daw.com - December 16

It is hard to believe but half of the school year is now over.  And what a great semester it was.  This past week we took some time to celebrate our accomplishments and victories.  It is now time for a three week rest and recuperation.  It is my wish to all of you for a safe and enjoyable holiday.  I look forward to continuing our journey in 2017.  Here are some pics from this past week.

daw.com - December 9

Here are next week's current events;
Tuesday - Elvin
Wednesday - Eric
Thursday - Simon
Friday - no current events due to assembly
There is no homework for next week.  This is my gift to the students for the end of the semester. There will also be no Monday folders for this week.
Just thinking about what this is going to be about is already looking it could be a long one. There is just so much going on and finished that it is almost mind boggling.  The first big event was the music performance by the bands orchestra's of ISB ES.  It was a great fiesta of music and wonderful to see the progress made by the new students in such a short time.  Everyone was fully entertained.  A hearty congratulations to all the students of 5HD involved in Strings, Orchestra and Band.
We had two sessions with Mr. Watson this week in which the students investigated the movement of air in a chimney and also a look at sound movement.  Students discovered for themselves what was happening and tried to make sense of what they were observing through models of explanation.  It was simply amazing to watch the science being investigated.
With this in mind, I hope most of you have blocked off Wednesday afternoon starting at 1:30 pm.  This is our science fair where the students will display some of their learning in this unit.  It should be an interesting time of display for the students.  It is in the classroom and don't forget your camera.  Looking forward to seeing most of you there.
Friday was our second time in the Kitchen and this time we used fractional measurements to complete cooking Banana-Rama bread.  Everything turned out OK and there was not much left when the eating was over.  The students were simply outstanding.  They even cleaned up super well leaving the kitchen in better shape that when we arrived.  I want to thank the parents that volunteered to supervise during this time.  It is always appreciated by the students in the class.
Next week we close out most of our units and topics of study.  We will have our end of unit math assessment, science fair, complete the story writing, and complete the lab reports.  I do not see any problems with finishing these on time.
Thursday is our annual Winterfest and everyone should have received an email from the homeroom mom about what food to bring.  It is always a highlight of the end of the semester for the students.  Students can dress up holiday style for this day should they wish.
Friday is a half day and students are dismissed at 11:30.  The school has asked that everyone go home at that time so please have drivers or cars available at that time to pick up students.  There is nothing happening after school so there is no reason to be at school.  The cafeteria will not be serving lunch that day.
I am in the midst of preparing report cards at the moment.  If there is something you want to know about or have questions in advance, let me know and I will gladly set up a time to meet with you.
Harold Daw

daw.com - December 2

Some neat things happening this week and next so you might want to grab a coffee first as you read through.  First off, here are next week's current events.  There was some confusion this week with absences and also me being away for a day.  I think it is all sorted out now;
Tuesday - Angel
Wednesday - Brandon
Thursday - Oscar
Friday - Tiffy
At the start of the week the students completed the performance of Ibn Batutta from a book we read in class called The Traveling Man.  Much of what they did was created by the students and it involved learning from a number of professionals and experts in the field.  I was very impressed with their work.  If you were not able to attend, here is a short video of the students.

Here are pics from our class.

We also did our first baking/cooking of the year.  This was part of our fractions unit as all the measurements given for the recipe were in fractions or mixed numbers.  All this had to be completed by the students.  In the end, we had delicious cinnamon muffins to eat.  I think it went very well and I want to say how proud I was.  A big thank-you goes out to the four moms who volunteered to help us.  We are in the kitchen again next Friday for Banana-Rama bread and Smoothies.
We are just about finished with out adding and subtracting of fractions.  It is not a very hard unit but it does make the students draw models to prove their work.  This is something I believe is very important as students need to have a high level of understanding of their math.
We have also just about completed our first story.  I would say that about 80% of all the students are now done and published.  We will move on to report writing for the remainder of the time before winter break.  This is in conjunction with our Prove It science unit.
I want to remind everyone that Dec 14th at 1:30 pm we will have the science exhibition in which students will present the learning they have done through the unit.  I hope some of you will be able to make it.
Roots and shoots is a worldwide organization that brings conservation awareness to students at schools.  We have an ES and HS chapter of Roots and Shoots here at ISB and they are once again doing the Holiday Hounds.  This is a program where you can financially support a dog or cat that is currently at a shelter here in Beijing.  Donations will be taken during lunch hour in the cafeteria for the next week.  There is even a small gift with donations of RMB50, 100 and 150.  I will ask the Student Council Reps to talk more about this with the class in case they want to do something as a class.  In the past every student has gone without ice cream once to use their money to support this very worthwhile cause and my class has supported a farm animal each year.  If you are asked for RMB5 for this cause as part of 5HD's contribution, I know the rest of the students would be very thankful if everyone could participate.
Time is speeding through at the moment and it is coming close to holiday time.  I would ask you to please keep your student on task with the things we are doing as I need to complete them and assess them as part of the first semester reporting.  There will be no work to do over the holiday so they can have a total respite from school during these three weeks.
As always if there are questions or concerns, please let me know and I will gladly make a time to meet with you.  You can also contact me through my email.

