daw.com - November 27

We seem to be right on track with the current events and I am really pleased with what I have seen so far.  Students have found some great articles to report on and they have tried to make connections as to how this event impacts someone around the world.  Remember that one of the objectives of this program is to work our way up to the Impact unit at the end of the year by looking at current news and happenings around the world. Here is next week's schedule;
Tuesday - Claire
Wednesday - Henry
Thursday - Kevin
Friday - Elgin
Since Newsela.com is not blocked here in China, here are three other websites that students might find helpful.  They are also welcome to use newspapers, magazines or other information sources you might have at home.
BBC Newsround
Dogo News
Scholastic Magazines
Any assistance you can offer your child I am sure will be greatly appreciated.

Next week students will start their science project experiment as their weekly homework.  They have spent some time in class formulating a question, researching some information about their experiment, developing a hypothesis, creating a materials list and making up a procedure.  When students do their experiment they are expected to keep track of the results.  It is also a good idea to take photos of their work as they do it so they can display these when it comes time for the science project fair on Dec 15th.  In class we will start to do the writeup of the lab and also prepare for the showcase.  The experiment is entirely done at home as a homework assignment.  There will be no other homework next week other than this and those involved in current events.
As I prepare to complete the end of semester reports, I have been doing some informal testing in writing, reading and problem solving.  If at any time you want to know anything about this, please let me know as I would be more than willing to meet with you.  Obviously, I am hoping to see some real growth since the start of the school year.  I will be in touch with you should I not see this or see that it is not where I expect it to be.

We completed our last round of literature circles this week and will return to these with new books starting right after Winter Break.  Students got a taste of what they needed to read and learn from the reading in order to talk about the books in the discussion time.  The only written assignments for this is completion of think marks that involve FAT questions, making connections, a look at the setting and changes in the characters.
We have also completed our Biography Sketches and I was pleased with both the research he students did and also the final write up.  They did a first draft, edited and revised it and finished off with a final draft.  We move on to Fiction writing next with a look at realistic fiction first.

Our math unit on Fractions started off by looking at unit fractions (fractions where the numerator is 1) and how this can help solve problems with other multiples of this fraction.  We will then move on to comparing fractions and also making equivalent fractions as we get ready to add and subtract fractions next week.  There are a lot of manipulatives we use in this unit so students can both see and prove various algorithms.  Our problem solving has taken us to a running race with students that start at different times and places.  Should have an interesting finish.
Last thing is a reminder that November reading logs are due in on Monday when I will give students a December reading log.  Please help to remind your student about this.
I you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me.  I will gladly set a time up to sit down with you and discuss these.
Harold Daw

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

daw.com - November 13

We are well into our daily current events and so far the students have really done a great job.  Please remember that this replaces the nightly homework, does not add on to it.  Next weeks students are as follows;
Tuesday - Akari
Wednesday - Maxim
Thursday - Harry
Friday - Jovan
Each night before they have their events due, I will place their CE booklet in their outbox to be taken home.  It needs to be completed and returned the next day.  Please feel free to give them all the help they need.  Current events are to show how there is an impact to the community, world or people since this is a lead in to our IMPACT unit later in the year.
We will complete our unit on Division next week with the final assessment later in the week.  The unit has focused on division by single digits, division by two digits, division of decimal numbers and division by decimal numbers.  The latter of these four is still very nebulous for many students as they still do not really see why the answers work the way they do.  We have also completed two exemplars on geometric spaces and area that the students did quite well in overall.  Our next exemplars involve time and distance.
This week students chose who they will research for their biography project.  The research will take the following forms.  For 6 days students will research their topic with books, reference materials from the library and online databases.  Next week's homework will entirely be devoted to research on the internet with a minimum of two websites.  I have told students that they cannot use WIKIPEDIA other than for gathering general data since this website can be changed by anyone out there.  All information on the web needs to be referenced twice, hence the minimum of two websites, so that accuracy can be assured.  Students have a research booklet that they will take home and back to complete all the research on their topic.  The research is due next Friday.
It is also time for students to start thinking about what they want to do for their final Prove It! project.  This project needs to be focused on the changes of a single variable at a time and must show the learning we have done in the unit.  I will be explaining how the process will work during our Inquiry time next week.  The grade level has determined out science fair date and time so mark it on your calendars - Dec 15th from 11:15-12:15 in the morning.  It is always a great way to see all the really neat projects the students prepared.  This will be a whole grade event.
In reading we have completed out third of four Literature Circles.  These are really short books so that students can get use to reading and discussing the books.  There have been a couple of lessons on reading discussions and a few more still to come.  We will do our fourth book next week.  Students are completing a Think Mark for each book they read in which they look at FAT questions, changes to the character and setting.  We are also well into our novel study of Sign of the Beaver.  
Thats about all for this week.  As always, if you have any questions or concerns, please contact me and I will set up a time to meet with you.
Harold Daw