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