Researching by Asking Guiding Questions

Dear Families,

We are investing a lot of energy into our new reading unit. Well, I should say we’re investing as much energy as the past week allowed with its two-day intermission. Students were separated into six groups based on topics they expressed interest in, and each group had a leading question that formed the basis of their research. They looked through various articles that argued both sides of their guiding question. The questions were:

  1. Should we ban plastic bags?
  2. Should we ban plastic water bottles?
  3. Should dodgeball be allowed to be played in schools?
  4. Should animals be kept in zoos?
  5. Should students wear school uniforms?
  6. Should children be allowed to play extreme sports?

One of the hardest parts for students was to put their personal bias aside at the beginning of the research. For example, many students immediately scoffed at the idea of being required to wear a school uniform before they researched the evidence for and against it. The important part is that when we research an argument, we use evidence to help us make our own decision. As students research their topics, they are taking notes and recording important ideas eventually leading them to make an informed decision. In two more school days, we’re going to practice mini-debates about this research where we’ll use our Flipgrid accounts to practice answering our research group’s guiding question and respond to others.

Speaking of Flipgrid, I’m almost done assessing students TedTalks. I am extremely impressed with the quality that students put into recording their TedTalk on their nonfiction reading topic. Speaking is a very important part of learning and it’s often overlooked. Flipgrid is a private classroom account where I can ask the students a question, and they can respond through a video. I have figured out how to share their TedTalk on Flipgrid with you!

At some point this weekend, depending on when my toddler allows me to get some work done, I will be emailing you a private link to view their TedTalk AND the name of the student in the class that your child is responsible for writing/creating a Valentine’s Day for.

Instead of getting a Valentine’s Day card for everybody in the class, students will be asked to just get one for one other student in the class. They can either buy that other student a Valentine, create it using good old fashioned arts and crafts supplies, or create it on their Google account using Google Drawing (I would print it for them at school). In the one Valentine’s Day card for that other student, your child will have to communicate what they enjoy, appreciate, and/or like about that other child or being in a class with that child. We’ll celebrate on Thursday afternoon by exchanging Valentine’s and savoring some treats.

I forgot to mention last week that the 4th and 5th graders participated in the Spelling Bee on Wednesday 1/30. Italia, Anand, Kamryn, Kevin, and Natasha participated in the Spelling Bee from our class. After a captivating 75 minute competition, three students remained. Of those three, Kevin from our class was crowned the victor and won the competition. He correctly spelled the word fulcrum. Kevin will compete in the state Spelling Bee on Saturday 3/9 at the Hollywood Theater in Portland. Congrats to Kevin and to all the other students for competing.

As a reminder, there is no school on Monday, February 18th in honor of President’s Day, but there is school on Friday, February 22nd.

Please enjoy the weekend. With some intriguing weather looming at the beginning of next week, please be aware that I may be sending home some suggestions for how your child(ren) can pass the time in the event school is canceled. Snow days are fun and all, but they can negatively affect the routine of school. Working just a little bit at home can help maintain what’s been gained.

~Mr. B

Idiom of the Week: For Heaven’s Sake as in “For heaven’s sake, next week’s forecast looks crazy!”