Sunday, January 11, 2015

"This Is The Year You Become Sixth and Seventh Graders"

My New Year mantra for my Gang, whether here at MCS or in other schools where I have taught and worked with kids, is to remind them that, as of January 1st, we have technically advanced to their next year of school. Sure, it'll be six more months before school ends and Step Up Day and Promotion happen, and beyond that, two more months until the first day of school next year, but 2015 is, for all intents and purposes, the year our fifth graders become sixth graders and our sixth graders become seventh graders.

I have always considered grades five and six to be a part of the middle school years. I attended Camels Hump Middle School for grades five through eight, so it's kind of based on my own experience. At Hinesburg, middle school started in sixth grade but fifth grade opened up new opportunities for sports, drama, and other such activities. These two years are where I think we really see the first glimpses of who kids will be on that sunny afternoon in June of either 2021 or 2022 when they skip away to college and careers. 

Fifth and sixth grade were my favorite years as a student and the ones I remember most vividly. It was a mix of feeling like pretty hot stuff compared to third and fourth graders but also being completely wigged out by the older kids. And who wouldn't be? As last year's Gang remarked after our trip to Mount Abe for the Fine Arts Fest, "Mrs. Gagner, they have mustaches!"

Indeed they do, grasshopper. Indeed they do.

Our first week back went quite well with lots of places for these not-so-baby birds to spread their wings. The Morning Work folders were a pretty big hit and I got some suggestions of the kinds of things the would like to see in them, including crosswords, riddles, logic puzzles, Sudoku, and grammar editing sheets. Does this crew know how to party or what?! I'm so stoked that they can name things they like digging into that also serve to warm up their brains and get them chatting with each other and collaboratively problem solving. Let's just say I have a good share of copying to do first thing tomorrow morning.

Yoga went well, too. We nailed the Sun Salutation in one session, which was pretty awesome. We'll start our practices with that from now on, in addition to our breathing exercises. The closing meditation was relaxing and set a nice tone for the day. On Thursday, we were able to start SCR&P time and the kids didn't waste a moment. The class pet crew determined, through reading and research, that our aquarium needed a heater installed, so we took care of that and our floating friends seem pretty psyched to be inhabiting more temperate waters. Tech support became fast experts on our programmable circuit board sets quicker than even I expected and have created quite a stir in both 5/6 classes with their innovations. Perhaps the most zealous group were the feng shui divas who turned the classroom inside out while I was at a meeting. When I returned (and after I came out of orbit), they went into negotiations for some new shelving units and are back on track organizing our library according to a user survey of their classmates. If we could do this type of work 80% of our week, I would be a happy lady. I think it's possible to do, even in the core content areas, it'll just take some thoughtful planning time.

This week we have our trip to the Flynn and out to lunch on Tuesday. I will be out at a meeting all day Thursday and our friend Ms. Svitavsky will be hanging out. Next week, we have Monday and Tuesday off. Not bad.

I hope you have a great rest of the weekend. I'm headed over to the Home Depot to take a workshop on installing laminate flooring. Always nice to have something to fall back on, right?

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