** All ‘school activities’ have been postponed or cancelled during our ‘remote learning’ hiatus from school. As more dates are known, we will be updating them.
Topic/Question for the Dinner Table
To help encourage conversations and dialogue about reflection, this past year of learning, with ‘an eye’ towards next year, our topic/question(s) for this week is: How/why was this a good year for you as a learner? How will this help you next year? Time for Reflection and Action (Week of 6/8/20) (This is an anonymous Google Form)
End-of-Year Survey for All Students
We have e-mailed and asked all students to please complete this end-of-year reflection/survey - their responses will help us to better understand their experiences as students and to help students in the future. Please check in with your students and ask them to complete their respective grade-level form. It should only take a few minutes - thanks in advance!
End-of-Year Reflection for Students - 6th Grade (June 2020)
End-of-Year Reflection for Students - 7th Grade (June 2020)
End-of-Year Reflection for Students - 8th Grade (June 2020)
Camp Kinda - From DESE
Camp Kinda: EdNavigator has created Camp Kinda, a free, at-home summer experience designed to keep kids in kindergarten through eighth grade engaged while they’re at home. Each weekday from June 1 to September 1, participating families will get three to four hours’ worth of daily activities, all connected to a weekly theme. Activities will include online and offline offerings. Use registration code KINDA2020.
Hello Blake Families!
A couple of notes about the yearbook:
- Mrs. Buley and I will be submitting our yearbook to the publisher by July 1st and are hoping for delivery around the first week of August. Plans on how to distribute the yearbook to families will come later.
- We are hoping to capture as many moments of this period of remote learning as we can. Please encourage your children to send us photos around the following themes:
Being Fit (hiking, biking, yoga w/ Mr. Nickerson, working out w/Mr. Woods/Mrs. McCullough)
Being with your Furry Friends (how are you spending extra time or having fun with your pets)
Be Socially Responsible (zoom lunch dates with friends or virtual movies dates)
Being Outside (DIY stuff, planting flowers, growing a vegetable garden..)
We cannot guarantee that all pictures will be used but we would love to see lots of them land on the pages of your yearbook! Thanks in advance for your participation. Email us with any questions at all! (email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org)
- Señora Manning & Mrs. Buley
Transition Meeting for Incoming 6th Grade Students
In an effort to help our incoming 6th grade students transition to Blake, each spring Kelly Campbell and I visit the students at Dale Street along with their guidance counselor and share information about Blake (similar to the information shared with parents/guardians at the Parent Information Night in February). Although we are not able to do this 'face to face', we will be holding a 'Zoom Transition Webinar' for all current 5th grade students (incoming 6th grade students) next Thursday, 6/11 at 11 a.m. At that webinar, Kelly Campbell, Jen Dondero, and I will share information, highlight a 'Day in the Life of a Blaker', and provide a time for questions and answers with the students. The webinar will be recorded and we will share the link for those who are unable to attend and for future reference.
Cluster/Advisory Placement Info for Incoming 6th-8th Grade Students
Tentative cluster and advisory assignments will be shared with students/families at the end of the school day via e-mail on Friday, June 12. E-mails will be sent directly to both students and parents/guardians. Please know that clusters and advisories are always subject to change based on budget, staffing, and curricular needs, as well as the possible influx of new students.
Transition Day for Incoming 6th-8th Grade Students
Our 'Transition Day' will look different than in past years, but we want to make sure students are provided an opportunity to 'meet' their cluster teachers for the 2020-2021 school year. 'Transition Day' will take place via cluster Zoom meetings on Monday, June 15 for all incoming 6th-8th grade students. Students and families will receive a link to their respective cluster Zoom meeting when they receive their cluster/advisory placement e-mail on Friday, June 12. The windows of time are as follows...
Monday, June 15
Incoming Grade 6: 9:00-9:45 a.m.
Incoming Grade 7: 10:00-10:30 a.m.
Incoming Grade 8: 10:30-11:00 a.m.
** Information regarding Transition Day for Incoming 9th graders will be shared by Medfield High School.
As conveyed in previous communication, all teachers will be using a Pass/No Grade system for our final term, and our reporting of Pass/No Grade will be focusing on a student’s efforts to engage in learning. Cluster/academic teachers will be completing narratives for students as well. Report cards (Term 3 and Final) will be posted via Aspen and will be posted after June 16, 2020. Information and directions for accessing these reports will be e-mailed to families in the near future.
Parenting Workshop for all Families - 6/11 at 4 p.m.
Pam Forrester (Memorial Psychologist), Dave Worthley (Director of Social Emotional Learning) and Kathy McDonald (Director of Medfield Youth Outreach) will be speaking about all that is impacting our community and its impact on social emotional health as we head into the summer. This will be a panel discussion monitored by Mary Bruhl. Zoom info has been sent to all families.
