Mr. Gaynor's Classroom  *  Clague Middle School  *  6th & 7th Grade  *  Ann Arbor, MI  *  2013-2014

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April 11, 2014:  I hope you have been enjoying Spring Break with your children.   As much as I have missed seeing them this week, I am glad you are having the pleasure.

6th grade Field Trip - Tuesday, May 20:  I am in the process of arranging a field trip to the U-M Campus, which will include a docent guided tour of the U-M Museum of Art in connection with the social studies curriculum.  I also expect to include visits to the Kelsey Archaeology Museum and the Map Room on the top floor of the Graduate Library among other stops.  We will be going via city buses.  With nearly 60 students we need 4-5 parents to help chaperone (The museum requires one parent per small group).  Please let me know if you can join in.

Also that week I will be giving a presentation of my five week Teacher Study Trip to South Africa at the downtown Public Library, on Thursday, May 22, from 7:00 - 8:30 pm.

Along these lines, I have been accepted for a three week teacher study trip in India this summer.   The theme, "Ahimsa: Teaching for Peace" is perhaps specially relevant, as I am continually working to improve my teaching, and finding positive ways to help students do their best. 

I have been doing a massive amount of grading over Spring Break:  7th grade Projects, 6th grade Math Tests, and several other assignments turned in recently.  Please have your child check Power School and notify me on Monday or Tuesday of any discrepancies.   For missing work, the assignment MUST be in hand.   "But I turned it in" is not convincing evidence of having done so; it's always a good idea to check the "No Name" bin.  3rd quarter grades must be finalized by Wednesday morning.    I made it clear that last Friday was the last day to turn in work - students had enough notice on all assignments.   Unless particular circumstances warrant, I will not accept late work for 3rd quarter, or will do so with a 50% late penalty.

We start the 4th quarter on Monday, and we start a new grading period - everything starts fresh.  We are starting new units as well, so it's a good time for everyone to get their ducks in order.   To begin with, students should remove old and unneeded papers from their binders, and resolve to keep everything organized and up to date.  For the 4th quarter, the late penalty will increase over time: the later it's turned in, the greater the penalty, up to 50% of the grade.   Students who turn in work late due to absences MUST write "AB" at the top of their paper.

6th Grade Math Page:  We will be using a supplemental book for one week only, doing only Inv. 3, showing integers - positive and negative numbers - on a number line, and coordinate pairs (e.g., 3, -4) on the Cartesian Plane.  Students will also have a set of 5 problems daily that will serve as a review, doing calculations and estimates whenever appropriate.   We'll also be getting more work with rounding and estimation strategies.  .  Students are to do these on the day assigned.   Classroom participation will count in 4th quarter grades.

 I collected and graded a number of assignments to end the 3rd quarter that were due by last Friday.  These will be returned on Monday.  

The unit math test was scored out of 30 points, though it was possible to get 34 points (or more by doing more estimates than I specifically asked for).   At the end of 1st hour several students said they did not have time to finish, so I gave them more time in advisory.  For the few students in 5th hour who didn't finish, I pro-rated what they did, so time was not an issue.  Here is some data:
I feel the test, taken directly from CMP, was valid and reliable; by that I mean it was a fair test and tested what we covered.  In most cases scores reflected the level of attention, focus and understanding that students demonstrated in class and on their homework.  Students who could explain concepts and make connections did better than those who solved problems mechanically.   As with all things, both thoughtfulness and practice make a positive difference.

6th Grade Social Studies

Our last two units in the textbook are on the Greeks and the Romans.  We'll finish our survey of the five major world's religions with a unit on Islam.  Also stay tuned for news of a combined Language Arts / Social Studies Research Project. 

7th Grade Social Studies

I will be returning the Travel Journal projects on Monday.  Most students dug in and did a great deal of work on this ambitious project, and I tried to recognize this in the scoring.  Congratulations to all who completed this.   Perhaps I could have done a better job of making clear that simply mentioning a research topic does not entitle one to maximum points; some students gave themselves more points on their self-evaluation.

Many students in my 6th hour class are choosing to present highlights of their Travel Journal.    My 7th hour class has already begun their combined L.A. / S.S. project with Mrs. Malley and their attention is focused there.  Both classes will be doing a "Capstone Presentation" in my class after their research is done and paper is written.  
We will finish our extended work on South Africa this week.  Having watched the movie, Invictus, students are to memorize and recite as much of the --> poem as they are able to.  

We will then move to Asia - starting with a brief look at Islanbul, a city that bridges two continents, along with the West and the East.  From there to India and then to China.  

Additional links for potential use:
History Alive:   Journey of Mankind * Lascaux Cave Tour * Catalhoyuk *  Mesopotamia * Taxation * 67 Minutes for Mandela 
Current Event Summary Guide  * 
Bibliography FormatsHindu Deities * Civil Rights Movement * Travel Journal Project
Math Reflections Guide
Measurement Units Project
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Intro letter  *   Mid Year Review 2nd hour Soc. St. Grade 6 class code: SGMIJ   //  6th hour Soc. St. Grade 7 Class Code: FVCJG  //  7th hour Soc. St. Grade 7  Class Code: VCPSZ