In our continued efforts to keep families informed and updated about the curriculum at Blake, each month we will be 'highlighting' updates from the different departments. We hope this will help facilitate conversations at home and maintain a bridge between home and school. Below please find the updates for the month of January, 2016.
Sixth grade: Students are working on a printmaking unit. They are using relief print blocks and monoprinting together to create richly layered and textured works. Inspiration is drawn from nature, where students have isolated patterns from nature to create their design. Students in Ms. Delaney’s classes are beginning their clay unit, working with architectural forms.
Seventh grade: Seventh grade artists are using viewfinders to isolate composition. Using a viewfinder is a wonderful observational tool used by students to measure proportion, see relationships between objects, and even match color accurately. Observation is one of the studio habits that are stressed in the art room. Students observe the world around them to understand objects and their relationships to one another, but also to be aware of the inspiration exists all around us.
Eighth grade: Eighth grade artists are working collaboratively on large-scale painting collages. They have looked at the paintings of Elizabeth Murray and examined how she uses abstraction, popular culture, and personal iconography to create dynamic compositions.
Work has begun on our LMC mural! Students have begun the design process and have created beautiful line drawings of their favorite constellations, which will be painted on the ceiling of the LMC. Painting should start next week. We meet Wednesdays for one hour right after school on room 209.
Grade 7 students are midway through Mildred Taylor’s 1977 Newbery Medal winning novel, Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, a sequel to her novel, Song of the Trees. Classroom time has been focused on using this novel’s rich literary text to look more closely at characterization, foreshadowing, and symbolism. Writing Lab time has been spent reading nonfiction texts connected to Roll of Thunder and improving targeted essay skills.
Grade 8 students continue to sharpen their analytical reading and writing skills with Ray Bradbury’s dystopian novel, Fahrenheit 451. Winner of the American Academy Award in Arts and Literature, Bradbury’s this novel invites students to debate important issues like the importance of books to a culture’s values, freedom, and censorship. In Grade 8 Writing Lab, students will be completing their Creating Writing Fiction unit work soon.
In an effort to recognize kind acts the kids do every day, 6th grade students in Group Guidance were asked to write newspaper-type reports of one of the kind acts they have done recently. The 60+ students in this rotation and Ms. Allen are negotiating if and how these reports will be shared. The 8th grade Group Guidance wraps up the second rotation this week, which further indicates they are half way through the year and on the eve of high school, which is what we are talking about. Embracing Diversity just wrapped up the Discrimination lesson having viewed and discussed the PBS Frontline presentation of "A Class Divided".
The seventh grade Inv/Tech rotation classes focus on students discovering both the benefits and drawbacks of computer screen technology use both in and out of the classroom. With computer technology so omnipresent, we want our Blake kids to develop the ability to maximize tech’s benefits and minimize its negative aspects throughout their lives. We’ve put together a new opening day of class questionnaire, which poses questions that will be explored over the eight week course. In the spirit of teacher/parent teamwork, feel free to take the challenge!
1. On a typical day, an average American 8-18 year old spends how much time (both in and
out of school) using screen technology (tablets, laptops, desktops, cell phones, televisions
a). 7:38 hours b). 5:31 hours c). 4:47 hours d). 8:13 hours
2. The best use of screen technology for school is:
a). to perform research
b). to access teacher assignments and turn them in online
c). to find resources to help learn and to help create projects to demonstrate your knowledge of
d). to play games and send messages during class
3. When dealing with strangers online, giving personal information is
a). fine, as long as the people are nice and really need the information
b). okay, as long as the people live far away
c). all right as long as you don’t tell anyone else that you’ve given strangers your information
d). never a good idea, no matter what the reason
4. Which of the following internet interactions contribute to your “Digital Footprint”?
c). e-mail, texts, social media posts etc.
d). all of the above
5. Physical injuries (text neck, hunchback, eye problems etc.) due to poor ergonomic use of
tablets, cell phones, laptop and desktop computers
a). won’t happen as long as I feel comfortable while using the devices
b). won’t happen if I learn and practice proper body alignment for their use
c). won’t happen for many years so I don’t have to worry about them in middle school
d). rarely happen at school
6. Computer multitasking - reading, watching videos, doing homework, texting, playing video games etc. – all at the same time
a). enables us to get many things done at the same time
b). enables us to get our schoolwork done while also doing other, more interesting, things
c). enables us to do many things at the same time but none of them well
d). enables us to increase our efficiency
7. Checking your cell phone or tablet just before bed and occasionally during the night is a
great way to keep in touch with friends and doesn’t disrupt your sleep patterns too much.
True False (circle one)
8. Your eyes should remain healthy with screen technology use as long as you remember to
blink every few seconds, to occasionally look away from your screen and focus on another
object, and to not position your eyes too closely to the screen.
