Ms. Chow's Classroom News

6th Grade GE LA   03/21/2019
Hello!  As you may already know, I returned from maternity leave last Wednesday, March 6th, and had the opportunity for a "transition day" with Mr. Buzard, who caught me up on the units and projects your children have worked on in my absence.  Moving forward, we have started a nonfiction unit: so far, students have learned how to identify different nonfiction text structures.  They have also become more aware of different text features and how those features help organize, emphasize, and enhance information.  This week in writing, students presented "book talks" to the class, teaching their peers about a novel of their choice by providing a brief summary of the book and analyzing characters, conflicts, quotes, and themes.  As always, if you have any questions, please let me know.  Thank you for your kindness, patience, and ongoing support of student learning! 
P.S.  Baby Desmond turned four months old last Friday!
6th Grade GE LA March 4, 2019, Mr. Buzard   03/03/2019
I was pleased to be able to conference last week with parents and share the successes of the past trimester.  Mrs. Chow will be returning on Wednesday, March 6, and I know her students are looking forward to seeing her!  Last week we read a pair of short writing pieces, Saki’s story “The Interlopers” and George Orwell’s personal account “Shooting an Elephant.”   Each provided engaging examples of conflict, cause and effect, and evolving plot lines. We also have connected with the Civil War unit in social studies by comparing and contrasting songs of the Union and Confederacy, translating Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address into “modern language”, and considering the message of his Second Inaugural Address, delivered just a month before his death as the war was ending.  A final writing activity this week is asking students to assume a soldier's role and then write and answer letters across the lines to a childhood friend in the opposing army.  Our last class periods together we will enjoy and critique one of the greatest movies ever made, Buster Keaton’s 1927 classic silent film, “The General.”  Both dramatic and comedic, it is based on an actual event in the Civil War.  With “talkies” on the horizon, this movie that Keaton wrote, directed, and starred in was considered the apex of silent film making, containing some of the most expensive and elaborate scenes ever filmed up to that time.  Watching it together will provide an enjoyable end to the second trimester.  The students know how much Mrs. Buzard and I have enjoyed working with them and how proud we are of their progress in reading and writing.  It has been a privilege to be their teacher for the past twelve weeks and I know they have ‘great things” ahead of them.
Sixth Grade GE LA February 15, 2019, Mr. Buzard   02/20/2019
Our study of The Miracle Worker  focused most recently on Helen’s life after “The Miracle” and is concluding next week with a trio of summative  tests.  Students will write an in-class essay on a dynamic character of their choice, with access to the play and their notes.  An objective summative test on the entire unit will take place at the end of the week and another objective summative test on the vocabulary used in the play will follow early in the week of February 25.  The essay test will be a “writing grade” and the other two will be part of “reading.”  Next we are going to dovetail with social studies by examining the songs and poems of the Union and Confederacy during the Civil War.  Students will analyze similarities and differences of popular camps songs from both sides.  We also hope to spend some time with the speeches of Abraham Lincoln, attempting to "translate" them into modern words.  We will then move next to a pair of short stories with a focus on the four types of conflict found in literature.  Saki’s “The Interlopers” is a fictional work and George Orwell’s “Shooting An Elephant” is a nonfiction piece from his own experience.  Mrs. Buzard has begun a long-term position in seventh grade language arts at Springman and we miss having her in class.  Mrs. Chow will be returning to teach during the first week of March.  I will be available for parent conferences on March 1 and also responsible for the Trimester Two report card grades.  Spending time with the students continues to be a pleasure and privilege for me, and a few weeks from now I will certainly miss all of them.
Sixth Grade GE LA February 1, 2019   02/01/2019
Reading: We are continuing our reading and analysis of William Gibson’s play The Miracle Worker. This past week ended midway through Act Two.  Next week we will continue with Acts Two and Three and along with the theme of the story will focus on literary devices including dynamic and static characters, symbolism, dialect, and the roles of protagonist and antagonist. In addition to the reading and analyzing, students will continue studying about sixty vocabulary words from the text that have been identified as words or derivatives of words that frequently appear on the SAT tests.
Writing: The school cancellations pushed back the start of our applied grammar activities, as we were focused on a strong start to The Miracle Worker in our two days of classes the last week of January.  In November we applied the usage of active verbs and participles in describing “The Storm.”  In December Where The Red Fern Grows was rich in description – adjectives, adverbs, and vivid verbs – and we slowed down our reading to appreciate how the author continually created “pictures” in our minds.  Now we are examining how prepositions and prepositional phrases are used to create relationships in a sentence, describing but without incorporating verbs or subjects in their phrases. By reading and creating “prepositional poems” we will see the power of what Mrs. Buzard terms “the humble little fellows that help phrases within a sentence hook up properly without drawing much attention to their selves.”  Each prepositional poem consists of a series of prepositional phrases, leading up to a single independent clause that completes the poem.  At first, using photos for inspiration, students will compose their poems using a common starting point, and then eventually branch out creatively where their own imagination leads them.  The second preposition activity will be a “bedroom description” piece of writing.  Students will identify the “theme” for their bedroom and then create a “video view” of the room using prepositions to move the reader’s eye throughout the scene, maintaining the theme and depicting the physical relationship of the contents of the room.