In our continued efforts to keep families informed and updated about the curriculum at Blake, each month we 'highlight' 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 updates for the month of March 2018.
Grade 6: How can we interpret music in a work of art? Students are taking inspiration from a Midsummer’s Night Dream and interpreting it into abstract works of art. This is a cross-curricular lesson designed from their drama work in Explorations rotation. . Students are discovering the connections between music and art as they examine the work of Keith Haring (hiphop), Kandinsky (classical) and Stuart Davis (jazz). They are all creating artwork to the specific musical piece from Mendelsohn’s Midsummer Night Dream.
6+ In Mr. Knaus’ class, students are repurposing old books and creating their own ‘blackout’ poetry. By selecting found words and combining them with imagery that they add, students are learning how to unify text with image, and important concept in design.
Grade 7: Grade 7 artists are working with pattern, using heavy gauge metal foil to create a relief sculpture in the chasing and repossee technique. The pushing and shaping of the metal can create very complex patterns. Students have choice of subject matter and working representationally and in the abstract.
Grade 8: What makes our coil constructions unique? When every student is given the same material and form to start with, how can we make our work stand out? Using texture, negative space, variation of form and size can be utilized to make a one-of-a-kind work of art. They are working with coil construction to create hollow vessel forms in the form of animals from nature or their imagination. .
Grade 8+: Students in Joe Knaus’ class are busy creating signage for the Blake Cafe, they are also designing ‘tiny houses.’ Small efficiency homes with big ideas to make a small architectural and environmental footprint.
After School : Blake Open Studio---We are open for making every Thursday until 3pm. Join us for student-directed creating!
April showers bring May flowers. But, it also brings sixth grade ELA MCAS. Since the MCAS is computer-based this year, the sixth grade team will roll out practice on the iPad to familiarize students with the format and features of the test on the computer. Grade 6 students have launched their work within the poetry unit which focuses on reading and making inferences; learning about tone, mood and author's purpose; and working with imagery and figurative language in poetry. After April vacation, we will begin our last text of the year, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer !
Seventh grade students are continuing to learn about a family overcoming racial prejudice in Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry. In this unit, students will be challenged to implement all of the literary analysis concepts studied during the year and apply them to more complex writing assignments. To give students real-world practice, some of the reminders on CEA charts have been removed. This way, students can gauge how well they have internalized their analytical repertoire for end-of-the-year readings. Students are also working on comparative pieces about similarities found in the novel and a variety of poems and short articles. These comparative skills are not only necessary for any writer's toolbox, but also essential for MCAS preparation. Students will see similar comparative passages when they take the MCAS shortly after April vacation, and the work we are currently doing will leave them well-prepared for this state test.
As Grade 8 students wrap up their study of Harper Lee’s classic To Kill a Mockingbird, the novel’s plot invites student to generate rich discussions about the ways this novel’s characters and conflicts still connect to social issues today. Central to class discussions is an understanding of how innocence has a range of definitions and perspectives within the novel. The novel’s narrator, young and innocent, describes scenes of racial prejudice, honor, and courage. Readers, seeing through Scout’s viewpoint, gain a new perspective on old problems. As part of students’ study, Grade 8 looked at the trial and Atticus’ closing statement. Grade 8 teachers began discussions and activities designed to familiarize students with upcoming MCAS format and expectations. Taking part in a practice test one week before MCAS will help students feel comfortable and confident with this state testing requirement.
The students in the Grade 6 Group Guidance class will be writing a letter to their 8th grade self this week and next week. In addition, Mr. Becker, our School Adjustment Counselor, is presenting to the Grade 6 Group Guidance class on anxiety recognition and tips to manage anxiety. With the third rotation of Grade 7 Group Guidance winding down, the class is currently discussing the concept of “Autonomy” relative to developing “Self-Advocacy Skills.” The classes are also looking forward to having a class taught by Mr. Becker next week.
The final rotation of Embracing Diversity has just begun. The class has begun with a brief introduction to the field of “Sociology” and will soon be examining Maurice Ogden’s allegory “The Hangman”.
All five (#Medfieldps) library department teachers attended the Massachusetts School Library Association (MSLA) conference in Worcester last weekend. The theme focused on being Future Ready librarians with inspirational speakers, author panels/book signings, and workshops presented by leading librarians in and around Massachusetts. Our department also finished a workshop series with EdTech Teacher, run by Greg Kulowiec, based upon Design Thinking and makerspaces. Our department is ready to dive deeper into our actionable steps to incorporate all of this professional development into our practice as librarians.
