Friday, November 6, 2015

Spider Surprise!

Today, reading class began like every other reading class.  Kristy picked up the stack of HOOT books by Carl Hiaasen and began passing them out.  When she got to Mrs. Wolff's desk, she discovered a spider! She screamed and the books flew all over Mrs. Wolff's desk and the floor!  Mrs. Wolff caught the spider in a ziplock bag and showed it under the document camera.
We investigated the spider and tried find out what species it was by searching on Google to find an image of it or identify it on another website.  We looked and looked and could not figure out what kind it was.  Eventually we let it go out the window.  Maybe we will find the species name someday!

Friday, January 23, 2015

BATMAN MOVIE - by Daniel

Did you know that there is an app where you can make your own movie starring your very own LEGO people?  Daniel (one of our students) made a LEGO movie (with Brennen's help).  It is called BATMAN.

It is about Batman driving the Batmobile.  The bad guys, "Joker's Goons", are trying to destroy Gotham City.  Batman had to save the day.

Watch the video here:


Monday, January 5, 2015


I often get the question, "How do I find that video we made?" or "I want to show my mom the picture you took last week..." And I'm hoping that we can post the answer here and then everyone will know how to find what they are looking for.

Videos from Taft:
search: Bruce Rasmussen (he is a science teacher here)
or click this:

Our class photo page:


Friday, November 7, 2014



Our class is reading the book Love That Dog by Sharon Creech.  It is a book about a boy learning to write poetry.  He reads poems by many famous poets.  We have read those poems too.  After we read them, we wrote our own poems.

The first poem in the book is by William Carlos Williams.  It is called "The Red Wheelbarrow".  It goes like this:

"So much depends

the red wheel

glazed with rain

beside the white

We read this after we harvested the sunchokes from our garden.  So we decided to write our poem about the sunchokes.

Here is our poem:

"So much depends

the red sun

covered with soft

beside the green

Here is a picture of sunchokes.

Sunchokes are also called Jerusalem Artichokes even though they are very different from regular artichokes.  It was fun to harvest the sunchokes.  We had to wait until the green parts of the sunchokes looked dead.  Then, we pulled out the plants and dug up the sunchokes. We harvested a whole bucket!  Some of them were big, but some of them were as tiny as a peanut!

The next day, we read a poem by William Blake called, "The Tiger"

In response, we wrote:

"Rain! Rain! falling down
In the gardens of the town,
What spectacular stem or leaf
Could sound so remarkable?"

Let us know what you think of our poems.  
We will let you know how our sunchokes taste!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014


Our class went to the Crystal Ballroom to see the band Trampled by Turtles on Sunday night.  The band was inspired by our sign language performance of their song "Alone" a year ago at a school assembly.  If you missed it, here is the video:

After the performance, we were featured in the News Guard and on NPR's Friday Five blog.  Trampled by Turtles even saw our youtube video and were impressed.  They sent us Trampled by Turtles t-shirts for the whole class!  WOW!  We felt like rockstars!  We were thrilled!

This year, Trampled by Turtles emailed us saying that they were on tour and would be coming to Portland, OR.  They wanted us to come to their performance!  They put our names on the guest list and Ms. Dahlman arranged for us to get there.  

We got on the school bus at 5:00 and headed to Portland!  It was a very long ride.  

We got our wrists stamped as we went through the doors and went up the stairs to the ballroom.  The ballroom was awesome.  It had a big crystal chandelier and a bouncy floor.  There was an opening act named Nicki Bluhm and the Gramblers.  They were a country music band.  Nicki was a great singer.  Tyler danced with Heidi and was having the time of his life.  

When Trampled by Turtles got on stage, the crowd went wild!  It got very loud, crowded, and hot- but we made it through until our favorite song, "Alone".  We signed along with the band and the audience that saw us thought we were amazing!  Ms. Hart FaceTimed with Mrs. Tolan so she could see us.  

Here are some more pictures of our super exciting night:

Our bus ride home was another long one.  Thankfully, we all brought pillows and blankets so we could rest on the bus.  We got back to Taft at 1:00 am!!  Some of us had to have a day off on Monday, the rest of us had a pretty relaxed day.  Ms. Dahlman needed an extra coffee.

