daw.com - April 28

Remember that this is a long weekend and there is no school on Monday.  It is Labor Day here in China and the whole country celebrates it with a day off of work.  The class has also earned this with all the neat and exciting things they have completed.
This week was a week of packed activities and happenings.  The biggest were the three times the students started their transition to middle school with their grade 6 buddies and a concert by MS choir, orchestra and band.  One of the nice things about these in Middle School is they are a part of students regular school day and not an after school activity.  Students will sign up for their enrichments next month some time.
Here are next weeks current events.
Tuesday - no current events
Wednesday - Annabel
Thursday - Robinson
Friday - Poppy
The big event this coming week is Celebrate and Share the Arts (CASTA) starting on Thursday.  The class has been busy in Performing Arts preparing a presentation which will take place in the theatre.  The other grade 5 classes will be the audience and we will be the audience for their presentations.  I would like to see all students in their CASTA shirts on Thursday.


We have finished our unit on Fractions with Area and Volume and now move to Graphing on the Coordinate Plane.  Students usually really like this unit as it involves a lot of problems that are using graphics and drawing.
We will also continue with our reading unit on Economics and Trade and our writing on Persuasive Essays which will both lead into our debates toward the end of May or beginning of June.  We are well on track with this and moving nicely forward.  It is not an easy unit and one that really stretches the brain.
Have a great long weekend and regenerate the batteries for next week.

daw.com - April 23


This week continues to be a busy place in 5HD.  Here is a listing of some of the events your students will be involved with as the week goes by;
Monday - Senior Parade
Wednesday - Panda Reading Program Assembly for Chinese Classes
Thursday - Transition time with a grade 6 class
Thursday - Eat in MS Cafeteria with grade 6 class
Friday - Author Visit assembly
In between all this we are still working on our economics inquiry unit with our current learning on trade.  This week we will explore trade between countries and what his means to the rest of the world.  We will also start to look at globalization in the context of trade and people.
We are also moving forward with our persuasive essay unit using the topic of mobile phones in the class.  Lost of interesting debate and ideas on this one.  We should have our final draft out by Friday.
For current events this week we will hear from the following people;
Tuesday - Maya
Wednesday - Millie
Thursday - Naoko
Friday - Michael
We will complete our unit on area and volume using fractions with a final assessment on Wed or Thursday.  Our next unit is graphing on the coordinate plane.
That is all for this week. If you have any questions please feel free to contact me and I will set up a time for us to meet.
Harold Daw

daw.com - April 16



This past week seems to have flown by and with all the great learning happening next week, I expect the same will also happen.  We were fortunate to play host to Braxton in our class for just one day on Friday and the students did their usual great job at welcoming him and making him feel at home.  He was an integral part of our class albeit, just for one day.
Here are this weeks current events;
Tuesday - Elvin
Wednesday - Eric
Thursday - Simon
Friday - JungBin
Some important announcements first;
Tuesday is Track and field day.  Students will need a water bottle, hat, swimming clothes (we will supply the towel) and sneakers to run in.  If they are bringing a lunch from home please be advised that we eat outdoors on this day so there is no hot water or microwave available.  Those who have a school lunch have already ordered it.
If the AQI us above 200 at 7:00am it will be cancelled and rescheduled to Thursday.  If it is between 150 and 200 it will go as planned so if you do not want your student out in this kind of air day, please keep them at home.  These are the regular school track and field AQI rules.
Friday is the last of the school book fairs.  If students want to purchase some books they need to bring some RMB to school with them on Friday.  The kinds of books grade 5 students like usually start at about RMB60 and go up from there.  Please use your judgement in sending money in with your student.
We will start our Trade and Interdependence unit this week with a game called Settlers of Catan.  The students got a quick intro into this on Friday and will play it 4-5 times this coming week. The will have a 4C's assignment to complete every day and final copy on Friday - these are Connections, Challenges, Concepts and Changes.
We also have book clubs this week on Monday, Wednesday and Friday so it is important that students stay caught up with this so they are prepared for their part of the discussion time.  There is a yellow Book Clubs booklet that they fill in as well as a Thinkmark to aid in their note taking and discussions.
Our writing takes to persuasive essays and we are doing a class example about cellphone use in class.  There has already been an interesting discussion about this.
This coming week is Take a Stand week where we look at how students can be advocates for others in their school that may be bullied or teased.  At this age it is not just recognizing this but also beginning to learn how to help others when it is seen.  Mr. K and also a group of HS students will help us out with this starting with an assembly on Monday morning first thing. 
I will be out of class on Friday for part 2 of the MSIS training.  This is training in Math that is in alignment with the math program we Have at ISB so there are teachers from all grade levels to grade 10 involved with it.  I will have a full set of sub plans ready for the day.
That is it for today.  If you have any questions please feel free to contact me and I will set up a time for us to meet.

