?

What do pesticides/growth hormones do to the body?

Part III: Local Sustainable

Guiding Questions

How connected are you to your food?

What are the hidden costs of our food?

Part IV: Do-It-Yourself Meal: Hunted, gathered, and gardened food

Guiding Questions

What is safe and good to eat?

What is the joy of hunting?

What are the ethical dilemmas of eating or hunting for meat?

What rules might you make for yourself for eating?

How does food connect us to others?

How do we balance a busy life with healthy eating?

How will you make modifications to how you eat?

Here are some ideas for Field Experiences that will help with authenticity:

Visit a corn farm

Visit a ranch with cattle

Look at a small plot and count and identify different types of grasses p. 152 (biocubes)

Visit a farmer’s market

Shop for a local sustainable meal or visit places that are local sustainable

Go to a local garden, visit beehives, or other greenhouse-type location

Go gather something like pinion nuts

Mushroom hunt with an expert


Photos from AgriSummit Workshop:

workshop reflections

Additional resources:

6 Facets of Understanding

Essential Project Design Elements

Project-based Learning (PBL)


Expeditionary Learning Omnivore’s Dilemma Unit


Denver here we come (and there we went)

We are so excited to take the students to Denver for some city time.

We have a packed schedule and will explore the overarching guiding question of:

Where does art belong?

In addition, student groups have been assigned individual essential questions to focus on during our trip. These include:

What makes something art? (Jackson, Tat2, Aaliyah, Izzy)

Why do people create art? (Vivian, Kieran, Sam, Stella)







How does art record and communicate the human experience?  (Emerson, Dharma, Porter, Brandon)

How does art represent personal expression, exploration, and/or insight?  (Sylvie, Craig, Irene)

How does art help us learn about other people? (Ellis, Nina, Levi,  Grady)

How does art influence what we can learn about ourselves and about our society? (Fisher, River, Ian, Maya)

Why do people tell stories through art? (Gwen, Azzie, Amato, Connor)


Speaking of art, please have bring plastic bottle caps to school for students public art pieces.

Wednesday, April 11

We will arrive in Denver at the Denver Art Museum to see the Edgar Degas temporary exhibit. (Visual art)

In the late afternoon and into the evening, we will take a comic workshop through Pop Culture Classroom. (Visual and written/storytelling arts)

Once we settle in after dinner, we will watch Coco  while emphasizing the cultural aspects of the film for our Spanish class. We will watch the film at our accommodations, The 11th Avenue Hotel and Hostel. (Acting, visual/animation, auditory/music, and written/storytelling arts)

Thursday, April 12

We begin our day at a workshop presented by the Denver Center for the Performing Arts (DCPA) and will continue by watching a play, This is Modern Art, which tells the story of graffiti artists.

However, we plan to do an alternative activity with the 5th graders to visit the History Colorado Center. (Acting, visual, and written/storytelling arts)

We are excited to participate in so many amazing opportunities in such a short visit to the city.

Your tour guides,

Deb and Samantha


Week at a Glance April 9

Hello Crest Families.  We had a good start to testing this week.  Thanks for the delicious treats and breakfast yum, every little bit helps.

I am keeping this Week at a glance short and sweet.  No videos, no pdfs, just this blog.  Feel free to email me if you have questions.  I am in Phoenix right now for my brother’s wedding (it’s 93!) and will be back to the classroom on Tuesday.

April 9 5/6 7/8
8:00 Community Gathering Community Gathering
9:00 Recess Recess
9:15 Plastic Straw Film Plastic Straw Film
10:00 Humanities Projects
11:00 Projects Math
12:00 Lunch: Sloppy Joes Lunch
12:30 Comic Lesson Comic Lesson
1:00 Math Humanities
2:30 Dance Class for dancers Art for PE Students, Bottle Cap Art
4:00 Dismissed Dismissed
April 10 5th 6th 7/8
8:10 testing (ELA #3 90mins) testing ELA #3
(110 mins)
testing ELA #3
(110 mins)
9:40 Recess testing testing
10:00 snack snack recess snack recess
10:30:00 Mindfulness Mindfulness Mindfulness
11:00 Math Math Discovery
12:00 Lunch: Soup and Roll Lunch Lunch
12:35 Spanish Spanish Spanish
1:00 Projects Projects Projects
2:00 Music Music Art – Bottle Cap Projects
3:00 Pickle Ball (PE students) Art – Bottle Cap Projects (dance students) Music

April 11 and 12
Denver Art Field Trip
Depart at 8:00am on Wednesday and return by ~4:30pm on Thursday (students can call from JV).
Deb has sent home the packing list and itinerary.  Please let us know if you have any questions.

Lunch Orders for April 16 please complete here.  Before April 14.

Please check back on April 15 for Week at a Glance April 16, this week will have the most complicated testing schedule thus far.

Thanks! Have a good weekend.