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 January 2018.
Grade 6: How can we begin to design in the abstract? Students are taking inspiration from nature and interpreting it into relief prints. Why prints? Because we can make multiple images, change surfaces and color, and combine our efforts with a classmate. Students are practicing color theory, tool skills, composition, and collaborative thinking while working on their prints.
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.
Grade 8: Why has the genre of landscape painting Students are examining some landscape masterworks: Thomas Cole’s The Oxbow and Pieter Brugel’s Hunters in the Snow. They discussed the historical context of these two works, using the Visual Thinking Strategies, which is a collaborative dissection of artwork to find meaning in works of art.. They are also learning how to compose a dynamic landscape and apply this knowledge to their paintings. In this lesson, they will take their color theory knowledge and use it to create landscape paintings with spatial depth using atmospheric perspective.
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! We have been doing clay, painting, and printmaking so far.
Grade 6: Sixth graders are currently reading Fever 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson. Teachers continue to reinforce the elements of fiction terms such as plot, characterization, theme and mood. While working within the genre of historical fiction, students will examine how the author splices the poignant details of a yellow fever infection during early America with benefit of using adversity as a challenge and a means to become a better person and a better citizen. As students move through this unit, students will have the opportunity to practice the claim, evidence, analysis (CEA) format for packaging argument within open response writing.
Grade 7: In the seventh grade we are continuing our work with The Race to Save the Lord God Bird. Students are working on identifying author's purpose in non-fiction passages and also working on analyzing tone. In this unit we have also introduced open response writing where students are seeing how their claim charts fit into larger, multi-paragraph written assignments. Throughout the unit, students are also getting to opportunity to study birds like the ornithologists in the book do with our Blake Bird Club contest in which students look for and try to identify various bird species around town. The unit will culminate just before February vacation with a persuasive writing project in which students create public service announcement ads to raise awareness of various environmental issues.
Grade 8: Grade 8 students are in the midst of finishing up Fahrenheit 451. Students had the opportunity to practice their analytical discussion skills using the Socratic Seminar format. Having spent time preparing for these important discussions, students revisited important study areas like theme, character growth, and literary comparisons. Students will use their rich analytical discussion work as a resource when they begin their work on the claim-evidence-analysis essay that will end this unit.
This is the final week for many students in the Guidance classes. Mr. Becker, our School Adjustment Counselor, has been visiting Group Guidance classes during this month. In the 6th Grade Group Guidance class, Mr. Becker provided a lesson on anxiety, what it is, how to recognize it in your body, and then strategies to cope and manage anxiety. In the final class of 6th Grade Group Guidance, students are writing letters to themselves that they will read in 8th grade. In 7th Grade Group Guidance, Mr. Becker taught the final classes of this rotation, teaching students how to help a friend when they are in need, and the students also got to get to know him as another support in the building. In the 8th Grade Embracing Diversity class, students examined the classic PBS Frontline Special "A Class Divided" and talked about the nature of "discrimination". We will next focus on "culture" and how customs, traditions, and inform it. We will also look at how proverbs reflect cultural values.
The K-12 Library team is so excited to partner with the public library to present One Author, One Community- Medfield Welcomes Kwame Alexander! We are thrilled to welcome Newbery award winning author, poet and inspirational speaker, Kwame Alexander to Medfield! He’ll be appearing at the Blake Auditorium at 6:00 on Thursday, March 8 where he will talk about his writing, his life and his thoughts on the world. After, he will be signing books for his many fans. Kwame’s message is geared towards students grade 5 and up, BUT his message is appropriate for all ages - parents included! All are welcome! Tickets are going fast after only 1 day of a live link!! Please click below link for registration (required). You may also purchase his books from Park Street Books for him to sign as well (order form also on flyer link). Hope to see you there!
Click here for flyer!
Special thanks to new Medfield Public Library Director Meena Jain, Library Content Head and Dale Street Librarian Kerry Cowell, the Medfield Coalition for Public Education, the Friends of the Medfield Public Library, and Jim James and Park Street Books.
In other library news, the 6th grade Library Media and Coding rotation classes along with the 7th grade Technology rotation classes have just ended their 8 week cycle. Students in the 8th grade Innovation Class, which is on a 12 week cycle, have just finished designing a chair for an imaginary superhero (called an Extraordinaire). Teams crafted posters and marketing videos which were shared and critiqued by classmates. The class teams will now actually construct a machine to help solve an everyday problem students may come across in either their school or home lives.
6th grade students are learning the difference between expressions and equations. We like to think about expressions in ELA class…’Wow!’ ‘Cool!’ Unlike sentences, expressions often have no verbs. In math it is the same idea. Expressions...2x + 3 a - b and 4y have no math verb. They are a collection of numbers, variables and operators. Equations, on the other hand, have a very important math verb: is equal to. So we consider the following to be math sentences or equations….5x = 25 a+ 6 = 10 y2= 16. Now that they know the difference, ask them to show you how to evaluate an expression. It is very impressive!
