Tuesday, March 25, 2014

It's spring? Well that escalated quickly... Just an update on the day to day! *and an excerpt about homework*

This post should inform you regarding science topics, language arts lessons, and might give you some help understanding your role in helping your child with homework.*read the excerpt below*

This image is just for fun.
But seriously-- how is it spring?
I can't hardly fathom that it is spring! I haven't blogged in so long. And it's not for lack of subject matter.

There has been a lot of day to day routine with the students... Spelling pretest, Monday. Homework due Wednesday. Hopefully improving for the post-test on Friday... Read about natural disasters, watch a video about natural disasters, write about natural disasters, model how natural disasters occur... Lots to do!

To mix things up in February, I threw in a Book Report project. There were some nicely typed (and equally nicely hand-written) reports that addressed all of the elements we learned about in class. 
I did have a few students turn in a very drawn out retell instead of following the outline I gave them. But everyone got up front and gave their speech! I know it's probably the least favorite thing to do. I tell them that it gets easier every time they present. For example, the first time you go up to bat you are probably really nervous. And although you can still feel pressure and be anxious about doing well, over time it becomes familiar. Your confidence builds. The analogy transfers to public speaking for many people. It gets easier! 

It was inspiring to see students excited about a book they liked. I was very proud when a student was able to convey that enthusiasm. It was great to see so many kids ask to borrow each other's books, and seem genuinely interested in what their peers were recommending as a good read. (Note, a good teacher-blogger would delve into her lesson plan and grading rubrics right here.... I don't have time for that tonight!)

Mostly the sixth graders are pretty well-engaged in their history report. Which, side-note, is a project intended for the student to do, not the parent! *read the excerpt below*
Dear Parents~ Do not feel like the teacher will judge your parenting skills if the report isn't a "five star" report. ~Sincerely, Your child's teacher

Moving on....

In Science we are learning about catastrophic events. Hopefully I will get some good pictures of classroom activities soon. 

In English, we spent a couple weeks learning about figurative language. Your sixth grader should know some new idioms, be fluent in similes and metaphors, and might even impress you with some alliteration!  I also read aloud some excerpts from one of my all time favorite novels, Island of the Blue Dolphins. It's a great book to teach figurative language, word choice, and inference. Ask your sixth grader what a devilfish is. If he/she was paying attention, he/she used inference in order to explain what a devilfish is. ;)

Finally, on a professional level I have been attending several classes to help me understand the latest acronyms in education. Have you heard of CCSS, ELA, NGSS, TPEP, or SBAC? I hope to compose a thoughtful and informative post for parents in the near future.

As always, comment or email me for clarification on any thing I blogged about! Thanks for taking the time to read my post.

*Back to that homework comment, I know it's challenging to raise independent, confident kids. 
I see that sixth grade is a place where some parents struggle to find that balance of how much to help and how much to let go.  Every situation is different, and I don't mean to judge. 
But truly, how you help matters. Here is an excerpt of this interesting article I found online. 

How You Help Matters!
Homework can be frustrating for students and for parents as well. Researchers have found that how parents help children, especially those who are struggling with schoolwork, can determine whether homework helps or hurts children’s learning and motivation in school. Here are some suggestions on HOW to help with homework.
Let children take the lead - support their independence and self-reliance and be less controlling and intrusive. Dr. Eva Pomerantz at the University of Illinois has found that when parents are controlling, struggling children actually begin to do more poorly in school. Being controlling means:
  • Doing assigned work for children,
  • “Taking over” and telling children what to do or how to do it, or
  • Using threats or punishment
According to Dr. Pomerantz, controlling parents might actually prevent children from developing important skills. Although parents might feel like they are “helping” they may be unintentionally undermining children’s confidence in their abilities.
Being controlling might be especially detrimental for how girls feel about their abilities in math and science. University of Illinois researchers Ruchi Bhanot and Jasna Jovanovic found that parents who were more intrusive had girls who were less confident about their math abilities. Being intrusive includes:
  • Giving help without being asked,
  • Checking homework without being asked,
  • Frequently reminding them to do homework.
~Link to parenting24/7.org for original article and more great info! 
What works for your family? Comment below! 

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