September 12th - 16th
Welcome to the 'Teacher Plans' page.
You will be using this page frequently during our time together if you want to find out about the exciting and thrilling events in the class.
It is usually to be found crisp, fresh and new each Sunday afternoon, laden with the ambitions, plans and follies of the following week!
The structure of the page is usually something like:
- Review of the previous week - what went as planned and what didn't!
- Language plans - Reading and Writing.
- Project: Usually Science and Social Studies appear under this category.
- Science-class link for Ms. O'Donnell's class.
So, without further ado, let's get started:
I had a solid almost-full week with the group.
I did not achieve all of my standard curriculum goals as outlined in the plan last week! However, we made good progress and did lots of community building work that will, hopefully, pay dividends.
We have a rough draft of our class contract. By the end of this week, we will have written, voted on and signed-up for a small collection of rules that we have designed together and that we will use to help govern our time together. We will have trimmed this 'contract' down into the shortest, most easily digestible form we could!
We have started work on our first major small-team project. The students started well, with excellent team spirit. I have designed the early project to have a primary goal of learning and practicing skills of working together: things like turn taking, fair decision making, listening to each other, being inclusive, participating, using positive language and using positive non-verbal skills These skills are being directly modeled and taught. This week, we will add more team skills, as outlined below.
I am relatively happy so far with our performance. The students are showing great willingness to really practice the skills that lead to excellent small-team performance. Of course, one lesson does not create learning. We will need to be patient and persistent in practicing our team skills in the real world of our project work!
Not all of my writing goals for last week were achieved: I certainly still need to keep collecting data this week. I am starting to have an early idea about their writing ability; their skills writing personal narratives and about their general ability to express their ideas.
I need to get a better sense about the reading in the group. The Reader's Theater activity this week will help. This activity is a fast way for me to get to hear a lot of students read. I'll be doing this activity this week.
All the team building activities and discussions sucked up time like little black holes bursting through the fabric of my plans. All of these discussions and activities are impossibly vital, rewarding and deeply valuable!
I fully expect my ambitious curricula agenda for this week to be similarly curtailed and disrupted - though I will get closer and closer to curricula objectives as the new community continues to forge its social foundations.
We still have some group dynamic issues to work on especially regarding focus: We will work on how to make student's focus more efficient this week. Some of our routines also will still need more work: the clean-up routine, lining up routine, locker and desk organization, etc. These time consuming items will still slow down curricula progress for this week: You may find items from one week's plan appearing in the next week's plan!
The students asked lots of questions about the first Homework project on Friday. Hopefully, we covered most of the ground, but students are always nervous about the first two or three projects. Now is a good time for you parents to re-read 'Parent's Guide to Homework' to better understand my perspective and to better understand how to help your children. The key phrase is: Parents are the boss of homework!
We did begin our journey into the wonderful and magical world of Mathematics, however we did not stick exactly to the plan.
Thursday and Friday were especially excellent days: for the first time the class started to respond 'as one', started to understand what I wanted from them as a group.
Conclusion: I had an excellent first week with the class. I am inspired by their kindness, their intellectual curiosity, their willingness to start a new journey with me!
We could be in for an amazing year!
This week, we will be doing a lot of painting on Tuesday as the students work on their Perfect World maps. I'll be training them on Power Point software on Wednesday and they'll be having their first Substitute teacher of the season on Friday - one of my brothers is visiting from England!
As part of the new whole-school philosophy each class begins each day with a thirty-minute long class meeting.
The meeting is structured into four phases:
Message - topic of the day, often with academic angle.
Sharing - short news items from members of the class
Activities - short, fun community building activities
This week's activities include the game Zoom, the game, Alibi, and two math games; one called Pico Ferme Nada, the other, Fizz buzz. Ask your child to explain the activities!
The messages this week will include sharing news with friends, talking about the weekend, and learning another classic song to sit alongside Eleanor Rigby in our expanding collection!
Our school is working with a social philosophy this year.
This approach, called the Responsive Classroom approach to teaching and learning, stresses the importance of building and maintaining a classroom climate of warmth and safety. Here are seven of the guiding principles of the approach:
The Social Curriculum is as important as the Academic Curriculum.
How children learn is as important as what they learn.
The greatest cognitive growth occurs through social interaction.