daw.com - November 26

Here are this weeks Current Events reporters;
Tuesday - Leo
Wednesday - Cici
Thursday - Ada
Friday - Angel
Just a reminder that the Current Events are part of our morning meeting routine as they are one way we share in the morning.  Students should report on things happening around the world and include all the information they need so that the rest of the class will understand.  They also for part of our Impact Unit at the end of the year.
We have completed module 2 of math and started module 3 - Addition and Subtraction of Fractions.  You can find the parent letter for this here. It is not a long unit and we will finish before the winter break.
Next Thursday we are in the school kitchen cooking using fractions.  I want to thank the parents who volunteered to help for this.  It is always a highlight for the students.  Look for pics on next weeks blog.
We will complete our first piece of fiction writing this week.  Students are just about completed their first draft then it is revisions and edits ending with a final draft.  After I have assessed them, I will be sure to send it home in the Monday Folders.
We had a discussion this past week about proper digital behaviors.  It has come to our attention that many students at ISB are part of WeChat groups that are using inappropriate language, bullying others and various other nefarious activities.  One thing I pointed out to the students is that to use this site they needed to obtain written consent from parents.  This is clearly documented in the User Agreement for PRC.  You can find this here for your information. The legal age for users of WeChat here in China is 18.
This week students will start their Science Fair project.  This is an investigation of a science principle from questions the student asks.  It needs to include three questions all related to the idea.  Here is an example;
Science Principle - solids dissolving in liquids
Question 1 - What happens when sugar is dissolved in water, vinegar and coca-cola?
Question 2 - Does temperature affect the dissolving of sugar in water, vinegar and coca-cola?
Question 3 - Is there a difference in dissolving crystal and powder sugar in water, vinegar and coca-cola.
Each of these investigations is then carried out and students will keep track of the results they gather by drawing models, using charts and completing graphs.  Finally they will prepare a display of their work for the science fair on Dec 14th.  All of the investigations will be homework starting later this coming week and being completed by Dec 8th.

Tuesday is the annual Grade 5 Performing Arts performance.  It is in the theatre at 8:30 am for those of you that can make it.  It is a story that we did in class about an explorer from the 14th century - Ibn Batutta. Students will do all sorts of things for this performance and it will include all grade 5 students.
Once again I would like to ask you to let me know if you plan on leaving early for Christmas.  With all the celebrations of the semester as well as the ending of our science unit, I really need to know so that students can be kept on track.  Thank- you in advance for this. 
As always, if you have any questions or concerns please let me know and I will gladly set a time up for us to meet.
Harold Daw

daw.com - November 28

Yet another week has sped by and we are really into a lot of learning.  First off is next week's current events;
Tuesday - Michael
Wednesday - Annabel
Thursday - Robinson
Friday - Poppy
Our current unit of science has all the students exploring the safety of parachutes.  We started by looking at what makes a parachute work and then came up with list of questions that would help us learn more about the safety of parachutes.  Students then created an investigation based on one of the questions.  They are in the process of completing these and then we will compare the results from the various groups.
Our writing of fiction stories has entered the final stages with most students almost completed their first drafts.  Now they will share it with each other as the revise the story then it will be for editing and completion of the final draft.  I want to remind everyone that writing is a very long term piece of learning.  It takes most students years of learning and practice to become efficient and effective writers.  Because of this, sharing becomes a very large part of the learning since it offers a larger audience of learning that just the student and teacher.
We will complete our math unit this coming week with the final assessment sometime towards the middle of the week.  I want to spend some time reviewing first and then looking at problem solving.  Our next unit is on addition and subtraction of fractions.
Next Friday is the school's annual book fair.  These are vendors from here in Beijing that come to sell the books they have that are of interest to both our students and families.  If you think your student might like to purchase a book, send some money with them and I will take them to the book fair to look around.  There is no requirement to do this.  
I want to take the students into the cooking lab for some real life fractions cooking but need some parents to help me please.  The two dates I am looking at are Dec 1 and 9th and it will be sometime between 11:00 and 12:30.  If you do not mind supervising this with me, please let me know.  In the past students have really enjoyed this.
We are coming up to our grade 5 Performing Arts presentation on November 29th.  It will be in the theatre starting at about 8:30 am.  If you can make it, I am sure the support will be greatly appreciated by the students.
Next week is our Week of Kindness in the Elementary School.  This is an important week as I feel that learning to be kind and learning about kindness is important for this age group.  I am sure you will hear more about this as the week continues.
I will return to weekly Monday folders this week after my absence this past week.  Look for the assessment rubrics for the exploration unit as well as the past two weeks of work the students have completed.  Just a reminder that you are asked to sign this so that I know you have seen what I am sending home.  The folder and signature paper comes back to school, the work stays at home.
Here is the video of the students involved with the Jedi Jugglers three weeks ago;

