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.
To all of you, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year - see you all again on January 8th.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
- At what point doe an event become significant?
- Why do people view some events as more significant than others?
- How can learning about perspective help us to understand the world today?
- How do we measure the significance of an event?
- How are historical events connected?
- How does our past affect us today?
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.
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 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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
- 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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.