Children need a set of social skills in order to be successful academically and socially.
Knowing the children we teach is as important as knowing the content we teach.
Knowing the parents of the children we teach is as important as knowing the children.
Teachers need to model the social and academic skills which they wish to teach to their students.
Along with a few colleagues, I've been trying to base my early encounters with students and colleagues around these ideas for a number of years; concepts and structures outlined in, for example, 'The First Six Weeks of School', by Paula Denton and Roxann Kriete.
I'm excited that these ideas are now School-wide principles!
Many of the opening activities and games which will feature in the opening weeks of school are directly addressing these goals.
Someone will be making the final Class Contract chart, after we vote it in on Monday. We will sign it in a whole-class ceremony on Tuesday.
The contract will be posted in the class for the entire school year! I'll post it here as soon as possible.
Perfect World Writing
The students will be writing about incidents from their 'Perfect World' (see project below for details).
They will choose from the following:
Greatest day ever in Perfect World.
Describe what makes Perfect World so perfect!
Day in the life on perfect World
How Perfect World was found
Top 3 special items in Perfect World - and why they were chosen
This writing is intended to be fantasy writing. It will help me find out more about the creativity in the group. They will have two writing sessions on this piece.
I will be making an early assessment of students spelling using the Journeys assessment system. Each student will start to construct personal dictionaries in the back of their classwork book, compiling the spelling corrections that have emerged from their own writing.
I am reading a collection of short stories to the group written by Neal Shusterman, (www.storyman.com) using those stories as launch pads for various Journey's based lessons:
'Opabinia' - we will wrap up our first read through of the story by discussing the ending of the story. The students will conduct a Reader's Theater event using this story as a script. The students select a section of the story to perform that highlights their favorite part of the story.
The focus of Lesson 1 of the Journeys Reading program is making Story maps and analyzing character problems and their solutions in the story. I will use another story from the collection, Midnight Michaelangelo, for this lesson.
'Off and Running' from Journeys followed by making Venn diagrams to describe character traits.
We got started last week in Math with some introductory Math exercises:
The lessons for the week look like this:
Monday: Introduction to Place Value Relationships - continued from Friday.
Tuesday: Tenths and Hundredths
Thursday: Decimal Place Value
Friday: Correct worksheets completed at the start of each day. Work on extension activities for the week's lessons.
There will be daily practice worksheets for homework. Each worksheet will be due to be handed in the following day. The worksheet number will be posted in the Assignment book each day.
My primary goal for the start of the year is to give the students plenty of opportunity for catching up with each other, as well as getting to know new people, as we all start to learn about each other.
Together we are going to build a kind, respectful, and empathic place for us all to live and work. I would like re-entry into school to continue be as gentle and stress-free as possible for us all!
I think the opening project will be an excellent vehicle for all of the above.
The opening project is called 'Perfect World?'
We will ask the question: 'What will our Perfect World be like?'
The students will work in collaborative teams of four or five for this project.
Their challenge will be to create a shared vision of a Perfect World that they would like to live in.
Slightly fantastic aspects will be encouraged.
- The students will design a specific wall space in the classroom with maps, drawings and other artwork representing their Perfect World.
- The students will write stories about events in their Perfect World.
- They will present their Perfect World to the whole group using Power Point, and they will explain and show what makes them great.
- The students design ten important 'laws' for their Perfect World.
- The students design and create a song/anthem for their vision of a Perfect World.
This primarily relaxed and creative project takes just over three weeks.
The opening project is designed to set the background for many of the group's future explorations in Grade 5.
Each aspect of the project will be 'graded' using the rubric system.
I've published the main rubric on the Rubric Home Page.
The students will be provided with the rubric while they work.
There is an emphasis on points awarded for team-work, effort and team-spirit.
The project grades are not as important to me, however, as starting to find out how the students work with each other.
I'll be publishing their work to the site, so keep checking back to the ‘News' page for updates!
On the Rubric page also is the rubric I will use to ascertain teamwork scores for each individual in the group.
Tune back in here next Sunday for the next thrilling full plan!!
Homework will be continuing on this Thursday, September 15th. (Because I'm out of school on Friday, I'm going to dish it out on Thursday!)
Students will usually receive their project homework jobs for the whole week each Friday. Look for it in the student's backpack.
The students 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!