September 26th - 30th
The maps and displays for the Perfect World are moving along. You'll get to see the work-in-progress on Thursday at Curriculum Night! The students received their PowerPoint training and have started to build their presentations. The students need to, not only use PowerPoint, as they have successfully achieved, but also be willing and able to stand in front of a crowd and make an imaginative presentation. That's the central challenge for this next week!
Last week, the writing work went especially well, with the students producing some extremely impressive free-form poetry. The technique of brainstorming lists of adjectives and adverbs before writing really helped, along with the focus of describing one small scene in detail. Many of the students 'loosened up' and really started to get the words flowing across their pages with some artistry and pride. By the end of the week the students were clamoring to share their work as they grew excited at the power of words and their abilities to use them.
We finished and assessed the opening unit in the Math program. Results of the assessment will be wending their way home to you on Monday. Please sign the assessment and return it to school for storage. We were not able to get started on Math projects last week.
One of the highlights of the week was the music we did: both on Thursday singing together and during the Music presentations performed on Friday - including the excellent song/performances by Coral, Stella, Sarah, Sam, Conor, Avery and others. Gavin's mash-up/remix song was what we used to leave the classroom on Friday afternoon with an outbreak of dancing breaking out across the room and into the corridor! Fun!
So that's four areas that worked well.
We did not cover the reading curriculum as planned. I didn't get to hear all of the students perform their Reader's Theater excerpt - I've pushed that and the analysis of character traits using Venn diagrams into this week's plan.
We have two issues that we definitely need to work on. The first is my own fault; the epidemic of students calling out during our whole-class meetings. I need to be more detailed about not allowing these call-outs to occur: when one of this extremely vocal group feels one person calling out, it very quickly escalates beyond what is efficient or acceptable for teaching.
The second issue involves participation during the daily clean-up routine. This one is down to the students: everyone knows what the expectation is and what the specific job requirements are. In this case, the students are not taking full participation seriously. I may have to shunt this routine into the start of recess for a day or two. This is almost certain to improve participation and the students willingness to take me seriously about such matters!
Let's face it: they are a very energetic and excitable group. It's definitely going to be a continuing challenge to channel their prodigious energy into useful and appropriate channels. It's going to come down to ensuring and maintaining the correct balance between freedom and discipline.
They are a very likable group of students with plenty of verve and creativity. Let's hope we can continue to find and work that balance together!
This week features mo
Quite a week ahead...
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 may include the game Coseeki, the games, Grandma's trunk and Alibi, and a Math game called Pico Ferme Nada. Ask your child to explain the activities!
The messages this week will include sharing news with friends and learning another classic song to sit alongside Radioactive, Eleanor Rigby and Stand by me.
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.
Here are some of the 'Top Photographs from the Twentieth Century' according to Life and Time Magazine, as well as some other photos I've chucked in for good measure! We use these images to work on our descriptive skills and to write descriptive poetry.
This week, the students will continue the sequence of lessons on writing powerful descriptions.
We will brainstorm vocabulary choices then write some free-form poetry based on observing specific photographs.
This week, we focus on simile and metaphor.
On Monday, the students will write about The Tank. The students will write about the the oil-choked bird on Tuesday, and on Wednesday we will write about the Polar bear. On Thursday, the students will focus on choosing which poems to type and edit for their upcoming Writing Workshop publication.
I will be collecting these typed poems and will start each student's on-line Writing Workshop pages.
These pages will become an on-line portfolio of the student's work.
We will continue to analyze the lyrics of 'Great Songs', as we learn the songs and sing them together. This week we will sing, Stand by Me, Radioactive and Eleanor Rigby. We will attempt to add another song to our repertoire.
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.
The students will reread a section of Opabinia completing the reader's theatrer experience. They will also analyze the characters of the main protagonists!
I am using this story as a launch pad for various Journey's based lessons:
- We will conduct our next Reader's Theater experience with the story focusing on character problems and resolutions.
- The Journeys focus lesson this week is on comparing and contrasting characters. Students use Venn diagrams to help analyze similarities and differences between characters. We will use, Opabinia for this work.
- Choosing selections from the story that demonstrate excellent writing style. The students need to explain why they chose the selected section.
We completed Unit one last week in Math. The assessment at the end of the unit will allow us to form Math groups based on how the students did in the assessment.
The lessons for this week look like this:
Monday: Unit 2 introduction Lesson 2-1 - Adding and subtracting decimals - Mental Math Methods
Tuesday: Lesson 2-2 - Rounding whole numbers and decimals.
Wednesday: Lesson 2-3 - estimating sums and difference.
Thursday: Lesson 2-4 - Modeling Adding and subtracting decimals.
Friday: Math Project and games - various open-ended Math Challenges. Students have chosen partners and projects. This week we focus on record keeping format and data collection.
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.
These projects are all adapted from 101 Mathematical Projects, by Brian Bolt and David Hobbs.
The students will choose from these or invent theirr own after completing a sequence of number puzzles. I'll be adding more and more to this collection...
Some fiendishly tricky math puzzles for you.
Can you solve any of them?
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 week, the Perfect World artwork and displays will be moving towards the finishing line. The focuses this week are on finishing these maps and on designing, making and performing short Multi-media presentations about their Perfect World.
I have taught the students how to collect and organize material into folders on computers.
I have trained the students in how to build PowerPoint presentations with an emphasis on using the software in a creative way. The training job has involved finding and saving images of amazing cars, and finding images for their Perfect World. The students have learned about transitions and the main tools PowerPoint offers. This week:
The students will start to design their own PowerPoints to 'sell' their Perfect World to the group. The students also need to design group drama skits, dance, music and speeches to go along with their presentations.
The Final presentations should be three minutes long or less.
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.
The first challenge is to design and build a wheeled device, using K'Nex, that rolls furthest from the top of a ramp.
We begin our first science unit on the subject of Simple Machines by taking part in this first of several Invention Challenges.
Designs are entered into a Ramp Run Challenge competition.
enter their vehicle into the competition. Design
team-ups are mandated.
We investigate: What are the main problems each design faces?
Students generate testable hypotheses, identify independent variables, control dependent variables, conduct tests, improve designs, keep records of results.
It's a great way to
introduce the students to the essence of Science in a format they all
In the final competition, we award Gold, Silver, Bronze, as well as Most Original, Most Unlucky, and Most Artistic awards!
Tune back in here next Sunday for the next thrilling full plan!!
Homework will be continuing on this Friday, September 30th.
Next week, the student's will be receiving daily Language skills 'Journeys' homework. In each case, it will be due in the following day.
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!