Just before you were born, when someone had a research assignment to do for school, how did they get their information?  Instead of using the internet, they had to go to the library to find resources.  The bad part about the library was that there weren't as many resources there as there are on the internet.  The good part of going to the library was that everything someone would find had been placed there by a librarian who has already decided if the material is reliable or not.

With the internet, we get a huge amount of information, but since anyone can post it, it's now up to each individual user to decide if a resource is reliable or not.

Today, you're going to get some tips on how to figure out if you can trust a website.

Pick one of the websites you are using and do the following:
1. Go to the checklist for evaluating websites.
    What do you think?  Does this website seem reliable?

2. Go to Alexa.com to see what other sites linked to your website.  
    Have you heard of any of these sites?  How many are there?

3.  Don't forget that you can use search engines like Sweet Search, that have tried to narrow the results down to reliable websites before you even begin your search.



It's important to reflect on our past, so that we can learn from it, make adjustments and do better in the future.  Sometimes, though, reflection can be hard when our past is fuzzy.  

For example, do you know what your last four spelling test scores are?  Are you improving, getting worse, or staying about the same?  Sometimes, it can be hard to see what the scores on our tests mean to the bigger picture.

So, in an effort to help you reflect and improve your performance in the future, I've created a simple worksheet for you to track your progress.

Here's how to use it:

1.  Access the worksheet and make a copy for yourself and rename it with first your name.
2.  Sign in to Sycamore and get your Spelling Test percentages.
3.  Record those percentages into your worksheet and watch a progress graph be built.
4.  Do the same thing with your Vocab Quiz scores on the second page of the worksheet.
5.  Share the document with me so I can see your progress!  tmswedberg (at) gmail.com
6.  Watch the video below if you don't get it. :)

I wanted to share a couple success that two different students have had this week because they worked hard and because the Standards-Based grading system allowed them to show what they know.

A couple weeks ago, students wrote some short stories about Danny the Surfer (they're posted on the wall outside the classroom if you want to see them), and in those stories they were supposed to demonstrate the use of six different types of sentence openers.  As you would expect, some students used six types of openers, some used only one, and many others were somewhere in the middle. 

Well, just this week, two different students who had originally not shown much variety in their use of sentence openers, demonstrated that they could in fact write, using all six types.  One student decided to demonstrate his new understanding by working hard to include them in his Anything Project.  Another student decided to revise a previous assignment, and both proved they could use a variety of sentence openers.

Here's what you should notice about these stories:
1.  Both students had an opportunity to grow.
2.  Both students took initiative.
3.  Both students did extra work outside of the normal course of assignments.
4.  Since Standards-Based grading reflects students' current and consistent understanding, their new understanding is not "averaged" with earlier scores as it would have been in a traditional grading system.  Therefore, both students currently have "3's" for this objective as opposed to an average of all scores - 1.5.
So we've been in the standards-based grading system for about five months now, and I'm curious what you think.  I imagine that many of you don't really see a difference from a traditional system other than a slightly different looking report card.

I'd like to take a second to show you (parents and students) how to use the standards-based system to your advantage.  For example, you might be saying, "So what if I demonstrated a '2' in something?  What does that even mean, and what are some steps I could take right now to improve?"  Or what if you've demonstrated a '3', but lately you've been feeling bored at school?  What can you do to challenge yourself?

Please take five minutes to view the video below and learn how to use this feedback-rich system to your advantage.  When you're done, don't hesitate to comment on this post with any feedback you might have about how the system is working (or isn't working) for you so far... or maybe how you plan to use the system to your advantage now that you've viewed this video.  Thank you ahead of time for your feedback.  It will help me learn and do better in the future.

Tonight's Homework


Did you forget to write down tonight's homework in your planner?  Maybe you were absent and want to see what you missed?  Did you lose your spelling book and need to get the current list?

You might try 6th Grade Homework Central.  It is a blog Conor created that will tell the nights homework as well as list spelling lists and other study helpers.  It is still very early in it's development, but it looks very promising and very helpful.  Thanks a lot, Conor!

By the way, from now on you can get to 6th Grade Homework Central by going to the Helpful Tools page and finding it under "Organization Tools".

Food for thought:  Tonight, don't ask you kids what they learned in school today.  Instead, ask them what questions they asked in school today.



Earlier this week I wrote that one way to study for a test is to focus.  In other words, stop trying to multi-task.  It isn't possible and it negatively effects your learning.  Here's a video that explains the impact trying to multi-task.  About 1:15 in you actually see some interesting facts and expert testimony.
Starting today we will be preparing for our first two tests of the year.  Next week, we will have a History test on Tuesday and a Spelling test on Wednesday.

Here are some tips:
Repeat important info over and over.  Start studying NOW.  Your brain is wired to remember things that are repeated over and over so studying a little bit each night works a lot better than cramming a whole bunch the night before.

Use many senses.  Your brain remembers rich experiences better than "simple" experiences.  In other words, if you can see your facts, say your facts, feel your facts, and smell your facts you will be more likely to remember them.  How do you feel your facts?  Well, I'm not sure exactly but you might try  some of these strategies:
- Outline your spelling words to feel the shape of them.  
- Try typing info as well as writing it down so your body gets more physical input associated with the facts.
- Try putting info on cards and physically sorting it into different categories.

Exercise.  Your brain works way better when you get the blood flowing.  When you are frustrated with studying maybe the best thing you could do is take a jump rope break.

Focus.  We all like to pretend like we can multi-task, but the truth is our brains can only give attention to one thing at a time.  When you switch constantly from your history book, to chatting online, to watching TV, your brain has to reset itself every time and you just can't remember as well.
I learned last night in Dan Pink's,  A Whole New Mind that Richard Bransen and Charles Schwab both cite their dyslexia as the secret to their success.  In fact, self-made millionaires are 4 times more likely than everyone else to be dyslexic.  Why?

According to Pink, "Dyslexics struggle with... linear, sequential, alphabetic reasoning at it's core.  But as with a blind person who develops a more acute sense of hearing, a dyslexic's difficulties in one area lead him to acquire outsized ability in others."

He continues, "Dyslexics think differently.  They are intuitive and excel at problem-solving, seeing the big picture, and simplifying..."

This got me thinking about how God made everyone uniquely.  Everyone's brain is wired a little bit differently and we all have things that are just harder for us.  My question is, how might our weaknesses be steering us toward our strengths?  How might you tackle a project differently (and perhaps better) than those around you because the traditional way doesn't make sense to you?