6th grade students are looking at what it means to compare ratios and answer questions given information that describes proportional scenarios. For example, if the ratio of lemonade mix to water must be 1:5 cups, how much mix do you need to make 35 cups of lemonade for the lemonade stand? The exploration of rates, ratios and proportions is the time in a mathematicians learning where addition, subtraction, multiplication and division all come together. Reasoning and thinking in a proportional manner is highly sophisticated. Students are exposed to both numerical and graphical methods of establishing proportion. We invite you to ask your 6th grader how to scale up ⅔ . You’ll be impressed at how they answer!
7th graders are exploring cornerstones of algebraic manipulation: properties. They are learning the rules of how they are able to interact with numerical and algebraic expressions and arrive at the one correct answer. Are you allowed to commute numbers when adding? What if you are subtracting? That is, is 3 + 4 the same as 4 + 3? Is 3 - 4 the same as 4 - 3? What if the numbers are replaced with variables? One of the most significant properties is the distributive property. Students are finally formalizing a property that they have been using for a very long time without realizing it. When adding multi-digit numbers!
8th grade students are realizing the linear functions they have been studying are part of a larger category of functions called polynomials. The world is full of data that we examine. Mathematicians use polynomial models to help predict things. Want to calculate area of a figure? Use a quadratic (2nd degree) polynomial. Need to calculate volume of a box? Use a cubic (3rd degree) polynomial. Wondering how to predict a population of a group of animals in the wild? Maybe a quartic (4th degree) polynomial will do. The more functions our mathematicians learn about the more likely they are to accurately predict important events.
Students have just finished the Great Cell Debate in 6th grade science. Students had to argue why “their” position in the “Cells INC” company (as determined by their assigned organelle), was not expendable and therefore that position should not be eliminated due to budget cuts. Each student pair argued the importance of “their” job and explained which cell part they believe should be fired. At the end of the debate they were able to ask each other clarifying questions about everyone’s role in Cells INC, to help them make their final decision as to who should/should not be cut. The beauty of the whole experience was that all of the students were able to recognize that no cell parts are expendable as they began to develop an understanding of how all of the organelles interact to ensure a cell can perform it’s essential functions. In the end students determined no parts could be cut from the company. In fact, many students are now seeking promotions!
Grade 7 students investigated three different aspects of technology during the month of March. They learned about how transportation systems are designed, to move people and goods, using a variety of vehicles and devices. They also learned about futuristic transportation systems that are expected to become mainstream soon, and they examined the subsystems that make a transportation vehicles work. Subsequently students learned about the components of a communication system and both the benefits and drawbacks of a variety of communication systems. Towards the end of the month students they completed a collaborative green energy technology project and learned about how technology can mitigate human consumption of natural resources.
Sixth Grade World Geography students wrapped up a unit on rivers and have begun their work on desertification and deforestation. During this unit, students identify the causes of both issues, learn about the people that are affected, and create a project that showcases a non-profit organization trying to help solve the problems created by desertification and deforestation. Additionally, students continue to learn the countries of the world.
Greek Week is underway in 7th grade Ancient Civilizations classes as this blog update is being written and there is excitement in the air. The students have completed a comprehensive unit spanning six weeks on the ancient Greeks and are now using that knowledge to compete for their assigned city state. The students have been split into five city states and compete in their social studies classes using their historical knowledge, their artistic abilities, and their flair for drama. There are also several after school events that allow the city states to demonstrate their athletic skills in a 5 way dodgeball game, a basketball knockout game, and a relay marathon. Once a champion Greek city state is crowned, students will move forward into studying the Macedonians led by Alexander the Great.
The High and Late Middle Ages have arrived! 8th grade World History I students are exploring the development of Europe. Students will study how events such as the Commercial and Agriculture Revolutions paved the way for powerful kingdoms and technical advancements that will lead up to the Renaissance. This will allow students to further develop research, cooperative, writing, presentation, note taking and analytical skills.
Sixth graders are continuing work on the skill of Decision Making by examining different scenarios and using their skills to determine the best decision. They will be using a variety of topics related to their social and academic lives. In addition, they will also be doing an assertiveness self-evaluation. Students will respond to a series of questions that will help them to determine whether or not they are assertive and where they may able to make some changes to become a little more assertive if necessary. Students will learn that the better they are at recognizing health enhancing decisions and the more assertive they are, the more likely they are to make good decisions, particularly when faced with the influence of peer pressure. Next, students will be learning about the six pillars of character and how our character is reflected in our communication with peers, friends, and family members.
