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 September, 2016.
Sixth grade students are creating works inspired by their summer reading. They are acting as graphic designers to envision designs for movie posters for the upcoming blockbuster film based on the book. What scene do they want to portray? What genre of film do they wish to promote--an action film or a drama? They are understanding and using guidelines of compositional design to combine images with text to create a visual impact.
Seventh grade artists are illustrating a quote from the Samurai Creed-I have no parents; I make the heaven and earth my mother and father. I have no home; I make awareness my dwelling. I have no life and death; I make the tides of breathing my life and death. How can we illustrate the meaning of this passage effectively? The students are also sharpening their technical skills by using prismacolor pencils and limiting their palette to encourage color layering and blending.
Eighth grade artists are also creating illustrations from the summer reading. They are exploring ways to create the illusion of depth in a landscape painting. Students are choosing one of the settings from the book-Bird Island, Fairhaven, Japan, or the open ocean. They are employing atmospheric perspective to show depth. Color choices, placement, size, value, contrast, and detail are all elements that can be used to create spatial depth in a 2D artwork.
Art Opportunities after school:
Set Design with Mrs. Deveno---Get involved in the Drama program by working on the set design crew. This group meets after school. See Mrs. Deveno for details.
Blake Open Studios----Beginning September 28th, the Blake Art room will be open after school on Thursdays, until 3pm. All students are welcome to participate in studio activities of their own choice- choose from drawing, painting, printmaking, and sculpture. Ms. Deveno and Ms. Jones will be on hand to provide materials and informal instruction.
There will be no formal registration, it is on a first come, first served basis and limited to 15 students. We are looking forward to seeing you in the Art studio, room 208!
Sixth grade ELA students have had a busy start to the year. They learned about conflict and discussed conflict in the book, Heart of a Samurai. They created recipe "Getting to Know You" poems or Heart Maps along with learning about nouns. The sixth graders also finished setting up the digital portfolios that we will use in ELA for writing, and they are working diligently to finish up a joint social studies and English open response writing - after being introduced to our graphic organizer ("GO"). We have been active and engaged in ELA!
Grade 7 ELA students are working on identifying character traits, supporting their claims with textual evidence, and making connections between the claim and the evidence using analysis. We have read three short stories, "The Captive Outfielder", "Raymond's Run", and "The Street", and each provided students the opportunity to work on this skill. We have also been discussing the theme of empathy, both in the summer reading and in these short stories. Each story allowed students to explore the theme that one pathway to empathy is through shared experiences.
Grade 8 ELA students launched the school year by writing a book review of one of the summer reading books. After receiving important background information about Arthur Miller’s iconic drama, The Crucible, students have begun digging into the play’s characters and conflict to understand how these two elements shape theme.
The 8th grade students are beginning our discussions of future planning which includes discussing options for High school and classes to take. We will also explore colleges and careers. Students recently wrote a response to where they see their lives in 20 years. These will be used to foster future class based discussions. In the 6th grade Group Guidance class, we've discussed the transition to middle school and are establishing a routine to "best communicate our feelings" for each class. The Embracing Diversity class is examining the Maurice Ogden's allegory "The Hangman" and considering it's meaning with a more global lens.
Grade-level Heart of a Samurai summer reading assemblies took place on Monday, September 12. We were fortunate to have Mike Dyer, Senior Maritime Historian at the New Bedford Whaling Museum, and Gerry Rooney, President of the Whitfield Manjiro Friendship Society, speak to our students.
Mike demonstrated life on a whaling ship in pictures and words: three-year voyages with thirty-five crew members, living in a smelly hold below decks, often eating cockroach infested food, the possibility of getting swept overboard during a storm or killed by a whale while harpooning, and developing the ability to empathize with sailors of different personalities and backgrounds in order to develop teamwork – the failure to do so often resulting in death.
Gerry discussed the relationship between Captain Whitfield, the captain of the whaling ship, and Manjiro, the 14-year-old Japanese fisherman who Captain Whitfield ended up adopting and taking to New Bedford to live. Gerry mentioned the importance of the empathy, a Blake theme for this year, Captain Whitfield and Manjiro developed for each other. Gerry also told us how his his organization was able to raise money to buy Captain Whitfield’s house, which now serves as the headquarters for the Whitfield Manjiro Friendship Society.
