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 February, 2015.
6th Grade: Students in 6th grade art are examining color relationships in non-representational design. They are planning a three color reduction print, a type of relief print. Sixth grade + students are continuing to paint their murals in the main office and art hallway.
7th grade: Students are finishing up their expressive clay portraits. Seventh graders are beginning work on creating self-portraits that are non-representational. Students are asked, ‘What’s on your mind?’ and have to communicate that through color, shape, and symbol.
8th grade: Eighth graders are working on close examinations of nature with acrylic paint. After analyzing works by Georgia O’Keefe, students have chosen subject matter, and enlarged it into a composition. This exercise forces them to think about abstraction. They are learning the basic application of acrylic paint, color mixing, and glazing.
Grade 6 English
In between the snowflakes and vacation days, Grade 6 students have been working hard at learning! Students are finishing Laurie Halse Anderson’s novel, Fever 1793 and using the novel’s protagonist to have important discussions about how adversity can offer opportunities for all of us to understand how challenge can and does shape the people we become. On March 8, students will begin their poetry unit, using their study to know more about this important form of literature. During the poetry unit, important grammar time will be spent on prepositions with adverbs next in queue.
Grade 7 English
Using the final pages of Mildred Taylor’s novel, Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, students in Grade 7 English have spent insightful class time discussing the impact of discrimination on our society and ourselves. Class time has been devoted to focusing open response writing skills as well. In preparation for MCAS, students will be using Writing Lab time to complete their third 5-paragraph essay using a prompt used in a past examination. Reviewing MCAS writing expectations is excellent preparation for the upcoming March ELA MCAS. In addition, students will be spending time splicing 7th grade grammar skills into all writing assignments.
Grade 7 English:
With work on Fahrenheit 451 nearly complete, Grade 8 students will soon be taking the assessment on the novel and work on the next analytical essay will launch. Sentence fragments and run-ons are on the Grade 8 grammar agenda, and these lessons will help package the solid analysis in students’ papers. In the Writing Lab students will put the finishing touches on their Creative Writing Project and get ready to launch the Holocaust unit.
Library Media Center
Our second school-wide Digital Citizenship series of activities began this week. Marjorie Heim (6), Sarah Donovan (7), and Seth Hellerstein presented lessons to the Sea Turtle, White, and Stars clusters respectively on digital footprints – the record a person leaves online through comments, pictures, and other activities. Students were asked if they ever performed an internet search on themselves and, if so, what they found and whether or not they were happy with what they found. Students also brainstormed on ways in which they could improve their digital footprints and how they can be thoughtful about what they put online – “Would you want your grandmother to see this?” Students were reminded that anything they post online could possibly be available for viewing throughout their lives and how that could affect future college and job prospects. Diane Horvath and Jon Haycock also hosted a student panel discussion on the subject. The Otters, Blue, and Eagles clusters will participate next week and the Koalas, Red, and Stripes clusters the week of March 9.
The Blake Math Department is busy evaluating students for placement into appropriate courses for grade 7. Students are finishing a series of assessments that, in part, will help teachers make informed decisions regarding course assignment for the 2015-2016 school year, (gr. 7 Pre-Algebra Regular or gr. 7 Pre-Algebra Accelerated). Please reach out to your child’s teacher with any questions. Our grade 6 students have just finished their work on fractions, rates, ratios and proportions and will use that knowledge as they enter their unit on similar figures to solve problems related to polygons. Don’t be surprised if you see your child hold a piece of paper next to your kitchen table or living room wall. It may all be very similar:-)
As in grade 6, 7th grade math is in the process of placing students into their 2015-2016 grade 8 math class: Algebra Part I, Regular Algebra or Accelerated Algebra. Please do not hesitate to contact your teacher if you have any questions. The curriculum in 7th grade has moved from geometry to formal lessons on solving algebraic equations. Directions on papers will read, “Find x.” Teachers will encourage students to use tried and true methods that represent the standard notation of mathematicians everywhere. This represents the beginning of a six year quest to “find x.” Please let us know if you find it...we have been searching for a long time:-)
Students in 8th grade math have been studying geometry and will now place their figures on coordinate planes and create transformations: translations, rotations and reflections. Students have been using puffy paint, glitter glue, and lines of coding to make figures come alive and magically appear in different location in space...move over quantum physics! Some students were even seen reflecting their body across the Blake hallways to explain the rules of translations. Who knows...a new yoga move may come out of this:-)
The Sing-Off went very smoothly and we were able to feature 21 singers from Blake and MHS. Singers received private lessons from area voice teachers and then performed in the evening. The event also featured the Boston College a capella ensemble The Bostonians led by Medfield alum Paul Wagenseller. A big thank you to the MMA for their support of this event!
