September 22, 2011
The first few weeks are being spent in setting the stage for a year’s worth of wonderful writing.
We have made it through our first full week of school and are already winding down the second. I can tell that this year is going to be fast-paced and full of excitement! I hope the pre-teaching I am doing in these first few weeks will set the stage for a productive and effective year.
Over the last week, your child has received a reading journal and a writer’s notebook. These items are the main tools with which I will teach writing and reading this year. Students will be expected to pass in three journal entries each week, responding in detail to the books they have chosen to read from their class’s assigned genres. These journals are meant to help students process their understanding of the texts they are reading: their questions, confusions, opinions, and ideas. The writing notebook is a toolbox of sorts. It will be filled with all the tools needed for crafting a strong piece of literature. Already, students have created a list of their personal experiences, favorite things, not so favorite things, hobbies, and dreams. These realms of expertise are what students will draw from when asked to create an original piece of writing. (The goal is to help students see themselves as authors, writing for specific, personal purposes - not just “‘cause the teacher told me to.” We will begin to fill pages on content and craft (especially organization of essays and basic sentence structure) as we move ever closer to the NECAP testing window.
There is so much to do and so little time, we have barely even blown the summer dust off our social studies books. Never fear! In the coming weeks, students will be taking their learning in their own hands, deciding what aspects of history interest them most, researching these concepts online and in the library, and exposing their classmates to the United States in a unique and hands-on way. Fifth/sixth grade will begin with the “discovery” of America, while the seventh/eighth grade will be delving in to the issues of the early 1900s.
As always, if you have any questions, comments, concerns, or ideas, please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you have a beloved novel from childhood, or a classic story you are excited for your child to read in school, please feel free to send in a suggestion! Literature circles will be taking place later in the trimester, and I am hoping that parents who have “free time” will be willing to come in and share in the learning process. Reading is a social habit, and I would like to engage everyone in the selection and discussion of good literature. Thanks in advance for your input and help!