daw.com - September 15

John Denver started off what is now a very famous song with, "All my bags are packed, I'm ready to go..."  and that is what we are for Camp 2017.  Monday morning we start the adventure of grade 5 camp.  A few things to remember.  Students should have two packs.  An overnight pack with all their clothes and toiletries and a day pack with their lunch, drink, water bottle, rain coat, hat, (sunscreen and bug repellent if needed) and snack.  This is the pack they will carry with them for the whole camp.  The other one will stay in their dorm room the entire camp.  When students arrive on Monday morning they take their overnight bag to the Little Dragon Theatre to store until we leave.  Please please please please remember we are ONLY gone for three days and two nights so keep everything small and light.  As for electronics I have told the students that I see no reason to bring a very expensive electronic phone out to a camp where there are a multitude of ways it can get lost, damaged or even fall in ponds, creeks or other water sources.  My suggestion is to leave them at home. I will have cameras at camp if they want to take pictures and we can download them when we return on Thursday.

Our writing of personal narratives is coming to the publishing stage and there is a lot of interesting stories to read.  I have been impressed by the ingenuity the students have shown in writing small moments into complete narrative stories. Look for these in the coming weeks on the students Seesaw accounts.

Our first unit in math is also coming to a close.  We have had an extensive look at base ten and unit decimals, addition, subtraction, multiplication and division of these decimals and also a short session on estimation.  I expect to complete the final assessment and project for this unit prior to the fall break.

We all have Newsela accounts now.  This is a great website for student news and what I really like about it is the ability of students to mesh their reading level to the news items.  The homework for the week prior to fall break will all be using Newsela.  It is not blocked here in China so all students have full access at home as well.

Our unit on Global Citizen ship is coming to a close as well.  The students brainstormed the concepts that Ms. Sayson and Mr. Hurworth could use in hiring new faculty for ISB.  We will put these into a large graphic and then present it to the two of them with Mr. Byrne present as well.  The students also looked at Difference makers and will be creating a presentation about one of the Difference Makers they wrote about.  I used the 4 C's method of studying them (Connection, Challenges, Concepts and Changes) to really help the students dig into what the article was telling them.  It will be interesting to see what they come up with as a presentation.

After 5 weeks of school I am pleased to continually tell you how wonderful your students are.  They work together well, they are an exciting and excited group of students and most of all, they are wonderful learners in a multitude of ways.  I am one of the luckiest people in the world at the moment with such a magnificent group to work with.

In the realm of transparency, I do want all of you to know that I am looking to move on from ISB at the end of this school year.  New laws in China have made it not possible for me to stay past the age of 60 which is next school year for me.  With that in mind I have already applied for or will be applying for positions at Hong Kong International School, Singapore American School, Seoul Foreign School and the International School of Prague.  This was not an easy decision to make but I do think it was made for all the right reasons.  I have nothing but the utmost of appreciation for my 8 years here at ISB. It is an amazing school with great students and parents.

As always, if you want to talk to me about something or have a question, please feel free to contact me.  I will gladly set up a time or call you at your convenience.

Harold Daw

daw.com - September 9

Another very busy week of learning has transpired in 5HD.  Even with all the MAP testing that we did there was still time to get work in on our writing, reading and math workshops. The students even earned their first reward for the year with a total of 8 compliments from outside of the classroom in the past 4 weeks.  These are things we talk about in class as both how the watch their own behavior and how others perceive them.  Part of our morning meeting time is used to learn how to become good students, good citizens and just a generally good person.  We will also talk later next month on Digital Citizenship and what is needed to use technology to its best, appropriately.

With this last point in mind I want to convey a talk I had with one of the parents this week about computer games.  I mentioned that the reason these are so popular and addictive is that there is an instant physiological response to trying to win and ultimately to winning.  While this is not a bad thing, the concern is that it can take over the lives of young people to the point of addiction. My suggestion to parents is that computer games should not be allowed at all during school nights.  The time is better spent on a sports team, music lessons, art classes or some other kind of activity that will benefit them over a longer period of their life.  When a student does play computer games it should never be for longer that 45 minutes and then it is time once again to get up and try some of the aforementioned activities.  I have unfortunately seen youth that are so addicted to computer games it takes over a greater part of both their regular lives as well as their education.  While not an expert on this, I think that if it gets to this level it would need some serious professional intervention.  I would like to see this avoided.

