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 2017.
Grade 6 Grade six artists are working with mixed media materials in illustration. They are creating animal illustrations with marker, tissue paper, and paint. This is a continuation of their study of abstracting, or distilling an image to make something abstract. The resulting images are full of rich color, texture, and depth.
Grade 7 How do artists combine text (typography) and an image to create a unified image? Seventh grade artists are combining text with imagery, a basic lesson in graphic design thinking. Students are busy wrapping text through and around their drawings, or illustrating the meaning of the word by drawing pictures as letters. Others are taking inspiration from illuminated biblical texts by integrating imagery within a specific passage or quote. The students are choosing from a variety of media to embellish their work.
Grade 8 How can we use printmaking to create multiple images? Eighth grade artists are exploring relief printmaking with linoleum block prints. Using the soft material and sharp carving tools, students are experimenting with creating contrast, texture and value in their images.
Grade 6: Working within the timeless story of adventure, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Grade 6 students will use their class discussions and activities to sophisticate their understanding of connections between Mark Twain’s character development, vernacular language, and theme.
Grade 7: Seventh grade ELA is exploring the ideas of utopias and dystopias in the novel The Giver. As a culmination of this novel, students will create their own utopias and make a persuasive pitch for how their community can solve a world problem. Students are also writing a creative short story in writing lab that they will be presenting to the elementary school students in June.
Grade 8: With the To Kill a Mockingbird assessment recently completed, Grade 8 students will use class time to demonstrate their understanding of the novel’s characters and the life lessons each can teach to practice their rhetorical (persuasive) writing skills. Students must choose a character other than ATticus Finch that taught them a life lesson and use the claim-evidence-analysis format to support their argument.
8th Grade Group Guidance is wrapping up our unit on career exploration with presentations to the class. The students are presenting the career matches from their surveys along with a description of the career, what education is required (i.e. is college necessary, what major, types of degrees), a typical day in the life of a person with this career, best places to live with this career, and if the students felt like it was a good match for them personally. Some students expected the results while others were surprised by their matches. The students gained a deeper understanding of what it takes reach a certain career goal and learned about other options from their classmates presentations. The students in 8th Grade Embracing Diversity have examined discrimination with the Frontline special "A Class Divided." The students in this rotation of 6th Grade Group Guidance have discussed how an "assertive" response, rather than a "passive" or "aggressive" response, is the most "responsible" response. Also, we are promoting the importance of punctuality.
Blake’s 1st Annual BlakerMakers Faire took place Wednesday, May 31. Science Content Head Orla Berry, Math Content Head Susan Bycoff, Art Content Head Kate Jones, Tech Integration Specialist Diane Horvath, and Principal Nat Vaughn have been busy planning the event, which all students will participate in during their science classes. Several high school students will also be helping. Blakers will have the opportunity to learn about fingerprints from a real Medfield police officer, how to make gross sticky slime, how to make and launch bottle rockets, how to make mini catapults that launch deadly pom poms, how to make their own personal stylus to use for writing and drawing on iPads, how to coach a robot in a Robot Olympics, how to make musical picture circuits, find out what a Tesselation Station is, create Pendulum art, how to make origami fidget spinners (cheaper than store bought but not as durable), and also learn about the dangers of Tech Neck!
In library news, Blake students now have the opportunity to download and read books on their iPads for free. The school is a member of Commonwealth eBooks, which is available through the LMC website. Before books can be taken out, one must be registered, which many Advisory classes have already done. If your student has yet to join, please have him or her stop by the library for the quick and painless process!
6th grade are finishing up their geometry and measurement unit. Among other standards, this allows students to use “nets” to fully examine the ins and outs of surface area. Now is the time to put your 6th grader to work. Interested in painting a room? Need help with wrapping a gift? Purchasing a new wall to wall rug? Let them help with the numbers. You’ll be happy you did!
7th grade students are in the middle of their much anticipated Creature Feature Project. A long-standing Blake tradition, students mathematicians create creatures out of cardboard, being sure to give dimensions and surface area. Using LittleBits, a technology piece is added...sometimes wings are known to move with the press of a button! Additionally, a writing component is involved as students craft a children’s story with their creature. This truly is a sight to behold:-)
8th grade students have just finished MCAS math testing for 2017. Student mathematicians will not take Math MCAS again until May of their 10th grade year. This final MCAS test in grade 10 will test standards from a student’s entire school math experience from grades 3-10. While a small portion of a student’s academic portfolio, faculty and students work together to ensure they are well-prepared for this test.
Students finish out the school year in 8th grade math working with rules of exponents. This higher-order algebraic skill is necessary for the examination of exponential functions. Students will soon compare and contrast linear growth with exponential growth. We can all certainly relate to these types of functions as money typically grows exponentially...which is helpful if you are saving, but painful if you are borrowing!
