Friday, October 27, 2017

Week 10: Tough Lessons, the Vocabulary Process, Moving Forward

Well, that's it for the first week of the second quarter. If you haven't received the first-quarter report card you can expect it soon. Now is a great time for a conversation with your son or daughter to celebrate success or make a game plan for success in the second quarter.

Some students learned a tough lesson this week regarding following directions. I've seen a lot of stress and anxiety because students "didn't know what to do", yet the answer was in front of them the entire time. "I didn't know" doesn't work in my class. Please be aware: all directions given in class are on paper as well as given verbally multiple times. A lot of frustration, on both my and my students' parts, could be saved by simply slowing down and reading the directions. I won't provided students with answers when they're right in front of them on paper. This lesson was especially tough because it's too late for any grade to be changed on PowerSchool. In the future, checking PowerSchool more diligently and more regularly should take care of any grade issues.

This blog is going to be relatively short. I'd like to focus on some of the procedures my class has. I suppose I'm preaching to the choir at this point. Thank you for your continued support.

Late Work*
-Any work turned in past the collection time, whether it's seconds past the collection time or weeks past it, will result in a deduction of 10% off of the scored earned.
-Work turned in on Google Classroom is time-stamped; it is automatically stamped as late by Google Classroom if it is late. Whatever Google Classroom tells me is what I go with.
-Late work can be completed and turned in until the end of the period on the last day of the quarter it was assigned in. This applies to work form absences as well.

Absences*
-Work is to be made up upon the student's return.
-Students are responsible for checking the "extras/absences" box and getting work. They are also responsible for asking me any questions regarding the work in a timely manner.
-Students have a make-up grace period of one day for every day they were absent. This allowance ends when the quarter ends.

PowerSchool
-PowerSchool should be checked weekly, both by you and your son or daughter.
-Any assignments that are missing or late are marked as such and receive a score of zero until they are received.
-If there is a blue circle with a white "c" in it, there is a comment. Click the assignment to view the comment.
-I update PowerSchool regularly, often once or twice a week. If your son or daughter insists that an assignment has been turned in yet it remains a zero online, it is likely I do not have the assignment.
-Late work is graded as I'm able to get to it. While I want to update late work as often as possible, it doesn't take precedence when there's other, on-time work to be scored and put online.

*Additional grading policies and PowerSchool information can be found on my website. Please check there for any answers to questions you may have.

As we move into the second quarter, please continue to be aware of these policies and standards. It's been a frustrating week for students as well as me, as now is too late to do anything about any grade from first quarter. I've been reminding my students to check PowerSchool for missing assignments since the first week of October and I've been talking about checking grades here similarly as long.

Thank you,
Kevin Laffin

Class website: https://sites.google.com/a/slcusd.org/laffin/home

Join my Remind classes to receive reminders and updates. Text the following codes to 81010:
Period 1- @laffin1
Period 2- @laffin2
Period 3- @laffin3
Period 4- @laffin4
AVID (Period 6)- @avidlams

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Week 9: End of the Quarter, Heading to Hogwarts (Week of 10/20/2017)

I'll echo a bit of what I said in yesterday's email in this week's blog, hopefully with a few less spelling errors. Thank you all for your patience and understanding. It truly has been a great semester so far!!!
Friday, October 20, 2017, marked the end of the first quarter. For the students in the elective wheel, this means they'll be heading to their Q2 elective on Monday. For my classes, this means that assignments from the first quarter will no longer be accepted for late credit. I'm currently working on getting the assignments I've received online. If I have the assignment, rest assured that the online grade will be updated before quarter report cards come out. If the score doesn't change, I don't have the assignment and the grade will remain a zero in the gradebook. Looking forward, quarter grades are a great checkpoint to see where students have been successful and where they still need support. Please check in with your son or daughter and take a look at their grades on PowerSchool.

