Final Digest

Dear Parents/Guardians,

Well here we are, the end of the road…this road, that is.  And what a journey it has been.  I’ll look back on this year with a lot of fond memories:  someone poking fun at my number 8; words like “mango”, “pinch” and “penguin”, and phrases like “That’s not fair!”  I’ll remember unusually loud nutrition and lunch breaks; a record number of field trips (14!); and a plethora of laughs, jokes and, on a couple of occasions, tears.  But what I’ll remember most is the cohesiveness of this group, and the caring, comforting atmosphere that we all created.  There was a genuine vibe in this group that I’ve never seen before and, for me, that’s the most difficult thing to see go.  Alas, as the adage goes, “all good things must come to an end“.   I hope your child will look back on grade six with fond memories and, hopefully, an understanding that he/she became a better learner.  It doesn’t always show on the report card, but true learning doesn’t need a letter grade in the first place.

Speaking of grades, your child will bring home his/her final report card today.  Focus mainly on the first page.  Grades are just that.  Learning skills are the tools we use repeatedly and those, in my opinion, weigh more than any A+ or D-.  You’ll also find your child’s Class Dojo report for the term, which I hope will allow you both to focus on needs heading into next year.

As your look ahead at the summer months, consider looking at some of the deals offered by Attractions Ontario or the  Ontario Fun Pass.  These will give you some discounts on summer attractions throughout the province.  With this being Canada’s 150th birthday, consider soaking up some history too.  Remember, all national parks, including historic sites like Fort Malden, are free.  Whatever your adventure, enjoy it all!

All the best!  Mepham signing off…

Weekly Digest

Dear Parents/Guardians,

Next week promises to be a busy one!  We’ll get started with Monday’s pot luck.  Due to virtually no space in our fridges at school, it would be best if items needing refrigeration or heating be dropped off (any time after 11:45).  Otherwise, consider a cooler or crock pot if sending items in the morning.  Please ensure you label your containers and utensils so they are returned.  Pre-portioning items is requested to save time and the hunt for knives and spatulas.  We have 22 students in the class but don’t feel the need to bring 22 portions; there should be a lot of food and, as I recall, our last pot luck had far too many leftovers.  I’ll send out a reminder message about the pot luck on Sunday.

On Tuesday, we’ll take a walk over to Sadler’s Pond for a picnic lunch and some outdoor fun and games.  The weather looks favourable so far.  On the way back, we’ll pop into Ice Cool Treats for some ice cream before returning to the school to call it a day.

Thursday, the last day of school, is our final assembly of the year.  This tends to be a long one but you’re welcome to join us if you’re free.  It starts at 8:45.  Thursday is also when your child will meet his/her grade seven teacher, and receive the final report card.

Today, I announced Reagan as our final Student of the Month recipient (for perseverance).  Since there’s no forthcoming newsletter it seems best to share that here.  Reagan has consistently been one of those hard workers who plugs away at her own pace.  She rarely shows signs of frustration and challenges herself to work through obstacles.  This was evident as recently as Monday when, during a math activity, she quietly worked her way through the problem, while others became frustrated and begged for hints.  The smile on her face when she finally reached the solution was priceless.  Super job, Reagan!

Stay tuned for one final Weekly Digest next week!


Weekly Digest

Dear Parents/Guardians,

Just shy of two weeks…wow!  Some students have approached me about having a pot luck lunch.  I’m giving you the heads-up now as I imagine the cooking duties will fall upon you.  I haven’t selected a date yet, but I’m eyeballing the end of next week, or possibly the Tuesday of the last week of school.  I’ll relay updates to you via Dojo.  We will also take a stroll over to Sadler’s Pond and grab some ice cream en route, likely the Monday after next.  This was a reward that was earned back in the fall during the read-a-thon, but when cooler weather prevailed, we never got a chance to cash in on it.  I will need at least two chaperones for this walking excursion so please consider joining us.  Keep your eyes open for the permission form with the date and time.  (I need to figure out other events in the school that won’t conflict with the trip first.)

Bit by bit, students will start bringing home materials from school that are no longer needed.  This will alleviate a heavy school bag on the last day of school.  What students do with it at that point is entirely up to them (I just don’t like seeing months of work dropped into the classroom recycle bin.)

Report cards are slowing coming together.  Last week I explained the nature of grades; this week, it’s about how the grades are determined.  Know that the assessment process is multifaceted.  You may only see grades on tests, quizzes and rubrics but things like observation, experiments, anecdotal notes, class presentations, participation/discussion, and group work are all a part of the overall grade; things you don’t see because you’re not in the classroom.  Typically, all the students are ever interested in is the letter grade and whether they went up or down.  This is the wrong way of looking at it.  Sadly, we’re too focused on grades rather than the learning journey it takes to get good ones.  If students make the most of each learning moment, then the grades will come with it.  It’s all about changing one’s mindset.  I hope this is useful in preparing you for the final report card, which will be sent home on the last day of school.

Have a great weekend!

Weekly Digest

Dear Parents/Guardians,

The students get an extra day off but some still have work to do.  I had to front load some word study due to the missed Friday, and a handful have a reading project due on Monday.  A social studies project due date looms next week too, so there are things to keep your child busy, potentially.