daw.com - April 9

Welcome back and I do hope everyone is well rested and ready for the final stretch to the end.  It is only 9 weeks and there is still a lot of good learning to do.  We will return to regular homework this week.  Monday folders will also resume after a two week hiatus so there will be lots in there.  Please look over it carefully and sign the parent form before having your student return them.  Thanks in advance for this.
One thing that happens at this time of year is people begin to know their plans for next year.  As we will be involved with planning for grade 6 classes, it is most helpful that you keep me as informed as possible when decisions are finalized.  This way I can be sure that my planning and preparation is done with the utmost care.

Here are this weeks current events reporters;
Tuesday - Oscar
Wednesday - Tiffy
Thursday - Kevin
Friday - Elvin
We will complete our unit on Fantasy writing this week with final drafts of our second story.  With all the other things happening the last week prior to the holiday, we did not have the proper time to complete this.  All are edited so now all that needs to be done is correcting and then publishing. 
As part of our use of technology, we will begin responding to blogs this week.  Students will randomly choose a reading blog to comment on each week.  This is an important part of learning for both parties.  Being able to offer suggestions for improvement as well as being able to accept these is part of putting your work out there for others to both peruse and learn from.  There are several lessons I have planned to manage this then we will start this on a weekly basis for the remainder of the year.
We will also complete our Human Body unit this week with a look at the respiratory system as well as the look at nutrition.  When this is completed, I will send it home as part of the Monday folders. I plan on having this finished by Thursday of the coming week.
Our math continues to look at volume and area with cubic prisms.  I was impressed with some of the constructions the students came up with in the lesson before the holiday and now it is time to take the next step and look at how area affects volume - or in some cases, does not change it at all.
We will start our next set of book clubs this week with students choosing their own books, creating their own timeline and also selecting the leaders for the book talks.  So far this has gone OK but I am hoping students push this up a notch by taking more time to really look into the book.  Discussions are very rich when depth is the reason for talking about a book.
We have several special events associated with the APAC Girls Soccer Tournament being held here at ISB this coming weekend.  The Jedi Jugglers are performing for them and several of the girls are coming to talk to my class about their school and country.  A true global connection.
That is all for now.  Let me know if you have any questions or concerns and I will gladly set a time up for us to meet.

daw.com - March 25

A very big thank-you for your attendance and observations at the Student Led Conferences.  These are a great way to celebrate all the learning that your student has been involved with this past year with the Learning 21 concepts as a guide.  While this is over now, it does not mean you have to stop.  It is always a great idea to ask what you student is learning and what have learned about their own learning style.  We call this a metacognitive process.
Here are next week's current events;
Tuesday - Angel
Wednesday - Siwoo
Thursday - Brandon
Friday - Oscar
This is the last week for our human body unit and it will primarily look at the digestion system and the foods we eat.  The nutrition part of this unit is a good start for students to look at what foods are made of and why certain foods are needed for our wellness and health.
Students will also be completing their last Fantasy story.  First drafts are already in but their is further work needed in editing and revising before they can be published.  I have read all the stories and so far they are both more interesting and better written than previously.  This is what I am looking for as it takes practice to become a good writer.  This will end our Fantasy unit.
We will also complete this round of book clubs where students choose books from lists I present to them.  As a group they come up with the routine they will follow and then for each day of the meeting they need to complete a thinkmark, summary and questions all of which will be discussed in the book talk.  We will resume this after the Spring Break.
Our math unit has moved on from volume of 3D objects to a look at how liquid volume relates.  There are some investigations we will do that will allow students to better understand how liters and cubic centimeters are linked.  Might be a part of a home conversation this week some time.
If you are planning on leaving early for Spring Break, please send me an email so that I can plan accordingly.  Also, it is important that all work is completed prior to the student leaving. I thank-you in advance for this.
Have a wonderful break and I look forward to seeing everyone again after the holiday.
Harold Daw

