Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The return of Leonard LeBlanc

Today was a very "outside the box" sort of day. We spent the majority of our time on Math (Chapter Finished!), English Language Arts (Reaction to a novel we have been reading together) and our Drama in Education project.

Indeed, Captain Leonard LeBlanc returned with his most recent task; to determine the best route for travelling to Newfoundland. This, with a short interlude for Buddy Reading, took up the afternoon and provided lots of opportunities for students to show what they had learned in Math, Science, Social Studies and French in particular. My class of brave explorers were pretty convinced that following the route of the Vikings was best, until one of them pointed out that the villages on most of these islands were uninhabited and we would be better to go in a straight line. Captain LeBlanc will return tomorrow with his decision based on the arguments he heard, and will assign another task for the weekend.

This time of year is very heavy on evaluation, so I wanted to address a few things that have been brought to my attention. In terms of the weekly spelling words, students are being evaluated on their ability to spell and use the words. This is not happening in the form of a dictée, but in process and demand writing we are doing in class. If you are ever wondering how your child is doing on these pieces, please let me know. They will all be available for your (and your child's) perusal at Report Card time as well.

The math worksheets have been going well it seems, and providing me some good key points to focus on during our review sessions. These should be finished up by Monday the 8th, so we can review them before our practice quiz. The "real" test is on Tuesday.

Reading Journals should be completed each night, but I understand this is not always feasible. I hope that all students are encouraged to at least read at home, and that discussion takes place about what, how and when they like to read. I would suggest that you review the verb Etre with your child over the next couple of days, since some are still having trouble with it. The sheet I sent home last Friday in their Blue DuoTang should help review, or you can quiz them orally. This is a verb that the students use all the time, so it is certainly worth getting it right.
The Book Report presentations were quite well done, and I will send home a copy of the mark and completed evaluation rubric for each student by Monday. I spoke with each student individually about how they had done and what mark they received, so there shouldn't be any surprises. I evaluated the written components separately, since many had multiple drafts.

After all this heaviness, I have a few lighter thoughts and ideas! I have asked the students to create a self-portrait tonight, and bring it in to school tomorrow. I was intentionally vague with this instruction, and would encourage students to do whatever they would like with this. It does not need to take too much time, but they can use whatever media they would like, be it paint, drawing, collage or any other thing they would like to try.

Also on a lighter note, I recently found out that Heart is coming to Newfoundland this winter. I have a definite (usually secret) soft spot for Ann and Nancy Wilson, not to mention acoustic guitar solos in general. I managed to restrain myself from subjecting a mystified group of 9-year-olds to that much polyester during class time, but can't resist embedding one of my favorite videos here. Beware of guitar solos! There, you have been warned.

While I'm at it, here is an amazing video from a series of similar pieces produced by a teacher in New York. He does some incredible work with disadvantaged youth, exposing them to a great variety of music and helping them win places on numerous TV shows, in competitions and in schools they would otherwise have never been able to access. Enjoy, and go check out some of the others (search PS22 Chorus on Youtube). Talk about emotion!

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