The BMS Jazz Ensemble and Jazz Lab performed at Medfield Jazz Night on May 5. Renowned saxophonist, Tucker Antell, performed as a guest artist and spent the afternoon working with BMS Jazz Ensemble students on improvisation and ensemble techniques. The Jazz Ensemble also participated in the Central District MAJE Festival on May 10 and earned a Gold Medal for their outstanding performance. The BMS Jazz Ensemble along with the seventh and eighth grade band, orchestra and chorus will be participating in the Great East Festival at Six Flags New England on June 2. All of the groups are diligently preparing for their performances at Great East and the spring concerts.
Grade Seven and Eight Choruses participated in the MICCA festival on March 31, 2017 at the Norwood High School for the first time in many years. Being a part of this festival was uplifting for our Blake students, encouraging them to strive for higher standards in choral singing. They won a bronze medal for their work and benefited as they heard other middle school choral ensembles perform.To finish out the year, we have two upcoming events. On June 2, 2017, our grade seven and eight choral students will again participate in the Great East Festival as a combined ensemble. On June 8, 2017 we will have our final Spring Concert at 7:00 pm in the Medfield High School Auditorium with Grade Six, Seven and Eighth Choruses performing, as well as our Blake Middle School Jazz Choir. The Grade Eight Chorus is also performing for the Graduation Ceremony on June 19, 2017. So many wonderful events to look forward to in the short time before we close the year out!
Grade Six General Music
With the warmer weather we’ve been taking our drumming outside. Students have learned several rhythm patterns from West Africa and have composed some of their own. We are ready for our culminating composition project in this unit on Rhythms of the World. We are creating a drumming piece in the style of West African drumming that combines some traditional patterns as well as some student-created ones. We’re excited to see where this will go.
Grade Seven General Music: The Evolution of Rock and Roll
We have started our final rotation of the school year. In the last rotation we had some terrific research projects on The Beatles, Amy Grant, The Chainsmokers, Elvis Presley and others. We’re looking forward to this rotation to see what artists/musicians will inspire our students.
Grade Eight General Music: The American Musical
We have started our final rotation of the school year. In the last rotation we had several fantastic presentations to pitch an idea for an original musical that connects to a current event or social issue. Some of the themes presented included time travel, bullying, racism and gender identity. We’re looking forward to seeing where the last rotation will take us.
Grade 6 spent the month of May venturing into our brand new and exciting Earth & Space science unit! Students were asked to investigate and explain Earth’s place in the Universe, as well as the reasons for events within the Earth-Sun-Moon System. Students demonstrated understanding of Earth’s place in the universe as they designed a visual to demonstrate how we would send intergalactic mail from Earth to a planet in another supercluster in our Universe. Students had an opportunity to showcase creativity within these projects and demonstrated their understanding through a variety of different products.
On May 3rd, seventh grade science classes travelled to the Charles River as the culminating activity for our very successful Trout in the Classroom program. We released approximately 225 Brook Trout. A small number of Trout were also released in Mill Brook. This was an excellent way for the students to observe the Trout’s habitat and behavior upon release.
Standards based reporting has become the practice in 7th grade science for the third term. Students received their first seventh grade standards based report last week. The content, learning skills, and science/engineering practices that were assessed for the report were reviewed with all students in science class.
Grade 8 is entering their final phase of the year and the main focus of science classes is concepts in astronomy. A unit on the sun, earth, and moon system, which included investigations of the causes of moon phases, tides, eclipses, and seasons, was recently completed. Upon their return from Washington DC, students will engage in a project which will investigate the different ways we could potentially colonize a different planet or moon.
Introduction to engineering classes recently wrapped up a unit on bridge design and construction, which was highlighted by the construction of bridges made of uncooked pasta. The final engineering unit of the year is Simcity, which introduces students to urban planning. Students utilize many data sets to plan and develop a functioning and successful simulated city.
Sixth Grade World Geography students raised $365.53 for the Good Deed Seed tomato initiative. Each student planted a tomato seed and should hopefully take home one tomato plant at the end of the school year. All money donated will go directly to the NGO, World Connect. Sixth graders will vote upon the project of choice starting next week. Thank you all for your donations and support.
7th grade Ancient Civilizations students recently studied Alexander the Great. Students completed a Document-Based Question (DBQ) assignment where they were asked to define “greatness.” Students were asked to apply this definition to the legacy of Alexander the Great, the famous conqueror, to determine whether Alexander truly deserves this title. The social studies teachers were very impressed with the writing on this assignment and pushed students to think critically and analytically in order to improve their writing even further. Please ask your child what they think about Alexander the Great! Next, students learned about the Roman Republic. Students looked at connections between ancient Rome and the United States. The Founding Fathers were great admirers of the Republic and modeled the separation of powers and the idea of electing representatives after the Roman version. Students examined the way that the Roman Republic broke down over time, ending with Julius Caesar's stunning rise to power and subsequent assassination. A focus in this unit was the concept of "rule by law," that nobody is above the law and justice should be blind (to personal appearances, not to the facts).
World History I students are still working hard as they approach the end of the year. Among the final units of study is the Renaissance and the development of Humanism. Students will learn how these ideas helped to shape the humanities. The 8th graders will then learn about the Protestant Reformation the enormous role it played in Western Europe.
