daw.com - Christmas Edition

Dear Parents and Class,

I am all packed and ready for the trip back to Canada. The bus arrives to pick us up in just a little over 2 hours. I wanted to say how much I appreciate all of you and how wonderful you all are but I could not think of any way to do this. Instead, I thought I would write all of you a Christmas Blog.

Here are some of the pictures I took from our Christmas Crafts days this past week. I was pleased that everyone participated and got to take home some really neat Christmas crafts - I am being really quiet about this in case they are being used for presents to mom or dad.

Also, here is a link to a neat graphic movie I made of all the teachers in 5C - I think you will really be amazed at the agility of the teachers. This link expires on January 15, 2010.

To all of my students and their families, I wish a Merry Christmas and a Happy Prosperous New Year. Please stay safe over the holidays and bring back lots of stories to share with all of us in 5C1.

Harold Daw

daw.com - December 13

Dear Parents,

Each week there are students in charge of a current event. I have sent home a reminder with these students but I will also list them here.

Monday - Halle
Tuesday - Max
Wednesday - Faven
Thursday - Stephen
Friday - day 2, no current events

Here are some student friendly sites for Current Events.

Good News Daily
Science News for Kids
Time for Kids

Thank-you to all for the wonderful holiday feast last Wednesday. I myself had so much fun that I forgot to get pics of the event. I know students went home full that day and filled with all the goodies from the feast. Your effort and kindness is always appreciated.

The biggest change this week will be with the homework. Students have homework on Monday and Tuesday only and the packet is due back in to me on Wednesday morning. This means students need to look at their schedules for the week. This is a must since I need to get it marked and prepared to return in Monday folders right after the holiday. I am also looking at my schedule to make this happen. It is also a good thing for students to not have too much homework this week since I know there are a lot of parties and other celebrations happening.

The only homework over the holidays is reading and this is a MUST. I am asking for 20 minutes ever second day and students will all go to the library this week to have books at home for them to read. If you are traveling I ask that books be a part of the packing list. It is VERY important that this be a part of the holiday plans as I am not convinced yet that students have really grasped all of the concepts of fiction reading they need. Students WILL have a reading blog entry to do the week they return from holidays so this is another reason to read - read - read. I have a special, 2 sided, reading log to go home with the homework folder on Wednesday.

Our in class experiment with growing grass under conditions of acid water has been very successful. Students will complete this on Monday and graph results over the 10 day period. I have put up some pictures of our work in this area. We also looked at sound pollution last week and will complete the unit with light pollution this week. Students have also had a first hand look at the project which is a personal service announcement. they will work on and complete this after the holiday and up to semesters end. There is lots of opportunity here for the more creative students in the class.

The last two classes for research will happen this week with Mrs. Robinson and Mr. Clarke in the library. This is in preparation for the research section of the PSA mentioned above. So far, students have responded well to the research skills being taught.

We will complete our math unit on fractions, decimals and percent this week with the final assessment about mid-week. We will also complete the next open response this coming week. I will not start the next unit until the new year.

Tuesday and Wednesday will be our cluster's annual Christmas Crafts. There are 16 crafts and students need to choose 4 over the two days. These crafts will go home with the students at the end of each day. Always promises to be a lot of fun.

Monday is the next Math Olympiad and students look ready. Good luck to them all.

Friday is a games morning. Students will be able to bring games from home and I have several here at school to play as well. After art in the morning, we will play some games until we leave for the Christmas program at Tai Tam. If your son or daughter wants to bring a game and teach it to a group of students, we would be delighted to have this happen. I will see that all is looked after at this end. All students need to bring a lunch on Friday except those on the lunch program. The cafeteria will not be selling lunch on this day. Please note this change as I would not like to see students go hungry. They will have lunch prior to our departure for Tai Tam.

Friday is also our last day to "Dress for a Cause" and it is red and green day. It costs students $20.00 and all money raised goes to the less fortunate in Hong Kong through the Operation Santa Clause program of the South China Morning Post and a couple of radio and TV stations. Students can also continue purchasing Candy Cane grams for $5.00 during lunch on Monday to Thursday.

Friday will see students dismissed early at 1:45 with busses leaving at 2:00. Please be aware that the police will be stopping all cars parking from 12:00-2:00 along South Bay Close. This is because we need to get 1200+ students back from the Christmas Assembly at Tai Tam and this is a lot of buses. These same buses will be used to transport students home. With the construction across from the school and renovations further along South Bay Close, there is not the room for vehicles to park and buses to return from Tai Tam. All students to be picked up by car will happen after the buses have left at 2:00. Please let your driver know if this is the person picking up students. The official announcement will come in the family letter from the office on Monday.

I would like to take this opportunity to wish all of you a Merry Christmas and prosperous New year. If you are traveling this Christmas or staying here in Hong Kong, please stay safe and have a restful and enjoyable holiday. I will be returning to Canada to be with my mom and also to participate in my nephew's 9th or 10th (I have forgotten now - my sister is going to kill me) birthday. I look forward to continuing right where we left off when we return on January 4th, 2010.

Thought you might get the same laugh from the picture at the right that I did when I first saw it. Sometimes, even the smallest things get a real giggle out of us and laughter really can have a calming affect. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

As always, if you have any questions or concerns, please let me know.


