This week in math/science, grade 6's analyzed their debits and deposits from the Game of Life. Students used digital spreadsheets to create broken line graphs that presented their finances to the class. Where there was a significant change, students noted it on their graphs and were able to speak to the factors that influenced their finances. A mathematics check-in was written this week to ensure students understood the concepts of place value and decimal addition and subtraction.
In science, students continued to hone their tree identification skills and use of scientific vocabulary. Students noted subtle differences in species and further refined their ability to use their tree identification keys. While identify two species one student commented to his teacher -"they are definitely both poplars .." A great example of understanding how to use a dichotomous key to come to new understandings.
Next week, our Grade 6 classes welcome four the five Ward 11 candidates to our school to discuss the issues that have come to define this year's municipal election. In preparation, students have been working in focus groups to learn about these issues. Here's a video that illustrates the work we are doing;
It was a wonderful day for a run in North Glenmore Park. The Grade 4-6 students showed incredible enthusiasm and participation in our annual Terry Fox Run. Our school dedicated this year's run to our former head caretaker, Felipe Calasin who is battling cancer. Please join us in extending our heartfelt thoughts and support to Felipe and his family.
Connect students had their first dose of the new electives format on Friday. There were a few glitches, but everything was sorted out. Some students have chosen one elective class for the entire afternoon, while others elected to split the afternoon into two different electives classes. In previous years, students had electives three times per year, but we have moved to a two-electives-per-year system. If you have any questions pertaining to electives, please drop us a line.
It is no secret that reading is an essential life and learning skill. Because students will be delving into important municipal issues, they will be exposed to a variety of news articles that can be quite sophisticated. Helping students navigate their way through complex issues takes a bit of extra reading support and guidance. I have designed a few skill development exercises to help them sharpen their comprehension skills. As you will see in the photos below, students combed through an article and highlighted vocabulary and underlined "terms" that were challenging. Together as a class, we discussed various strategies that can be applied when we come up against challenging words or terms.
The top 3 "word attack" strategies we discussed were:
1. Investigating the word for clues as to its meaning
2. Using the context around the word to discern its meaning
3. Covering the word to see what other words would make sense
To figure out what specific terms mean, we actually took a different approach and employed our summarizing skills. If students came upon a name of an expert quoted in the article, we decided that it was best not to expend too much energy trying to figure out every word of their position. So, rather than trying to remember that "Cheryl Herpenger with Calgary Community Standards at the city, discussed the #buttfree campaign on the Homestretch" had some opinions on the issue, we summarized that Cheryl was a person with an expert opinion on the issue. For some of the more simpler terms, it was just a matter of combining the meanings of each word that made up the term.
These are the types of strategies that will be practiced this year. As we conduct research into various topics, it is vital that students are equipped with the reading skills and strategies that allow them to construct deep and accurate meaning.
Here are some photos of today's practice assignment:
Email invitations went out to most 6.1 and 6.2 parents today. Please check your inbox and follow the procedure to gain access to your child's FreshGrade Humanities portfolio. At present, there is no posted items, but that will change as we begin to share various learning artifacts. If you have not received an email invitation, please contact me via email and I will be sure to resend. In most cases, I have used the primary email that was inputted on our "Family Zone" section of the school's website. If you would like additional parents or guardians added to the Humanities FreshGrade portfolio, just let me know. I am new to the FreshGrade platform, but I am excited to find ways to use it help showcase the learning that happens in 6.1 & 6.2 Humanities class.
TERRY FOX RUN
Connect Charter School will be participating in the Terry Fox Run on Friday, September 29th. The run will take place in North Glenmore Park beginning near the Weaselhead Parking Lot (west end) with the turnaround at the Calgary Canoe Club. Grades 4-6 will be running in the morning (departing the school at 9:15am and returning by lunch) and Grades 7-9 in the afternoon (departing the school at 12:45pm and returning by the end of the day).
If you wish to donate to the Terry Fox Foundation, visit this link: http://bit.ly/2xiw9vg. You can search for Connect Charter School and make a donation on behalf of your child. Please feel free to forward the link to friends and family.
ELECTIVES SIGN-UP ON MONDAY
Students were furnished with an information package regarding the Electives choices for the first half of the school year. There have been some changes to our Electives program, so please take some time over the weekend to review the information with your child. During class on Monday, we will have students sign up online. It would be extremely helpful if they were aware of their top choices.