Friday also marked an exciting moment in my classes; we're shifting our focus from short stories and Pixar shorts to novels. Specifically, we're moving on to reading Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. This is my first year teaching this novel and I'm really excited to teach the unit. Whether your son or daughter has read the novel or not, they'll get a lot out of this unit as we focus on the ideas of self-identity, self-esteem, community, and perseverance. I don't want to give too much away yet, but my goal is to make the magic of the Wizarding World come alive through our study of the novel and the story elements within it. We'll also be working on our organization through our unit folders. Students had a chance in class to create and decorate their unit folders. These folders will be kept in class from now on and will hold all of their paperwork for the remainder of the Sorcerer's Stone unit. You'll be able to view these, and other, unit folders at Open House in the spring (the sample I created is here in the blog).

The second quarter also shifts our writing focus from narrative to informational. A lot of the writing we've done in class so far has actually been informational. I've got to say, it's looking great so far! In a few weeks, students will be receiving their informational writing research project for the second quarter Independent Book Project. The final product of the IBP, an infographic, will not only present the students' research in a beautiful and professional way, but those infographics will also serve as an outline for the informational writing District Writing Assessment. Past students have really enjoyed this project and its focus. I'm excited to share my love of writing with my students!


Question for the dinner table/drive home:
1. How was your first quarter at Laguna? What surprised you the most, as far as the workload?
2. What is your goal for the second quarter regarding grades? How are you going to achieve this goal?
3. What are you looking forward to in second quarter? Why are you looking forward to it?

Warmest wishes,
Kevin Laffin

Class website: https://sites.google.com/a/slcusd.org/laffin/home

Join my Remind classes to receive reminders and updates. Text the following codes to 81010:
Period 1- @laffin1
Period 2- @laffin2
Period 3- @laffin3
Period 4- @laffin4
AVID (Period 6)- @avidlams

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Week 8: Presentations, Deadlines, and the End of the Quarter (Week of 10/13/2017)

...and we're back! We're later than usual, and for that I apologize. Turns out I wrote the blog but never actually published it or emailed you. Definitely something to note for next time haha

This week was a whirlwind of presentations, Pixar shorts, and fun with theme. We started each period with two group book club presentations. These presentations were the culmination of the quarter-long project students worked on in their book club groups. After talking in weekly book clubs, putting that information into a slide show, and practicing their presentation, students got to "show what they know" to their classmates. Overall, I've never seen presentations that have been this amazing right out the gate. Students were poised and practiced. They became the expert about their book but also presented the information in an interesting and engaging way. Their slides looked professional, academic, and scholarly, which was a huge help to their audience. While the 4x6 rule (and other visual aid feature guidelines) are strict, can be tough, and take all the fun (see: goofy pictures, fancy fonts, and busy backgrounds) out of making a visual aid, these skills are incredibly important for middle school students, high school and college students, and even professionals. Below is a word cloud generated from student feedback answering the question, "what can we as a class do better for our next presentation?". As you can see, my classes are really tuned into what differentiates a rock star presentation from a weak presentation.

After presentations, we practiced our "theme" knowledge by rewatching "Presto", "For the Birds" and "Day and Night", this time watching through the lens of "theme". I explained to my students that reading (or watching) something once and enjoying it is great. However, to gain a deeper understanding we'll need to read and reread as we hunt for specific clues that are related to our search. We had a lot of fun coming up with perfect themes in various small groups. I heard a plethora of amazing themes from all of my classes; we're definitely ready to move on to our first novel.

In preparation for the theme quiz (that's finally happening next week), we played Quizlet Live and Kahoot. As usual, students enjoyed the competition while they worked with their knowledge of theme. As a reminder, the notes and vocabulary study sets are always available on my website. If your son or daughter is struggling with anything we're doing in class, send them to my website for support. There's a lot of great study tools for students out there, they just have to be willing to use them.

Next week is also our official District Writing Assessment on the narrative writing style. Students will be briefed on the task the day before the assessment. They'll be sent home Monday with a prompt, story outline, and plot diagram to focus their writing. In class on Tuesday will be the full write. Like last time, students will have 54 minutes to do their best to show me what they know. As a reminder, all students at the middle school level (6th-8th) are taking this narrative assessment with the same prompt, rubric, and time limit. I will do my best to have these graded and in the gradebook for the quarter report card.

