Sunday, October 14, 2018

Quarter 2, Week 1, and Fall Break

So, in the world of McMurray Related Arts classrooms, it was the 1st week of school again. That's  because when we achieve begin of the 8 9 weeks of the school year, our students leave us and another batch of around 200 come into the classroom for the first time.

This system has its pluses and minuses, but everyone agrees it is what it is and that it gives all our students the opportunity to take part in diverse learning opportunities each year. The 6th, 7th, and 8th grades who are in the school Band class do that all year long, and those are the only students I will not teach at all.

Welcome to all my students this 2nd 9 weeks of the year! We have some things to get done in Computer Lab and I will do my level-headed best to get them done. A few things...

I have worked to further formalize the bell work keyboarding practice routines in all 8 of my classes, and I hope that the progress the students make in typing accuracy and speed will show after 9 weeks of practice. Because of our being in a portable for this first half of the school year, and since we do not have enough computers for each child to always have one, I am using the "Random Name Picker" at classtools.net to make sure students are not stuck with the same (potentially damaged but operational) laptop every single class, and that the same students are not always without a computer.

We will be working in 6th, 7th, and 8th grades to at least get a good solid start in RePublic Schools MNPS Computer Science online course, starting the week we get back after this one, Fall Break. I have explained this earlier in the school year, but essentially the district has set a goal for every 8th grader to have completed at least one of the four units in this curriculum by middle school graduation. I have embraced this goal but I will say with our English language proficiency challenges I am not certain we will achieve it with any student this year. Our 9-week rotation block schedule may make it inaccessible, at least for this year's 8th graders, but since we are starting with 6th grade I have very very high expectations for their success by the end of their middle school "careers."

Over Break, I'm working to complete the Ever-Fi "Digital Citizenship and Responsibility" course. This online course is designed for STEM students grades 6-9 and if I deem it accessible enough I may have all our students complete it. I've addressed this topic in the past with the DC section of BrainPop, and if it seems to language heavy I may only pilot it with one grade level this year. It looks good though!
Finally, for now, I am enjoying all my new students in our portable. I feel that I've been able to make the room as welcoming and as efficient as possible and that, as Scotty on Star Trek was wont to say, in his thick Scottish accent, "I'm doin' the best I can, Captain. She won't take another ounce o' warp!"

Watch for a take-home note in your child's backpack with connection web-addresses for this Quarter's class. We're off and running!