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 December, 2016.
Sixth grade artists are using an experimental approach to watercolor, working with different techniques at stations throughout the room. Their abstract experimentation samplers will be used as source material for their collage landscapes. Seventh grade artists are starting their clay unit, creating caricatures out of clay. Students looked at the ways that different characters are portrayed in animation, and are interpreting their ideas in form. Eighth grade artists are continuing their study of the human figure. They looked at some ways Renaissance artists painted the human body, particularly Michelangelo’s figures from the Sistine Chapel. They are now interpreting these into relief tiles which will be used to create a collaborative piece to be installed within the halls at Blake.
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---- 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. 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 !
Seventh graders recently took a trip to the North Shore Music Theater to see A Christmas Carol performed live. The trip was an enjoyable experience for all and help students make connections and deepen their understanding of Dickens' classic. In English classes we are exploring the techniques Dickens uses to establish mood in his story. This includes examining how word choice, character actions, figurative language, and imagery all contribute to establishing the mood of a scene. As with all of our skill based work, we expect students will be able to apply these skills not only to A Christmas Carol but any text that they are reading.
Grade 8 students finalized their study of The Crucible with a project titled The Crucible Character Poster Project. Teachers assigned students in each class to one of six character committees. Depending upon which Crucible character the group was assigned, students worked collaboratively to create a symbol that they felt represented their character’s role in the drama. Other critical thinking challenges included finding an appropriately symbolic background and character connections representative of the character-to-character interplay within Miller’s play. The final challenge? Practice with presentation skills as each group reviewed its collaborative findings with their classmates.
The 8th graders have just rotated into the new section. Our guidance classes are just starting and the students completed a writing assignment where they wrote about where they see themselves in 20 years. It provided for interesting discussions and we be our jumping off point as we explore careers and future planning. In Embracing Diversity, students are looking into the factors that influence one's "culture", their way of life. Further, we are looking at how our culture can influence how we view another's culture. Through the examination of proverbs, we are looking into how one's culture can further influence their values. The 7th grade Group Guidance class is focusing on ways to reduce stress and anxiety by learning mindfulness techniques. The 6th Grade Group Guidance class is discussing strategies we can use to successfully transition back from a school break. We are also self-assessing our personalities; are we more introverted or extroverted.
Last year, Blake MS began offering an introduction to coding to every 6th Grader through an 8 week rotation class. This is all due to the efforts of the Hour of Code and getting Computer Science back into the curriculum. We have now participated in our 3rd Hour of Code event last Friday, Dec. 9th, when every student and teacher stopped to learn how to code from 9:45-10:45. Please visit blakehoc2016.blogspot.com to take a look at some of the coding resources and photos from our #hourofcode! Of course, the next step is to go beyond the hour of code. Stay tuned for a variety of opportunities to be announced.
The Library Media Center continues its dramatic improvements thanks to the continued support of the Blake PTO. The final batch of rolling tables with chairs has arrived, which completes our new Chromebook lab. The area now has the capacity to handle up to two classes simultaneously for both traditional instruction and thanks to the mobile tables, small group collaboration. Faculty meetings are also now held there too – thanks again!
6th grade mathematicians have been spending time in math working through stations to allow for fluid thinking of fractions as decimals and percents. Whether working on interactive apps, creating visual models with colored pencils, or crunching the numbers, our students are taking the time to understand how ⅕ , 0.2 and 20% all represent the same quantity. When shopping this holiday season, ask your child to practice their skills while saving money looking for sales!
Students in 7th grade math are beginning their work on an advanced study of percents. This holiday season is the perfect time for them to get into the deep details of calculating markdowns, tips, interest on loans and tax. The stores are filled with enticing ‘savings’ opportunities that our young consumers need to correctly evaluate. It is never too early to think about our financial health. Students are working hard to build their financial sense in math class. Let’s hope it translates to trips to the mall:-)
8th grade math students are starting to think about all they have learned since the beginning of school. All students will take a midyear examination in the weeks following our return from vacation. Now is a great time for students to organize their digital folders and subject binders. As math is a cumulative experience, this moment of reflection on their work allows students to cement key skills. More to come next month in terms of specific details of the exam.