Speaking of which, the end of the quarter is next Friday, October 20, 2017. As a reminder, any and all missing work needs to be turned in before your son or daughter leaves my class on Friday. In accordance with my syllabus, any assignment not received before your son or daughter leaves my class will remain a zero in the gradebook for the remainder of the year. Anything received before then will be graded as soon as possible and put online. I don't hand out extra credit assignments/projects to make up for missing work.

Question for the dinner table/drive home:
1. How did your presentation go? What contributed to your success/failure?
2. Overall, how did your team work for the past 8 weeks? Why do you think that you were or weren't successful? What choices can you make to be successful next time you're in a group for a project?
3. How are your grades looking on Power School? Show me. What can you do to make up any missing work?

Warmest wishes,
Kevin Laffin

Class website: https://sites.google.com/a/slcusd.org/laffin/home

Join my Remind classes to receive reminders and updates. Text the following codes to 81010:
Period 1- @laffin1
Period 2- @laffin2
Period 3- @laffin3
Period 4- @laffin4
AVID (Period 6)- @avidlams

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Week 7: Building Professional, Academic, and Scholarly Presentations and a Practice Writing Assessment (week of 10/6/2017)

We're chugging along towards the end of the quarter in G-6. This week we had our last book club meeting of the quarter, we began compiling our information into our Book Talk slideshow, and we practiced writing a narrative for the upcoming District Writing Assessment.

I'll start by briefly discussing the PRACTICE writing assessment that we took this week. On Wednesday, students were given the actual District Writing Assessment (Narrative) prompt and then asked to jot down some notes about their narrative for homework. All students were provided with a "Personal Story Worksheet" and a blank plot diagram to ready themselves for the practice assessment. In conjunction with the other middle school English teachers in the district, this assignment was sent home; every English teacher is giving the same assessment in the same way. Individual teachers, however, have the freedom to give a practice assessment or to not give a practice assessment. Every seventh and eighth grade student receives the prompt and planning sheet the class period before the assessment and has the night to map their story. The next day, students have the entire class period to write; they may use their notes if they bring them. While I understand that this can be stressful for students, this on-demand style of writing mimics both in-school and real-world writing. If I'm being honest, ALL of my students are able to do this particular style of writing in the time period provided and be successful. They all have prior knowledge about plot elements, both from my class this year and from previous years. Will this be the best story they've ever written? Is this their favorite way to write a story? Will this story be about what they wanted to write about? Probably not, but we're looking at our students' understanding of the elements of plot and we have to have parameters to even the playing field across the district.
The actual District Writing Assessment is coming up in two weeks. It's currently set for Tuesday, October 17, 2017. I should have the practice assessment graded and passed back by then. In the meantime, please talk to your son or daughter about the importance of slowing down and reading the directions. I am only allowed to answer certain questions on the District Writing Assessment. As such, I saw a lot of stress, anxiety, and confusion on this particular assessment that could have been alleviated by slowing down and reading the provided prompt (in all cases, the question was answered on the provided prompt).

On Monday and Tuesday of this week, students worked in their book club groups on the Book Talk slideshow. The weekly PrepParagraph and the weekly group notes were crucial to helping students put together their book talk. I provided only Monday and Tuesday in class. If students didn't use their time wisely, they have more than enough time to complete the project before we practice our presentations next Monday. Here are the tools available to students during the school day: the library and "The Cove" (before school, at break, at lunch, and after school until 3:50) and my classroom (after school from 3:00-4:00). Students are also free to work on this project at home, and they are, in fact, encouraged to do so. Please review the tips/tricks handout as well as the rubric and guidelines to help your son or daughter complete the project in an academic, scholarly, and professional way.
Moving on, we have presentations Tuesday-Friday of next week. As I stated previously, we'll be spending Monday practicing our presentations. Students will be able to run through their presentations a few times and make notes/note cards for their presentation. They will not be able to work on their slides. Students should use this time wisely in an effort to alleviate any anxiety or stress they have about public speaking; it should be noted that a bulk of anxiety/stress comes from a feeling of unpreparedness. Tuesday-Friday, students will present their Book Talk to their classmates. The ultimate goal here is to do such an amazing job that their classmates can't wait to read the book. I'm excited to see the presentations; I've heard some amazing things in our book club meetings!

