Parent Letter (8/29): End of August – Lots of experimentation

This year, one of my goals is to open up the possibility of dialogue with the parents of my students. I feel that this connection has been minimal in my teaching practice as I only meet with parents during conferences, random hallway bump-ins or if there are issues. I want parents to feel that they are part of the learning community that includes myself and their students. I plan on writing weekly emails as a way to open up this space. In the past, my blog updates have mostly been used by students and a few parents let me know that they read it. By having a message arrive in their inbox, I hope to become a bit more present. I get the feeling that as students leave elementary school, they slowly become disconnected. Gone are the expectations that teachers email or have weekly letters. I’m fortunate this year in that I’m teaching multiple sections of the same class which allows me to focus on one short message. We’ll see how it goes.

I hope that everyone has enjoyed the blue skies of the past week. Though the days became quite hot, many mornings began with a coolness that could be a sign of the upcoming season change. We spent a little time in class talking about seasons and I encourage everyone to have discussions at home around changes you notice on the rides to school, walking about or in other places. It is powerful when students build a strong connection with the environment around them.

In science class, we have worked on several experiments throughout the past week. Students are doing a great job processing information and planning new investigations. It is hard work! They are being asked to evaluate the evidence gathered in experiments to support or refute the claim that yeast is a living organism. For many students, the expectation of designing investigations and analyzing the results is new. At home, they can be best supported by having conversations around their observations in lab and how these observations can support a claim. Ask questions that attempt to deepen their understanding. It’s OK if you don’t know the answer – just listen and keep asking questions. My hope is that students shift to longer explanations that use their evidence. Keep talking!

Again, I have really enjoyed getting to know your students and appreciate the enthusiasm and energy they bring to science class. It’s hard to believe that the month of August is at an end. As always if you have any comments or questions, do not hesitate to contact me. Please enjoy your weekend and try to spend some time outside looking for changes in the season!

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