daw.com – June 8

I cannot begin to say how proud I am of all the students in my class.  They year is coming to an end and I am truly thankful to have had all 21 students.  They are a great community of learners and this has pushed us down paths both expected and unexpected.  When I think back to all the fantastic events of this past year, I feel tears of sadness that I am losing them to grade 6 next year.  It has been an honor and pleasure to have taught your students.

Some last notes about next week.  Monday and Tuesday will see grade 5 eat in the MS cafeteria.  Wednesday will be the grade 5 BBQ.  If there are special dietary requirements for this, then it might be a good idea for students to bring some supplementary foods.  The menu is fairly regular with burgers, fries, veggies, fruit and juice.

Thursday morning will be the leavers assembly and grade 5 will be some of the honored guests since they are all leaving the Elementary School.  It is quite a sight to see with the entire school waving to them as they leave the assembly.  I do ask that all the students wear their grade 5 shirt on this day.

On Tuesday students will need their PE kit/uniform as it is Dry and Dodgy day.  Our time is in the afternoon.  After a winner is declared, then the final game is the winning team against the teachers.  This is always a crowd pleaser.

We will spend Monday and Tuesday involved in debates culminating with a final debate on the issue of Globalization: Positive or Negative.

I want to take the time to thank two moms for taking control of the Class Parent position.  Chase’s mom did it until they left in December and Matthew’s mom did it for the rest of the year.  Both should be commended for their great work.

The school has asked that all students leave at 11:30 on Thursday so please make all arrangements if you student is picked up by a driver or parents.  Thank-you in advance for this.  It helps the school prepare for the contractors who will begin to arrive in the afternoon for the summer works.

Where ever your summer travels take you, please stay safe and have a wonderful break.  Everyone has earned it.  For the two students leaving us we wish you all the best in your new adventure and hope that you stay in contact.

Signing off for the 2017-18 school year.

daw.com – June 4

There were two important items I left off of Friday’s blog post and I want to make sure everyone gets the information.

First off is things coming home.  Starting today, there will be items from this year that are coming home.  Today the student portfolio goes home.  These were the ones you saw at the Student Led Conferences.  While I have added in a few more things, they are only the items that were hanging on the bulletin boards both inside and outside the room.

Secondly is lunch starting this Thursday.  At this juncture we give students the experience of eating in the Middle School cafeteria.  This means a few things change – but only for school purchased lunches.  Because there is a much greater choice for lunch in the MSCAFE students want much more or see it a new opportunity.  The problem with this is that now each food item; drink, meal & dessert are each individually priced.  It is quite easy for a student to overdo their expenditures at lunch.  Please sit with your student and discuss their budget for lunch.  Secondly is the money.  In the MSCAFE if the lunch card does not have enough money, then no food is served.  It is therefore very important that lunch cards be topped up.  I will be taking the students on a tour of the MSCAFE so they learn where everything is and also how to add money to their lunch cards.

I also want to remind all parents to please keep me informed if you are planning on leaving early.  With yearbooks and other grade specific gifts, I want to make sure everything is looked after for any student who is leaving early.

Have a great week.

daw.com – June 1

What a busy and fantastic week.  We finished our Genius Hour projects to wild acclaim, watched the ES Play “Wizard of Oz”, and started our path to prepare for the MS library just to mention a few.

There were a total of 10 Genius Hour projects undertaken by the students this year.  They involved science, foods, fabrics, 3D printing and  digital science.  It was quite an array of ideas and the students pulled them off very well.  Our audience this year was mostly grade 3 & 4 with one group of students from grade 6.  The talk was exciting and really in depth as was the questions and involvement of the audiences.  After it was all over, the reflections were positive from both the students and the classes that were involved.  I was very proud of the class for pulling this off.  It is a testament to what can really be done when a student has an interest that is not within the scope of the grade 5 program.