As always, if you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me.
Harold Daw

daw.com - November 4

Here are next week's current events;
Tuesday - Elvin
Wednesday - Eric
Thursday - Inseong
Friday - Jungbin
We return to regular homework next week with a math problem and reading passage per night.  One question I was asked during parent conferences was about students pre-learning the homework.  I do know I made one mistake last quarter but for the most part, everything they are doing in the homework is an extension of things we do in class.  In some cases we might just have done it once before the homework goes home, in other cases we have repeatedly gone over the concepts and ideas.  I also want to remind parents that the homework is only an extension of what we do in class.  There are special times where students are completing work from school, such as the past week with the Exploration Projects, but for the most part, if students have something else scheduled on the night of the homework, they can just complete it the next day.  At all times, the homework should not take more than an hour to complete as that is the Elementary School guideline.
We have been busy with our Science Unit - Prove It!  For this unit students are learning about the states of matter (solid, liquid and gas), the changes in matter and also about the scientific process.  This past week we did 4 investigations that involved M&Ms where students began to look at things critically and identify further questions that have not been answered.  It has been a very interesting week.
We are also in process of out first fiction story.  We have spent a lot of time planning the story with a brainstorm, ending, events leading to the end, character description and setting.  As we complete this the next thing students will do is record their rough ideas to their story.  From here we will then start to write it and finally publish it.
In math we have started division of whole numbers.  We started division with unit numbers (10, 100, 1000) and then started to look at single digit division (276 / 5) with and without remainders.  At this time we do not include decimal remainders - just whole numbers - ie 276 / 5 = 55 R1 or 276 / 5 = 55...1.  Both are acceptable representations as long as the student sticks with the one they like.  We also started to look at estimating division problems but this is a little more tricky since the entire expression needs to be looked at rather than just one number.
I will be away at a conference from Thursday Nov 10 to Tuesday Nov 15.  The sub will have all the plans for each day and my expectations remain the same with the learning.  Everyone should be well versed in this by now --- Do Your Best.  It will mean that for the week of Nov 14-17 there will be no Monday Folder and on Nov 11 there will be no blog.  I will return to both of these the week I return.
The student council (STUCO) is selling apples as a fund raiser for an orphanage here in China.  This is an annual event and something is very worth supporting.  The apples are RMB6 each and I think it would be a great community builder if students also support this.  They can bring in their RMB6 next week to me.
On Monday the ISB Book orders will go out to students.  If there are books you wish to purchase the order and money will need to be in by Nov. 15th.  On that day the PTA will pick up the orders and send the money off for the order.  It will not be possible to order after that time.
A reminder that the week of Nov 14-17 is a 4 day week with Friday a PD day for teachers here at ISB.  There is no school on the Friday.
I would like to ask at this time that if you know you will be leaving early or coming back late from Winter Break, could you please let me know so I can plan accordingly.  We have a couple of special events for the students and I want to make sure I know who all will be here.
One of these events is our Science Fair.  It is on December 14th starting at about 1:30 in the afternoon.  This is immediately after lunch so if you want to come early and have lunch with your student, please feel free to do so.  I know they would really enjoy a respite from the regular cafeteria for a chance to be with a parent and eat in the MS Cafeteria.
A little longer than normal today but as always, if you have any questions or concerns, please let me know and I will gladly meet with you.
Harold Daw

