Sycamore Updated


A number of scores (especially in Reading and Language Arts) were updated today.  Make sure to log in to Sycamore and check your progress.  Keep in mind the end of the trimester is March 16th.

Also, just one more reminder to ignore the overall percentages that Sycamore generates for Reading and Language Arts.  Since those two classes are standards-based and not 100-point-scale-based, you need to look directly at the individual assignments to see your progress.

If you have any questions, you might consider watching this video on how to use Sycamore with standards-based reporting.
This week in Language Arts we are going to begin drafting our research essays.  Today, we will start by focusing on drafting two body paragraphs.  As you write, be sure to pay careful attention to your conclusion sentences and your topic sentences.

Topic Sentences
The Rules:
  1. Always have a topic and a main point.
  2. Don't refer to your own writing.
  1. As a young man, Abraham Lincoln had a wide variety of career choice
  2. Statistics and numerous personal stories serve to highlight the importance of installing a traffic light at the intersection of 7th Street and Smith Avenue.
  3. This is about Abraham Lincoln's childhood. DON'T Do This

Conclusion Sentences in a Mulitple Paragraph Essay
The Rule:
  1. Each conclusion sentence should connect the content of one paragraph to the content of the next paragraph.
  1. Through successes and failures, Abraham Lincoln's early experiences contributed to his future success as President of the United States.
  2. Not only do statistics support the argument, but a number of personal stories support it as well.
  3. Clearly, statistics support the argument, but it is important to remember that each of those numbers is first and foremost a person.
Don't forget to have written insightful blog posts on 1,500 pages of 2nd trimester reading by Tuesday, March 15th.  

Now would be a great time to check your past posts and make sure they have been commented on and that they are written in the proper format.  If it counts, you will have a comment that says, "Count it."

If you need to re-do a post: Do not just edit your existing post.  Instead, copy and paste your content into a brand new post and make your revisions there.  That way, it will show up in my Google Reader account and I'll be able to see that you've improved your post.
Here is a great example of what your research should look like by Monday.  This is of course just one topic and you will need to have three done like this by Monday.

Things to notice:
  1. Not all spaces are filled in, but most are
  2. Three specific resources are used
  3. Keyword outline format is used
  4. The topic is clear, simple, and the facts are on topic
  5.  Some facts are repeated from resource to resource (father died)

Research Update


At this point, all students should be very close to finishing their research.  We will begin using it to draft paragraphs tomorrow (Friday).
Auditions are next Tuesday and Wednesday.  If you lost one of the information sheets about the upcoming tryouts, you can download the appropriate papers here.
File Size: 13 kb
File Type: docx
Download File

File Size: 16 kb
File Type: docx
Download File

File Size: 15 kb
File Type: docx
Download File

A huge thank you to everyone who gave their input.  Your perspective is invaluable as we try to figure out what is best for you kids.

Looking at the results, the first thing that I notice is an astonishing range of perspectives.  Here is a quick summary:
  1. Many people thought expectations were very clear and communication was excellent, a handful of others thought expectations were frustratingly unclear.  
  2. Some people don't want to see the system used more widely, and a slightly larger portion did want to see they system used more widely.
  3. A number of people said they didn't feel like they knew enough to comment.

Mostly, though, it seems like people just need more information.  So, in an effort to not completely bombard your busy life with more blog posts on standards-based reporting, I've created a webpage you can refer to whenever you need more information.  The webpage will answer questions like:
  1. What does a "3" mean, anyway?
  2. How can I know what the expectations are?
  3. What's wrong with the way we've always done it?
  4. How does standards-based grading solve problems?
  5. What if A's are all that motivate a student?
  6. Isn't it unfair to expect a child to earn a "4"?
  7. What will stay the same regardless of the system we will use?
  8. What will be different?

It will also include a place for you to continue to voice your opinion and concerns.  I will answer those concerns that seem to rise to the top of the discussion. To view the webpage, click on the "Standards-Based Q&A" button at the top of our classroom webpage.
This week we started researching the people and events of the Revolutionary War period.  Right now your child is gathering information about their topic.  Some students have had a great start and others will need some encouragement at home.  At first glance, the "Research Gathering" sheet might look pretty confusing, but for as much time as I've spend trying to make it clearer, I this is the best I can do.  I'm happy to help if you have questions, but most of the students do seem to understand the format.

Here's what your child should have at this point:
  1. Library books checked out from the library
  2. Three logical topics chosen (These will later be the three body paragraphs.  For example, if I was researching the Battle of Bunker Hill, my three topics might be be Causes of the Battle of Bunker Hill, The Battle, and After the Battle.  If I was researching a person, my topics might be Early Life, Family Life, and Major Accomplishments.  Of course, these aren't the only way by any means.)
  3. Three resources written down for each topic (At least one must be a library book.)
  4. About 1/3 of their research done (Maybe one of three topics is complete and the other two are empty, or maybe 1/3 of each topic is complete.)
  5. Facts should be written in keyword outline form (This if frustrating to some kids, but I think it is very important for a number of reasons, so this format is important to follow through on.)
Check out these examples of Keyword Outlines and Summaries to see how you can improve your own work.

Remember: An effective Keyword Outline can contain up to 3 words, 2 abbreviations, 2 symbols, and unlimited numbers.

This person underlined their transitions and marked their sentence openers in the right hand column.

This person wrote a topic sentence that tells what the whole paragraph will be about.

These people did very well in some areas, but also made a very common mistake.  The topic sentence of the first starts with "Here are some facts..." and the second starts with "This paragraph is how".  Some other people made the same mistake by starting with "This paragraph is about..." or "This has lots of facts..."

Remember:  Don't refer to your own paragraph in your topic sentence.  Take a look at the two paragraphs above to see what you might have written instead.

Draw Island


After seeing what some of you created with your Anything Projects, I thought I would share Draw Island with you.

It's a simple website that allows you to create your own moving cartoons.  Have fun creating!