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October Newsletter

October 2013

Dear parents,

The school year is now rolling along. NECAP testing in math, reading, and writing has begun and the students are working hard on them. Thankfully, a wave of illness seems to have passed. 

During homeroom time, the 5/6 class has been coming in each morning and doing one of two activities while eating breakfast: listening to our read aloud (Tangerine by Edward Bloor) or solving a Perplexor puzzle. Our read aloud is a story about a visually impaired boy in Florida that lives in the shadows of his lauded older brother, a football star. It is a story about Florida, about soccer, and about doing the right thing. Perplexors are deductive reasoning puzzles (written as humorous stories) where students eliminate possibilities and try to hone in on solutions to the puzzle. 

A couple days per week, the 5/6 students have been doing reader’s theater with the book The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain. It is an extremely challenging text, but the kids are having fun with it and learning a bit about life in the late 1800s. 


5/6 Math

The 76 Beginning group has progressed to lesson 13 in the Saxon 76 book. The 76 Middle groups has made it to lesson 75 in the same book. The Saxon 87 group is up to lesson 70. All groups are progressing in their books, supplementing with review days, and completing Scholastic Math articles. Outside of school, each student is expected to spend 1 hour or more per week on ixl.com. This supplements the work we do in class and gives students practice with math skills. I want to see how many students can master their grade level on IXL! So far, all the students are doing very well in math class. 

Grading in math has changed. We will be using standards based report cards where students will be assessed on particular skills, rather than given an overall grade (A,B,C, D or F). The idea is that students will be able to hone in on their particular needs and work to master each of the skills outlined in the Common Core State Standards. This set of standards is being adopted across the country and will begin being tested in the spring of 2015. We, as a school, are working toward meeting those standards and the standards based report card is one way in which we can do this. 

In math, the students will be documenting their work on assessments by photographing each problem (or set of problems) that they’ve done. These photos will be organized by standard (Ex. 8th grade Expressions and Equations 7b). Periodically, students will go through their photos and tally the number of correct and incorrect responses they’ve had. This will help in determining their score on each standard when report cards come out in December. Parents can ask their child at any time to show their work (on the iPads) and the Google Doc (accessible on any computer) where the kids are keeping track of their progress.  


5/6 Science

Our first unit in science has been about matter. Students have studied the states of matter, the law of conservation of matter, density, and chemical and physical changes. We have used BrainPop and Explore Learning, conducted experiments, viewed demonstrations, and taken notes during the unit. The kids have had such great questions about what we are studying. A lot of time is spent discussing ideas and trying to answer the “what ifs.” This kids’ curiosity is wonderful. 

You can still visit PowerSchool to check your child’s science grade. 


7/8 Math

The 87 Beginning group has made it to lesson 15 in their Saxon 87 book. It has been smooth sailing so far. 

The 87 Middle group has made it to lesson 70 in their book. They are in a very challenging place in the text and must work very hard to succeed. We’ve been doing a lot of review while also moving forward in the book. 

The Algebra Beginning group is just wrapping up the second chapter in the Foerster Algebra I book. I’ve been moving pretty rapidly through this easier material. The students have been doing well with it. 

The Algebra Middle group has just finished chapter 7 in the book. I will soon be supplementing the book to ensure deeper understanding of equations, expressions, and functions. Very soon, this group will have a lot of data to prove their mastery of many of the standards that are on the report card. 

All groups are progressing in their books, supplementing with review days, and completing Scholastic Math articles. Outside of school, each student is expected to spend 1 hour or more per week on ixl.com. This supplements the work we do in class and gives students practice with math skills. I want to see how many students can master their grade level on IXL!  We will also be doing a lot of work outside the math books to prepare the students to meet the standards laid out in the rigorous Common Core State Standards.

In math, the students will be documenting their work on assessments by photographing each problem (or set of problems) that they’ve done. These photos will be organized by standard (Ex. 8th grade Expressions and Equations 7b). Periodically, students will go through their photos and tally the number of correct and incorrect responses they’ve had. This will help in determining their score on each standard when report cards come out in December. Parents can ask their child at any time to show their work (on the iPads) and the Google Doc (accessible on any computer) where the kids are keeping track of their progress. 


7/8 Science

This year we’ve begun our immersion into life science. We are working now in our cells unit. The kids are developing their understanding of cell structure, cell division and mitosis, how different cells get their energy, and ways in which organisms reproduce. We’ve been watching BrainPop videos, conducting virtual experiments on explorelearning.com, reading from a text, having classroom discussions, and even building models of cells out of Rice Krispies. 


7/8 Health

We have just begun our study of environmental health, as laid out in the 7th grade health curriculum. Right now we are using Numbers (a spreadsheet program) to make tables and create graphs that show patterns in population growth in the world and in the United States. I hope to make students more comfortable with using spreadsheets and realize the power they possess. The conversations about population have been interesting. 


If you would ever like to get in touch with me to talk about your child, please feel free to call me at 644-8177 or e-mail me at jbigonia@aos93.org.


Enjoy autumn,

Jason Bigonia

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