daw.com - October 21

I want to thank all of you for attending the parent-teacher conferences.  I hope that the discussion we had was beneficial and that it gave you some insight into your child's learning so far this year.  We have moved forward in a steady direction all quarter and will continue to do so for the rest of the year.
One common theme throughout most of the conferences was in regard to the improvement of writing.  This is an area that takes years of learning and practice to become really good at and the expectation each of year of school is that students will get better and better.  In grade 5 we do a lot of writing in the forms of reports, non-fiction writing, fiction stories, biographies and presentations. We study words, look at spelling conventions, grammar and learn more about writing in paragraphs - including transitions between paragraphs.  This is the first year that students are going to learn about researching and obtaining information about topics they are working on.
This week there are several important things happening.  Here are the students who are in charge of current events;
Tuesday - Leo
Wednesday - Cici
Thursday - Ada
Friday - Angel
Friday is also the annual Jedi Jugglers event.  It starts at 7:00 in the evening in Gym 2 and I hope that many of can take the time to come and watch/support these wonderful students. They have been practicing for the last two months and really put on a great show.
We will complete our biographical sketches this week.  This is the culmination of research on a specific person and has included how to write up a bibliography.  We have used books, videos, databases and websites to gather the information on four questions that were determined by the class.
This week will also continue our exploration presentations. I am hoping to have the class complete their presentations by the end of the week.  The students have four choices in the presentation they complete - book launch, news report, drama/puppet show, infographic or exploration brochure.  It will be interesting to see what they choose and how the present their research.
IN math we are continuing with our look at multiple operations in expressions.  These include a continued review of the exponents we used in the last module.  Problem solving continues to be at the forefront of our math learning.  Having covered eight of the ten strategies, we will learn the last two in the coming weeks.
As always, if there are any concerns or questions you have, please let me know and I will gladly find a time that we can meet.

daw.com - October 14

What a great event the International Day was here at ISB.  It was truly a sight to behold as the students reflected the best their country has to offer.  We had a great day.
Current events next week are as follows;
Tuesday - Poppy
Wednesday - Leo
I have had one report of Newsela.com not working at home but it appears to be a login problem.  When students sign in they need to use what ever account they set up here at school, including the password they selected.  Then everything should work just fine.  If it is down, there are three other sites they can use in our class email group on Office365.
Students took a nose dive into research this week looking up information about for their biographical sketch and also for their exploration project.  It was amazing to see how the students can dive into books to look for answers to question about their particular topic.  Next week students will look at databases and video on the same subjects and learn how to take notes from both sources.  We have also been keeping track of our books in a bibliography which will be part of the final product.
Next week is a short week with only three days.  Thursday and Friday are parent teacher conferences and I hope that you have all signed up for one.  I look forward to this as it is a great way for me to bring you up to speed on the learning of your student.  If you are a non-English speaker please arrange for a translator to attend with you.  Report cards are issued electronically on October 19th.
Students have been asked to get a form signed for the use of the POLAR wrist bands.  The data we collect from these is an important part of our Human Body unit after Christmas break so please sign the form so students can return it ASAP.  I thank you in advance for this.
That it is for the week.  If you have any questions or concerns please feel free to contact me and I will arrange a time that we can meet.
Harold Daw

daw.com - September 30

Since we were out at camp last Friday, I was unable to get a blog post prepared and published.  It is going to mean that this one is longer than usual.
Camp was a HUGE success.  The students bonded with each other, learned more about the teachers and administrators, did some art, science and PE activities and had a host of other things to keep their minds busy.  The setting was serene in a deep valley with lush growth all around and a stream passing nearby.  Today the students will bring home their camp newspaper with the articles they wrote this past week.
Today is Terry Fox run and being a Canadian it is especially important since even after many years, he is still a national hero.  Just imagine running a marathon (26 miles) every day of your life for almost 4 months and this with a prosthetic leg.  Although he never made it, I was on the University of Calgary committee to welcome Terry when he finally made it to Calgary.  It would have been an even unlike any other.  Today we honor his legacy to raise funds for the Cancer Society of China by doing 20 minutes of running here at school.
Our class elections for STUCO are over and Eric is our representative with Brandon the alternate.  I want to congratulate these two and also thank everyone who ran for office.  You did a great job with your speeches and I was impressed with the details you brought forward for the students.  Eric and Brandon have already had their first meeting with many more to come.
Next week is the national holiday week and I hope everyone takes a well deserved break.  Rest and rejuvenate is the theme of the week.
Last Monday we hosted Luca in our class.  He is the son of one of the prospective candidates for Head of School.  The class took to him very fast, and he became one of the class very quickly.  While his dad was not successful, I know many of the students would have loved to work with Luca next year.  We do wish him all the best in the future.  I was quite proud of the class in their manners and helping attitude.
When we return we will continue with the writing of our biographical sketches.  Most everyone has selected their historical figure and now it is time to research and write about them.  Lessons in this area will include taking notes, identifying important information, preparing paragraphs and proper research/bibliographic procedure.  This will come in handy in their future since many more research projects are ahead of them.
We will also continue with our Exploration projects.  In these projects students choose from 5 projects and then prepare to present their explorer.  It need not be an explorer from long ago as some people want to do underwater explorers, space explorers, scientific and medical explorers and other famous people/explorations.  They have a total of 5 questions they must answer as part of their presentation and when it is all done, they will present this to the class who will do a critique for them to learn from.  I have shown them examples and prepared a scaffold of learning for the students.
Our next math module us a continuation from the first one but now looks very heavily at the operations of decimal fractions and whole numbers.  We will begin this on the Monday when students return to school.
I have been asked by several parents about Current events and want to make sure that everyone knows that on the night of this assignment, the homework is strictly optional.  I want students to put a true effort into their Current Event so they are fully prepared to present this to the class next morning.  We do four a week unless someone is absent and then their make-up will be with someone else.