Students finished their swimming classes this week with a fun time on the “Giant Floaty”.  I went and watched the class for one day and it was quite amazing how they handled such a huge obstacle course floating on the water.  Everyone really looked like they were have fun.

On Thursday we sat in the theatre and watched the ES Play The Wizard of Oz.  Students in grade 3-5 had worked for three months in preparing this and it was a sight to behold.  It was funny, witty and really entertaining.  I hope some of you are able to come this afternoon for the final performance which starts at 4:00 in the main theatre.  It is about 1:15 hours in length.

Next week is really a week to finish up things.  Students are well along with their first draft of their persuasive essay and I am hoping to have the final draft done by next Friday.  It has been interesting to watch this unfold as students try and determine if the resource they have is really genuine  or more of a personal opinion.  This is something that is not easy to do yet really important in a piece of writing like this.  The topics are student chosen and the research they have done is quite extensive.  I am looking forward to reading the final drafts.

We will also complete our final math unit for the year – problems in the coordinate plane.  This unit is a fun unit yet it is also extremely important since it sets the path for graphing and algebra in math for the future.  Students have done well with this and really enjoyed some of the neat problems that can be generated and solved with the coordinate plane.  We should have the final assessment on Thursday of next week.  After this we will complete the year with a look a problem solving across the grade 5 curriculum.

One thing I always ask when a holiday approaches is if you are planning on leaving early to please let me know.  There are a lot of final end of the year things to be accomplished and I would hate for anyone to miss out on getting their gifts and yearbooks.  Just send me a quick email.

MAP test results will be emailed to you on June 6th.  I have already looked them over and for the most part was very satisfied.  Of the almost 60 tests taken, only about 5 results showed a decline.  None of these were anywhere close to a need for intervention (usually less than 1 derivation).  If you want to discuss these results when you get them, or anything else as we end the year, please let me know and I will gladly set up a time.

Have a great weekend.

daw.com – May 16, 2018

This week saw the completion of several items for the year.  The last two literary essays are now done and I will get to assessing them this week.  For the most part they were well done.  I was impressed that the one assigned as homework was on time and complete – by everyone in the class.  A job well done.  We also completed our last two parts to the Transformations Unit and they are all in our Inquiry book as well.

The next pieces of writing follow on the heels of the essay unit but this time it us persuasive essays.  We will start off with one on Chocolate Milk served at lunch in school cafeterias.  There is plenty of opinions and research on this for students to really develop a great argument.  We will stick with the 5 paragraph structure for the time being as they are familiar with it so that will need only review rather than teaching.  I can then focus on gathering evidence and making an argument.  Eventually this will lead to a final debate in the class.  Please note that I use the word debate very cautiously as it will be a very structured semi-debate.

Our unit on economics started to look at the globalization of economics.  We took a look at 12 infographics that got the students really thinking about what it means to be a part of a global economy.  Next week they will develop a presentation based on fact sheets specific to categories associated with the globalization of economics.

Out math until changed pace this week to the development of rules.  These rules are based on straight lines and look at the relationship of the x-coordinate to the y-coordinate.  This is the first time we have used an algebraic expression to graph a line.  For the time being we will be sticking with straight lines. Although I am not surprised, there is some vocabulary in this unit that is giving some students difficulty.  I will continue to review this with the class in our daily lessons.

As we head to the final weeks of the year there are some things that are now set in stone.  On June 7,8,11 and 12 grade 5 students will be eating lunch in the MS/HS cafeteria.  This means a lot more freedom in choice for meals.  It also means you might need to talk to your student about limits in spending as it is no longer a set meal price but rather a price for each part (main dish, drink and dessert).   Of course, if students are still bring a lunch from home, this is not a problem.  Microwaves and hot water are available for students.

On June 13th, the grade 5 team will have their annual barbecue so students will not need a lunch.  There will be burgers, fries, veggies, fruits and a drink for all the grade 5 students.  Any student not wishing to participate is invited to bring a lunch from home.  Eating in the cafeteria is not an option as there are supervision issues with this.  This is a student only event.