Jack Shurtleff (grade 7) successfully auditioned for the MMEA Eastern Junior District Jazz Band. He is one of just two drummers selected from the Massachusetts eastern district. Next week he will perform with other top music students from the area at a two day festival.
The Blake Choruses are eagerly preparing for their upcoming spring concerts: the 8th Grade will perform on March 26with the High School Concert Choir and the Blake Chorus Concert will be held on June 2 in the High School Auditorium. The 7th and 8th grade Choruses are also preparing for their trip to the Great East Music Festival and Six Flags to be held on Friday, May 29.
The Blake Orchestra program is eagerly preparing for the nationally known, Moxie Strings to come to Medfield on March 19th. The trio – known for its “electrifying combination” of a fiddler, cellist and drummer/percussionist – will travel from Michigan to perform for the Medfield community and conduct day-time clinics for Medfield orchestra students. In the clinic, the Moxie Strings will teach each orchestra a new song by ear (that they will later perform at the concert that night!) and explore improvising with our students. The concert is March 19th at 7:00 pm and will feature the Moxie Strings playing side-by-side with the Blake and High School Orchestras.
Sixth grade students have been continuing to explore music-making using GarageBand on their iPads. Students are getting adept at using pre-recorded loops to create short compositions and have begun exploring how to compose and record their own music using GarageBand's SMART Instruments suite.
Seventh grade students are learning about the history of Rock and Roll making connections between their preferred music and the music of the past. One big question they are reflecting on is: "How does music reflect the culture and events of its time?"
The Eighth grade students in the current rotation are pioneering the brand new eighth grade unit on The American Musical. To date students have explored the history and important contributors tot he early American musical as well as the musical Show Boat.
In 6th grade science, students have continued to study the different properties of matter. Students have measured the densities of different objects and explored how density relates to mass and volume. In addition, within the hands-on laboratory experiments of this unit, students continue to practice and refine their conclusion-writing skills, using the ET Graphic Organizer.
Seventh grade science students have completed the unit on photosynthesis and cellular respiration, exploring the relationships between these two processes and how humans are dependent on plants to live. Due to the snow days, we will now be starting our unit on digestion the first week of March. Students will use prior knowledge from our chemistry and membrane transport units to understand the important roles they play in digestion. The digestion unit will encompass multiple learning experiences including an earthworm dissection, comparative anatomy lessons, and labs. The 7th grade science teachers are also excited to introduce Soccer Ball Digestion during which students will be able to observe simulated physical and chemical digestion while getting a little exercise! Following digestion, students will connect the importance of photosynthesis and cellular respiration to the cycles of nature and learn how these processes allow for the recycling of important chemical substances necessary for life.
The 8th grade Science team is digging deeper into the Chemistry portion of the curriculum. New projects such as stop motion animation demonstrating Elements, Compounds and Mixtures have been incorporated as well as a new "living worksheet" screencast. As we approach the end of march the students will shift gears and begin exploring the moon, the planets and the other topics in Astronomy as well as reviewing topics in Earth Science. The West Point Bridge competition is in full swing in tech class and students are almost to the point of constructing and testing their own fettuccine bridges. Dash and Dot the codeable robots are waiting in the shadows as the new coding unit is next in Tech.
6th grade World Geography students have been researching and creating Google slide presentations on major rivers throughout the world. They have been utilizing books as well as the internet to conduct research on a river and a cultural group that uses the river’s resources. The research and presentation culminate in a presentation; a fictional story based on the important aspects of a river and the creation of a river "buddy" from a cultural group that relies on the river. The River Unit addresses many skills and draws on the abilities of different learners; research, creative writing, drawing, technology and presenting to name a few. The River unit creates a smooth transition into the next unit on desertification and deforestation.
