I have already told the Gang that November and December act a little differently when you're in my class. Given the relatively high vacation to school day ratio, I don't set exceptionally high expectations for the amount of ground we cover. By this time of the year, the students are pretty self-sufficient and there are a number of projects in the air that they can work on, so when the time comes for choice, things are pretty groovy. Most of the kids are able to balance "must do" work with "can do" fun, which is something I really like about us.
This month, Ms. Pierpont, Mrs. Davey, Mrs. Murray, Mrs. Knox, and I have planned a writing "boot camp" to get the 5/6 team ready for our winter opinion/persuasive/argument writing unit. Based on a pre-assessment given on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving Break, we have created skill groups so that everyone in fifth and sixth grade has a tailored writing skills program for 10 sessions in December. Each skill group will be working on the same project (the final product being an opinion piece) and the kids will all be met where they are as writers. This is yet another chance to mix up the students on the whole 5/6 team and we are so glad to have the added resources of Mrs. Davey, Mrs. Murray, and Mrs. Knox working with groups. We are so lucky in this regard... and so are the kids!
Our December Humanities unit is on child labor in the early 20th century, with a nod to modern iterations as well. We will be using the Holiday Bazaar (on December 15th) as an anchor event... More about that later! The students will continue to write weekly entries on their Humanities Wiki page, including adopting a personality and doing a photo shoot in period clothing with fun digital photography effects to age the pictures for an authentic touch. This is going to be a quick--but engaging--unit for sure. Ms. Pierpont and I expect it will put things like clearing the table and doing homework into perspective for the kids as well. That's just food for thought when you get into a dance with your cherub about doing chores... You can always tell them how lucky they are that they aren't working 12-hour shifts in a freezing cold mill risking life and limb for pennies a day. Just sayin'.
Yesterday, I went to Petco to get my annual gift to the class. You might recall that I wrote a grant and was awarded a freshwater aquarium set-up as well as some occupants. The store did not have the aquarium that my grant specified, but they are going to special order it and let me know when it arrives. I think it's great that I had decided that this would be my gift to the class before I knew how much they would love taking care of the fish we raised for our pond ecology unit. It's a blessed coincidence in many ways, but also feels quite natural because this group likes all of the cool stuff. We will get our aquarium shortly and I will post pictures when we do!
In less than two weeks, I am heading out to sunny Southern California to tape my Jeopardy! Teachers Tournament episodes. This Tuesday marks the first real, tangible step toward that with WPTZ coming to MCS on the morning of Tuesday the 2nd to tape the "good luck" segment that will air nationwide during my episodes. The students on the 5/6 team were all sent home with a release form on Friday the 21st with the request that it be signed and returned by the 24th. We have a fair amount, but not nearly everyone from The Gagner Gang reporting (the Pierponts have better participation, actually!). I have an electronic copy of the form and it's not too late. Please email me straight away if you didn't get the form and would like to sign and send it back. Sony Pictures made it very clear that students (and adults) who have not signed the release can't be a part of this memorable event and I would hate to see anyone left out for reasons of forgetfulness (a desire not to be involved is perfectly fine, of course). We need to express ship those releases to Hollywood by the 5th, so if time wasn't of the essence before, it is now!
- Tuesday 12/2 - Jeopardy! promo taping with WPTZ
- Thursday 12/4 - All School Meeting @ 2:30pm (Gagner out p.m.)
- Monday 12/15-Wednesday 12/17 - Gagner to L.A., Mrs. Blaise in the house
- Monday 12/15 - Holiday Bazaar (details TBA, asap)
- Friday 12/19 - Holiday Party @ 12:45-3pm
- Friday 12/19-Sunday 1/4/15 - Holiday Break