On June 14th, there will be a whole school assembly first thing in the morning to say goodbye to those students leaving and also to all the grade 5’s as they move on to middle school.  It is usually quite a nice event.  This day is a half day and students are dismissed for summer break at 11:30 am.

If there is anything you need to talk to me about, please let me know and I will gladly set up a time we can meet.

daw.com May 14th

I am pleased with what I saw as students took the MAP test this week.  A quick examination of the teacher results does not show anything I do not already know and for the most part shows positive growth.  Remember that the test is taken toward the end of the year so the evaluative specs of it are higher than they were in the fall so all growth is a good thing.  I think that results should be out to parents later this month.

One thing I did notice and also talked with the class about is stamina.  At this age and time of the year I would expect students to be able to be stay on talk, including the map test, for at least 25 minutes.  This was not the case for the majority of the class.  A lot of my students found things to distract them both external (water bottles, pencils erasers etc) but also electronic (swishing the mouse pointer, rapidly moving the selection box over and over).  We talked as a class about this and agreed that it is something to continue to work on.

Our second and third essay’s are quickly becoming a reality.  One is a homework assignment the final drafts will be due in next Thursday morning.  Everyone handed in a first draft today and I will read these over the weekend and comment on their work to help make it better and also to assist with the revision process.  The classroom essay is moving along quickly and I expect it to be published by next Friday.

Our math unit has looked at parallel and perpendicular lines to the x-axis and y-axis of the coordinate plane.  This will now move to the development of equations that represent what we have on the plane.

As we head to the end of the year, let me know if you would like a final teacher conference.  I would also like to be informed if you plan on leaving early so I can make the necessary plans to complete the year for all my students.  In the mean time, have a great weekend.

daw.com – May 4

May the fourth be with you……..A short week but plenty of learning happening in all sorts of areas.

We started to learn about trading and value of goods this week as we played a game called Settlers of Catan.  IN this game the students need to build roads to build houses and to build cities.  To do this they need to collect resources – sheep, wood, bricks, wheat and steel.  Since no two games are the same they are finding that scarcity of resources happens more often than they thought and this changes the value of items.  We will look at this further as we continue in the unit next week.

Our writing has been two fold but both are literary essays.  Students are finishing off the second of their assigned literary essays and starting, as their first homework project, the essay from IN the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson that they have just finished reading.  They have until Tuesday morning to complete their planning sheet and on Friday of next week they need to hand in their first draft.  The following week they will complete their final draft either on a word processor, hand written or on their blog.  All of this is a homework assignment.

We have also started to look at persuasive essays by looking at what an argument is and what kind of details you need for one.  This is the final assessment for this unit and it will be in the form of a debate.  Not an easy thing to do, but lots of fun.

Put last math unit for the year is the coordinate plane.  This week included a look at designs that can be made from points on a plan, the definition of the x-axis and y-axis and also a look at reading coordinate pairs.  Not too much time on it this week but it will pick up next week.

MAP tests are next week on Tuesday (reading), Wednesday (Language) and Thursday (Math).  As most of the students in my room have done these before, I am expecting an ease of the testing time.  Results should be out prior to the end of the year.  For me the results are not too critical since they represent a single snapshot.  Hopefully, they should show growth from the start of the year.  Students should get lots of sleep and have a good breakfast prior to coming to school to do the MAP tests.

As we approach the end of the year there are two things I want to remind you of.  If you are planning on leaving early, please let me know.  This is very important for grade 5 as I want them to get their T-Shirt, Yearbook and all their materials safely home.  The other thing is a request for a final conference.  If you feel you need one please let me know and I will schedule in for the last two weeks of the school year (June 4-13).

