daw.com - March 1

This is a packed week with a lot happening in the life of your child.  First off is next week's current events;
Tuesday - Ada
Wednesday - Poppy
Thursday - Leo
Friday - Cici
First thing on Monday morning students will be visiting a high school science lab to participate in some experiments the students have prepared for them.  Should be an interesting time.
Next is the due date of three major items.  On Wednesday, students will complete their Human Body Wellness Infocharts.  These are based on 6 questions we came up as a class covering everything from what are the parts to what can be done to keep it healthy.  They will present their posters to another group in the class.
Thursday is the presentation day for Genius Hour projects.  Students are presenting to Grade 1-8 classes as well as 2 groups who will present to the ES Administration and ISB Administration respectively.  Each presentation will complete their Genius Hour project and will have 4 assessments; self, homeroom teacher (me), room teacher of presentation and also students.  We will complete this with a reflection at the end of the week.
Next is our week on Human Growth and Development which takes place one period each day of this week.  The basic structure of the program is to instruct and introduce students to adolescence in all areas including growth, socialization and life changes.  It will begin to prepare them for this important part of their life as well as middle school.
Lastly is the first draft of their fantasy story which is due on Friday.  After revisions and edits, students will move on to their final drafts which will be due prior to spring break.
We have finished out unit on Multiplication and Division of decimal fractions.  Overall I am pleased with the work the students completed and how well they have learned the many concepts.  Like all things in learning, further practice is still needed to really cement the ideas and use them smoothly.  Our next unit is on Volume - I will have more on it in next week's post.
I believe that signups for Student Led conferences start this week.  I am hoping to see you all over the two days of conferences.  We will start these in earnest on Wed of this week although we have done some work on them since we started school back in August.
With all the projects due this week and the time students need to rehearse and practice their presentations, there will be no homework this week other than book clubs and current events.
Thats it for this week.  Let me know if you have any questions.

daw.com - March 4

Another power weekend is upon us and I hope that everyone takes the time to rest and be ready.  I will be with the Beijing International Model United Nations all weekend welcoming over 700 students from as far away as South Africa, Sweden, USA and Mexico.  It is quite rewarding to see students debate and discuss the issues of today in a forum that is real to the rest of the world.
Here are next week's current events;
Tuesday - Naoko
Wednesday - Michael
Thursday - Annabel
Friday - Robinson
We will begin a new piece of writing this week in our fantasy unit now that our first piece is behind us.  This next one will involve me providing the setting and title (idea) for the story.  The characters, plot and hero's journey will be up to the students.  They will have two weeks to complete this next piece of writing.
We are also well into our Human Body unit.  Students are each in a group that is working on the health and wellness of a human body system. Questions like what kinds of exercise are good for the system, what are healthy foods for the system and how to avoid some of the injuries are all part of the research completed as the prepare to make a info-poster on their subject.  We should bring this to a close either late in the week or early next week.
Along with the Human Body unit is a section on Human Growth and Development.  There are three sections that the whole class participates in and two that are gender specific.  There is a meeting next Friday March 10 at 8:30am for the parents to learn more about what will be discussed and taught.  Teachers will start the meeting then a pediatric doctor will finish up with a medical look into this subject. I am hoping all of you can attend.
Please make sure you sign up for student led conferences later this month.  Students have already started to prepare their portfolios as they present their year of learning to you with in the realm of L21 skills.  While I know not always possible, I would it if both parents could attend this.  It is a great way for you to get first hand, the learning of your student this year and the goals for the rest of the year.
We will complete our math unit on Multiplication and Division of Fractions this coming week with the final assessment later in the week.  So far the unit has involved both the learning and modeling of these two important parts of math learning.  The students have taken this to task and done very well.  Our next unit us a look at volume and the multiplication needed to calculate volume.  It is more of a hands on unit with the use of geometric shapes.
We are coming to the end of our Genius Hour projects.  This week students will concentrate on being prepared to present their project to a class, a set of adults, some of the administration here at the school and also to special guests.  While I know they are a bit nervous about this, I feel they will do a fine job as I help them to prepare for this.  The assessment of this project will come from the audience they have and be organized by the students themselves.
Later in the month we will take off again for our Spring Break.  If anyone is planning on leaving early, please remember to let me know so I can plan accordingly.  This is greatly appreciated.
If you have any questions or concerns please feel free to contact me and I will gladly set up a meeting time with you.

daw.com - February 24

I want to say a big thank-you to all of the parents and students in my class who made my birthday such a special and memorable day.  I was surprised by the attention to this and also honored.  I told my students that really the best gift is just that I get to see them everyday.  Thank-you.
Here are next week's current events;
Tuesday - JungBin
Wednesday - Millie
Thursday - Maya
Friday - professional day, no school
One of the neatest things to see is how students work with specialists that visit our school.  This past week we as our link to China in the Human Body Wellness unit.  Students did TaiChi, Meditation, Calligraphy and a Tea Ceremony.  The experiences were wonderful and I was pleased that they came away with some things about
China they may not have known before.  Thanks to the Office of Experiential Learning for setting these up.
We have started out Human Body Wellness research with the final outcome being an info-poster.  We came up with a list of questions to research, some things that could be on the poster and looked at what makes a good info-poster. Then we started researching.  Each student is in a group of 3 or 4 and we should complete this project in about 2 more weeks. I am already looking forward to our presentations.
Our Genius Hour projects are also well underway and I am very interested in what students have chosen to do.  They have five more lessons to complete the project before presentation day which is on Mar 16th.  They will be presenting to groups of students and adults around the school.  With this in mind, if any of you are
interested in being part of a presentation panel, please let me know.  I must let you know that I cannot guarantee you will get your own child as the presentations are specific to levels of groups and that ranges from Grade 1 to adults.  Let me know.  You will need about 20 minutes at school on that day.
Our math unit is almost complete.  We are currently looking at multiplying fractions and unit decimals (tenths, hundredths and thousandths).  Most of the students are moving nicely with this and the models I am showing them are really helping.  The last part of this unit is division of fractions using like denominators - we do not use the reciprocal method for division of fractions since it makes no sense to students this age and does not follow with anything I have been teaching.  I know a lot of students know how to do this but I do not believe one of them knows why it works so.
We completed the first draft of our first fantasy writing and the final drafts will be done next week after they are revised and edited.  There is then a second assigned story before they can write their own.  All of these are based on the teaching of the Hero's Journey as the process for making a fantasy story make sense.
In a couple of weeks our Human Body Wellness unit will look at Human Growth and Development.  There will be a parent meeting set up with a doctor and the teachers so please be on the lookout for this announcement.  Grade 5 is the start of this unit that continues each year until grade 9.  As it states in the unit title, our concern is the wellness of the students as they grow and develop into adults so we will look into physical, emotional and social growth during this all important time.
The students have enjoyed their work with Kofi in their Music classes these past two weeks and it was completed with an assembly on Friday afternoon.  I was pleased with how the students learned from Kofi and also their interactions with a person from a culture not often available to them.  Not only did they learn about the rhythms and cadence of African music but also some of the cultural aspects of living in Africa. It was a great experience for the class.
That is it for this week.  If you have any questions or concerns, please contact me and I will set up a meeting time with you.