What's Happening in Mrs. Tofte's Humanities Class

The Week of April 10, 2017

Pharaoh

The Study of ANcient Egypt and its Pharoahs

Students love the 2nd semester of our 6th grade humanities curriculum, as we delve into learning the ancient civilizations of Egypt and Greece.

The basis of our work is the social studies content units provided by SERB (Strategic Education Research Partnership).

Our current unit is Ancient Egypt and the two focus materials for this study are:

1) Were Pharaohs: Oppressors or Great Leaders?

2) Pharaohs: Wise Investors or Wasteful Spenders?

These units can be found in a packet in each student’s binder. They are dense and bursting with great opportunities for deep discussions and higher-level thinking. In addition, I’ve included more high interest materials to the middle of the student packet and have planned additional learning opportunities to bring this fascinating study alive:

-Philosophical chairs (a type of debate) based on the question each unit poses

-Research Teams

-Digital presentations

-A science experiment

-Coordinating a Skype experience with students to hear an Egyptologist from the University of Chicago speak to them on Egypt and their curriculum (we did our first today with my middle block!)

-Art and music

The Nile Delta, created by students

Egyptian God, Anubis, created by students

Egyptian god, Horus, created by students

Female Pharaoh, created by students

Sphinx, created by students

A 15 second clip of my H-B block class does a Skype-like experience with an Egypt expert from the University of Chicago. Using our curriculum I provided, she deepened the students understanding of ancient Egypt with new and extensive information and answered some of their individual questions.

7th Grade FOrecasting is Here

School counselors came into classrooms last to pass out the forms and explain the forecasting process.

Example of a fully completed Forecasting Form

The Forecasting FOrms are due back to School by Friday, 4/14- Must be Signed by Both Student & Parent/guardian

What are We currently writing about in Class?

Example of the writing materials students are currently working with in Writing Workshop. This is the model I build in front of students for each step of the writing process

Changes in Homework Policy in my Classroom

I have reflected and thought about homework in my 6th grade class for a few years now. I have always felt the homework I assigned was never busy work, but had real value to what I wanted kids to master. However, as we have deep discussions around equity and reflecting even on my own upbringing, it's created a storm of discord inside of me around the topic. The discussion, I recently had with all of my students around homework reflected my thinking...is it fair to expect ALL 11-12 years old to be held accountable for homework? Is that even reasonable? If ALL means ALL in our school and my classroom, do I have a right to expect that, when I have such diverse students? Right now, if homework isn't turned in, it feels like a poor reflection on the student and it impacts their opportunities here at CVMS. At 11-12 years old, is that right? I've come to the answer as...no. So much of an 11 or 12-year-old's life is out of their control. Some kids come from stable families, regardless of the language they speak, where time to study if valued and made a priority. Some kids go home to an empty house and maybe have younger siblings to care for until an adult comes home. Some split their time between two households and they have so much to keep track of that homework can fall by the wayside. My perspective would be different if I taught older kids who can take responsibility for more of their lives, but it seems it’s unfair for many 6th graders. My new homework policy is that I am no longer sending home writing or reading homework. A student can create homework for themselves by falling behind on their classwork and of course, study guides and review work for tests is still required to work on at home, but the Power Writing Homework and the occasional reading packets will no longer be sent home as assigned homework by me. I do hope you understand this rationale. If you have any questions about this new policy, please don't hesitate to ask.

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