Sunday, March 20, 2016

Week 28: The End of the Quarter, Book Journeys, and College Research (3/18/2016)

It is at this point that I have some good news and some bad news. The good news is that all assignments have been graded and are online. The bad news is that some grades may be a surprise, and not the good kind of surprise. Remind your son or daughter to check the "no name" basket in class. On Friday, there were a lot of papers with no name on them that would have earned full credit. Also, remind your son or daughter that it is their responsibility to check the "absents/extras" box when they're absent for any reason. The phrase "I didn't know" has run rampant lately in my class and my students know that it's absolutely not an excuse I will accept.

Speaking of grades, there is a TON of extra credit that was just put on PowerSchool. On our Travelogue project alone, there were 20 points available for going above and beyond (falling into the "above standard" category). For this project, any student who simply showed up to present and complied with the school dress code received two extra credit points. Any student who showed up looking professional/scholarly OR dressed up as a character from their book earned four points of extra credit. I have a shocking number of students with 100% or higher in my class. Way to go!!! As a reminder, any extra credit from the blue folder in my class or on my website will be graded at the end of the semester.

The Travelogue project is officially over and I am incredibly proud of my students and their hard work. This is the fourth presentation we've done in class and I really saw students taking their knowledge from past presentations and applying it to this one. I can't think of a single slideshow that didn't look professional or scholarly. My students did a great job keeping the words, colors, and pictures down to a minimum while still getting their point across and having fun. I saw a lot of their personalities come out in their slides as well as their presentations. Ask your son or daughter to see their group's slides, they did a great job!!!

You may have noticed that I was absent Monday-Wednesday of last week. I try not to be out of the classroom as much as possible, but I was invited to attend the WEB Conference (Where Everybody Belongs) in Aptos, CA and it was an offer I couldn't pass up. I'll be speaking more about it in later blogs, but what I can tell you is that new and exciting leadership opportunities are coming to Laguna Middle School! Does your son or daughter have it in them to be an amazing leader on campus, but maybe has another elective class in mind? Maybe they want to be a leader but don't want the work that comes with putting on school events. Maybe they want to be a leader but the class is a big step and they want to take smaller steps. The WEB program may be what they're looking for! I will be going into detail later in the quarter but while you wait, please talk to your son or daughter about their interest in being a leader and making Laguna a better place to be!

This week in AVID, the students started their college research project. On Monday, they got to choose the college they're interested in attending. They then took to the internet to explore their college's website to find information like the distance from SLO, how many students attend, how much tuition is per year, the scholarships available, and the traditions the school has. My students spent Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday researching their school to find as much information as they could (the guidelines sheet had a lot of information). We'll also be spending Monday researching. On top of our research, students are turning their work into a poster to present to the class. It's been very exciting to see where my students are thinking of going!

Speaking of going to college, the annual AVID college tour trip is coming up in April. I'll have more information regarding the time and date when I send out the permission slip. We'll be visiting UC Santa Cruz and Stanford University. I'm excited to go on this trip and I know the students are even more excited! It's going to be great.

Questions for the drive home and dinner table:
-You're almost an eighth grader! How much do you think you've grown over the past three quarters? In what areas have you grown?
-What are some of the challenges you've faced in school this year? How have you overcome them?
-What did you learn about working in a group? What will you do differently next time you're asked to work in a group?

Warmest wishes,

Kevin Laffin

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