daw.com - September 25

We have had an amazing week with so much learning that it is going to be hard to summarize it all - but I will try hard.
One of our big goals this week was to start researching an explorer.  As I alluded to last week, there are four questions that students are attempting to find information about regarding their explorer.  Not all the questions are answerable with the limited time and information we have but it set a direction for students to strive towards.  They have been busy reading books, websites, watching videos and listening to podcasts in an attempt to take notes regarding all four of the questions.  For the most part, they have now completed this stage of the process.  It is now time to start to prepare the presentation on their explorer.  This will start as soon as we get back from the National holiday with presentations set for the week after.
We have also been busy collecting and telling the story of our lives.  Referred to as memoirs, students took the notes they collected from their interviews of their parents and wrote them as stories for their memoir books.  We have completed three more in class and now have 6 stories about their lives.  After the break we will collate all these into a biographical sketch and produce it as a booklet.  One thing I can ask at this time is if you have digital pics of your student then prepare them.  After the break I am sure they will be asking so that they can include them in their memoirs book.
The last part of the memoirs book is a personal timeline.  As part of the learning for the week after break, students will need to know timelines of their life - birthdate, learning to walk, learning to talk, first words, moving away/to homes, starting school etc etc etc.  Anything you can think of regarding their life will really add to the timelines we will create for our memoirs books.
I have had several students forget their homework or misplace it.  I do put a copy of
the weekly homework as a shared document on Office 365 which every student has access to through any internet connection.  They should use their ISB login and password to access their account and from there be able to get to the homework booklets.
We had a great Terry Fox run this morning and I was very proud of the effort put forward by all the students in class.  We also talked a little bit about what it all means the outcomes from doing this.  One thing they were not aware of was that the proceeds from the event are kept here in China going to the China Cancer Society. I also gave them my viewpoint since I was around when Terry was running across Canada.
Reading workshop takes on a new look starting in October.  With the conclusion of our class novel (Pedro's Journal) it is now time to start on small group Literature Circles.  During these times students will be assigned a small novel to read as a group.  As they are reading they will be taking notes, asking and answering questions and learning more about reading.  This will take the form of THINK MARKS.  They will then use the information from these Think Marks to write blog journal entries about their novel.  This is the next step I use in our continual learning about our reading and reflecting on what we read and how we learn about reading.
Parent Teach Conferences are October 15-16 and I am hoping to see all of you.  Sign-ups are right after holiday so please make sure you are able to log in and sign up for a 20 minute slot.
As always, if you have any concerns please contact me and set a time up to meet.  In the mean time, have a great holiday.
 Harold Daw

daw.com - September 18

By now I am sure you have heard all about camp.  It never ceases to amaze me how a 2 day/1 night event can end up with so many neat and interesting stories associated with it.  While I admit to being exhausted by the end, it was a great experience and already one I know some of the students are looking forward to next year in grade 6. I have to tell you that I was very pleased with the students at camp, their attitude and how the managed themselves.  While not perfect, there was nothing that even remotely deserves saying anything except how proud I was of them. Today everyone completed an article about camp and a newspaper was published.  It is attached to this blog post.  It was a quick write/edit so there are still some errors but I wanted to get this done while camp was still at the forefront of their thoughts.
Next week is a big week for writing as there are two major assignments that we will be working on - Explorer reports and memoirs (Biographies).  The homework this past week combined with what we have been learning in the last couple of lessons with the librarian have created a pathway to seeing some really neat final products.  Both of these are my final assessments for the two corresponding units.
The final project for our Explorers unit will have the students answer the following questions as they research an explorer of their choice:
Who was _____________ (life history, character, education and training etc)
Why did they undertake their exploration?
What were the impacts of their discovery (positive and negative)?
What traits did they have that made them leaders in their exploration?
How did their exploration change the world?
You will notice that none of these can be answered with single words or sentences.  They all take some serious research and then the meshing of ideas to formulate a conclusion or answer.  This is the process of historical inquiry.
We will complete our math unit 3 next week, probably on Wed or Thur.  Our recent exemplar problem will also finish next week.  One thing that I have been very specific about as I am teaching mathematical problem solving is the students must show that there are no other answers and be able to prove it.  I have also been pushing how to stay organized when tracking problems that have multiple answers.  This is an important skill and one that takes students time to learn effectively.  Since most of the problems I give do have multiple answers it is up to them to prove they have them all.
We had our elections for Student Council (STUCO) on Friday and Jovan will be our class representative with Stephanie our alternate.  Congrats to these two and a HUGE thank-you to all that ran for office.  Please help your student understand that being unsuccessful does not mean they should give up.  I sincerely hope they continue on in future years with leadership positions.
Next Friday is the 35th Anniversary of the annual Terry Fox run.  It has special meaning for me as both a Canadian and also being a member of the welcoming committee for Calgary, Alberta when he arrived.  Unfortunately he never made it that far having succumbed to his illness. As a class we will participate and I hope that you can find it in your heart to donate to the Cancer Fund we hope to raise from this run.  All monies stay here in China and are made a part of the Chinese Cancer Society.  Having a personal connection to some who passed away from Cancer, I know how important events like this can be to someone special.
Next Wednesday there is an opportunity for you to hear from a Math Specialist about how the teaching and learning of Math has changed over the past couple of decades.  ISB's math program is under review and this same specialist will be visiting with us as we move forward.  I would highly suggest you attend to hear first hand what is happening in mathematics teaching/learning.
I think that is is for this week.  If you have any questions or concerns please feel free to contact me and I will set aside a time we can meet.
Harold Daw

daw.com - September 11

 Another great week is completed and MAP testing is also over.  We will revisit this again sometime in the spring.  I really feel that students did the best they could.
This coming week there is a lot happening so you might want to get out your calendars as you read through this post.