And that's what the end of the quarter looks like! We'll do a couple more things with theme (and the theme quiz) the last week of the quarter. Starting at the tail-end of that week, we'll be moving on to our first novel, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. I anticipate that most of my students have either read the book or seen the movie (or both!). If they have, great! They'll already have great background knowledge. If they haven't, that's great, too. I'll be providing them all they'll need to know before we start and as we read. We'll be applying our knowledge of plot, characterization, and theme to the novel. We'll also be looking at symbolism and the idea of "self" as we read the book. I have a lot of fun and exciting things planned for the novel and am excited to teach it; this year is the first time I'll be teaching this beloved novel. More on Harry Potter later.

Question for the dinner table/drive home:
1. What work still needs to be done on the Book Talk slideshow? How are you and your group going to get this done? What is your plan?
2. What can you do to personally prepare for presentations this week? Have you practiced reading the words out loud?
3. How are your grades looking on Power School? Show me. What can you do to make up any missing work?

Warmest wishes,
Kevin Laffin

Class website: https://sites.google.com/a/slcusd.org/laffin/home

Join my Remind classes to receive reminders and updates. Text the following codes to 81010:
Period 1- @laffin1
Period 2- @laffin2
Period 3- @laffin3
Period 4- @laffin4
AVID (Period 6)- @avidlams

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Week 6: Finding Meaning in Literature through Picture Books (week of 9/29/2017)

This week was a lot of fun in class. We started the week on a quiet note by taking the Scholastic Reading Inventory (SRI- an online test that measures a student's Lexile reading level). We then moved onto learning about theme by looking at some of our favorite picture books. We're nearing the end of our first quarter Independent Book Project, too. Read on for more information.

On Monday, students took the SRI. All students at Laguna will take this test multiple times throughout the year. The reason we have students take this test is so we can see their reading level and place them in the appropriate English class. Most students will remain in the general education English classes or the accelerated class, whichever they're currently enrolled in. After we get the initial data from this test, some students may be moved into one of our reading classes to better serve their reading needs. We also use the data from SRI to determine the appropriate class placement for next year; Lexile level is one of the many factors that go into placing a student in the accelerated English class. Later this year you'll receive the complete list of factors that affect a student's placement in next year's English classes.

 Our book club focus this week was plot, a throwback to the beginning of the story elements unit. I briefly talked about plot to remind students of the elements before we moved on to focusing in more on theme. After taking PDP Cornell Notes, I put students into groups and gave them a picture book. The students then recreated "story time" as they read the book to each other in their small group. Then, students decided on the correct theme for their book and dug for evidence in the story. The final product of this activity was a theme statement poster that students presented to their classmates. This style of presentation is one of two that I do in my class; this one being the "quick and easy". I'll talk later in the blog about the other presentation style. Basically, the "quick and easy" style has students working in small groups towards a common goal. They're given 1-2 days in class to accomplish their goal before presenting it back to the class in a 1-3 minute presentation. I was impressed by the conversations I heard this week. Most students had already read the stories (some multiple times). However, students discovered that reading through a "lens" (this time, theme) requires a reread and a closer focus on the story elements. Everyone did a great job! Some posters even ended up in the library on display!!! Special shoutout and thanks go to Mrs. Schwoerer for her continued support of this fun activity, both in my classroom and in the library. THANKS MRS. SCHWOERER!!! YOU ROCK!


