daw.com - January 30

I have been a teacher for 27 years now and today we did something that I have never done with a class in any school or at any level before.  We had a lesson in the kitchen and we baked up Cinnamon Muffins.  What a blast it was too.  Just look at all the faces of the students as we completed and started to eat our creation.  I am sold on this and will plan several more before the year is over.  Since all the measurements were in fractions it was also a great real world lesson from recent lessons.

We have also spent some this week doing two things simultaneously - writing a script for our section of Monkey King and learning all we can about Office 365.  It has been a very steep learning curve but so far we have completed a shared writing piece in the script and started to do our heart rate lab with the online version of PowerPoint.  So far all we have on the presentation is a table of the information but by the time we finish it will have a pie graph (something we have just learned in math class) and all the information we find about blood pressure as well.  All students had their BP measured this week and were surprised to find such a wide variation. We will also graph the class landmarks using the data we have collected.

Speaking of math, we started out new using on graphing and adding and subtracting fractions.  I have attached the family letter for unit 6 at the end of this blog post.   We should complete this before Chinese New Year.  It is mostly a continuation of what we started in unit 5. Myself, Mrs. Brister and Ms. Crowe are also experiemting with math stations so each student attends three of the 6 days with another teacher.  It is really great for studenst to work with studenst from other classes they do not regularly get to see and also with another teacher.
We will be restarting current events after the Chinese New year break.  Students will be introduced to NEWSELLA which is an online edcational newspaper.  It really has great articles for students.  We will use this to report on the news and happenings in the world.  Look out for this coming early in the week.
Earlier in the week we had an unannounced emergency drill and I have to report how impressed I was with the students.  It was automatic - quiety moved out of harms way, there was no noise and they listened for recording and anouncements.  There was no movement and everyone showed cool and collected emotions over this.  Being unannounced, there was no way to know if it was real or not.  Kudos to the students in 5HD.  I was so proud of them.

I feel I need to remind all parents that I do expect students to read for at least 5 days a week and I prefer all 7.  10-20 minutes of free reading, reading from news, family reading, oral reading or just interest reading is fine as long as they are reading.  Students should then be recording this on their reading log every day.  I give students a new log every 2-3 weeks.  The bring the completed log in and file it in their folder for future use.  Please help to continue to make this a reality.  If your student does not have reading material at home let me know.  I can arrange to have some brought home.  Thank-you in advance for this.

Talking about reading, we have started ourt first book clubs for the year.  This is assigned reading from me.  All students are in groups of 3 or 4 and they have 5 times they will meet to discuss the book before Chinese New year.  Then we start again right after the holiday and continue to the end of the year.  Students are reading "Just Right" books meaning they are at their reading level.  They get some choice from the selection I give them.
That is all the news from 5HD for this week and announcements for next week. As always, if there is a question or concern please let me know.  I will arrange a time for us to meet and work it out.

Harold Daw

daw.com - January 24

What a great week we have just completed.  There were several times this past week I had to offer Kudos to the class for their outstanding work and behavior.  It was fantastic.
We started off with the dissection of a pigs heart and also looked at the inflation of pigs lungs.  We did not get the best results with the lungs but I think everyone got the idea that they are not a muscle but rather an organ.  The heart dissection went off great with everyone able to find the four chambers of the heart, several valves and even a few of the arteries and veins.  Who knows, maybe there is a budding doctor or medical researcher among the class.  We also talked about how this all comes about with respect being the key component of the discussion.

Students have also been to centers involving the skeletal/muscular system, digestive system, respiratory system and will finish next week with nervous system and sensory system.  There is a lot over overlap in these systems but this is something we want them to learn about.
We spent two days wearing heart rate monitors and the students where quite enamored with the change in their heart rates over time and depending on the activity.  There was one interesting comment from a student about how relaxed they must be during math since that was when their heart rate was the lowest.  I admit I would like to think so, but I am not sure that is class wide.