daw.com - March 1

This is a packed week with a lot happening in the life of your child.  First off is next week's current events;
Tuesday - Ada
Wednesday - Poppy
Thursday - Leo
Friday - Cici
First thing on Monday morning students will be visiting a high school science lab to participate in some experiments the students have prepared for them.  Should be an interesting time.
Next is the due date of three major items.  On Wednesday, students will complete their Human Body Wellness Infocharts.  These are based on 6 questions we came up as a class covering everything from what are the parts to what can be done to keep it healthy.  They will present their posters to another group in the class.
Thursday is the presentation day for Genius Hour projects.  Students are presenting to Grade 1-8 classes as well as 2 groups who will present to the ES Administration and ISB Administration respectively.  Each presentation will complete their Genius Hour project and will have 4 assessments; self, homeroom teacher (me), room teacher of presentation and also students.  We will complete this with a reflection at the end of the week.
Next is our week on Human Growth and Development which takes place one period each day of this week.  The basic structure of the program is to instruct and introduce students to adolescence in all areas including growth, socialization and life changes.  It will begin to prepare them for this important part of their life as well as middle school.
Lastly is the first draft of their fantasy story which is due on Friday.  After revisions and edits, students will move on to their final drafts which will be due prior to spring break.
We have finished out unit on Multiplication and Division of decimal fractions.  Overall I am pleased with the work the students completed and how well they have learned the many concepts.  Like all things in learning, further practice is still needed to really cement the ideas and use them smoothly.  Our next unit is on Volume - I will have more on it in next week's post.
I believe that signups for Student Led conferences start this week.  I am hoping to see you all over the two days of conferences.  We will start these in earnest on Wed of this week although we have done some work on them since we started school back in August.
With all the projects due this week and the time students need to rehearse and practice their presentations, there will be no homework this week other than book clubs and current events.
Thats it for this week.  Let me know if you have any questions.

daw.com - March 4

Another power weekend is upon us and I hope that everyone takes the time to rest and be ready.  I will be with the Beijing International Model United Nations all weekend welcoming over 700 students from as far away as South Africa, Sweden, USA and Mexico.  It is quite rewarding to see students debate and discuss the issues of today in a forum that is real to the rest of the world.
Here are next week's current events;
Tuesday - Naoko
Wednesday - Michael
Thursday - Annabel
Friday - Robinson
We will begin a new piece of writing this week in our fantasy unit now that our first piece is behind us.  This next one will involve me providing the setting and title (idea) for the story.  The characters, plot and hero's journey will be up to the students.  They will have two weeks to complete this next piece of writing.
We are also well into our Human Body unit.  Students are each in a group that is working on the health and wellness of a human body system. Questions like what kinds of exercise are good for the system, what are healthy foods for the system and how to avoid some of the injuries are all part of the research completed as the prepare to make a info-poster on their subject.  We should bring this to a close either late in the week or early next week.
Along with the Human Body unit is a section on Human Growth and Development.  There are three sections that the whole class participates in and two that are gender specific.  There is a meeting next Friday March 10 at 8:30am for the parents to learn more about what will be discussed and taught.  Teachers will start the meeting then a pediatric doctor will finish up with a medical look into this subject. I am hoping all of you can attend.
Please make sure you sign up for student led conferences later this month.  Students have already started to prepare their portfolios as they present their year of learning to you with in the realm of L21 skills.  While I know not always possible, I would it if both parents could attend this.  It is a great way for you to get first hand, the learning of your student this year and the goals for the rest of the year.
We will complete our math unit on Multiplication and Division of Fractions this coming week with the final assessment later in the week.  So far the unit has involved both the learning and modeling of these two important parts of math learning.  The students have taken this to task and done very well.  Our next unit us a look at volume and the multiplication needed to calculate volume.  It is more of a hands on unit with the use of geometric shapes.
We are coming to the end of our Genius Hour projects.  This week students will concentrate on being prepared to present their project to a class, a set of adults, some of the administration here at the school and also to special guests.  While I know they are a bit nervous about this, I feel they will do a fine job as I help them to prepare for this.  The assessment of this project will come from the audience they have and be organized by the students themselves.
Later in the month we will take off again for our Spring Break.  If anyone is planning on leaving early, please remember to let me know so I can plan accordingly.  This is greatly appreciated.
If you have any questions or concerns please feel free to contact me and I will gladly set up a meeting time with you.

