Message sent 11/22/15 to families and students whose email addresses are in Synergy.
Hello sixth grade families,
Happy Thanksgiving week! A note about absences, grades, fractions, and after school help...
ABSENCES: If a student is traveling or otherwise gone this week (or for ANY planned absence), PLEASE let Sheli in the office know ahead of time (email@example.com or 503-916-5356). It is really difficult and time-consuming for her to call families to find out what is going on to make sure students are safe. It is not sufficient to have a kid tell teachers or even for a parent to email teachers.
GRADES: Math grades are up to date, but at the moment they only really tell you about effort, particularly on homework. EVERY score in there so far was graded for effort, so the grade has been entirely under each student's control. Anything less than 100% indicates missing work. If you click on "Grade Book" in Synergy (aka ParentVue/StudentVue) and select Math 6 and then Assignment View, you can see what is missing (anything with a 0 score; "absent" means it's OK that it's missing, although it's certainly nice if they do it anyway). Please do look, and if your child has a 100%, please congratulate them and let them know you appreciate their organization, responsibility, and effort! If they do NOT have 100%, maybe it's time for some problem-solving around one of these areas. Math homework is usually pretty short, so please help students keep up with it even on days they have other assignments due, or at the very least, help them remember to catch up as soon as possible.
FRACTIONS: If you've been helping with homework, you know we're working on fractions. According to our state standards, everything about fractions and mixed numbers except for division of fractions by fractions is actually elementary school work, so we can't spend too much time on equivalent fractions, adding, subtracting, and multiplying. Realistically, though, lots of students needed more time in sixth grade reviewing or learning these. After lots of classwork and homework, students have now taken two "feedback quizzes" to get comments on how they are understanding fraction and mixed number addition, subtraction, and multiplication. These have problems that are similar to those they can expect on a unit test in December. The addition/subtraction one was returned to them last week and they revised in class, if necessary. They will get the multiplication one back with comments on Monday or Tuesday this week, but revisions on that will be homework. If a student loses a printout of either of these, they (or an adult) can ask me for another copy by email. http://juliewright.weebly.com/class-activities-blog/fractions-online-activities has some online activities that might help at home or after school. Definitely the most common problem students have with multiplication is with mixed numbers: for instance, 1 1/2 x 2 3/4 would have to be changed into 3/2 x 11/4 if one wants to get the whole product by multiplying numerators and denominators. (The correct answer is 33/8, or 4 1/8.)
AFTER SCHOOL HELP: I am really hoping to see lots of kids in my room on Monday right after school!!! We can make so much progress! Hopefully you all saw the information about after school help which was in the Scroll email. Students should definitely know all about it too, since the information's been in the morning Bulletin for many days, and is also posted outside multiple classrooms, including mine; also, I often remind them in class. I updated my website information too, and changed the Math 6 "Homework" page to be titled "Homework and Support", so it's easier to find.
I hope that was helpful. As usual, please let me know if you have other questions or concerns.
This is a rather dull one, but I'm posting it here so it can be shared with people who don't get email through Synergy.
As you probably know if they surveyed you or if you've been following along with homework assignments, Math 6 students have been doing a big survey project. It's due tomorrow, meaning we've now finished all the required parts as classwork or homework.
I do understand that for students who were sick, and in a few other extenuating circumstances, it could be necessary or helpful to continue work over the weekend. I've spoken or emailed with a few parents about that already and arranged extensions. Please email me or send a written note if you want to explain (or remind me about) a problem that you think may justify an extension. Of course, I'll need to grade these later projects a little later,too so the Synergy grades may lag behind some.
Unless a student has an extension, all parts should be complete for tomorrow (Friday) and ready to hand in on sheets of paper that can be stapled together (behind a title page which we'll make tomorrow) to make the report:
* A titled, labeled table showing what the question was, what answers people gave, and how many people gave each answer.
* A titled, labeled dot plot (circles) or bar graph (rectangle bars) (or, in rare cases, a histogram - special kind of bar graph). The scale on the graph should be consistent unless it has special marks to indicate gaps (I helped people in class with this if needed). The median should be marked on the graph (see instructions on the yellow sheet).
* The green sheet labeled "Measures of Center", which should give mean, range, and median.
* The yellow sheet labeled "Box-and-Whisker Plot," which should include the lower quartile, upper quartile, and interquartile range. (There are instructions for these on the sheet.)
* A box plot. It's great if this is above the dot plot/bar graph, if it fits.
* A printed written analysis describing and interpreting the results (conclusion), addressing the required points listed in the last section of the Data About Us Survey Project white paper. If it is absolutely not possible to print this at home or in the Resource Room before school, students can share the analysis with me and ask me to print it.
The last two were classwork today / homework for tomorrow. Other clarifications we've gone over in class: the original project description made it sound like the categorical question was required, but I am making it (small) extra credit - students can get up to 100% without it; mean absolute deviation will NOT be part of this project; and Periods 5 & 6, as well as some students who were ill, don't need to get to 50 responses (30 is still generally expected).
Related documents are all linked from my homework calendar, http://juliewright.weebly.com/homework.html . If you click on any assignment and then "more details," you can access files as attachments. The attachment on the long bar about the survey project, SurveyProject.Sept2015.AllDocs.pdf, has all of the necessary pages except one that may be useful but is not required, a writing frame for the conclusion, which is attached to the Sept 25th assignment (the Fri due date). Students can, if they want to, open that document, make their own copy, and edit that. (Please read the instructions in the document too.) Most students should have the copy already in their apps4pps.net accounts; they had class time to work on it.
