If diasaster seems like too strong a word, here are the stats from last week's homework (due on Friday, 1/18).

Science Packet: 66% turned in
IXL:  47% turned in
Blog: 62% turned in
Reading Log: 75% turned in

As I told the kids, what I am asking them to do this year is quite small in comparison to what 6th grade will ask.  Now is the time to get in a routine! Please check in with your student about homework - most of them still need a bit of guidance and structure.

Your students are bringing home a consent form today that needs to be signed by both you and your child. The form allows Wendy Harrison to complete a project with us for her Master's Degree in Education. Wendy is a certified teacher who substitutes often in our district; she is my go to person for substituting.  The project she is completing with us will be in the subject of reading. She will be teaching students how to use graphic organizers to plan and write a summary. This is something that I haven't taught this year, so it should be a great experience for everyone!  The project will be about 2 weeks (10 total hours); during that time I will also be in the classroom observing and helping out.

If you have questions about what she will be doing, please let me know.  We plan on Wendy starting on Monday afternoon.

It's a quirky tradition, but one of my favorites! I think the first Snowflake Party was about 13 years ago. It had been a long rainy winter with no snow, and my class and I were desperate for some snow. Since then it has become a fun tradition.  Our party will be on Thursday the 24th from 1:30 -- 2:25, and you're all invited!  We'll have some snacks together and make some snowflakes. I know not all of you are able to be at school regularly, and this is a fun way to pop in to school if your schedule allows.  

I have hot chocolate, plates and napkins, but could use some help with the rest. If you can bring any of the following items, please let me know:

styrofoam cups (or other disposable cups for hot beverage)
cookies or brownies

I would expect we will have about 50 people total, so if several people can pitch it, that would be great -- let me know!
This week the blogs are new; I'm so excited. In the past our blogs have been driven by a prompt of my choosing.   It's always bothered me that these are not really blogs. Blogs are typically written by someone who is an expert in their field. The blogs I follow are mostly centered on one topic -- classroom technology, art, baking etc.  Last week, your students turned in proposals for their own blogs.  Topics ranged from sports, to gaming, to reading and writing.  Their first blog in this new style is due on Friday.  Although the kids don't know it yet, we will be sharing our blogs with some 3rd grade classrooms. Please remind your kids of our blog "rules":

Normal "rules" apply:
**use school appropriate language
**use correct spelling
**include capitals and periods
**include at least 100 words!

We reviewed password information on Friday, so everyone should be ready to go!  The kids also have a Weebly app on their school iPad, and could work on it there if they end up with some extra time.
I tried to think of a clever title, but "other stuff" was all I have in me! This week was all about learning iPads. As I wrote to the district tech staff, "It was exhausting, exhilirating, exasperating, exciting... -- and the most fun I've had as a teacher. "  Who would have imagined a classroom where all the kids have iPads?  It has been quite a learning curve this week. When is the iPad useful? When is pencil and paper a better choice?  We're working on systems and routines and good decisions. I told the kids several times that I was actively working on being patient. :)  They are so excited and learn so quickly. As with anything new, we will get better at integrating them in to our learning as we use them more. Here are some ways we have used them this week:

Math:  All kids used an app called "Math Drills" to practice their math facts. I like this one because the kids can change the settings so that they can practice the facts that they really need to (like just the 7, 8, 9 of multiplication).  We've also used  "Pencilicious" in math instead of a whiteboard. There have been several times that I've given them the option of using this app or pencil and paper.  There are a couple that prefer pencil and paper, and to be honest, I think I do a lot of the time too!

Social Studies:  We are making a travel brochure advertising either Jamestown or Plymouth as places to visit/move.  About half the kids chose to use their iPads and use the app "Book Creator". The cool thing about this app is once the book is created it can be opened in iBooks like a real book.

Writing:  We did a short writing activity in a journal called "Day One" today. This is my personal favorite app. The kids will eventually do some collecting of information and reflection on learning targets, but for today it was a simple journal entry.  On the iPads the kids also have a dictionary/thesaurus app and a spell check app. Many used those as they edited their writing papers this week. 

There are a ton of other apps on the iPads, but these are the ones we used the most this week.

I also wanted to let you know we had an intruder drill today. We usually have one of these every year, but we have thought more about it this year. There has been no conversation in class about recent events in the news, but even so, the idea of an intruder is unsettling to some kids. I have tried to make them feel safe about the process as well as not afraid. This may be something you want to check in with your kids about. So you know, the process when an intruder is annouced is for teachers to lock doors, turn off lights and cover windows (we're working on window coverings). The class gathers on the floor in the corner as quietly as we can.  The questions and fear comes from what happens if they are not in the classroom -- in the bathroom or on the way back from the library etc. If that happens, your child needs to get themselves inside the closest classroom. Our door my already be locked by the time they get back here, so it is important to go to the nearest room. We have a process in place to account for the whereabouts of all students, staff and visitors while in lockdown. We will practice again, but today (Friday) was the first time.  Let me know if questions or concerns surface from that. 

Have a great weekend!!
Back in October I wrote a grant for class iPads, and they are finally here!  A 1 to 1 program was offered to members of the district tech team, and I feel completely blessed to have been selected!!  We are the elementary pilot classroom; there is another middle school classroom piloting as well as a high school classroom.  I have a lot of grandiose plans, but we started small today with students creating a personalized background on their assigned iPad as well as starting to organize the apps that I loaded.  My mom came and helped out this afternoon -- I was chuckling with her about how it was quieter when they got the iPads than it was during the reading quiz this morning! To say the kids were excited was an understatement. We have a lot to learn about management and integration, but I am incredibly motivated and will keep you updated!