Sunday, August 28, 2016

Homework

On Monday, August 29,  I will be sending out homework. Since this is the first homework, let me spend a minute explaining how homework works in my classroom.

  1. At the beginning of the week, most likely Monday, I will send home a clear, plastic folder with your child's name on it. In that folder contains a packet of homework.
  2. The first page of the homework is like a calendar and says which homework to do on a particular day. 
  3. Homework packets are not due to me until Friday. Homework packets should be turned into me with the plastic folder. Really . . . I don't want to see the homework until that day! On Friday, we will go through the homework so that I can provide feedback to your child.
  4. Once your child has completed their homework, please sign your name at the bottom of the homework packet, letting me know you have made sure your child completed their work before turning it in. I don't give much homework, but I have high expectations that what I hand out will be completed and returned.
  5. If your child does not finish a piece of homework one night, they can complete it the next night. For instance, if your child has baseball practice and got home late, they can work on it the next day.
  6. Children should NOT finish their homework early. I do not want your child to finish all their work in one night.
I will share with you my professional view of homework so you have some background concerning my expectations towards homework. First and foremost I believe that I am your child's second teacher. You, as parents, are your child's primary teacher. While I have your child for eight hours a day, and am responsible for helping your child explore the world through math, science, reading, writing, and social studies, you are responsible for your child the other 16 hours. In that time, you teach your child so much. As parents, I think we underestimate how much we teach our children because it doesn't look a certain way. If your child is participating in after school sports, helping you in the kitchen, playing with siblings or friends, making a craft, or watching a relative fix the car, they are learning alongside others and you have created the environment for learning to take place. I don't believe in privileging homework over the teaching you do at home and the precious little time you have with your child during the school year.

The homework I send home is usually a review of work in class so it is something your child should be able to independently complete. Of course you can always support them if they have difficulty. If a piece of homework becomes too stressful, your child can receive homework help the next day during explorations. Send a sticky note, send an email, or have your child let me know they need some extra help.

A Few Notes About This Week . . .

Here a few things about the week . . .

1) I will begin sending homework this week. I will make another blog post with more information on how homework works in my class.

2) I have updated the calendar that can be found on the blog (on the right hand side). You will find dates for our upcoming gathering (Friday, September 16), an overnight trip at EdVenture (September 23-24), and an in-school field trip called CSI: Forensics in the Classroom (which I'll talk more about later).

3) As we head into the final week before Labor Day, we continue to establish classroom routines and procedures. While this has led to moments in which I have had to fuss for chattiness (which is to be expected at this point), I am finding that this group is sweet and caring. They have already taken an interest in many of the "making" items I have to offer during explorations. They have also taken an interest in computer programming through Scratch. I can't wait to show them what they can create, and how Scratch ties in with our robots.

4) This week I continue to get to know your children as readers, writers, mathematicians, etc. I have read with just about every child, noted their knowledge of place value, addition, subtraction, multiplication, and fractions, analyzed some spelling, and will collect a piece of writing to analyze their writing. All this information will provide me a beginning understanding of your child as a learner.

5) We have spent some time looking at the logos businesses use to identify themselves. Students will create their own personal logos, as well as a logo that will symbolize the classroom as a whole. Why look at logos? I find out a lot of information about your child as a person, which helps me meet their needs as learners, creates bonds and builds relationships, and helps the community connect.

During our conversations about logos, students have already identified logos as symbols that carry meaning, and when you observe a particular logo, that logo wants you to think a certain way. For instance, when looking at the FedEx logo, there is a hidden arrow in the white space between the "e" and "x." Students thought this meant that FedEx wants the consumer to know they will get your package to its destination on time, always moving forward, and never backward.

For students to create a personal logos, they will have to reflect on what words describe themselves, and how they identify themselves. As we study more logos, the questions we ask that will help us create these logos will become more refined. I'm hoping to share these logs at our first Friday gathering.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

A Little Information for the Coming Week . . .

As we move into our first full week of school, I wanted to share some of what I will be focusing on during this time. I will spending this week trying to get to know your child as a reader, writer, mathematician, and historian. Understanding your child as a learner will help me map out short-term and long-term goals

In math, students are working on some math sheets in place value, additions, subtraction, multiplication, and fractions. As I observe their work, I am noticing their attitudes, how much they take risks, knowledge of basic facts, etc.

In history, I want to understand your child's historical thinking. Do they enjoy reading non-fiction? Historical fiction? Do they understand the importance of primary documents? Do they understand the importance of multiple sources? Are they skeptical, and question the validity of various sources, or do they simply believe everything that is stated?

In reading, I want to know what kinds of strategies your child uses as they construct meaning of the texts they read. I want to find out what kinds of books they enjoy reading, specific genres they gravitate towards, and their general attitude towards reading. I'm looking for similar things in writing. I want to know the kinds of strategies your child uses when they write. I want to know what kinds of writing they tend to write, and their general attitudes towards writing. I also want to look at their spelling and the kinds of spelling strategies they use.

All of this information will give me a quick glimpse into your child as a learner. This will help me respond to the needs of your children as we inquire into the world around us.

* I also want to let you know your child came home with two packets. One packet is from me (sorry I forgot to send this out on the first day of school) and shares a little about myself. The other packet needs to be filled out and returned to school ASAP. This packet can be turned into Mrs. Debeaugrine or myself.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Welcome Back . . .

Welcome back to another school year! I can't wait to see everyone tomorrow. I have met your child on numerous occasions over the last year - now I just have to put the name to the face.

The process of getting to know each other may be slow, but hopefully I can help bridge that through communication. While I will try to keep in contact concerning your child's academic and social behavior, please contact me at any time.

I wanted to share some important information that I think you will need as we begin the school year.
  • My primary way of communicating is through email (scjohnson@richland2.org). I am pretty good about checking my email throughout the day, though I will probably only respond during my special areas time (10:00 - 10:50) or after school. I will also communicate though this blog (inquiryforlife.blogspot.com). I try to publish on the blog as least once a week. When I do publish, I will send out an email letting you know I have updated the blog. I have links to everything in the signature portion of my email. I also have a class Twitter account (https://twitter.com/CFIJohnson). I use this account to tweet out pictures of projects, especially the "maker" stuff. If you use Twitter, feel free to follow that account. 
  • Snacks - Your child may bring a snack to school, though they definitely don't need to. They will be allowed to eat their snack during our recess break (1:00 - 1:30). As per state and district guidelines, we have to be picky about what kids are allowed to bring for snacks. Please emphasize snacks that are healthy. Birthdays and holidays are no exception. Things like pizza and donuts are no longer allowed. Once again, please be in the mindset of healthy snacks. Before bringing any whole class treat for the class, please contact me. I have to consider allergies and other classroom issues. 
  • Library cards - We will continue visiting the Sandhills branch of the Richland County library until they move. Mrs. Pender has passed library cards on to me. If your child does not have their library card at school, you will want to bring it in the next week or so.
  • I have a little maker space so that kids, during explorations, can build, create, and take apart items in the spirit of inquiry. If at any time you have some of the following items, please feel free to donate them to the classroom: any cardboard (boxes, paper and toilet tubes) and broken, small appliances (to take apart and figure how they work).
I think I might stop there with information before it gets overwhelming. As new information comes to light I will make sure I pass it on to you. And please let me know if you do not receive these emails.