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 March, 2016.
Sixth grade artists are working collaboratively on a large oil pastel drawing. Each student is responsible for one section of the gridded drawing, which will make a large, interactive art piece, once installed. Stay tuned to the main entrance of Blake for the unveiling next week. Some sixth graders are looking at the work of Romare Beardon to inspire their own music collage. As they work they are considering shared elements in art and music such as balance, texture, rhythm, harmony, contrast.
Seventh grade artists are creating chasing and repousse reliefs in metal sheet. Students are using this hands-on process incorporates an ancient sculptural technique with contemporary imagery. They are selecting parts of their image and using color to create emphasis in their abstract design. Some are starting their surrealist design.
The art hallway has been prepped and the eighth grade artists are ready to install their collaborative murals. Their pieces are inspired by the artist Elizabeth Murray, who uses images from pop culture and graffiti as her point of departure. From envisioning, experimenting, planning, drawing and painting, students now have to make compositional choices on how to arrange these elements in an a way that engages the viewer. Take a stroll through the Art hallway to check out the artwork on display. Students at work, below.
6Plus is building off of their previous stop motion experience. For their next movie they will be layering in more complex effects such as the addition of a green screen. EQ: How can I app-smash to enhance my stop motion movie?
Grade 7 English: Students have just finished a wrap-up of their nonfiction essay unit and are poised to begin their coming-of-age short story projects. Working in groups, students will identify character changes and coming-of-age themes in a story and then teach their story to the class. The culminating assessment of this unit is a literary analysis essay which sets the stage for students to sophisticate their understanding of coming-of-age themes in Johnny Tremain.
Grade 8 English: Having completed their discussion of Fahrenheit 451’s dystopian themes of freedom and suppression, students have begun workshops aimed at sharpening their analytical writing skills for this thematic essay. In addition, workshops on grammar continue, and preparatory work for the short story work is ready for launch. In Writing Lab, the creative writing project is complete, and students are assembling their background information for the unit study on the Holocaust.
The TedEd Club classes are finalizing their TedTalks, students are working on a wide range of topics including concussions in sports, the impact of stress on adolescents and raising awareness about animal cruelty.
In 7th grade guidance, we are talking about failure and learning lessons from failure and also whether or not test retakes/redos are fair and how the students would structure a school policy if they were principal of Blake.
Embracing diversity started its third and final rotation this week. Our first lesson is examining the meaning of Maurice Ogden's allegory "The Hangman".
8th grade group guidance is in it's final weeks of the third out of four rotations. We've had great discussions reflecting on the growth, both academically and socially, they've made over the course of middle school.
Blake’s fifth annual Scholastic Book Fair wrapped up last week. Your support enabled hundreds of students to purchase books they felt a connection with. Profits from the Fair also allowed the Blake LMC to acquire $1500 worth of new books, which will be enjoyed by many students for many years to come. This year’s theme was a yellowy-orange early 70’s vibe – think Greg Brady’s attic pad in the Brady Bunch. Special thanks to parent Cynthia Connelley, who’s artistic vision transformed the LMC’s entryway into an early 70’s groovy time warp! Thanks, too, to parent volunteers Simone Lee, Yumi Jones, Keiko Brown, Jane Barr, Anabet Lussier, and Kiersten Cole who graciously helped out during the Fair.
Assistant librarian, Donna Knott, also organized several contests and hunts that took place within the fair, which greatly increased student spirit and participation. The following students are contest winners. Matching Game – Lizzie Lynch, Jelly Bean Estimation Jar – Nick McNeeley, John Shelley, Nathan Tom, Poster Raffle – Liam Frazier, Marina Linnert, Luke Murphy, Linnea Whiting, Liam Nedell, Gabbi Zehme, Shannon Burns, Bridget McHallam, Maria Neafus, Zoey Pollard, Chloe Manning, Jack Cahill, Mike Gingrich, Sammie Carrabas, Aiden Perachi, Taylor Guindon, Kelley Regan, Grace Foley, Aidan Fedor, Jack Shurtleff, Sam Kornet, and Tommy Shurtleff. The winner for the grand prize lunch with Library Media Teacher Jon Haycock and Head Custodian Matt Frazier is Lilly Goodman. Lilly and four of her friends will enjoy (endure?) Jon’s and Matt’s pontifications - at least they’re getting pizza and dessert out of the deal! Overall, it was a fun and exciting event for students and staff which added some sunshine to the otherwise dreary month of March.
In 6th grade, all students are using their knowledge of area and perimeter to examine multiple units of measurement. They are examining the similarities and differences between metric and U.S. units while learning how to keep track of the correct labels when solving problems. How does your unit of measurement alter your label when dealing with area versus perimeter is a common situation addressed in class. Additionally, students are practicing their use of variables in this unit and experiencing area and perimeter when lengths are unknown. Conversations are common between math and science class to allow for consistency in language.
7th grade math students are finalizing their first comprehensive unit involving solving equations. They have learned a tried-and-true, systematic way to find x. In each case, x may be different...an allowance, a phone bill, the number of homeruns, area of a rectangle, height of a building, number of siblings...but the techniques used to determine its value are the same. This unit provides an important foundation for students’ algebraic learning as these skills will be honed through middle school, high school and beyond.