Message for 8th Grade Families
As I shared a few weeks ago, we are cognizant of the feelings of loss and disappointment that our current group of 8th graders have experienced throughout the year, and we want to provide an opportunity to support, commend, and communicate our gratitude for their growth and accomplishments. With this in mind, here are a few items we want to share...
- Please 'save the date' for a 'Virtual Recognition/Closing Ceremony' for our 8th grade students and families - Monday, 6/15 at 6:30 p.m. Although we will not be able to fully replicate our traditional gathering in the Blake gymnasium, our plan is to provide a program to thank and recognize our 8th graders for their years at Blake and wish them well as they head off to high school. Our current plan is to stream this live (a combination of live and recorded segments), and record it for those who are not able to watch it at that time. Stay tuned for information regarding how to access the program. We anticipate that the length will be about 35-40 minutes in length (yes, an abbreviated message from me will indeed be a challenge!).
- The Blake PTO has graciously put together a gift bag for every 8th grader and we are currently working on the logistics to get these bags to all 8th graders the week of 6/15. The Blake Certificates of Completion will be distributed along with these gift bags.
- In a typical year, we have a picnic for our 8th graders (usually the day of the 8th Grade Closing Ceremony) as an opportunity to hang out, socialize, and simply connect with one another before they become high school students. Our hope is that we will be able to provide an opportunity for our 8th graders to gather for a delayed yearbook signing in late August, right at the time of the beginning of the 2020-2021 school year. This, of course, will be completely dependent on the guidelines outlined by Governor Baker and in accordance with the Medfield Board of Health.
- Medfield High School is still in the planning phases regarding the 'transition information' for our 8th grade students. Stay tuned for more information.
Join the Blake GSA in our celebration of PRIDE this week! Be on the lookout for an email that includes Celebrity Spotlights, featuring some prominent members of the LGBTQ+ community. We also hope you will join us in celebrating a RAINBOW SPIRIT DAY on Friday, June 12. Wear some rainbow swag, take a selfie, and post your selfie to the Pride Padlet! The padlet link will be emailed to all students later this week!
Are you excited for summer reading? We are! Check out Blake's Summer Reading 2020 for incoming 6th, 7th, and 8th graders in the attached docs. Happy Reading!
Blake 6th Grade Summer Reading 2020
Blake 7th Grade Summer Reading 2020
Blake 8th Grade Summer Reading 2020
Blake Middle School Summer Reading Recommendations - Summer 2020
A Message from Blake's ADL Peer Leader Program
Dear Blake Community,
Blake's Anti-Defamation League (ADL) Peer Leader program's primary goals are to learn about bias related issues in order to help educate ourselves and our community to promote positive social change. Given the current environment in our country, we would like to share with you some resources and reading you might find helpful when thinking about bias, racism, and discrimination, especially towards the Black community. This by no means is a complete list, but the following can offer ways to begin and continue the conversation.
Possible books to read this summer:
Ghost Boys by Jewell Parker Rhodes
Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
Dear Martin by Nic Stone
Stamped by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi
Organizations which offer information and resources:
Medfield Public School's Cultural Proficiency Resources
Medfield Public Library's Anti-Racism Resources - there is a lot to look at here: books to read, films to watch, social media accounts to follow
Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture
Redefy- a social justice organization created by teens
Ibram X. Kendi - an anti-racist activist and author
We will be continuing these conversations next year. For those sixth and seventh grade students who would like to join us, we would love to hear your voice.
Blake's ADL Peer Leader Program
Update from the Art Department
All 6th and 7th grade families: Student art portfolios will be held in the art rooms for safekeeping over the Summer. Under 'normal' circumstances, art teachers would organize and return artwork after our Spring All-School Show. Next Fall, it is our hope that we can present an Art show to welcome the students back into the building. Rest assured that all work will be returned to students at some point during next school year.
Blake MS Featured on TeachLab Podcast
Many times I have referenced the work of Justin Reich (@bjfr) and his words regarding coherence in schools as the hallmark of learner-centered communities (image attached)...
If we look at the schools that have grown the most in the last five or ten years, schools that have made really significant improvements for their students in learning, these are the places that have had teacher communities that have been willing to come together and pull their oars together towards the same coherent goals. - Justin Reich
Over the last 10 years, Justin has worked closely with Blake and the Medfield Public Schools, and earlier this week I asked him if we would be up for joining one of our Blake Staff check-ins. We were fortunate that he willingly accepted, sharing his thoughts and answering questions from our staff. Justin's podcast, TeachLab, investigates the art and craft of teaching and his latest episode features Blake and the dialogue he had with our staff. I am proud to be part of such a wonderful, thought-provoking, learning environment for students, staff, and community. If you have 29 minutes, check it out…
Emergency Remote Learning in Middle Schools - TeachLab with Justin Reich (29 minutes)
Messages/Flipgrids for all Blake Students and Families
Please know we are thinking of you, missing you, and wishing you and your families the very best. Check out our Flipgrid 'messages' from the staff to all of the students - take a look and enjoy…
Message to Blake Students/Families - 6/5/20
This week's prompt: Hey Blakers - This week's topic is 'Sharing Our Learning/Advice to Our Middle School Selves’...Share what you have learned about yourself as a learner this year, along with any advice you would give your middle school self. Thanks!