Starting Monday 5HD will be swimming for PE classes.  This means that all students need to bring their swim gear and leave it at the pool for the duration of the classes.  I expect all my students to fully participate in swimming as it is a great life skill to have.  While I was going through University I was a swim instructor and lifeguard with the City of Calgary Parks and Recreation department.  I saw first hand how much fun learning to swim can be and now as an avid water sportsman, I really feel that all the time I spent learning to swim was really worth it.  If for any reason your child is sick or ill and cannot swim, the PE instructors need a note from a doctor.  Of course, things like broken bones go without saying.

Camp is also this week.  We leave for Singing Deer Lodge on Wednesday morning and will be back on Thursday in time to take the 3:30 bus home.  In order to prepare for this I need all students Passports on Monday please.  This is a requirement of the Chinese Authorities for traveling in China.  If your student is on a diplomatic passport then I also need the card that goes with the passport.  I will return these to the students as they are exiting the bus to go home on Thursday.

Packing for camp needs to be completed Monday night and overnight packs brought to school on Tuesday morning.  Please remember, we are only out for one night.  Keep everything to a minimum.  One thing that is a must is a warm sweater or coat for the evenings.  At this time of year, it gets quite cool at the camp.

Lastly are the day packs.  Students bring these with them on Wednesday.  In this pack should be a snack for the morning and a lunch.  Please note there is no facility to warm anything up or get hot water.  All lunches and snacks should be ready to eat.  Plastic baggies are preferred storage as they can be disposed of when finished with.  Also a rain coat should be in the day pack just in case it is "shining liquid blue" when we arrive.  I also have a couple of things I will be giving the students for camp so make sure there is room for a booklet, pencil and such.  Thank-you for helping to make this experience the best for your student.  I already know we will have a great time.

Book order forms went home last Wednesday and are due into me by Tuesday please.  As we leave for Camp on Wednesday, there is no time to collect forms and money on that day.  It is advisable to keep a copy of what you ordered just in case there are errors in the delivery of the order.

Homework this week will be interviews of the parents - so get ready.  To let you know in advance, I need you to think up three events with your child from early infancy to the start of school.  Students have been writing memoirs about themselves and these interviews will help with including their younger years.  It can be about them learning to walk, the first time they started speaking, a visit to grandmas, a funny event when they were young etc.  If you could help them out with recalling three events it would be greatly appreciated.  Students will be taking notes.  It is OK to do it in your own language as I am sure students will be able to write about it in English once they bring them to school.

Last week the class completed their first fine arts presentation - The Sword Dance.  Here is my video of them on the day of the presentation.  I was very pleased with the effort and out come of their work.  The video is about 6 minutes long.

We have been busy learning about Christopher Columbus and Ibn Battuta as explorers of the world.  We will next look at Zheng He.  Students will also be starting to research an explorer they want to learn more about.  I will be giving them a list of names to choose from and take them through a journey of researching and presenting.  This will be the final assessment for the unit on Exploration.  More on this as we run through it.

The winner of our first estimation contest was Andrew with an estimation of 300 Skittles.  There were 408 in the jar.  Everyone got some as a prize and Andrew gets all the left overs as well as his portion.  Congrats to Andrew.

I would like to introduce our Homeroom Mom Mrs. Ge.  This the mom of Kevin in our class.  She will be in contact with you these coming weeks.

If you have any questions please feel free to contact me.  I will set up a time we can meet and discuss them.

Harold Daw

daw.com - September 5

I am in my hotel room in Hong Kong as I write this entry and I only hope everyone else is enjoying the holiday too.  We have quite a week ahead of us with some major events coming along.

MAP testing is a twice a year and the results are continuously published so that growth can be tracked.  This week students will write three MAP tests - Math, Language Usage and Reading.  As long as the students do their best, it should show growth from the last time the test was taken.  I will be reviewing both how to write a test and how to best experience a test with the students this week.  Please make sure that your student is properly rested and fed when they arrive each morning.

This week is also the start of the Student Council elections.  Two students are elected from the class but only one serves.  The other is standby in case it is not possible for the elected candidate to complete their term.  I am looking for students who either demonstrate a leadership capacity or are willing to learn how to lead.  The forms for STUCO will arrive home on Monday.  On this form is all the information about how to become a STUCO representative for our class.  Let me know if you have any questions.

Coming home on Monday is the Math Unit 1 assessment.  Please have a look over it and let me know if you have any questions.
There seems to still be some confusion about the Monday folders.  I use this system to return all work to parents as one way to maintain transparency in the classroom.  Each week the work is to be take out, counted and then the Monday Folder form signed.  Please return the folder and the signed sheets.  The work can be kept as it represents how your student is doing in mu class.  I ask for the folders returned the next day please.

The September reading log went home last week.  Please make sure that your student reads every night and fills out the form when they do so.  I do not assign a length of time to read as I just expect that reading is done for both learning and pleasure.

As always, if there are any concerns or questions please let me know.