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 February 2018.
Grade 6: How can we begin to design collaboratively? Students are taking inspiration from nature and interpreting it into relief prints. Students are discovering the countless combinations of color, surface, and texture when working with one image. They are also layering and combining their own prints with one another. This allows for a more complex image and spontaneous collaboration. Students are practicing color theory, tool skills, composition, and collaborative thinking while working on their prints.
Grade 7: Grade 7 artists are creating expressionistic portraits two ways: They are using color and exaggeration to create portraits that show expression and emotion. Students are also creating sculptural portraits in clay to show expressive form. Students are practicing additive and subtractive sculptural techniques when modeling clay.
Grade 8: Students are starting their clay unit this month. They are working with coil construction to create hollow vessel forms. Coil construction allows students to work with large forms without risk of collapse, yet the forms can be very complex.
Grade 8+: Students in Joe Knaus’ class are busy creating signage for the Blake Cafe. Be on the lookout for the results of this exciting collaboration with the cafe staff!
After School : Blake Open Studio---We are open for making every Thursday until 3pm. Join us for student-directed creating!
Students in art classes k-8 are contributing their inspirational thoughts and words to our collaborative ‘Welcome’ sign for poet/writer/educator/Newbury Award winner/speaker Kwame Alexander, who is visiting Blake on March 8th!
Grade 6: Sixth grade classes have finished the historical fiction text, Fever 1793. We are preparing to take the final assessment on the elements of fiction before moving into a unit on poetry. Spring is coming!
Grade 7: Seventh grade students are starting the next novel, Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry. During our work with this story about an African-American family facing the prejudice and hardships of 1930's Mississippi, students will continue to practice their literary analysis skills. Their writing will expand to longer paragraph pieces, and we will focus on writing about multiple passages. Students will look at various poems that have been paired with passages from the novel to identify similar themes. Our poetry unit will be taking place in writing lab to support this work.
Grade 8: Grade 8 students have begun To Kill a Mockingbird in earnest. Having spent class and research time looking into the 1930s and Alabama, including a discussion of the Great Depression and Jim Crow, students gained important perspective on the world views of small town and southern America of years ago. Recognizing that each character in Harper Lee’s novel reveals important puzzle pieces about consequential choices, subtle and overt racism, and how one young character can become a conscience for many.
On Thursday, March 1, parents and rising Grade 9 students will gather at the high school for the Grade 8-9 Parent Information Night (PIN). Beginning at 6:30 pm in the high school’s auditorium, parents and students will learn more about strategies for successful transition from middle school. Included in the program are details about a typical Grade 9 schedule, club activities, and a tour of the school. Come join us!
Grade 6 Group Guidance is just starting a new rotation. The class is starting off by discussing friendships and the qualities/characteristics of a good friend. The students in 7th Grade Group Guidance are discussing the difference between a "fixed mindset" and a "growth mindset". The Grade 8 Group Guidance class is in the middle of the third rotation. As the students start to think about course selection for the high school next year, we are talking about connecting what they're learning about careers to their choices of electives. The students in Embracing Diversity are examining the 2016 Hate Crime Statistics (released by the FBI this past November) and how they either reflect and/or affect societal trends.
The K-12 library department is gearing up to host Newbery award winning author, Kwame Alexander, on March 8! Blake also celebrated Read Across America on Dr. Seuss’ birthday, Friday, March 2nd.
Grade 6 students are delving into fractions in a different way. They are learning to connect the idea of what it means to be a ratio and how that relates to fractions...fractions are ratios! Additionally, they are learning about what it means for a number to be rational...it can be written as a fraction. This may seem obvious, but there are numbers that do not have this quality. Once they do this, they are able to create proportions and determine whether or not two fractions are equivalent. This comes in very handy when we determine how to maintain populations or when creating financial budgets. Thinking proportionally is the hallmark of our middle school math curriculum and it is exciting to see our students work at it!
Grade 7 students have finished their focus on probability and will move toward statistics. This will allow students to start thinking about the data they experience in really life. In addition to studying mean, median, mode and deviation, students are working toward having an understanding of what it means to sample a population. Ultimately, our goal is for students to be cautious when reading statistics in the real world, allowing them to make good decisions.
