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 May, 2016.
6th grade: Sixth Grade artists are creating identity maps. They are using the idea of a map to create a narrative of their life with personal meaning. They are using collage (maps) and mixed media to make artwork with depth in content and aesthetics. Next time you are near the band room, check out the musically-themed mural completed by Ms. Delaney’s 6th grade Art Plus class.
7th grade: How can I make a design that tessellates and when pieced together forms a new image?
7th grade artists are finishing up tessellation collages. Students are looking through magazines and collecting colors and textures to piece together like a puzzle.
8th grade: Artists are experimenting with printmaking, using different color combinations and printing a series of prints on a variety of surfaces.
Some students are continuing work on paintings that are to be hung in the art hallway. The mural work on the LMC ceiling continues every Wednesday after school.
Annual Art Show: Please join us for the All-School Art Exhibit on June 1st 5:30-7:00pm in the main lobby and LMC. Note that the time has been changed to 5:30 to accommodate the orchestra students and their families.
Grade 6 students are reading and discussing the classic, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain as well as learning about satire, and dialogue versus dialect in the book. The students will be completing one of several projects - a video, journal, illustrated storyboard or a coding project - to wrap up a study of the characters, conflict and themes in the book. Our study of grammar is also winding down as we head into the end of May and June!
Grade 7 students are reading Johnny Tremain and focusing on characterization, figurative language and symbolism in the text. We are also expanding on our understanding of Coming of Age themes that we first studied in our short story unit. In Writing Lab students are excited to be writing creative short stories that they will be sharing with the elementary school students in June.
Grade 8 students will use reading from the final chapters of To Kill a Mockingbird to participate in group discussions about the impact of regionalism and racism. In Writing Lab, students are continuing their work with the Holocaust and finding connections with the upcoming trip to Washington DC.
The 8th Grade Group Guidance is taking opportunities to reflect upon their middle school experiences. The 7th Grade Group Guidance class is continuing with our situations and "what would you do" scenarios. This provides an opportunity for productive conversations. Embracing Diversity is discussing the Nobel Peace Prize, and specifically learning about Malala Yousafzai.
SUMMER READING BOOK SALE
The Blake summer reading sale is in full swing. Our all-school book is a great one. It’s called Heart of a Samurai. It’s about a 14-year old boy from Japan in the 1840’s. He’s on a fishing boat that sinks in a storm. After nearly drowning he and some fellow survivors become stranded on a deserted island. They’re stuck on the island and are starving when they’re rescued by an American whaling ship from, of all places, New Bedford, Massachusetts. The ship’s captain ends up taking the 14-year old protagonist, Manjiro or John Mung as he later is known by, back to his home in Massachusetts. John likes his new life in America but also longs to return to Japan to see his family and also to fulfill his dream of becoming a Samurai warrior! Heart of a Samurai is a great book and is based on a true story!
But wait, there’s more to the summer reading program. Minimally, all Blake students are required to read two books, Heart of a Samurai and one additional title from their grade-level list. Here’s how our incentive works: Students who read a total of five books from their grade level list – Heart of a Samurai plus four that they choose, will get to come to the library for a complete pizza lunch with all of the trimmings.
In addition, they have to complete a video review, a podcast or comic strip or even a brief written review about one of the other 4 books that they’ve read – not the all-school. Their creations will be posted next September on the Blake LMC site.
So, simply have your son or daughter peruse their order sheets, check off the all-school book, decide which other four books they’d like to read, check those off, then get their order sheet and payment turned into their Advisory teacher. It’s that easy and fun! All proceeds from our Blake CSA book sale are used to buy additional books for the Blake Library. For additional information and order sheet reprints go to: http://blakelmcproject.wix.com/blakelmc
BLAKE MINI-MARATHON/HEATHER ABBOTT
Last year’s Running Dream summer reading speaker and Boston Marathon bombing survivor, Heather Abbott, will be returning to school next Thursday, June 2 for our mini-marathon. Over the past several months, dozens of Blake students have been raising money for Heather’s foundation (http://heatherabbott.org) which provides prostheses to those who have suffered limb loss. Dozens of students, mostly on their own initiative, have run fundraising snack sales, lemonade stands, dodgeball competitions and even sold customized cell phone cases. All proceeds from the mini-marathon will also go to the Foundation.
Swapna Oslund, a 9-year old girl from Beverly, Massachusetts, will be the beneficiary of our fundraising efforts. Swapna was born in India with limb differences on both hands and her left leg. She has had a total of 18 surgeries including the amputation of her left partial foot in the fall of 2014. All money raised to date, along with the proceeds from the mini-marathon will go to Swapna for a new running leg. To see images and to read about Swapna’s life, check out her blog: https://lsofootblog.wordpress.com/ Heather and Swapna will speak to the Blake Community after the race. This is the first time Blake has had a full-year activity that emerged from a summer reading book. It’s been an educational and rewarding experience!
