Weekly Email: Cells, Parent Conferences & Looking Ahead

Hello!

Thanks so much to all of the parents who traveled to school for the days of conferences. It was rewarding to talk to you about your students’ progress, successes and challenges. I believe that a strong foundation has been formed in science class and look forward to the rest of the year with your students. I’ll end this email by giving a brief overview of the remaining units for this year.

If you had walked by the classroom the day before conferences began you would have likely stopped and wondered what in the world was happening. Students were gathered in a circle around the center of the table and each making different sounds and motions. What was going on? Well, as students entered class that day, each was given a potential role performed in a different part of a factory. For example, some were the powerhouse, providing energy to the factory, others were the headquarters, giving directions to departments in the factory, while others may have been storage tanks or disposal systems. In seven minutes, they were asked to describe their area of the factory and make a sound and motion. We shared ideas and then got the factory running, so the sounds and motions one would have seen when passing the room were of our factory in full operation.  Controlled chaos!

The purpose in this short exercise was to provide a tangible introduction to activities found in different parts of a cell. The powerhouse links to the mitochondria of the cell whereas the headquarters represents the nucleus. We then watched this amazing animation of someone’s interpretation of activity inside a cell. In both our class example and the animation, it was evident that a lot of activity happens at once inside a cell.

This was the jumping off point to the current project. Students have been asked to create a project that describes the organelles and activity of those organelles in a way that does not simply give a description. My factory analogy was an example. Each role in the factory corresponded to a cell organelle. I look forward to seeing the projects of students as they have been given a wide-open range of options. (This project is due next week – please discuss with your student.)

What’s coming up next?

1. In a couple of weeks, we will begin an integrated (Mathematics, Humanities and Science) unit. In Science, our focus will be in the realm of Earth Science. We will study plate tectonics and how constructive and destructive forces have interacted with and helped form today’s landforms.

2. January – Human Body systems

3. Spring Break on – Force and Motion

As always, please let me know if you have any questions, comments or concerns. It was great talking with you and I hope that everyone has a wonderful weekend!

Upcoming Parent Conferences

Well, a week holiday to begin October helped recharge the batteries as the first quarter comes to an end. Parent conferences are around the corner. It’s a quick process – 80 families in 10 minute slots. Here’s my weekly parent email that hopes to add some structure to the conference:

Hello,

I hope that all families had a wonderful October break. It was nice to reconnect with students after the holiday and hear their stories. In my homeroom class, we went around the room to share out one word that described a person’s current mindset. Some of the words that captured the mood of the day and week in that (and the other) class(es) include:

“Excited”

“Fresh”

“Eager”

“Tired”

“Sick”

It is hard to believe that a quarter of the year is finishing up this week. In science, I have been quite impressed by the development of students in the little bit of time we have shared so far. Deeper thinking is beginning to happen. Students are connecting evidence collected in labs and other activities to science concepts as they explain ideas. This week, we wrapped up ideas about photosynthesis though we will continue to check in with this important concept throughout the year.

Parent-Teacher Conferences – These will take place next Thursday and Friday. I hope you have already signed up. If not, please do so. Conferences are 10 minutes long and I hope to be as efficient as possible in those 10 minutes. As you schedule, please give time to move from class to class. My actual classroom is Room 2630, which is located beside the MPR on the second floor. During conferences, I will need your help to stay on time. Please help me respect end times. Thanks!

Goal of Conference: I want each student to have the most successful year possible and this takes work between myself, the student and you. As the first quarter ends, let’s celebrate the current science foundation that your student has and look for areas that need improvement.

Flow of Conference: The following general flow will guide us through the 10 minutes:

  1. Review of Student Reflection – Prior to conferences, students will complete a reflection based upon the past quarter. It is important to hear their voice regarding performance, successes and challenges. This will be a springboard for discussion. At the end of the conference, please take the reflection form with you so that you can also follow-up with your student.
  2. Areas of Improvement – What can be done both in and out of the classroom to help your student be successful? Please help me anticipate your questions and/or concerns by answering the items below via a return email.
  3. Follow-Up Plan (if needed)

Parent Feedback

  1. Please provide input regarding how your student feels about working in groups during class.
  2. Do you feel that your child is working in a safe environment that allows him/her to be successful? If not, what additional needs does your child require to be successful?
  3. What challenges does your child have in science?
  4. How can your child be best challenged in science?

Thanks so much for your thoughts. Ten minutes is a short time but I hope we can have a good conversation regarding the learning of your student.