Have a great weekend and enjoy what looks to be good weather.


daw.com – April 27, 2018

Another great weak of learning and celebrating.  First off is the class presentation for CASTA this year.  Here is the video;

We had a great weak of a lot of things happening and now it is time for a bit of a break.  Remember there is no school on Monday or Tuesday as we celebrate May Day or Labor Day here in China.  We resume everything on Wednesday.

We have mostly completed our transformations unit with only the final assessment left and that is a performance assessment in the Science Lab.  It will be later in May.  It has been a great science unit and one that I am sure will start students on a life-long learning of Chemistry.

We also finished our current math unit and now we move on to the Coordinate Plane.  This is very important as it leads to all sorts of geometric learning later in Middle and High school.  It is not just plotting but also looking at the movement of shapes and lines with basic formulas.  There are also a lot of neat problems associated with this unit we will do in class.

Our last inquiry unit of the year is Trace and Commerce.  We will start with a game simulation of trading.  The game, called Settlers of Catan, is a great way for students to begin to see that our entire way of life us based on a trade economy.  I am sure you are going to hear about this around the dinner table once we get going.  There is also a reflection to do both halfway and at the end of the unit.

With such a short week, there is not much extra happening next week.  We have moved around several of our lessons to accomodate the short week but over all, we move on from where we left off.

Have a great weekend and enjoy the 4 day break.

daw.com – April 20

It has been quite a roller coaster week.  Not sure if sports was a go or not, find out that on both days it could not go, having a swim time for the team on Thursday, making Ice Cream and Butter and starting with eggs in vinegar, writing our first Literary Essay, finding area when one or more sides has a fractional piece to it, and a myriad of other things has made this week fly by.  We even had our first visits to the middle school in preparation for next year.

Next week sees us completing the current math unit on volume and area.  We have been working a lot recently on word problems and problems that require more than one step to solve them.  An example was a wall to be painted that has two windows.  What is the area to be painted?  We also revisited the area model to look at ways of proving our calculations are correct.  Quite enlightening for some of the students.

Our science unit on Transformations is also coming to a close with a look at chemical and physical changes.  Several experiments, some of the ‘yummy’ type have been done and we are writing them up with a modified version of a lab report.  Again, this will help students as they move forward in their science learning.  I am pleased to see some fantastic questions coming out of our explorations of matter and change.

Writing a literary essay is no easy feat.  It takes a lot of reading, note taking and then showing supporting evidence for a thesis statement.  So far students are on track with this but I do not expect that it will take hold the first time.  There are further opportunities until the end of the year to continue writing literary essays based on the books they are reading.  This will replace our reading blogs for the remainder of the year.

Of high importance is CASTA (Celebrate And Share The Arts) starting next Thursday.  As I write this I do not know when 5HD’s performance time is, but as soon as I do, I will make sure that it is taken home in the daily planners.  Students have also made a CASTA shirt and need to wear it on Thursday as part of the celebration.  We will take in several of the performances for the day and also look at the other work around the school with a critical, but positive, eye.

I will be at the final MSIS (Math Studies in International Schools) course on Wed night, Thursday afternoon and all day Friday.  The sub will have plans to keep the learning alive and moving forward.  I am in the school for this course, just not in my class on Friday.

Next week is also Earth Week and the events are Beefless Monday, Trashless Tuesday, Water Bottle Wednesday, Save Paper Thursday and Lights off Friday.  Some of these are sure to bless your dinner table as we talk about them throughout the week.  I have indicated to students that everyone must be involved if we ever expect a significant change to happen to our planet.

I think this missive has gone on long enough.  Have a great weekend and I am already looking forward to seeing everyone again next week.

daw.com – April 13

Friday the thirteenth – black Friday.  Raining outside and flowers on all the trees.  Summer is just around the corner.  The class reminded me that it is about two months or one fifth of the school year left.

Next week are several events.  The first is sports day.  It will be on Tuesday unless the AQI is high and then it will be on Thursday.  Students need to remember to bring with them clothing and items for swimming, running and being outdoors. Hats, glasses, sunscreen, water bottles, swim togs and sneakers are the order of the day.

