daw.com - December 15

My how time flies.  This has been a repeating theme this semester and once again we hit a milestone - half way through grade 5 or 1 semester until middle school - depends on how you want to look at it.

I want to thank all of you for the wonderful semester.  I keep telling everyone what a magnificent class I have and I am very pleased with the progress so far.  We still have a long way to go, but I remain confident we will make it.  I also want to thank all of you for the assistance during our Winterfest yesterday.  It was a huge success and it could not be so without you.

If you are traveling I hope your travels are safe and happy.  Where ever you end up for the holiday, it is my sincere wish for a time of rest and regeneration. There is not a student in my room who has not earned it.

To all of you, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year - see you all again on January 8th.

daw.com - December 8

It is my brother's birthday today and that is a reminder for me that the end of the semester is also coming to a close very quickly.  I am busy with report cards and comments still waiting on a few assignments and assessments to be completed before entering grades.  It really has been a fast semester and I have to tell you that in my experience, the second semester is even faster - drats!!!!

Our annual grade 5 Winterfest is next Thursday and everyone should have been contacted now about what to bring.  In case you have forgotten or maybe misplaced the email, here are the expectations.  IF your last name starts with the following letters, the request is beside it.  The food/drinks should be enough for about 10-12 people. Please remember we are feeding 10-12 year olds and that we would like to stay away from anything with nuts in it or prepared with a nut oil.
A-E - Breads and appetizers
F-K - Main courses
L-P - Vegetable, potato, rice pasta
Q-U - Dessert
V-Z - Drinks
After the activities in the morning, students will sit down to a delicious buffet style lunch.

We have been busy trying to complete our recent piece of writing - a report on an historical event.  For the most part I am quite pleased that the lessons I have taught about report writing over the last 6-8 weeks are starting to show in students writing.  One thing I did have to remind students of is that any writing they do from research must always be in their own words. There is an online system I can use that will let me know if a student has copied anything from a book, website, magazine or newspaper.  I should not have to use it with grade 5 students, but it is an important thing to learn early and how easily it is to check.

We will complete our current math unit on addition and subtraction of fractions next week - most likely on Wednesday.  I am really pushing the solving of word problems in multiple steps and seeing some nice results.  This is an ongoing math practice for my class.

A reminder that next Friday all students need to leave the school at 11:30.  There is nothing open or available for them after that so it should be time to go home.  For drivers, you will need to remind them of this.  Busses will run as normal, just earlier in the day.

We will also say goodbye and good luck to one of our own.  Chase is moving back to the USA over the winter break and while it is always hard to lose a member of the class, we all wish him the best of luck in his new adventure.  I do have a memory book for students to leave messages and notes for him.  This can also be an email so he can keep in touch with us.

As always, if you have any questions or concerns, please let me know and I will gladly meet with you.

daw.com - December 1

WOW!!!! It is already a new month and also this means only two weeks until winter break.  Good news is that we are right on track with all the learning we are to do.

Now that we have completed our research for the historical report, it is time to start writing it.  There is a bit of time crunch on this as I do want it published prior to the winter break.  This means there are 9 days to draft, revise and publish.  I feel this is doable within the time frame.  There are some neat projects in this unit and I am looking forward to seeing what kind of report the students end up with.  In the new year, students will take this report and complete a presentation to deliver to the class.

We are also continuing on with our book clubs where one group is reading Sign of the Beaver and another group is reading Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing.  I have been working with both groups to help develop a community of readers that shares and discusses the readings from the book they have completed.  This is a long process of learning but one that I am seeing some growth in.   We should complete both these books prior to the winter break.

Our unit in math only has one objective - addition and subtraction of fractions and mixed numbers.  So far we have looked at equivalent fractions, addition of fractions, subtraction of fractions and subtraction of mixed numbers.  While the arithmetic is fairly straight forward, understanding why it works is a harder process.  We are using the rectangular model to prove that these operations work.

