daw.com - November 20

The biggest and most exciting news this week was the addition of a new student to our class.  On Thursday morning, to the cheers and assistance of all the class, Jungle joined us.  I was so pleased with the students helping him on his first day and he seemed to become part of the class almost instantly.
A problem has arisen with our current events.  Presently the main website we use, Newsela, has now been blocked by the Information Firewall of China.  Since there is no time frame with this, we will have to assume that it is closed for the rest of the year.  Instead we can use the following websites to gather information about news topics that impact our community.  I have sent and email to all the students with these websites already linked to it.
Next week the students doing current events are;
Tuesday - Nicole
Wednesday - May
Thursday - Eric
Friday - Claire
This week, as part of our science unit called Prove it! I set the students to several engineering challenges.  I was amazed at how the students planned, organized, collaborated and completed the challenges.  The first one was to get a marshmallow as high off the ground as possible using only spaghetti and tape.  The second one was to create the tallest structure possible that would hold a golf ball using only newspaper. I am sure it would be great conversation if you ask your student about this.
We have now completed all the gathering of research for our biographies unit.  Next week we will start to write up the biographical essay.  I was impressed with the gathering of data the students did and will comment on their research and process before handing back their booklets to them.  They will complete a final draft of their biography by next Friday.
We started to look at our science experiment project.  It has to be a experiment where there is only one variable that changes and that change must be able to be changed at least 5-6 different ways.  By Tuesday of next week, each student will have thought of an experiment to do and completed the question, hypothesis, materials list and procedure.  Once this is completed and I have conferenced with them, they can then proceed.  The entire experiment will be a home based project.  I have asked students to keep you informed of the process all the way along the road.

We continue with our reading of Sign of the Beaver and the assignments that go along with this.  In the coming week I expect to end our first round of literature circles.  The next round of lessons and reading for literature circles will start the following week.
This brings me to a couple of reminders.  Please make sure that your student is reading out loud at least twice a week for 5-10 minutes.  This is to improve fluency.  I constantly test this with students and am a little worried that I am not seeing the improvement I should be.  The best way to be come a more fluent reader is practice reading out loud with proper pronunciation, expression and use of punctuation.  Secondly, I do expect that each student will read every night and that when this is completed an adult will sign off on it.  I do not specify a time as that is individual.  However, the reading should be unbroken for the time the student reads.  At this time I am looking for students who can read and work for a constant 20-25 minutes.  I am not seeing this with too many of my students.
Lastly, please make sure that you take the time to read and sign the daily planner.  It will keep you up-to-date with what is going on in your child's education at school.  I do make each student complete it everyday and I sign it as well. I thank-you in advance for making these experiences positive for your student.
As always, if you have any concerns or questions please feel free to contact me.  I will set up a time that we can meet to discuss your concerns.
Harold Daw