Monday, October 19, 2015

So Much Things To Say Right Now

In case you didn't get the reference, 
and to prove that the grammar misstep is not my own!

Our investigations into matter and its interactions continue to be a source of edutainment for the whole crew. We have been most recently focused on chemical and physical changes and had the pleasure of a Bill Nye episode to help us see some pretty exciting chemical reactions taking place. We learned about beneficial combinations of elements that, on their own are lethal but together make tasty substances like table salt. Another fun takeaway was the preponderance of dihydrogen monoxide, a substance that is both deadly and life-giving all at once! We are working our way through this unit's four essential questions pretty rockstarishly, if I do say so myself.

Now that most everyone has their states and capitals nailed down, we have embarked on our American Revolution history unit and I am so glad. It's such a fun unit to teach! We have History lecture on Mondays and then application on Tuesdays, which means that the kids are using what they learned in Monday's class to go deeper on Tuesday. The "going deeper" will take the form of their creating a historical fiction character to react to the events and activities of the time using authentic voice and plenty of rich historical details. Everyone will also be creating a collection of artifacts and other pieces to represent their character. Have your student show you the assignment by logging into Google Classroom. I think we might be able to squeeze in a Share Fair on the afternoon of November 24th, but I will keep you posted. If it ends up being that kids need more time to investigate the material, we will push it back to the week before the Holiday Break in December.

We will tie writing into history with our opinion unit, titled "Should We Stay or Should We Go?" Students' characters are either Patriots or Loyalists and they will have to write a convincing opinion/persuasive piece to get people to agree with them as to whether the colonies should stay with England or forge out on their own. I did something similar when I was in eighth grade (I drew what I thought was the short straw and was a Loyalist) and it's something I still remember in great detail.

We did the retake of the states and capitals test and most students did either much better or about the same. For those students who need more time with this undertaking, we will be building in time in their weeks to do this work. If you would like to know if yours is a student who should be studying at home as well, please shoot me an email.

Literacy plates are spinning like crazy now, so much so that I am rethinking our weekly schedule. It's looking like we are needing to have reading twice a week, not once, so I am going to try this new breakdown starting next week:
  • Monday - reading from 8:30-9:30am
  • Tuesday - word study from 8:05-8:30am and writing from 8:30-9:30am
  • Wednesday - word study from 8:05-8:30am
  • Thursday - writing from 8:30-9:30am
  • Friday - reading from 8:30-9:30am
Last thing... I want to build a harmonograph, too. If you have ideas about how we could make this work, let me know. It's got physics, so you know it's cool. (Sorry, total non sequitur, I know, but how else can you fold a harmonograph into conversation? It's pretty near impossible unless you're open to being a little weird. Which I am.)

Upcoming Dates

  • MCS Book Fair - 10/26 through 11/3 (hours forthcoming from Ms. Esterline)
  • Picture retakes - 11/4 UPDATED ON OCTOBER 20th
  • No school - 11/6
  • Flynn trip to The Improvised Shakespeare Company - 11/12 ($0-$12.50, however much you can swing, and a bag lunch needed)
  • Hunker Down Day/PJ Day - 11/13
  • Thanksgiving Break - 11/25-11/29

We did get our first glimpse of a draft of enrollment projections and classroom configuration possibilities for next year and I really want to encourage you to let your voice and opinion be heard at board meetings as all the players begin to determine what MCS will look like next year. Right now, it is looking like this year's fantastic small classroom sizes, made possible by the addition of a third member to our 5/6 teaching team, might be a thing of the past. Seven more bodies in this roughly 700-square foot room already feels like the walls are closing in! ...And something always has to give with an increase in class size (reading nook, Genius Hour, makerspace, break-out spots for projects and small group instruction, etc.), so I hope that, if you value the student-to-teacher ratio we are enjoying right now and the wonderful work that it allows us to accomplish, you will become a part of the process and let your thoughts be known to decision-makers. Your children are the end-users of this system and it behooves us all to advocate vigorously for what is best for them!

I want to close this newsletter--the first in a little while--by thanking all of the families who were able to come out to see "The Odd Couple" last week. I felt so supported and am so glad that you care enough about me to take an interest in the silly little things I do when I'm not teaching your child! It is what buoys me when I think about the gravity of being a teacher in today's day and age, when expectations for what we can get done in 180, 6-hour days--literally 1,000 hours--can make us feel like we're standing next to a mountain (thanks for that lyric, Jimi). So THANK YOU for thinking of little ol' me!

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