Special thanks to Elise Malone, Amy Reynolds, Ian Gagne, Nancy Devano, and Diane Horvath for developing Heart of a Samurai curriculum activities for our students.
Grade 6 mathematicians have settled in nicely! Classes have been working on their computational strategies from elementary school. We are busy settling into more traditional methods of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division of all types of numbers. Also, we are taking time to understand the why behind the algorithms. Not only will this help students recall how to perform these operations, but it will allow them to better judge if their answer is right or wrong. So ask your child to give their best educated guess for problem involving multiplication of decimals. You’ll be impressed at how close they are to the correct answer.
7th grade mathematicians have been busy evaluating algebraic expressions. Understanding the purpose of a variable is an important theme of 7th grade math. Students learn to express quantities with numbers, variables and operations signs. For example 4・x can represent the quantity 8 if x = 2, but it can also represent the quantity 20 if x = 10. They are then looking at a very important algebraic expression r・t, (rate times time), and realizing it’s value in expressing different quantities of distance traveled. Next time you are driving on the highway, let them calculate the distance traveled by giving them your rate (mph) and how long you drove. A quick check of the odometer will tell you if they are correct:)
In 8th grade, our students are putting to use their skills from earlier grades. They are working on solving all types of linear equations in a systematic and organized manner. These skills will follow them through high school and college, so it is important they practice, practice, practice! What practice would be complete, however, without context? These equations might help them determine the number of songs they can play on Spotify before a commercial comes on. They also might give them insight into the costs of their back-to-school must-haves. We wish would could teach them how to balance your household budget, but we’re afraid they need more experience with an allowance first:-)
The middle school bands have played their first notes together since breaking for summer last June. In our first rehearsals, we’ve focused on ensemble fundamentals like tone quality, balance, blend, dynamics, listening skills and following the baton closely. The sixth grade band had fun playing through some unison arrangements of pop songs including We Will Rock You, The Hey Song, Peanuts, Another One Bites the Dust and Iron Man! The seventh and eighth grade bands have begun work on the Olympic Spirit theme by John Williams. More than 40 students auditioned for the Medfield Junior Jazz Bands. The Jazz Ensemble got into the “swing” of things in their first rehearsal. Students were led through numerous exercises focusing on swing feel, big band listening skills, and jazz style and articulation. We began work on Reunion Blues composed by jazz great, Milt Jackson.
Grade Six General Music
In our first classes we have been playing with rhythm and creating rhythm complements. Students are excited about the many opportunities to use our world percussion instruments in the classroom and to create music in GarageBand.
Grade Seven General Music
What is it about rock n’ roll or classic rock music that makes it sound like rock? How can we explain the difference between two genres such as opera and rock? These are a few of the questions we have been pondering in the grade seven general music rotation ‘The History and Evolution of Rock n’ Roll.’
Grade Eight General Music
Why would one write a musical? What influences the writing of a musical? These are some of the questions our eighth grade students are considering as they learn about the beginnings of the quintessentially American genre - the musical.
6th Grade Chorus is off to a great start!
There are over 40 singers in this performing ensemble with our new Chorus teacher, Mrs. Tremblay.
During our first rehearsals students have been getting to know one another and learning how to
work well as a team. Students have also been experimenting with new vocal warm-ups and songs.
The 6th graders bring a lot of energy and enthusiasm for singing so stay tuned for more exciting updates...
Grade 6 science has had a very busy start to the school year with students investigating the 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 have allowed our students to create their own understanding of these topics. We have recently been working on our Journey through the Universe experience where students explore what would happen to their mass and weight were they to travel to various locations.
It has been very busy in the seventh grade science classrooms. The year began with investigating which dish detergent made the biggest bubbles. Students had the opportunity to collect and graph the data. Lab safety was covered before the students moved on to establishing the characteristics all living organisms have in common. The seventh grade science teachers have also been very busy preparing for the trip to Nature's Classroom at the end of September. The four day trip provides students the opportunity to unplug and spend some time learning in nature. This hand on, minds open, experience is an amazing opportunity for our students. We are lucky to be able to go!
