Sunday, November 16, 2014

Mid-November Heats Up

Thank you to everyone who remembered my birthday on Friday. I appreciate all of the wishes from families and students!

There are just a few things to chat about for the coming week, which is the last full one in November if you can believe it. The Thanksgiving Break begins at the end of the day on Tuesday the 25th.

Report cards will go home on Friday the 21st. I don't suspect there will be any surprises, especially for those families who took time to meet for a conference. Please be advised of the scale:

1 - The student cannot meet this standard
2 - The student can meet this standard with assistance
3 - The student can meet this standard on her/his own
4 - The student can exceed this standard on her/his own
* - The student has an individualized plan for this standard
N - This standard was not assessed
G - This standard was assessed in a whole-group method

Also be advised that this is the first trimester of the new year and many students can meet the standards with help from me, so their report cards will reflect that. A "2" is not necessarily cause for concern in November; when "2"s persist, we want to look deeper at what we can do to support learning.

The holiday season is always a busy time in an elementary school (or any school for that matter) and scheduling is tricky with long stretches of time away and excitement ever-building. This week, we will be wrapping up Writing and Humanities projects and the students will have more and more free time for Genius Hour and other choice activities as they begin to check items off their To Do lists. Time and project management are skills that everyone is working on and the reward of choice is a great motivator.

When we come back from Thanksgiving Break, we have three short weeks in December during which time we will begin work on our persuasive writing unit and our Humanities unit on child labor. December will pack a punch in a short amount of time with the added bells and whistles of my absence for Jeopardy! taping (December 13th-17th) and the Holiday Party on the 19th. The students have already planned the details of the Holiday Party and we will be sending information home soon.

Last week, we had a few instances of technology misuse that Ms. Pierpont and I viewed as an opportunity to reconnect with the students as a group concerning appropriate use of school and personal equipment. One of the incidents in particular shook up the 5/6 community as it was discovered that we had a version of Wiki Leaks on our hands. Some students' Human Rights Wiki pages were hacked and their weeks' worth of writing assignments deleted. Though this is incredibly unfortunate for those who lost work, it was important to process how it feels when both our trust of each other and our right to a safe working environment are compromised. We have since reset all of the passwords for each student's wiki page and will proceed anew this week with our regular schedule of assignments. Password safety is important and we have taken this precaution so that no one's security may be breached again; students should also be aware that sharing passwords, even one for something as seemingly unimportant as a school wiki, is not a good practice. Moving forward, students who are discovered abusing this learning tool will lose the privilege and be required to hand-write all future assignments. If you or your student has any questions about this, please let me know.

To end on a positive note, please be sure to check out the Facebook page for a photo album from Friday's Genius Hour takeapart extravaganza! The kids had so much fun discovering what's inside of every day objects like fans, DVD players, clocks, coffee pots, and radios. The level of dialogue about the inner-workings of these machines was sensational and students are truly getting a handle on what makes things tick. Not only that, but they are able to salvage useful and interesting pieces and parts both to try to repurpose them in future projects and simply because they look cool. Students are encouraged to bring in takeaparts from home for their own use or to be a donation to the class. Thanks to Stephanie H., who took a break from dismantling a boom box to get some pictures of the class in action! Next week during Genius Hour, I am hoping that some students will begin to play with some of the programmable circuit board kits we have available in the classroom. This past week, the lure of the takeapart box was just too strong!

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