Harold Daw

daw.com - December 6

Dear Parents,

Each week there are students in charge of a current event. I have sent home a reminder with these students but I will also list them here.

Monday - Nikhita
Tuesday - Brock
Wednesday - Alex
Thursday - day 2, no current events
Friday - Christoffer

Here are some student friendly sites for Current Events.

Good News Daily
Science News for Kids
Time for Kids

As you can see by the picture at the left, we had a great time on Thursday and Friday with the students from the Shenzen Sinolink International School and their teachers. I made them a regular part of the class as much as I could and they all seemed to really enjoy it. It is important for students to be a part of this as sometimes our class is a little isolated and we don't always see the complete picture. I would also like to congratulate the four students who boarded these students for the two nights. They did their best and really showed what we are all about in 5C1.

I also want to congratulate all our budding musicians. In 5C1 we have 6 band students, 5 strings students and 4 choir students. This past week the band and strings had their holiday concerts and on Monday is the choir concert in the Church of All Nations. As you can see by the picture to the right, the band students looked quite relaxed after it was all over.

This coming week has a couple of special events. First off is our Annual Holiday feast on Wednesday. I know we could really use a few more parents to help with setup and cleanup. Please let me know if you can help. By now Mrs. Pushkarna should have been in touch with all of you about timing and food delivery. If not, it will be coming soon.

We are still looking for some parents to help us with our Christmas Crafts on Dec. 15-16. Please consider this as we a bit short this year and can really use the help.

Students also need any of the following for a special event this coming Friday: scraps of cloth, wool scraps, fancy paper, used Christmas cards (just the front picture is needed). They can bring this in any day this week and I will store it for them.

Next is some special days for the students. Monday and Friday are free-dress (Dress for a Clause) days in helping to raise money for the South China Morning Post Operation Santa. It is $20.00 for each day or more if you are so inclined. Monday is dress in red day and Friday is dress in green day. Friday at lunch will also see the start of the sale of Candy Cane grams. Students can purchase one of these for $5.00 to send to friends in the school. Each afternoon the Candy Cane grams will be delivered to the correct person. This sale goes all the way until Dec. 17 with the last Candy Cane grams delivered on the 18th.

This time of year is when the members of the HKIS community pitch in to help out those less fortunate. This years food drive for St. James Settlement is being run by the Cub Scouts. They are looking for canned goods, noodles, flour, bags of rice, baby formula and the like. Boxes are set up outside the office to help collect. As a class we talked about how we can help contribute to our community which is one of the Student Learning Results here at HKIS. I suggested that this is one way we can all help but that there should be something that students have to do to make them more involved. I admit I have no ideas at this time but as a family perhaps you can talk it over and see what comes up. I believe that all the food needs to be in the boxes prior to the Christmas break so the Cub Scouts can package it up and get it delivered.

We have completed all the pollution experiments in the lab. There is one that is continuing in the class and that is the growing of grass under conditions of tap water, acid water (vinegar) and half and half. We will watch the results over the next few days and see where it gets us. Students will then report this on their pollution blog which can be found on their Portfolio Websites. This week we start to look at the final presentation which is a research based project that will end with a Public Service Announcement. Two lessons this week with Mrs. Robinson, our librarian, and two more next week will set students up to complete this after the Christmas break.

Our writing unit on the essay is fully underway. We have primarily been looking at the writing of paragraphs with our thinking. Ideas are being generated through observation, reading of newspapers and from our own thoughts. This coming week students will have to complete the first essay on their own. It will be a personal essay on a topic of their own or one from some prompts I have given them. It will start with a plan (something we call an accordion paragraph) and end with a complete paragraph. This unit will overlap with our Public Service Announcement project in science in that their project will be written as an essay.

In math we continue to work on fraction conversion to decimals and vice-versa. We have spent a lot of time on unit fractions (1 is the numerator with any number as the denominator) as this is where the basic understanding starts. We have also looked at reducing fractions to their lowest form after conversion from decimals. Sometimes it is hard for students to get it all the way, especially with very large decimals. As the week progresses, conversion to percent will start and I am hoping that all the learning in decimals will pay off with a smooth transition since all a percent is, is a fraction where the denominator is 100. We will also have another exemplar to complete.

In reading we have some catching up to do. We missed many reading lessons last week with all the other neat events happening. I expect that this will not be too difficult for students. Book talks and response blogs are part of what happens this week and should be completed by Christmas break.

I wanted to share with you a conversation I had with a parent last week. It was over the "exceeds expectations" category on the report card. This category is there for the exceptional student who consistently shows effort and thinking above that of a regular grade 5 student. Because of the fact that very few students in grade 5 are consistent in their work or thinking, this level of achievement is very difficult to obtain. This is the way it is suppose to be. When the exceptional student shows up, this is the place where they will be assessed. What the conversation boiled down to is that the majority of students will be in the meets expectations level of assessment. This level is constantly changing as the year progresses and students get more and more sophisticated. The learning bar is dynamic since it is normal for progress and expectations to increase as the year moves on. There always has to be something more to shoot for.

As always, if you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me.


Harold Daw