Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Something Fishy at Beachy Cove Elementary

Today was a landmark day in many ways; Picture Day, insertion of animals and plants into the students' pop-bottle habitats, paper-free Math class and some fantastic student-teaching to name a few. If I come out of this year with only one lasting image, it will be two of the lads in my class grooming one another like chimpanzees before we went to get our pictures taken. We have a very conscientious class, and one that is more and more confident and willing each day. 

First, students presented their findings from last night's home research. They gave brief lessons on what tools are needed for boat building, navigation techniques, ideal uses for sealskin, weaponry of the late 16 century and many other topics relevant to our Social Studies exploration program. I was happy to see their interest, particularly when it came to the presentations of others. They will receive a letter with further instructions from Leonard LeBlanc tomorrow. In the meantime, here is a link that provides lots of good information about this era for future questions students might bring home.

In math we explored some new addition concepts through student-teaching. They explored the concepts as a group, and shared their ideas on why they would be useful and under what circumstances. I think everyone was pleasantly surprised to see how much they were able to teach one another in a limited time. There will be another new math lesson tomorrow, but it will focus on addition principles that they are already quite familiar with.

Also tomorrow, I will be reviewing students' progress with their book reports and they will have a chance to discuss their ideas in groups. This peer consulting will be new to them in many ways, but just an extension of work we have already been doing together. I mentioned to the class again today that they are always welcome to present unfinished projects to me (or a classmate) so they can refine their ideas and improve the project.

I maintain, with the agreement of the class, that if they ask enough questions and follow the guidelines I give they will be assured of top marks on their projects. The class will also present their stories tomorrow; thanks for the help and encouragement with these at home. Getting the first piece of "Process" writing under their belts is never easy, but it provides a great reference for all of us. Here is a link that gives some good hints on helping your child with future Process Writing projects.

I brought goldfish and a variety of small plant sprouts into class today, and we populated their habitats with a variety of life forms. There was a great discussion of what effect these organisms would have on the habitat, far exceeding what I was expecting or requiring for this point in the unit. Their mastery of the vocabulary requirements are coming along well, so I am not going to send home word lists to study yet. I may send home a project over the weekend that would have them use a variety of words in a paragraph, but I don't think rote learning is necessary right now.

In Health, we have shifted the conversation from personal emotional well-being to getting along in groups. We discussed disagreements today, specifically what makes some more serious than others and different things we may disagree on. I would encourage you to discuss this at home as well, especially in the context of putting things in perspective and understanding what motivates people.

Someone mentioned bullying during our disussion, so I took the opportunity to mention that October 20th is a day that has been designated to show solidarity with young people that have been victims of bullying centred on their lifestyles. This issue has really hit the mainstream lately, on any number of talk shows, internet videos and TV News programs. I didn't belabour the specifics of the point, but they were quick to relate it to the day they wear pink to show their stand against bullying in general. We talked about this in the context of our class, and discussed how we can use these ideas in our family, community, class and friend interactions. Below is a link to the original news story that triggered the "Pink Shirt" movement.

These types of discussions, beyond being interesting to the students and constructive in terms of curriculum goals, provide some of the most concentrated French language-learning opportunities. In general, I have noticed that people become more adventurous with a second language if they are absorbed in the content of a conversation. This is becoming the case more and more in class, which I think bodes well for their language acquisition.

Thanks for the gifts of books from the Book Fair, they will be well-read I'm sure. Also, I will be out of the classroom on Friday but will leave all information with my replacement.

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