What's going on this week . . .

in Room 300 with Ms. Zunguze?

Are we drinking the same water that the dinosaurs did?

Last week, we began an investigation of weather. Soon, our students should be able to answer the above question in addition to many others about the water cycle. To conduct experiments, we could use your help. Please send in clean glass jars this week! (It doesn't matter if they have lids.) We plan to use up to twenty-one glass jars this coming Friday, September 11th, in an activity called "Modeling Atmosphere and Geosphere Interactions." Stay tuned for details on what we learn!

Everyone Has a Homework Binder!

All students should have brought home a blue binder with an agenda inside. This binder should travel to and from school every day. Homework, graded work, communication from class, lunch menus, and Thursday's flyers from school will be sent home in the binder. The front pocket contains work that should return to school. The back pocket contains work that should stay at home. Please sign your child's agenda daily to verify he/she is spending 30 minutes reading each evening, You may also check the agenda for students' daily homework assignments. Please note that full credit for homework is earned by completing and returning all of the day's assignments (including the parent/guardian signature to confirm 30 minutes of reading). Students may make up late work and/or use periodically assigned extra credit to fulfill missing assignments.

Home Visits Continue! Who's Next?

This week, my son and I visited both Donia and Henry's families! Wednesday's meeting with Donia and her mom, Robin, allowed us to get to know Donia's many interests as well as the Kenilworth neighborhood for the first time. Donia is a veritable young Renaissance woman! We learned that she can draw, sing, and solve math problems with poise and creativity; while she also enjoys strategy games, imaginative play, and sports! Thank you for sharing your special spaces at Kenilworth Park with us, Donia and Robin. The "pirate ship" fort that you both built (pictured above) was certainly a highlight as well as the Tenzi dice game and tennis!

On Friday, I was invited to afternoon tea with Henry's family, getting to know a neighborhood not too far from my own home. More importantly, I was able to watch Henry's many talents, interests, and virtues in action, as he played very patiently, creatively, and good-naturedly with his younger sisters and my own son. He is a great leader--a diplomat, in fact--one who is both willing and able to work with absolutely anyone; seeking to find common interests; and encouraging his siblings, his guests, even his group partners at school to explore and express these interests in their own ways. I know that Betinho appreciated having free reign over your expansive Lego collection, Henry! We appreciate your whole family's sense of humor and generosity of spirit!

I look forward to this coming week's home visits with Max and Gantt. Who's next? Please contact me with your available days/times for your own home visit. Remember: If it is more convenient for you to meet at a local hangout, that is absolutely fine. I enjoy getting to know new people and places, but--even more--I learn so much about my students by seeing them in their own element. As Claxton EC Teacher, Ann Turner says, "Differentiated instruction begins with a home visit."

Students Focus on Evidence-Based/Reason-Based Writing

After studying about how five heroic students from around the world faced major obstacles to getting to and from school, students responded to the following question: Is it worth risking one's life to go to school? Here are two sample paragraphs of opposing viewpoints (first, by Aeon; second, by Jonathon; both edited by Ms. Z.):

"I think everybody should go to school no matter how hard the journey. Without education, people can't get cars, good jobs, or good money. I get how dangerous their journeys are, but it is worth it to take that risk for their future. You just need to go to school, because it will help you in the future to become better at reading, writing, math, and social studies. You need those things when you grow up." (Aeon)

"I think it is unsafe to send children through danger to go to school. In the movie, on the first try to go to school, they almost were killed. Jackson almost was caught by the elephants. If they did it again, they could die. The same is for Samuel, Carlos, and Zahira. Samuel almost fell into the water; Carlos just about fell off of a rocky mountain; Zahira's friend hurt her foot. I would teach them how to farm and cook to live and work at home instead." (Jonathan)

In response to more personal prompts about places and activities that are meaningful to them, our students revealed many interesting details about what makes them feel happy and connected to other living things/people. Examples from Abby and Josh follow:

"My favorite spot is in a tree. One reason is that I love going so high that I can see everything. I love reading in a tree and feeling so relaxed. Another reason is that I feel free to be a kid. I love feeling the breeze through the leaves and how the branches swing back and forth. Sometimes, I close my eyes and hold on so tightly, so I won't fall out. I love to watch the birds fly over me." (Abby)

"Football is my favorite game for a number of reasons. First, when you play football, you can bond and just have fun with everyone. Also, when you play, you score, and I think that's fun. In addition, I think that it's my favorite game, because being out there as a part of a team is just great fun, and so is catching the ball! Finally, you get to play with friends and have fun. That is why football is my favorite game to play." (Josh)

We are continuing to develop students' writing by focusing on clearly stated theses (opinions/arguments), well-reasoned supporting details, transition words and phrases, and thorough explanations with examples to defend their ideas. I look forward to sharing multi-paragraph student work as the year progresses. Thank you to our student writers!