The 8th Grade American Mathematics Contest (AMC 8) is a multiple choice examination in middle school mathematics designed to promote the development and enhancement of problem-solving skills and sponsored by the Mathematical Association of America. The contest is held yearly in November. Students from all over the country participate in this contest both individually and on a school-wide basis. This contest was open to all 8th grade Blake students. This year, 67 of our 8th graders elected to participate in the exam. We are proud of all students who participated. The following students have earned special recognition for their top performance within Blake Middle School:
- Ajay Anisetti, First Place School Winner, Honor Roll Certificate Recipient: Scored in the top 5% Nationally
- Edward Liu Second Place School Winner
- Benjamin O’Neil, Second Place School Winner
- Sarah Churchill, Third Place School Winner
- Tristan Marble, Third Place School Winn
Grade Six General Music with Mrs. Stover
Things are really getting exciting in Mrs. Stover’s grade six music room. Students have just completed their first set of group compositions using GarageBand (click on the link above to have a listen!) to demonstrate their understanding of musical form and contrast. Throughout the composition process students were prompted to pause and reflect on the following questions:
- Do my loops and instrument parts complement each other?
- Does our composition sound ‘musical?’
- Is there anything you think you should change?
In our discovery of Rock and Roll, seventh grade students have been learning about the contributions of Chuck Berry, Elvis and The Beatles, to name a few, to the genre.
Grade Eight General Music
Students have discussed the themes and innovations from Show Boat, Oklahoma and West Side Story as they consider the development of the American musical. Along the way students have been curating their ideas for their final project where they will create an outline and a scene for a musical of their own creation.
The Blake Winter Orchestra Concert is on Thursday, December 15th. Music Ensemble classes unique in that we demonstrate our learning through live assessments - our concerts! The Grade 6 Orchestra, Grade 7&8 Orchestra and the Blake Chamber Strings are prepared to showcase their continued development in performing music of various styles. Some of the skills that were the focus in the pieces we will be performing are changing finger patterns based on new notes, bow control, harmonics, and balance. The Concert starts at 7:00 PM and we look forward to showcasing our new skills!
The Sixth Grade Band and Seventh and Eighth Grade Band have their winter concert on December 14 at 7:00 in the high school auditorium. The concert will also feature the BMS Jazz Ensemble.
A number of seventh and eighth grade students are currently preparing solo works for the MMEA Eastern Junior District auditions on January 28.
The Medfield Music Association is sponsoring a commissioned work by composer Rick Hirsch. The piece, written for grade 4-12 band, was completed in November and will be premiered at the Medfield Band-O-Rama on March 14. Preparation of the music will begin following the winter concert. Mr. Hirsch, who hails from Pennsylvania, will visit Medfield on March 2 to work with students on his composition.
6th grade Science spent the month investigating sound and light waves. Students explored the implications of frequency and amplitude using “Little Bits,” a gizmos and gadgets kit on loan from the Maker Space. They then explored concepts such as absorption, reflection, refraction etc to determine how to create an ideal play space for either a library, auditorium, or playground. Our classes have had a great month of exploration and are looking forward to leaping into Space in the new year!
It was a very egg-citing month in 7th Grade Science! At the beginning of the month students investigated the movement of molecules in a diffusion lab. They used that knowledge to help them understand how materials move in and out of the cell membrane. During the egg lab students observed first hand how materials move in shell-less egg "cell" models. It was a great opportunity to create a graph which helped students to visualize the changes in each egg. As a culminating activity students will create a comic strip demonstrating their knowledge of active and passive transport with characters of their creation such as Captain Osmosis, a superhero with a very passive personality. In Science Exploration students are finishing up the models of the internal and external anatomy of trout. We are also getting the tanks up and running to prepare for for the arrival of the trout eggs on January 9th.
