In our continued efforts to keep families informed and updated about the curriculum at Blake, each month 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 December 2017.
Grade 6: What are some things that visual art and music share? Students look at the art of Stuart Davis, Romare Bearden, and Wassily Kandinsky--all artists whose work was inspired by music. Students listen to different genres of music and create a visual response to each selection. What is the mood? What colors shapes lines, are associated with the music? What kind of rhythm does the music have? Short, staccato, layered, fast, or slow? How can that be represented visually? Students will bring in their own music and create a visual representation of their chosen music. This opens the artist’s mind to approach working in the abstract.
Grade 7: How can we get a full range of value with one color? Students are in the process of finishing up their monochromatic work, based on the paintings of contemporary artist Mark Tansey. An experiential approach to color theory is an effective way to understand color mixing, and they are understanding how a full range of value and high contrast can make an image come alive.
Grade8: As students finish their Op Art work, they are asked to begin thinking about how they can create depth in the genre of landscape. They have learned how to create the illusion of depth in an abstract work, and will now apply this knowledge to landscape. In this lesson, they will take their color theory knowledge and use it to create landscape paintings--acrylic on canvas.
After School : Blake Open Studio---We are open for making every Thursday until 3pm. Join us for student-directed creating!
Grade 6: During December, all sixth graders are working on writing about a memorable moment. Together, we are all proving that "we are more than a single story!" The narrative writing unit is one of our favorite units to work through since we have the opportunity to share our personal stories using the written word.
Grade 7: This month students explored the Dickens' classic A Christmas Carol. We worked on analyzing mood in literature. Students also examined how imagery and figurative language can contribute to the mood in a text. The culminating activities for this unit included a trip to see a production of A Christmas Carol at the North Shore Music Theater and a project which examined various film and stage productions of the story.
Grade 8: Grade 8 students have continued their discussion of science fiction, dystopia, and the important thematic connections to our world and the 1950s in Bradbury's work. Teachers have partnered these discussions with analysis about how figurative language and symbolism work within Fahrenheit. Also added to Grade 8 student discussion is analysis of ways literary and historical allusions deepen the story’s content and theme. The last piece of the discussion puzzle is the . Lastly, the character development of Guy Montaghas as a protagonist in a dysfunctional world.
The 6th grade Group Guidance class starts each by rating their week on a scale of 1-10, and Mrs. Dondero has recently begun asking the students to write down one thing that they are grateful/thankful for each week. This allows the students to reflect upon how we can grown our attitudes of gratitude. The students are working on discussions regarding friendships and how they grow and change throughout middle school. The second rotation of the 7th grade Group Guidance is currently hitting full stride. We are discussing the concept of "Resilience" and how to embrace "Stress" as a means to stimulate growth. Next week, we will take a look at how each of us respond to a school break: do you come back from break refreshed and ready-to-go OR do you come back a bit sluggish and a bit lacking in momentum?
(**Need 8th grade group guidance)
The new term brings a new rotation of Embracing Diversity that hits directly upon this school year's theme of "Diversity". We are currently examining Maurice Ogden's allegory "The Hangman" from both a historical and current events perspective. We will then speak about how forms and levels of discrimination violate civil rights.
In the month of January, Mr. Becker, our School Adjustment Counselor, will be visiting each Group Guidance class. In the 6th grade Group Guidance class, Mr. Becker will present a lesson on anxiety and the utilization of coping strategies to work through anxious situations. In 7th grade Group Guidance, Mr. Becker will teach a lesson on how to properly support a friend who is going through emotional distress. And in 8th grade Group Guidance, students will hear from Mr. Becker about resiliency and the core concepts of how to build resiliency in teenagers.
Due to the increased online availability of nonfiction research sources, we’ve thinned our Reference book section and replaced it with a “Barnes and Noble” - like display of newly purchased pleasure reading books. Studies have shown that students are more likely to browse through and check-out books displayed with their covers showing as opposed to the traditional “spine out” method. Library teacher, Jon Haycock has been sending a bi-monthly blog to students describing each newly purchased and displayed batch of books. About twenty percent of the currently displayed books were acquired from student requests.
The Blake Math teachers wish you and your family a restful holiday vacation!
Grade 6 took time to really make percents their own by finding objects to create visual percent problems. If you see 4 blue snowflakes and 17 white snowflakes, what percent of the snowflakes are blue? This visual allows students to dive into percents and understand the math (er, snowflakes) behind it. Calculating percentages is an important concept to master. We never have to answer the question, ‘When am I going to use this?’ when this topic is covered. Students spend so much time calculating tip, discount at a store and bank account balance that they answer the questions themselves!