This week in math/science, students applied scientific vocabulary and classification skills to make their own dichotomous keys for identifying tree species. In science, dichotomous keys are powerful tools for identification of plants, insects, mosses, and other natural species. Classifying species based on similarities and differences is an important part of taxonomic work and knowing our world as well explore its biodiversity.
In mathematics, we worked with setting up Khan Academy and refreshing our knowledge around place value and decimal fractions. Practice work has posted on FreshGrade. Students have begun to work on decimal computation using a ledger in the Game of Life. A fun game where students are required to make sure they stay in the black with deposits and withdrawals happening during the game.
Some exciting new projects are being introduced in Humanities this week and next. I have posted a series of blog posts that outline specific details of each project. We are working on vocabulary skills with our "Words Worth Knowing" project, we are investigating municipal issues through the "Connect Engages" project and we are strengthening our reading skills through the "8 Reading Strategies" project. I am excited about all of these projects and I encourage parents to speak with their children about these initiatives. As we delve into the projects, I will be sure to provide regular updates on the progress. We have begun to learn about the fundamental principles of democracy, as well. The photo above illustrates the "Four Pillars" of democracy that constitute a major part of the Grade 6 Social Studies curriculum. It would be helpful if families asked their children to share their knowledge of:
Once students have established a working knowledge of these concepts, we will begin to apply this knowledge by investigating the benefits and challenges they represent in our society. We watched a short, yet informative video that cleverly summarized the concept of democracy. You can view the video here. So, as you can see, lots of excitement and challenge in the days and weeks ahead in Humanities.
Have a nice weekend,
Rick & Dave
The Grade Six Humanities Team (Chris Dittman & I) have created an inquiry project that will thrust students into the role of researchers as they delve deep into the hot topics around this year's municipal election. I have developed a website that elaborates on the various aspects of this project, but "Connect Engages" basically teams students together into expert groups and they learn about issues facing our city. Once they have learned about the issue, they will interact with the various candidates for the Ward 11 council seat. We are planning on having the candidates join our classes at the beginning of October.
Website Link: www.connectengages.weebly.com
Many years ago, in a country far far away (Japan), a colleague of mine by the name of Sandra Forrest introduced the staff to a number of strategies, than when taught to students, helped enhance their reading performance. Since then, I have been a strong believer in helping students unearth the scientific skills that befit a successful reader. Some of the language has been modified, but the strategies that I strongly believe in stem back to the work I did with Sandra at Seisen International School in Tokyo, Japan.
I have developed a website that will serve as a "one stop shop" to house the various practice and assessment challenges I have created to support reading strategies development. As the year progresses, more practice and assessment challenges will appear on the site. At this point, our focus has been on the the strategies themselves. Your child should be able to provide a general explanation for each of the eight strategies that have been introduced. Once students have a strong knowledge of the strategies, the work will begin on applying them. We have already done a bit of work around "connecting", though.
Website Link: www.8readingstrategies.weebly.com
I encourage families to have a look at the site and use the language contained therein when they discuss their child's reading experiences. I have seen substantial success over my career with these strategies.
Vocabulary Strategies in Action
This term, we have begun working on expanding our vocabulary skills. This means our word knowledge, spelling, and word choice skills. Rather than studying a list of randomly chosen words to memorize for a weekly quiz, we have launched an inquiry into what makes some people so knowledgeable about words and able to use and spell them so well. Our investigation has led us to the following conclusions.
Word Wizards know:
In order to get students practicing these skills, I have developed a program I like to call “Words Worth Knowing”. It is based on relevant research and years of helping students develop their own word skills. Students have had great success with the program and your child has recently begun their own inquiry into some challenging vocabulary. Your child is creating a comprehensive collection of Keynote slides that communicate important elements of knowledge around our chosen words. Each slide contains the following elements, and as the year progresses, so too will the required elements for each slide. The words for our list come from the lessons, discussions and activities we enjoy in class.
Each slide needs to communicate the following elements:
At the end of each month, students will participate in a fun and interactive "game" that will test their knowledge of each of the month's WWK's. As the year progresses, students will be asked to completed additional tasks for each of the designated words. I have seen students achieve excellent results in terms of expanding their spoken and written vocabulary through the practice this project provides. Feel free to ask your child to share their WWK Keynote with you and engage them in discussions about the various components of the on-going assignment.