Message to Blake Students/Families - 5/29/20
This week's prompt: Hey Blakers - This week's topic is 'music in our lives'...What role has music played in your life, both as a kid and now as an adult? What did you listen to in middle school? What are you listening to these days? What are your favorites? Thanks!
Message to Blake Students/Families - 5/22/20
This week's prompt: Hey Blakers - In honor of Memorial Day, I have asked the Blake staff to share some reflections about this important holiday...
What does Memorial Day mean to you? Why is it important? Childhood memories of this holiday? How do you honor it typically? How are you planning on honoring it this year? Thanks!
Message to Blake Students/Families - 5/15/20
(This week's prompt: Hey Blakers - This week I am asking the Blake staff to share their favorite place(s) to visit - both when they were younger and now as an adult (and they may be one and the same). Thanks!)
Message to Blake Students/Families - 5/8/20
(This week's prompt: Hey Blakers - In honor of Teacher Appreciation Week, this week I am hoping that everyone can share with our students, families, and community what the best parts are about being a teacher! Thanks)
Message to Blake Students/Families - 5/1/20
This week's prompt: Hey Blakers - This week I am hoping that everyone can share how 'the arts' are a part of their lives....How were the arts a part of your life as a kid (music, art, dance, theater, film, etc.) and how are they now? Why are they important to you? Thanks!
Message to Blake Students/Families - 4/24/20
(This week's prompt: Hey Blakers - In honor of the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day this week (April 22, 2020), please share how nature has been and is a part of your life - as a child and as an adult - thanks!)
Message to Blake Students/Families - 4/17/20
(This week's prompt: Hey Blakers - Tell us about a teacher you had who had a positive influence on you and you are grateful for - and, why. We look forward to hearing your stories!)
Message to Blake Students/Families - 4/10/20
Message to Blake Students/Families - 4/3/20
Message to Blake Students/Families - 3/27/20
Message to Blake Students/Families - 3/23/20
** As noted in the e-mails to students, please take some time to remind them of the importance of respecting 'digital spaces' and not resharing/reposting videos without permission.
Resource for All Families
I want to share a link to the district's resource page/website during our Emergency Remote Learning Period - MPS Resource Page - Remote Learning Period. This site is utilized by staff and houses resources for families as well. I encourage you to check it out!
Blake Student Council
Blake’s Student Council will be meeting this Wednesday from 2:30-3:00. The Zoom code will be shared in the Student Council Google Classroom the day of the meeting. We are looking forward to seeing those who can attend!
Wellness Activities this Week
Last Hurrah! Mr. Nickerson will be offering his final Live Yoga class on Wednesday at 12 p.m. All students and staff are welcome to join! Also, Mrs. McCullough and Mr. Woods are offering their final Live Fitness class on Thursday at 10am. The session will be approximately 20 minutes. While there is no equipment needed, comfortable clothing and sneakers are suggested. The session will include strength, cardio and agility and will be appropriate for all fitness levels. All Zoom details will be in student/staff emails. Hope you will join us!
Message to 8th Grade Families about Trip to D.C.
We have made the decision to cancel this year's 8th grade trip to Washington, D.C. and New York City. Although we had been leaning this way, we wanted to take time to make a thoughtful decision and to gather all information from WorldStrides. We know how much students, families, and staff were looking forward to this experience, but we also know this is the right and responsible decision for everyone's well-being. For many students and families, this decision will bring forth feelings of loss and disappointment and we will do our best to support our students as best we can during this 'remote period of learning'. I want to thank all families for your patience and understanding during this process.
We have been working with WorldStrides to minimize the financial impact for families and are pleased with their responsiveness and the adjustments they have made from their standard cancellation policies. Here is the information...
- All families who purchased the Full Refund Program (FRP - insurance for the trip) will receive a refund in the amount of $950
- For those families who did not purchase the Full Refund Program (FRP), they will receive a refund, with an adjustment of a deduction of $115 that accounts for unrecoverable costs (see FAQ response below from WorldStrides)
- No action is required from families to begin the refund process.
- Due to the high volume of refunds being processed, WorldStrides has asked for your understanding on timing. Families can expect to receive refunds in 6-8 weeks from your scheduled departure date.
Our students and families mean a great deal to us and we are all currently thinking of ways to 'celebrate' and recognize our 8th graders to provide opportunities for closure and connections as we navigate this time period together. As always, do not hesitate to reach out with any questions or concerns.