Grade 7 math is looking into angle relationships. They are learning that it is helpful to be able to classify angles as congruent, supplementary, complementary, vertical, etc… Once this language is established, they use it as a springboard to study all sorts of shapes and figures. 7th graders cover triangles, squares, parallelograms, circles, etc. What’s more interesting however, is that they study these in the context of the world around them. We ask students to notice the wonderful figures in topics such as architecture, nature, and machinery. It is wonderful see them explore these patterns they uncover. Try looking at a bridge, a tree and a car...what same figures do you see?
Grade 8 mathematics is still under the umbrella of Algebra. Students have learned about linear equations...using an independent variable to predict a dependent variable (ex/ number of shirts bought predicts the total cost). Soon they will be working closely with systems of linear equations (more than one linear equation) to find solutions to real-life given multiple variables. Do you ever want to make a decision but find there are several different scenarios to compare? Ask an 8th grader how to use a system of linear equations to solve your problem. Soon, many of us will examine gym memberships, thanks to the excessive cookie-eating this time of year:-) 8th graders will learn that algebra can not only be used to tell us how much we will spend given the number of times we will go, for example. It can also be used to tell us the best gym to select given the number of times you will be going.
Grade 6 General Music with Mrs. Stover
Grade 6 students have been exploring Gahu - a particular drumming style from Ghana. This week we added some pitched percussion to our drum ensembles. Students are playing traditional melodies as well as improvising in call and response.
Grade 7 and 8 General Music with Mrs. Stover
Now in the second half of the arts rotation, ukulele students are starting to prepare a song of their choice to play for our final class at the end of January. Students know how to play several chords, accompany themselves in a two-chord song and play a short melody on ukulele. Students also know how to read and interpret chord diagrams as well as ukulele tablature.
The Blake Choral Ensembles in grades 6-8 gave a fantastic Winter Concert last week!
Mrs. Oxholm and Mrs. Tremblay were so proud of the effort put forward by the students! Thank you, parents, for celebrating our students that evening and for your support of our family of singers!
Mark your calendars for the 2nd Annual Choral Extravaganza on (?? Can’t remember)
featuring all of our choral groups in grades 4-12 and the Acappella Night on Tuesday, January 16 featuring our groups plus the extraordinary Ithaca College Voicestream! An event not to be missed!
Congratulations to the Blake Orchestra's for a wonderful Winter Concert! Our next Concert is the district wide String Fling on March 14th held in the Blake Gym. The 7th & 8th Grade will also be preparing for the MICCA Festival at the end of March.
6th grade science students are currently making artistic visual representations of the universe. Using any combination of model magic, Playdough, paint and other various materials each pair of students will show either a solar system, galaxy, cluster or supercluster. For the conclusion of the project students will take pictures of their project, that will available to all students to create their own digital representations of the universe using Explain Everything. Students will also reflect on the learning experience based on what they learned and the learning skills demonstrated when collaborating and creating.
Grade 7 science students are excited about our Changes in the Earth’s Surface Unit. We began with a lab melting a blue ice cube in both a saltwater solution and a freshwater solution. Students learned how the density of the saltwater prevented a convection current in the solution and kept the ice cold preventing it from melting. This was used to make a connection to convection currents in the Earth’s mantle and how they drive tectonic plate movement. After receiving ageoscience vocabulary list, students were charged with researching one term related to a geological feature (or a concept) and then making an informative poster for others to look at and learn from. Students completed a gallery walk in their classrooms learning about all of the geological concepts and features. We look forward to learning more about volcanoes and sinkholes, and building landslides, glaciers and mountains.
6th grade World Geography students are starting a unit on rivers this month. The rivers unit studies all the major rivers in the world focusing on the ways people adapt and modify rivers. The projects will include adaptations and modifications of rivers including hydroelectricity, fish farms, irrigation systems, trade routes, pollution etc. Students will conduct research on their chosen topic and create an essential question to answer. They will ultimately present their findings to the class.
During December, 7th grade Ancient Civilizations students study the ancient Hebrews and Phoenicians. The Phoenicians are best known for their extensive trade and exploration of the Mediterranean Sea. They created the basis for the alphabet used today which had simplicity to it so that even the common man could learn to read and write. They used their unique natural resources (cedar wood and murex purple dye) to give them a trading advantage with their neighbors and were the first truly capitalistic society in the Mediterranean. Students participated in the Trading Game in class and learned the difficulty of trying to write in Phoenician which did not have any vowels. Students also learned about the origins of the ancient Hebrews and monotheism. They learned about the early prophets and the challenges faced by the Jews in the ancient polytheistic world. Students focused on the similarities and differences between these neighboring civilizations and examined the many contributions that both civilizations made to the world of today. Upon returning from winter break in January, students will compete in the National Geographic Geography Bee in their social studies classrooms. They will then begin their study of Greece by learning about the Minoans and the Mycenaeans. Much of this unit will be project based.