After the break, here are the people doing Current Events;
Tuesday – Naoko
Wednesday – Michael
Thursday – Annabel
Friday – Robinson
Friday October 14 is the International Day here at ISB.  A form went home this week and I would ask that it be returned as soon as possible please so I can have it ready for the parade component of the day.  If anyone wants to stay after school for the rest of the event, I need to know who they will be with, where they will be picked up, and how they are getting home afterwards.  I thank-you in advance for this.  On this day I do hope students will wear things that represent the country they are from.
As always, if you have any questions or concerns please let me know and I will gladly set up a time to meet with you.
Harold Daw

daw.com - September 16

As I write this I am hoping that most of you are enjoying a long weekend with the family and perhaps even the extended family.  Mid-autumn festival is a great time of the year for this to be a part of our life.
It was a really short week we just finished and next week is even shorter here at school since we will spend three days and two nights at Singing Deer Lodge in the annual grade 5 outdoor experience. More on this later.
Each week there is now up to four people who are in charge of the daily current events.  Next week there is only one - Tuesday - Inseong.  Remember that current events take the place of nightly homework and are not an add on.  All students have an account with NEWSELA and we practiced with it here in class for three days last week.  The website does not require a VPN to work but it is account specific so each student will have to login to use it.  One thing I really like about it is the leveled reading available.  This means that even my EAL students can have total use of the site.  In case it does go down I have emailed three other sites students can use to our class email on Office 365. These sites are Time for Kids, Dogo News and Science News for Students.
We are lucky to host the son of one of the candidates for Head of School on Monday.  The students are excited to have him in class for the day and we all hope he will leave with a really positive insight into 5HD.  At supper time on Monday as your student about this.
Spirit week was a great success and the students really took it to heart.  The pictures on this blog attest to the spirit 5HD shows the rest of the school.
Wednesday to Friday next week we will be out at Singing Deer Lodge.  Students need to bring their packed items for overnight on Tuesday morning so we can be ready to leave first thing on Wednesday.  Please, please please keep this light and to a minimum.  We are only gone for two nights.  This being said, the nights can be quite cool and the forecast is for showers most of the week.  Please plan accordingly.  
On Wednesday students need to bring with them a day pack that has a snack, lunch, water/drinks, and rain gear in it.  Please remember nothing with nuts in it.  I have a booklet (small) and pencil they will also be packing.  Any electronics they bring (and I strongly recommend that other than a camera they do NOT bring any) should also be in the day pack.  Remember they will be carrying around with them all afternoon on Wednesday as we can not get into the rooms until 5:00pm.  Anyone with medications should also bring them at this time and give them to me with any special instructions.
Camp is always a great event of the year and one that students look back on as a highlight.  We are really lucky that we can go for two nights this year.  I think I am just as excited as the kiddies are.
One change in class this week is that I will no longer cover the nightly homework with the class unless there is a huge problem.  Instead everyone will hand it in first thing in the morning and I will mark it and hand it back for the next night.  Please make sure students look over what they did in case there were errors and corrections need to be done.
We will continue with our look at decimal fraction equations, explorers and exploration and start biographies this coming week.
As always, if there are any concerns or questions please let me know so and I will gladly set a time for us to meet.