daw.com - September 22

This year’s camp is over and what a great time we all had.  Your students were spectacular and I would gladly take them on another camp if we only could.  Added to this was probably the finest air quality I have seen in the 8 years I have been in China and great weather.  Everything seemed to align just in time for 5HD camp and it showed in the faces of the students as we came home.  Smiles from ear to ear.  This post is filled with pics from camp and here is a brief video of your students at camp.

Next week is a week of some really neat
experiences.  As part of their Performing Arts class, they will do the sword dance for a special meeting on Tuesday morning.  On Wednesday the HS Science class is collecting data on heart rates and breathing so the grade 5 class will help them with the collection of this data for their experiments.  Then on Friday is the annual ISB Terry Fox run.  The specifics for this will come from the ES office as it is determined on the day depending on the air quality. If you ordered a shirt, it will be delivered in time for the students to wear during the run.

Students will complete their first formal writing piece this week and publish it.  We will complete our first book club this coming week and then do a blog post on it.  Finally we will complete our current math unit with the end of unit assessment.

Homework this week will also be completely different as students use Newsela to report out on a different article each day.  As we get going with this, you may have to spend some time with your student getting them into the site and locating news articles that interest them.  We are doing this in class as well so it should be a mostly seamless transition from home to class.  There is a special current event book they use for this. Use of a computer/device each night is necessary.

There will be no blog post next Friday as we head into Fall Break but there will be one the following week as we prepare to return to school.
As always, if you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me.

daw.com - September 15

John Denver started off what is now a very famous song with, "All my bags are packed, I'm ready to go..."  and that is what we are for Camp 2017.  Monday morning we start the adventure of grade 5 camp.  A few things to remember.  Students should have two packs.  An overnight pack with all their clothes and toiletries and a day pack with their lunch, drink, water bottle, rain coat, hat, (sunscreen and bug repellent if needed) and snack.  This is the pack they will carry with them for the whole camp.  The other one will stay in their dorm room the entire camp.  When students arrive on Monday morning they take their overnight bag to the Little Dragon Theatre to store until we leave.  Please please please please remember we are ONLY gone for three days and two nights so keep everything small and light.  As for electronics I have told the students that I see no reason to bring a very expensive electronic phone out to a camp where there are a multitude of ways it can get lost, damaged or even fall in ponds, creeks or other water sources.  My suggestion is to leave them at home. I will have cameras at camp if they want to take pictures and we can download them when we return on Thursday.

Our writing of personal narratives is coming to the publishing stage and there is a lot of interesting stories to read.  I have been impressed by the ingenuity the students have shown in writing small moments into complete narrative stories. Look for these in the coming weeks on the students Seesaw accounts.

Our first unit in math is also coming to a close.  We have had an extensive look at base ten and unit decimals, addition, subtraction, multiplication and division of these decimals and also a short session on estimation.  I expect to complete the final assessment and project for this unit prior to the fall break.

We all have Newsela accounts now.  This is a great website for student news and what I really like about it is the ability of students to mesh their reading level to the news items.  The homework for the week prior to fall break will all be using Newsela.  It is not blocked here in China so all students have full access at home as well.

Our unit on Global Citizen ship is coming to a close as well.  The students brainstormed the concepts that Ms. Sayson and Mr. Hurworth could use in hiring new faculty for ISB.  We will put these into a large graphic and then present it to the two of them with Mr. Byrne present as well.  The students also looked at Difference makers and will be creating a presentation about one of the Difference Makers they wrote about.  I used the 4 C's method of studying them (Connection, Challenges, Concepts and Changes) to really help the students dig into what the article was telling them.  It will be interesting to see what they come up with as a presentation.

After 5 weeks of school I am pleased to continually tell you how wonderful your students are.  They work together well, they are an exciting and excited group of students and most of all, they are wonderful learners in a multitude of ways.  I am one of the luckiest people in the world at the moment with such a magnificent group to work with.

In the realm of transparency, I do want all of you to know that I am looking to move on from ISB at the end of this school year.  New laws in China have made it not possible for me to stay past the age of 60 which is next school year for me.  With that in mind I have already applied for or will be applying for positions at Hong Kong International School, Singapore American School, Seoul Foreign School and the International School of Prague.  This was not an easy decision to make but I do think it was made for all the right reasons.  I have nothing but the utmost of appreciation for my 8 years here at ISB. It is an amazing school with great students and parents.