As a grade level teaching team we recently had a discussion about grade 5 behavior out of the classroom.  There are some bad words being used in student to student interactions as well as in appropriate content and gestures being used  and this must stop.  No one is exempt.   I would ask that you also explain this kind of activity is both disrespectful to others and inappropriate.  Mr. Byrne will be talking with the students at a Monday assembly.  I can say I have never heard it in class but this does not mean it is not happening.  If it were to happen in class, you would be the first to know as I will not tolerate it.

As we prepare for the winter break I know there may be some of you that need to leave early.  If this is so, please let me know so can make the proper plans for the activities and class learning.  I thank-you in advance for this.

As always, if you have any questions or concerns, please let me know.  I am more than willing to meet with you.

daw.com - November 24

I want to start off with some thank-you's to the parents.  With the grade 5 Performing Arts Presentation and your assistance with the gathering of data for our historical evidence unit, I really do thank-you for the home school connection.  I do not see any one group as more important than the other when it comes to the complete eduction of your students.  I know my students also thank-you for your cooperation.

One thing we did this week was show our school spirit at the annual Great Wall Shootout.  I feel it is important for the class to be a part of the larger community and so I like them to show this through their attendance at these kinds of events.  Some of this pics this week are from this event.

Next week students begin the research and writing process for their next report on an historical event.  We have narrowed the topics down and found research materials.  Next week we will determine the lenses that the research will be looked at with questions that will be answered in the final report.  I did mention to students that this project is under a very strict time constraint as we complete this semester three weeks today and then leave for winter break.

I have been listening to students read out loud to me and I am happy to see progress being made.  There is no way to make a student read fluently and with expression other than to read out loud.  We will continue to work on this next semester as well with the goal to be very accurate and smooth by the end of the school year.

Our math unit has covered equivalent fractions and begun the rectangular model of adding fractions with unlike denominators.  We will work with this through next week as well before moving on to subtraction of fractions.   By having students learn models as well as algorithms, they have a chance to make sure their answers are correct by doing checking with one or the other.  Modeling with
Mathematics is a standard math practice from Kinder to Grade 12 so it has long lasting effects for math in the future.

I do have one request; as we come closer to winter break there may be some families leaving school early.  Because we have presentations to complete and several special events, could you please keep me informed if this comes up so I can plan properly.  I thank-you in advance for this information.

As always, if you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me.  I will gladly set up a time to meet with you.

daw.com - November 16

A reminder that the grade 5 Performing Arts presentation is this Tuesday at 8:30 in the Theatre.  The students of grade 5 have worked very hard on this and I am sure the event will be well worth it.  If you can make it I am sure the students would be thrilled.

I was asked about assignments sent home, work sent home, assessments sent home etc. and realized that I have not been very good about communicating this to parents.  Hopefully this will clear it all up.  Most of the work we do is in books that we use all year long - writing journal, inquiry book, math journal and goals and objectives book.  Other work is done online throughout the year such as reflections and reading journal.  What I do send home is the final rubrics for you to see unit assessments.  So far you should have received three - first unit in math, first writing unit and Global Citizenship Unit.  At least two parents have not got these and it is most likely
due to me not stressing to the students or informing the parents these are coming home and to look for them.  I will change this immediately by putting notes in the daily planner to let you and the students know when these are headed home.  In the mean time, if you did not get any of the ones I mentioned above, please let me know as I do keep scans of these and can send them to you.  In the next two weeks you should get the final assessment rubric for Innovation Through Nature, Unit two in math and our second writing unit (this may be a couple of weeks away still). As home school communication is very important to me, let me know at any time if you feel something is missing.

Next week the homework takes on a very different look - one that I am going to need some help with from all of you.  Students are going to interview parents about a significant historical event in their lives that is not personal (no marriage or births etc please).  Then they are to try to also interview another family member that is not living with them - perhaps a grandparent, uncle or aunt.  I would love it if you could help make this possible but also understand if it cannot work.  This is in relation to our current unit on Historical Evidence where we are looking at how perspectives are different among people.  Be prepared to look at your reactions to 9/11/2001 terrorist attacks as that is the event we are zeroing in on.  We will analyze the results and look for both patterns and out lying topics.  Hopefully this will be a rich way for students to see how history has affected those around them and subsequently themselves.  They will have all week to work on this and it is due on Friday.

