Happy New Year!

Mershon's January 2014 Newsletter

Class News

ELA

Last semester we focused on parts of speech and basic sentence and paragraph structure. This semester we will master complex sentences with dependent clauses and subordinating conjunctions. I can already see how much better students are at identifying good sentence structure but we need to work on applying it to their own writing. We will shift our focus in writing from personal narratives to expository text including persuasive essays and research papers and I will be grading harder on sentence structure and organization in their essays.


Reading

During the first and second nine weeks, we read poetry, literary non-fiction, fiction and drama. This nine weeks we will study informational text. To help students understand this difficult unit, we will pair a fiction novel with the informational text we need to cover. We have just started reading Maniac Magee, a Newbery Award winning book by Jerry Spinelli about a homeless teenager who changes a whole town. It sounds sad but it is a really funny and uplifting story. Students are already excited about reading this book so I know they will do well pairing informational text in this unit. We will focus on main idea and summary, vocabulary in context, and making inferences about the text. We worked on these skills last semester too but we will apply them differently to informational text and we will learn some new testing strategies as well.

Homework

You may have noticed that last nine weeks, we did not do reading logs but we are starting them back up this semester because I found that it kept students accountable for their reading. My expectation is that students read at least 20 minutes each day (25 minutes in Pre-AP) so that is 100 minutes a week (or 125 minutes for Pre-AP). Students can break up that time in whatever way works best so if they want to read all 100 minutes in one day on the weekend, that's fine. I have given each student the result of their last diagnostic test and assigned new AR reading goals for this nine weeks. Most students are making good progress this year using the AR program and I am seeing huge gains in some of their reading levels. If you are concerned about your child's reading, my best advice is to have them read everyday and talk to you about what they are reading.



Starting this Tuesday, students will have a book celebration due. There is a menu of choices on the back of their reading logs including a variety of activities with writing, creativity and technology. They should pick based on how far along they are in the book and they only have to complete one activity per week. The first one is due on Tuesday, January 21st. I will give out new reading logs each Monday and they are due the next Monday.

Grading

Remember, there is a difference between Academic Practice and Academic Achievement grades. Only Achievement grades are counted toward the report card average and are eligible for a redo. Practice grades are sometimes entered to let me keep up with progress and let you know how your child is doing before an assessment. If you have any questions about your child's grades, you an always check parent portal or shoot me an email and I will print them off for you. :)


Contact info

Conference times:

M-F 9:45-10:30
MWF 11:55-12:40


Tutoring times:

Before school: Wednesday & Friday
During lunch Wednesday
After school: Wednesday & Thursday by appointment