True False (circle one)
9. Many middle school students send and check for texts, snapchats, and instant messages etc. over 100 times per day.
True False (circle one)
10. Heavy cell phone users can become angry, withdrawn or depressed if their phones are
True False (circle one)
Answers: 1). a 2). c 3). d 4). d 5). b 6). c 7). F 8). T 9). T 10). T
As we enter the third trimester of the year, our attention naturally turns to plans for next year. Blake Middle School and Medfield High School will mark the final phase of the alignment with the MA Math Curriculum Frameworks. In this phase, we will reorganize and, in some cases, rename courses at both Blake and MHS. This represents a tremendous amount of thoughtful planning, research and collaborating by Medfield educators and administrators. The most noticeable change will be in the names of the courses offered in 7th and 8th grades. Algebra I will no longer be offered at the middle school level, except for students at the accelerated level. The 2011 MA Math Curriculum Frameworks has redefined Pre-Algebra and Algebra I to include algebraic topics which are significantly more advanced. As such, the pathway for students in the subject of mathematics will be to complete all pre-algebra related topics in middle school, leaving Algebra I for the high school. Below is a list of course offerings for the 2016-2017 school year (to be reflected in the Blake Program of Studies).
Grade 6 Math:
In Math 6 class, learning will focus on four critical areas: (1) connecting ratio and rate to whole number multiplication and division, and using concepts of ratio and rate to solve problems; (2) completing understanding of division of fractions and extending the notion of number to the system of rational numbers, which includes negative numbers; (3) writing, interpreting, and using expressions and equations; and (4) developing understanding of statistical thinking. Additionally, students will experience math through the study of geometry. Manipulatives and visuals are often used for exploring and discovering concepts.
Grade 7 Math:
Grade 7 math is offered to students at two levels: Math 7-Accelerated and Math 7. Student placement is based on Math 6 grades, standardized test results and teacher recommendation. Both courses will focus on four critical areas: (1) developing understanding of and applying proportional relationships; (2) developing understanding of operations with rational numbers and working with expressions and linear equations; (3) solving problems involving scale drawings and informal geometric constructions, and working with two- and three-dimensional shapes to solve problems involving area, surface area, and volume; and (4) drawing inferences about populations based on samples. In addition, Math 7-Accelerated will provide students with a Pre-Algebra experience to prepare students for a full Algebra I course in 8th grade.
Grade 8 Math:
Grade 8 math is offered to students at three levels: Algebra I Accelerated, Math 8-1 and Math 8-2. Math 8-1 and Math 8-2 will cover the same concepts but the pace and depth of study will vary. Student placement is based on Math 7 grades, standardized test results and teacher recommendation. All courses will focus on three critical areas: (1) formulating and reasoning about expressions and equations, including modeling an association in bivariate data with a linear equation, and solving linear equations and systems of linear equations; (2) grasping the concept of a function and using functions to describe quantitative relationships; (3) analyzing two- and three-dimensional space and figures using distance, angle, similarity, and congruence, and understanding and applying the Pythagorean Theorem.
Students in Algebra I Accelerated will additionally cover material in four critical areas: (1) deepen and extend understanding of linear and exponential relationships; (2) contrast linear and exponential relationships with each other and engage in methods for analyzing, solving, and using quadratic functions; (3) extend the laws of exponents to square and cube roots; and (4) apply linear models to data that exhibit a linear trend.
Grade Six General Music
Students recently completed composition projects using poetry where they were tasked with creating a composition with three contrasting textures: monophonic, homophonic and polyphonic. In January students will be applying what they know about texture and using it to compose with GarageBand using pre-recorded Apple Loops and built in touch-instruments as the medium. Later in the month they will use SMART instruments to explore pitch and create original melodies.
Grade Eight General Music
The second rotation of the school year comes to a close at the end of this month. Students are finalizing details on their presentations of their final projects. Students were tasked with using what they learned about the American musical to create an outline of an original musical. This involved: choosing a theme; writing a plot synopsis; writing one scene and writing the lyrics to a song to accompany the scene. Students will act out their scenes in class. Eighth grade students have chosen to explore such topics as friendship, immigration and immigration policies, gender identity and bullying through the medium of the musical.
This month, grade 6 has been investigating the various general properties of matter, such as mass, weight, volume, and density. Students have been actively engaged in scientific inquiry to explore these properties of matter to answer questions about topics such as, the mass of air and the relationship of mass and volume to density. Use of hands-on experiments has allowed our students to create their own understanding of these concepts. Students documented their discoveries and created tutorials of their own to summarize their findings, using the Explain Everything app.
Digestion has been at the center of 7th grade science this month. The digestive process in humans was the initial focus including a lab investigating the chemicals needed to digest protein in the stomach. In a comparative anatomy lesson on the earthworm, dogfish shark and rat, students completed a dissection of the earthworm and then used a teacher dissected dogfish shark and rat to investigate how form fits function in the organisms. Student teams investigated different questions related to the idea of form fitting function while dissecting and presented their results to the class. The seventh grade students have shown us that they are ready for anything in biology!