We will complete our math unit on multiplication and division of decimals this week.  Over all I am very happy with what I am seeing.  The only area that is still a work in progress is word problems that have more than one step.  Some of this is that the context of the word problems is not easily understood.  Another part is filtering out the useless information and organizing what is left.  We will continue to work on this throughout the year so hopefully it will improve.  Our next unit is on Addition and Subtraction of Fractions.  We will complete it prior to winter break.

Last week the students took a look at historical events and people and what makes them so.  One of the more difficult questions that was raised by the class is what makes an historical event significant?  We had a basic discussion about this but never really answered it.  I am hoping as we continue to study history, that this will come up more and more and finally maybe even either an understanding or answer to the question.  In relation to this, here are the unit of inquiry questions for this unit;

  1. At what point doe an event become significant?
  2. Why do people view some events as more significant than others?
  3. How can learning about perspective help us to understand the world today?
  4. How do we measure the significance of an event?
  5. How are historical events connected?
  6. How does our past affect us today?
The writing unit will also be connected to this with a research report as its final project.  This coming week students will think up three topics, find information about them from the internet and school library, and then select on to write a report on.

We had a great spirit week this week and the pictures represent the class students that participated.  I was pleased to see so many wanting to be a part of increasing school spirit.  This can only have a positive effect on us and the school.  Thanks for your support too.

As always, if you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me.  I will set up a time for us to meet.

daw.com - November 10

We had a great week of learning and reflecting on our learning.  This was a week to complete design projects for our Science Unit and also our current writing unit.  We also looked at Student as a Learner and updated our goals.  We have also just about completed our math unit on Multiplication and Division of Whole Numbers and Decimals.

Next week is a short week with the students in school just three days. Teachers will be in a PD day on Thursday and Friday is a much deserved school holiday.  Hopefully the weather and air quality will be good for the weekend and students will be able to get out and enjoy the time off. We will also be supporting spirit week next week with Crazy Hair day on Monday, dress as a career day on Tuesday and House Color day on Wednesday.  I am hoping everyone wants to participate - you can ask your student about me growing up to be a Hockey Player - quite a funny event in my class.

We will begin our new unit at this time with a look a Historical Events and People.  Students will be completing a time line and also a couple of videos on these subjects.  AS these are completed you will see them show up on Seesaw.  I am trying something new on Seesaw by having students show their math learning.  So far this has been a little rocky but as we do more and more I expect it will be smoother and better quality.  Please bear with me during this but do let me know where you see glaring problems.  You can always comment on your students work on Seesaw.  Remember to be critical but in a constructive manner - this is how I teach students to comment and help other students.

I want to remind everyone that your students should be reading every night of the week.  There is no time set as that is dependent on too many variables but reading every night has amazing rewards.  Those students who have been faithful to this I am seeing good gains in their vocabulary, fluency and comprehension. It is also important that students read books at their reading level to learn from the reading both about reading in general and also about what the text is trying to say.  Reading a variety of materials is also a good idea - magazines, fiction stories, non-fiction (factual) books and newspapers are ways that students begin to see that there is more to reading than just a class in grade 5.  I am very appreciative of your assistance with this.

I want to relay a message to you about a conversation I had with a parent this week as I want to make sure it does not happen to others.  It revolves around homework and home learning.  I know that many students are considered independent with the work they do at home.  This does not mean you should not be checking in with them every so often.  Please remember that we are talking about 10-11 year old students and they still need the guidance and support from parents.  Asking what they learned from doing the homework is a good way of checking in with them as you look over their work.  This all stemmed from a student not completing the homework even though the parents thought it was being done.  It remains a good idea for all parents to check in with their student no
matter how independent you think they are. I do see students doing "last minute" work on their homework every morning which means I know it is not getting done at home. Luckily, at the moment, it is not the same students every morning so I am not too worried.  I also know that there are lots of things happening at home that may prevent homework from getting done - but not on a regular basis.  Last word, I do not want home learning to be oppressive but it is an important skill to start learning as it is a definite part of school in both Middle and High School for students to be successful.  I do not use homework for grades at all - just extension learning and pre-learning for the next day.

