daw.com - August 28

Just where does the time go - another week is over and we are really busy at all the learning we do in class every week.  We had a special class this week with Mr. Watson the science specialist who took the class through water rockets and variables that could be changed to make them fly further and also be more accurate.  This is the start of this activity which will finish at camp later in September.  Here is a video I made of the event;

A quick reminder that this coming week is only three days.  When students get dismissed at 2:25 on Wednesday they do not come back to school until Monday.  Enjoy the break.  Because of the short week I will not be sending a homework packet out.  Students continue with their reading every night, including during the holiday please.  Students will need to turn in their reading log on Tuesday morning and I will give them the new one for September.
One of the uses of technology I employ in my class is the use of the school blogs for a reading journal and also our learning log.  You can find your students blogs on this page.  I would bookmark it so that you can refer to it often.  We have already got 2-3 posts up and published.  Soon these blogs will also be used for students to comment to each other as this is the purpose of a blog.
Next week is school photos and Wednesday is our turn.  Please make sure that your student is dressed nicely for these pictures as they are used for many purposes here at school and it always nice to see the students looking good when the show up on our network.  These pictures are also used for the annual yearbook.  We will do the class picture after Winter Break.  If you wish to order any picture sets, please return the order form I sent home last week with the money by Wednesday morning.
We have finished our first unit in math and move on to a unit about estimation and calculation.  Please find the parent letter for this unit attached at the bottom of this blog post.  The Monday folder will have all the assessments for unit one in them so look for them when this comes home on Monday.
Our Explorers unit continues to look at the European explorers from the perspective of others there at the time.  The book Pedro's Journal chronicles the first voyage of Christopher Columbus from the view of a ship's boy.  It is interesting to listen to the questions the students have about his journey.  We have also looked at the landing of the European explorers in the Americas from the perspective of the local natives.  Raised some very interesting questions.  Next we move on to the look of a journey of a young Japanese boy who immigrates to the USA and then returns home to find that things are not as he remembered them.
Every week we look at the English language is many areas.  This past week we started to look at vowels and consonants as well as the sounds in the language.  We also started to write poetry by looking at the Cinquain - a 5 line poem.  These, combined with other activities, are year long learning activities.
If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me and we will set up a time to meet.  Have a great weekend and enjoy your holiday.
Harold Daw

daw.com - August 21

I want to how grateful I was for all the parents who came to Back to School Night.  Since I hold home/school communication in such high regard, I was please with the turnout.  If you want further information about anything I talked about or have questions, please feel free to contact me.  One thing I forgot to mention during the night is that I will occasionally attached articles and letters to this blog, similar to the one I sent home from Back to School Night.  I keep them short and hope you find them interesting.  They should give you a bit more insight into what I am looking at for learning in my class.  The second of these is attached to this blog - Math Family Letter 1.  We are well into unit 1 but this will still give you a good idea of what we are learning.
On the subject of math, we will complete our first unit next week and I plan on doing the final assessment toward the middle of the week.  I am confident students have learned what they need to and ready for a cumulative assessment.  We continue with problem solving all year long that is related to the units we study.
This past week we started a deep look at some explorers and started to take the perspective of what it was like to be the person or with the person as the journey took place.  We also started to reflect on the effectiveness of these journeys and the challenges they faced.  It is hard for students to understand the historical significance of some journeys give than we live in a very different time.  Next week we continue to look at these journeys through the eyes of an immigrant and also as a young boy on board the same boat as Christopher Columbus.
As most of you are aware, the students in my class are going to be using technology very heavily.  Already we have started our personal portfolios on EverNote, we have Office 365 all up and running, we started to look at Google Earth and we have started bookmarking sites that will be used all year long.  For the most part students are not struggling with any of this as technology has been a part of their lives since they were born.  However, one area that is always a struggle for students is 
keyboarding.  More and more assignments and work will be computer related as they year(s) go on so having good keyboard skills is really important.  Can you imagine having to type in your Senior Essay (grade 12) with two finger typing?  We will do some of this in class but it will also require work at home every so often.The school has an online typing tutor program here.  Students do need to register first but registration is free.  This might be a great way to work on the keyboarding skills of your student.
Next week students will be shown reading levels and how to choose just right books.  Remembering that reading should be about learning to read and not just how big the book is, students should be selecting books that are toward their level of reading and increase as their reading level increases. One thing that I am sure if is that most of my students are excellent at reading words.  Understanding the text is a whole other piece of learning to read.  Today we started looking at inferencing and foreshadowing.  These are very important parts of being a good reader.  There is no sense in reading a book that is 500 pages long if all you understand is the first 25 pages.  Deep questions are important to really making yourself a good reader.
I want to thank everyone for keeping up with the nightly initials for your students planner and the weekly initialing of the Monday Folder.  This should really keep you informed about what is happening here at ISB.
As always, if you have any questions please feel free to contact me.