World History I 8th graders are learning about the Golden Age of Islam and the Gunpowder Empires. Students are completing assessments and projects focusing on topics which include the Scientific innovations of the Golden Age of Islam, the rivalry between the Ottoman and Safavid Empires and architectural achievements such as the beautiful Taj Mahal. Students learn about the historical and contemporary legacies of these events during this unit of study.
6th graders are beginning a unit on the skill of Analyzing Influences. Students will be learning about the influence that puberty has on their lives. We will discuss changes that take place during puberty and how this period of growth may affect them physically, emotionally and intellectually. By the end of the unit, students will be able to describe the influence of health habits on their growth and development.
7th graders are also learning how to analyze influences. Lessons and activities in this unit will focus on analyzing the ways in which peers may impact a student’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 an opportunity to analyze the influence of technology and social media on personal and family health and relationships. Cyber-bullying will be an important topic addressed as a part of this unit.
Letters were recently sent home to all 8th grade parents about our current unit on healthy relationships and decision making. Students began with activities and discussions based on their personal values and family and other influences, and how they affect their decision making. Next, students spent time in groups brainstorming characteristics one might seek in a dating partner and setting personal boundaries. It was great to hear the valuable discussions about how boundaries are not only physical, but emotional and "digital" as well. Students will continue to explore what will help or hinder healthy decision making in their relationships.
Students in all grades are participating in yoga and fitness classes. Our emphasis in fitness is on proper form and technique for body weight exercises like pull-ups, push-ups, and squats and the rules and etiquette of working out in a fitness center. Students are using rowing machines, stationary bikes and learning how to climb the rope. They are being introduced to some basic strength training exercises like bench press, deadlifts, and weighted squats. We are grateful to the MCPE for their contributions to our wonderful fitness center!
Students are learning basic yoga poses and are working through routines that incorporate balance, flexibility and strength training. With our gymnasium transformed into a studio, everyone has been enjoying both the relaxation effect as well as the challenges associated with yoga.
Students in the second rotation of consumer science classes are establishing some independence in their work as they become more practiced at the basic skills of measuring and following recipes, and are now operating the stovetops and ovens. If you are home for the vacation, please engage your children in the process of meal planning, preparation, and cleanup!
The Wellness staff sends their wishes to all families for a Healthy and Happy New Year!!
In sixth grade French, students just finished learning how to tell time in French. This included looking at “l’heure officielle” and being able to interpret the time to transfer to a twelve hour clock, and use expressions to say morning, afternoon and evening. Students explored websites for the Louvre and movie theatres in Paris to look at time listings for various events.
In sixth grade Mandarin, students finished Unit 2 lesson 1. By the end of this lesson, students can ask and respond to questions about one’s nationality
6th grade Spanish has had fun these last few weeks “building” inside snowmen! So much to learn from our icy friends! (big/medium/small, eyes, nose, mouth, head and...well, some less useful but fun words like carrots and sticks!).
In 7th grade French the students are finishing up the unit on school supplies and clothing. Students can discuss what specific school supplies they need for class, and also describe what someone is wearing, including colors. It has been especially fun to hear the students describe what someone is wearing and have them guess who it is!
In seventh grade Mandarin, students finished Unit 5 lesson 1. By the end of this lesson, students can identify family members, and ask and respond to questions about family members.
7th grade Spanish are students are enjoying brainstorming and designing their dream bedrooms would look like. They are excited for their upcoming project that will have them comparing their real bedroom con su cuarto IDEAL and sharing with their classmates.
In eighth grade French, students are culminating their foods unit by creating a recipe and presentation of a typical French dish of their choice. They are developing their French recettes! Having researched an authentic French dish, students are putting together a list of ingredients and a series of instructions to create their culinary masterpieces. Students will record their recipes after les vacances and bring in their creations to share with classmates at our food tasting. Bonnes vacances!
In eighth grade Mandarin, students finished Unit 9 lesson 1 and lesson 2. By the end of these lessons, students can talk about languages and how people feel about learning a language, identify hobbies and express personal preference about them.
In eighth grade Spanish, students are learning about cultural differences of the biggest meal of the day; when it is eaten, and what different people eat at that meal. They are also practicing describing the characteristics of foods and why they love or hate the taste or texture of specific dishes.