Over the next three weeks, the last three weeks of the first quarter, we'll be moving fast and packing a lot into our days. Next week we'll be moving onto theme as it relates to the book club book your son or daughter is reading with their small group. Monday and Tuesday in class will be spent building the final product, a slide show and book talk that will be presented to the class. This type of presentation is the "academic, scholarly, and professional" kind. Students, at the time of their presentation, will have had six weeks of preparation for the project from joining a group and getting a book, to reading and talking about it, and finally building the project in class. Please note that the two days I'm providing in class won't be enough to complete the slideshow. Students will need to work outside of class as well. These presentations last between 5 and 7 minutes and are the culmination of all the hard work the students have done over the past six weeks. Students have had the calendar and guidelines for the project for six weeks; I'll be handing out the guidelines and rubrics as a review next week as well.

 Lastly, your son or daughter should have brought home an information packet and invitation to join Mr. Townsend and I in Boston next summer. If the packet never made it into your hands, talk to your son or daughter about this amazing opportunity. This isn't a Laguna sponsored trip; it just happens to be led by three Laguna teachers. If you're concerned about the price, here's everything you get on a World Strides trip (World Strides is the travel company we're using): you get transportation to and from Laguna Middle School and LAX, transportation in Boston, admission to ALL exhibits/museums/activities in the itinerary, ALL meals, airfare, hotels, night security at the hotel (World Strides hires a security guard to stay in the hallways overnight to ensure that all students are safe and in their rooms), and health insurance while on the trip. It's quite a bargain when you realize everything that's included! If your son or daughter is interested, or you want more information, refer to the invitation/information packet that was sent home. If you need an extra packet or have any other questions, please don't hesitate to contact me or Mr. Townsnd (mtownsend@slcusd.org). We would love to have your son or daughter join us on the trip!

Question for the dinner table/drive home:
1. What will you need to do this week to ensure you and your group are successful in completing the slideshow for the independent book project?
2. What did you like about the book club project? What would you change for next time?
3. How can you ensure that you end the quarter on a good note?

Warmest wishes,
Kevin Laffin

Class website: https://sites.google.com/a/slcusd.org/laffin/home

Join my Remind classes to receive reminders and updates. Text the following codes to 81010:
Period 1- @laffin1
Period 2- @laffin2
Period 3- @laffin3
Period 4- @laffin4
AVID (Period 6)- @avidlams

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Week 5: Progress Reports, Tone and Purpose, and Moving on from Characterization (week of 9/22/2017)

...and just like that, it's progress report time. I was going to spend a little more time talking about progress reports but the Lancer Lines covered most of what I was going to say this week. I'll talk specifically about my class in relation to progress reports and then I'll move on to this week's book club focus.

I can't believe we're already heading into our sixth week. Time has a tendency to fly in San Luis Obispo and this year is no different. To echo what Mr. Calandro said in the Lancer Lines, progress reports are being mailed out next week and you should receive them Thursday or Friday. For those of you checking PowerSchool regularly, the grades shouldn't be a surprise. If you haven't had a chance to check PowerSchool, I'd suggest setting aside five minutes each week to log in and check progress. Progress reports and quarter/semester grades tend to be a surprise for some students and parents alike. The solution to that issue is to check PowerSchool on a regular basis. Most of the teachers in middle school, myself included, don't send home daily or weekly progress reports. We communicate successes and failures using PowerSchool and that tends to be about it. Unfortunately for many classes, quarter and semester grades mark the end of the "turn in" period for student work. Specifically, in my class, I don't accept any work that was assigned in quarter one past the end of quarter one (October 20 this year). I assign the homework to check PowerSchool weekly for my students but they sometimes forget to check. Again, to make sure there are no surprises when it's too late, I'd suggest setting time aside to check PowerSchool with or without your son or daughter.

As a reminder, any zeros in the gradebook right now can still be made up for late credit. The final due date for this quarter is October 20, 2017. Late credit is 10% off of what the student earns on the assignment. If you notice a zero online, please talk to your son or daughter and form a plan to remedy it.

