daw.com - March 23

 We are ready for Student Led conferences.  This week we finalized all the parts so that students will now be able to show you their learning this year.  Here is what you will see.  Each students has 5 placemats (Reading, Writing, Math, Inquiry & L21)  with most of these there are artifacts that show the learning that happened.  They will discuss these with you and show you their work throughout the year.  At any time, you can stop them and ask them questions.  This should take the allotted 40 mins and I think you will find that time flies by.  Towards the end of each conference, I will join in for about 5 minutes to support and answer questions you might have.

I have to admit that I love this time with parents and students.  Personally I think it should happen on a much more frequent basis since there is so much to gain from them.  It is true that the students will be very anxious over these.  I find that many of my students do not take the time throughout the year to talk with their parents and now when faced with it in school, they can be very scared and anxious.  Please take the time to put them at ease and make them feel comfortable.  It is a time of celebration and goal setting for the last quarter of grade 5 and as they prepare to move on to middle school.

Next week is a very short week.  Homework next week will be to complete the final draft of their Fantasy story.  It will be due in to me on Friday.  Most students are well along with this and just need some time to complete it.  They will take home with them a first draft, the part of the final draft they have completed and some blank paper.  The will need some scissors, glue and pencils to complete this project.  We are writing it as a book draft so there are sketches to accompany the writing in preparation for where pictures would be used.

Math is moving very fast.  Students do not find the learning in this unit difficult and there is a lot of hands on building and constructing of prisms before calculating the volume.  Today we looked at the calculations needed to get from area to volume and this went over really well.  In order to make the as real as possible, I use actual prisms I have collected as well as specific math related ones.

Next week is spirit week with Wednesday being Neon dress day, Wednesday being theme day (we will determine this as a class) and Friday being house color day.  I find these are great ways to bring the school together as a community and also let the students have some fun.  I am looking forward to seeing what they do for these days.  I will join them to the best of my ability - yipeeeeee!

Next week we say goodbye to a Masa and welcome Linda.  We will all miss Masa and hope that he stays in touch with us when he is settled back in his home.  At the same time we welcome Linda to the class and I know everyone will help her feel welcome and make her a part of this wonderful community of learners.

After this is a much deserved break and, where ever your holiday takes you, I hope you have a relaxing and fun time.  I look forward to seeing my class back, all refreshed, after the break.

daw.com - mach 20

This past weekend I spent 3.5 days with 525 high school students from all over the world as they debated issues that are current and relevant in the United Nations.  It was the 25th annual Beijing International Model United Nations (BEIMUN).  As I always am, I was impressed by the quality of the debate amongst these youngsters and the depth of knowledge they have on these issues.  While I know this has no bearing on our class, I cannot help but be amazed at how much our students grow and it is always my hope that someday a student that I taught will make headlines with a world changing event or idea.  This is one such place that it can start - the seed can be planted.

Our science unit on Transformations has been happening with a look at modeling the invisibles or the things that we cannot see.  We took a look at a YouTube video on elephant toothpaste and tried our best to model what really happened.  Of course, it is impossible to know about the parts we cannot see so the second part of the experiment made the invisibles more visible and the students tried to make sense of this with an explanation.  This is what science is all about.  It is very rare for science to come up with the 'correct' answer but rather attempt to explain what is seen or happened.  This is what makes science so exciting.  Anyone can memorize peri0dic tables, know molar expressions and even know the basis of molecular or radioactive actions, but asking questions and attempting to answer them is really what science is all about.  We are having a great time doing this and will do so
for the next 5-6 weeks.

The students first try at essays is going well.  The teaching has involved coming up with ideas from texts, living the text, walking the shoes of another and beginning with a thesis statement.  I do have to say that I find it easier to use personal pronouns in teaching thesis statements even though technically there should be no such pronoun.  I will teach lessons toward the end that hones the thesis statement into more of a direct statement.

By now I do hope all of you have signed up for Student Led conferences.  This will be a good time for you to see what your student has done this year and see their reflections on their learning.  I think you will be amazed.  Signup for these conferences happens through Friday of this week.

We have completed fractions for the year and move on to Addition and Subtraction with Volume and Area.  There are a stream of models that we use for this unit and students always find it interesting how these work to explain away the arithmetic that many will gain.   This is a fairly short unit of only about 5 weeks.

That is it for now.  Please remember that if you are leaving early or returning late for Spring Break to let me know.  It really helps with my planning.  Spring break this year starts on Apr 1.  If you have any questions or concerns please feel free to contact me and  will set up a time that we can meet.

daw.com - March 12

Just a quick reminder to start off that this week is a four day week - there is no school on Friday.  It is a professional day where teachers will be working with a writing specialist.

We move on to a couple of new things this week having completed two units of study.  Our first new unit is on Transformations.  This is where we will look at matter, its properties, changes and workings in the world.  It is an introductory unit to chemistry.  On Friday Mr. Watson showed the students some things that can happen with liquid nitrogen and the chemical and physical changes that happen.

We also move on to Literary Essays as our next writing unit.  Her we will look at various texts and learn how to develop a thesis and write about it based on the text of study.  By the end of the unit students will be writing their own literary essays based on topics and ideas that inspire them from the texts.

We spent a lesson in the Design Lab this week looking back at our Biomimicry unit.  Students looked at, theorized, designed and built a claw based on natural designs in nature.  It was quite fun and some interesting learning from it occurred.  Some of the students will need to use this lab as they prepare their Genius Hour projects over the next two months.

We also did an experiment with M&M's dissolving in water.  The purpose of this was to see that you need a well developed question to have an experiment or else there is no purpose to the experiment.  Students will use this as they prepare and design their own experiments in the up coming weeks.
The conclusion to our math unit will be this week with a final assessment on Wed or Thurs.  Our next unit is on Area and Volume.

Please remember to sign up for Student Led conferences when they open up.  The dates are March 26-27th.

If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me.