Sunday, August 30, 2015

We SO Got This

Our first (60%) week back at school was really great. We are gelling as a classroom community and have already blown past the get-to-know-you games in favor of the rich academic and social pursuits we are known for.

Bits & Pieces
Friday Folders and planners went home for the first time on August 28th. They had a TON of stuff in them, including forms that the main office needs a.s.a.p. I sent them home all at once so you could do a sign-a-thon once instead of once a day for a week. I do try to send things home en masse once a week unless it's marked urgent. I hope that's helpful to you.

In the planner, kids wrote down any school supplies they still need to buy and they might have indicated that they need a milk crate or bin. We are sitting at tables this year, so there is no in-desk storage. Milk crates are stackable, easy-to-carry, and large enough for notebooks, binders, books, and supplies. Plus, they don't tip over and wash up easily. Please try to send in supplies as soon as you can as we are ready for full-blown academics next week. Yahoo!

This coming week we have a full schedule and will hit on all of our academics and unified arts classes at full speed. This will include forming Word Study groups, starting our Independent Reading literacy unit, starting our Personal Narrative writing unit, commencing the study of states and capitals and U.S. Geography, talking about what it means to be a scientist, and hitting on current events.

Genius Hour News
We will continue with Genius Hour, which we started on Friday. Next week, David Lipkin and Josie Jordan, founders of Schoolhack Solutions, will be stopping by to engage the class in a pilot of their new personalized learning plan software, L!FT. I met David when I worked at BES where he was the school counselor; his wife and business partner Josie was a founding leader of the personalized learning movement at Mount Abe. L!FT is being piloted by the MTA middle school and David and Josie were eager to get end user feedback from 5th and 6th graders when I called them about testing the software as part of our Genius Hour time. The students will be taking an interest survey and the algorithm in the L!FT software will help them translate their interests into possible projects, career paths, and other curiosity-inspiring places to check out. It will also give me information about specific skills students need to grow and is an outlet for students to rank and rate their learning experiences in school, extra-curriculars, and life in general. It's pretty neat and I think it will go a long way to increase everyone's personal responsibility and motivation for their own learning. As a former project manager, I can say that program's interface is very conducive to setting and tracking projects and goals, which is an insanely important life skill no matter what you do.

Fort Ti Trip
I really do want to take in Fort Ti as a Saturday field trip. The place is fun for the whole family, as cheesy as that sounds, and it will do wonders for bringing our first American History unit to life for the students. Andy and I went a couple years ago and had a blast (here are some pictures). I thought we could meet at the school one Saturday morning and caravan over to the fort; it's an hour away or so. Not every family would have to drive if we play our cards right and I think I have some money to cover admission for Gagner Gang members if needed. I also have a ton of 10% off coupons for everyone else to use (kids are $8 and parents are $17.5). I do need to make arrangements ahead of time with the folks at the fort, so I have created a scheduling poll for you to pick a day that works for you. I hope we can find one that will allow a bunch of us to hang out and be history nerds together because you are all pretty fun people to be around!

Important Dates
  • August 31st-September 11th: My Jeopardy! games are in reruns (shameless self-promotion!)
  • September 1st: The Gagner Gang hosts the first All School Meeting of the year at 8am in the gym. Join us!
  • September 4th: Ellis Music forms (green) due back to Ms. Karwen
  • September 4th: Chorus starts (everyone must try it once, please)
  • September 7th: No school - Happy Labor Day!
  • September 24th: MCS Open House
  • September 26th: Champlain Mini Makerfaire
  • September 29th: School pictures
  • October 2nd: Walk Around the Pond
  • October 8th-11th: Come see Kate in The Odd Couple at the Vergennes Opera House!

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