This week, we wrapped up our study of the elements of characterization. We'll continue looking at characters in the stories we read throughout the year, but the "intro to characterization" is over for the most part. We practiced identifying character traits using Pixar's "La Luna". We also practiced our skills by looking at written examples of characterization, using our knowledge of characterization to assign character traits and note where those inferences came from. Students took their characterization quiz on Thursday and I was thrilled with how well they did. Because this mini-unit is 21 terms long (not including identification questions), I expected the scores to be a lot lower and figured we'd use this as a learning tool to guide our learning in the upcoming weeks, eventually retaking the quiz. Characterization is tough and identifying it can be tricky. My students this year are doing an amazing job with characterization so far! The average score for all 140 of my students was 24.81/25. The highest score was 30/25 and a solid number of students got the 5 extra credit points. Well done to everyone for studying hard and acing the quiz!

For books clubs this week we focused in on the author's tone and purpose for writing. An author's tone is their overall attitude towards the subject they're writing about. Tone can be neutral, positive, or negative. When students identify a tone as positive or negative, I ask them to assign a specific quality to the story. For example, calling Suzanne Collins' tone in "The Hunger Games" 'negative' wouldn't be enough. Students would have to take it a step further and name the specific negative tone in the work; in this case, the tone would be dark, mysterious, suspenseful, and sometimes horrifying. An author's purpose is a bit easier. There are three purposes we'll be identifying this year: to persuade, to inform, or to entertain. In the case of book clubs this week, the purpose for each and every book was first to entertain and second to inform or persuade (the students could identify this specifically based on their individual story). I didn't mention this to the students because I wanted them to use their skills to identify the primary purpose and the secondary purpose. From what I heard in book clubs yesterday, it sounds like everyone did a great job looking at the details in their book to identify tone and purpose.

Next week's book club focus is the elements of the story (the plot). We'll be moving on to theme as our in-class focus next week, which is a little tougher. The final book club paragraph and meeting will focus on theme so we'll spend some time really learning theme in a fun way next week.

Question for the dinner table/drive home:
1. How are your grades for this progress report? Are they what you suspected? Why or why not?
2. What is one area you'd like to improve in over the next six weeks of school? How are you going to make that improvement?
3. How can you identify tone and purpose in a piece of writing? Is there every only one tone/purpose in a piece of writing? Why or why not?

Warmest wishes,
Kevin Laffin

Class website: https://sites.google.com/a/slcusd.org/laffin/home

Join my Remind classes to receive reminders and updates. Text the following codes to 81010:
Period 1- @laffin1
Period 2- @laffin2
Period 3- @laffin3
Period 4- @laffin4
AVID (Period 6)- @avidlams

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Week 4: Character Study, Grades in the Gradebook, and Late Work(week of 9/15/2017)

We've got a lot to talk about this week (mostly tips and tricks as we head into the meat of the quarter and beyond). Things have been going great in G-6 so far!!!

I'll start by talking a bit about Remind and Google Classroom. Regarding Remind, all students are required to join my Remind classes via their cell phone OR school-issued email. Some students noted that they were confused about not receiving credit even though you, their parent/guardian, joined. I, of course, encourage you to be a part of my Remind classes and welcome you to them. However, I need ALL students to be enrolled either via email or cell phone. If their score is a zero on PowerSchool, it's either because they haven't joined yet or the name they joined with doesn't match my records (thus, I can't give credit until I know who the student is). If your son or daughter has a zero online, please help them get enrolled in my Remind class by heading to the end of this blog for further instruction.

Regarding Google Classroom, I spoke with our IT department and they've noted no issues in joining Google Classroom as a parent. We, as a district, currently don't have any blocks on parents joining Google Classroom so you should have no issue joining my classes. An amazing parent shared some directions for joining she found online. Please consider taking a look there if you're still having issues joining. The codes I emailed out were directly copied from Google Classroom so they shouldn't be incorrect. I'm sorry for any inconvenience this process has caused. If you're still having issues joining after this point, I'm sorry to say that there's nothing I can do. I'm happy to assist you in any way possible but I'm not sure what more we could be doing. Please feel free to contact me for further support.

