Sunday, September 26, 2010

Practicing Keyboarding Skills and Learning Latitude/Longitude

Using our access to the computer lab this week, we began practicing our keyboarding skills. I am proud of the way students complied. Keyboarding is not the most interesting topic, but it is so valuable. Your children have been great troupers and have uncomplainingly participated. We have access to the lab next week and so will continue our practice. However, we will spend half of the time exploring Google Earth. This is the only lab in Hazelbrook where Google Earth works, so we will use it next week to visit places we'll be studying during the school year.
I have been posting grades to eSIS. Make sure you are checking your students’ grades. If you still have not gotten you username and password, then check with your child. They can login using their username/password. Their username is the number 17 followed by their first initial and last name. Their password is their student id number. Also, make sure you allow “pop-ups” in your browser window because grades show up in eSIS as a pop-up.
Finally, I will send off the first book order tomorrow. I intended to send it off this weekend, but found I need to confer with one student about his order before this order is sent. It takes about two weeks to come in. I really think Scholastic gives great deals on books. If you can, take advantage of ordering sometime this year.  The holiday is a great way to show how important reading is to you and your child.
Meanwhile, if you can, practice a few basic latitude/longitude concepts with your student. They really do have a good grasp of the use of these universal imaginary lines!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

The First Week is a Success!

This week we have been busy reviewing basic geography skills such as cardinal and intermediate directions, continents, hemispheres, and map legends. The picture above shows an activity we did called “Continent Rip.” Students in groups were assigned a continent and told to rip its shape and write five facts about it on their ripped continent. Their group then placed the continent on the board and presented their facts. Some found this very challenging, but it is a great way to get students to examine and review continents.
This next week we will be discuss the five themes of geography, and practice latitude and longitude. This can be a challenge for some children who are still concrete thinkers. After all latitude and longitude lines are imaginary lines that require abstract thinking. Don’t worry too much if your child struggles with this. Perhaps they are developmentally still concrete thinkers. We will work on it all year.
Finally, students completed their first homework assignment that reviewed hemispheres and they did very well. Their grades have already been posted.
Our first Scholastic book order of the week is due this week on Friday, Sept. 24th. As well, students will have latitude and longitude homework that is due Thursday. I am posting the link that opens the file explaining how to order online if you desire. 
I think we are off to a great start with a routine that is becoming comfortable for the children.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Overwhelmed? This might help.

Although the start of a new school year can be exciting: new friends, new clothes, new supplies, and new curriculum, it can also be overwhelming. This might particularly be the case when students transition from elementary to middle school. Students now, instead of having one teacher have multiple teachers, and instead of having their own desk now have a locker. (By the way we have been practicing opening lockers.)
I asked my 8th grade student aide on Friday, if she felt overwhelmed. She replied quickly and emphatically, “Yes!”  I too feel overwhelmed. As 6th grade teachers we have almost a hundred children whose faces are new, whose names are new and who often have new situations for which we must adapt. 
I do want to reassure everyone though “this too will pass”. Soon we will all be settling into a routine. I am a firm believer in routine and those feelings of being overwhelmed will dissipate. So to perhaps ease some of the paperwork overload you are experiencing I will be posting online some of the pages you had to sign, turn in, quickly look at, and have possibly already lost or misplaced.
By clicking below you should be able to find the following:

Please let me know if the links don't work. I really want to make communication easier for parents.