Saturday, November 23, 2013

Reading Fluency Practice

Since the beginning of the term we have been very involved reading our History Alive textbooks. We read the text aloud and then discuss it. Over the years I have found that this is the best way for students to understand the information. I can assess how much students comprehend and add any important details to help them in their understanding. By hearing them read aloud I can also determine their reading skills. One way to help students improve in their reading comprehension is to help them in their reading fluency. So this week I introduced students to a method of reading fluency practice. I have students record themselves, reading aloud for a minute from a short text. Then they play back the recording and listen to themselves. They count any mistakes they made, and then we do the exercise all over again. The second time is hopefully better than the first. The students finish reading the article, and then go online to answer questions about the text. In this way they also practice their reading comprehension skills.
Below are pictures of students practicing reading fluency.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Beginning of the Second Term

We had a successful and busy beginning of the second term for the school year. First, we identified important features and cities of the geography of Mesopotamia. Ancient Mesopotamia is basically where Iraq is today, and is called the “cradle of civilization.” Essentially this is where many believe western civilization began. The Mesopotamians gave us such inventions as the wheel, the plow, and even the 60-second minute. After looking at the geography of this area we started discussing how early settlements began. We will continue this discussion next week, and will then consider the rise of Sumerian city-states.
This is all new to sixth graders. Most of them have never thought about the development of civilizations. Our study of Mesopotamia helps us define the important characteristics that make up a civilization. These are characteristics we will use all year as we look at other cultures in Asia and the Americas.

**On another note, this week students will have a short turn around time for doing their homework. Thursday we will read together in class an article about the laws of the Babylonian king Hammurabi. Students will need to answer questions about the reading that night and return with it the next day for the assignment to be graded. This is a challenging assignment for many students, so I decided this year we will read and discuss the article together to help your student to successfully complete the questions about the reading.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Celebrating the End of Term with a Field Trip

We were able to take a field trip to the Durham Water Treatment Facility last Wednesday, the final day of the first term. Although it rained all the time we were outside, the students seemed to enjoy learning how water is cleaned at the facility. One of the things we were told is that 5 million gallons of water go through the facility every day.
We saw where the raw sewage came in, and then the different stages of purification. It was amazing to see how the water is cleaned and prepared so that it can then be put into the Tualatin River.
On another note, grades have been prepared and should be mailed out by the end of next week. With our geography unit over we will now be studying about Mesopotamia, the “cradle of civilization.”  This will be completely new for students, but it is important for their understanding of how civilizations begin and flourish.
Below are pictures of students at the Durham Water Treatment Facility

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Halloween Costumes and End of Term Geography Test

It is always fun to see students on Halloween. They come in imaginative costumes which show their creativity, and I enjoy taking their pictures so I can post them on the blog. Halloween can be a difficult day because the children lose focus, but I was proud of students this year as they worked hard to keep up with their work.
Besides being a busy holiday time of year, we are also busy at school since Wednesday will be the last day of the first term. That means we will have a geography unit test on Tuesday, and we will finish the term with our Durham Water Treatment field trip on Wednesday. Last week I went over a study guide with students to help them know what to study to be successful for the unit test.
This next week will be a short one at school for students because Thursday is an in-service day for teachers, and Friday is a work day for grades to be inputted. That means there will be no school on Thursday or Friday, and then Monday, Nov. 11th, there will be no school because it is Veterans Day.
Below are pictures of students in their Halloween costumes at school.