Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Classroom Notes

Greetings!

It was great to see all of you at Parent-Teacher conferences this week.  The kids of Team 20 have worked very hard.  It was good to share their stories and their successes.  I learned a lot.  I feel I know you and your child much better than I did at the start of the week.  Thank you!  

Kids did a fantastic job sharing about their states during round table presentations for our Road Trip USA Project last Tuesday.  This project was organized around a simple inquiry framework: ask a question, collect data, analyze data, and share your findings with others.  Our first step was to work as a team to come up with a fair system for deciding who got what state.  Then kids collected data using credible sources, both from books and the Web.  We talked about note taking, including how to paraphrase and the perils of plagiarism.  After I conferenced with kids about their notes, they analyzed their notes to make choices about what got included in their Google Slides presentation.  Next, kids conferenced with each other to reflect on the quality of their work.  To guide the dialog during these conferences, standards were defined about important design elements and content.  After conferencing with me, kids revised and edited their work further.  On the day of the presentations, we talked as a team about quality standards for presenting.  Kids listed things like giving eye contact and talking aloud with inflection, at a good pace and good volume.  After practicing with two partners, they shared about their states during round table presentations, photos of which can be found here: http://goo.gl/3cFFA1

One of our first assignments of the school year focused on decorating our classroom.  Our Alphabet Project was a vehicle for teaching the same process that kids use for their writing...that writing goes from "private" to "public." Private work is for the self and includes creating a plan, conferencing on that plan, then creating a rough draft, conferencing on that rough draft, and making some revisions/edits.  We say that public is for others and that audience helps to determine the standards of quality and acceptance.  The kids’ work looks good.  Without a doubt, we are the only classroom in the nation with an alphabet above the chalkboard that includes a drongo, a jerboa, a kiwi eating a kiwi, a microwave oven, a xebec, and a zither!  Here are photos of our Alphabet Project: http://goo.gl/xUJJZ4

After the Government Shutdown last spring, kids finally made it to Bonneville Dam and Fish Hatchery last Monday.  We had a ranger led tour, learned about hydroelectricity and the salmon cycle, and even saw Herman the Sturgeon.  Here are photos from our trip on a beautiful fall day: http://goo.gl/GLD0hI

In other news, we could use a couple more boxes of regular Band-aids and one roll of clear mailing tape!

Thanks,
Mark

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