This month is the month of argumentation, kindness, and technology.
We are working on our argumentative writing and reading units. I hope the kids have talked about it with you, they are working on two different projects right now. During reading, they have chosen a topic with a few other kids and are working on honing skills in developing strategies while reading. They are not writing about this topic- they are just practicing research skills. Some of the topics include animals in captivity, football and head injuries, healthy food, and using fidgits. The kids are using one of my favorite informational text resources, NEWSELA, to help find articles that not only help them with their research, but also help them read text at their levels.
During writing, the class is working on writing a letter to me on whether or not our class should adopt the BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) policy at school. When we originally started this discussion, the for and against line was down the middle. On Monday however, I polled the class again and the opinions were surprisingly against BYOD. Even with some of the other classes using BYOD, many of the kids are recognizing the strain more than the success. I was quite surprised. By Friday, the kids should have figured out most of their claims and supporting evidence, and they will be writing a letter to me stating their opinions clearly. I encourage you to talk to them about it, and see what they think should happen.
February is also the month of RAK, or Random Acts of Kindness. As a class gesture of kindness, last Friday the kids and I went up to the 8th grade wing and surprised the 8th graders with " High Five Friday." They had a ton of fun spreading the silliness and love, and are eager to do it again. Also, coming home are the "Boom Boom" cards. They are cards with RAK kids to do, register online and pass it around. If you see them at home, remind them to register it online. We are trying to get the most RAK at KMS.
As an effort to push our education beyond the 21st century, I am trying to incorporate new uses of technology in the room. Last month we used a form of testing called "Plicker" and this month we tried Kahoot! Which is taking over education slowly and surely. Another resource the kids checked out today was Goodreads.com. The kids created a sign in and are updating their own personal libraries with books they have read, and what to read, as well as write reviews. One of my favorite parts about Goodreads, is that it also has a way of connecting readers together by inviting friends, as well as provide book recommendations. I highly encourage you to check out the site, and create the library with your own kiddos. Keeping in mind this website is a resource for ALL ages of readers, I've asked the kids to be mature about the books, as I am sure they will see titles that are odd, just like they would see in a grocery store or at Barnes and Noble. This is the only time that I will ask the kids to use and join- if you feel uncomfortable with the kids using the site, feel free to delete their account. I am hoping that this will actually help answer the age old question," What books can I read next?" and encourage them to embrace reading outside of school. Please let me know of your thoughts :)
Lastly, we have two permission slips coming home. One is "Share the Reading", and the other is for the "Wizard of Oz". In February, the school is having an incredible event where the middle schoolers are invited to the elementary schools to embrace reading and model to the younger kids their own personal reading life. They spend about an hour at the schools working with the other kids, reading to them and talking to them. They also get a little time to say hi to their previous teachers if time permits. It's an awesome experience- I hope many of our kiddos join in the fun. On top of that, KMS is holding a reading challenge. Everyday the kids are to log ALL of the minutes they read, and then turn in their logs at the end of the month.
In March, I am planning another amazing school spirit month. Last year, we crammed a bunch of activities in one week, however, due to our field trip to Wizard of Oz on the day of Spirit Night (which unfortunately does not include 5th graders), we are spreading out the activities over the course of the month. This was a huge hit last year, and I am looking forward to these events for the kids.
Also, for Valentine's Day, please do NOT send your children in with any sort of Valentine candy or toys. Due to our policy in relation to allergies, and my attempts to keep the kids healthy, not to mention the equity questions, it's a no go in the classrooms for any toys, candies or trinkets. If your child wants to bring a valentine card in for the class, it has to be all or none.
Hopefully that helps answer any questions you might have. Here's to having some snow finally melt away this month (hopefully)!!