Why can’t we provide full cash refunds?
We have spent the last several weeks working really hard with all of our vendors to recover as much money as possible. Many vendors are only allowing us to use any type of refund for a school deciding to postpone their trip to later in the year. Bus companies, restaurants and ticket locations have been hit hard by this situation and they just can’t give us cash back. This would include deposits for your buses, Etixs for African American museum, the 9/11 museum, etc. The retained amount of $115 will cover just a SMALL portion of the costs we have incurred. Keep in mind, most student travel happens between March and June so we have spent the last 12 months planning these experiences. There were a lot of internal costs associated with that work and those are funds we can’t ever recover.
Links to Posts/Podcasts Shared During Emergency Remote Learning Period
Emergency Remote Teaching vs Online Learning
This Is the Time
Teaching Without Compulsory School
Brené Brown on vulnerability and courage - 60 Minutes
David Kessler and Brené on Grief and Finding Meaning
Is ‘social distancing’ the wrong term? Expert prefers ‘physical distancing,’ and the WHO agrees),
I Refuse to Run a Coronavirus Home School
Online Learning Should Return to a Supporting Role
Dr. Marc Brackett and Brené on "Permission to Feel" (56:41)
Teens in Lockdown Recording (44:53)
Well: Teens in Lockdown (45:41)
Dr. Lise Van Susteren: Emotional Inflammation: A Condition Of Our Time (1:02:47)
Within this podcast, Dr. Susteren discusses PTSS (Pre-Traumatic Stress Syndrome) - thinking about the state of anticipatory angst that many of us (myself included) are experiencing at this time. I found the framework helpful, as an educator, father, and person.
Dr. Marc Brackett: Understanding Our Emotions (52 minutes)
Emergency Remote Learning in Middle Schools - TeachLab with Justin Reich (29 minutes)
Winning the Remote Learning Game - Interview with Jal Mehta (24:13)
Simon Sinek: These Are Not Unprecedented Times
Maintaining Connections, Reducing Anxiety While School Is Closed by Jessica Minahan
a recording of the session, and it has come through! The link to the recording is here:
Rachel Simmons Webinar from 5/19/20
Building Resilience in Uncertain Times (42:17) - from the Mindful Educators podcast along with some notes…
Watching the Pandemic Steal Intimate Moments From Teenagers
by Kathi Valeii in The New York Times
Resources from Guidance
During the extended school closure, Guidance Counselor are available to our students and families through a variety of means, email, phone, virtual meetings. The Guidance Counselors will send out a daily check-in email each morning, and be available for students by phone and/or virtual meetings. Should you or your student require additional emotional support, please refer to either of the following:
Riverside Community Care (800) 529-5077
You can find additional resources and information on the following pages:
Resources from Office of Social and Emotional Learning
We would like to let you know about some resources and tools in relation to SEL in our district. The Office of Social and Emotional Learning has content related to COVID-19 coping strategies, tips and tools for families to utilize. We have broken the material into Elementary and Secondary levels, and have a section for Educators as well. We also want to let you know that we have partnered with many other districts in the state to form a collaborative, comprehensive and ever evolving website that has lots of great information that may help with mental health and wellbeing in this tumultuous time. We hope these resources can be a tool to support health and wellness in our community. The websites are listed below:
Medfield Office of SEL
Mental Health and Well-being Partner Website
Blake ‘EdChats’ - Adapting and Learning
We are trying out some ‘edchats’ with Blake teachers/staff as a way to connect and share what we are thinking and talking about as a community of learners. Each chat will have a particular focus and we will take some time to talk through a few questions. Check out our chats…
Adapting and Learning - EdChat # 2 (Learning)
(Maura Batts, Tom Woods, Seth Hellerstein, Marjorie Heim, Michael Gow)
Adapting and Learning - EdChat # 1(Learning)
(Jason Heim, Orla Berry, Brian Gavaghan, Susan Bycoff, Marissa Gumas, and Diane Horvath)
Nature’s Classroom Info for Current Sixth Grade Families
As shared via e-mail earlier last week, no decisions regarding the trip for 7th grade students to Nature's Classroom this fall (October, 2020) have been made. We will not be collecting and paper work or deposits at this time - the original 'due dates' previously communicated to families no longer apply. When a plan has been made, we will reach out to all families with an update. If you have any questions, do not hesitate to let us know.
Blake PTO Update
We want to remind everyone that the Blake PTO Annual Appeal is still happening! While Blake is currently conducting learning from home, we’re hopeful that it will be business as usual again soon. And when that time comes, the Blake PTO would like to be ready to help fund initiatives and activities for the students! Please visit MedfieldK8PTO.com to contribute to the Annual Appeal. While we are suggesting $50/child, we understand these are uncertain times for many and will gratefully accept any amount you are comfortable contributing.