In all 8th grade classes, there is an emphasis this time of the year for students to fine-tuning their writing skills while solving math problems. All students in Math Lab are experiencing open-response type problems, working with the algebra they know to solve novel problems. Explain, justify, support, show...these are directions that students encounter in math class and use both their math and their language skills to address.
Congratulations to Ethan Ni for representing Medfield at the 2016 Jr. District Music Festival held at Lincoln Sudbury High School on March 4 & 5. Also, congratulations to all Medfield student musicians, parents, music staff, and administration for being named one the 2016 Best Communities for Music Education by the NAMM Foundation.
The Blake Jazz Band 1 and 2 are preparing for the upcoming Jazz Day on May 6th. We hope to have both groups work with our jazz artist in residence Dino Govoni during his day in Medfield. Tickets will go on sale soon!
Blake Bands and Orchestras gave excellent performances at both the Band-O-Rama and String Fling Concerts. The orchestra is preparing for its upcoming MICCA performance on April 3rd.
In Eighth Grade Chorus will be participating in the Step Up concert on March 31 at 7:00 pm in the High School Auditorium. In this special concert the High School students not only sing for the eighth graders, but they also rehearse a selection together with them. It is the warm up and rehearsal before the concert where the Blake students will sense the camaraderie and unity that these older students have together. They Will meet some students who may mentor them as they enter their high school years they will and get a feel for the full voiced vocal ensemble they will have the opportunity to join next year.
The Seventh Grade Chorus has been working on two and three part ensemble selections. They have been singing rounds and canons, and developing their aural and oral skills through imitation of rhythmic and melodic patterns. During the month of March, the students have started to learn to improvise using scat syllables. We hope to showcase some of their skill in our Spring Concert!
The Sixth Grade Chorus is working on some challenging music in varied meters. They have started a selection in Spanish and continue to work on ensemble selections in two and three parts. They are learning more about singing in harmony with the use of the solfege in games, songs and exercises. They approach all their music with great enthusiasm!
Sixth grade science has just recently wrapped up learning about atoms and atomic structure. They demonstrated their understanding by building models of atomic structure in a variety of ways and using manipulative atom boards. The classes then spent time connecting this work to the elements of the periodic table.
We are now beginning to study minerals. Students will learn to identify minerals through the various investigations they will conduct in class, a skill that they will later apply when they explore the geologic history of Medfield.
Grade 7 science students have been focusing their sunny attitudes and energies on studying photosynthesis and cellular respiration. They explored these life processes at the molecular level by building marshmallow molecules representing carbon dioxide, glucose, oxygen, and water and at the global level by exploring the world map of photosynthesis. We found that the highest concentration of photosynthesis is in the Amazon and the lowest concentration is in the world's deserts. The students' interest in talking about issues in the environment would make any biology teacher green with envy. We put a lot of effort into the energy lab where we explored the connections between the energy we use and the amount of carbon dioxide waste we produce. It has been an invigorating month in 7th grade science
Grade 8 science is currently bringing to close a unit on Chemistry. In this unit, students investigated the molecular structure of matter. Students analyzed molecular models, and used their knowledge of molecules to describe and approximate the molecular composition of everyday materials and substances such as brass, salt water, and chex mix, among others. In doing so, they gained an understanding that different materials possess different properties and characteristics because of differences in their molecular compositions. As a culminating activity, students created 'stop motion' movies on their iPads, which featured the building of varieties of molecules, the molecules being represented by items such as legos. One student movie was even shown to a group of teachers in South Africa. The movies were impressive in both the mastery of the content they exhibited as well as the creativity imbued within, and the students really enjoyed making them. Currently students are using the new Green Screens to create movies highlighting characteristics of a natural disaster related to plate tectonics. As we have passed the spring equinox the 8th grade science teachers and students will begin looking to the sky for our astronomy unit.
World Geography students have finished studying humanitarian aid and reforestation groups around the world. The 6th graders created infomercials to wrap up the unit on deforestation and desertification. Their skill focus included: bias, recognizing pro/con arguments, disseminating information, understanding the global connections between humans and environmental problems. Students have begun a unit on economics and will be focusing on natural resources (their use, exploitation and location) as well as the variety of economic systems that are used by different countries and governments.
Ancient Civilizations 7th graders are deep in the heart of a unit on Ancient Greece. They have learned about fascinating gods and goddesses, the varied forms of government in the Greek city-states, and the strategies of both sides in the Persian Wars. Beginning next week, students will take part in the many activities and competitions of"Greek Week" and will culminate the unit with a Greek Week Film Fest where team short videos will compete for "Best Picture."
World History I students are currently learning about the High Middle Ages and the Renaissance in Western Europe. The 8th graders are studying turning points in Medieval society including the Black Death, which eventually contributed to the cultural blossoming known as the European Renaissance. Looking ahead, students will soon see how many of these turning points contributed to dramatic societal shifts such as the Protestant Reformation. Students will complete a wide array of assessments and projects which delve deeply into these areas of study.