daw.com - August 14

What a great week it has been.  I have taken the time to get to know your student more and more as the week progressed through assignments, assessments and even interviews and informal talks.  While I know you already know this, you have a great student and things are looking great to make this a wonderful year of learning.
We took the time this week to get our Blogs set up and designed.  Everyone in the room has a personal blog and we are ready to start using them next week.  The blogs will be used as reading journals and learning reflections throughout the year.  Students will also learn about how to comment to a fellow classmate on their blog entries.  When I have these up and running I will send home a link with all the class blogs on them to make your life easier.

We also installed EVERNOTE on to the computers as it will be the system we use to learn about and report during Student Led conferences on L21 here at ISB.  There are 5 parts to this system and one section of Evernote will be dedicated to this.  It is my goal to make the Student Led Conferences of April as paperless as possible while still delivering a true and robust picture of the learning journey of your student.

This week saw student complete three writing assignments including what I call a TWO-DAY WRITE.  This is where I give them a topic or other information and on day 1 they plan, brainstorm and organize so that on day 2 they can write and complete a story.  They are good ways to get students really into writing and I have to say that I was impressed by both the quality and fullness of most of their writing.  It also gave me a very good foundation to start writing instruction.

Next week the homework will see students have reading, problem solving and some writing.  They will get the package on Monday and then daily assignments written in their planners.  They bring the homework package back each morning so I can mark it.  All corrections are to be done the next day.

We start our EXPLORERS unit in earnest this coming week with a look at what it must have been like to take the risk of exploring the unknown.  There is a look at some of the famous names in exploration as well as some that are lesser known.  Our Enduring Understandings are;
  • Exploration of the unknown is an on-going human quest that impacts society.
  • Effective leadership demonstrates many similar traits, but is also sensitive to the needs of particular contexts.
The Essential Questions are;
  • How might ideas of the unknown motivate human beings to explore?
  • What are the impacts or transformations that have come about as a result of exploration?
  • How have perspectives changed as a result of exploration?
Perspective is a hard skill for students to learn so we use this unit as a tool to introduce and study what it must have been like to be alive during the Age of Exploration.  

We will start our first novel study this coming week with Pedro's Journal.  It is the story of a young boy who becomes Christopher Columbus' ship's boy and his take on the journey into areas unknown.  While it has been "spruced up" by the author, it is a real tale from the travels of Christopher Columbus and fits very well into our unit.

In Math we continue our look at Whole Number systems with an emphasis on multiplication and division.  This past week we looked at arrays, factors and number models.  We also started our problem solving and will continue with this next week as well.  Students do have enrichment times within math class where puzzles, riddles and open problems are explored.

We will visit and learn about the science lab next week with Mr. Watson who always has some great activities cooked up for grade 5.  I use the lab quite a bit for both science classes and also for activities that lead up to science - ie.  measurement labs.  We will do our heart dissection there later in the year as well as some interesting learning for our Prove it Unit.

A reminder to all parents that this coming Wednesday from 6:00-9:00 is Back to School Night and I am hoping to see you all there.

Students returning to ISB need to start to bring their recorder back for Performing Arts classes.  If students have lost theirs, there is a RMB50 charge for a new one.  New students will be issued a new one.

Thats it for this week.  If you have any questions or concerns please feel free to contact me.

Harold Daw

daw.com - Aug 7

All the introductions are done and the first day jitters are now a thing of the past. We are well underway and moving forward to what will inevitably be a magnificent year.

This blog will be the place for the weekly news and information regarding everything that is grade 5 oriented to 5HD (also known as daw.com). Here I will post what we have done and will be doing, upcoming school events, things I think students should be a part of here at ISB and general knowledge regarding your grade 5 student. I will also attach articles and other documents that will make understanding what is going on much easier. To read these documents you will have to have a PDF reader on your device/computer. Depending on the kind of device you have, the reader will vary significantly so please look into this right away. A good starting place is Adobe Acrobat Reader (click here).

I am planning on some really invigorating events throughout the year so please stay connected by bookmarking this page. I usually complete the weekly blog on Friday or Saturday.

 If at any time you have a question or concern, please contact me and we will set up some times to meet. Harold Daw