Health Education: In connection to the heart rate monitor pilot program, 6th grade students have been learning about their hearts, and how exercise affects their heart rate. Students have been finding their resting heart rate and calculating their target heart rate zones. They have discussed which forms of exercise are most likely to get them into their target heart rate zone along with strategies to maintain that intensity. In our unit on Effective Communication, students are learning about the Six Pillars of Character (trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring and citizenship.) Students have been learning about how to be good listeners and have identified the things that indicate whether we are listening. Using the acronym FACE, we talk about our Facial expressions, Attentiveness, Comfort, and having our Eyes on the speaker. We are practicing communication in relationship to bullying with the expectation that through character development and effective communication, we can bring an end to bullying. Students are encouraged not to be bystanders, but rather reporters who communicate with adults when they witness bullying type behavior.
7th graders have begun their final skills-based unit focusing on Advocacy. The unit began with an important conversation about respect, including what respect looks and sounds like. Students engaged in rich conversations about eye-contact, etiquette, the absence of noise and showing thanks as ways we show respect. It was exciting to see the level of engagement and body language change throughout the discussion as we touched upon these behaviors. Following this conversation students will be choosing a topic they respect and care about in order to effectively demonstrate advocacy. Suggestions for possible topics will include anti-bullying or cyberbullying, physical activity, recycling and other relevant health enhancing behaviors.
8th graders are heading into their final unit learning to Advocate for Safe and Supportive Communities. During this unit students will practice the skill of advocacy by choosing a cause they feel passionate about and creating a project to share their message. Project choices include a video, commercial, public service announcement, song lyrics or artistic billboard. The outcome of the project should be to show passion and conviction about their health-enhancing message.
Physical Education: All Blake students have begun their final two units of archery and badminton. The skill focus for archery includes safety rules and etiquette, balance, understanding varying speed and trajectory, and shooting accurately at a target. Badminton skills will focus on underhand serving, the overhead clear, the drop shot, the smash, and the strategies and tactics of singles and doubles games such as creating space by moving your opponent. We will break between units to prepare for the annual Blake Mini Marathon by walking the course so that all students have a clear understanding of the route. Students have signed up for different roles on this day and we look forward to this great community event!
Consumer Science: Students in 6th and 7th grades began using the stovetop this month to prepare a variety of quesadillas. 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 have learned to safely utilize chef’s knives to prepare fresh vegetables for their pizza, and 8th graders have practiced food safety by carefully washing hands, knives, cutting boards and sponges used in the preparation and clean up of raw meats such as ground beef, chicken, and (coming soon) breakfast sausage. Please help your child to continue developing their independence by inviting them to help plan, shop, and cook with you!
Students in French are wrapping up their unit on school: things we use in class each day (un crayon, un classeur, une calculatrice) and the classes we take at BMS (l'anglais, les maths, le français!). We'll end our year with two mini-units on les parties du corps (parts of the body) and la famille (family) Bonne fin de l'année!
In Mandarin class, students finished Unit 3 lesson 3. At the end of this lesson, students can look for a person by asking, “ Who is…?” And they can also make an apology.
In Spanish, our students ended their study of Los Animales with their first Interpersonal Speaking Assessment in the language lab. It was impressive to listen to 6th graders chat about their favorite animals, their favorite Madagascar characters, and their recordings all ended with amazing animal sounds! ;-)
The 7th grade French students have been learning to discuss weekend plans. This includes saying what they would like to do and planning to meet someone (meet me Saturday at 2 p.m. in front of the movie theater) all in the target language! This will culminate with an entertaining skit.
In Mandarin, students finished Unit 7 lesson 2. At the end of this lesson, students can identify what different animals can do and tell the qualities of an animal.
In Spanish, we all loved/are loving our viewing of the feature length film "Atlético San Pancho", a Bad News Bears type of movie about young students playing soccer in México! We are now onto "Nuestro Pueblo", our last unit of the year in which we will explore places, maps and the all important verb IR (to go)! Vamos, chicos, we can do this!
In French, students have started a unit on the topic of leisure time and vacation. They are learning a song (and accompanying dance) to use vocabulary describing a summer vacation. They will be practicing the passé composé by sharing their Washington DC experience in a postcard project before finishing the year with an animated French film titled Un Vie de Chat .
Mandarin students finished Unit 11 lesson 3. At the end of this lesson, students can express feelings such as happiness. They also finished pen pal letter and are going to send them to Lexington middle school 8th graders. There is a Mandarin class field trip to Chinatown in Boston and Kam Man Marketplace in Quincy on Tuesday, June 6, 2017. The purpose of our field trip is to have students connect with the Chinese speaking community.
In Spanish, after a fun and creative "Fiestas" (Holidays) unit, we are now fully into exploring how to express ourselves in the past tense. It is so clear that our students are ready for the challenge, and they can't believe they've lived this long in Spanish without talking about the past! After the DC trip, we can't wait to hear about what our students DID, SAW, VISITED, ATE, PLAYED, TOURED, etc!