Weekly Digest

Dear Parents/Guardians,

Thank you to those who were able to come out and see me last night.  If the time was inconvenient for you, merely message me through Dojo and we can work out an alternate time.  Mornings are more flexible for me but after school works with enough notice.  I trust that you’ve had a chance to look over the report card and talk it over with your child.  I hope you found the feedback useful.  Thank you for returning the slip of paper and envelope too.

Looking ahead, we have finished our novel study of Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH.  Students are now working in groups designing a board game based on the book.  Materials for the game may need to be collected this weekend, FYI.  Science projects are due next week too.

I have most of the students’ writing for the magazine.  In some cases, I’ve had to fast-track students who’ve fallen behind.  This means that you may have been unable to provide any feedback to your child’s writing because I had to skip that step.  Once I mark the students’ work, all versions of the writing will be returned and you can see the process from beginning to end.  Then, I will begin the magazine’s layout and chip away at it over time.  As of now, I’m estimating early April before it’s ready for print.

Happy Family Day Weekend!

 

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Weekly Digest

Dear Parents/Guardians,

Rhetorical question:  if you played a game for the first time and won, would you expect to win every new game you played on the first attempt?  This is how I like to look at assessment and evaluation.  Sometimes, students are defined by the grades they get the first time around and it’s a natural expectation that it should continue.  But just like playing a new game, the results aren’t always the same.  Remember that the grades you’ll see on Monday’s report card are based on your child’s learning of the grade six curriculum.  There are new challenges every year:  new teacher and teaching style; more demanding curriculum; new concepts; group dynamics, etc.  Students can thrive or struggle from year to year based on how they handle the curriculum.  If your child got a B+ in reading last year, but has a B (or lower) in grade six, it doesn’t mean he/she is getting worse at reading, or moving backward; he/she is just more challenged by the new material.  Conversely, sometimes students excel and grades will rise, again, for the very same reasons cited above.  I guess my point here is, your child’s grades have been defined by his/her experience in 6M since September with the new material she/he has learned, not necessarily by an overall level you would expect him/her to be at consistently.

When the report card arrives home on Monday, look it over and first celebrate the positives (optimism can take you anywhere, after all).  Starting off with what we’re good at helps focus the mind and clears the negativity that might get in the way.  Then, look for areas of growth and have your child set some tangible goals for the second term.  It could be to improve in a specific subject area, have perfect homework completion, or taking on a leadership role.  These can be written down on the bottom portion of page 3/4 and returned with the envelope (by Thursday, if possible).  Enclosed with the report card will be a Class Dojo report that covers the entire term.  It too should allow your child to look at areas of strength and areas for growth.  As for Thursday night’s interviews, I remind you that they are to be booked online at this website.  You’ll need your child’s student id number, which is the same one he/she uses to log into the school’s laptops.

I thought I’d close by sharing this statement:  “A study (in 2015) by Microsoft concludes that attention spans have gone down since the year 2000, from 12 seconds then, to 8 seconds now.”  This was part of an article I’d read at this time two years ago.  I can say from my own experience over 19 years, attention levels have dropped significantly (and it’s particularly noticeable this year).  We, as teachers, do struggle to compete with the interactive world of technology; and while we’ve tried to integrate tech with our teaching practice, it’s difficult sharing three laptop carts and four iPad carts with over 600 students.  Nevertheless, maintaining a high degree of focus is crucial in many, if not all, tasks.  Parents will often say their child “is just bored” (which, to a teacher, is a discrete way of saying their ineffective at their job); but I say “boredom is self-created”.  Failure to remain attentive to a learning concept, or even simple instructions, stunts intellectual growth and interferes with one’s ability to succeed/progress.  Perhaps being more attentive in school could be an area of focus/growth for your child as he/she looks ahead to the second term and onward.  

Enjoy the snow!

Weekly Digest

Dear Parents/Guardians,

Here we are, month two of 2018 already!  Scroll down a couple of posts to see both the class and school newsletters for the month of February.

6M is piloting a greener initiative this month by getting rid of our garbage can!  In order to reduce waste and help work toward the school reaching the gold standard for Eco Schools, we thought we’d see how easy it would be to limit our trash.  Students are encouraged to limit their trash by bringing re-useable or recyclable containers.  Left-over foods can return home in the same containers they came in.  Trickier items, such as apple cores or banana peels can go in a sandwich bag, or empty reusable container.  I core my apples and slice them before bringing them to school; a little lemon juice sprinkled over the slices keeps it from going brown.  Thank you for your support with this.  Perhaps our initiative will get the remaining classes to follow suit in the months to come!

About one third of the class has completed their revisions for the memoirs.  If your child is one of them, they will bring both writing pieces to you with a note and checklist for you to fill out.  Ideally, if these could be ready for Tuesday, it would help keep things on track.

A reminder about booking interviews online; I sent you all a copy of the instructions through Dojo.  If Thursday the 15th is inconvenient, contact me about arranging another time (mornings are ideal but after school could work too), or we could have a conversation on the phone.

Enjoy your “super” weekend.

