Next Parent meeting: December 11, Wednesday
Paperwork Due: December 13, Friday
This newsletter includes the information shared by us, as well as ideas from the parents that were at the parent meeting last week.
* Family History/Presentations: We have had three students give their oral presentations. Three cheers to Erin, Carrie, and Sadie for being the first, and completing on time. We have learned about how to read and work with a rubric, we have talked about how to give a good oral presentation as well as how to be a good audience. We have one person signed up for Tuesday, three for this Wednesday, and maybe one for Thursday. Please email me if you do not remember when your child’s due date is for their presentation.
It is time for all the students to complete their first draft at home so that we can discuss the finer details of how to revise and refine student writing using the 6 traits; ideas,organization, word choice, sentence fluency,voice, conventions. Some students are having a hard time finding details about their specific family member. Now it is time to generalize; research about the time period, what the country of origin was like when the family member lived there, what were some of the reasons people chose to emigrate to America? What was immigration like during that time period. We can add from there in class. We began a timeline of the time periods and countries that the class are learning about. My plan is to have completed papers from all students that can then be combined into a small journal.
* Biodiversity: Recently our biodiversity studies have led us to completing invertebrate surveys at the Nature Academy Garden, at home, and at Fall Creek. Curiosity about the lack of invertebrates at Fall Creek led us in to researching the life cycles of different bugs that we’d expect to find there, but didn’t. Where have all the invertebrates gone? We’ve also been talking about numbers since during our data analysis of the surveys it became apparent that most of the kids are not clear about the relationship between the numerator and denominator in fractions, nor about the relationship between fractions, division, decimals, percents, and ratios. We have been talking about those relationships and the kids have practiced modeling and explaining how they see them. We continue to evaluate and refine our data sheets to better reflect the true biodiversity of an area, now taking into account factors that support population viability as well as richness.
* Collaboration: As always, a primary focus is on collaboration and communication; What roles do you use to support your classmates?, Are you reflectively listening? How are you supporting others to do their best in the group? How are you showing your personal best? The kids are improving their skills in working together in soccer drills & games, photography, computer research, art, and group discussions.
* Snacks: The teachers requested that parents bring snack bars, fruit, small juices, to supplement the classrooms’ snack shelf. The kids do eat them! The teachers will also remind the kids that the food on the snack shelf is to supplement food they bring from home for lunch, not to replace it. Thanks again to Dawn for providing excellent drinking water!!!
* Improving Parent-Teacher Communication: Parents requested that email communications be more concise, highlighting any homework due dates. It was also requested that the teachers allow several days’ warning before homework is due so that the parents have time to fit the activities into busy family schedules. Marcy & Rhonda have realized that it is difficult for the two of us to coordinate all email communications with the parents, so instead of sending out long updates which are inclusive, we’re going to try sending out shorter subject specific emails, incorporating the parent requests mentioned above. Please let us know how this works for you.
* Parent-Teacher Meetings: The teachers are also noticing that the parents who wait longer to set up a one-on-one meeting with their teacher of record also tend to feel the most out of touch with what is going on in class and often feel less confident about the home part of their homeschooling. Please take advantage of Rhonda and Marcy’s regular office hours. Parents can either sign up for a meeting when picking up or dropping off, or can email their teacher of record to set up a time to meet. We want to see you! Sign ups for December will be posted soon.
* Monthly Group Meetings: With parents’ busy schedules it is very difficult for many of you to make it to our monthly meetings after school. We know many of you are bending over backward to make it to the meetings (taking days off of work, etc.). Thank you! Participating in the meetings really helps create comfort, ease, and understanding in our community. We realize though, that some of you can never make it on Wednesdays, so we’ll be scheduling some meetings for Tuesdays/Thursdays with the hope that everyone will be able to make it at least some of the time.
• Parent to Parent Communication: The support that homeschooling parents offer each other is so valuable. Sharing ideas, challenges, information about what is happening at the school are a primary way that a homeschooling community flourishes. Often this communication happens around pick-up and drop-off times since that’s when parents are already coming to the school. We’ve noticed that not as much of that communication is happening this year, perhaps because there is no good place for parents to hang out and talk at the school site. To remedy this, a couple of suggestions were made: inviting parents to get together for coffee after drop-off/before pick up time; and starting email conversations about topical issues. Perhaps if folks allow a few extra minutes during drop-off/pick-up to be able to park and walk their kids to/from the classroom, then that would allow at least a little time to say hello, arrange play-dates, etc. What do you think?