While your child is snoozing on Friday morning, I’ll be tapping away at his/her report card.  There is still plenty of assessment to be done; this day allows us to make a dent in the long process that is creating a report card.  One myth I’d like to dispel right away is the up and down of grades.  Keep in mind that this report card represents student performance from February to the present and is based on what we learned in that time.  You can compare your child’s first term grades to the second term but you’re comparing apples to oranges.  If your child’s mark in a particular subject (eg. social studies) or strand (eg. measurement) went up or down, it doesn’t mean he/she is getting better or worse; the mark is based on how the student performed on that content from the curriculum.  A lower reading mark doesn’t mean your child’s reading has worsened; it’s merely a reflection of the work we did in that term.  Likewise, a higher mark in Data Management and Probability might imply that a student fared better with probability in term two, than graphing and data in term one.  It’s not like an assembly line where the process and product is the same.  It’s more like a sports game; some players have stellar nights, but flop the next time out (and vice versa).  Tune in next week when I talk about the assessment process and determining a final grade.

Tuesday’s trip to the airport was very informative.  The hosts commented on how polite the students were, and noted the many questions they had.  Next Friday is our VIP trip to Gesstwood Camp.  This will be different from the camp experience we had back in March.  Students are reminded to bring sun screen, bug repellent, water, and bathing suit/towel (a plastic bag for wet clothing is a good idea too).

Finally, we honoured Alysha as the winner of the bicycle for VIP.  She logged well over 30 volunteer hours in earning the sweet set of wheels (which happened to be decked out with school colours).  Super job, Alysha!

If you’re counting, there are only 14 school days left…

Weekly Digest

Dear Parents/Guardians,

We wrapped up EQAO today and I think it went well; at least, that’s the impression I’m getting from the majority of the students.  Personally, I’m glad it’s over so I can get back to teaching and closing out the year.  We have a bit of work to do in some subject areas before the month ends!

The newsletter has been posted for the final time this year.  If you already read it last night, consider taking a second look as I had to make an addition for our Student of the Month winner.

We had a great day at Point Pelee yesterday, as indicated by the photos posted.  Things were a little rushed but we enjoyed the outdoors and the wonderful weather.  Remember, all national parks are free entry this year; you just need to order your pass online.  Consider taking your child back and getting in touch with nature.  Personally, I’d like to go back and rent a canoe to explore the marsh.  There’s also Fort Malden in Amherstburg, which is worth a look.

As the chain of field trips continues, we’re off to the Windsor Airport on Tuesday afternoon.  This will be a light introduction to flight, our final science unit of the year.  To those parents joining us, I’ll send out confirmation messages later today.

Just four weeks to go…

Weekly Digest

Dear Parents/Guardians,

We’re halfway home for EQAO.  So far, the reception has been positive in terms of level of difficulty.  Our testing days next week are Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday, again during the first two periods of the day.

As I’d mentioned in the May newsletter, we’ll begin our health unit on Monday.  Despite the controversy that surrounded changes to the Health Curriculum last year, the sexual health component is relatively tame in grade six.  The main focus will be on self-concept/identity, stereotypes relating the race, gender, sexual orientation; and building healthy relationships with others (which includes things like dating and romance).  I’ll start the unit reviewing puberty, which would have been the focus of the grade five curriculum.  I’m informing you now so that if it should lead to further discussion at home, you’re prepared for those conversations.

On Thursday, all classes from grades 5-8 will be traveling to Point Pelee for the day.  Remember to send sun screen!  A small lunch, in the form of pizza and water, will be provided.  Students are encouraged to supplement that meal with snacks from home, and additional water would be a good idea.  Portable sports equipment for break time is also welcome (ie. football).  As I’d mentioned last week, tick season is in full swing but the areas we’ll be venturing through will be well-traveled and I don’t foresee any issues.  Preventive measures include long pants and repellent containing DEET.  There is a gift shop on site but I’m not sure if we’ll have access to it due to numbers; students may bring some money in the event they’re able to purchase something.  I’m still in need of at least one more chaperone for this trip.  Please contact me if you’re available to attend.  Thanks.

Enjoy your weekend!

Weekly Digest

Dear Parents/Guardians,

EQAO is set to start next week.  Again, our testing dates are the 24-26, 29-30 and June 2, and will be during the first two periods of each day.  To limit interruptions and avoid playing catch up, please ensure your child is at school ahead of the morning bell.  Thank you.  Yesterday, I distributed a package of review notes that students should remember heading into the testing period (credit to Mrs. Dobson who put it together).  While it’s not homework, students won’t have these references available to them during the test; thus, I’ve encouraged them to review the concepts, even briefly, on a nightly basis to allow it all to sink in.  Some of these concepts date back to the fall and it may be harder to remember those things.  Starting the day right with a nutritious breakfast will help with concentration during the test, and students are welcome to bring a calculator for the math components (though we have plenty in the school).

As I’d indicated via Dojo, a handful of permission forms went home yesterday.  Please keep these together and return them by Friday.  You can check your Dojo message for special instructions regarding payment and chaperones.

Tick season is in full swing, which should be kept in mind for these outdoor trips.  Long sleeves and pants, repellent with deet, and ankle socks are good  measures for prevention.  Avoiding wild, wooded areas is also key.  We will be using high traffic areas at Point Pelee and Gesstwood so I don’t foresee any issues.  Please don’t let ticks be a reason why your child wouldn’t attend.  Again, prevention will ease the mind.  All of these excursions should be wonderful experiences.

Enjoy the long weekend!