We can thank Rene DesCartes for the Cartesian Plane that was introduced to our 6th grade mathematicians at Blake. This plane will be the foundation for all graphing of equations our students will encounter for the next six years in Medfield:-) They are leaning to move around the plane in a horizontal and vertical manner...staying solidly in the 2nd dimension. The phrase ordered pair will be synced with x and y forever. Once mastered, our Blakers will be able to present a visual representation of their mathematical equations. Thanks, Rene!
7th grade math students learned an alternative use for dental floss: slicing cross-sections of play-dough! It is very easy to imagine what a cube or a cylinder looks like, but take a cross section on a diagonal and now we are talking about a level of thinking best done with manipulatives. That is precisely what has happen in the 7th grade classrooms. Students took their knowledge of 3-dimensional figures and volume and enhanced it with the study of 2-dimensional cross sections. Even 2-D Flat Stanley showed up to explore the 3-D play-dough figures!
8th grade students are getting ready to finish up their middle school career! Some classes are studying transformations of figures, while others are experiencing multiplication of algebraic expressions (using exponents and then factoring). No matter what the subject, the Blake Math Department is proud of the work students have completed over the past 3 years. They are ready for high school!
Seventh and Eighth Grade Band, Chorus and Orchestra and BMS Jazz Ensemble students will be participating in the Great East Festival on Friday, June 3. Students will be perform for two adjudicators and receive a Bronze, Silver ,Gold or Platinum rating. Following their performances, students will enjoy the rest of the day at Six Flags New England.
The BMS Jazz Ensemble gave an outstanding performance and earned a Silver medal at the Southeast District MAJE Festival on May 6. Eighth grade students Jack Shurtleff, Ethan Ni and Raphaela Gray all earned Outstanding Musicianship awards.
The grades 6-8 bands and 7&8 orchestra will have their spring concert on June 1.
Grade Six General Music
Students recently completed a world music unit where they explored the music of Ghana and Central and South America. Students learned repertoire of the area as well as examined the role of music in culture and the influence of immigration on style and genres. Students are currently exploring the role of music in enhancing storytelling and have enjoyed looking at how music is used for emotional affect in movies.
Grade Eight General Music
Students have begun their final projects for the 'History and Evolution of the American Musical' unit. They are working in small groups to create an original musical that provides commentary on a contemporary social theme.
Grades 7 and 8 Choruses will be leaving for the Great East Festival (The famous Six Flags Trip) at 5:45 am sharp on Friday, June 3, 2016. Plan on dropping your child off at 5:35 and picking them up at 9:00 pm that night! A long but wonderful day for our exceptional choral singers is planned.
The 6th, 7th and 8th Grade Choruses will be presenting their Spring Concert on June 7, 2016 at the Medfield High School at 7:00 pm. Chorus members must wear black dress slacks (no jeans) and a white dress shirt or blouse (short or long sleeves are fine) (no t-shirts or tank tops). Girls may wear black skirts that come to the knee. All blouses and shirts must tuck in to the slacks and stay tucked! Boys should wear a tie. Each chorus will sing separately and then present a grand finale all together at the concert.
Ms. Nothnagel's general music classes this month are working on various projects including interviews of famous jazz musicians and continuing to learn about the American Broadway musical.
Grade 6 continued to learn about rocks and weathering as they prepared for the Geology field trip around Medfield. The students went through compass training and spent days becoming experts in their agent of erosion. All of this lead to the big day...the field trip presentation! Special agents Ruminski, Buley and Henry gathered the detectives to confirm they were ready to be let out into the field. One day later the student were put to the test! The field trip was a success and our detectives were able to solve the crime of Medfield’s agent of erosion. As we move into our Inside Earth unit, students will learn about the Earth’s layers.
7th grade wrapped up the DNA and genetics unit during which students learned how genes determine our traits. We looked at some observable traits such as widow’s peak, hitchhiker’s thumb, and PTC tasting. The students had fun ‘testing’ their parents to see if they taste the bitterness of PTC (a chemical found in cabbage, broccoli, and brussel sprouts) or not. The class used this information to construct Punnett squares to predict the probability of them sharing this trait with their parents. We are now learning about endangered species via our Project-Based Learning Ecology unit where students will work in groups to research said species from Massachusetts and create a product to answer the overarching question, Why do we protect endangered organisms? Students will then present their products to the class and share their findings from their research as well as highlight some of the challenges their organism faces for survival.
Grade 8 is entering their final phase of the year and the main focus in science classes will be working on different concepts in astronomy including creating a scale model of the solar system and discovering ways we could potentially colonize a different planet or moon. Technology classes will be completing the coding unit and shifting into creation mode by building a solar car.
Students in sixth grade World Geography are exploring the connection between GDP/capita and quality of life. By using the most current data available, students research individual countries to determine if it is a developed country or developing country. Afterwards, students will present evidence to support their reasoning to support the question - Does the wealth of a nation influence the quality of life for its people? In June, sixth graders will visit the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, MA. On June 8th, the Koala cluster travels to PEM while on June 9th and 10th, the Otters and Sea Turtles make their way north. At the museum students will learn about Salem's connection to trade with Asia. Additionally, students will visit the Yin Yu Tang House. Afterwards, students will explore modern day trade.