daw.com - February 24

I want to say a big thank-you to all of the parents and students in my class who made my birthday such a special and memorable day.  I was surprised by the attention to this and also honored.  I told my students that really the best gift is just that I get to see them everyday.  Thank-you.
Here are next week's current events;
Tuesday - JungBin
Wednesday - Millie
Thursday - Maya
Friday - professional day, no school
One of the neatest things to see is how students work with specialists that visit our school.  This past week we as our link to China in the Human Body Wellness unit.  Students did TaiChi, Meditation, Calligraphy and a Tea Ceremony.  The experiences were wonderful and I was pleased that they came away with some things about
China they may not have known before.  Thanks to the Office of Experiential Learning for setting these up.
We have started out Human Body Wellness research with the final outcome being an info-poster.  We came up with a list of questions to research, some things that could be on the poster and looked at what makes a good info-poster. Then we started researching.  Each student is in a group of 3 or 4 and we should complete this project in about 2 more weeks. I am already looking forward to our presentations.
Our Genius Hour projects are also well underway and I am very interested in what students have chosen to do.  They have five more lessons to complete the project before presentation day which is on Mar 16th.  They will be presenting to groups of students and adults around the school.  With this in mind, if any of you are
interested in being part of a presentation panel, please let me know.  I must let you know that I cannot guarantee you will get your own child as the presentations are specific to levels of groups and that ranges from Grade 1 to adults.  Let me know.  You will need about 20 minutes at school on that day.
Our math unit is almost complete.  We are currently looking at multiplying fractions and unit decimals (tenths, hundredths and thousandths).  Most of the students are moving nicely with this and the models I am showing them are really helping.  The last part of this unit is division of fractions using like denominators - we do not use the reciprocal method for division of fractions since it makes no sense to students this age and does not follow with anything I have been teaching.  I know a lot of students know how to do this but I do not believe one of them knows why it works so.
We completed the first draft of our first fantasy writing and the final drafts will be done next week after they are revised and edited.  There is then a second assigned story before they can write their own.  All of these are based on the teaching of the Hero's Journey as the process for making a fantasy story make sense.
In a couple of weeks our Human Body Wellness unit will look at Human Growth and Development.  There will be a parent meeting set up with a doctor and the teachers so please be on the lookout for this announcement.  Grade 5 is the start of this unit that continues each year until grade 9.  As it states in the unit title, our concern is the wellness of the students as they grow and develop into adults so we will look into physical, emotional and social growth during this all important time.
The students have enjoyed their work with Kofi in their Music classes these past two weeks and it was completed with an assembly on Friday afternoon.  I was pleased with how the students learned from Kofi and also their interactions with a person from a culture not often available to them.  Not only did they learn about the rhythms and cadence of African music but also some of the cultural aspects of living in Africa. It was a great experience for the class.
That is it for this week.  If you have any questions or concerns, please contact me and I will set up a meeting time with you.