That is it for this week.  As always, please let me know if you have questions or concerns.  I will gladly set up a time to meet with you.

daw.com - November 4

What a great day yesterday and how proud I was of the entire class and their participation.  International day in 5HD was truly a celebration of our unique identities.  It started off in the morning with students sharing a national object and what a myriad of items we had.  I was showing students the RCMP musical ride as they came into the classroom and then it was on to Japanese Origami, Chinese Knots, Historical Washington D.C. monuments, Maple Syrup, Taiwanese delicacies and many many more.  As I expected, the students rose to the occasion and really helped make the day a fantastic success.  I shall remember it for many more years no matter where I end up.  The pictures today are of the class in some of the national costumes they had.  They were amazing.  Hope you enjoy.

We updated our Seesaw accounts last week with three things - the voice over of a video, multiplication using the standard algorithm and also with the area model.  We had a lot of troubles with this as it was new to most of us including me.  Most of the projects looked good to me but might still need some polishing up.  We will get to this over the coming week.  I am still fairly new at this but as I learn new and neat ways of showing learning, I will be experimenting with having the students show it on Seesaw.  I expect it to be a bit of a bumpy ride as we all learn, but over time I am sure it will become much smoother.  The end will be a show of learning at the Student Led Conferences later in the year.

Our class continues with wrapping up both our writing and inquiry units this week.  This is accomplished with two projects well under way.  We are doing a design project where students are trying to invent or improve something through natural means.  So far we have looked at how man has used ideas in nature to help solve problems and invent things like Velcro, Sharkskin Swim Suits, Bird's Nest stadium, gliders, planes, bullet trains etc.  Now they are using what they know to innovate and create something of their own.  Our second project is the report we are writing on Innovation
Through Nature.  So far we have researched, outlined, drafted and revised.  Next week we will do the final edits and then publish our pieces.  Not surprisingly, there are some really neat ideas in your students writing.

Our math unit has moved on from multiplication to division and all the various forms of it.  We reviewed fact families and open sentences that can be solved with division last week as well as starting the multi-digit (max 4) divided by single-digit algorithm.  Like all new learning this is a process but over the next two weeks I am sure it will only get better and better.  If your student is struggling, I will work with them on intervention now and throughout the year as this is an important part of math to master before moving on.  Feel free to help as needed.  We will look at models of division later in the unit.  I hope to complete this unit later in the month.

Our language arts reading instruction changes as of this week.  Our book clubs, which have been daily for the last 2.5 weeks, returns to twice a week and all reading is now done at home in preparation for these.  Students can use this reading as their daily reading time for their reading log.  After, or as they read, there is a Thinkmark to complete where they have to come up with a question to discuss among their group, a favorite part and two words worth studying.  Book clubs will always be on Tuesdays and Thursdays until Winter Break.

While not related to our class directly, I would encourage everyone to take the time as a family to go and see the MS Drama Production  of NOT A BOX.  One of the reasons I mention this is that there are several students from my class last year in it as well as a large number from the ES drama
production of Twinderella that I co-directed.  I am sure they would love your support.  It is Thursday from 4-6pm, Friday from 6:30-8:00 and Saturday from 2:00-3:30.  This is just a shameless plug for what I am sure will be a great performance by the students.

As always, if there are concerns or questions you have, please let me know and I will set a time up to meet with you.

daw.com - October 27

I cannot say a big enough thank-you to all of you for spending time with me at Parent Teacher Conferences.  I believe very heartily in the home school connection and cherish every time I get to meet with parents as they are few and far between.  I also hope you gleaned some things from them about your child in my classroom this year and that not too much was a shock to you.

As part of our Math class, we visited the cooking lab this week and cooked up YUMMY CINNAMON MUFFINS.  I was amazed at how well everyone worked and how well everything turned out.  I can also tell you, everyone does know how to clean up in a kitchen after the cooking is over.  We complete the snack with a strawberry-banana smoothie.  The pictures today come from our time in the lab.  We will do this once more as part of our fractions unit and again at the end of the year for a very special year end party.

