daw.com - February 18

Here are this weeks current events;
Tuesday - Kevin
Wednesday - Elvin
Thursday - Eric
Friday - JungBin
I have to start out with a problem I am seeing in class and something I would like you to talk with your student about.  There has been a decline in the quality of the work I am seeing handed in.  This is both in class and homework.  I have always discussed with the class how important it is to make sure that the work they do is neat and tidy.  While this will be different from student to student, I do still want to see work that is not only complete, but neat and tidy as well. We are going to steer towards this more in the coming week.
Our health unit on the Human Body will take us to a week of Chinese Wellness.  There are four activities that we are going to participate in throughout the week that all have a Chinese theme to them.  These have been kindly set up by the Experiential Learning Program.  At the end of the program we will use our blogs to post a reflection of what we learned.
Our writing is based in our unit of Fantasy.  We learned about the Hero's journey from Ms. Sutton and using this idea we planned our own journey with two characters and a specific setting which was a picture given to them.  Some of the journey's the students have planned should lead to some very interesting stories.  We are on our first drafts which are due in by Wednesday.  We will then revise and edit before completing a final draft.
We have returned to reading workshop this week with students completing a reading journal entry on their blog once every 6 days, having a reading conference with me and a mini lesson that is dependent on what they need further lessons on.  We have also finished our last novel study for the year and will start book clubs this coming week.  The reading they do for book clubs can be used as the home reading and should be recorded daily in their reading log.
We have taken a short journey into the skin this past week and will now look at how we keep it healthy.  This is in preparation for our unit final assessment in which students will choose a body system and report on what it is, how it works and what we can do to keep it healthy.  This is a class project and will be reported to the rest of the class toward the end of the quarter.
IN the next few weeks we will dive into our Student Led Conferences.  These will be held the third week in March and will take the place of the report card for the third quarter.  Students will organize their conference in the L21 fashion of ISB's learning.  We are currently gathering all the work we have done this year and organizing it in this way.
I want to thank all the students in the class for donating to Baby Brian's surgery with the Hot Chocolate Drive.  5HD raised over RMB1000 for this very worthwhile cause and I think the students should be proud of this accomplishment.
In music class students are bring treated to a special set of lessons from a man from Ghana in West Africa.  Kofi is taking the students through African rhythms, dances and chants.  This will help students as they use their home made instruments to create their own music.
That  is all for now.  If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me and I will gladly set up a time for us to meet.

daw.com - February 10

Here are next week's current events;
Tuesday - Siwoo
Wednesday - Brandon
Thursday - Oscar
Friday - Tiffy
I have been pleased with the reporting and presentation of the current events this year.  It will help students as we move into our action unit of the year.  Knowing what goes on around the world is important for all students and this is one way to look at what is happening that interests the students.
Speaking about interest, we are now in our third week of genius hour.  This is a time where students get to choose what they are interested in to learn more about.  Here is a partial list of some of the interests.
Aerodynamics and Forces on airplanes
Designing recycled clothing
Saving the Polar Bear
Determining the best chew toy for a rabbit
Computer systems on airplanes
and even a few more I have forgotten off the top of my head.  In order to make this a reality, and part of the reason I waited until the second semester, is that we had to learn more about inquiry.  Asking questions is at the heart of inquiry but what are the best questions to ask and how do I ask questions that cannot be answered with a simple yes or no.  We have spent time on this so now it is up to students to see what they can do.  Watch for more on this in the coming weeks.
We started our student led conferences this past week with a look into the Learning 21 styles here at ISB.  Just what do these look like in a students learning.  After this is done students will complete their portfolio and prepare for a meeting with their parents.  Report cards for this time will be shared between both me and the student.
In math we have completed the section on multiplying fractions and whole numbers.  In starting with multiplication of fractions we will start with unit fractions only and then move on to the rest of the fractional pieces.  As with all units, there is lots of problem solving that has to be done with every lesson and some lessons are nothing but problem solving.
This past week students have been introduced to the Cardio Vascular system, nutrition in wellness, respiratory system and the skeletal system.  There are two more rotations left and then we will look at depth for keeping the human body healthy and well.  The unit on human growth and development will happen as part of this unit from March 13-17 with a parent meeting the week before.
It has been a difficult week for some students as they get back into a school routine.  While nothing has interrupted learning, I have had to talk with several students about taking responsibility for their learning and education.  The class has moved well so far and I see no reason to change now.  As we talked about this in class, several students seem to see that perhaps they have not followed the class mantra of 'Do Your Best.'  This is all I have ever asked of them.
Next week sees us return to Reading/Writing workshop with students doing studies in Fantasy.  We have looked at the Hero's Journey as well as the aspects that make the genre of fantasy.  It is an interesting unit and one that students can really let their imagination run wild.
Thats it for this week.  As always if you have a question or concern, please let me know and I will gladly set up a time to meet with you.

daw.com - January 22

Once again we find ourselves at a week prior to another holiday.  There are some fun things happening this week as we celebrate the Chinese New Year of the Rooster.
First off are this weeks Current Events
Tuesday - Annabel
Wednesday - Leo
Thursday - no current events
This past week we continued our reading and writing involving themes from stories.  It is now getting to a point where most of the students are automatically looking for themes as they are reading the stories.  We also continue with writing summaries of the story and putting our themes into print as well.  This week students will compare the themes of two similar stories.
Our math continues to look at multiplication and division of fractions.  I had an interesting conversation with a parent this week in which I reiterated that while I do believe that getting an answer correct is important, equally important is understanding how that answer works, being able to check work and solving word problems related to the objective.  I am seeing great results from students as we work our way through this unit.
The Chinese New Year activities this week include the class designing and decorating our class door.  They have chosen to make it a large "red envelope' filled with money that has their picture on it.  They will also do the traditional fireworks decor and the proper Chinese salutations to complete the design.  Everyone in the class is involved.
Thursday afternoon the class will be involved in the annual CNY parade, acrobat show, Chinese yo-yo and kite making before going home for the holiday.  It is a great way to end the week in preparation for the celebration.
I will be away this week with the HS Model United Nations (MUN) group in Doha, Qatar at the annual THIMUN Conference.  It is always pleasing to see our students tackling some of the worlds issues and problems.  Usually the debate is frantic and commonly the outcome is unique and creative.  I have two sbs taking over for me and I have left full lesson plans to be carried out.
One change this week is that homework is due in by Thursday - not daily since I am not here to mark it anyway, I will do that upon my return.
On Friday we did another Engineering Challenge that had to do with Kinetic Energy.  Using minimal materials, students had to design a wheel that was 5 inches in diameter and roll it all the way down a 5 foot ramp (actually our ramp was not exactly 5 feet).  As I always am, it was amazing to see some of the results.  I was also taken back by some of the thinking that went on such as how to make it 3D like a ball.  While time ran out to solve this, just the thinking of this shows some great insight.
I want to take this time to wish everyone a safe and restful holiday.. For those of you traveling, please have a great time and stay safe for your return.  Those of you staying in Beijing, have a great time looking around the city.  There really is a myriad of events going on over the holiday.  Although my Mandarin is deplorable I think the proper statement is Xin nian kuai-le.  Please excuse any mispronunciation but do know I wish everyone a prosperous and happy new year.
Harold Daw