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Sunday, May 21, 2017

The Week Ahead: What Matters?

Teamwork and Respect
After play practice on Friday, I had a serious talk with students about what's required for optimal teamwork. It's clear that for a few, the long play practices are tiring, yet it's important that students have an opportunity to try out this kind of learning and performing. For some, it will be an important step to their participation in countless arts events, and for others, it will offer the recognition that drama may not be their first choice when it comes to extracurricular activities or their future study and/or careers.

The play, in many ways, is also a lesson on teamwork and respect. As students practice they are learning about their role as part of a team, and as part of a team, they are learning to help each other out, encourage one another, and demonstrate respect and care about each others' strengths, interests, and challenges too.

I had to be a bit strong as I spoke to students about this need for teamwork, and I stated that it's not fair for any one person to upset the performance for all students. I enlisted a bit of parent support in this as well. Sometimes teachers and parents have to use strong words and cautionary tales/advice to lead children forward. We know from our own lives, that learning these lessons early on, helps children navigate their lives in the future.

Fifth Grade Play
Once we complete our final practice on Monday, it will be time to encourage the team with positivity. At that point we all will have given the performance our best time and attention, and then we will celebrate and enjoy the excellence of team and talent that the students portray as they entertain schoolmates, teachers, family members and friends.

Safety
As seasons change, I give safety talks. I try to help students anticipate the kinds of problems that can exist and give them a way to deal with those problems. During this season, the problems that can exist for students include street safety, water safety, stranger safety, and fire safety. Generally the rule of thumb when it comes to street safety is to be very careful when crossing streets and walking near busy streets--with increased traffic in our area and so many who are distracted by phones and other tech devices, students have to be extra cautious. Similarly, students have to be safe by water. As tempting as it may be to jump in for a swim, children should never go swimming without an adult present, and they should never dive into water without checking the depth of the water first. Stranger safety is a bit more important in the warm weather months simply because there are more people out and around, and fire safety is important as people begin to barbecue and have camp fires. Parents who may not have grown up in this area or who may not have spent lots of time with lots of children might not realize the safety lessons important for young children at the turn of each season, so I think it's important for teachers and safety officials to keep those messages alive.

Math Assessments
Students will take the final systemwide math assessments this week as well. That will give them a chance to "show what they know" about the final standards which we have already reviewed. The assessments will also give me the information I need to complete standards-based report cards which identify which standards students have mastered in math and which standards they are still working on. Parents and future teachers can use this information to work on the gaps and provide enrichment where needed with summer study via Khan Academy and other venues as well as lessons in sixth grade.

Biography Project
Students will continue to read about their "global changemakers" and take notes. Soon they'll start writing their presentations, completing mini posters, and drawing portraits too.

PLC Focus: Improving our Student Orientation for 2017-2018 School Year
Our team will meet to discuss these efforts.

Thanks to our team approach to teaching all fifth graders, so far this has been the best end-of-school year I can remember. It is well choreographed and organized allowing both teachers and students to enjoy the final days rather than experience too much stress or worry.