Grade 7 students have begun practicing the very important skill of effective Interpersonal Communication. Students will consider the ways they communicate verbally and non-verbally and reflect on how to best share their thoughts, opinions and emotions. Within this unit students will also be learning about the dangers of substance use, and they will practice using a variety of refusal skills that they can call on if they are faced with peer pressure to vape, use tobacco, drugs or alcohol. Students will learn the 'ISAYNO' refusal method where they provide an “I” statement, State a reason, are Assertive, show You are in control, make a No statement that is very clear, and consider Options (you can leave, get help, etc.)
Grade eight students are taking their enhanced Decision-Making skills and applying them in our next unit on Nutrition. The emphasis is on whole vs processed foods and the implications highly processed foods have on the body. Students will look at food ingredients and make choices based on what is a more nutrient dense option rather than something in a colorful "box, bag or bottle." Students will learn the benefits associated with incorporating more whole foods into their day.
Students practiced the invasion games skills of dribbling and ball/puck control, passing and receiving, shooting on a goal, and defensive skills through our Scurry Hockey (6th), Floor Hockey (7th) and Indoor Soccer (8th) units. During middle school, students will participate in a variety of motor skills and movement patterns. We have now started Ballroom Dance units in all three grades. In grade six, students will learn the basic steps to the Foxtrot while keeping their movements to the rhythm of the music. In seventh grade, students are challenged with the more upbeat Salsa. Students will learn that the salsa can be practiced to many of their favorite songs, making it varied and enjoyable across musical genres. Lastly, eighth grade students will learn Swing. After practicing their steps and hand positioning, all three grades will be able to choreograph their own dances in small groups. Of equal importance to practicing the dance skills, students will also practice showing respect for their partner, social responsibility and dance etiquette.
Students in the third rotation of consumer science are wrapping up their classroom experience for this year. They have learned many functional skills over the past nine weeks, and we encourage you to include them in your family’s meal planning, food preparation and clean up on a regular basis. 8th graders can select Culinary Arts or International Cuisine and Culture in their schedule next year at MHS. Both courses provide daily opportunities for students to continue to develop their independence.
In sixth grade French, students have been learning about Mardi Gras and its French origins. They are currently working in the Makerspace creating miniature floats to represent the various Krewes of Mardi Gras. Be on the lookout for a parade!
In sixth grade Mandarin, students are learning Unit 3 lesson 1. By the end of this lesson, students can ask and respond to questions about names and understand the cultural beliefs related to Chinese names.
In sixth grade Spanish, students have been learning to answer key questions about their school day. They are also comparing our school schedules with those of students from the Latino world. A thank you to the PTO for our concert with Josee Vachon. As always, she was a delight to listen to and join in some French and Spanish songs.
In seventh-grade French, students have begun the café unit. They have created menus and are learning to discuss which foods and beverages they like, and what they have at each meal. This will culminate in the café skit, always a favorite!
In seventh grade Mandarin, students finished Unit 6 lesson 3. By the end of this lesson, students can compare people’s heights and ages. We are writing pen pal letters to the students at our partner school in China. On April 13th school China trip, I will bring those pen pal letters to Bengbu, China and bring their letters back to our students.
In seventh grade Spanish, students have become proficient in describing what people look like and how they feel. They used their creative skills to write and illustrate a children’s book about people in their lives. A huge GRACIAS to the PTO for providing the funds for us to invite Grupo Fantasia to introduce our students to the music, instruments and dances of the people of the Caribbean.
Students in eighth grade French are wrapping up a unit on the passé composé (the past tense). As part of this unit, students read the Québécois short story “Une abominable feuille d’érable sur la glace” by Roch Carrier, then watched the film adaption Le Chandail. Students worked together to describe what happened in the film, using their new skills in the passé composé. The unit will wrap up with dialogues in which students speak with each other about what they did over the weekend.
In eighth grade Mandarin, students finished Unit 10 Lesson 3 and Unit 11 lesson 1. By the end of those lessons, students can compare drinks and foods, express personal preferences for breakfast foods and drinks, Identify different fruits, and Comment on fruits.
In eighth grade Spanish students have practiced giving instructions using maps and explored cultural differences between open-air markets and malls. To wrap up the unit, students opened their own stalls in a classroom market and were able to interact using only Spanish to negotiate prices! Finally, thanks to the PTO, our students learned about different cultures in Latin America from Boston music teacher Rosalba Solis. By the end of the class, everyone was dancing Dominican bachata in pairs!