Weekly Digest

Dear Parents/Guardians,

Our magazine project continues to roll along.  Many students have finished their first drafts and are working on revisions based on feedback I’ve given them.  After this, they will bring an updated copy home to you for checking.  Attached will be a parent revision sheet where you can assess their writing too, and provide any last minute feedback that will make your child’s writing that much better.  (I figure you were likely around when these moments took place so you’re a great source for those added details.)  Three students have already reached the “parent feedback stage” but I hope the rest will get there by this time next week.  After the final revisions have been made, then the project turns to me and the layout process begins.

Report cards are in the finishing stages and are set to go home on Monday February 12th; interviews will follow on Thursday the 16th.  Yesterday, instructions on how to reserve an interview time were sent home.  Use your child’s student id to register and select an appointment time.

Looking ahead in math, we’re about to examine whole vs. part when it comes to numbers.  This involves concepts such as decimals, fractions, ratio, etc.  Since this can get rather complicated, I encourage you to talk math with you child, look at examples of part vs. whole in the real world.  Just engaging in conversation about what he/she is learning helps solidify their understanding.

Enjoy your weekend!

Weekly Digest

Dear Parents/Guardians,

We have more or less wrapped up term one as of today.  There are a few odds and ends to take care of next week, but suffice it to say that most of what we cover moving forward will be reflected in the June report card.

As I’ve highlighted before, assessment for your child’s progress is multifaceted.  There’s so much more going on in the learning environment than tests, quizzes and projects – which is about the only thing you see in the way of grades.  Speaking of grades, I honestly feel they’re overrated.  Rewarding a child for every “A” he/she earns puts too much attention on a single letter grade.  If students embrace their learning and make their very best effort, they should be satisfied with whatever they’ve earned; and if they’re not pleased, that is a time to reflect on what needs to be done to improve.  I would be in favour of a system that focuses solely on student progress, rather than an overall mark.  All the small victories and growing successes are often overlooked when that letter grade winds up on the report card.  Ultimately, if you want to get an accurate picture of your child’s progress, come and see me and we’ll have a wonderful discussion about his/her learning.  There’s nothing wrong with having high expectations, but they don’t have to be in the form of a letter grade.

Students have chosen a topic to research for their inquiry project in science.  Some have opted to work with a partner and do a class presentation, while others have chosen to go solo and design a project of their own.  Two class periods have already been provided but students are encouraged to keep looking for information on their own time.  Check in with your child to see what he/she is doing.

Wishing you a pleasant weekend!

Weekly Digest

Dear Parents/Guardians,

Well, we’re one week into the new year!  It feels good to be back into the swing of things, though I think for some of us (self included), our bodies are still in vacation mode.  I find it usually takes a week or so to slide back into routines.

VIP is on hold until the 29th while Constable MacKinnon is away at police training.  However, this is another reminder, on his behalf, of the volunteer hours needed for the Fun Day in the spring, and to be eligible for Cop Camp.  With more snow in the forecast, shoveling walkways or driveways (voluntarily) is a good way to pick up a few hours.

In the event you missed it, the January Newsletter was posted on Monday.  Have a look to see what lies ahead.  There is a short note about report cards that’s worth peeking at.

Speaking of report cards, next Friday is a PA Day for students while we teachers hammer away at assessment and evaluation.  I read an article written by a private school teacher in the UK and it focused on the pressure placed on children to get A grades.  It’s more of a rant than a professional piece but the last paragraph offers some good advice.  You can connect to the article here, just be forewarned of the lax British vernacular in some parts.  (That said, I can appreciate the honesty in this teacher’s message despite colourful word choice.)  Personally, I’d like to do away with grades altogether.  Nevertheless, to cite my favourite quote of all time, “The race isn’t always to the swift, but to those who keep on running.”  Success isn’t always determined by the highest mark, or by coming in first place.  We can acknowledge the success of those who reach the pinnacle, but we should also be happy with our own accomplishments, regardless of where they fall.   Ok, enough philosophical talk for one Friday!

Happy weekend!

Weekly Digest

Dear Parents/Guardians,

We closed the books on the school side of 2017 today with a lot of fun and laughter.  Students enjoyed the Secret Santa gift exchange and were pleased to pick out a new book and a sweet treat courtesy of me.  To parents, thank you for the kind gifts, cards and messages.  Your generosity, though not necessary, is very much appreciated.

We also spent part of our day cleaning desks and lockers, and getting papers organized.  I’ve asked students to take home a number of materials from the last four months; what they do with them is their choice.  I would, however, like Reminder Binders cleaned out except for the agenda and dividers; all other materials can be freed.  Consider inspecting your child’s binder too, a few have taken a beating and may need to be replaced.

A reminder that VIP volunteer hours are still ongoing until the spring.  Students have their tracking sheets, which I recommended they put in the sleeve of their agenda.  The holidays might be a good time to log some of those hours, whether it be shoveling snow, helping out at a community outreach centre, assisting the elderly, or giving back in some way.

There is no homework for the holidays.  We capped a number of units so we could start fresh in January.  I hope everyone will enjoy the time off and recharge over the break; I certainly plan to…though I have a pile of my own homework (assessment) to tackle!  Wishing you all a safe, happy and restful holiday break.