Saturday, August 30, 2014

Weeks 1 & 2

Week one was an unmitigated success. I sort of knew this would happen, but it's always nice when a plan comes to pass.

A few things have come up last week. After we get those out of the way, I will let you know what's on tap for the week ahead.

Please consult the schedule online so that your student has the right clothes and shoes on PE days. It wasn't likely a big deal last week, but in the future everyone will need the right gear.

We have a new method of providing breakfast, breakfast snacks, and snack milks this year. Our class will be ordering meals and snacks for the week on Monday mornings so that Ms. McConville and Mrs. Preston can be sure to be prepared with as little paperwork--and as much time--as possible to deliver fresh and healthy breakfasts to the classroom at the start of the day. This worked brilliantly this past week and I am sure it will continue as such. If you have questions about our ordering system, please let me know; billing and menu questions should be directed to the Kitchen.

Ms. Castle has asked that every student who does not ride the bus regularly/every day have an after school plan on file in the office. If you haven't already (and many of you have), please send in a note providing said information. You may choose to write all of your students' plans on one note and have your eldest bring it to the office.

Reading homework was optional but highly encouraged last week. This coming week, it will be required. I do not ask that students write about what they read, simply that they read for two hours a week outside of class (a half-an-hour per night is a nice way to look at it) and that the grown-up at home signs off on it in the student's planner or in a note. This type of homework is designed to foster a love of reading for pleasure, increase reading volume, and promote independence, honesty, communication, and planning.

Last week, we did a lot of foundational work on setting up our community. We learned about each other, arranged "clock partners" to make pairing and grouping quick and easy, wrote a set of class norms mirroring the Respect Self, Others, Learning, and the Environment mantra of the whole school, and devised and assigned jobs to keep things running smoothly. We spent a lot of time chatting for sure, but the kids also started some project-based work as a 5/6 team. We will be presenting this work at the assembly on Thursday afternoon, September 4th and I am glad to say that, not only did the work get us outside and moving, but it also revealed how well our students work together and in small groups. Ms. Pierpont and I are super excited at the amount of synergy that has happened in such a short amount of time!

This week starts on Tuesday, September 2nd and we will be moving toward our regular, "normal" schedule. I will begin reading and other literacy assessments to see where kids are on the learning continuum; this will allow me to form spelling groups and reading and writing skill groups as/if needed. Math will begin the week of Monday, September 8th in much the same way. I will have a clearer picture of that once I meet with Ms. Yerrick, our Math Coach, this week.

I was chatting with a parent on Friday afternoon and he asked where they could buy their student a lab coat. I love it! While I am not sure where to get actual lab coats, those worn by top scientists and NASA engineers, I think a chamois ("shammy") shirt or other button down would do the trick. It needn't be white, but it can be. Fun patterns or stripes, tie-dyes, and other prints would be quite cool. After all, it's about the feeling of putting on gear to do a job more than what the actual gear looks like. I did get part of our budgeted Science materials order last week and in it were 10 pairs of safety glasses. Again, I am not 100% certain that what we will do will require this piece of equipment, but it's darn fun to get into character. So if you have any safety goggles kicking around--even ersatz ones--maybe your scientist would like to add them to her/his kit.

Speaking of kit, it has been so much fun to see the kids making their desk and table spaces their own with crates and boxes to store materials. Boxes, bins, containers, and cubbies are welcomed, especially for those who are not seated at traditional desks. What's more fun than seeing a young learner set up a cogitation space with foraged materials? Not much of you ask this shabby chic organizational nerd!

We are still collecting makerspace goodies, particularly recyclables for our September Makerspace Challenge (design and construct your logo from only recycled materials). A shout out to Karen and George Parker, Kristen Howard, Otto Funke, Ann Fisher, Stephanie Murray, Sally Larsen, and Deborah Parenti (my mom) who have contributed and made breadcrumb trails to all kinds of good take aparts, tools, and curiosities. It was hard to keep wandering hands and eyes from the makerspace last week, but hey, that's what it's there for!

Last week's Friday Folder had some paperwork for you from HQ. It also included some Scholastic Book Orders (please use classroom code M9JWH if you order online!). Students might have brought home a supply letter outlining some materials they need (folders and notebooks, mainly). If you didn't see these items, please ask your kiddo to ferry them your way a.s.a.p. Organization is a lifelong endeavor that will take all hands on deck to achieve!

I think that's all for now. I hope you have a restful holiday weekend. I have been at school since 7:30 this morning and am heading out to start mine soon, too!

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