As the autumnal equinox approaches (September 22nd), and the number of daylight hours continues to decrease in the Northern hemisphere, the 8th graders have held onto one last gasp of summer by journeying down the Charles River in Medfield. “Does the discharge from the sewage treatment plant into the Charles River have a negative impact on the quality of the water?” Students test the water prior to and after the discharge from the Medfield Sewage Treatment Plant. Testing of turbidity, nitrate levels, phosphate levels and pH was carried out at each of the locations. Within the classroom, students repeated a famous experiment from 1602 on the behaviors of pendulums as done by the famous scientist Galileo Galilei allowing them to hypothesize, collect and analyze data and, dissect the different parts of a successful experiment.
This month in 6th grade World Geography, students are introduced to the idea of geography including what it is and how it is used. Topics include the Five Themes of Geography, the difference between physical geography and human geography, as well as an emphasis on learning to read maps by using latitude and longitude. After students are introduced to geography, they will begin to identify countries of the world.
7th Grade Ancient Civilizations starts the year with the dawn of man and will charge through thousands of years of history until Rome falls in June. The Early Man unit helps to give the students an understanding of time lines and how man survived the hunting and gathering lifestyle. The invention of farming changes everything and starts man on a journey to create organized governments, written language, and specialized jobs. The first large unit of the year will be the study of Mesopotamia which will begin in mid-September and finish a week or two after returning from Nature’s Classroom.
The academic year is off to a strong start in 8th Grade World History I. Students begin the year by learning about the Byzantine and Russian Empires. They will study the style of autocratic leadership which dominated both Empires. In addition, students will learn about the important political connections between the Emperor/Czar's role as the head of both the Orthodox Church and the State. Students will visit the Museum of Russian Icons in Clinton, MA as a way to extend this aspect of their learning beyond the classroom. Students will also complete numerous projects and assessments relating to this unit of study.
In Consumer Science classes, 6th graders are learning to complete the opening of class routines independently, and have demonstrated how to use the blender, the electric griddle and the oven safely. They are learning how to measure accurately using the correct utensils, and have enjoyed delicious smoothies, pancakes and English muffin pizza! 7th graders have reviewed all of that, and in addition have learned to safely use a chef’s knife to chop vegetables for this week’s amazing Flatbread Veggie Pizza! 7th graders will be challenged throughout the course to ‘expand their nutritional potential’ by adding more nutritious foods into their diet. Despite what one might think, the 7th graders loved the French toast they made on whole wheat bread and the multi-colored veggies were amazing on their pizza! 8th graders have proven that they are much more independent and can navigate more complex recipes and cooking skills. They added applesauce and oatmeal to their waffles, and they did not even have to be asked to add vegetables to their pizza, they just went right at it as they remember how good this tasted last year.
In French classes, students have learned how to greet one another and give their names in French. They also have researched countries throughout the francophone world and shared their findings with their classmates. Our students have also been learning to spell using the French alphabet.
In Spanish classes, after a few fun weeks of getting to know each other and reviewing what students remember after the summer, we had a fun and competitive Spelling Bee in all 6th grade Spanish classes. Every student had a chance as part of a team to show off all they have learned!
In Mandarin classes, students are gaining a basic understanding of the tone-meaning relationship in Chinese oral language. They are learning to identify the four tones and some pinyin symbols, make basic greetings, and understand basic classroom commands.
In French classes, students are learning to introduce themselves and other classmates by asking how are you to others, and expressing likes and dislikes
This culminated with the MOI project, using the vocabulary, which the students presented to the class.
In Spanish classes, students are becoming masters at introducing each other to someone else! We have also begun our Saludo each day when one student begins the class with a special greeting and their answer to the question of the week.
In Mandarin classes, students are learning more classroom expressions. They also reviewed the following lessons from last year: I am an American, What is his nationality?, We are Americans, What is your last name?
In French classes, students started off the year learning how to express emotions and give reasons or situations to explain the feelings. They also worked on various independent activities during the week of 8th grade field trips, including EE and Telligami presentations, and work using wordreference. We will spend some time
reviewing various topics from grade 7 to refresh and reinforcing them before moving on to new topics.
In Spanish classes, students are completing review projects--creating poems, talking about weather in international capitals, writing booklets and interviewing friends. This week we will be starting a new unit on talking on the phone and inviting friends to do things.
In Mandarin classes, students are learning more classroom expressions. They also reviewed the following lessons from last year: American families, Chinese families, occupations, age and body parts, appearance.