Students in grades 6-8 are in the final stages of creating their ballroom dance routines that they will be performing for their individual class. Students were placed into groups of 6-8 students and they have been working together to choreograph a 2-3 minute dance routine that shows the skills they learned in class. The three styles of ballroom dance that students learn are: Foxtrot (6th), Salsa (7th) and Swing (8th). This is a sequential part of our district’s grades 2-12 ballroom dance curriculum. We are looking forward to seeing their performances!
In 6th grade Health class, we are currently looking at communication, with a focus on how students can communicate with adults when facing situations dealing with bullying. As part of this unit, we are examining the results of the Blake Middle School connectedness survey and discussing the process of finding trusted adults that students can go to when faced with difficult situations. Additionally, we are looking at the six pillars of character and how they influence the way we communicate. Students are doing some self-evaluation on the six pillars (trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring and citizenship.) This has prompted some very lively discussion in class! To measure students’ understanding, we are evaluating bullying scenarios in a "what would you do?" format.
7th grade students recently completed their video projects about alcohol and drug refusal. Through this project, students demonstrated an understanding of the dangers associated with alcohol and other drug use, and practiced learning to communicate effectively. They are now learning the steps to make thoughtful decisions in order to avoid impulsive, emotional decisions that may lead to poor outcomes. For their final project, students will create a comic book where a character will need to make a tough decision that a typical teenager would have to make. The topics for the project include: peer pressure, social media behavior, and personal hygiene.
After finishing a unit on decision-making, grade 8 students are applying the skills learned to make healthy choices with a new topic: nutrition. This unit will focus on whole vs processed foods and how our food is altered by removing nutrients and adding sugar and sodium. Students participated in a group activity where they showed the "path to processed food" by working with a variety of different food items. This week, partners completed nutrition posters which will be displayed in the cafeteria to advocate for good nutrition for our entire Blake community.
Students in all grades began using the stovetop this month to prepare a variety of different meals. Class routines have become habit for most, so please try to reinforce the importance of clean hands, hair tied back, and no long sleeves or scarves while cooking at home. Safety in the kitchen is of critical importance, and all consumer science students have been practicing the safe use of all kitchen appliances, including electric skillets, toasters, the stovetop and the oven. 7th and 8th graders are now routinely utilizing chef’s knives to prepare food, and have learned the importance of food safety by carefully washing hands, knives, cutting boards and sponges used in the preparation of raw meats such as sausage patties and ground beef.
All French classes at the Middle School have just been treated to a concert and sing -a -long with French recording artist, Josée Vachon! Catch her again next winter as she will be performing a concert in Cambridge as part of the Christmas Revels.
Grade six French classes are about to present a weather forecast for various cities. Each group is assigned a different season, and some groups will utilize the green screens for a realistic weather report!
Grade seven French students have begun the Café unit. They are learning food and beverage vocabulary and have created lovely menus which will be used in the culminating skit at the Café! A feast will also be planned, bon appétit!
Grade eight French students will show what they know about clothing by hosting a Fashion Show. Some groups will reenact What Not to Wear, while others will describe an outfit or tape a skit at home and share with the class as a video.
All 6th, 7th, and 8th Mandarin students are involved in Chinese cultural events. Please see our website at medifieldchinese.weebly.com or follow Ms. Liu’s twitter#cottoncocolulu or #bmschinese for the updates.
Grade six Mandarin students started Unit 3--Lesson 1: What is your Chinese name? At the end of this lesson, students will be able to ask and respond to questions about names and understand the cultural beliefs related to Chinese names.
Grade seven Mandarin students just finished Unit 7-Lesson 1: I like dogs. At the end of this lesson, students will be able to identify animal,and express personal preferences for certain animals. They will also learn about the Chinese panda and the Chinese golden monkey.
Grade eight Mandarin students just finished Unit 12-lesson 1: My school's location. At the end of this lesson, students will be able to identify the location of a school on a map and compare distances. They will also be able to obtain information from school signs.
The 6th grade Spanish students are finishing up their study of La familia, and will be showing off their knowledge in the language lab next week! They will also be using Adobe Voice to create mini-books about their real (or fictional!) families. Adobe Voice is a fun, easy to use book creation app that has the added benefit of letting users record their voices. We will work on reading with energy, enthusiasm and fluidity!
Seventh grade Spanish students have been focusing on how to describe people...both what the person looks like (with the verb SER...to be!) and how the person is feeling (with the verb ESTAR...also to be!). They have worked hard to expand their list of adjectives to choose from and are demonstrating great understanding of the great Spanish grammar debate...to be or to be...SER or ESTAR! Students used the App called Book Creator to write a story about the people in their town. Please ask your son or daughter to show you their book! You will love them! In class, everyone enjoyed listening to and watching the amazing creativity that each book held! From simple and sweet to complicated and comical, these books were all wonderful in their own way!
The eighth grade Spanish students are wrapping up their clothing and shopping unit with a variety of practice activities describing all sorts of crazy outfits. We are looking forward to the Grupo Fantasia's visit on Tuesday, when kids will be exposed to a variety of Latin American instruments and even get the opportunity to play a bit with the band!