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)