Grade 7 students have just finished their unit on percents. This is a wonderful opportunity to give your children the bill at the restaurant and ask them to do some mental math. It is also a nice idea to have them share in the bargain hunting and look for discounts and sales of all the necessary teenage items. I wish we could say they had the money to back these purchases! Perhaps after a quick lesson on taxes, students will see the value working and saving a little money:-)
8th grade students are working with multiple ways to graph linear equations. They have learned the four major ways to create a picture or graph: 1) create a table 2) use slope-intercept form 3) find the x and y intercepts 4) starting at any point and using the slope to navigate to the next point. Students are learning when it is most efficient to use which strategy. If you get a chance. As them about Mr. Slope Guy and Slope Dude. Be sure to find out what Slope Dude says on a ski mountain….(“puff, puff positive...nice negative”).
Grade 6 Orchestra has been learning new rhythms with syncopation in our concert piece "Stone Mountain Stomp." The Grade 7&8 Orchestra has started preparing for our performance at the MICCA Concert Festival on Sunday, March 25th. Our performance at this state-wide performance festival will be heard by three adjudicators and rated according to the MICCA scoring rubric. Groups are given scores from one through five across numerous music standards. The overall score results in a Certificate of Participation, Medal of Merit, Bronze Medal (Good), Silver Medal (Excellent), or Gold Medal (Superior). The standards are quite high and earning any medal is considered an accomplishment. Students will receive immediate feedback in a clinic with one of the adjudicators.
- All Blake Orchestra students have a minimum of 3 pieces to be working on and are expected to practice at home regularly.
- The next concert is the district-wide String Fling on March 14th in the Blake Gym. 7:00 PM start. Come hear Medfield's 250+ String Students in Action!
Earlier this month, the Blake Jazz Choir performed at our 1st Annual A Capella Night. They were the youngest group to perform that evening which featured many area high school A Cappella groups, Medfield High School's MHSound, and the amazing Ithaca College, Voicestream. Earlier in the day, the Blake students participated in a workshop led by Voicestream. The college students sang with our students and gave a clinic offering performance tips and rehearsal strategies. It was an inspiring musical exchange for all involved. Thank you to the Medfield Music Association for your support of this project.
Grade 6 General Music with Mrs. Stover
Grade 6 students have just started a new unit on texture in music. The Garageband app is a natural fit for us to use as we create and explore texture. We will focus on composition projects over the next several weeks.
Grade 7 and 8 General Music with Mrs. Stover
We just started a new rotation of ukulele. Students are learning how to hold and care for the instrument and are making their first chords. We are delighted to share that there are now four ukuleles available to be checked out of the Library Media Center.
Grade 6 science has moved into a foundational unit this month to examine and explore Geologic Time. Earth’s Geologic Time scale is a jumping off point for our Geology and Biology units that we will work on for the remainder of the year. Students walked the longest hallway in the school, measuring 10,000,000 years for every tile they stepped on! They travelled through the major eras in Earth’s History, scanning QR codes and watching videos that set the scene for that time period - what life was like and what the planet was like at the time. As they time-travelled, they answered geological and biological essential questions, which foreshadow the units to come: continents moving, fossils, rock layers, cells, and evolution.
After studying sinkholes, another small scale process, we will be modeling mountain building and glaciation in class. Our unit will close with the study of earthquakes and volcanoes as we analyze patterns in data while locating epicenters and plotting earthquake and volcano data.
At the same time all three clusters have begun their Genius Hour project in class on Fridays. During this time students will learn about a topic of their own choice/interest and work to discover an answer to a question that they developed.
In Intro to Engineering two of the clusters are working on designing fettuccine bridges while the other cluster explores and codes the lego mindstorm robots.
6th grade World Geography students wrapped up their unit on mountains and ranges from around the world and began to explore rivers. The Rivers Unit is designed to introduce students to the major rivers found across the planet and the problems that many of them face. Students will explore topics such as city development, hydroelectricity, agriculture, and commerce. Through research, students will gain a stronger idea of how rivers are impacted by people.
Ancient Civilizations 7th graders have been working extremely hard on several projects about two early Greek civilizations. These two groups, the Minoans and Mycenaeans, controlled the Greek landscape for hundreds of years. The students have been working on creating timelines for both civilizations and answering critical thinking questions including: Were the Minoans an advanced civilization? How were the Mycenaeans a warlike culture? Which civilization was better? Students have been gathering evidence and drawing conclusions about these two fascinating and contrasting cultures.
World History I 8th graders are transitioning from their examination of advanced Muslim cultures known as the "Gunpowder Empires" to the beginning of their study of the European Middle Ages. Students will be learning about concepts including feudalism, chivalry and the role that institutions such as the Catholic Church played in people's lives. They will be engaging in a number of hands on projects and activities during this unit in order to help make connections between Medieval Europe and the Modern World. In addition, January included both the first placement test and the placement essay, as well as the Geography Bee.
