Monday, September 21, 2015

The K.D.U. News

A lesson planning technique many teachers use is the K.D.U. It helps us make note of what we want students to know, do, and understand by the end of the lesson or unit. It thought it might be a neat way to structure our newsletters, so I figured I'd give it a shot.

Before I get into it all, I want to start with a newsflash about Fort Ti:
  • We will leave MCS on the bus (or chaperones with their child[ren] in their vehicles) at about 8:30am tomorrow;
  • Weather looks like partly cloudy with a high of 74* and there is no chance of rain, so it should be ideal;
  • There will be a fair amount of walking, so clothing and shoes should be appropriate (Rude Mechanicals t-shirts would be awesome...)
  • Everyone needs a bag lunch;
  • We pack in and pack out for lunch and everyone is responsible for carrying and keeping track of whatever they bring (gadgets on the bus are fine, picture-taking devices make sense too);
  • Groups will have a scavenger hunt created by the folks at the Fort to anchor their visits, though unstructured poking around is okay, too;
  • We'll eat around 11:30-12, spend another hour or so on the grounds, depending, have time to hit the gift shop, and head back to MCS in time for dismissal;
  • I'm available via email with other last minute questions.
Okay, now back to your regularly-scheduled newsletter.

  • Thanks to Karen Parker and Kristin Blanchette for taking on the Four Winds program for us again this year. We are going to start up next week and have Four Winds once a month on Fridays.
  • I have been sending home Scholastic book orders. If you would like to submit an online order, please remember to use our class code (M9JWH). I can also send our orders in if you fill out the form in the flyer and send it in with a check.
  • I'm looking forward to seeing everyone at Open House this week. There isn't anything special planned in Room 110 (well, aside from the cool stuff we do every day), but please feel free to pop in, say howdy, and check stuff out.
  • Because Open House isn't the best time or place to have hardcore discussions, please know that I will be sending out a sign-up for parent conferences in next week's newsletter.
  • Music lessons are starting up this week. The schedule is as follows:
    • Thursdays - second year woodwinds, second year trumpets, guitars
    • Friday - drums, first year woodwinds, second year flutes
  • We have been studying states and capitals since the first or second day of school and our test for U.S. geography mastery is coming up on Tuesday the 29th. Students have had beaucoup class time for this, so I am hoping that time outside of class practicing means that we can put this to bed and move on to American history by the week after next.
  • Both fifth and sixth graders need to also have their multiplication facts mastered (0-12 times tables) in the very near future as well. The sixth graders will be having a test on October 2nd. Students know what they don't know and know that they should be practicing!
Elementary school wonks often talk about "the first six weeks" as being a key time for teachers and students to build important bonds, both with each other and as a community. I like to facilitate that process as best I can by setting expectations that help us gel even quicker.

This is all a fancy way of saying that the honeymoon is officially over! Everyone in here knows how to kick out the jams and we are holding students accountable for having their supplies, doing their work, following instructions, and being the best versions of themselves they can be in a given moment. Nothing in the list of expectations is unattainable for anyone and I encourage parents to tap into the high expectation well at this stage of the game, too. Consistency between home and school is really important in helping kids understand that they need to come proper, wherever they are!

All three fifth and sixth grade team teachers are strict when it comes to being prepared for classes and it means that students are having to lose recess or Genius Hour if they do not have work completed. We believe that logical consequences are the way to go. It does get a little sticky because all MCS classroom teachers are required to have lunch/recess duty now, so we are working on the details of how a student makes up work or time if the teacher is unavailable. The goal, of course, is that this isn't an issue, but the perfect world I sent away for is still on back order.

By now, the students can see how pleasant and productive it is when everyone toes their own lines. This is all a part of my commitment to character education as well as academic education. Mount Abe is in our sights and whether we are ready or not, it will be the new dojo sooner than you think!

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