In our continued efforts to keep families informed and updated about the curriculum at Blake, each 1month 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 September 2017.
Grade 6: Grade 6 students are learning how to get our attention by designing movie posters based on the summer reading books. They are combining drawing with text to entice the viewer. This gives them a valuable experience on compositional layout and answers the question: ‘How can I best organize my space?’
Grade 7: Students are exploring a year-long theme of portraiture. For their first piece, they are creating mixed media works that consider their identity. With oil crayon, photos, and text students are in the process of creating some very expressive work!
Grade 8: Grade 8 students are exploring the human figure as one of the major themes this year. Why have artists been concerned with the human figure since the beginning of time? They are starting out by looking at body proportions, and capturing the figure in movement. They are using analogous color combinations to study arrangement and composition--positive and negative space and how to organize both effectively.
Grade 6: The sixth graders have settled into the middle school ELA routine. We started the month off discussing the theme of diversity within the summer reading choices. While working as a class and in groups, the students also discussed characters, setting and conflict within the books. All sixth grade classes worked with common, proper, abstract, concrete and compound nouns in sentences as well as learning how to use nouns in writing to make writing stronger. We will end the month of September with open response writing and students will learn the elements of a solidly written informational text response!
Grade 7: The seventh grade is currently currently working on identifying and analyzing character traits using the novel The Color of My Words. Students are learning to craft appropriate claims, support those claims with evidence, and make connections using analysis. Students will also be working on analyzing imagery and figurative language in this unit.
Grade 8: After completing the summer reading activities, eighth grade students began their unit on Reginald Rose’s courtroom drama, Twelve Angry Men. Rose’s play spotlights a jury’s deliberation in a capital murder case. This compelling play provides a rich teaching platform for students to revisit important lessons about characterization within the play and even more important lessons about justice.
The first rotation of guidance classes are underway! The 6th Grade Group Guidance class has started to talk about how the transition to middle school has gone. The class is beginning to discuss introverts vs. extroverts and how that can impact how a person engages with those around them. The 7th Grade Group Guidance class is discussing the concept of “Resilience” and how to accept “failure” as a means for growth rather than discouragement. In the 8th Grade Group Guidance class, students are doing some initial steps into career readiness and career planning. Knowing that the jobs they may have don’t even exist yet, the focus is on the interests and strengths of each student. The students in Ted Talks have selected their “idea worth spreading” and have begun to do their research. They will be presenting their presentations at the end of the rotation. In Embracing Diversity, the students have examined Maurice Ogden’s allegory “The Hangman” and how it could possibly relate to society. Next, the Embracing Diversity class will look at “discrimination” and attempt to empathize with how it can make people feel.
In the next several weeks, Mr. Russ Becker, our School Adjustment Counselor, will be providing additional lessons in each Group Guidance Class regarding Social Emotional Learning. The lessons will address anxiety, meditation/mindfulness, and providing students skills to appropriately to able to help their friend(s) who may be struggling. More to come next month!
Please mark your calendars…..The Guidance Counselors would like to invite parents/guardians to a coffee on Wednesday, October 25, 2017. More information will be sent in the upcoming weeks. If you are interested in attending the parent coffee, please click here: Parent Coffee RSVP
The Blake Library Media Center is off to a fast start for the 2017-2018 school year. Dozens of new books are on display and available for takeout. Many students have been checking out the new books to read during our twice weekly Sustained Silent Reading periods, which are held during Advisory time. SSR as it’s known, is a reading for fun time – no tests or projects required! Research has shown participants increasing their reading enjoyment, comprehension, vocabulary, writing skills, and overall literacy. Sixth Graders have also been enrolling in Commonwealth e-Books, an online library for Massachusetts students of which Blake is a member. Books are available for a two week download after which they disappear. Any 7th and 8th grade students who are new to the school this year should stop by the LMC with their iPads so Mr. Haycock can get them enrolled. The Blake Library also owns many e-books, which may be checked out through our site: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1icPcR9AUWNQS2jsITf2_amqnRMlMmDIVcSfnS56hQ10/edit
Grade 6 math students are settling in nicely. Even learning one’s way around the school is a math lesson in itself. It is rich with math language (left, right, parallel, diagonal,...) and visual spatial demands, especially if you’ve ever tried to get to lunch first! They have started with a unit on Pre-Algebra which will allow students to hone their number crunching skills. A great way to begin after a relaxing summer vacation.
Grade 7 students have begun the year working with arithmetic operations using integers. No longer will students use a number line that begins at zero! Only the full, real number line for these mathematicians. They will have to wait until Algebra II, however, to learn about the full, imaginary number line. In all classes, students are experiencing a pilot in Standards Based Reporting (SBR). For a full explanation click here. We hope to provide students and their families with timely and useful information as they learn math.