All,grades are currently participating in a Sport Education Volleyball unit and each student has been assigned to a team that they will be with for the entire unit. The unit is broken down into a pre-season (developing skills and team camaraderie), a regular season, and a postseason playoff tournament. Students signed up for an individual role/job that they will perform throughout the season. The jobs include: Team Captain/Coach, Statistician, Fitness Leader, Equipment Manager and Camaraderie/Spirit Captain. Students have practiced the skills of the forearm pass, the set and underhand serve. There continues to be a strong emphasis on communication and teamwork. The regular season has just begun and games are off to a great start. Ask your Blake student the name of their team and their team role.
6th grade students are starting their unit on decision making, where they will be introduced to the DECIDE model. Students will learn to Determine the Decision, Examine Options, Consider the Consequences of each Option, Identify their values that may help them make the right decision, Decide and justify why it is the healthiest choice and then Evaluate and reflect on their decision, to determine if they made the right choice. Students will be identifying values that are important to them which will guide them in their decision making process. Additionally, students will be practicing how to handle situations where they may be around alcohol, drugs and tobacco. Our goal is for students to develop the knowledge and skills they need to make healthy decisions.
7th graders have been focusing on a number of important topics during the Analyzing Influences unit. Students have reflected upon their own values and beliefs and have discovered how they may affect their health related behaviors. This unit has allowed us an opportunity to analyze the influence of technology and social media on personal and family health, and relationships. The topics of puberty and cyberbullying have also been an important focus of this unit and will continue as themes as we begin our next unit on Decision Making. Students will utilize the D.E.C.I.D.E. model where they look to Determine, Examine, Consider, Identify, Decide and Evaluate all aspects of making important, healthy decisions. Topics within the unit will again include social media use, hygiene, peer pressure, as well as discussions about how the influences discussed in our previous unit (peers, family, media etc.) may impact their decisions.
8th graders have drafted their ideas for their final unit project, which asks students to create a short-story about a decision making scenario. Students have created characters that must work through a dilemma and show a thought process that demonstrates an effective decision-making process leading to a healthy behavior. Students are using the BookCreator app to complete their work. The creativity and effort shown for this assignment has been good so far, and we look forward to seeing their final products!
The start of February welcomes 150 new students through the doors of consumer science class! We look forward to introducing all of these students to new recipes that will challenge and excite them. Each year’s curriculum builds on the skills learned the previous year. It is our expectation that by the end of 8th grade, all students will have the skills necessary to demonstrate how to follow a recipe accurately, prepare food safely, analyze their satisfaction with the food they prepared critically, suggest modifications as needed, and wash all dishes and food surfaces thoroughly. Through this process, students engage in social and technical conversations with their group in order to create an enjoyable and successful experience. This practice toward a growing independence represents one way that Blake Middle School helps students develop into responsible and resourceful people. Did we mention how much fun this is?
Sixth grade French students are finishing a unit on café foods and culture by performing a skit of a scene in a café, where they get the waiter’s attention, order and comment on the food and ask for the check. They have learned about the delicious French foods on a typical café menu and some of the cultural differences between French and American restaurants.
In sixth grade Mandarin, students finished Unit 2 lesson 3. By the end of this lesson, students can identify the nationality of a group of people.
Sixth grade Spanish students have just finished learning how to describe people’s physical traits. We are moving on to pets and family! Look out for the Mascota Perdida project coming up!
Seventh grade French students have learned about the new regions of France, culminating in pairs presenting a particular region to the class including its capital, places to visit, and what it’s famous for. The classes have begun a new unit on sports and activities, and are now able to tell which ones they participate in.
In seventh grade Mandarin, students finished Unit 5 lesson 2, 3 and Unit 6 Lesson 1. By the end of those lessons, students can identify relatives, understand Chinese family structure and values, identify different occupations, ask questions about someone’s occupation, ask and respond to questions about one’s age and grade level, understand schooling in China, and provide basic information about someone’s appearance,
7th grade Spanish students have just wrapped up their “¿cuánto cuesta?” unit with hilarious skits including crazy uncles, green wigs and other zany characters, props and story lines! We are so proud of how far these students have come!
Eighth grade French students are learning about moving through town: places in town, modes of transportation, going and coming, locations, and how to give and receive instructions. Our unit will wrap up with the creation of a travel itinerary through the historic francophone city of Québec. Allons-y!
In eighth grade Mandarin, students finished Unit 9 lesson 3, Unit 10 Lesson 1 and lesson 2. By the end of these lessons, students can tell someone what I want to learn and why, ask someone for instruction on how to do something, tell what I like to eat for breakfast, ask and respond to questions about breakfast, identify drinks and foods for Chinese breakfast, identify past experiences with Chinese breakfast and gain basic knowledge about typical breakfast in China.
Eighth grade Spanish students are wrapping up the food unit by practicing conversations in restaurants between waiters and customers. They are also learning about converting dollars to different currencies throughout Latin America and Spain. They should be able to help their families order meals now in 21 different countries!