As the daylight hours continue to decrease, and the angle of the sun in the sky continues to approach the horizon, many changes are occurring in 8th grade Science like the changing of the seasons. Shaking off the most recent Polar Vortex and warming up, in Intro to Engineering class students will be transitioning into the West Point Bridge competition where they will be using a CAD like design program to compete against other schools in the state and country. Awaiting our first Nor'easter of the year and Bombogenesis to occur over the 40/70 benchmark, they will also be creating model truss bridges out of fettuccine and testing their strength to weight ratio. In Science class students are diving deeper into Chemistry and exploring Physical and Chemical changes. Watching for inverted troughs, we will be piloting a new project that brings both Science and Art together to look at the Periodic Table of Elements. Students will create their own artistic visual representation of an element based on the properties they have researched. Happy storm chasing!!!
Sixth grade World Geography classes are finishing up their Mountains project this month and will be starting a new writing assignment. Students used the process of “Design Thinking” to evaluate the needs of endangered mountains and seek valid solutions through research and collaboration. Collaborative groups used the UNESCO World Heritage Site as a resource to learn the criteria that needs to be met in order for a mountain to be considered endangered. Students evaluated and proposed solutions to real world problems that stem from such problems as pollution, deforestation, and flora and fauna extinction/endangerment. The related writing assignment focuses on the problems of endangered mountains, evidence which supports the endangerment, as well as a brief analysis of the evidence.
Students in 7th grade Ancient Civilizations classes finished a large unit on Egypt prior to Thanksgiving break. Since returning to school, they have focused on two neighboring civilizations, the Phoenicians and the Hebrews. The Phoenicians are best known for their creation of an easy to use alphabet, the creation of a capitalistic economy, and their invention of a bright purple dye made from snails. The Hebrews represent the first monotheistic civilization and their distinction of being an ancient civilization that has survived into the modern era. When students return to school in January, they will explore the early Greek Civilizations of the Minoans and Mycenaeans.
Students are currently learning about the spread of Islam in the Gunpowder Empires in 8th grade World History I classes. The Gunpowder Empires were made up of the Ottoman, Safavid and Mughal civilizations which were based respectively in modern day Turkey, Iran and India. Students will be completing an array of assessments relating to these Empires focusing on their geography, art and culture. As part of this unit of study, students will learn about the Sunni and Shia divide which existed between the Ottoman and Safavid Empires and how that divide continues to impact the modern world today. Students will also study the building of the Taj Mahal during the reign of the Mughal Empire and the continuing legacy of one of the world’s most famous memorials.
In 6th Grade Health class, we are working on the skill of Analyzing Influences. Puberty can influence a child's need for increased attention to hygiene. In class we have discussed the importance of showering or taking a bath daily, and washing thoroughly with soap and warm water. The important functions of antiperspirant and deodorant have also been discussed. In addition, students have been encouraged to focus on dental care, including flossing daily and brushing their teeth every night before bed, and every day before leaving the house. This is a great time to have a discussion with your children about their changing bodies and creating good daily habits.
7th graders recently closed out the unit on Accessing Valid Health Information with the completion of their ACES projects, where each student presented his or her research on injuries or illnesses in small groups. Students are now transitioning into their Analyzing Influences unit. Lessons and activities in this unit will focus on analyzing the ways in which peers may impact a one’s healthy or unhealthy behaviors. Students will reflect upon their own values and beliefs and examine the ways in which they affect health practices and behaviors. Additionally, this unit will allow us to analyze the influence of technology on personal and family health and relationships. Cyber-bullying will be an important topic addressed as a part of this unit.
8th grade students have continued working on Accessing Valid Health Information related to mental health through a variety of project-based activities. Students worked individually and in small groups to research mental illnesses and eating disorders. Slide-show presentations and tri-fold brochures highlighted their work.