8th grade mathematicians have begun the year with a strong review of beginning Algebra skills: order of operations, evaluating numeric & algebraic expressions, and solving linear equations. Once those skills are fully reviewed, students move onto a unit on linear equations. While learning this unit and all units moving forward, students will use four frameworks when examining relationships: verbal, numeric, graphical, algebraic. Be careful, though, a big part of this unit will involve word problems involving payment for chores. Please be ready to answer questions about hourly rate:-)
Blake Music Classes are off to an exciting start! Students in Grade 8 are learning piano and guitar, while students in Grade 7 are exploring our new ukuleles and curriculum. The 7th and 8th Grade Chorus Ensembles will be conducted by Mrs. Ann Marie Tremblay this year. Music literacy practice and proper vocal techniques are being studied during each and every rehearsal. Auditions for Blake Jazz Choir are currently underway! Students interested should see Mrs. Tremblay. We are looking forward to a fantastic year!!
The Middle School Orchestra's are off to a great start! September has been a mix of review with familiar songs and scales as well as focusing on new skills like tuning (gr. 6), shifting (gr. 7) and vibrato (gr. 8). All students are expected to be practicing at home regularly and will be assigned "Home Practice Checklists" through out the year.
Private lesson sign ups are still open! Scholarships are available. Contact Mrs Evans to sign up or ask questions (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Our grade six general music classes have started off with beginning ukulele. We are looking forward to adding this as another modality in our music-making experiences throughout the year. Mrs. Stover's grade 7 and 8 arts rotation classes are also learning ukulele and beginning to think about repertoire for our end of unit in-class performances.
6th graders started the year discussing learning skills and the safety rules to become licensed scientists! See this Learning Skills FlipGrid for examples of students brainstorming their understanding of learning skills They are now licensed (with official licenses posted in the classroom!) to practice safe and collaborative science in the classroom. We are currently starting our investigation of matter by measuring the mass of both objects similar in size and those that are varied in size.
It has been a very busy in seventh grade science classrooms. Students are learning about the properties of magnets and how magnetic fields and electric fields are related. Station work learning about what makes an object act as a magnet, investigating the nature of magnetic poles and the shape of magnetic fields were some of the many activities in which students participated, culminating in the construction of an electromagnet. In science exploration, students have been investigating which dish detergent made the biggest bubbles. Students had the opportunity to collect quantitative observations and graph the data they observed!
Grade 8 science students started the year by producing entertaining and informative lab safety videos. Our investigation into chemistry began with a unit on mass, volume and density that included many labs and activities! This will be followed by a study of the atomic and molecular composition of matter, and chemical reactions.
Introduction to engineering students have completed the researching and planning stages, and have initiated construction of their solar powered cars – a Blake science tradition!
And of course, fall brings with it annual Charles River canoe trip. Along with paddling fun, students will be collecting and testing water samples at multiple locations on the Charles, to determine the impact of the wastewater treatment plant on water quality in the Charles day. We can hardly wait to hit the river with the students!
Sixth grade World Geography students are currently working on their first unit of the school year, Five Themes of Geography. Students are learning about each of the five themes - location, place, human-environment Interaction, movement, and region and how geographers can apply them to any place in the world. Come October, students will begin learning the countries of the world starting with the continent of South America.
Ancient Civilizations 7th graders have begun to learn all about the ancient world in social studies classes. They began by discussing how difficult life was for hunters and gatherers and then moved quickly into the Agricultural Revolution. Farming and herding changed life for early mankind by making life easier and raising the life expectancy for people significantly. The students are now studying Mesopotamia, one of the world's earliest civilizations.
8th grade World History I students began the year by studying the Byzantine and Russian Empires. Students complete an array of activities and assessments which examine the impact that the Fall of Rome had on both Eastern and Western Europe. They are learning about Emperor Justinian and Empress Theodora and their role as autocrats in the Byzantine Empire. As the unit progresses, students will learn about the split between the Byzantine and Roman Catholic Churches and the continuing influence that the Byzantine Empire has on the modern world, particularly on the country of Russia.
Each month we will be highlighting various areas of focus from the special education department.
7th Grade Learning Center
7th grade has been focused on strategies for organization and planning, such as using an agenda effectively, strategies for staying organized and using a calendar for long term planning.
8th Grade Learning Center
In 8th grade, we've been exploring new study and organizational strategies. The first few learning centers of the year we brainstormed together and made lists of strategies that students preferred. We hung the lists in the classroom so students can refer back to them. Then, we had each student set a goal for him/herself of trying out at least one new strategy this term. We will check in with all students over the next few weeks to see if they tried the strategy yet.
Speech And Language
- Strategies to meet speech-language benchmarks
- Using the Social Thinking curriculum across the 6th, 7th, and 8th grade advisory classes
- Using Google Classroom to promote the Social Thinking Curriculum across Blake with webinars and classroom lessons
- Invited 5 staff to join me with The Mindful30 Challenge - Find Calm, Get Focused, and Make an Impact (a 30-day online mindfulness program that helps you experience the benefit of daily mindfulness practice for the month of September, while raising funds to support the impact of mindfulness in schools across the country). The Mindful30 Challenge inspires, motivates and guides us through daily practices, tips and techniques from an all-star cast of leading mindfulness experts. We are sharing our mindful practices with students across the 6th, 7th, and 8th grade.
- Using the Project Happiness Curriculum across the 6th and 7th grade classes to promotes social emotional learning!