As always, if you want to talk to me about something or have a question, please feel free to contact me.  I will gladly set up a time or call you at your convenience.

Harold Daw

daw.com - September 9

Another very busy week of learning has transpired in 5HD.  Even with all the MAP testing that we did there was still time to get work in on our writing, reading and math workshops. The students even earned their first reward for the year with a total of 8 compliments from outside of the classroom in the past 4 weeks.  These are things we talk about in class as both how the watch their own behavior and how others perceive them.  Part of our morning meeting time is used to learn how to become good students, good citizens and just a generally good person.  We will also talk later next month on Digital Citizenship and what is needed to use technology to its best, appropriately.

With this last point in mind I want to convey a talk I had with one of the parents this week about computer games.  I mentioned that the reason these are so popular and addictive is that there is an instant physiological response to trying to win and ultimately to winning.  While this is not a bad thing, the concern is that it can take over the lives of young people to the point of addiction. My suggestion to parents is that computer games should not be allowed at all during school nights.  The time is better spent on a sports team, music lessons, art classes or some other kind of activity that will benefit them over a longer period of their life.  When a student does play computer games it should never be for longer that 45 minutes and then it is time once again to get up and try some of the aforementioned activities.  I have unfortunately seen youth that are so addicted to computer games it takes over a greater part of both their regular lives as well as their education.  While not an expert on this, I think that if it gets to this level it would need some serious professional intervention.  I would like to see this avoided.

One of the biggest activities this coming week will be preparation for camp at Singing Deer Lodge Sept 18-21.  Students will bring home a packing list with the suggested items to bring.   While packing please remember - we are only gone for 2 nights and three days.  Keep everything small and compact and do not over-pack.  Students are allowed to bring a camera to camp but no other electronic devices.  This is for safety reasons since nothing is locked at camp and there is water all around which can seriously damage electronics. I have also talked with the students about how responsible they need to be if the bring out any kind of electronic device.  There is nothing I can do if they lose it other than retrace steps.  In most instances of lost electronics they were never recovered.  Think seriously about this before sending your student out to camp with a very expensive electronic device.  I will be bring the 15 class cameras I have for the students to use to take lots and lots and lots of pictures.  Also, the mobile reception out at Singing Deer Lodge is usually quite poor and in most cases non-existant.

One other thing for camp is that I need to collect all passports from students to take with us to camp.  A student cannot go if I do not have their passport with me when we leave on September 18.  They are kept locked up here at school and at camp the lodge takes them for the duration of our stay.  I will return the passports as we arrive back to ISB.

Students selected cabins for camp on Friday and while not everyone got what they wanted, I was happy that there was some give and take as the students finalized the lists.  We do not see this is as too important since we do not spend a lot of time in the cabins except to sleep and we also want the students to get to know other boys and girls from the classes we go to camp with.

We have started to write our reading journal blogs.  Our first entry is just about complete and then students need to comment on each others blog.  We will do this once every 6 day cycle and entry will be a short summary of a book, character evaluation/description and a connection made while reading.  This is an excellent way for me to both see what the students are learning from their reading and also to watch what they are reading.  I am hoping by now there is some kind of daily routine for students to read at home and that they are keeping track in their planners.  Please help your student with this if they are experiencing difficulty.

We are in the drafting phase of our first piece of narrative writing with most students well on their way to complete their first draft.  After this, three people will revise this with them and two will help with the editing.  Then it publication time and the process begins all over again with collecting more small moments.

We will produce a camp paper when we return from camp as part of our writing unit.
I have been asked when results of MAP testing will be sent to parents and do not have an exact answer.  It is usually 2-3 weeks after the tests end so sometime right after October break would be my guess.

We are really moving forward with out Global Citizenship unit.  So far we have come up with our understanding of what makes a good global citizen and how we can be good global citizens.  Now we are looking at the aspects of global citizenship and what influences peoples decisions in civic and global issues.  We will read about a number of students who have really taken this to heart and made a serious change in the world.  We will also look at our school culture as we prepare a list of qualities that ISB should look at when hiring new teachers.  This list will be presented to Mrs. Sayson, Mr. Hurwoth and Mr. Byrne when it is complete.

That is all this week.  If you have any questions or concerns please let me know so I can work with you in answering them.
Harold Daw