Seventh graders in Ancient Civilizations are continuing to explore the idea of what it means to be a civilization. The students recently concluded a unit on the Minoan and Mycenaean civilizations that included robust discussions about the importance of archaeology to history. They examined major archaeological finds such as the palace of Knossos on Crete, the ruins of Troy, and the fortress-palace of Agamemnon at Mycenae. Students analyzed artifacts from these ruins and thought about what they might say about a civilization and its people. After the February break 7th graders will begin a major unit on ancient Greece. The students are already getting excited for "Greek Week" later this year!
World History I students have been transitioning from the Dark Ages of early medieval Europe to the High Middle Ages which was a time of intellectual growth and the early formation of the kingdoms which have become today's Western Europe. The 8th graders will learn about specific topics including the Black Plague, the Hundred Years War, and the development of the English governmental system.
In Health classes during the month of February, grade 6 students finished up their unit on decision making by watching a show called, "The Experiment." As they observed the characters making a variety of decisions, students applied what they had learned by recording and discussing the decision-making processes that took place.
Grade 7 students have completed posters about stereotyping including information about "Why stereotyping is hurtful and unfair" and "What you can do to help reduce stereotyping." Many of the posters have been displayed on the hallway walls throughout our school as reminders to all students and staff to treat one another with kindness.
Grade 8 students are watching and discussing a video about how school harassment and bullying laws came to be.They are also completing advocacy posters that help spread the word about the harmful effects of harassment, common types and behaviors, as well as resources for help. The posters will be displayed throughout the school.
From the physical education side, the volleyball playoffs were very exciting, and all grades were treated to a rare opportunity to see their teachers and Principal Vaughn compete against the top teams from each grade in the Student vs Staff Championships! All students are now completing Postural Screening during their scheduled Physical Education classes. Up next we have Ballroom Dance beginning with 6th Graders learning the Foxtrot, 7th Graders the Salsa, and 8th Graders, Swing dance. Our 6th graders come to us with two years of ballroom dance experience, having been introduced in 4th and 5th grade, so we are really excited to see them progress this year!
In consumer science classes, students are learning to safely use electric griddles and waffle irons as they prepare delicious pancakes, French toast, and waffles! They are demonstrating their proficiency in measuring and learning to work as a group effectively as they serve up these nutritious and delicious meals!
6th graders in Spanish have learned a lot about la familia as well as many high numbers! They can talk all about their 99 year old grandparents!
Meanwhile in 7th grade Spanish, as we begin our new unit on daily schedules, students have been fascinated to learn how our U.S. meal times differ from Spain's! They can't imagine eating a big lunch at home with their families at 3pm and then a light dinner at 10pm!
8th graders are thoroughly enjoying the clothing unit! Some students did some virtual online shopping at a store and mall in Spain, and the kids were able to navigate through and make decisions about what and where to buy items in Spanish. All the talk of shorts. t-shirts, flip flops and sandals has us all wondering ¿Cuándo viene la primavera?
This week in sixth grade, French students are learning how to talk about the weather and climate during the various seasons. We will begin a unit on Mardi Gras, looking at the history, origin and events that mark this cultural celebration in New Orleans. Laissez les bons temps rouler.
The 7th grade French classes are finishing the sports and activities unit, which also included calendar vocabulary. The students each recently created a calendar representing their birthday week as well as activities they do - whether sports or a music lesson. The students performed puppet shows this week as an end of unit presentation, and they were great!
Dans un magasin! Eighth grade French students are doing some online shopping in Paris to take a peek at fashions this year! We are noting the descriptions online, are making our own crazy clothing combinations and using them to describe and converse!
In 6th grade, we are keep introducing some traditions about Chinese New Year. We are going to learn how to make Chinese dumplings. We are also going to learn how to introduce family members.
In 7th and 8th grade, we are learning how to introduce someone's pets. We are keep introducing some traditions about Chinese New Year.