Health Education: Grade six students have been learning about setting personal goals. As part of our health curriculum, students will be learning the skill of goal setting and then will set SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time Bound) goals related to their own personal health. These are long range goals, and students will be working on them and recording their progress throughout the school year. Students will develop an understanding of what it means to be healthy and to create healthy habits that they can use in all aspects of their lives.
Seventh grade students began the year getting acclimated with class expectations, their classmates and Mr. Woods. Emphasis was placed on making the most of the once a week opportunity together as well as the importance of fostering a safe, inclusive environment to discuss and learn about a variety of important skills and topics. The first unit underway is Goal Setting. Students will build upon their understanding from sixth grade as they develop goals for improving one aspect of their personal wellness. After completing a wellness survey to assess their current strengths and areas for improvement, students select a goal designed to improve an aspect of their wellness. Their goal may focus on an aspect of their physical, spiritual, environmental, occupational, intellectual, social or emotional wellness, the seven dimensions of wellness.
Grade eight students started off the year with some getting to know you activities and learning about each other's unique personalities. The first unit of the year is Goal Setting. Students took a personal wellness survey to identify their strengths and weaknesses in each dimension of wellness. Next, students will write SMART goals based on their results and will create a tool to track their progress throughout the school year. SMART= Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time Bound.
Physical Education: 6th and 7th graders started out the year with team problem solving activities to help students understand the importance of teamwork, collaboration, communication skills and perseverance. Students in both grades are now learning about and practicing Track & Field events on the high school track. So far, 6th graders have practiced the 50 yard dash and hurdling.7th graders have practiced the 200m race and long jump. We look forward to adding more events as we lead up to their class track meets.
Grade eight students are learning skills associated with Golf and Archery. For golf, the focus has been on grip and stance and students are working on developing the foundations of a good golf swing. Golf is a sport that all can learn to enjoy for a lifetime, and we are hopeful that this introduction will provide students with the basic skills they need to continue pursuing the game outside of school. The 8th graders are also practicing their archery skills. In archery, students are concentrating on athletic stance and balance, as well as aim, focus, and learning to adjust to various elements. Naturally, safety is always a priority, and students are doing a very nice job following the archery commands.
Consumer Science: Students in the first rotation of Consumer Science have been practicing accurate measuring using proper utensils for liquids and dry ingredients, as well as practicing electrical appliance, oven and and stove safety. 6th graders have made strawberry smoothies, pancakes, English muffin pizzas and grilled cheese with tomato soup. 7th graders have prepared strawberry banana shakes, French toast, and flatbread vegetable pizza. They learned how to safely use a chef’s knife to slice and chop the vegetables. Many were surprised by how much they enjoyed the veggie pizza. Use this opportunity to have your children help in the preparation of fresh, nutritious vegetables, and you may find them enjoying them more too! 8th graders have learned about wild blueberries from Down East Maine as they prepared blueberry smoothies, learned the intricacies of effectively using a waffle iron, and have also used chef’s knives to prepare vegetables for their deluxe veggie pizzas.. We're living our motto, "Nutritious and Delicious!" In addition to food preparation, students are learning about the process of preparing to cook, and cleaning up after cooking. Ask them to show you what they have learned!
Sixth grade: In sixth grade French, students have been practicing saying numbers, basic greetings and the date. They have just finished learning about various countries in the francophone world, and are learning the sounds that make up the French alphabet.
In sixth grade Mandarin, students are working on Unit 1 lesson 1. By the end of this lesson, students will be able to identify the four tones and some pinyin symbols, create basic greetings, understand basic classroom commands, and type Chinese characters.
Students in sixth grade Spanish are off to a great start. This week we have jumped into numbers up to 100 and have been learning to give our address, phone number and age in simple conversations. Students were introduced to the language lab and were so excited to make their first recordings of the year!
Seventh grade: Seventh grade French students have been practicing greetings. They can have conversations with each other which include saying/asking hello, how are you, how old are you, as well as discussing their likes and dislikes.
Seventh grade Mandarin students are working on Unit 4 lesson 1. By the end of this lesson, students will be able to identify students by gender and school level.
Seventh grade Spanish students have jumped into conversational fun with brief dialogs that show their proficiency in introducing friends to each other and asking/answering questions about name/ages/ and feelings.
Eighth grade: In eighth grade French, students have learned to express their feelings in answering the question Comment tu te sens? with expressions like ravi, triste, fâché, and heureux. In addition to reviewing topics like weather and the calendar, students are now communicating about what people are doing using common French verbs like étudier, voyager, and jouer, as well as expressing what people will do in the future using aller (to go) plus a verb infinitive: Je vais jouer au foot samedi=I'm going to play soccer on Saturday.
In Mandarin, eighth graders are working on Unit 8 lesson 1. By the end of this lesson, students will be able to identify the date and day of the week and ask someone when his/her birthday is.
Eighth grade Spanish students have started the year by introducing themselves to their new teachers and each other. They are delving deeper to describe their personalities and talking about their abilities and things they would like to be able to do. In addition, we have kept our eye on the natural disasters that have shaken Mexico and the Caribbean.