Thursday, June 25, 2015

Dear Future 5th Graders

Advice from a former student to a future 5th grader: "You Can Make Mistakes"

Dear Future Fifth Graders,

Welcome to our class! Welcome to a year of possibilities! Welcome to a year of wonder, adventure, innovation and learning! We are about to embark on a journey together that is nothing like you've ever experienced before!

My name is Ms. King, and although I am your official teacher, I will learn more from you this year than you can even imagine. You see, I have a confession. I don't know everything! I don't know how to do a lot of the things that I'll ask you to do. Let me explain.

Last year, I worked hard to write some grants to provide you with more access to technology. A grant is when money is given to you for a specific reason. Guess what? I was awarded over $7,000 at the end of the year! I'm so excited! It means that you'll have a Chromebook on your desk all day long. It means that you'll have access and use a computer as often as you use a pencil! Wow! That's a change! Can you imagine what it'll be like to have your own computer all day long instead of 40 minutes a week in the lab? As Dr. Seuss would say, "Oh, the places you'll go!"

Here's another confession. I don't know how to use Chromebooks! In fact, I just saw a real one just a few weeks ago when I went to Best Buy to see what they were. Isn't that funny? I'm sure that I'll be able to find the power button, but beyond that, I'm not sure. I'm going to learn from YOU! I'll have to learn quickly because we have a project to complete, and I'm not sure how to do it. Yikes!

I want you to know that I'm a little nervous about starting school. There are more than a few butterflies in my stomach. I'm bound to make mistakes and most likely a lot of epic fails. But, I'm counting on the fact that we can build a community of trust, risk-taking, learning, and sharing. We'll need to! The world will be watching us. Our school district is huge, and we're the ONLY class of 5th graders 1:1 with Chromebooks. Many people will want to know about our class, and we may even have a lot of visitors.

Our classroom will be different in a few other ways as well.
  • We'll focus on our learning; not on grades.
  • You'll have the opportunity to pursue your passion! What do you want to learn?
  • The classroom space is yours. How will you design it?
  • Our classroom will be flipped. (More explanations to come.)
  • You'll take the lead in our class. I will be a co-learner/teacher.
  • Do you know how to code? We'll learn!
This year is sure to be a memorable one! I have high expectations. I hope that this year will be challenging but FUN! You'll have many opportunities to choose how and what you learn. You'll have opportunities to use your imagination, get messy, create, and share with a global audience. The world is our classroom, and you'll be able to Skype/Hangout with authors and experts in the fields of study that are the most interesting to you. You'll be connected to peers around the world, and you'll have a voice through your personal blog.

Unfortunately, we'll need to take the tests mandated by our politicians and school leaders. In fact, our school is going to be a pilot school for even more tests. BUT, we'll work around this total interruption of learning and immerse ourselves in authentic learning that can't be measured by the tests. We'll do our best but won't be defined by a score.

By the end of the year, I hope that you'll consider pursuing a career in a STEM field-especially you girls. I hope that you develop a love for the Arts. I hope that you'll develop a real love for reading and writing. I hope that this year you'll discover the joy and love for learning!

I can't wait to meet you in just a few short weeks!

Ms. King

*NOTE (Obviously this is a little long for a real letter to 5th graders, and contains a little soapbox of mine, but it is a way to process my thinking.)

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