daw.com - march 4

Let me introduce you to GENIUS HOUR.  It all started within Google where the directors thought that not only was it a good idea to have smart people working for them but also to give them the chance to work on passions of their own.  This lead to a 20% time rule where employees are allowed to work on passions of their own.  Over time this has lead to innovations such as Google Earth and Neighborhoods.  For the past year I have had this idea in my head and wondered how it could be part of my class.  After all, there are many of my students who have passions that we do not cover in our regular curriculum.  Should this be left out of their learning?  No way!  Here is what I have planned for the last quarter of the year.
Over the next two weeks we will discuss what some of the problems of the world are.  This will most likely line up with the current events we have been doing for the last 4 months or so.  After we look at these then we will look at what are some of the passions of the students in the class and how can these passions be used to help workout some of the problems of the world.  This also lines up with our last unit of the year - Impact.  Here students work out how to make an impact in their community and make it come true.  I see a great correlation with the two.
I will relegate one hour per week on Thursday, to have students work through the research of an idea, development of a project and hopefully finally end up with a project to present to the class and others of interest.  I do have to admit that the presentations may not be with a completed project given the few weeks we have left in the year.  However, there is still merit in having students think through their passions and prepare for what they could do, even though there may not be enough time to actually make it come true.  I think the process is well worth it.  I will keep you appraised of our process as we move through this neat idea.  I hope that all of you share in the excitement I have with this new project.
Next week I will be away from class from Wed to Friday as I attend the annual Beijing International Model United Nations conference at the Crowne Plaza downtown. There are about 600 students from all over the world attending and it always proves to be a very interesting event.  This is my 5th year being associated with the event.  I really enjoy it a great deal.  I will have a full set of plans ready for the substitute teacher and she will be able to contact me at any time since I am still here in Beijing.

Next week's current events are as follows;
Tuesday - Eric
Wednesday - Claire
Thursday - Henry
Friday - Elgin
Remember that if Newsela is down, and this does happen, I have listed four other sites students can use in our class email account on Office 365.  All presentations must answer the question, How does this Impact (the world, our community or me)?
We are on our next piece of writing for the Speculative Fiction story.  It will be due in final draft form prior to Spring break.  I was impressed with the last story they wrote and look forward with anticipation to their next one.
Our next unit in math is Area and Volume.  We start this on Monday and should complete it prior to Spring Break.  This unit looks primarily at area and volume of right angle rectangles but there is a small foray into triangular prisms, pyramids and cones just to whet students appetites.
Our 4th and 5th meetings of Literature Circles happen this week so students should stay on top of this.  Remember they have to read the chapters and complete their booklet prior to the meeting day.  This is assessed as part of their reading learning in which discussing books and ideas presented by authors is integral.  If a student is not prepared, it makes it very difficult for them to follow along and participate.
I want to remind parents that the discussion on Puberty takes place on Monday morning at 8:30am in the MPR. We will have all the teachers on hand and a doctor to help facilitate the meeting where we will cover all the information that will be disseminated during our week long unit the following week.  It is the start of the Human Growth and Development learning that students will do over the next several years.  I hope to see you all there.
We are fortunate to have Linda Ragsdale from The Peace Dragon to visit our class on Monday.  The assembly with her last week really left an impression on the students and most are anticipating quite a fun filled event with her when she comes to our class.  I admit that I am also excited.  I had the pleasure of seeing Linda 4 years ago when ISB hosted the Global Initiatives conference.  She was very worthwhile.
As always, if you have any questions or concerns please feel free to contact me.
Harold Daw