daw.com - February 18

Here are this weeks current events;
Tuesday - Kevin
Wednesday - Elvin
Thursday - Eric
Friday - JungBin
I have to start out with a problem I am seeing in class and something I would like you to talk with your student about.  There has been a decline in the quality of the work I am seeing handed in.  This is both in class and homework.  I have always discussed with the class how important it is to make sure that the work they do is neat and tidy.  While this will be different from student to student, I do still want to see work that is not only complete, but neat and tidy as well. We are going to steer towards this more in the coming week.
Our health unit on the Human Body will take us to a week of Chinese Wellness.  There are four activities that we are going to participate in throughout the week that all have a Chinese theme to them.  These have been kindly set up by the Experiential Learning Program.  At the end of the program we will use our blogs to post a reflection of what we learned.
Our writing is based in our unit of Fantasy.  We learned about the Hero's journey from Ms. Sutton and using this idea we planned our own journey with two characters and a specific setting which was a picture given to them.  Some of the journey's the students have planned should lead to some very interesting stories.  We are on our first drafts which are due in by Wednesday.  We will then revise and edit before completing a final draft.
We have returned to reading workshop this week with students completing a reading journal entry on their blog once every 6 days, having a reading conference with me and a mini lesson that is dependent on what they need further lessons on.  We have also finished our last novel study for the year and will start book clubs this coming week.  The reading they do for book clubs can be used as the home reading and should be recorded daily in their reading log.
We have taken a short journey into the skin this past week and will now look at how we keep it healthy.  This is in preparation for our unit final assessment in which students will choose a body system and report on what it is, how it works and what we can do to keep it healthy.  This is a class project and will be reported to the rest of the class toward the end of the quarter.
IN the next few weeks we will dive into our Student Led Conferences.  These will be held the third week in March and will take the place of the report card for the third quarter.  Students will organize their conference in the L21 fashion of ISB's learning.  We are currently gathering all the work we have done this year and organizing it in this way.
I want to thank all the students in the class for donating to Baby Brian's surgery with the Hot Chocolate Drive.  5HD raised over RMB1000 for this very worthwhile cause and I think the students should be proud of this accomplishment.
In music class students are bring treated to a special set of lessons from a man from Ghana in West Africa.  Kofi is taking the students through African rhythms, dances and chants.  This will help students as they use their home made instruments to create their own music.
That  is all for now.  If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me and I will gladly set up a time for us to meet.

daw.com - February 10



Here are next week's current events;
Tuesday - Siwoo
Wednesday - Brandon
Thursday - Oscar
Friday - Tiffy
I have been pleased with the reporting and presentation of the current events this year.  It will help students as we move into our action unit of the year.  Knowing what goes on around the world is important for all students and this is one way to look at what is happening that interests the students.
Speaking about interest, we are now in our third week of genius hour.  This is a time where students get to choose what they are interested in to learn more about.  Here is a partial list of some of the interests.
Aerodynamics and Forces on airplanes
Designing recycled clothing
Saving the Polar Bear
Determining the best chew toy for a rabbit
Computer systems on airplanes
Architecture
Robots
Magic
and even a few more I have forgotten off the top of my head.  In order to make this a reality, and part of the reason I waited until the second semester, is that we had to learn more about inquiry.  Asking questions is at the heart of inquiry but what are the best questions to ask and how do I ask questions that cannot be answered with a simple yes or no.  We have spent time on this so now it is up to students to see what they can do.  Watch for more on this in the coming weeks.
We started our student led conferences this past week with a look into the Learning 21 styles here at ISB.  Just what do these look like in a students learning.  After this is done students will complete their portfolio and prepare for a meeting with their parents.  Report cards for this time will be shared between both me and the student.
In math we have completed the section on multiplying fractions and whole numbers.  In starting with multiplication of fractions we will start with unit fractions only and then move on to the rest of the fractional pieces.  As with all units, there is lots of problem solving that has to be done with every lesson and some lessons are nothing but problem solving.
This past week students have been introduced to the Cardio Vascular system, nutrition in wellness, respiratory system and the skeletal system.  There are two more rotations left and then we will look at depth for keeping the human body healthy and well.  The unit on human growth and development will happen as part of this unit from March 13-17 with a parent meeting the week before.
It has been a difficult week for some students as they get back into a school routine.  While nothing has interrupted learning, I have had to talk with several students about taking responsibility for their learning and education.  The class has moved well so far and I see no reason to change now.  As we talked about this in class, several students seem to see that perhaps they have not followed the class mantra of 'Do Your Best.'  This is all I have ever asked of them.
Next week sees us return to Reading/Writing workshop with students doing studies in Fantasy.  We have looked at the Hero's Journey as well as the aspects that make the genre of fantasy.  It is an interesting unit and one that students can really let their imagination run wild.
Thats it for this week.  As always if you have a question or concern, please let me know and I will gladly set up a time to meet with you.