As part of the project, the students interviewed me, and many also interviewed Mr. Locke (the Principal), Ms. McMillen (the Assistant Principal), Mr. Boettcher (eighth grade Math teacher), Ms. Shumway (sixth grade Language Arts teacher), and other adults, and everyone commented to me on the high quality of their questions and how interesting and varied they were. I hope to share some of the reports with you soon on my website!
Dear Sixth Grade Families,
It's been delightful getting to know this year's sixth grade math classes. They are an upbeat and hardworking bunch, and it's fun to be their math teacher. While I can't say I get all 125 of their names right 100% of the time yet -- I'm still struggling a bit with Eves and Evas, and R names -- I'm really close, and I get everyone's name right at least most of the time. In a week or two I'll wonder how I ever could have mixed them up! I'll have a bit more trouble with adults' names, since I don't see you as often, so throughout the year, please feel free to remind me, even after we've met.
I'm emailing you about several topics tonight. So that you can decide what you need to read when, here's the order:
1. Back to School Night
2. Class Web Page
3. Synergy (ParentVue/StudentVue)
5. Religious Holidays and Family Events
6. Class Materials, especially CALCULATORS
7. Data About Us (Statistics) Unit
1. BACK TO SCHOOL NIGHT
I’m excited to have the chance to meet some of you Thursday evening for Back to School Night at da Vinci. The event starts at 6 pm with an all-families meeting, then you'll visit your child's classes in the order they're scheduled. (It's probably helpful to record their schedule and room numbers ahead of time. See the "Synergy" section below.)
2. CLASS WEB PAGE
My class website is at juliewright.weebly.com (also available as a link from my staff page on the da Vinci website). It includes Math 6 information, including the syllabus and homework calendar; information about me, including my contact information; and links to other math websites. I'm still moving some content over from last year's website, msjwright2.blogspot.com (especially links to other sites), so you can also peek at that too if you're curious.
One page ( juliewright.weebly.com/group-guidelines-for-math-6.html ) has the group work guidelines worked out by all of my students together. I think they did an incredibly impressive job! Take a look and let your child know what you think. I believe a lot of adult workplaces could be greatly improved if adults worked together according to these guidelines!
3. SYNERGY (PARENTVUE/STUDENTVUE)
Synergy is the online gradebook. ParentVue is the name of the interface you'll use to look at it. Generally, Grade Book and Calendar will probably be what you'll look at most often, although the class schedule is useful for Back to School Night. I try to enter assignments into the calendar as they're assigned, but I may not enter actual grades for several days after the assignment is completed. If the score for an assignment is left blank in the Grade Book or Calendar (for my class or anyone else's), no need to be concerned: it just means no score has been entered yet. If you see a "Missing" note or a low score, but your child says they have fixed the problem, it may just mean that the new score hasn't been entered yet, although you can check in by email if the score stays low.
At the beginning of a quarter, grades are extremely volatile, since each assignment is a huge portion what's been entered for the grade. In my class, tests and projects are 80% of the grade, but it often takes several weeks before one of these scores is entered. If a test or project score is low, there are correction opportunities which you can read about on my webpage.
Want to get a text or email about each homework assignment? You can sign up at remind.com/join/dvmath6 . I won’t ever see the phone number you enter there. (Your children can sign up too, but need your permission since they are under 13; it asks them for their age.) I will begin posting assignments to Remind after Back to School Night.
5. RELIGIOUS HOLIDAYS AND FAMILY EVENTS
Shanah tovah to those celebrating Rosh Hashana! This holiday reminds me to ask all of you to just keep me posted about religious or family conflicts with our class and homework schedule. Major holidays are always a valid reason to be exempt from homework assignments (these may show up as "absent" in the online gradebook), if a family desires it. I'm also a soft touch for extensions on homework if a family has a big event; a note from an adult helps.
6. CLASS MATERIALS, ESPECIALLY CALCULATORS
Thank you all for helping make sure all sixth graders have binders. It has made a HUGE difference in the ease of organization for my classes as they start middle school, compared to previous years. No more family searches through 9 stores trying to figure out what a quad notebook is!! By ordering in bulk, we were also able to make sure each child has a great binder and math notebook for cheaper than it would cost as individual purchases.
I notice that most students have had plenty of pencils so far, which is great, but only some have calculators with them. Unfortunately, our budget doesn't extend to providing calculators for everyone at school, and for units like the one we're doing now, it's important for everyone to have one. A small $5 or so calculator with basic functions is just fine; in fact, calculators with lots of modes can be more confusing than helpful right now, and can be bigger to carry around.
7. DATA ABOUT US (STATISTICS) UNIT
Finally, a word about our current unit, on statistics. This is the first year I've started with this unit. Usually I've taught it toward the end of the year, but last spring I decided that the survey project which is the centerpiece of the unit would be a terrific and fun way to build community in the fall. (You'll hear more about this project soon.) The only real down side to starting with statistics is that I may be freaking out adults who are trying to help kids, because this topic has the most new material (since we adults learned it in school) of any we'll do all year. If you're wondering how you could have forgotten all this stuff about quartiles, you probably didn't -- it's just that school math has changed! Ask your child to show you the handouts and class notes -- or better yet, explain them to you -- and things will probably start making sense. If your child needs help outside of class, see the bottom of my Math 6 Homework page on the website ( juliewright.weebly.com/homework.html ) for some options.
Also, please don't hesitate to drop by Room 203 some afternoon and ask me questions about what we're doing on this or any other unit, if you want to. Modeling learning is at least as important to your kids as knowing all the answers, and I'd love to know what math seems familiar and useful to you from your own life and work and what doesn't yet.
Hoping your family is having a great new school year so far, and hope to see you at Back to School Night!
Julie Wright (Julie to grownups, Ms. Wright to students)