Today, we wrote thank you cards to the Crystal Ballroom and Trampled by Turtles.  It was the field trip of a lifetime.

Friday, September 12, 2014

First Post of the School Year - Whole Class


We have more students than last year so we should have an even better garden this year.

Oren- "I like the flowers I planted last year.  They are bright orange. I'm surprised that they would grow."

Ms. Dahlman- "Oren brought in seeds last year and we weren't sure what kind of flowers they were and we weren't sure if they would grow.  But they did grow and I planted them into a garden bed over the summer.  They turned out to be Calendula."
Cash- "It's too hot in the garden.  Doing work in the garden makes us even hotter."

Noah- "It makes us stronger."

Lin- "It gives us Vitamin D"

Cash- "IT'S TOO MUCH!"

Mike- "The garden is very beautiful this year. I hope we grow potatoes this year."

Cash- "I hope we grow strawberries this year."

Ms. Dahlman- "You've been talking about strawberries since last year!  I think it's a great idea."

Noah- "We should plant the yard-long beans. They look like green beans, but a yard long."

Ms. Dahlman- "I saw some of those in a seed catalog.  You know what would be great?  We should sell bulbs at the Farmer's Market! I bet I could get a couple of helpers..."

Crissy- "Yeah, I guess."


We sowed spinach, basil, and calendula seeds into seed trays today.  They will grow in the greenhouse until they are big enough to plant in the garden beds.

We need to fix one of the garden beds because the wood is rotted and it is falling apart.  We would love it if someone could donate 2x6s for us to build a new bed.

We did a bunch of weeding in the garden beds and watered the plants that we have growing.  


We learned that working in the garden is dirty work. - Mike
We learned that we need to plant seeds indoors and let them grow for a bit otherwise the wind will blow the seeds everywhere. - Lin
We learned that it is hot and I like the hose. I also know how to feed the worms an egg carton. 
- Caitlin

Friday, August 22, 2014

Fava Beans Forever - Nikki Dahlman

One of the things my students planted in the spring was fava beans.  Favas are great nitrogen fixers which is important for gardens in coastal Oregon because a lot of the nutrients in our soil get washed away by the tremendous amount of rain that we get.
See those little nodules all over the roots?  Those little nubs contain rhizobia, nitrogen fixing bacteria.  They live in the roots of legumes (bean plants) and help replenish the nitrogen in the soil just by living there!  Now, when we plant the next crop, the soil will be full of nutrients so the plants can grow big and strong and the food we get from them will be more nutritious as well.

When people plant a crop like fava beans to improve the soil, it is called a "cover crop".  Cover crops are usually hardy plants that fill up a space for one season, keep unwanted plants out, and add nutrients to the garden bed.

Well, our favas did great.  They were huge.  The plants themselves grew to about 4 feet tall and produced more beans than I know what to do with.  
Fava Beans at Taft

The first day, Zach and I picked a few fava beans.  By 'a few' I mean a 5-gallon bucket's worth. We brought them home, shucked them and then googled "What do you do with fava beans?"
Here's what we learned:

Step One: There are 2 easy ways to shuck favas.  The first way is to break the whole pod in half and squeeze the beans out one by one.  The other way is to rip off the end that was attached to the plant and let it pull the string that runs down the seam of the pod.  Then, run your thumbnail down the seam and open up the whole pod so you can dump out the beans. After you get the beans out, guess what? You are not done.

Step Two: Parboil the fava beans.  This means to boil some water, put in the fava beans, boil them for a few minutes then strain them out and stop the cooking by dunking or rinsing them with cold water. After this step, you are still not done.

Step Three: Dig your thumbnail into the outside skin of an individual bean and squeeze it so a pretty little green bean pops out.  That's the part you eat!

Step Four: Now you need to find something to make with your favas.  There's lots of recipes on the internet.  Most of them involve adding the beans to some sort of pasta dish.  We tried that and it was pretty good! We also tried making hummus with fava beans instead of garbanzo beans.  That was a little weird.  Not my favorite.

Ultimately, the best part of fava beans for me was how well they grew in our space and how exciting it was to harvest such monstrous beans!  When the Ridge Kids came to help harvest the rest of the beans, I was amazed at how many we still had! See those paper bags?  They are full of favas!  Now we have to figure out what to do with them.  Any ideas?