6th grade students completed their units of team handball and yoga and have begun units on scurry hockey and fitness. For four classes, students will learn the rules and skills of scurry hockey through both practice drills and game play. An emphasis will be placed on developing the ability to defend, shoot, and pass and receive the puck while stationary and in motion. Four fitness classes will take place in our phenomenal fitness center! There, students are learning to execute a variety of exercises using proper form. Students are completing circuits comprised of bench presses, pull ups, wall squats, box jumps and deadlifts, while also accessing our rope climb, rowing machines and spin bikes. An emphasis on safety, proper form and spotting is the focus of each lesson. We hope that this unit will encourage additional students to make use of the fitness center after school, and, as always, pursue healthy activities in the future.
7th graders finished up their lacrosse and yoga units and began learning floor hockey and working in the fitness center. In floor hockey, students are working on correct stick handling, passing, receiving and basic shooting skills. In our amazing fitness center, students are being introduced to a variety of exercises and fitness equipment with an emphasis on correct form and technique. If you haven’t visited our fitness center yet, please stop by and check it out!
8th graders have been practicing yoga and fitness activities, using our yoga studio and state of the art fitness center. Students are learning how to perform body weight and resistance exercises, as well as plyometrics. Students have been focused and hard working, and as a result of their interest we have had a great number of students utilizing the fitness center after school. Our fitness center is staffed by our physical education staff and open to students Mondays through Thursdays from 2:15 - 3:00.
Vacation is a great time to ask your children to show you what they have learned in consumer science! Students have been creating recipe portfolios of everything they are preparing in class. Recently, 6th graders have learned to prepare scrambled eggs and safely operate the oven to make English muffin pizza, while 7th and 8th graders have used chef’s knives to chop vegetables for their flatbread pizza. 7th graders created a breakfast scramble, sauteing peppers and onions with sausage and creating breakfast burritos. 8th graders learned the delicate art and science of creating omelets. Consider looking through recipe books or searching online for healthy meals and snacks that you can make together for the holidays, New Year’s Eve, and the big games. Preparing food, and even washing and drying dishes together, creates opportunities to open the door for great conversations with your kids. Happy New Year to all!
Sixth grade French students can now count to 60 and tell time. We recently took a look at the Musée du Louvre website and were able to discuss the open dates and hours of the exhibits and entrances to the museum. As we wrap up our unit on time, we're getting ready to begin learning about the calendar, so we can talk about dates and our birthdays.
Sixth grade Mandarin students finished Unit 2 Lesson 1: I am an American. At the end of this lesson, students can do provide personal information about their nationality, and ask and respond to questions about one’s nationality.
Sixth grade Spanish students have just completed their unit on school supplies. They are becoming experts at demonstrating their knowledge through speaking quizzes. All students are quickly approaching the standard of being able to explain what they or someone else needs or has for a particular class.
The seventh grade French students are learning to talk about which school supplies they need for each class. They are able to tell exactly which items they need as well as the color of each item. Soon they will prepare skits in which they are shopping for school supplies and discussing prices. Always very entertaining!
Seventh grade Mandarin students are learning about Chinese families (Unit 5 lesson 2). At the end of this lesson, students will be able to identify relatives and understand Chinese family structure and values.
Seventh grade Spanish students completed a short unit on gift giving and are now able to express what they or someone else wants as a gift or wants to do in the future.
Eighth grade French students are continuing their unit on food, where they have been describing the different food groups, what their food preferences are, and what what foods are healthy. We will be looking at American eating habits and comparing our food with French cuisine, as well as learning to communicate when shopping in markets and the grocery store.
Eighth grade Mandarin students finished Unit 9 lesson 3: I want to learn. At the end of this lesson, students can ask someone to teach them certain things.
In eighth grade Spanish, we have been talking about lots of food! Students are passionately discussing their food preferences and starting to research what people in different Spanish-speaking countries typically eat for their meals.