One of the biggest activities this coming week will be preparation for camp at Singing Deer Lodge Sept 18-21.  Students will bring home a packing list with the suggested items to bring.   While packing please remember - we are only gone for 2 nights and three days.  Keep everything small and compact and do not over-pack.  Students are allowed to bring a camera to camp but no other electronic devices.  This is for safety reasons since nothing is locked at camp and there is water all around which can seriously damage electronics. I have also talked with the students about how responsible they need to be if the bring out any kind of electronic device.  There is nothing I can do if they lose it other than retrace steps.  In most instances of lost electronics they were never recovered.  Think seriously about this before sending your student out to camp with a very expensive electronic device.  I will be bring the 15 class cameras I have for the students to use to take lots and lots and lots of pictures.  Also, the mobile reception out at Singing Deer Lodge is usually quite poor and in most cases non-existant.

One other thing for camp is that I need to collect all passports from students to take with us to camp.  A student cannot go if I do not have their passport with me when we leave on September 18.  They are kept locked up here at school and at camp the lodge takes them for the duration of our stay.  I will return the passports as we arrive back to ISB.

Students selected cabins for camp on Friday and while not everyone got what they wanted, I was happy that there was some give and take as the students finalized the lists.  We do not see this is as too important since we do not spend a lot of time in the cabins except to sleep and we also want the students to get to know other boys and girls from the classes we go to camp with.

We have started to write our reading journal blogs.  Our first entry is just about complete and then students need to comment on each others blog.  We will do this once every 6 day cycle and entry will be a short summary of a book, character evaluation/description and a connection made while reading.  This is an excellent way for me to both see what the students are learning from their reading and also to watch what they are reading.  I am hoping by now there is some kind of daily routine for students to read at home and that they are keeping track in their planners.  Please help your student with this if they are experiencing difficulty.

We are in the drafting phase of our first piece of narrative writing with most students well on their way to complete their first draft.  After this, three people will revise this with them and two will help with the editing.  Then it publication time and the process begins all over again with collecting more small moments.

We will produce a camp paper when we return from camp as part of our writing unit.
I have been asked when results of MAP testing will be sent to parents and do not have an exact answer.  It is usually 2-3 weeks after the tests end so sometime right after October break would be my guess.

We are really moving forward with out Global Citizenship unit.  So far we have come up with our understanding of what makes a good global citizen and how we can be good global citizens.  Now we are looking at the aspects of global citizenship and what influences peoples decisions in civic and global issues.  We will read about a number of students who have really taken this to heart and made a serious change in the world.  We will also look at our school culture as we prepare a list of qualities that ISB should look at when hiring new teachers.  This list will be presented to Mrs. Sayson, Mr. Hurwoth and Mr. Byrne when it is complete.

That is all this week.  If you have any questions or concerns please let me know so I can work with you in answering them.
Harold Daw

daw.com - September 1

The start of the week was a really good way for students to see how writing is actually done professionally.  The visiting author Matt Holm did two great presentations for the students on where ideas come from and how to go from an idea to a final publication.  The parallels were amazing with what I am teaching your children.  Writing is MESSY.  Anyone who thinks they have a good piece of writing the first time they do it is either very lucky or not really taking a good look at what is in the writing.  Proper spelling and grammar and not important as students are collecting their ideas and thoughts in some kind of writing journal.  When it comes time to revise and edit, then it is time to look at the proper spelling of words, proper punctuation and even sentence structure since these pieces will eventually end up being published.  What is most important, right at the onset, is how well your message or information is being communicated for others to read.  This is something I will continually tell my students all year long in writer's workshop.

The big part of next week is MAP testing.  For returning students I will be interested to see if there has been any growth since the last test which was late in the previous (grade4) school year.  Not usually a lot, but I am hoping to see some.  It is vital that all students get a good night sleep and eat well at breakfast.  The test will be administered on Tues, Wed and Thurs, first thing in the morning.  There is nothing students can do to prepare for it.  Parents should see results about 6 weeks later.

I want to say thank-you to all parents who attended Back to School Night on Thursday.  I do hope the time was informative and answered most of your questions about my room and the curriculum being taught.  I also hope that you feel your student is in good hands in my class.  I can certainly assure you that they are very important to me.

I have now sent home all the family invitations for our student Seesaw blogs.  Parents have access to their student's blogs and can comment on them.  If at all possible, I would like something more than "Great work!." as a comment.  I am really trying hard to have my students look at comments and work from them to improve themselves.  With this in mind it would be better to write something like; "Great Work! I really liked the rhyming pattern in your poem." or something to that nature.  Students will also be commenting on each others blogs as well with the same type of comment.  Again, I am trying hard to make everything they do in class have a reason and learning associated with it.

I was very proud of the class with the cooperation and collaborative skills shown in their Sword Dance presentation on Friday morning.  They did a truly remarkable job.  For those that could not see it, here is a short video of what it looked like. Also a video of the song after the performance.

As always, if you have any questions or concerns please let me know and I will be happy to meet with you.