daw.com - March 18

I think I know why this month is named March.  The days seem to fly by as if we are marching along all the time.  I cannot believe that another week is over - and such a great week of learning.
First off is next week's Current Events;
Tuesday - Sveva
Wednesday - Dylan
Thursday - Andrew
Friday - Stephanie
These have been a great lead in to our Impact unit which starts right after spring break.
Speaking of a holiday, please let me know ASAP if you are planning on leaving early or coming back late.  I need to know to plan properly.  We have three assessments all due this week and I do not want any of your students to miss any of them

Yesterday was the FOOD IS COOL cook off for grades 3-5.  Jovan was our representative for the green team and they did a fantastic job.  Students learned more about why meals are important and the kinds of food they should be having each day.  Like most students, I thought that the recommended servings of fruits and vegetables was 5 servings per day when in fact it is apparently 7.  I learned something along with the students.  Then each team prepared a meal from fresh ingredients and a group of taste testers had the chance to try out the meals.  Overall it was a fun and exciting assembly.
This past week was also Pueberty week and while I am sure that there are still some questions about Human Growth and Development, most of the main issues regarding growing up and going through adolescence have now been initially addressed.  This will be an ongoing topic through middle school as most students actually grow into young men and women during this time of their life.  I have told students that I am available to answer more questions if they have them but their best source is really their parents.  
We are well along with our Human Body presentations where students have to teach the class about the system they have researched.  In doing their teaching, they must involve the entire class in some sort of activity.  Some of these are looking quite good and seem to have really interesting ideas.  I am excited to see them next week.
We have also finished our first draft of the second speculative fiction story and hopefully next week these will turn into final drafts.  It is all this writing that is showing good results in students improving their writing skills and the associated learning that goes with it.  I cannot begin to say how important this is as students move forward in their educational career.
We also had a chance to see the grade 2 circus performance on Friday and want to congratulate them for a job well done.  It was a spectacular feature filled with color, humor and really neat stunts and tricks.  They had obviously worked hard on this and their efforts paid off with a great performance.  I know all my students really enjoyed it.
It is time for all of you to sign up for Student Led Conferences on April 7-8.  I do expect that all of you will make it to help celebrate what your student has been doing this past year.  They have all been very busy preparing for it and will demonstrate all sorts of things during their conference time.  Please take the time to sign up now so you get the time slot you want.  Each conference is 45 minutes in length.
As we come to the end of the quarter it is very gratifying to see the growth that your students are making.  Since no one is the same, the rates and levels of this growth differ significantly but since there is no comparison made, and as long as there is growth to be shown, it is wonderful to see it happen.  We will start the final quarter of the year right after Spring Break and I expect to see continued growth from all students in the class.  With roughly two months to go, there is plenty to learn, experience and participate in.
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 - March 13

I have just come back from 5 days with the HS Model United Nations conference that is held annually here in Beijing.  It was a great experience for these students and really goes to show just what can be done with students who have a passion for something.  The debate was extensive and included the Antarctic, problems in Lebanon and Syria, destruction of homelands, climate problems and economic sanctions.  In total there were 71 resolutions that were debated.  At this time I am not sure of the number passed.
Our week plans to be very busy with a lot going on all over the curriculum board.  First off is the weekly Current Events;
Monday - Kevin
Tuesday - Elgin
Wednesday - Jungle
Thursday - Arianna
Friday - Haewon
With the CPC over now, I anticipate that the Internet will return to normal.  I was able to get to Newsela while at the hotel and again this morning at home. 
This week is Puberty week.  It is part of our Human Body unit and an important step in students beginning to understand the physical, social and emotional changes that will most likely start within the next year of their lives.  This unit is taught co-ed with everything to be learned by both the girls and boys.  There is a time on Friday where boys and girls will be split to answer specific questions.  Students will have a chance all week to ask questions about things they want to know more about by writing them anonymously and placing them in the question box. Anything that is beyond the scope of the program will be turned to the parents to make a decision about explanation.
AS part of the Human Body unit there is also an assembly this week about nutrition and eating healthy put on by Chartwells.
The grade four folk tales program is this week and we will support them with attendance at one of their performances.  This is usually a great show and one that some of the students will remember from last year if they were at ISB.
Friday is Grade 2 Circus and always promises to be a spectacular show filled with color and excitement.  It starts at 2:00 on Friday afternoon and students will be dismissed form the Gym at the conclusion of the performance.
This week I expect students to complete their first draft of Speculative Fiction story #2.  This will given them the rest of the week and next week to complete the final draft.  They will share it with three other students first, make revisions and then hand it to me for final edits.

We are also well on our way to complete the Human Body report which is due to me on Monday so that students can then prepare their presentation.  This presentation must involve the audience and be about 5-7 minutes long.  We will be sharing presentations with Ms. Handy's class.  I am looking forward to seeing what the student come up with.
With Student Led conferences two days after Spring Break, we have been busy preparing for the time you will spend with your student learning about their year so far in Grade 5. We are doing the presentation part electronically this year using Evernote and Piktochart.  You will see the work in its original form - some electronic and some on paper.  It always promises to be a great time of learning for parents and students.
In music class the students are quite fortunate to have two professional Musicians working with them for a performance which will be next week. While I am never with the students during music class, it always amazes me to see what they do in the performance.
If you are planning on leaving early for the Spring Break could you please let me know so I can plan accordingly.
That is it for this week.  If you have any questions or concerns please contact me to set up a time we can meet.
Harold Daw

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