We are coming to the final stages of some of the projects in the class over the next couple of weeks.  Today we completed the voice over of a Biomimicry video that I made and I am looking forward to students presenting these next week. One of the other teachers on the team identified this as a coloring book in which the students complete each page.  This time it was a video with no sound and they had to produce the narration.  These will eventually show up on Seesaw and you will be able to see them there.

One big take-away from the conferences was some discussions about math.  ISB does not run a leveled math program as a school.  This is left up to the teacher to do in the way of personalized learning.  As I talked with a lot of you, there were comments about how they are performing and how their math is progressing.  For the most part I am very pleased.  There were two areas that were covered frequently with quite a few parents. This year is the final time for students to really perfect their multiplication tables and understand how to use
them for division, ie. 4 * 5 = 20 so therefore 20 / 5 = 4.  There is a wide distribution of this in the class and the best way to really become good at this is to do it orally every night.  The second component was the ability to understand a problem.  This takes on many facets as we look at multi-instruction problems.
  • As an example - Cora and Gemma were making bead necklaces.  Gemma made 39 more than Cora.  If Cora made 106 how many did Gemma make? 
  • If each necklace had 104 beads in it, how many beads were used by each girl? 
  • Cora was able to sell her necklaces for $14 and Gemma for $10 more than Cora.  Who made the most money and how much more than the other?
As you can see there is a lot of math here.  Nothing hard, but a lot of math.  This would be a typical grade 5 multi-step problem.

Our writing is taking on the form of report writing.  We are into writing a report on Innovations Through Nature that will have 5 sections in it.  The due date for this is November 10th and I am confident everyone will make it.  Their research is completed and they are ready for the first draft of the sections of the report.  They will then revise and edit them before completing a final draft.

Our final project in the unit is to complete a design for something that is inspired by nature.  We have looked at over 35 examples and hopefully these will set the stage for some really original ideas from the students.  At the end of this, students will present their ideas.  I am hoping to have the present to you at home as well as students here at school.  More on this later.

Next Friday is International Day and I encourage students to dress in something that is representative of their native land.  I have something that I will wear from Canada (it is not a Mountie Uniform) and I am hoping all the rest of my students will do the same.  I want to thank all of you for being so punctual in returning the supervision letters for the after school events.  It always promises to be an exciting and fun time for the students.

We should complete our second Book Club this week and it has been interesting to see how students both react and learn with a historical fiction book.  While I do believe that everyone has tried their hardest, there are definitely those really enjoying the book and others putting up with it since it is an assignment for the reading class.  Either way, I do believe everyone continues to learn about reading.

As always, if you have any questions or concerns please feel free to contact me.  I will gladly set up a time to meet with you.

daw.com - October 20

You should have received your students report card on Student as a Learner last week.  If you did not please contact the office to have this corrected.  The student as a learner looks primarily at how your student recognizes their own learning. This is a broad scope of concepts and ideas that should make them think deeper about themselves and reflect on what needs strengthening.  We do a reflection piece on student as a learner every 2-3 weeks throughout the year that is also goal setting.  This way students can both reflect on themselves as they grow and set a goal to be reached in a short period of time.

I forgot to show you something that the class was involved in about two weeks ago.  The high school Human Health and Fitness IB class needed to collect age date about health and fitness so I volunteered the class.  Mr. Smyth, the high teacher of the class, had stations set up that were manned by the students in the class.  I think the class enjoyed the time with the HS students as they had quite a list of questions for the students.  I like to be involved in these activities as it shows the students that there is more going on at ISB than just our class.

Remember that next Monday and Tuesday are parent teacher conferences so there is no school on these days.  I hope all of you have set up your conference and look forward to seeing you to discuss your student.  They are a continued manner the school uses to keep the home - school connection open.  I also like them as it allows me to take the temperature of the class and where we are headed.

