November 7th - 10th
I trust you have all survived the horror of Halloween.
Last week was another excellent week.
The T-shirt making Fifth grade event was probably the student's highlight if you asked them what they thought of the week. I have to agree that to see all the students sitting together in one large group and having a nice time right before the Halloween mayhem was about to explode across Medford was great. When the students put on their half-finished shirts and danced around to seventies disco classics with Mrs. O'Leary and Ms. Philion busting out some pretty impressive dance moves, a great time was had by all!
The Windmills Workshop on Thursday was a success: our class were described as the best the presenter had experienced, both in results achieved and approach to the task. The workshop has a very long sequence of instructions at the beginning which I thought was going to be a challenge for the group, but they behaved admirably. Two groups managed to generate a maximum of ten volts of electricity with their Wind turbine! Well done students!
The enthusiasm for reading continues to be a defining characteristic of this group of students. They're not yet wide ranging in their book choices - but enthusiasm certainly helps to create the most vital foundation. I need to get going on conducting reading assessments in preparation for our upcoming report card and conferences season. I have not got started yet. I still have quite some time before we meet for parent conferences – but I'm going to need to push ahead with these in the next few weeks.
This week only contains three days and so progress is likely to be limited. We're going to be pushing ahead with the Personal narratives and Planets Project principally. I can already tell that I have not allocated enough time for the latter of these two projects and, having just received new and unexpected Language assessment requirements from upper administration that are likely to take oodles of time, the former project may also be on shaky ground.
Just gotta roll with the punches...
As part of the whole-school philosophy, each class begins most days with a thirty-minute long class meeting.
The meeting is structured into various phases:
Message - topic of the day, often with academic angle. This week, we're back to proofreading practice.
Activities - short, fun community-enhancing activities
We will sing our small collection of classics this week: My Generation, Radioactive, Eleanor Rigby and Stand by me. We will be adding the song Pompeii to our collection.
We are going to continue reading The Eyes of Kid Midas, written by award winning author Neal Shusterman, (www.storyman.com) using this story as a launch pad for various Journey's based lessons.
I will be reading chapters of the book to the students. The students will be rereading the chapters themselves then taking part in various activities including topical discussions, Reader's Theater and analysis of the text:
The main reading focus this week will be:
- Daily reading including non-fiction for information for the Planets project that continues and concludes this week. Students are going to read about specific planets. They will be reading and collecting information from the texts searching for answers to topical questions.
We will be continuing Writing Workshop this week.
'Writing Workshop' is where the students develop their writing skills through working on personal writing projects of their own choosing.
I've posted a special page of the rough lesson plans for this project for those of you who are interested and are willing to dig through my slightly obtuse notes. Page references are all from the source I'm sticking closely to for this project; 'Launching the Writing Workshop,' by Lucy Calkins and Marjorie Martinelli.
This week, the students start working on their individual projects. The students each will select one or more pieces to develop and eventually publish here on the site.
Craft the ending of the story. P94
Make a strong ending. (Add to Qualities of good writing Poster) Important actions, dialogue, images and whole story reminders that make a lasting impression.
Reread drafts. Mark parts of the story that you think are especially important - where an important message is conveyed.
Reread drafts again. Mark important actions, words, images that could be woven into the final scene, final image.
No sharing today – go straight to writing. Draft an ending. If you reach the final page you're halfway home. Write more than one ending
Rereading through a stranger's eyes. Does the story make sense. Read story to a person who doesn't know it already. Where was it confusing? Sometimes you read to yourself as if you were the stranger!
Multiple endings: Share someone who wrote more than one. Eventually they will attempt to combine into the best one. Look for one that followed the endings rules.
Strategy for developing a seed idea = timeline
Model a timeline for a story idea.
Practice making a timeline for a shared class activity.
Using timelines to revise stories. Look at the categories on the timeline. Can any be crossed out as not important? Look back at your timelines and ask if each event is really important or not.
Ask about grouping ideas into chunks. Group ideas eg timeline dots. Each could be a paragraph.
Give out an example of text that needs to be paragraphed. Partners ask why does she need a paragraph. Write reason by choice. Put a box around the content that is related.
Is it that time has moved forward?
Is there a new subtopic?
Is someone new talking?
Has the story turned a corner?
This week, for the short week there will be a special project: The Movie Theater project.
Working with their Math partners, the students set up a movie theater business plan - doing all the math that's needed for such an operation!
The lessons for this week look like this:
The Movie Theater project - introduction(TBD)
The Movie Theater project - part 2(TBD)
The Movie Theater project - part 3
Space - the infinite frontier!!
This is the final week for this project.
The students will work together on developing their understanding of the Planets through a mini-group project.
The Class project has the following components:
Make a PowerPoint/drama about selected planets. Entertain us by explaining why we should feel great about visiting their planet. Include the following information:
Distance from the sun
Revolution in earth days
Conditions - temperature, other climate information
History of human exploration
Other topics to briefly introduce include:
What are Dark Matter and Dark Energy?
Exploring the current most important topics in astronomy. Exoplanets? Aliens? It's all here...
Here's a page of excellent links for the Space project.
Homework will be continuing on this Thursday, November 10th.
Students will usually receive their project homework jobs for the whole week each Friday.
Look for it in the student's backpack.
The students will have included a plan in their assignment book for when they intend to complete each job. Please review this plan with your child and advise them on the practicality of their plan and make adjustments accordingly!
I will be doing a detailed introduction to the next project in school on Thursday.
Each project will be up on the 'Homework' page here at the site each Friday evening.
See you back here next week!
This is the route to the 'Specialist Class' page.
This page is for the students and parents of Ms. O'Donnell to find out about what happens during the Science class!