• Logging activities for class days in planner: The teachers have noticed that many families are not documenting learning activities that happen in class in their kids’ planners. We realize that often the kids don’t communicate much with parents about what happened in class. So Marcy is going to allow time at the end of each day for the kids to write down what they did on a planning sheet that the kids will take home with their binders so that the kids/parents can transfer the information into the planning book. There was also the suggestion that some students could take a picture of the board showing the agenda and activities with their phone and then share with their parents.
• Parent help on non-Rhonda Wednesdays: Well...the sign-up sheet seems to have gone missing. I’ll post a new sign up sheet. If you already signed up for a day, would you please sign up again? There should be open spaces for others to volunteer as well. I’d love to have as many parents as possible sign up for a Wednesday, so several of you can have an opportunity to get a sense of the group. The dates are: 12/11, 2/5, 2/19, 3/5, 3/19, 4/23 (may be a testing day), 4/30 (may be a testing day), 5/14, 5/21.
• Coat Drive: We are participating in a coat drive. So if you have any extra coats that you’re kids have outgrown, please bring them to class by 11/21 so that they can be taken to the cleaners and be cleaned in time to give out in time for winter.
• Field Trips: Here’s some info. on the fun to come….Permission slips should be available soon. We have some drivers signed up, but we will need more. Please let Marcy know if you can help drive.
• Shakespeare SC FIELD TRIP: Dec 4, (leaving school at 8:30am, returning by 1:30pm). Please arrive at school by 8:20am. This is a great field trip for the parents to go with their student. We have 50 tickets total.
In judging the age appropriateness of this production for your students, please note that the play’s main character speaks of jumping off a bridge to end his life, and his older brother has problems with alcoholism. However, there are many thematic devices that encourage group discussion, particularly appropriate for middle and high school students, including the debate of localism vs. big business, individualism and community, and consequences of major life decisions.
• Sandhills FIELD TRIP: 12/18, 9:15am-11:30am (leaving school at 9am, returning at 11:45am). Please arrive at school by 9am.
On 12/11, Brian Ahlers from the Santa Cruz Natural History Museum will visit our classroom and offer the kids an hour-long presentation on our local sandhills habitat that will prepare us for this field trip. I’m really looking forward to adding the sandhills to our understanding of habitat diversity.
* Winter Celebration Potluck and Crafts; 12/18 11:45am-1:30pm. AFTER THE SAND HILLS FIELD TRIP. Esther is going to pick up pizzas and we’re asking other families to bring/send side dishes for a potluck to celebrate the beginning of winter and the winter holidays. A sign-up will be posted where you can write what you plan to bring/send. We’d love to have you join us, but understand if you can’t make it. Dawn will be offering snowglobe making, while Rhonda will offer her traditional sock snow people, with a new fragrant twist.
• Star Wars FIELD TRIP: 1/29 (please note date change), 10am-2pm (leaving school at 8:15am, returning at 3pm). Please arrive at school by 8am.
o Movie Night? We thought it might be fun to watch Star Wars together before we go on the field trip. Sound like fun? If so, let Marcy know what would be a good time for your child/family to participate in a movie night sometime between 1/23 & 1/28.
Sleep, Learning, and your pre-teen. Through the last six years working with this age group, there is a topic that I continue to hear from the students. “I am tired.” “I didn’t get enough sleep last night” or, “I had a hard time getting to sleep,” or I kept waking up last night.” Being a teacher, and a mother of grown children, the refrains are all too familiar to not take seriously.
Research has shown that there is a direct correlation between sleep and a student’s ability to participate in a class, to learn and integrate what they have learned into long-term memory and short-term critical reflection. I have read many articles that suggest a few simple habits that can help with a child’s ability to sleep well. I know that this may be easier said that done, especially in a young teen’s busy, technology infused life, whose natural body rhythms may run contrary to early bedtime routines. However, with practice and encouraging parental support, lifelong healthy patterns can cement into sustainable habits.
Some of the basic practices that can help support your teen or pre-teen get a good night’s sleep:
There are many articles that discuss this issue in varying detail. I am mentioning only a couple, and encourage you all to explore for yourselves the value of sleep in learning and your child’s developing habits.
Adolescents and Sleep: A summary of what researchers know about teenages’ need for sleep and why sleep affects memory and learning. http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/teenbrain/from/sleep.htmlSleep for children: 12-15 years http://raisingchildren.net.au/articles/sleep_early_teens.html/context/1069#lifestyle