daw.com - mach 20

This past weekend I spent 3.5 days with 525 high school students from all over the world as they debated issues that are current and relevant in the United Nations.  It was the 25th annual Beijing International Model United Nations (BEIMUN).  As I always am, I was impressed by the quality of the debate amongst these youngsters and the depth of knowledge they have on these issues.  While I know this has no bearing on our class, I cannot help but be amazed at how much our students grow and it is always my hope that someday a student that I taught will make headlines with a world changing event or idea.  This is one such place that it can start - the seed can be planted.

Our science unit on Transformations has been happening with a look at modeling the invisibles or the things that we cannot see.  We took a look at a YouTube video on elephant toothpaste and tried our best to model what really happened.  Of course, it is impossible to know about the parts we cannot see so the second part of the experiment made the invisibles more visible and the students tried to make sense of this with an explanation.  This is what science is all about.  It is very rare for science to come up with the 'correct' answer but rather attempt to explain what is seen or happened.  This is what makes science so exciting.  Anyone can memorize peri0dic tables, know molar expressions and even know the basis of molecular or radioactive actions, but asking questions and attempting to answer them is really what science is all about.  We are having a great time doing this and will do so
for the next 5-6 weeks.

The students first try at essays is going well.  The teaching has involved coming up with ideas from texts, living the text, walking the shoes of another and beginning with a thesis statement.  I do have to say that I find it easier to use personal pronouns in teaching thesis statements even though technically there should be no such pronoun.  I will teach lessons toward the end that hones the thesis statement into more of a direct statement.

By now I do hope all of you have signed up for Student Led conferences.  This will be a good time for you to see what your student has done this year and see their reflections on their learning.  I think you will be amazed.  Signup for these conferences happens through Friday of this week.

We have completed fractions for the year and move on to Addition and Subtraction with Volume and Area.  There are a stream of models that we use for this unit and students always find it interesting how these work to explain away the arithmetic that many will gain.   This is a fairly short unit of only about 5 weeks.

That is it for now.  Please remember that if you are leaving early or returning late for Spring Break to let me know.  It really helps with my planning.  Spring break this year starts on Apr 1.  If you have any questions or concerns please feel free to contact me and  will set up a time that we can meet.

daw.com - March 12

Just a quick reminder to start off that this week is a four day week - there is no school on Friday.  It is a professional day where teachers will be working with a writing specialist.

We move on to a couple of new things this week having completed two units of study.  Our first new unit is on Transformations.  This is where we will look at matter, its properties, changes and workings in the world.  It is an introductory unit to chemistry.  On Friday Mr. Watson showed the students some things that can happen with liquid nitrogen and the chemical and physical changes that happen.

We also move on to Literary Essays as our next writing unit.  Her we will look at various texts and learn how to develop a thesis and write about it based on the text of study.  By the end of the unit students will be writing their own literary essays based on topics and ideas that inspire them from the texts.

We spent a lesson in the Design Lab this week looking back at our Biomimicry unit.  Students looked at, theorized, designed and built a claw based on natural designs in nature.  It was quite fun and some interesting learning from it occurred.  Some of the students will need to use this lab as they prepare their Genius Hour projects over the next two months.

We also did an experiment with M&M's dissolving in water.  The purpose of this was to see that you need a well developed question to have an experiment or else there is no purpose to the experiment.  Students will use this as they prepare and design their own experiments in the up coming weeks.
The conclusion to our math unit will be this week with a final assessment on Wed or Thurs.  Our next unit is on Area and Volume.

Please remember to sign up for Student Led conferences when they open up.  The dates are March 26-27th.

If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me.

daw.com - March 2

It does seem like a long time ago that I wrote a blog post but with a holiday happening that covers two weekends, that takes away a lot of time.  I do hope everyone had a happy and restful Chinese New Year holiday.

This week has been the wrap up of our wellness unit.  Students completed their meal plans and their wellness journals.  We also had our Human Growth and Development week and I was pleased with the candidness of the students and their willingness to learn.  We had a set of expectations for this and the class was quite good at maintaining them.  I do hope they got the information that will help them as they move from childhood to adolescence.

Our math unit is moving a long quite nicely.  We spent the week looking at conversion of fractions to decimals and also at writing and comparing equations.  The latter of these two can be tricky when you see that there are more than one way to write the same number sentence when it comes to fractions and mathematical practices.  We will continue with this for several more weeks as students get familiar with nomenclature and expressions.  Next week we look at the division of whole numbers by fraction parts and move to fractions divided into fractional parts.

Our writing of the fantasy story is moving along very well.  All students are finished their first drafts, have read them into the computer, completed the 8 sketches of their story and some have even started the revisions by listening to two classmates stories and making comments to improve them.  Once this is completed the last task is to complete the final draft and this should be completed by next Friday.  It is the last of the fiction writing for this year. Next unit is on literary essays.

We had a talk in class this week about proper reading.  What I mean with this is that students should be reading so that they are learning about reading.  We have covered, theme, inference, evaluation, character analysis, plot, and setting so far and I am expecting students to use these learnings when they write about the reading they are doing.  In their last journal blogs, I did not get the sense that some of this is happening which means that either the books they are reading are too hard for them or that they are not thinking while they are reading.  It is important to enjoy reading but also to be thinking about your reading as you do it.  This is what all good readers do and students can learn a lot about subject matter, concepts, ideas and writing by doing this.  It is an important part of education such that it will become a big part of their schooling in the coming middle and high school years.  I will continue to review this with the students and show them examples of what I mean.

That is all for this week.  If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me and I will set up a time to meet with you.