** As we are navigating the guidelines from DESE and working on re-entry for school, we will be updating known dates for events as they are finalized.
Topic/Question for the Dinner Table
To help encourage conversations and dialogue about PDF (Playtime, Downtime, Family Time), our topic/question for the dinner table is: What are you looking forward to most about summer? Enjoying Summer (Summer 2020) (This is an anonymous Google Form)
School Supplies for 20-21
We are holding off on publishing our school supply lists for 2020-2021 until we have a better understanding of what our formal structure for the school year will look like - once we know more information, we will be sharing the lists with students and families. Please stay tuned!
End-of-Year Survey for All Students
We appreciate the responses we have received from students who completed the end-of-year reflection - this will help us better understand their experiences, gather insight, and hopefully help students in the future. It would be great if you could remind your students to check their e-mail and fill out their respective grade level form...
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)
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
End-of-Year Messages for the Blake Community
Please enjoy this slide deck with messages from each of the guidance counselors, a recording of Lean on Me performed by the Medfield Virtual Jazz Ensemble, messages from Kelly C. and me, and a link to a slideshow with pictures from Blake - letting students and families know that we will always be here for you/them.
Blake End-of-Year Messages, June 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
Theme of Curiosity for 2020-2021
Our theme for the next academic year at Blake is one of Curiosity. We believe that this theme will extend the work we have done over the last seven years with our themes of Community, Perseverance, Creativity, Acceptance, Collaboration, Empathy, Diversity, Happiness, and Courage. Tony Wagner (@DrTonyWagner) recently shared these thoughts via Twitter…
Why do people stop learning? Two thoughts: 1) because they’ve only learned for extrinsic reasons-rewards and punishments-and once those are gone, they have no intrinsic reason to learn. 2)the intrinsic reason to learn stems, I think, from being curious & schools kill it.
My hope and sincere belief is that we are working as a school community to ‘combat’ this notion that ‘schools kill curiosity’ - this theme is one that will be important for our students, staff, and community! As a staff we have begun brainstorming ideas and I encourage all families to join us in the brainstorming process as well. As ideas and thoughts come to mind, do not hesitate to e-mail me (email@example.com) or Kelly C. (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Links and Information for Incoming 6th Grade Blake Students and Families
Here is the link to the Incoming 6th Zoom Call from Thursday, 6/11 and wanted to share it with all students and families...
Virtual Recording of Incoming 6th Grade Presentation - 6/11/20
For your reference, I am re-sharing links to the slides and 'Day in the Life of a 6th Grade Blaker' video that we mentioned during the presentation...
Incoming 6th Grade Student Presentation June 2020
Day in the Life of a 6th Grade Blaker - June 2020
This video was made by some of our current 8th grade students when they were in sixth grade. Although some of the information within has changed and will be different, it provides a general overview of the day in the life of a sixth grade Blake student. Enjoy!
We are looking forward to learning and working with you over the next three years. As always, please do not hesitate to contact me (email@example.com) or any of our staff with any questions or concerns.
Links for 8th Grade Blake Students and Families
Thanks again to all who were able to join our Virtual Closing Ceremony for our 8th grade students on June 15. I appreciate the efforts of all of our staff to help pull it together - a special thank you to Eoin O'Corcora for his assistance 'behind the scenes'! Below please find links to the 8th grade slideshow (it's also on slide one of the closing ceremony slides), Flipgrid messages (from advisors and from all staff), the slide deck from the ceremony, and the virtual recording (with the password) of the evening...
8th Grade Slideshow - Blake MS, June 2020
8th Grade Advisory Messages and Reading of Names
Messages to 8th Grade from Blake Staff - June 2020
Virtual 8th Closing Ceremony - June 15, 2020
Virtual 8th Grade Closing Ceremony Recording - June 15, 2020
Hello Blake Families!
The final yearbook was submitted to the publisher at the end of last week (June 26) and we are hoping for delivery around the first week of August. Plans on how to distribute the yearbook to families will come later.
Email us with any questions at all! (firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com)
- Señora Manning & Mrs. Buley
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. This 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.
Message to 8th Grade Families about Trip Refunds for D.C. Trip
We have recently been in touch with World Strides and we anticipate receiving the check from the company to Blake around 7/14 and then it is about a two-week turn-around to get checks to families (rough estimates) - we are hoping families will receive refunds by late July.
Info regarding cancellation and process for reimbursement that had been previously sent to 8th grade families...
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 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.