Monday, September 27, 2010

Who's been caffeinating the children?

Having an energetic class is a double-edged sword, as I am finding out more and more each day. Today the students were humming like the air exchange unit at Value Village, which made it necessary to rein them in fairly often. On the flip side, it also meant that we were able to get an awful lot of work done. We had Choir, an optional book exchange, our first look at the new Social Studies text and an extended discussion about the relative merits of newts, not to mention a great deal of actual coursework!

We began touching on verb formation today, specifically the passé composé. This is a form that allows them to describe things they did in the past, and is something we use frequently when recounting stories, writing journal entries and conducting our "Saviez-Vous que..?" exercise. I won't worry too much about rote learning for the time being, but I am starting to correct them more as they go along. I am getting them to write and talk a lot during the day, which is helping me determine their comfort levels so I can move them along at the right speed.

In math we covered numbers up to and including 10,000. The class discussed what exactly 10,000 is, in relation to such variables as population, money and other relatable concepts. We discovered that $10,000 can by a Chevrolet Aveo, 1000 miniature hockey sticks, 20 XBoxes, 2000 blocks of cheese or even 200 LEGO kits if you were so inclined. We have 2 lessons left in this chapter, which will put our first test early next week. Tomorrow I will be assigning a set of review questions to be completed over the next week at your convenience, as well as some optional review questions. As I mentioned at curriculum night, I will also send home a rubric that outlines what students will be expected to know instead of a specific study guide.

The students also participated in an activity that had them brainstorm the elements of a story. They wrote ideas for characters, themes, settings, actions and time periods on slips of paper and picked them randomly to form a framework for a story. This caused some hilarity, and should be a good exercise for the rest of the week. Therefore, if your child comes home today talking about how Bob is visiting Pluto to play his DS in the year 2020 while eating chocolate cake, please do not worry about their sanity.

We discussed class pets again as well today, going into more detail about living requirements, logistics, specific habitat needs and limitations we face. The students were extremely engaged in this discussion, so much that I am altering my plans slightly to center this weeks activities around a research and presentation project. Students will evaluate the suitability of a wide array of animals in groups, then use what they find to help determine which (if any) would be the best fit for our class. Today, the discussion broadened to include stick insects, starfish, newts, plankton and spiders. Never a dull moment.

I have started incorporating technology more into the classroom, specifically giving research tasks and game/activity privileges to those who finish their work quickly. I will expand this in the next few weeks to get them more familiar with useful skills like editing documents and web pages, manipulating audio and video, and searching for/filtering information. Not only is this a major component of their required learning in our new curriculum documents, but it is a great way to engage the class and help them teach each other. This week's "Student of the week" will be using their spare time for the rest of the week to create their own entry for this blog! I hope to make this a recurring, more frequent feature.

A couple of housekeeping notes:
  • Check out the links from Friday and Sunday; you will find a number of resources that may be useful.
  • Vaccination time is coming up soon
  • There will be a permission slip going home in the next couple of days with regards to a field trip next week.
  • When time permits, I am going to write a question in each child's Agenda for them to try to answer. They can write or type the answer if they wish, or just remember it. I am targeting these questions at the individual student's area of interest, and would encourage you to help them out and push them to think about the answers.

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