Sunday, October 23, 2016

Week 7: Looking Ahead and Researching our Passions (week of 10/21/16)

Who knew that seven weeks could fly by so fast? It feels like it was just last week when I got a new batch of timid seventh graders in my class, bright eyed, bushy tailed, and (mostly) ready for the school year. Here we are mid-October and they've found their voice, both in their writing and in presentations. They've dabbled in some personal responsibility and have either found success or have failed but learned something new for next time. We've worked had and played hard. Next week, you'll see the results of your son or daughter's work on their quarter report card. Whatever grades get sent home, use them as a tool for focussing on the future. If they're good grades, focus on how your son or daughter will keep them great. If they leave a little (or a lot) to be desired, form an action plan to find success in this next quarter. Review the tools available on and off campus as well as the support system that your son or daughter has (you, me, and the Laguna staff). Whatever the grades, please please please focus on the successes as much as the failures. Too often, we, as humans, focus on the negatives and forget that there actually are positives, too.
Please note: any assignments with a zero on PowerSchool will now remain a zero on PowerSchool; they cannot be made up at this point. If I received an assignment before the Friday, October 21st, 2016 deadline and it's not online, those assignments are the exception. I'm working on getting those graded and online.

The new quarter brings a new Independent Book Project. I spoke briefly about it in last week's blog, but I'll refresh your memory. This quarter, students are focussing on nonfiction (a specific topic that's not a biography or autobiography). There is no page limit this time; however, students must read five different sources with one of those, minimum, being a book. We'll be compiling the information we find into an infographic to present to the class. On Friday, we spent the day with Mrs. Schwoerer in the library talking about research and finding a book for this project. To do so, we reviewed the CRAAP test before checking out a book. The students did a great job looking for a book and/or source that perfectly meets the CRAAP criteria. As we move forward in this project, please help ensure that the online resources you son or daughter chooses also meets the CRAAP criteria.

Also this week, we studied theme. We got some notes on Monday, which was a bit more of a review since our sixth-grade teachers knocked it out of the park last year. I'm really impressed with the knowledge base my students are coming in with; that means we get to have more fun! Speaking of fun, I gave my students a picture book on Wednesday and had them read it aloud and find the theme in their small groups. Together, they identified the theme and found three pieces of support from the story. They then elaborated on their support and how it fit the theme. I had them compile this information onto a poster to present back to the class in what we call a "quick and easy" presentation. These presentations, from creation to conclusion, take less than two days. They teach my students to work smarter, not harder, and to really focus on the important information. We'll be doing another "quick and easy" presentation next week to introduce "The Outsiders".

Question for the dinner table/drive home:
1. What were your successes this quarter? How can they help you as we move into second quarter? What were your failures this quarter? What did they teach you for second quarter?
2. What is the CRAAP method when you're researching a topic? Why is it important?
3. What topic did you choose for your Independent Book Project? Where can you find good, credible sources to support your research for this project?

Warmest wishes,
Kevin Laffin

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