We are well along with our writing unit on feature articles.  We have spent some time this week researching biomimicry, nature, innovation and innovation in biomimicry.  We have also looked at 4 videos and gathered more information and evidence of innovation through nature.  Next week we will move on to the outline phase of the writing as we get ready to actually take all this information and write about it.  The final outcome is a feature article about innovation through nature.  We will be posting these on an online website I have set up for this assignment.  Students will also Seesaw this and reflect on the process and the product.

Next week we will take our math class into the kitchen.  Cooking is an excellent use of fractions in the real world.  We will be making muffins and smoothies.  I know everyone is looking forward to this as it is a really neat activity.  I have one other time we will go to the kitchen to also look at fractions but in an extended manner.  Of course, it goes without saying, that the students get to eat their projects.

Although I have no Jedi Jugglers in my room this year, I do want to let you all know that next Friday, October 27th is the annual Jedi Jugglers show.  I am sure it promises to be quite a spectacle.  The students always enjoy this show every year.

I want to remind everyone that your student should be reading at home all seven nights a week.  All research shows that this is a very positive way to improve reading skills.  We do not have a lot of time to free read in class but there are lessons almost every day and discussions and assignments based on the readings we do in all out subjects in class.  Help your child continue to improve by reading every night.  They should be recording this in their planner so they can put it in their reading log at school.

Our math has taken us to multiplication of 2x3, 2x4, 3x3 and 3x4 digits.  These are large numbers and for some students it is taxing their basic facts.  By this time I hope students understand the necessity of basic facts up to 9 x 9 = 81 and the division reverse.  It will help them as we continue to explore multiplication of whole numbers and move into decimals up to thousandths. If they are a bit rusty, saying the times table out loud is a fantastic way to quickly bring it to mind. we spent time this week proving our standard algorithm with tape and ribbon diagrams as well as area models.  As your students about these as they should be able to tell you and also decompose the numbers for them.

That is it for this week.  As always, if you have any questions or concerns please feel free to contact me and I will gladly set up a time to meet.
Harold Daw

daw.com - October 13

Friday the 13th - is this an omen or what.  If it is, then I am positive it is a positive one. We have had an amazing week of learning that continues to show just how much we can move in one week.
This week started with a new math unit (multiplication and division of decimals), a new unit of inquiry (Innovations Through Nature - Biomimicry) and a new writing unit (Non-Fiction Articles).  We have laid the foundations for all three and are on the move to more and impressive learning in all three areas.  While not a new unit, our book clubs takes on a new book and genre as well (Pedro's Journal - Historical Fiction).

The new reading book is about a cabin boy to Christopher Columbus.  It takes place during the initial voyage of Captain Columbus to the new world.  Pedro is the boy who is assigned to Christopher Columbus to take on the duties of journaling, time keeper and chart keeper.  As an educated boy, and this was a rare skill back in these days, the book is written through his lends of history.  We do spend a lot of time with the historical aspect of the story so the students will have some background to what they are reading.

Our Innovations Through Nature is a unit we we look at how nature has inspired us to invent new and more sustainable products and structures.  We spent this week looking at what is nature and how nature has already helped us.  we are keeping an Inquiry Journal for our work for this unit.  As we move along we will spend a lot of time look at the innovations that have come about as a result of studying nature.

Our Non-Fiction article work is going to use the inquiry unit as its basis for topics.  We will look at how to research for this kind of article and if the internet works for us, all this will be published on a website of the students design.  We will also look at how to properly research both in documents and books as well as the internet.

It is important that everyone keep reading at home each night.  No time on his, just a time set aside to read is all that is needed.  Please continue to help your student make this a reality.

As always, if you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me.  I will gladly set a time aside to meet with you.

daw.com - September 22

This year’s camp is over and what a great time we all had.  Your students were spectacular and I would gladly take them on another camp if we only could.  Added to this was probably the finest air quality I have seen in the 8 years I have been in China and great weather.  Everything seemed to align just in time for 5HD camp and it showed in the faces of the students as we came home.  Smiles from ear to ear.  This post is filled with pics from camp and here is a brief video of your students at camp.

