29 April 2011

Handwriting and Keyboarding Tips

A focus until the summer vacation will be on clear communication through writing by hand and on the computer. Over the next few weeks students will be bringing home handwriting journals each evening to help them begin or continue the transition from print to cursive handwriting. This takes time but short regular practice will encourage this change. 

Your child can use a pencil, an easy flow ink fountain pen, a roller ball pen or fine line marker to practice by hand. Please cross out a mistake with a single straight line, rather than erase. The handwriting journal should be in school each day for exercises to be added. 

Students should also use our typing skills site to practice their key boarding skills. Kathy and I suggest alternating between Typing Chef, BBC Dance Mat Typing and E-Learning For Kids (EFK) as the main programs. There are many other games on the site that can be played when a change is needed. To make practice more effective students can cover their fingers with a light cloth so the keys are hidden. 

This Week
The first handwriting exercise will come home on Monday evening. I will add a new one each day (Monday-Thursday). This week will be a revision of basic letter formation and correct posture. All exercises should be completed by Monday 9th May. Students can repeat the exercises as many times as they have time for. Please check your child is keeping the letters within the lines correctly and that each entry is dated.

Kathy will be running a keyboarding lesson on Tuesday to remind students of rules and and to look at the different programs. 
Personal Connections Time Recommendation (Homework)
5-10 mins handwriting
5-10 mins typing
10 mins reading
Spelling groups 
Here is some background information for you to help support your child:
Handwriting Posture
Good posture is important and plays a key role in handwriting skills. Bad posture creates stress on young spines. Here are some tips to get that perfect posture for your child:
  • Make sure you child has her own table and chair for writing purposes (height has to be adjusted as per the child’s height).
  • Feet have to be flat on the floor or on a foot rest.
  • The child’s back has to be supported by chair. The child’s bottom has to be pushed into the back pocket of his/her chair.
  • Head has to balanced on top of shoulders, it should not tilt sideways or lean forwards.
  • It's not good to have too much strain on their shoulders (bending too much sideways to write)
  • The free hand is flat and used to keep the paper still.

Goals for Handwriting
  • The short lower case letters are of the same height. 
  • The upper case letters and tall letters are the appropriate height.
  • Words are evenly spaced.
  • Letters in the words are spaced properly.
  • Letters have a similar slant.
  • Letters are "seated" on the line.
Use these tips to improve writing technique:
  • Grip the writing device far enough away from the point (about 1-1 ½”/ 3-4 cm) to see what is being written. This also helps avoid smearing.   
  • Tilt the paper so your arm is at a right angle to the bottom edge of the paper. 
  • Position the top right corner closer to you when you write.   
  • Keep your hand below the writing line and your wrist straight.  
  • Don’t worry about writing with a right slant. Upright or left-slanted letters are just as easy to read.  

Please avoid:
  • Don’t hold a pen or pencil in a “death grip”.  Too much force can cause joint pain, cramps, fatigue and muscle weakness. Cursive writing is free flowing and requires far fewer strokes to complete.  
  • Avoid white knuckles, excessive flexion (bending of a limb or joint), or hyperextension (the movement of a limb beyond its normal range) of the thumb and finger joints. These postures can cause forearm stain. 

Handwriting Videos

13 April 2011

And the grand total is................

What a fantastic way to end the term with the announcement of our amazing total at today's special celebration of learning. The pride my class have felt in collecting 712 sfr for Helvetas is immense. Our final task will be to write to the charity and tell them about what we've learned and why we wanted to raise this money. A huge heart felt thank you for your support. Here we are telling the school community about our water campaign:

We discovered it costs 4000 sfr to build a well for 40 families. That means our contribution will pay for 7 of those families to have access to clean and safe water. How fantastic is that!

H's family sent in this brilliant video. It really encapsulates what we've been doing. (There is also some very catchy music that we all liked.)

Another thank you goes to our 'eggcellent' (sorry, couldn't help myself!) egg hunt helpers who have helped dye eggs and hide them. The students had a lot of fun joining in with this traditional Swiss custom.

To wrap up the term I will be sending reports and portfolios home for you to look through and discuss with your child over the holiday. I have reported on the past two units of inquiry, our number inquiry into all four operations and writing to recount as this is something we do all year. Helen our P.E. teacher has also included comments for two areas this time around. Please read the descriptors on the report carefully as these are the targets I am working to with your child over time. I have reported on these developmentally. This means I use different colours to show where they are in their understanding and application of the many different concepts, skills and knowledge we learn about in school. Here's the colour key we use on the report with a little further explanation from me:

This means:
Your child is brand new to this concept and/or 
has just begun learning about it.
Here I give lots of scaffolding and direct teaching 
so your child can access it. Without  guidance it 
would be difficult for your child to do alone. 
Your child is showing more independent understanding 
but still needs some help and prompts from me.
Your child can do this alone and use the knowledge 
and/or skills in different contexts without prompting. 
As always, please let me know if you need further help, particularly if these documents are new to you. 

I wish you all a relaxing holiday and I look forward to seeing you all back on Monday 2nd May for our new unit 'Here and There'! Please remember to pick up free maps on your travels.

11 April 2011

A Week in Pictures

I don't know where the time went last week, so here are a few snap shots of the highlights:
Would you buy this mayonnaise? Advertising with humour!
Would these colourful bowls entice your dog to eat?
How about a new watch?
How does a holiday in Greece sound to you?
Happy Birthday!
Investigating multiples of 3 and 4 in pairs
Pricing our books and toys for our Helvetas sale
Lots of interested customers
A great opportunity to handle money in a real life situation

04 April 2011

Personal Connections (Homework) 4.4.11

For our final Learning Log before the break, I would like you to to put on your mathematician's hat! Collect together real life opportunities that use multiplication and division. If these situations have actually happened to you all the better. Choose how to display each situation and the calculation. Here are a couple of examples: 

If I order 3 Four Seasons pizzas for my family off this menu. Each one will cost 18 sfr.
The total cost would be: 
18 x 3 =  54 
10 x 3 = 30
8 x 3 = 24
30 + 24 = 54
I would spend 54 sfr.

My window is an array. It has 4 rows of window panes and 6 columns of windows. 
There are 24 panes because 4 x 6 = 24.

Due date: Thursday 14th April
Plus:Spellings for my two groups & reading
Start collecting any free maps you find as you go out and about. Please bring them in.