First of all, I sincerely hope that you and your child are enjoying your 5th grade experience so far this year. I want you to know that I am working hard to make this year a positive one for your child. I know that my methods can be quite different from other teachers and other grade levels, but I assure you that they are based on sound research and philosophy. The main differences might include:
- A focus on skills acquisition before knowledge
- Learning collaboratively more often than independently
- Allowing students to fail or struggle rather than preventing those learning experiences from happening
- Students taking ownership of their learning instead of the teacher or parents owning the learning
- More project-based activities than activities done in isolation
I imagine that many of you who are trusting in the system are seeing your child grow and improve, enjoy learning, and be more independent. If you are not seeing these things, please consider reflecting on the importance of letting your child experience fifth grade with a little less support. In my 15 years of teaching fifth grade, I've found that students are most successful in my class when parents do the following:
- Require their child to set aside 50-60 minutes of time each night to work on school work or personal learning.
- Ask their child about what they did in school today & look at our Daily Photo Journal with them.
- Allow their child the space to get things done on their own. (Every child will miss some assignments, but I will take care of that in school. It's worth it for all involved!)
If you feel that your child needs a little additional support, I suggest you create a checklist for your child that you help them follow for the first couple weeks during homework time, and gradually release the responsibility to them. The checklist should have:
- Do all assignments listed in your Assignment Notebook that are due tomorrow.
- Check the website for any assignments that you missed.
- Study for any upcoming tests or quizzes.
- Work on assignments due after tomorrow.
- Make sure you are caught up on all SpellingCity assignments by checking "My Records" on spelling city.com.
- Make sure you are caught up on all blog assignments by checking Mr. Solarz' ePortfolio.
I recommend that ALL parents do the following about once per month:
- Ask your child to show you their progress in spelling city. Here's how. Your child has also been trained on this.
- Ask your child to show you their blog entries and Mr. Solarz' blog entries. When you compare the two, you will see if your child has them all published and whether or not they are finished according to directions. Feel free to advise them to improve these - I have not mastered a way to get children to revise these yet!
Approximately 5-6 weeks prior to report cards going home, students will receive a Missing Assignment printout. They will have 2 weeks to get all assignments turned in, or the assignments become zeroes and they will still need to be made up. Students will be required to stay in during one Homework Club each day during the second week if they are not caught up by then, but they get to choose if it's morning, lunch recess, or after school when they serve it. This is to prepare them for middle school when they give detentions for missing work.
Due to the nature of how we "grade" in our class, missing assignment lists cannot be generated any earlier than that. I used to send these reports home via email, but I received too many angry emails blaming me for their child's missing work, so that won't happen again! (I believe strongly in the importance of letting children make mistakes and find ways of fixing those mistakes - you can't fix what isn't broke! We have three trimesters to help them learn how to become responsible for their work!) Students are reminded each day during this two week period to use Homework Club as a time to catch up on missing work and get questions answered by me.
Your child will receive their missing assignment printout on 2/7/14. How you choose to handle it from there is your call, but I think if you are doing everything above, you will see that their list will be minimal each trimester!
Because checking in late assignments can be very time-consuming with 27 students, plus math kids, I ask that your child use Homework Club to check in their assignments when they are finished with everything on the printout. I really appreciate your understanding with all of this! I know that we both want what's best for your child - so many parents have told me that this style of learning has made a tremendous impact on their child's progress through middle school! (Here are some statements.) I hope you find the same is true for your child!
Everything on the Tentative Schedule for the Science Fair has been moved back one month. I have recruited 2-3 other classes to participate with us and they need the time to catch up. That gives us more time for the experiment stage. I will be scheduling students for various Homework Clubs to work 1-on-1 with them to complete their experiments. There is a chance that your child will not be schedule for quite a while, please understand that that's ok! We'll get it all done - this is my 8th Science Fair! :)
I hope that clarifies things for you all. I am loving working with your child and it's been an outstanding year so far! I hope you have all been enjoying the extra time with your kid with all these Snow Days we've been having!
- 1/30/14 - Open House
- 2/4/14 - Band Concert
- 2/7/14 - Missing Assignment Reports given to students
- 2/7/14 - Fun Fair
- 2/14/14 - Valentine's Day Party (be aware that food will be served by a parent committee)
- 2/17/14 - No School
- 2/19/14 - Monday Schedule
- 2/20/14 - Common Core Parent Night at Thomas
- 2/21/14 - All missing assignments are due
- 2/25/14-2/28/14 - I'm out at a Conference