Next week is a week of some really neat
experiences.  As part of their Performing Arts class, they will do the sword dance for a special meeting on Tuesday morning.  On Wednesday the HS Science class is collecting data on heart rates and breathing so the grade 5 class will help them with the collection of this data for their experiments.  Then on Friday is the annual ISB Terry Fox run.  The specifics for this will come from the ES office as it is determined on the day depending on the air quality. If you ordered a shirt, it will be delivered in time for the students to wear during the run.

Students will complete their first formal writing piece this week and publish it.  We will complete our first book club this coming week and then do a blog post on it.  Finally we will complete our current math unit with the end of unit assessment.

Homework this week will also be completely different as students use Newsela to report out on a different article each day.  As we get going with this, you may have to spend some time with your student getting them into the site and locating news articles that interest them.  We are doing this in class as well so it should be a mostly seamless transition from home to class.  There is a special current event book they use for this. Use of a computer/device each night is necessary.

There will be no blog post next Friday as we head into Fall Break but there will be one the following week as we prepare to return to school.
As always, if you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me.

daw.com - September 15

John Denver started off what is now a very famous song with, "All my bags are packed, I'm ready to go..."  and that is what we are for Camp 2017.  Monday morning we start the adventure of grade 5 camp.  A few things to remember.  Students should have two packs.  An overnight pack with all their clothes and toiletries and a day pack with their lunch, drink, water bottle, rain coat, hat, (sunscreen and bug repellent if needed) and snack.  This is the pack they will carry with them for the whole camp.  The other one will stay in their dorm room the entire camp.  When students arrive on Monday morning they take their overnight bag to the Little Dragon Theatre to store until we leave.  Please please please please remember we are ONLY gone for three days and two nights so keep everything small and light.  As for electronics I have told the students that I see no reason to bring a very expensive electronic phone out to a camp where there are a multitude of ways it can get lost, damaged or even fall in ponds, creeks or other water sources.  My suggestion is to leave them at home. I will have cameras at camp if they want to take pictures and we can download them when we return on Thursday.

Our writing of personal narratives is coming to the publishing stage and there is a lot of interesting stories to read.  I have been impressed by the ingenuity the students have shown in writing small moments into complete narrative stories. Look for these in the coming weeks on the students Seesaw accounts.

Our first unit in math is also coming to a close.  We have had an extensive look at base ten and unit decimals, addition, subtraction, multiplication and division of these decimals and also a short session on estimation.  I expect to complete the final assessment and project for this unit prior to the fall break.

We all have Newsela accounts now.  This is a great website for student news and what I really like about it is the ability of students to mesh their reading level to the news items.  The homework for the week prior to fall break will all be using Newsela.  It is not blocked here in China so all students have full access at home as well.

Our unit on Global Citizen ship is coming to a close as well.  The students brainstormed the concepts that Ms. Sayson and Mr. Hurworth could use in hiring new faculty for ISB.  We will put these into a large graphic and then present it to the two of them with Mr. Byrne present as well.  The students also looked at Difference makers and will be creating a presentation about one of the Difference Makers they wrote about.  I used the 4 C's method of studying them (Connection, Challenges, Concepts and Changes) to really help the students dig into what the article was telling them.  It will be interesting to see what they come up with as a presentation.

After 5 weeks of school I am pleased to continually tell you how wonderful your students are.  They work together well, they are an exciting and excited group of students and most of all, they are wonderful learners in a multitude of ways.  I am one of the luckiest people in the world at the moment with such a magnificent group to work with.

In the realm of transparency, I do want all of you to know that I am looking to move on from ISB at the end of this school year.  New laws in China have made it not possible for me to stay past the age of 60 which is next school year for me.  With that in mind I have already applied for or will be applying for positions at Hong Kong International School, Singapore American School, Seoul Foreign School and the International School of Prague.  This was not an easy decision to make but I do think it was made for all the right reasons.  I have nothing but the utmost of appreciation for my 8 years here at ISB. It is an amazing school with great students and parents.

As always, if you want to talk to me about something or have a question, please feel free to contact me.  I will gladly set up a time or call you at your convenience.