7th grade Ancient Civilization students are currently studying Rome. They have just transitioned from the Roman Republic to the Roman Empire. Students will learn about some of the more famous Roman emperors, spend some time exploring life as an ancient Roman, and will examine some of the buildings and events that made the Roman Empire one of the largest of the ancient civilizations. In the end, the inevitable will happen, Rome will grow too large, split apart and then will fall after being attacked by relentless outside forces. Students will examine why these events happen and will make connections between ancient Rome and the United States today. Students will visit the Museum of Fine Arts this month. Each cluster will have a one hour tour of the Mesopotamian, Egyptian, Greek, and Roman collections at the museum led by the museum staff. Following the tour, students will use their iPads to create their own "ancient art galleries". To do this, they will need to choose ancient pieces that exhibit different characteristics to include in their gallery using the camera on their iPad and explain their choices in writing.
The 8th grade World History I students will end the year by studying East Asian history. Students will learn about the most recent Chinese dynasties, the Samurai Era of Japan and the impact which geography played on the cultural development of the Korean peninsula. Students will complete various activities and assessments which will focus on these topics.
6th graders are working on the skill of decision making. Our goal is to prepare students to make healthy decisions about alcohol, tobacco and other drugs. Although we hope that our students will not be in situations to have to make these decisions, we are working hard to prepare them to be able to say "No", if and when those situations arise. Using the acronym DECIDE, students are encouraged to Determine (what is the decision), Examine (healthy and unhealthy alternatives), Consider (consequences), Identify (values and influences that may affect the decision), Decide (on the healthiest option) and Evaluate (and reflect on the outcome.) Using this process to make decisions should help our students make the right choices in the future. As with all of the skills that students are developing through their health education classes, this can have a significant impact on their health and ultimately their happiness.
7th graders are learning how to advocate for healthy behaviors through the study of respect and respecting differences. Students will be creating an advocacy campaign using social media to get the word out about to their fellow classmates at Blake.
8th graders are also learning the skill of advocacy through their final unit of the year called "Advocating for Safe and Supportive Communities". They spent time looking at examples of campaigns currently being promoted in our country. For their final project, students are choosing an issue that they feel passionate about and are creating a message that promotes a positive change or supports a cause. Students will choose how they relay this message to the class such as: PSA, commercial, interview, letter to a public figure, song or billboard. I look forward to seeing their presentations!
6th graders have started their badminton and softball units. In badminton, students have been learning the skills of creating space on the court by using the drop shot and clear out hits. In softball, students have been practicing the skills of throwing, catching, and striking.
7th graders are participating in two units as well; badminton and archery. In badminton students reviewed the drop shot, serve and clear out striking skills. Students are exploring the use of force when striking the birdie to different spots on the court. With the nicer weather approaching we will be going outside to start our archery unit.
8th graders are participating in fitness games and badminton. During badminton, students are competing in 2 v 2 small games where they must communicate with a teammate. In the fitness unit, students have been rotating through fitness stations in the new fitness center. With the warmer weather students will be heading outside for fitness games including skills like agility, cardiovascular endurance, and speed.
Students in all three grades are meeting for their fifth class, and have now used all of the kitchen appliances. Most classes have put their creative and collaborative efforts to the test during the create-a-smoothie lesson, when they wrote a recipe and analyzed how much they liked the smoothie they created. Based on their reflection, students had the opportunity to make changes to modify the recipe and try it again to see if they liked the improved version better. Ask your child to create a smoothie that your family would enjoy!
Mandarin: We are almost done with Unit 3 lesson 2- What is your surname? By the end of this lesson, students are able to ask people from different social status levels their names.
French: Students are finishing creating French Animal stories in booklets with a "Secret Room". On each page, a clue is left, and on the secret page, there is a revelation! Which is your favorite animal?
Spanish: Students are well into planning their big puppet shows featuring their own brown bag animal puppets! They are collaborating on Google Drive to write their scripts, and working hard to make them interesting and fun to watch!
Mandarin: We are almost done with Unit 8 lesson 1-My Birthday. By the end of this lesson, students are able to identify the date and day of the week and ask someone when his/her birthday is.
French: Students have recently begun the final unit which discusses making weekend plans. They will learn new vocabulary as well as two new verbs which will be incorporated into a variety of activities. There is also an upcoming diamond poem assignment which is always very creative!
Spanish: Students are enjoying their one feature length film , "Atletico San Pancho". It is set in Mexico, and is in Spanish with English subtitles. It is the "Kicking and Screaming" (or "Bad News Bears"!) of Mexican soccer! They are being encouraged to listen closely to see if they agree with how the movie is subtitled in English - there are certainly some interesting decisions that a translator has to make.
Mandarin: We are almost done with Unit 13 lesson 1--Means of Transportation. By the end of this lesson, students are able to identify means of transportation in different places and compare and comment on means of transportation.
French: Students are learning how to talk about going places and using different modes of transportation. They love competing in groups using Quizlet Live to Show What They Know!
Spanish: Students continue to use their new ability to speak in the past tense, but they are now applying it to explain why they feel different emotions. Coming soon: body parts and sickness!