Next, I want to talk about grades. Don't freak out, this is actually a good thing. If you've logged into PowerSchool you may have been surprised by what you saw. Most students are above 100% in my class thanks to the rubrics I grade with (every rubric I use is graded "At standard" online with "Above standard" being extra credit). Some students, however, have less-than-stellar grades. Not to worry, there's an explanation for this (and there's still time to change those grades). At this point in the school year, most (if not all) classes have very few assignments in the gradebook. Any zeros or less-than-great work take a much larger toll on the overall grade due to that lack of points. For example, if a teacher only has ten points in their gradebook and a student turns in one five-point assignment (and receives full credit) and fails to turn in the other five-point assignment, their overall grade in that class is 50%, or an F. As the quarter and semester roll on, it will all even out. In my class specifically, students can make up assignments for only a 10% deduction on what they earned. All assignments assigned in first quarter can be made up for this credit until the end of the quarter (October 20, 2017). Long story short, if you notice a zero online, encourage your son or daughter to get it taken care of sooner than later and all will be back to normal on PowerSchool.

Speaking of grades, it's time to talk about my late-work policy. I mentioned it briefly at Back-to-School night and I'd like to clarify it now. You can visit this policy, and my other grading policies, at my website by clicking on "Grading Policies". At its most basic, any zero online represents an assignment I don't have whether it's late or a student was absent. The assignment will remain a zero until the assignment has been turned in (absent students have an extension and will receive full credit until that extension is up). Assignments turned in without a name are counted as late. Any assignment assigned this quarter can be made up until the end of the quarter (October 20). After that date, the zero will remain. So far, my students have been doing well with taking responsibility for their late assignments. They've kept on me to get the grades online as soon as possible, which is a goal of mine this year. Late assignments are graded when I can get to them. My main focus is grading the current assignment and focusing on getting materials ready for the next day/week. I'm well aware that I take a bit longer to grade late work so I'm diligently working on holding myself accountable to get grades in sooner than later. If a zero is sitting online longer than is comfortable, feel free to shoot me an email inquiring about it and I'll remedy the problem. Thank you in advance for your support and understanding.
Lastly, we shifted our focus from the general plot of a story to a laser focus on characterization. We learned how writers craft real and memorable characters and looked at character traits. We identified character traits in both "For the Birds" and "La Luna", making inferences about these characters and supporting them with detail from the films. My classes are off to a great start with characterization and I know they'll continue to excel this year!

On Friday we had our second book club. Like last week, it was one for the books (unintentional pun, for the win) and I spent the day impressed by each and every one of my classes.
Here's what a typical book club day looks like in G-6:
1. Students walk in. I brief them on the day.
2. Students get into book clubs, grabbing their Chromebooks and sharing their PrepParagraph with their group.
3. Students then continue the conversation using the "Conversation Cues" handout and the focus questions I have projected on the screen in front of class.
4. When I've heard a group having a prolonged, good conversation, the group earns their group notes for the week.
5. Groups work together to complete their notes on the day's conversation. These notes will be used to help the group build their final project, a book talk.
6. Once everyone in the small group is done with their notes, students get an individual reflection sheet for the day. This sheet is their exit ticket; students cannot leave class until they have individually completed it. If students are late to their next class, it's on them. Students are generally late because they have elected to not use their time wisely earlier in the period, delaying the overall process.

Question for the dinner table/drive home:
1. What is the STEAL method? How does this method create good characters?
2. What is your favorite character from a book? What is it you like about them so much? What did the author do to make this character your favorite?
3. How are your grades looking? What can you do to make improvements, if needed? How can you maintain these grades (if no improvement is necessary)?

Warmest wishes,
Kevin Laffin

Class website: https://sites.google.com/a/slcusd.org/laffin/home

Join my Remind classes to receive reminders and updates. Text the following codes to 81010:
Period 1- @laffin1
Period 2- @laffin2
Period 3- @laffin3
Period 4- @laffin4
AVID (Period 6)- @avidlams