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
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.