The month of January saw grade 8 science students completing their introduction to chemistry by studying physical and chemical properties of matter, and the physical and chemical reactions that matter can undergo. Several challenging lab activities were undertaken giving students the opportunity to witness and analyze actual chemical reactions, and to test for the presence of new substances. The close of January brings us to states of matter, where students investigate the molecular properties of solids, liquids and gases. Students will learn how the behavior of molecules causes the processes of melting, boiling, condensation and freezing. The use of computer simulations and hands-on labs will facilitate student understanding of these abstract concepts.
6th grade World Geography students are wrapping up their research on mountains and preparing evidence for their persuasive essays. They are researching rivers and their importance to people of the world. Additionally, students are studying hydroelectricity, pollution, city development, and farming and their effect upon rivers of the world. Next up in the curriculum is a unit on deserts and forest. Students will explore answers to why most deserts of the world are expanding and figure out the pros and cons of deforestation.
7th grade Ancient Civilizations classes have just begun a unit on the Phoencians who lived in what is modern day Lebanon. These ancient peoples are similar to the United States because they were commerce based and interacted with a wide number of other civilizations throughout the ancient world. Students will take part in an elaborate trading game where they work in pairs to make smart trading decisions in an effort to become the most profitable group. The students will also examine the Phoenician alphabet which is the basis for our own alphabet today and they will come to understand why the color purple becomes the color of royalty (hint, is has to do with a tiny snail called murex). After the Phoenicians unit, students will move on to learn about the Persians and the Greeks.
World History I 8th graders are deeply immersed in the Middle Ages. This important unit is full of projects including researching the Black Death, castles, illuminated manuscripts, and more. After their research is complete, students will have the opportunity to work on creative projects to demonstrate their findings.
In all physical education classes, the 6th, 7th and 8th grade students are participating in their regular season games in preparation for the upcoming volleyball tournament. Each class is broken into teams in which each student has a specific role as a member of their team. The roles include team captain, manager, statistician, fitness leader, and spirit leader. Each team is competing to play in the grade-level tournament of which the winner will play against a select team of teachers. Students are learning the rules of volleyball, are developing their volleyball skills, and have the opportunity to referee their peers volleyball games. Throughout the volleyball unit, teams will be rotating through the Blake fitness center in order to continue to build on the foundational skills introduced to all students in December and January.
6th graders are currently learning how to analyze the many influences in their lives. As part of this unit, students are looking at the changes that take place during their middle school years that contribute to their development from children into adults. Students will be able to see that there are many things that influence their beliefs and behaviors. These factors include their own adolescent growth and development, their friends, their family, their community, media outlets, their teachers and coaches, clergy and other trusted adults, to name a handful. Students will be looking at which factors may have the most impact on their development. We encourage you to engage your children in conversations about your family values and beliefs. Research tells us parents have more influence than any other single source. We’re not telling the kids that, but we wanted to be sure you knew!
8th Grade students are currently in a decision-making unit with a focus on creating healthy relationships. Students have practiced how to work through the decision-making process, learn to set personal boundaries and practice saying “no." This week, students will begin a project using the BookCreator app where they will create their own short story that represents working through a difficult decision. I look forward to seeing their creativity!
This week marks the end of the 2nd rotation. It’s hard to believe the school year is at its mid-way point! Students in all three grades completed culminating activities, in which they were asked to use all of the skills they had learned in the course this year. Please ask them to plan, prepare, cook, and clean up with you at home! It has been my privilege to have your children as my students, and I look forward to greeting a new group of budding chefs next week!
Mandarin: Students have learned to identify countries on a map, present basic information about a themselves including their nationalities.
French: Grade 6 students just finished learning how to tell time in French. They compared normal time to official/military time, and then visited the online site for Le Musée du Louvre. They checked out the schedule in French to decode the days and times this most famous museum is open!
Spanish: 6th grade Spanish students have been able to demonstrate in many ways their understanding of how to express likes and dislikes. They enjoyed talking about sports and other physical activities. It was amazing to see how the addition of the little word pero (but) allowed students to expand their thoughts in impressive ways! A mi mamá le gusta el agua un poco, pero le gusta mucho el café.
Mandarin: Students just finished learning body parts so they can use these words to describe a person in a simple way.
French: The 7th grade French students have just begun a unit on Sports and Activities. They are learning to use the new vocabulary through a variety of ways including "living sentences" and an assignment which can be done either through Explain Everything or Google Slides. This unit will include months, weather and seasons and will culminate with a puppet show.
Spanish: The 7th grade Spanish students enjoyed their shopping unit, and learned numbers (prices!) up to the millions! The unit ended with some hilarious skits where many items were stolen, Barbie dolls were purchased and parents left kids behind in the bathroom at a store!
Mandarin: The eighth grade students finished learning how to say different types of fruits. They can identify and talk about different kinds of fruits.
French: Grade 8 French students are just finishing their Chapter on Making a phone call! For one assignment, students had to leave the teacher a phone message, and the office was baffled when they received a message, by error, totally in French! Luckily, they to call Mrs. Dalpe to solve the mystery!
Spanish: Eighth grade Spanish students are finishing their food and restaurant chapter with oral practice in the language lab. Some students are doing research on foods in different Spanish speaking countries and presenting their findings in a skit.