We are well along in completing the scripts to our section of the Monkey King production to be held later in the year.  First drafts are now complete so edits and rewrites will be finished this week.  We are using the new Office365 system to do this and with one minor hiccup, everything has gone smoothly. I am particularly glad to see the leadership from several class members in getting this completed.  I really have left it almost entirely in the students hands.
This week sees us finishing the first of three units on fractions, decimals and percent with the second one completed before Chinese New Year and the third about two weeks after.  It is a hard section of math for students but so important as the move on in their math studies to middle and high school.  There are some students struggling so we are going slow to make sure everyone really gets the most out of the learning.
We will make our way to the kitchen next Friday at 1:30pm to bake Cinnamon Muffins.  All is set and we are ready to be the best bakers we can be.  This is in conjunction with the math unit since so many of the measurements are fractions.  After the muffins have baked, I am sure they will be consumed by the whole class.  Please feel free to join us in the kitchen on the main floor beside the PTA store and cafeteria.
I am planning the Literature Circle/Book Clubs for students and hope to do some teaching of this during the week so we can use this fantastic method of learning about reading for the rest of the year.  Students will have some choice over the books they read, but they do have to be at the level their reading is at currently.
As always, if there are questions you have or problems you see, let me know and I will gladly set a time up to talk with you.
Harold Daw

daw.com - January 16

IMG_1337.JPGA new year is upon us and already it has been quite a week.  I hope everyone had a restful holiday.  I really enjoyed seeing my family and being back in Canada for a VERY cold Christmas break.
I want to let everyone know that our class picture will be on Tuesday January 20 so I would ask that everyone dress up nicely.  It is a non-PE day so students do not need to worry about having to change in and out of gym clothes during the day.  An order form was sent home on Friday for families that want to order a class picture.  Bring the form and the money on Tuesday to give to the photographer.
This week we have returned to many of the things we were doing before break.  Regular homework started again but this time with a look at Synonyms and problem solving. This will continue for several weeks to come.  I am hoping that reading is a nightly activity in your house now and that it continues every day of the week.  Being a well read student is part of being well educated.  20 minutes every night should not change any routines in the household.  Homework packets are always due on the last day of the week - usually a Friday.IMG_1358.JPG
Monday folders will return next week with many items in it as we completed several projects this past week.  They should also be signed and returned by Friday of each week.  The student's work is yours to keep.
We are now in the Human Body unit and I have indicated to the class that while some people look at this with almost an unkind eye, really it should be held in awe.  To think that the machine we call a body works all by itself for 24 hours everyday, is truly a magnificent thing to behold.  The emphasis of this unit is on living a healthy lifestyle as well as learning about the human body and how its various systems integrate to keep us happy and healthy.

Starting next week the students will rotate through seven(7) stations representing various systems and contexts of the human body.  They will be involved in disecting heart and lungs, looking at lung capacity, working on wellness excersizes and many more concepts.  There is also some front loading of information reguarding the skeletal and muscular system happening.
I am quite pleased that for the most part, students bring very healthy snacks.  During our unit on the Human Body, I would like to ask that this both continue and become a discussion at home.  It is certainly part of what keeps us healthy.  It also makes learning far better when a student's body is happily satisfied with the intake of food.
We also started to write our part of the Monkey King.  This is a performance that will happen as part of the Performing Arts classes later in the year.  To start off, each class is given a section of the tale and this has to be written in a script to be performed.  It is the student's responsibility to complete this as they are the ones performing the play.  I have reviewed how to write a script, the technique of script writing and we have already divided into two groups for Act 1 and and Act 2 of the performance.  Students have listed the characters (cast) and already started writing the script for each act.  I find this very exciting as I have done a lot of acting in my life and also written a script that was performed at another school I worked at.  I am hoping this motivates them to really put their heart and soul into the performance.  As time comes closer, I will also help them with the choreography and blocking of the performance.
Our math unit on fractions continues and I have to admit that the students are finding this a little more challenging than some of the other units.  I have slowed down somewhat to really make sure they understand what I need them to know about fractions, decimals and percent.  We should finishe the unit later next week but I am not goping to rush this as these concepts are very important to future math.

As part of this unit I am hoping to get into the kitchen and do some baking of muffins.  So much of cooking is fractions (in the imperial measurement system) that it should help students make a real world connection with fractions and baking.
I had students repeat their explorer presentations this week as I was not pleased with their past effort.  It was amazing to see the improvement.  I take some of the responsibiluty for this as we ran out of time just before Christmas break.  We covered what is really needed for a great presentation.
As always, if there are any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me.
Harold Daw