daw.com - January 22

Once again we find ourselves at a week prior to another holiday.  There are some fun things happening this week as we celebrate the Chinese New Year of the Rooster.
First off are this weeks Current Events
Tuesday - Annabel
Wednesday - Leo
Thursday - no current events
This past week we continued our reading and writing involving themes from stories.  It is now getting to a point where most of the students are automatically looking for themes as they are reading the stories.  We also continue with writing summaries of the story and putting our themes into print as well.  This week students will compare the themes of two similar stories.
Our math continues to look at multiplication and division of fractions.  I had an interesting conversation with a parent this week in which I reiterated that while I do believe that getting an answer correct is important, equally important is understanding how that answer works, being able to check work and solving word problems related to the objective.  I am seeing great results from students as we work our way through this unit.
The Chinese New Year activities this week include the class designing and decorating our class door.  They have chosen to make it a large "red envelope' filled with money that has their picture on it.  They will also do the traditional fireworks decor and the proper Chinese salutations to complete the design.  Everyone in the class is involved.
Thursday afternoon the class will be involved in the annual CNY parade, acrobat show, Chinese yo-yo and kite making before going home for the holiday.  It is a great way to end the week in preparation for the celebration.
I will be away this week with the HS Model United Nations (MUN) group in Doha, Qatar at the annual THIMUN Conference.  It is always pleasing to see our students tackling some of the worlds issues and problems.  Usually the debate is frantic and commonly the outcome is unique and creative.  I have two sbs taking over for me and I have left full lesson plans to be carried out.
One change this week is that homework is due in by Thursday - not daily since I am not here to mark it anyway, I will do that upon my return.
On Friday we did another Engineering Challenge that had to do with Kinetic Energy.  Using minimal materials, students had to design a wheel that was 5 inches in diameter and roll it all the way down a 5 foot ramp (actually our ramp was not exactly 5 feet).  As I always am, it was amazing to see some of the results.  I was also taken back by some of the thinking that went on such as how to make it 3D like a ball.  While time ran out to solve this, just the thinking of this shows some great insight.
I want to take this time to wish everyone a safe and restful holiday.. For those of you traveling, please have a great time and stay safe for your return.  Those of you staying in Beijing, have a great time looking around the city.  There really is a myriad of events going on over the holiday.  Although my Mandarin is deplorable I think the proper statement is Xin nian kuai-le.  Please excuse any mispronunciation but do know I wish everyone a prosperous and happy new year.
Harold Daw

daw.com - January 13

Our first week back from winter break has already flashed by and it was a great start to a new year.  Here are next week's current events speakers;
Tuesday - Naoko
Wednesday - Michael
Thursday - Annabel
Friday - Robinson
We welcomed Kevin to our room on Monday I was very proud of the class for making him an integral part of everything we do from day one.  While I am sure it is still a bit overwhelming, he really has made a great transition.
We are busy with reading and writing doing book clubs with a novel called In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson doing a lot of work with Theme or the big picture.  One of the important questions to ask when you are reading a book is Why was this book written? It will take us three more weeks to complete this then the rest of the year students will form their own book clubs choosing from books I have selected.
Writing is looking at persuasive prose.  This can be in the form of an essay, debate or personal letter but always has to have several key components.  Students will also be reviewing the writing of a paragraph and how to make sure this is correct.  By the end of the unit students will have chosen two ways to write as they try to persuade someone about something that interests them.
Our new math unit is the longest in the year.  It is multiplication and division of fractions.  As always, it is not just a how to do it but also why does it work and how can you prove that it works.  Students are learning models that prove what they do is real.  This unit is also very heavy with problems solving having more than half of each lesson with problems associated with the learning.
We started Genius Hour this week.  This is a time set aside in class for students to learn about something they would not normally get to learn about in school.  Something they are greatly interested in or have a passion about.  We are brainstorming ideas and coming up with questions to research and present.  Just before spring break, we will present the ideas to the rest of the class and maybe some interested observers.
Monday folders resume on Monday and there is all the marking from before winter break and this past week.  It will be quite full.  Please sign it, keep the work and have a look over what your student is doing in class.  Also a reminder that the second quarter report card comes out next Friday.  It will be sent to you in your email.
As we prepare for the Chinese New Year holiday I would like to request advanced knowledge of students who will be leaving early or returning late.  This way I can properly plan for the class. Please send me an email if you know this will be your family.  I thank you in advance for this.
As always, if you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me.  I will gladly set a time up to meet with you.
Harold Daw