Harold Daw

daw.com - September 9

Another very busy week of learning has transpired in 5HD.  Even with all the MAP testing that we did there was still time to get work in on our writing, reading and math workshops. The students even earned their first reward for the year with a total of 8 compliments from outside of the classroom in the past 4 weeks.  These are things we talk about in class as both how the watch their own behavior and how others perceive them.  Part of our morning meeting time is used to learn how to become good students, good citizens and just a generally good person.  We will also talk later next month on Digital Citizenship and what is needed to use technology to its best, appropriately.

With this last point in mind I want to convey a talk I had with one of the parents this week about computer games.  I mentioned that the reason these are so popular and addictive is that there is an instant physiological response to trying to win and ultimately to winning.  While this is not a bad thing, the concern is that it can take over the lives of young people to the point of addiction. My suggestion to parents is that computer games should not be allowed at all during school nights.  The time is better spent on a sports team, music lessons, art classes or some other kind of activity that will benefit them over a longer period of their life.  When a student does play computer games it should never be for longer that 45 minutes and then it is time once again to get up and try some of the aforementioned activities.  I have unfortunately seen youth that are so addicted to computer games it takes over a greater part of both their regular lives as well as their education.  While not an expert on this, I think that if it gets to this level it would need some serious professional intervention.  I would like to see this avoided.

One of the biggest activities this coming week will be preparation for camp at Singing Deer Lodge Sept 18-21.  Students will bring home a packing list with the suggested items to bring.   While packing please remember - we are only gone for 2 nights and three days.  Keep everything small and compact and do not over-pack.  Students are allowed to bring a camera to camp but no other electronic devices.  This is for safety reasons since nothing is locked at camp and there is water all around which can seriously damage electronics. I have also talked with the students about how responsible they need to be if the bring out any kind of electronic device.  There is nothing I can do if they lose it other than retrace steps.  In most instances of lost electronics they were never recovered.  Think seriously about this before sending your student out to camp with a very expensive electronic device.  I will be bring the 15 class cameras I have for the students to use to take lots and lots and lots of pictures.  Also, the mobile reception out at Singing Deer Lodge is usually quite poor and in most cases non-existant.

One other thing for camp is that I need to collect all passports from students to take with us to camp.  A student cannot go if I do not have their passport with me when we leave on September 18.  They are kept locked up here at school and at camp the lodge takes them for the duration of our stay.  I will return the passports as we arrive back to ISB.

Students selected cabins for camp on Friday and while not everyone got what they wanted, I was happy that there was some give and take as the students finalized the lists.  We do not see this is as too important since we do not spend a lot of time in the cabins except to sleep and we also want the students to get to know other boys and girls from the classes we go to camp with.

We have started to write our reading journal blogs.  Our first entry is just about complete and then students need to comment on each others blog.  We will do this once every 6 day cycle and entry will be a short summary of a book, character evaluation/description and a connection made while reading.  This is an excellent way for me to both see what the students are learning from their reading and also to watch what they are reading.  I am hoping by now there is some kind of daily routine for students to read at home and that they are keeping track in their planners.  Please help your student with this if they are experiencing difficulty.

We are in the drafting phase of our first piece of narrative writing with most students well on their way to complete their first draft.  After this, three people will revise this with them and two will help with the editing.  Then it publication time and the process begins all over again with collecting more small moments.

We will produce a camp paper when we return from camp as part of our writing unit.
I have been asked when results of MAP testing will be sent to parents and do not have an exact answer.  It is usually 2-3 weeks after the tests end so sometime right after October break would be my guess.

We are really moving forward with out Global Citizenship unit.  So far we have come up with our understanding of what makes a good global citizen and how we can be good global citizens.  Now we are looking at the aspects of global citizenship and what influences peoples decisions in civic and global issues.  We will read about a number of students who have really taken this to heart and made a serious change in the world.  We will also look at our school culture as we prepare a list of qualities that ISB should look at when hiring new teachers.  This list will be presented to Mrs. Sayson, Mr. Hurwoth and Mr. Byrne when it is complete.

That is all this week.  If you have any questions or concerns please let me know so I can work with you in answering them.
Harold Daw