Sunday, October 12, 2014

Reaching Cruising Alititude

On Friday, I told the kids that we only had 148 school days left before they officially become sixth and seventh graders. They all agreed that, even though it sounds like a lot, it really isn't! It's a good thing that we are really grooving.

Last week, I finally began the goal-setting conferences that I had hoped to start a couple of weeks ago. This is something new I am trying this year and it comes from an idea I got in a graduate education class last spring. The students were all given a list of "I CAN" statements that are derived from the Common Core Standards and they checked off the ones that they felt comfortable with. What remained were statements that, when paired with a conference with me, became Reading and Writing goals for the next five weeks. The conference process is long, but it is student-driven, so the time is well-spent. I really hope to have everyone's goals sorted out by the end of the week. The biggest part of my meeting with each student is helping them fill out the 1-3-5 goal pyramid that is helping them decide five tasks and three milestones that will get them to their one big goal. 

Speaking of goals, we have been collecting a fair amount of data about the students as writers thanks to a progress monitoring and benchmarking program that we use. Right now, we are focusing on volume of writing, moving more toward volume AND quality through the introduction of the editing process. Each week, the students write to a prompt for three minutes and then count their Total Words Written; I come in later to tally the Correct Word Sequence and we enter this data into a chart. This helps us track growth over time and the act of tallying words at the end of the three minutes is giving the kids a concrete and visual representation of how much they are growing as writers. It's good stuff. We have also been working on sequencing events and building a Plot Mountain for our personal narratives, the first major writing piece of the year. Our continuous work linking Reading with Writing is yielding solid results and I am really proud that we are moving in this direction.

Remember that this week is a four-day week, the students not having school on Friday. I will be out on Thursday afternoon taking release time with Ms. Pierpont to do some planning. Mrs. Blaise will be in the room for the afternoon.

Next week, we have a field trip on Friday! Plans for Tech Jam were approved so we will be heading to Memorial Auditorium on October 24th to check out Tech Jam as well as Generator, Burlington's makerspace. We are trying to link a visit to Champlain College's Maker Lab with this trip so that we can get the most bang for our transportation buck, but those plans have not been finalized. Right now, we are looking at a Tech Jam visit from 12-2pm. If you would like to come along or meet us there, please let me know. At Tech Jam, the students will be able to talk with people in the technology field, explore possible careers, and try the latest in technologies like virtual reality and robotics. Plus, they will get to see the Generator space, which is cool in and of itself. Everyone is really excited to check it out! Logistically-speaking, the only thing the kids will need that day is a bag lunch. We will be sending permission slips home this week.

There is still time to send in $2-$3 for your student to continue her/his TypingClub membership as well as old or unusable CDs for our Jitterbug project (the kids saw a live demo by a classmate on Friday during Genius Hour and are very, very ready to build these simple circuit critters!).

Here's to another great week ahead!

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