8th grade students are spending time shading in 8th grade math. They are all working on considering different linear inequalities at the same time and working to create a ‘picture’ of their solutions. Sometimes, in life, we create constraints and need to solve problem according to those constraints. For example, we may sell t-shirts and shorts and want to make sure we sell at least a total of 500 units, (t+s 500). At the same time we may only be able to make at most 200 t-shirts, (t200). Our students are working on finding potential combinations of shorts and t-shirts that are possible to sell. They are ready for business!
Blake Orchestra Upcoming Performances:
String Fling - Grades 4 - 12 Orchestra
Wednesday, March 14th @ Blake Gym
Grades 4 - 12 Orchestra!
7&8 Grade Orchestra - MICCA Festival
Sunday, March 25th
Performance Time: 12:00 PM
Location: King Phillip Regional High School
Bus Departure: 11:00 AM
Please mark your calendars! This is a required performance for all 7/8 Grade Orchestra Students.
Grade 6 General Music with Mrs. Stover
Grade 6 students are in the process of completing their first GarageBand compositions. Students are learning how to create compositions with form, balance and structure. In the coming weeks we will discuss and explore platforms to publish student work and how to assess the quality of a composition.
Grade 7 and 8 General Music with Mrs. Stover
Now that we have almost reached the midpoint of the rotation, ukulele students have enough information to work collaboratively and independently on ukulele skills and repertoire. We look forward to hearing some student performances by the end of the rotation next month.
Sixth grade science students spent the first few weeks of February improving their scientific writing skills through the examination of the Theory of Continental Drift and the Theory of Seafloor Spreading. Using CER writing , students made a claim, identified evidence in support of the claim and reasoned as to how the evidence provided suported their (Wegeners) claim. Sunsequently students transitioned to Biology by looking back at the geological time walk completed earlier this year, to examine what makes life possible on Earth and to question whether or not life would be possible on Mars? This was a nice segue to a discussion of the characteristics that help to define what we know as life. This week students began to learn how to appropriately use the microscopes to view and identify cells.
Sixth grade World Geography students are finishing up a unit on rivers of the world. The rivers unit focuses on how people depend on as well as adapt to and change rivers throughout the world. Students looked at the positive and negative effects of issues such as hydroelectric dams, fish farming, and micro-beads (to name a few). The goal of the unit is to have students learn about the ways people use rivers and how they can improve or make positive environmental change. Students will next study desertification and deforestation and how modern society is impacted by both.
Students in 7th grade Ancient Civilizations classes are currently studying the ancient Greeks. They are discovering some of the major contributions the Greeks have made to modern civilization, such as democratic government and philosophy. During this unit, students also engaged with Greek mythology and learned how the Greeks used myths to explain the natural world. Unlike the gods of the Egyptians and other civilizations studied so far this year, the Greeks gods looked and acted like humans. They were tremendous reflections of the human character, epitomizing a wide range of human emotions. Students are also studying various forms of government to understand different ways that people have structured their societies over time. 7th graders are excited about the upcoming Greek Week -- a week of learning, competition, and fun!
8th graders recently visited the Worcester Art Museum as an extension of the European Middle Ages unit in their World History I classes. Students were treated to an expert armor demonstration, enjoyed a tour of medieval art galleries and then completed an illuminated letter art project in the style of medieval artists. Students will soon begin learning about the High Middle Ages which includes an examination of powerful monarchs such as William the Conqueror and an overview of political and cultural topics related to the history of Medieval Europe including the Crusades and the Black Death. These 8th graders will complete various assessments and projects relating to these topics as term two draws to a close.
Kerrie Krah is using the Social Thinking Curriculum and the Project Happiness Curriculum with all of the speech-language students and across the 6th, 7th, and 8th grade classes to promote social emotional learning!
8th grade Learning Center is working with the writing process, specifically the revising and editing stages. Students revised and edited different pieces of writing, including their own Fahrenheit 451 paragraphs. Students were taught different ways to fix run-on sentences.
Our Staff vs Student Volleyball Championship tournament was a great culminating event before February break. This is a highlight of the school year and this year did not disappoint. Our staff is so proud of the effort and energy, as well as the skill that all of our students demonstrated throughout this unit! Students just completed postural screening and the next units will include invasion games and fitness. Grade 8 will participate in soccer, grade 7 floor hockey, and grade 6 scurry hockey. In addition, all students will be working out in the Blake fitness center. We look forward to the arrival of spring and hope to be outside soon!
