Class Update

Class Update

Good afternoon everyone!

Here are some bits of info for you all:

Squamish Training
Yesterday and today, all parent volunteers for the Squamish Bighouse program (including myself) have participated in a full day training. All of us are very excited and can’t wait to go back to experience this with the kids. It may have been pouring rain while we were there on Saturday but the forest was completely covered with moss and that in itself made up for the lack of sun.

Please don’t forget the following:

1-The students MUST dress warmly and bring LOTS of layers and waterproof clothes (jacket AND pants).

2-Even if we’re going in April, we should expect to be COLD at night. Many parents take this lightly but having a super warm sleeping bag is crucial. I plan on using my -12 sleeping bag, which I bought at MEC for a very reasonable price over 10 years ago. Packing a Nalgene bottle is also a great idea as if too cold at night, it’s possible to fill it up with hot water and keep it close to the body. I do this all the time when I go winter camping and it’s very helpful (and much better than any of these chemical hand warmers often found at MEC). Please note that other types of bottles often leak. I have never had a problem using a Nalgene bottle.

3-The students will be around campfires at various times of the day and if not careful, flying embers may burn holes in clothes. No FANCY clothes please!

4-There is a first aid attendant on all day and night and only a few minutes away from the Bighouse. It is SAFE!

5-No electronics please. This means no cell phones, no iPods, no headlamps, no flashlights. If the students need flashlights, they will be provided to them when in Squamish.

6- All items must be labelled! From experience, many items get lost. I do not have time to sort things out and if these items don’t get claimed when we come back to class, they either get donated or thrown away. (and yes, it happens all the time, even during regular school days!)

Comfort Kit
I am also asking that all students bring a comfort kit with them. A comfort kit consists of a family picture and a little snack from home your child likes to eat. Something that should bring a little smile on your child’s face should he/she feel homesick. These two small items must be kept in a sealed Ziploc bag, to avoid attracting animals and labelled. Please send them to me as soon as possible as I will be in charge of keeping them. Obviously, homemade cookies may not be the best option but should you want to bake a treat for your child, it will have to wait until after Spring Break. I completely understand if this is the case.

Times Tables, Addition and Subtraction Facts
At this time of the year, all students must know these. However, many students still struggle in this area. I am asking that you please take 5 minutes every night to review them with your child. I speak from experience and I know that if these are not being memorized right away, everything that comes after will be a lot more difficult.
We are currently learning various mental math strategies. Here’s an example of what students will soon be expected to do in their head, without the use of a calculator or a pencil.

4 x 63

The mental process should be as follows:

4 x 60 = 240
4 x 3 = 12

240 + 12 = 252

Not knowing how to do 4 x 6 makes this task impossible to do.


Spelling/Dictée Program

I’ve made the decision to cancel spelling/dictée at home. As much as I think that knowing how to spell is important, I don’t think that it reflects true learning, especially not when students are given the same list of words. Many students have told me that they spend a few hours every week studying their spelling words. Instead of working on memorizing words, I now encourage all students to read more at home. In general, good spellers are also good readers. That’s where it all begins. I already notice a huge difference since the beginning of the school year. So spend some time reading aloud together. Cuddle on the couch and share a good book with your child. These memories will be very special for you and your child. Thanks for your understanding with this!

Learning How to Type
Your child needs to learn how to type using the proper method. Our school has a Tap’Touche subscription and I’ve created an account for everyone. This could be practiced at home a few times per week. The Tap’Touche link can be found on the school blog or if you prefer, you can add it to your favorites on your home computer.

Students enrolled in the strings program now have access to Mme Fong’s blog. She is a very dedicated teacher who took the time to create this blog for her students and I’m very impressed with it!

I think parents should be aware that maintaining a blog or creating a website is completely optional and we are not mandated to do so. It may look like a norm at our school but it is not representative of what usually takes place in other schools. This is important to realise as many teachers prefer not to use email or create blogs and/or websites and we need to respect their choice.

That’s all I can think of for now. Thanks for taking the time to read this!