Next week we also begin our middle school transition time.  Students get an intro from the MS administration on Thursday, have a visit to a grade 6 class on Friday and get a look at the choices for music classes in MS also on Friday.  Should be a great start to transitioning the class to the middle school.  I will keep you informed of due dates for forms.

We have been quite busy reading about and learning about Literary Essays.  Next week we will start the first draft of our newest learning.  The introduction has the thesis statement, then there is the support of the thesis and finally a conclusion.  I expect to complete this prior to the May long weekend.  We will be publishing literary essays on our reading blogs for the rest of the year.

Our math has taken us on a pathway of three-dimension objects and their volume.  Now it is time to integrate fractions into this.  It can be challenging to figure this out but once again it is an example of why multiplication abilities are so important.  Base TIMES height or length TIMES width TIMES height are the two formulas we look at for volume.  Once again there is a lot of multiplication.

In science this week we looked at physical and chemical changes, displacement to measure volume, movement of molecules at different temperatures and finally how to model science experiments.  Next week we begin to look at how to write up a science experiment with a lab report.  While this is only basic, it is a good intro for students since they will be writing science lab reports for many years to come.

I want to thank all of you for your time and effort during student-led conferences.  I really feel strongly about these and the importance they hold in reflecting on our our year in grade 5.  I hope you gained a further insight into your students learning and also into the fabulous growth I have seen this year.  I cannot be more proud of the students for the work they have done this year.

If there are any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me and I will set up a time for us to meet.

daw.com – March 23

We are ready for Student Led conferences.  This week we finalized all the parts so that students will now be able to show you their learning this year.  Here is what you will see.  Each students has 5 placemats (Reading, Writing, Math, Inquiry & L21)  with most of these there are artifacts that show the learning that happened.  They will discuss these with you and show you their work throughout the year.  At any time, you can stop them and ask them questions.  This should take the allotted 40 mins and I think you will find that time flies by.  Towards the end of each conference, I will join in for about 5 minutes to support and answer questions you might have.

I have to admit that I love this time with parents and students.  Personally I think it should happen on a much more frequent basis since there is so much to gain from them.  It is true that the students will be very anxious over these.  I find that many of my students do not take the time throughout the year to talk with their parents and now when faced with it in school, they can be very scared and anxious.  Please take the time to put them at ease and make them feel comfortable.  It is a time of celebration and goal setting for the last quarter of grade 5 and as they prepare to move on to middle school.

Next week is a very short week.  Homework next week will be to complete the final draft of their Fantasy story.  It will be due in to me on Friday.  Most students are well along with this and just need some time to complete it.  They will take home with them a first draft, the part of the final draft they have completed and some blank paper.  The will need some scissors, glue and pencils to complete this project.  We are writing it as a book draft so there are sketches to accompany the writing in preparation for where pictures would be used.

Math is moving very fast.  Students do not find the learning in this unit difficult and there is a lot of hands on building and constructing of prisms before calculating the volume.  Today we looked at the calculations needed to get from area to volume and this went over really well.  In order to make the as real as possible, I use actual prisms I have collected as well as specific math related ones.

Next week is spirit week with Wednesday being Neon dress day, Wednesday being theme day (we will determine this as a class) and Friday being house color day.  I find these are great ways to bring the school together as a community and also let the students have some fun.  I am looking forward to seeing what they do for these days.  I will join them to the best of my ability – yipeeeeee!

Next week we say goodbye to a Masa and welcome Linda.  We will all miss Masa and hope that he stays in touch with us when he is settled back in his home.  At the same time we welcome Linda to the class and I know everyone will help her feel welcome and make her a part of this wonderful community of learners.

After this is a much deserved break and, where ever your holiday takes you, I hope you have a relaxing and fun time.  I look forward to seeing my class back, all refreshed, after the break.