6th graders are continuing their work on decision-making. They are using the skill of accessing accurate health information learned earlier in the year to research alcohol, tobacco and vaping, and other drugs. Students are working in groups to learn the negative side effects of using these substances and how our government has tried to keep us safe by limiting or stopping their use. Following their research, each group will share what they have learned with their classmates. Since knowledge alone does not always lead to healthy behaviors, this information is the context through which the skill of decision-making is being taught, practiced, and learned in sixth grade.
7th graders have recently completed their decision-making unit, focusing on hygiene, peer-pressure and social media. Students were asked to practice the D.E.C.I.D.E. model where they DETERMINED the situation, EXAMINED their options, CONSIDERED consequences, IDENTIFIED values which may guide their decision, DECIDED upon their choice and last EVALUATED the outcome of their decisions in a variety of practice situations. As a culminating activity, students created fictional journal entries featuring a character utilizing the D.E.C.I.D.E. model to address their situations. Additionally, Grade 7 students completed an important unit on adolescent development. As mentioned in the letter sent home 1/12/18, topics included physical changes that occur during puberty, social-emotional changes that occur during puberty, the male and female reproductive systems, the menstrual cycle, nocturnal emissions and the fertilization of the egg cell.
8th graders wrapped up their decision-making unit by turning in their short-stories created using the BookCreator app. Students demonstrated their ability to make healthy decision by writing a story where a character had to effectively work through the decision making process. Topics included peer pressure, conflicts between friends, dating and relationships, and substance abuse. Students then peer assessed each other's work using a rubric. This allowed for sharing of creative work and providing useful feedback to each author. Next, nutrition will be explored as part of our decision-making unit. The focus of grade eight nutrition content is for students to develop an understanding of the differences between whole and processed foods.
March is oven and knife safety month in the Blake Bakery! Sixth graders will learn to use the oven safely when they prepare English muffin pizzas. Measuring skills will be reinforced while three Cowell Quotes will be introduced. Ask your sixth grader to describe the meaning of “Clear the oven,” “Door to the floor,”and “To cheese is marvelous, but to over cheese is hazardous.” Seventh graders learned to use chef’s knives this week as they chopped vegetables for next week’s flatbread veggie pizza. Students practiced their culinary skills while preparing four colors of bell peppers, broccoli and onion. Next week, they will choose a minimum of three vegetables to eat on their slice of pizza while reinforcing the importance of oven safety. This is always a big breakthrough experience for seventh graders, so I hope you will encourage them to continue eating beautiful, nutritious vegetables on their pizza! Eighth graders reviewed knife safety, and will also enjoy the bountiful vegetables they have prepared. In addition, eighth graders may select additional toppings for their deluxe veggie pizza. Ever considered a family contest? Who can get the most vegetables on a luscious beautiful slice of pizza?
In sixth grade French, students have been learning how to say the days and date. They understand how to read a French calendar and how the date is written differently in French.
In sixth grade Mandarin, students completed presentational speaking and writing tasks for their current unit of study. They also made dumplings and created projects to celebrate Chinese New Year!
We are very proud of our 6th grade students of Spanish and the confidence they showed in their first presentations about family and pets. As a 6th grade team, we are looking forward to the concert with Josee Vachon at the start of March.
The seventh grade French students have learned to discuss the sports and activities they participate in, including how often and in which season. The unit will culminate in a puppet show incorporating all that they have learned, which promises to be a fun and creative end to the unit!
In seventh grade Mandarin, students finished Unit 6 lesson 2. By the end of this lesson, students can describe people’s appearances. They made sweet rice balls and did projects to celebrate Chinese New Year!
Seventh grade Spanish students have been learning how to talk about activities in which they and others participate. We are proud of their reading and listening skills and attention to detail as they learn how to “conjugate -AR verbs”!
In eighth grade Mandarin, students did presentational speaking and writing for Unit 10 Lesson 2. They made spring rolls and did projects to celebrate Chinese New Year!
We are discussing fashion and what we wear in different situations in eighth grade Spanish. In addition, students are learning how to talk about what is happening right now. Soon we will be moving on to shopping!
Eighth grade French students are sharing their itineraries for their virtual trips to Québec. Students explain why they want to visit various destinations within this jewel city of francophone culture, navigating their way from one site to the next and using different modes of transportation. Students are also beginning to learn how to express themselves in the past, discussing what they did over their weekends and vacation.